Is science ficiton the new religion of the 21st century? With its many-fold epic stories, this genre is transcending its peers to become a religion. Consider the recent attention given to May the 4th as Star Wars day. This international informal holiday is growing in popularity each year making us wonder whether the franchise is no longer an entertainment blockbuster but a source of meaning. Consider also the DC vs Marvel memes that read:
I will not force my religion on my child. When the right time comes, I will explain to him/her the differences and they can choose for themselves between Marvel or DC Comics
The fastest growing religion in the United States is the unaffiliated or “nones” group. This trend, which clearly accelerated with the emergence of the Millennial generation demonstrates that religion will increasingly find competition in the market for ultimate meaning. In the absence of traditional religion affiliation, Americans are finding other narratives to fill the gap of meaning in their life. Some find it in sports or political ideologies while others are starting to look to movies to replace the role religion played in their parents’ lives.
This is not surprising as religions tend to start around epic stories that take a life of their own. They may include historical events but their value is not in history but in how one interprets history. They serve as a lens to interpret the world providing direction, comfort, and hope. Could a science fiction story play a similar role? It appears so. While science is often seen as explaining away mystery and therefore going at odds with religion, science fiction may be the point of contact between the two. Both religion and science fiction are appealing to the imagination. They also aim to teach us moral lessons with the hope to bring out the best in us.
Whether science fiction series become more religion-like is of less importance. The underlying trend behind it is the clear thirst of this generation for meaning. In the vacuum of traditional anchors of meaning, other things will rush to fill the void.
Reality Changing Observations:
Q1. What are the sources of meaning for your life?
Q2. Is there a science fiction movie or book that speaks to you on a spiritual level? Which one and why?
Q3. How can religion appeal to the younger generations?