Theology and Science Fiction

I am a theology geek. I was always a theology geek, but going to seminary brought it out more in me. I love thinking about the many ways in which human beings of any tradition make sense of the world, of the seen and the not seen. And I always bring that perspective into what I write.

Writing about theology in science fiction can be tricky, of course. Some science fiction writers write about the future as if we end up discarding religion or any sort of spirituality, and become purely rational materialists. Most, though, understand, that it’s never going to be that simple. As western civilization moves away from Chrisitanity as an organizing principle, into something where many traditions  (old and new) have freedom to develop and take space in the marketplace of ideas, the role of theology in our lives may become more interesting than we suspect.

In terms of my own writing, I’ve had the most fun with exploring what kinds of theology alien civilizations might have. Although in one series (The Cassiopeia Chronicles) the theology of one particular alien species was informed by a being strikingly similar to Jesus (but didn’t really resemble Christianity as practiced any time recently.)

I’ve also been inspired by the recent advances in physics, all of which sugges that the universe is a much, much stranger place than we ever imagined. There is, to my mind, deep richness in investigating the ways in which physics can be a window into the unknowable.

Here is an excerpt from “The Casitians Return“:

Jal’end’a hadn’t started out studying religions. Ever since she was a teenager, Jal’end’a had been on a search to understand the universe’s origins. She had originally decided to study physics, and had been trained by some of the best teachers on Casiti. She had remained unsatisfied by the process of translation of texts written by the ancients, and the theoretical and experimental approaches to understanding what many thought of as the earliest moments of the universe.

The deeper Casitian physicists delved into the origins of the universe, the more they found the face of the divine. Some physicists were working to use their methodologies to understand the divine, as Jal’end’a’s major teacher did. She had even begun to work with a number of other teachers in crafting theories that unified various fields of knowledge: from origins of the universe, lyre’es’gkin, theories of the mind and brain, and other phenomena.

In the end, Jal’end’a felt the call to go within herself, to sit, to contemplate, to connect deeply with the divine wisdom inside of her in order to understand the divine wisdom of creation. So she withdrew from science, requested permission to be supported by the community, and lived alone, in a small dwelling far from the city.

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