Science, Religion, and SF TV Shows

October 5, 2009 at 10:23 pm Leave a comment

“Defying Gravity” was an interesting tv show. I’ve watched the nine episodes available online. But the story arc bothers me. Why do the creators of SF shows think they have to have a mystical, quasi-religious story arc? Star Trek (the original) only did it in a few episodes, usually because they had to deal with aliens with god-complexes. StarGate SG-1 dealt with it a bit, for the same reason. But Defying Gravity, with its near-future realism, wasn’t content to build a story around exploration or even a strange artifact. No, they had to find “God” in the object.

Not that I object to religion. I’m very religious myself. I’m just wondering why SF shows have to explore the idea that God can be found as a tangible thing just waiting for us to reach a certain point in our technological evolution. Is it because we are searching for meaning or is it the same reason that ancient people built the tower of Babel? We have a deep-seated need to find God, to classify Him, to fit him into the framework of understanding we’ve built to explain our existence. So we create tv shows where God is a glowing, amorphous blob that wants us to retrieve the other bits left lying around on other planets. Maybe the writers didn’t mean to take the story that direction but since the show was cancelled, we’ll never find out.

On the other hand, you have tv shows where God does not exist and never has, where relationships are always doomed to fail, where true happiness does not exist. Firefly, much as I love the show and the characters, falls into this trap. Joss Whedon must not believe in marriage or happiness, none of his characters ever find it and if they do, the universe punishes them by ripping away whatever they had.

So where is the balance between religion and science? I personally believe science and religion are not contradictory but complementary. Science answers questions religion isn’t equipped to handle and vice versa. God is not quantifiable, but his creations are. By understanding his creations, we can understand something about deity. And through religion, we can build a relationship with God that can help us understand science and find meaning in our existence.

I wonder if Hollywood will ever find that balance.

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Jaleta Clegg

I write science fiction, fantasy, and comic horror. I also have a whole horde of children and a lot of opinions.

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