This past weekend I attended the Spocon, Spokane’s science fiction and fantasy convention. Nearly every decent-sized city has at least one, such as MisCon for the Missoula and RisCon for the Tri-Cities. Seattle has several of them, and I’m sure everybody's heard of the big one, Comic-Con. Attendees dress up as their favorite sci-fi or fantasy character, and there’s even a masquerade contest for the best costume. Tracks included a dystopian wars tournament, steampunk, and scientific apocalypse theories. There were also more serious sections on string theory and the Higgs boson discovery taught by the retired dean of physics from Eastern Washington University.
On Sunday morning, the convention hosted the First Church of the Bean with Bishop Timothy. The service came complete with its own creed, “It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion. It is by the Beans of Java that thoughts acquire speed. The hands acquire shaking: the shaking becomes a warning. It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.” The bishop served French-pressed Coal Forge coffee around a sacramental table covered with white cloth saying, “May the bean be with you.” The attendees responded, “And also with you.”
The First Church of the Bean was meant to be fun, but many within science fiction fandom do not hide their disdain for religion. The enmity is reciprocal. A good example is Frank Peretti’s talk at Real Life Ministries, where he made a point of ridiculing science, evolution, and philosophy. Amazingly, at one time Christianity and science were under the same umbrella of the church. Isaac Newton, often considered a father of modern science, was also a theologian. But today the two couldn’t be further apart.
A few years ago I had thought to publish Christian sci-fi. I approached a prominent agent but was told there was no market. Christians don’t read science fiction, he said. There was a magazine, Gateway S-F, that tried, but with no interest it folded. More recently, some are attempting to publish religious themes under the guise of speculative fiction. One good example is the magazine, Residential Aliens. But whether it succeeds or not, the chasm between science and religion within the greater society continues to grow.