This won’t be as argumentative as the last time I linked to a Mind Meld, but there’s some argumentation here.
The question posed in the Mind Meld is this: “Is science fiction antithetical to religion?”
There are some good answers behind that link. (Also some long answers.) They expose, among other things, the vagueness of that question. You can take it in the sense implied by the lines that precede it: “Two of the most highly regarded fantasy authors – Tolkien and Lewis – were also Christians, whereas the fathers of science fiction were atheists, and SF itself, it could be argued, grew out of Darwinism and other notions of deep time.” In that sense, it seems to be asking whether you can write science fiction while also being religious, and the subsequent answers have comprehensively blown the “SF was founded by atheists” premise out of the water.
But there are other aspects to the question. Are the aims of science fiction incompatible with those of religion? That depends on how one views the aims of both; there are both “yes” and “no” answers at various points in the discussion. Adam Roberts almost seems to equate SF with Protestantism and fantasy with Catholicism. ??? James Wallace Harris’s answer reminds me uncomfortably of the things I was ranting about in “Frazer’s Goddamned Golden Bough” — that you can create that kind of pseudo-evolutionary path for human thought. (At least he allows for the transgression of his categories, instead of assuming we outgrow the older ones.) Several people touch on fundamentalism versus other approaches to religion, and how that relates to religious thought.
Almost all of them, though, assume “religion” = “Christianity” — or, at most, the Religions of the Book. On the one hand, this is fair; most of our genre tradition has been written by Westerners. On the other hand, if we want to talk about the compatibility or lack thereof between SF and religion, we should address the existence of other faiths. John C. Wright’s the only one who really does so (in an answer that is also the longest there, since he discusses three or four novels along the way). He talks about Ursula LeGuin’s Taoist influences and the Zen Buddhism in Spider Robinson’s Variable Star, and speculates interestingly on our different attitudes toward Eastern and Western religion. I’d love to see more discussion of that, especially since I disagree with Wright that swapping out a Buddhist for a Catholic priest is a change of “one detail.” But that kind of discussion requires a good working knowledge of Buddhist theology (or Hindu, or any other non-Book religion) that I don’t pretend to have. (Heck, I wouldn’t even claim my Catholic theology is up to snuff.)
Interesting stuff any way you slice it. And it successfully got my brain to work shortly after waking up, which is in its own right nearly a miracle sufficient to prove the existence of God.