scifi as a vehicle for revellation

I'd hate to be pegged as a scifi nerd, but I have a lot of respect for Science Fiction, or as actual scifi nerds would say speculative fiction. Why respect scifi? Because it can get people to think about many things that they would otherwise be able to rationally examine.

This is actually a more general strength of stories, but scifi has a way of harnessing it much more powerfully than most other fiction. I think it is mainly because it is unbounded in its creative latitude, while at the same time, it tries to provide a logical (scientific) framework with which the reader can (theoretically) explore the created world. In example, in a world where they've introduced force-fields, the reader is free to imagine all manner of uses of force-fields some of which might or might not pop up in the progress of the story. However, if a particular plot line fails to make use of a force-field-available mindset the reader would become dis-illusioned with the author's created world. (and rightfully so.)

Of course I'm describing good scifi, why measure anything by a poor representation of that thing?

Let's look at a few examples to better understand my point:
There was a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode in which the crew of the Enterprise came upon a planet of androgynous/hermaphroditic people. Some of the planet's inhabitants felt a certain leaning to be either male or female. The crew identified with these people--being either male or female themselves, and started to interfere with the planet's own legal system. In the end they had to learn to respect that planet's culture and allow their new friends to be re-educated back to androgyny in keeping with the planet's accepted culture.

This episode was obviously addressing the gay/lesbian issue that our current culture is having such a hard time with. But, the scifi aspect of it allowed the issue to be approached in a vaccuum in which we actually more naturally identify with those who are stand-ins for gays and lesbians. I'm not going to get into my personal beliefs or Judaism's status quo regarding this issue, I simply wanted to point to a good example of how scifi allows a good author the means to represent current problems in a audience-neutral way. In this manner scifi gets people to actually think about all manner of old problems in a new light.

Similarly during my recent sick-leave from work, I watched about half of the first season of the popular SciFi Channel TV series Battlestar Galactica. I marvelled at the number of huge issues they tackle in novel and interesting ways. Many vs. One God. Do created beings have souls? Could humanity be wiped out? God will redeem you if you put your faith in Him. God is a construct created by those with power to control those without. Will our technology be our undoing? After a while you get the drift that almost all of these have been dealt with endless times before, in the Matrix, Blade Runner, Ghost in the Machine, etc. (virtually ad infinitum)

All of this leads me to marvel at the magnitude of deep secrets of Torah that are just shouting out of all known media at the common man and going mostly unheard. Still, because all these secrets are clothed in a story nature, they are penetrating deep into the human psyche. They will have profound and lasting affects, so that when God does reveal the reality of his presence, in a lasting and open fashion, these things will be recognized as the truth that they are. We will finally see and intimately understand how the truth was around us, embracing us all along. We will have had to be zombies not to have woken up to its reality, just as Pharoah had to exert total will-power to avoid giving in to the unleashed power of God.


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