Barry SCHWARTZ (Barijo ŜVARC) (chemoelectric) wrote,
Barry SCHWARTZ (Barijo ŜVARC)
chemoelectric

Another of my rants against science fiction eschatology

Let me use the occasion of failed eschatology to rant (again) against the SF end-timers. Oh, if only a spiritual being like Carl Sagan had seen and effectively expressed the total meaning of his revelations.

I have characterized (in the manner of an apostate) hard science fiction as literature about Man’s noble quest for new sources of minerals to mine. Such a literature is bad enough, but there is also an end-time mythology, in which an asteroid strike, let’s say, wipes out the home planet; fine so far, because such a strike really could happen and really could wipe out our living conditions. But what lesson do the eschatologists draw from their revelation? That we ought to expand our population into space so that when the end times come there will be a remnant of the human race that can start over again.

In a variant eschatology, instead of an asteroid strike there is the general trashing of the Earth by humankind, with the bulk of the human race living in misery upon the home planet, and a tiny few living a difficult but noble life among the planets – searching, of course, for new ores. We may recognize here the works, for instance, of Ben Bova.

I hope the resemblance of the SF eschatologies to notorious Christian ones is evident. Not that I expect the SF eschatologists to take their concerns so seriously that they sell everything, put up billboards, and hand out leaflets.

The central flaw in the SF worldviews here lambasted is that they put the value of ‘the human race’, which is a verbal abstraction, above the value of people, who are not words. They are people, dammit. They might as well be Martians, because what matters is that they are people. What is the point of saving a remnant of the human race so that we can say ‘humans’ still exist, if we let billions of living individuals suffer and die on an abandoned world?

If the bulk of the world’s population is not to be ‘saved’ with no special initiation on their own part, then neither a religion nor a literature that takes itself seriously is worth following.
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