Home » Intelligent Design » Science fiction finding religion?

Science fiction finding religion?

What make you all of this, in City Journal?:

How Science Fiction Found Religion

Benjamin A. Plotinsky

Once overtly political, the genre increasingly employs Christian allegory.

Winter 2009

There is a young man, different from other young men. Ancient prophecies foretell his coming, and he performs miraculous feats. Eventually, confronted by his enemies, he must sacrifice his own life—an act that saves mankind from calamity—but in a mystery as great as that of his origin, he is reborn, to preside in glory over a world redeemed. Tell this story to one of the world’s 2 billion Christians, and he’ll recognize it instantly. Tell it to a science-fiction and fantasy fan, and he’ll ask why you’re making minor alterations to the plot of The Matrix or Superman Returns. For reasons that have as much to do with global politics as with our cultural moment, some of this generation’s most successful sci-fi and fantasy movie franchises follow an essentially Christian plotline.

Hallelujah!” cries a minor character early in The Matrix, the 1999 cyberpunk flick, directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski, that took the nation by storm and, together with its two sequels, raked in about $600 million domestically. “You’re my savior, man, my own personal Jesus Christ.” The character is addressing Thomas Anderson, a restless computer hacker, played by Keanu Reeves, who goes by the handle “Neo” and has sold him some precious illegal software. It’s just one of the movie’s many references to its central inspiration. Neo, we learn eventually, is in fact a nearly divine savior, the Jesus Christ of the bizarre world in which he lives.
Anderson doesn’t realize it yet, however. First, a mysterious man named Morpheus must contact him, conveying a shocking truth: the universe isn’t real but is actually a “Matrix”—a “neural interactive simulation,” a “computer-generated dreamworld”—and the year isn’t 1999 but something like 2199. Early in the twenty-first century, Morpheus explains, human beings and intelligent machines went to war against one another. The machines, seeking a constant source of bioelectrical energy, started to breed people and use them as human generators, keeping them in little cells but convincing them, through illusion-conveying cables attached to their brains, that they still lived in an ordinary world. “You are a slave, Neo,” Morpheus says. “Like everyone else, you were born into bondage.”

It’s basically religion, at least so I think. Funny how science fiction would come out that way.

By the way, if anyone cares, here are some brief excerpts from Ezra Levant’s book against the Canadian “human rights” (= totalitarian government). commissions.

  • Delicious
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Twitter
  • RSS Feed

11 Responses to Science fiction finding religion?

  1. In the Matrix, Agent Smith cites evolution as justification for the enslavement of humanity.

    So to Hitler and Stalin, we can add Agent Smith in the pantheon of evil evolutionists :-)

  2. The Matrix (like much fiction) definitely uses Christian symbolism, but that doesn’t make the story “basically religion,” does it?

    People (at least sane people) don’t believe that the movie The Matrix accurately describes reality, do they?

  3. Actually, good sci-fi has always included religion as a major theme – Frank Herbert’s ‘The Dragon in the Sea’ (1956) employs Christian characters and Mr Roddenberry, of course, gave us the intriguing ‘Bread and Circuses’ in the original series of Star Trek (1968), and then there is the likes of C S Lewis Cosmic Trilogy. Lewis himself noted the ‘fingerprints’ of the evangel in pre-christian mythology, so it’s no real surprise that this rich mine continues to be plundered both in a pulp iconography like the Matrix and more considered works in the genre. This can be useful when people are pondering the ‘big picture’.

  4. Off Topic, well partially.
    Tom Cruise to play Charles Darwin, a plot written by Quentin Tarantino! Working title “Shok da Monkey!”, subtitle “Where were the Spyders?”

    It’s an April Fool’s Day story by a German news paper “Sueddeutsche Zeitung”. Sorry it is only in German, maybe I will translate it if I got time. It is terrific, though! Good laughs!

  5. 5

    Anyone watch Battlestar Galactica? Lots of religious themes in that show, but the one that really stuck out to me was in the final episode of the series, which aired last week.

    Captain: “How is that possible? Human beings, naturally evolved, on a planet one million light years away? The odds against that are…”

    Scientist: “Astronomical, yeah. One might even say there was a divine hand at work.”

  6. 6
    AmerikanInKananaskis

    I consider myself a very religious person, but the last episode of Battlestar Galactica was rubbish. The ultimate deus ex machina.

    I watch it for science fiction, not theology. Very disappointing.

  7. I love this type of discussion, and yes, much has been written on “Neo’s” messiah-like qualities.

    During last year’s season of Doctor Who, I wrote quite a bit on my blog connecting the dots of the Doctor’s messianic nature, and the aspects of the show I found to be “religious.” I find Doctor Who really compelling to dig into in its current incarnation because two of the main writers are atheists and the topic comes up quite a bit in the fan communities.

    Here’s my first post on this very topic: Doctor Who, Atheism, and God: http://christianscribbler.word.....m-and-god/

  8. Kliska,
    Take a look some time at the Christopher Eccleston / Billie Piper Dr Who Episode, ‘Fathers Day’ – I think you’ll enjoy it.
    Galactica certainly had some interesting (if somewhat overt) moments, but the most recent show that raises lots of interesting questions about definition for me was ‘The 4400′ – pity it was canceled after 4 seasons as it was just finding its stride.

  9. howard, yep, I saw that one and was definitely interested in it, since the church (the literal building) almost seemed like one of the characters.

    Galactica did tend to bring in religion quite a lot; sometimes blatantly with their talk of the Cylon god “vs.” the colonists’ gods.

  10. Those interested in this thread may find Herrick’s book on the subject to be of interest.

    James A. Herrick, Scientific Mythologies: How Science and Science Fiction Forge New Religious Beliefs, InterVarsity Press 2008.

  11. 11

    Amerikan: Really? I actually really liked the last episode. I was afraid the show had built way too much momentum and left too many threads loose for the ending to be anything but a big let down. I was surprised they actually came up with a couple nice twists and tied of some loose ends I didn’t even remember.

    On Neo: I was going to write up something awhile ago comparing and contrasting Christ, Neo and Nietzsche’s Superman. I argue that in the most important aspects, Neo resembles the Superman more than Christ. The easiest way to see this is at their respective penultimate moments, Christ and Neo find very different reasons to complete their mission. Christ says, “Take this cup from me, but not my will, but Yours be done.” Neo instead draws on the strength of his own will. When Agent Smith asks him why he keeps fighting, Neo says, “Because I choose to.” This, in my opinion, is a big difference. Neo’s own free will is presented as the driving force of his character, and thus he’s much more like Nietzsche’s Superman than Christ.

    But yeah, big fan of the Matrix.

Leave a Reply