Saturday, July 9, 2016

Religion as Science Fiction

What if theology is regarded as SciFi?

How seriously do you take science fiction? Obviously, being called "fiction", it is neither science nor any other kind of truth. Yet it is full of "truthiness"- plausible-ish technologies, settings related to our own, typically in the future, and human dramas more or less rich. It also often offers sweeping, even eschatological-scale, plots. But how can science fiction deal in human meaning if it does not deal in theology, given that the religiously inclined naturally think that meaning is given to us, not by our own ideas or efforts, but by a theos?

Obviously, one can turn that around and claim that theologies are themselves made up, and, far from scientifically observing a meaning given from on high, are exercises in making meaning, all the more effective for denying their underlying fictionality. In any case, I think science fiction is clearly the closest genre to religion, and caters to readers/viewers who have basically religious needs and temperaments.
From Jesus and Mo.

It is the science fiction fans who expect philosophical ruminations on what it means to be human, tales of a far future when humanity will have escaped the bonds of earth, often magical events and capabilities, and unimaginably powerful alien beings. Subspace, mind-melds, apocalyptic wars ... it is just a another word for supernatural.

Likewise, our ancestors clearly had the same idea(s). How better to illustrate their dreams, both bad and good, but with inflated archetypal beings and conflicts? The Ramayana reads like a Hollywood SciFi blockbuster. Why are there two versions of the Garden of Eden? It isn't because each is scientifically accurate. It is a clear statement that both are science fictions- tales of an idyll, and of an archetype.

Rama, flying in his vimana.

Why our cultures should have harbored such humorless, spiritually dead people as to take these tales seriously is beyond me. It is probably a testament to the bureaucratic mindset- the organization-alized person who clutches at tradition and order, (and certainty/explanation), over imagination and play. And over time, the original imaginative, introspective impulse is so crusted over that even the most sensitive and insightful people have no choice but to take the truth-dogma seriously as an external or historical reality, and proceed to make nonsense of what began as a wonderful work of art.

  • Religion and big data.
  • Groups needing to own it...
  • Masons, and the convention of conventions.
  • Bill Mitchell on Brexit. "Labour was advocating continued membership of an arrangement that is now broadly seen as a vehicle of the elites to suppress wages, employment and push more people into compliant poverty."
  • More thoughts on Brexit.
  • The financial elites are not making good policy. And not providing economic growth.
  • South Korea, heading authoritarian.
  • Can atheists and chaplains interact usefully?
  • German economics: Schacht v Euken.
  • Our friends the Saudis.
  • Another theologian employed at a public university- heaven knows why.
  • Fox and Friends. Or frenemies.

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