Science Fiction and Public Theology

14th October 2021, 18:00-20:15 (BST), online.

Popular media have a profound impact on public views of science and theology. Science fiction in particular has a long history of shaping public opinion as well as public policy around issues such as space travel (Star Trek), genetic engineering (Jurassic Park), and artificial intelligence (Ex Machina). C.S. Lewis’ fiction was as influential for public theology as his academic works, perhaps more so.

Our free online retreat on Science Fiction and Public Theology will offer an opportunity for bishops and other senior leaders in the church to learn and reflect about these topics – and have fun!

Author Ted Chiang

We are delighted to begin in conversation with author Ted Chiang, a giant of the genre whose visionary science fiction has received more than twenty awards, and whose Story of Your Life was the basis for the Oscar nominated Arrival (2016). Chiang’s work often touches on profound ethical and religious themes, and he will speak about how fiction can influence popular understanding of both science and theology.

We will also have short reflections on the history and future of this conversation in the church, focusing on how we think about humanity, our significance, and our ability to change the world, featuring ECLAS team members.

Revd Dr Lucas Mix: A priest in the Episcopal Church (USA), Lucas is currently the Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology, Exploration, and Scientific Innovation, researching the relationship between science and science fiction as we think about the future of humanity in space.

Dr Amanda Rees: An historian of science based at York University, Amanda’s recent work explores how different narratives of science have been used to create different versions of the human future, and the crucial role that religion has played in the history of science and science fiction.

Revd Prof David Wilkinson: Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University, and Principal of St John’s College. He has longstanding interests in the dialogue of science and religion and has written widely on pop culture including Star Wars.

Please note that this is a conference for senior leaders and attendance is by invitation only.

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Video Resources

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Reflecting on Science Fiction and Public Theology

A pair of reflections from Revd Dr Lucas Mix and Revd Prof David Wilkinson on the topic of science fiction and public theology, recorded during an online event in October 2021.

Reflection Theology of Science
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Catholics at COP26

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Biology, Race, and Public Theology: Justice at the Intersection of Christian Thought and Natural Science