13 Sci-Fi Movies And TV Shows That Opened Us To The Mystery Of God

"Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter." -- Yoda

In 1902, long before humans first set foot on the moon or could even think of a way to accomplish such a feat, French director Georges Méliès decided to take the world there.

In his strange and fanciful silent film, "A Trip To The Moon," Méliès plays the role of an astronomer who leads a lunar expedition. His team is quickly captured by insectoid lunar aliens called Selenites. The explorers narrowly escape and return to an Earth soon to be transformed by the discovery of extraterrestrial life.

Méliès' masterpiece is often regarded as the earliest example of a science fiction film. Since then, sci-fi movies and television shows have boldly reached into the future, giving viewers glimpses of worlds, times, and discoveries that science can't yet comprehend. And because sci-fi plays with that blurred boundary between what humans can know and what we can't know, the genre inevitably raises questions about the possibility of God.

Here are some sci-fi movies and television shows that have inspired people to ask big questions about morality, man's relationship with the divine, and what it means to be alive and human.

What are some of your favorite media moments that mix sci-fi and religion? Tell us in the comments below.

In the movie "Avatar," the Na'Vi people, indigenous residents of the planet Pandora, are forced to fight for their survival after humans land on their home with the intent of stealing its rich natural resources. Besides the obvious questions raised about the morality of colonization, "Avatar" presents an intriguing glimpse into an ancient type of mysticism that already exists here on Earth. According to Jewish author Jay Michaelson, the Na'Vi experience a "unity of consciousness" with other beings on their planet, which are all manifestations of the one Being, Ai'wa. That idea of oneness is reflected in the way that the Na'Vi greet each other. They say, "I see you," a direct translation of the Sanskrit word "Namaste."

Michaelson explained: "'I see you' doesn't mean ordinary seeing -- it, like Namaste, really means 'the God in me sees the God in you.' I see myself, in your eyes."

For more on the spirituality of "Avatar," read Michaelson's blog for The Huffington Post.
This 1997 sci-fi drama, based on a novel by beloved scientist Carl Sagan, follows the story of Dr. Eleanor Arroway, a scientist who finds positive evidence that extraterrestrials exist. During the ensuing efforts to make contact with these otherworldly beings, Arroway’s lack of a religious faith becomes a source of tension.

Katie Spear, executive assistant to HuffPost editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington, said"Contact" encouraged her inherent desire to ask questions, instead of believing blindly.

“With a little perspective (and faith), even the unanswerable questions can inspire rather than threaten,” Spear said.
Star Wars Series
George Lucas' epic interstellar tale has inspired much thought about the battle between "light" and "dark" and the question of what it means to be a good person. "Star Wars" has even inspired its own religion, called Jediism, based on the observance of the force, a "ubiquitous and metaphysical power" that is the present throughout the universe.

Hayley Miller, a blog editor for The Huffington Post, said she didn't grow up in a household that subscribed to a specific religion, so "Star Wars" was one of her first introductions to spirituality.

"Yoda once said about the force, 'Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter,' Miller said. "This concept loosely aligns with Carl Sagan's 'star stuff' theory, and I find it comforting, unifying and beautiful all at once."
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The movie, based on a beloved book, tells the tale of a man whose life was utterly normal until an alien race demolishes Earth and he is whisked away into a spaceship.

Peter James Callahan, who works for HuffPost Politics, said the story offered the idea that there was something bigger out there than the God that he grew up with, as an Irish Catholic.

“It made me feel like we all had limitless possibility even if we were having our worst of days,” Callahan said. “And that in comparison, the single ball of stardust that we keep fighting tooth and nail over is part of a much larger space that also may contain things and beings we've never remotely imagined.”
Battlestar Galactica
In "Battlestar Galactica," a race of robotic beings known as Cylons turns on their former human masters and wreaks havoc on group of planets known as the Twelve Colonies. Human survivors of this attack flee into space on board the spaceship Galactica in search of a fabled planet called Earth.

Madeline Wahl, associate editor of blogs and community at HuffPost, said the show asks big questions that challenge perceptions of the people and the world.

“I watched this TV show while I was in college, a time when talking about God and religion, science and technology with classmates, professors and friends and how they're forever woven together was normal and expected,” Wahl said. “It taught me to always question what's around you and to wonder why you believe in what you believe in.”
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The 1977 film, written and directed by Steven Spielberg, tells the story of a man named Roy Neary who has an encounter with a UFO and begins seeing visions.

Lee Speigel, a paranormal expert and reporter for The Huffington Post, said he appreciates the movie’s overarching theme that there’s already abundant evidence for extraterrestrial life.

