Real-world religions on futuristic sci-fi

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by alpha_leonis, May 21, 2014.

  1. alpha_leonis

    alpha_leonis Captain Captain

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    I had an interesting conversation with my wife recently after watching a particular episode of "Babylon 5", where Commander Ivanova sits Shiva in memory of her father. To the best of our knowledge, this is nearly the only time in any futuristic Sci-fi where any human character follows any kind of religion that's directly recognizable from our current human practice. The later "Dune" novels also feature a band of travelling Jews, and just like Ivanova, their form of Judaism is entirely recognizable based on modern 21st Century practice.

    In other Sci-fi shows and books, I can't think of a single human character who follows a truly recognizable religion, as opposed to a fictionalized rearrangement or something entirely made-up from whole cloth.

    • Dune's Fremen follow a "Buddislamic" or "Zensunni" religion
    • Other Dune characters honor the Orange Catholic Bible
    • Babylon 5's Doctor Franklin is a "Foundationist", which is a religion made up for the show.
    • Honor Harrington follows a combination of "Second Reformation Catholicism" (another fictionalized rearrangement) and "Graysonism" (entirely made-up)

    But the vast majority of human sci-fi characters follow no religion whatsoever, sometimes being even openly hostile to religion (I'm thinking specifically of Captain Picard in "Who Watches the Watchers" -- but in that case he was openly opposed to the formation of a religion based on him personally.) I'm curious why that pattern tends to emerge in future-fiction, and why Judaism out of all possibilities is the only one that survives in a pure (meaning, 21st-century modern) form?
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2014
  2. alpha_leonis

    alpha_leonis Captain Captain

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    Context of the question: my wife is actually an ordained Christian minister of a progressive denomination. But she laughed out loud watching Spock's funeral in TWOK, when Scotty started playing "Amazing Grace". Her comment: it's not like Spock should conceivably be a Christian. He's not even human.

    IIRC Gene Roddenberry specifically rejected a network request to include a Christian chaplain on the Enterprise during TOS, since it went against his ideas of a diverse crew base (including religious diversity.)
     
  3. Vendikarr

    Vendikarr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well Judaism is one of the oldest religions still in practice today, and it's traditions haven't changed much in millennia. If you want to depict a terran religion in the future, Judaism may be a good choice.

    In the two millennia Christianity has been on the scene, it had splintered, changed and evolved many times. In a future setting there may be sects unrecognizable to modern audiences because that particular faith seems so prone to change.
     
  4. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I thought that was a very touching scene. The lyrics do, after all, hold some parallels to Spock's life...

    I think it's entirely possible that non-humans could adopt Earth religious beliefs. And also the reverse.
     
  5. alpha_leonis

    alpha_leonis Captain Captain

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    That's actually a good point, if you're referring to Protestant churches specifically. But if it's longevity you're looking for, Catholic and Orthodox Christians each have at least a millennium and a half of tradition behind them. But you never see anybody on Star Trek going to Mass, for example.
     
  6. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Phlox did once. He said he attended Mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
     
  7. alpha_leonis

    alpha_leonis Captain Captain

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    But Phlox isn't human, and he almost certainly isn't Catholic. I'm looking for human examples.
     
  8. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Some poeple who aren't Christian might have Amazing Grace played at their funeral. Besides TSFS is set circa 2283. Just because some might assicate it more with being a Christan Hymn today, doesn't mean the same will be true in over two hundred from now.
     
  9. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    I didn't think there was a rule that certain songs could only be played at certain funerals.
     
  10. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well, the fact that there was a Mass for him to attend in the first place, suggests that people still go to it. ;)
     
  11. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Touche.

    Besides we have circumstantial evidence about Religon survinvg into the 24th Century.

    Picard's Christmas experiance in the Nexus


    Kirks like from "Who Mourns for Adonais?" ; "Mankind has no need for gods. We find the one quite adequate."

    Now of course as I said it's circumstantial and doesn't 100% prove anything.
     
  12. Jan

    Jan Commodore Commodore

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    Don't forget the long line of religious people Sinclair introduced at the end of "Parliament of Dreams", too.

    And since Franklin's Foundationism was mentioned, hope nobody minds my posting this excerpt that was posted several years ago:

    IMO, it should be required reading by everybody but especially parents.

    Jan
     
  13. Shawnster

    Shawnster Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The song was originally connected with literal slavery in England. If it can be co-opted to become a song for spiritual wretches, it can be reinterpreted for a half-Vulcan.

    In one if the newer Twilight Zones there is an episode that is set in the future and deals with the Starbof Bethlehem.http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Star_(The_Twilight_Zone)

    Battlestar Galactica dealt with religion quite a bit, albeit not any modern Earth religions.
     
  14. Morpheus 02

    Morpheus 02 Commodore Commodore

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    I think it's already been mentioned, but much of the Judaism (religious part) is pretty much the same as it has been for many years.

    I would throw in my personal opinion that it's also because it is not really an evangelistic religion. Those who follow Judaism aren't know to encourage outsiders to join their faith. It's more of an inherited thing.


    I think the writers don't feel (and have previously been) threatened by Judaism, so they feel it's one religion that they know enough about that they are fine with it surviving into the future.

    With other religions, I don't think the writers have allowed themselves to have conversations with religious people who are thoughtful (yes, they are out there), who could help walk them through what their religion would look like in the future.
     
  15. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Among the main characters in Dan Simmons' Hyperion novels are Jews and Catholics. The latter feature heavily in the last two installments Endymion and Rise of Endymion. Muslims and Buddhists are also featured in the novels.
     
  16. Timelord Victorious

    Timelord Victorious Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That is an example of cultural heritage, not practised religion. My family is completely atheistic, yet we celebrate christmas.
    We don't celebrate the religious part of it, just the secular aspects. Yet we still call it christmas, because thats part of our cultural heritage.
    Same for Picard.
     
  17. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    I seem to recall some sympathetic Muslim characters in Pitch Dark.
     
  18. alpha_leonis

    alpha_leonis Captain Captain

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    Now that you mention it, there was also one in the movie adaptation of "Ender's Game." (I've never read the book.)

    And as a tangent, I forget the name of the series by Orson Scott Card that was almost a direct retelling of the Book of Mormon (Card himself is LDS.)
     
  19. HotRod

    HotRod Commander Red Shirt

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    Ashley Williams from Mass Effect is christian and talked often about her faith.
     
  20. Neroon

    Neroon Mod of Balance Moderator

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    In addition to the example Jan cited, there was also the recurring character of Brother Theo who was decidedly Christian, Roman Catholic monks in fact, though I don't know their specific order.