Scifi: The favorite genre of the “disenchanted West”

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2013/06/why-the-west-loves-sci-fi-and-fantasy-a-cultural-explanation/276816/

The above article is full of anecdotes as to why we in the West enjoy Science Fiction.  I can say that some of these points apply to me, because I do love science fiction.  But, even as I perceive the world as “knowably rational and systematic” I don’t remove God or the other higher order persons from my worldview.  In fact, because I believe in God, the world becomes more knowable, rational, and systematic.  Also, because I have God’s Word, the Bible, I have a reliable map by which to navigate this world.  Furthermore, as a Christian, I am filled with God’s Holy Spirit, which leads into all truth, so that I can be more than a conqueror!  There is now no longer any condemnation, neither any lack of sacred astonishment!

Westerns and Scifi are so popular in the US, we created a “space western” called Firefly, which lead to a feature film called Serenity.

I am reminded of a conversation between science fiction and fantasy author, C.S. Lewis and his two academe friends, in which they discussed the nuances of children’s fantasies, space odysseys, and time travel stories.  The main driver of Lewis’ argument is that SciFi gives you a creative landscape in which to explore new stories.  This explains the success of the “Spaghetti westerns”; with their cowboys, Indians, cattle rustlers, and hopes of striking gold. Americans 50 years ago were enamored with Westerns, because it depicted a new, different, exciting way of life. The stories you could tell, set in the old west, were tinged with just a little bit of wonder. Scifi is now what the western was then.

(In point of fact, Mark Twain gained his first commercial success, not in books or articles, but in telling about his travels to exotic Hawaii.  He lectured to sold out theaters, displaying photos and artifacts as he wove tales of the Polynesian paradise.  Later, he would journey to Israel, so that he could bring back stories on which to lecture, thereby duplicating the success he’d had on the “Hawaiian circuit”.)

SciFi removes the known boundaries, and once again leaves men free to speculate.  Before men had gained such vast knowledge of our own earth, they speculated about what mermaids and sea monsters might be roving the ocean depths, or else, what elves, giants, dragons, and unicorns the neighboring woods might harbor.  They had less knowledge of the terrain, and as a result their imaginations ran wild.  Now that we have seemingly endless knowledge of our planet, we must look to the heavens when we want to engage our imaginations.  The heavens are full of mysterious places, alien worlds, angelic creatures, and the intangible ephemera of God.

Our culture, on the other hand, values the tangibles in life; assets, like money, possessions, and personnel.  Whenever our culture values the intangibles, like math, emotions, and ideas, it is generally for the purpose of proving a point or producing a profit. We have relegated the knowledge that intangibles give us to a second class status, which in turn renders the Intangibles as no longer the best way to build pathos.  As a result of our cultural rejection of intangibles life in the west is formulaic. We think we know the Universe.  We think we know ourselves.  We think we know a thing or two about life and love and space/time.  Our lives have become predictable, because we have believed the falsehood that we can, and do, know it all.

Without God in the Universe humans are reduced to little protein accidents; basically we’re no better than conscious, worms with appendages.  If that is all we are, then life is essentially meaningless.  We have lost the wonder, because we abandoned God.  We have lost our sense of awe, because we have reduced the Creation to merely the tangible realities.  We traded the Trinity for taxes and taxis.  We exchanged the truth of God for a lie; and that lie is this, “all there is, is all you can see.”  Even as I write those words a stirring in my heart rings out and asks, “But, what about hope?”  For what hope is there for protein accidents?  What grander designs can there be for we the conscious worms of earth?

Living in a society that excludes God, has robbed us of miracles.  It has cost us our moral conscious, because, without God, we believe that  in the end we can “get away with it”.  It has deprived us of wonder, awe, and the expectation of a great reward.  We are hamsters on a wheel.  Think about it; we go to school to learn, we learn to get a good job, we want a good job, so we can live well, we want to live well so we can have successful kids, we want our kids to be successful so we send them to schools… then the whole cycle starts over again.  It seems pretty redundant, but no one ever bothers to stop and ask “WHY?”. We have removed God from being the central purpose of human endeavors, and that is why we are stuck on this endless cosmic treadmill.  No wonder the Hindi’s invented the concept of Nirvana!  If living a life mired in routine, devoid of spontaneity is so dreadful, who would want to be stuck reincarnating into it for all eternity?

But they didn’t know that God would make a way out.  Not only a way out of eternal boredom, but also a way out of the trifle and tedium of the everyday.  Christians of all people should have hope, because God declares that we shall rule and reign with him throughout all eternity! There’s no room for boredom in the throne room of Heaven. (For a more thorough discussion on Christians and boredom click here! http://godlyculture.com )