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Religious Science Fiction

What is Religious Science Fiction?

Religion and Science Fiction may seem unlikely partners, but there are aspects of Sci Fi that lend itself well to the exploration of big theological questions. Sci Fi is a big genre, full of possibilities, full of infinite possible worlds, full of humans, superhumans, and extraterrestrial life forms, which gives it a profound ability to ask grand questions that are beyond the scope of other genres. Indeed, this crossover of two disparate genres is one way authors attempt to reconcile faith with scientific knowledge.

Different perspectives are used for a more complex discussion on theological ideas. Religious ideas are explored through human religions, alien religions, and even robot religions. Religious ideas are explored in different settings--alien planets, human colonies, the depths of space. Sci Fi allows the author to create a holistic world where questions on a grand scale can be played with. It is because of this opportunity that religion and Sci Fi can find themselves joined.

There was a period when religion was a taboo topic and so Religious Sci Fi used religion as a superstructure or as satire, rather than engaging with theological issues. This taboo ended after WWII.

Defined simply, Religious Sci Fi is a story set in the future with a religious overtone or message.

You can view the crowd-ranked "Popular" Religious Science Fiction Books list and vote and/submit entries to it.

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Other Features of Religious Science Fiction

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  • Level of Real Science

    oderate. Religion does not exclude real science. Indeed, in Religious Sci Fi science is often invoked to prove theological theories. However, science is not the driving point of the story.

  • Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications

    High. Religious Sci Fi is a sub-genre where religious themes are, explored, proposed, and even debated. These are metaphysical ideas, ideas that look at the fabric of existence

  • Level of Characterization

    Low. When exploring grand ideas about the existence of God and the universe, characterization is less important. This is not to say that a good writer cannot create well rounded characters in a story with religious messages, just that the ideas are more important than the characters.

  • Level of Plot Complexity

    Low. Religious Sci Fi tends to be more about a philosophical or theological journey, rather than plot.

  • Level of Violence

    Variable. The level of violence will vary widely--apocalypse stories with religious messages are violent, but meeting an alien race with no concept of faith or sin, tends not to be violent.

Related Science Fiction subgenres

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    Scientific Romance. Writers will sometimes borrow literary devices of the Scientific Romance sub-genre, most often in stories about cosmic voyages that also reaffirm theological ideas.

  • Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction. The world ending is a significant catalyst for religious questioning.

  • Space Opera. Religion explores big ideas and Space Opera tells big stories so crossovers are common.

  • Pulp Science Fiction. The Pulps were a place for writers to experiment and begin incorporating religious ideas into Sci Fi.

  • Dystopia. Dystopian fiction might sometimes explore (in a negative light) a world taken over with religious ideals.

Religious Science Fiction isn't for you if...

If you don't like asking big questions, or the possible answers, or lack of answers, to those questions. Sci Fi is an irreverent genre so while Religious Sci Fi explores theological ideas, the stories rarely end in certainty.

Religious Science Fiction Book Recommendations
  • 1 The Chrysalids


    By John Wyndham. A Post-Apocalyptic tale where the apocalyptic event is now seen as God's punishment. The society practices a form of fundamentalist Christianity and genetic variance and mutations are considered impure and caused by the Devil.

  • 2 A Romance of Two Worlds


    By Marie Corelli. In this novel God is described as an entity of pure electric force .

  • 3 Calculating God


    By Robert J. Sawyer. An alien craft lands in Toronto and asks to see a paleontologist. Two alien planets and Earth experienced the same five cataclysmic events--which the aliens see as proof of God.

  • 4 A Canticle for Leibowitz


    By Walter M. Miller. After a nuclear war monks preserve civilization.

  • 5 A Case of Conscience


    By James Blish. The protagnoist in this story is a priest and a scientist who is sent to Lithia and finds an alien race who has no concept of a god or an afterlife nor an understanding of faith.

  • 6 Inferno


    By Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. A science fiction writer finds himself in Dante's version of hell.

  • 7 Star Maker


    By Olaf Stapledon A philosophical text about the search for God, the Star Maker.

  • 8 Cosmic Trilogy


    By C.S. Lewis. This three-part series uses Scientific Romance to play out its theological fantasies.

  • 9 Childhood's End


    By Arthur C. Clarke. An example of a novel that employs the use of religious symbolism and imagery without a religious doctrine. The title of the novel can be interpreted to mean the fading of religion on Earth as information from aliens and alien technology is made apparent.

  • 10 The Omega Point Trilogy


    By George Zebrowski. This series is a modern Space Opera. The universe is constantly evolving towards the omega point, where the universe has reached a maximum level of complexity and consciousness--reminiscent of Christian themes.

  • 11 Left Behind series


    By Tim LaHaye. The apocalypse, or the rapture, is upon us.