Thursday, April 02, 2009

Seven Deadly Sins of Religion in Science Fiction

"The 7 Deadly Sins Of Religion In Science Fiction" by Charlie Jane Anders gets it just about right.1 I'll leave it to you to read the column's illustrative examples and entertaining language, but here are the "sins" to which I add a brief explanatory paraphrase:

  1. The cargo cult. [Primitive peoples worshiping more advanced technology]
  2. The cheap Jesus. [Christ imagery plopped on]
  3. The dumb space gods. [Appearances of the Divine should appear divine.]
  4. The all-purpose patch for lazy writing. [AKA Deus ex machina ending, i.e., pulling a ending outta "heaven" that's actually thin air]
  5. Simplistic religion vs. science battles. [as if a Dawkins drone wrote the script]
  6. Simplistic science-bashing in the name of religion. [don't see how this can be clarified briefly]
  7. New-agey-ness. [yeah, Boomers should be banned from writing and directing]

Numbers 1-3 might be summarized by "simplistic or caricature religion"—the religious counterpart to number 6's simplistic science. Number 7 might be called simplistic "self-caricature" religion—the real pity of it is that new age practitioners don't recognize what a superficial, ersatz "spirituality" they've fallen for. Number 4 is just plain bad writing, but then these all reflect bad writing. But I most appreciate number 5: it's a point that can't be made too often these days.


1. My blind spot in commenting on this column is that it jumps off of the Battlestar Galactica series that recently ended, and I've seen exactly zero of the episodes. (Perhaps my lacking a television excuses me.)


Chad said...

You're damn right about the whole BSG tie in. It had some very interesting ideas that had potential. But it was clear that while the writers could come up with the basics, they didn't have the chops to fully explore the small ideas they thought of. And then the ending... well, lets just say thankfully I had Tivo and could fast forward a lot.

Mike Flynn said...

I notice all the examples were movies and TV - "sci-fi" - rather than print - "SF"