Religion In Science Fiction

Something I have run across in my vast undertaking of trying to read and conquer every Science Fiction book ever written, there appears to be a lot of mono-religions for aliens. My question is why? This also occurs in the Fantasy genre.

Perhaps if an author tells us that a world has ten religions, but only explains one, the rest is left for us to color in with our imagination?

Is it because the universe in which the story is written is so large that it is not only unnecessary  but detrimental to explore the vast religions and sects of an alien culture? Or is it the simple and easy answer, too much work.

Occam’s razor points me to the latter, which worries me.

I can understand a hive-mind like alien species having one religion, if any at all. A society where a single or total consciousness controls the thoughts and physical movements for an entire species. That makes sense to me.

What I don’t understand is how a large, intergalactic civilization that expands several planets and moons can only believe in one religion, say a golden potato. This strikes me as very odd. If evolution has tought us anything, genetic drift among the different colonies would occur over time. The alien’s bodies would evolve to adjust to the conditions on the planet or moon.

Say that takes place over a period of a few hundred years, I would almost bet that enough difference between the colonies would result in skewed political and religious views, necessity playing a large part in the equation.

We don’t even have to look very far here on Earth to see that villages a few miles apart have similar but ultimately different religious ideologies. Expand countries and continents and the difference grows.

So why would it be any different for an alien species? Am I over simplifying the unknown by applying human conditions and parameters to something incalculable?

Culture is something that does interest me. I enjoy reading about other societies and the differences in perspectives that can differ so radically from my own. Introduce a creature with different needs and biological functions than a human, we have a recipe for extreme shifts and differences from our own. The potential to explore this in a soft science fiction universe feels like trying to find where the ocean meets the sky, an endless journey.

The amazing part is after religion, we have politics and social class to explore. Perhaps I just haven’t read as widely as I would like to think I have, or is there a kernel of truth to this?

What do you think? Can you point me to any Fantasy and Science Fiction books that explore in greater detail the softer exploits or a civilization?

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3 thoughts on “Religion In Science Fiction

  1. Check out the ‘Ender’s Game’ series. Specifically the sequel books, ‘Speaker for the Dead’, ‘Xenocide’ and ‘Children of the Mind’. They deal with multiple human planets with differing religions. Not exactly what you’re looking for, but it jumped to mind.

    • Frank Bishop says:

      I have actually read all of those. I remember the piggies having a schism, but I can’t recall if the human religions were very different from our own now. A little extremism like no sex even if married….. I read them long ago, some details are hazy.

  2. Chris G. says:

    Going for every science fiction book ever written? That’s quite an undertaking…

    As to the religion point of this post, I quite agree – it’s quite a thing to see, so many settling on a “one race – one religion” policy. I disagree with the logic of it, and while it may be a common trend of the science fiction genre to hope for the absence of religion, or the unity of it into one concentrated source, I think one needs but look around all of human history to know that it’s an unlikely concept, to say the least. And in dealing with aliens, other fantastical races, what have you, you’re telling me they wouldn’t behave the same way? I.E. Fully intellectual, sentient species would have but one religion to drive their entire species? No differences or dissent? The silliness, I say!

    Society is never a one concept fits all scenario. But I agree, I think a lot of writers tend toward that end, for ease of writing and their own attempts at sanity…

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