“It's not just a matter of faith or belief in aliens -- it's more about taking steps to learn about these things for yourself, so that it helps expand your knowledge base and maybe allow it to help you feel like there really is a bigger picture out there and that we ARE part of a galactic neighborhood teeming with life,” Spiegel said. “That's a big jump for a lot of people, but a jump worth taking.”
The Fountain
This film takes place in three time periods. In all of the story lines, the main character, played by Hugh Jackman, is desperately trying to save the life of the woman he loves, played by Rachel Weisz. Raillan Brooks, associate editor of HuffPost Highline, said the movie approaches the notion of the divine in three ways -- God as a demon of light and renewal, God as love of self, and God as conqueror.

After watching the movie as a teenager, Brooks started thinking about the possibility that God could be all these things and more.

“The point is that I get to decide for myself. Rachel Weisz's character in 'The Fountain,' a woman dying from brain cancer, kept saying, over and over, that ‘death is the road to awe,’” Brooks said. “The movie betrays its intention in the repetition. Awe is easier to come by than that.”
Plan 9 from Outer Space
This 1959 black-and-white film is about a group of aliens determined to destroy mankind. It’s full of cheesy special effects (pie tins doubling as flying saucers) and horrible acting, according to David Moye, a staff writer for HuffPost Weird News. Moye said "Plan 9 From Outer Space" is generally considered one of the “worst Sci-Fi films of all-time.” But there’s one untypical scene that grabbed his attention.

The earthlings are confronting the alien visitors in their spaceship about their nefarious plot to control the Earth by raising three people from the dead. The humans assume the aliens aren’t religious, but Eros, the mission leader, says, “You don’t think that we believe in God?”

“As ridiculous as the movie is -- that’s part of its charm -- I liked the notion that God was worshipped all over the galaxy,” Moye said. “Even by cheesy aliens in tinfoil outfits.”
The Matrix Series
The "Matrix" trilogy raises the possibility of a reality outside the one that humans can understand through touch, sight, taste, and smell. The main character, Thomas A. Anderson, known as Neo in the hacking community, is given a choice of whether or not he wants to wake up to the truth.

Carolina Moreno, an editor for HuffPost Latino Voices, said the series may not have opened her up to God. But it made her wonder.

“It did change the way I think about how we view our lives and our world. How the things we take for reality can be illusions controlled by a higher power,” Moreno said. “So I think it just opened my mind to possibilities.”
Blade Runner
This 1982 film imagines a dystopian Los Angeles in 2019, where scientists have been able to create replicants, robotic beings that look just like humans. Since replicants are banned from Earth, a group of special policemen, called Blade Runners, are tasked with hunting down any who may have landed on the planet illegally.

Andy McDonald, comedy editor at HuffPost, said the movie asks the question, "What does it mean to be human?"

“If we can give thoughts, memories, and a sense of morality to robots, then wrap them in living tissue, to the extent that you would not know the difference, does that make a difference?” McDonald asked. “And if we are able to create that, the next question is, ‘What is god?’ Are human beings forever destined to continuously create or become their own god?”
When the Earth is troubled by a food crisis, the humans in "Interstellar "are sent on a space mission to search for other inhabitable planets.

Lauren Bell, a multimedia fellow at HuffPost, said the movie got her thinking that love could be a force in the universe that we haven’t discovered yet.

“Time, space, death, don't constrain it,” Bell said. “We could be drawn to a person for bigger reasons, just like that apple was drawn to Sir Isaac Newton's head.”

Here are a few lines from the movie:

Cooper: You're a scientist, Brand.
Brand: So listen to me when I say that love isn't something that we invented. It's... observable, powerful. It has to mean something.
Cooper: Love has meaning, yes. Social utility, social bonding, child rearing...
Brand: We love people who have died. Where's the social utility in that?
Cooper: None.
Brand: Maybe it means something more - something we can't yet understand. Maybe it's some evidence, some artifact of a higher dimension that we can't consciously perceive. I'm drawn across the universe to someone I haven't seen in a decade, who I know is probably dead. Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space. Maybe we should trust that, even if we can't understand it.
This Disney-Pixar film stars a lovable trash-compacting robot whose only task on Earth is to clean up the heaps of garbage left after hundreds of years of environmental damage caused by humans. As a result of his capacity to love, WALL-E embarks on a space journey that will eventually decide whether humans, who are now living in space, can finally return home.

Antonia Blumberg, associate editor of HuffPost Religion, said that the movie presents a “scary vision of what a super plugged-in, disconnected future could look like and all we would lose on the human side of things if we continue down this path.”
Orphan Black
The BBC America series "Orphan Black" tells the story of a young woman who discovers that she may be the product of a decades-long, undercover science experiment. The show raises plenty of ethical and moral questions about the limits of scientific inquiry. But it’s also about discovering your own identity and agency in a world where your destiny seems pre-ordained.

Mary McNamara, a television critic for the Los Angeles Times, puts it this way: “It's the rare person who does not experience in adulthood the shattering of some essential assumption, about the world, about identity, about the intentions of others. From the space between wreckage and rebuilding comes much of our great literature, music and art.”

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