Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Sci-Fi Ponders Alien Challenge to Faith

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Sci-Fi Ponders Alien Challenge to Faith

Article excerpt

Science fiction has been exploring the possibility of life in space for years. It has also asked a lot of questions about how religion fits into the mix when earthlings discover other planets. Here is a short list of a few books and stories about (mostly Christian) Earth folks who go into space and encounter God, other creatures and alien religions. Often their own faith is challenged by what they find.

* "The Star" (short story) in The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke, by Arthur C. Clarke (Tor Books)

A Jesuit astrophysicist serves on a spaceship. His faith in a good and merciful God falters when the ship's crew discovers a millennia-old marker left by a vital alien people who perished with the destruction of their planet in a supernova.

* "Field of Vision" (short story) in The Wind's Twelve Quarters, by Ursula K. LeGuin (Orion Publishing Group)

Astronauts return from a trip into space afflicted with inexplicable problems: One is insane, one is blind, one is, deaf. As a psychologist works with the one who is blind, the reader slowly discovers that the space explorers are reacting to an encounter with something human senses are too limited to perceive.

* Speaker for the Dead, by Orson Scott Card (Tor Books)

Portuguese colonists have brought their Catholicism to another planet and its gentle inhabitants. Some of the creatures show a mild interest in the Christian faith, but then the humans discover that there is an older belief system on the planet, which practices an alien ritual that looks, to the humans, like brutal murder. …

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