Does the Church Have Room for Science Fiction?

Author Sandra Miesel notes the numerous Catholic authors that have made contributions to the “speculative fiction” genre.
Sci-fi Space
 (Kai StachowiakPublic Domain)

Back in 2011, The Catholic World Report posted a piece titled “The Cross and The Stars” that looked at the possibility for Catholics (or any Christians, presumably) to find value in science fiction (aka, “speculative fiction”) literature. It begins by noting the potential challenges that the genre poses for Christians:

What do Worlds of If have to do with Jerusalem? Do Catholic writers have a place among the wizards of fantasy and the starships of science fiction? The very pervasiveness of fantasy and science fiction in today’s popular culture worries some Catholics. Fantasy might open a path to occultism; science fiction could exalt godless Reason over Faith.

Historically, there are good reasons to be wary. From the “scientific romances” of H.G. Wells to the subversive tales of Philip Pullman, writers have wielded their pens against religion in general and Christianity in particular. L. Ron Hubbard drew on science fiction to concoct Scientology. American fans founded a neo-pagan sect based on Robert A. Heinlein’s novel Stranger in a Strange Land. Robert Graves was neither the first nor the last storyteller to promote goddess-worship and other metaphysical fads through fiction.

Although fantasy and science fiction, which belong to the genre of “speculative fiction” (SF), can be hostile to Christianity, so can any form of literature. There is nothing intrinsically wrong about asking “What if?” We cannot afford to abandon this aspect of the human imagination to those who would misuse it in the service of atheism, blasphemy, nihilism, false cults, and New Age delusions. Our call to redeem culture is not limited to a few safe artistic forms.

Author Sandra Miesel then goes on to note the numerous Catholic authors who have made contributions to the “speculative fiction” genre, beginning with J. R. R. Tolkien (who, admittedly, was a fantasy author, but nevertheless opened the doors for the increasing popularity of speculative and imaginative fiction), and continuing on with Murray Leinster, Anthony Boucher, Fred Saberhagen, Walter M. Miller, Jr., Dean Koontz, and Gene Wolfe, to name a few.

This entry was originally published on Christ and Pop Culture on .