Is Science Fiction Unbiblical?

When Christians consider some of the most famous science fiction authors—atheists like H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, and Gene Roddenberry—they might conclude that science fiction is the genre most antithetical to a biblical worldview. Not true!

Science fiction has been used throughout its history (beginning with pioneer Jules Verne) to underscore several biblical truths. We can see this in five common motifs:

1. Meditations on the unintended consequences that usually accompany scientific advances (for example, the Terminator). The Bible is clear that men are neither perfect nor all-knowing, so even when we mean well we might make things worse. Every Christian should always be willing to ask the biblical question, Just because we can do something, should we?

2. Cautionary tales about the human tendency to abuse power (for example, The Invisible Man by Wells or The Circle by Dave Eggers). Because man is inherently sinful, Christians are suspicious of centralized power—we expect men with too much power to learn to misuse it.

3. Futuristic settings can issue warnings about what will happen to humanity if we continue to embrace certain bad ideas (for example, 1984 by George Orwell). Christians have always known that bad ideas have bad consequences; Christ tells us that we can recognize bad teachers and their bad ideas by considering the bad fruit that they bear (Matthew 7:15-20).

4. Meditations on what makes humans human (for example, “I, Robot” by Asimov). Why will Artificial Intelligence never perfectly replicate human intelligence? Because the complexity of the human soul, created imago Dei (Genesis 1:27) can never be translated into a machine. As long as men and women fully embrace their humanity in keeping with a Christian worldview, machines will never approach humanness.

5. Highly imaginary stories that answer “what if” questions about human history (for example, The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick). This last motif is less obviously biblical than the previous ones, but it can point us to a central biblical truth nonetheless: we should be grateful that an omnipotent, loving God is bringing history toward its appointed end. If God is not in control, then history is off the leash and any “what if” scenario may in fact happen. The general mercy extended by God to His creatures (Matthew 5:45) becomes a mere pipe dream.

The bottom line: while it’s true that the science fiction genre attracts many atheistic authors, Christians should recognize that truth is true wherever it appears, and embrace every genre that is conducive to telling truth. C.S. Lewis wrote a biblical story using interplanetary travel in his space trilogy, and modern Christian authors can learn to do the same.