Writing on The Guardian, Damien Walter says that science fiction has evolved into a religion for modern times. His interesting and thoughtful article covers much of the same ground explored in my essay “Religion Fiction Inspires Real Religion.”
“SF provides a place to focus our awe at the wonders of the universe, just one of many functions it shares with religious beliefs.”
The main point that I make in “Religion Fiction Inspires Real Religion” is that religion-oriented fiction, and in particular religion-oriented science fiction (I call it “religion fiction”) plays a similar role for religion as science fiction for science. Theology and philosophy alone wouldn’t command strong emotional reactions, at least not for most people, without the human stories and science-fiction-like mythologies that form the narrative scaffolding of most religions. Early works of religion fiction may be integral parts of some of today’s mainstream religions, and contemporary works of religion fiction may become integral parts of tomorrow’s religions.
“It’s often argued that science has killed God, and that scientific knowledge reduces the mystery of the universe. [But every time] science opens up further depths of our universe, the mystery of it all only deepens. And the hunger for stories that speculate on answers to that mystery only grows.”
Life After Death in Silicon Virtual Realities
Walter seems skeptical about the possibility to upload minds to silicon, but he recognizes spiritual transhumanism as a religion for our and future times – what I and a growing number of Cosmists have been saying for years. He wonders whether there a chance, however slight, that we can find again the people we love after death, and says that speculative fiction provides a place to speculate on the answers to such questions.
“The Singularity, a point in the near future when technology evolves so fast that it allows life to transcend all physical boundaries, is now a common idea in SF, explored by writers from Damien Broderick to Charlie Stross. Its believers style themselves as singulatarians and transhumanists, but their rhetoric of life after death in silicon virtual realities so deeply echoes fundamentalist Christianity that no one is joking when they call it the Rapture of the Nerds.”
Image: Nasa/ESA Hubble/RexX.