I like Science Fiction. A lot. And, what is really cool is that other biblical studies/theologians (except Jim West who absolutely Gleeful) seems to like Sci-fi as well.
I currently watch Fringe, because my wife makes me, and Stargate Universe, because it is one of the most well written shows on American television since Firefly. It seems, lately, that both of these shows are experiencing a story arc which is pointing them to something distant. Both shows seems to be racing to finding the original structure of Creation, the power source, and essentially, the Great Architect of the Universe. Neither show has explored a ‘spirituality’ but both are reaching to the stars to find this distant Cosmic Creator. Granted, a few episodes ago, SGU had a very unique moment in its history in which a lead character, in her dream/vision, traveled back to a previously visited planet, and essentially had to give up her child which while on the ship, she ‘lost.’ To her was given a sign – a giant bursting star-like enigma in the sky which existed above the sky of the planet and out the viewing deck of the ship (which she saw and understand when she returned). This past week’s episode saw the revelation of the mystery of the structure behind the static of white noise. Somewhere, back behind the noise is the fading structure which pre-existed at the creation of the universe. The ship, Destiny, has a mission – to find the Structure:
“Destiny has a mission of its own, which is not about going home in the traditional sense, but about getting the people on the ship somewhere else, as if they were chosen. It seems that eons ago, the Ancients discovered a structure buried deep within the cosmic microwave background radiation – noise left over from the Big Bang. They believed that at one time the structure had genuine complexity, coherence, therefore it could not have occurred naturally. We cannot not see or understand such a structure with our current technology or understanding of physics…..We are talking about a mystery rooted in the foundation of reality, a puzzle with pieces scattered across the length and breadth of the universe itself. There was perhaps a level of order present at the very beginning of space-time that goes beyond anything we ever conceived.”
Election. Anti-tradition. Mystery. Searching. Longing. Divine.
We are living in a postmodern age, in which people are giving up on absolutes – either science or religion. We are moving, I think, to where the unknown and the unexplainable are being relished in, instead of needing to have it explained in myths or quantifiable algorithms. Who knows? Maybe the fact that Science Fiction is no longer assuming that Something doesn’t exist is a good sign for Western spirituality. It started, if you remember, with Babylon 5 which dealt with destiny, spirits, souls, reincarnation and other religious tales. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine learned from it, and has some of the same religious elements. Firefly graced us briefly with a Christian chaplain with Christian themes interspersed. (No, I am not forgetting Dune.) Battlestar Galatica. Lost. And now, Fringe and SGU. While there is hardly any religion in the shows, and when we see it, it is generally condemned, there is still a Divine and a search for the Divine. Something must exist beyond our existence, which gives us meaning and hope.
Maybe these shows are using the vernacular of our age to tell their own story of God, and their believe that people are still searching for God. Even behind the static.
- ‘Stargate Universe’ Season 2, Episode 7 Recap (tvsquad.com)