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Author

Matthew Lowe

Date of Award

5-2002

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Theological Studies (MTS)

Department

Divinity College

Supervisor

Mark Steinacher

Language

English

Abstract

History has shown story and myth to be powerful communicative tools. This is no less true of modem myths, particularly the genre of science fiction (or "SF"). Isaac Asimov, a major contributor to the genre, used the framework of SF to develop concepts regarding the progress of humanity. In this thesis, two of these concepts will be explored.

The first subject is that of godhood, or deity. Christian theology and SF espouse two very different definitions of God. The former is biblically based, while the latter subscribes to Asimov's promotion of "teleological anthropology". This progressive doctrine helps to clarify the source of conflict between Christian theology's view of God, and that advocated by SF.

The second concept is that of eschatology. The study of "last things" or "end times" is confusing even when Christian views are the only ones being considered. To alleviate this confusion, many of eschatology's most frequently used terms will be defined from a biblical and theological basis. SF's views of the future and eschatology are also considered, once again highlighting Asimov's contributions. Special attention will be paid to Donald A. Wollheim's model of "future-history", a framework that proves helpful in systematizing Asimov's thought and lasting legacy. Wollheim's model helps to polarize Asimov's implicit ideology of "evolutionary eschatology", a system of thought which provides a context for the doctrine of teleological anthropology.

These two areas of discussion hold intriguing ramifications for the Christian gospel and its applications. This thesis will conclude with an attempt to define the gospel as it relates to the task of theology. Building on this foundation, some potential adaptations will be drawn together as responses to the challenges raised by the previous discussion with SF, concluding with suggestions for adapting the gospel to new contexts.

McMaster University Library

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