Saturday, May 07, 2011

science, religion, and science fiction

An insight came to me after watching "Tron: Legacy" the other day:

in holy churches, on the TV
religion and science do battle with glee
but in the dark walls of yon multiplex
religion and science have passionate sex

Think about all the SF movies you've seen, and then think about how many of them are completely bereft of explicit religious tropes or implicit religious themes. Not that many come to mind, right? It's enough to make one wonder why this might be so.

A cynical response might be that portraying hard SF requires an insane amount of rigor; religious topics are naturally "squishier," allowing lazy-minded Hollywood a certain amount of wiggle room: fictional universes don't have to follow the laws of physics to the letter. Hollywood also thinks in terms of marketability, and with the majority of the world's population being religious in some form or other, it would be daft, financially speaking, to make a film that did its best to ignore such an immense demographic.

A less cynical response might be the classic one: science and religion both strive for truth in their own respective ways, so it's only natural that themes from both worldviews should mesh together so well in movies. But if we take this response and run with it, the question then becomes: why movies? Hard SF has a large following when it comes to books, but how many movies have done those books justice?


1 comment:

SJHoneywell said...

I think it might be even simpler. Both do strive for the truth, but both also deal quite a bit with the idea of the unknown.