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Scientific Mythologies: How Science and Science Fiction Forge New Religious Beliefs Paperback – June 2, 2008

3.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"With a remarkable array of carefully assembled documentation, James Herrick demonstrates how the porous boundary between science fiction and 'speculative science' has produced a new guiding myth in the West, allegedly capable of reenchanting the cosmos. Coming in the wake of numerous books that have snidely dismissed Christian belief as a lot of wishful thinking and superstitious hooey, Scientific Mythologies is a refreshing and revealing reminder of the odd forms a longing for transcendence can take when the God who actually did come down from the heavens is rejected. Christopher Hitchens, phone home!" (Ken Myers, host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal)

"Scientific Mythologies is a well-researched and well-written analysis of the role of science in science fiction. Both master scientists and tellers of tall tales are here. From Francis Bacon to Carl Sagan, from Mary Shelley to Steven Spielberg, Herrick moves from fact to myth and myth to fact. Fascinating from beginning to end." (James W. Sire, author of The Universe Next Door)

"Dr. Herrick gives us a fascinating, detailed, well-written and well-documented account of the alien worldviews that have emerged through the genre of science fiction. I know of no other work that addresses this counterfeit ideology from a deeply informed Christian perspective." (Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., professor of philosophy, Denver Seminary)

About the Author

James A. Herrick is Guy Vander Jagt Professor of Communication at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. He has also written

(University of South Carolina Press),


(Allyn & Bacon) and

(IVP Books).

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (June 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830825886
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830825882
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,420,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
James A. Herrick's "Scientific Mythologies" is one of the more interesting cultural perspectives written from a Christian point of view that I have read in quite some time. Herrick pulls together into a fascinating synthesis many elements of the contemporary spiritual/intellectual conversation that are often viewed as disparate and separate considerations--popular culture/literature, science/evolution, UFOs, Gnosticism, and New Age outlooks. This synthesis speaks to the formation (or contemporary refinement) of the centuries-old worldview of total immanence of divine powers which was radically challenged by the Hebrew-Christian view of one God and Creator who is both transcendent and immanent. Along the way, Herrick calls attention to a grand array of works of science-fiction, speculative science, film, utopian philosophy, and theological reflection.

I would not exactly call this book a work of Christian apologetics, although the author does appeal to the reader's sense of balance and rationality. A key question he poses is: why is a worldview that posits extraterrestrial wisdom and often wild speculation about the future regarded as credible by so many people who, at the same time, reject the Christian vision and gospel, rooted as it is in historical settings, known cultural history, and human witness? Herrick might have done more to defend the Christian worldview, but that does not really seem to be his purpose here. Rather, he wants to alert the reader to the swelling influence of a spiritual worldview that is promoted as being in accord with "science," and therefore superior to traditional "supernaturalism." In this, he does a uniquely fine job.

Some principle threads stand out for me.
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Fiction is based on life. But fiction is also one of the most important and powerful influences of life. It's a cycle, and perhaps nowhere do we see that more clearly than in the relationship between science and science fiction. What we often overlook, however, is the role religion fills in between the science and the fiction.

Herrick's look at the influence of science fiction upon the evolution of modern worldviews is fascinating and eye-opening stuff. I will fault the book for being occasionally redundant and inflexible (whether Herrick intends to or not, he comes across as generally very anti-sci-fi). It's not a perfect book and I don't agree with all of its conclusions and certainly not with its overall tone. But it made me think. And I always value that.
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This is a great read for everyone in today's world where everyone is expecting NASA to discover a super being in outer space to come to earth and save us, or for those who are simply interested in the phenomenon which takes up most of our movies, internet games, countless thousands of books, TV shows, etc. Unfortunately, this book splashes the cold water of reality on all those hopes and shows us where they came from. If you don't think this is serious stuff, know that one of the fastest growing religions in atheistic Europe is based on the idea of a master race in space that will ride a comet to earth to rescue this poor planet from ourselves. You will never look at movie previews the same again after reading this book. It is an easy read, it is enjoyable, coherent, and readable to the layman. It is truly amazing how in a age of more science and education and information than ever before these urban myths can survive and thrive. Says something about the sad, fallen state of man.
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I expect this will be the most important book on the Christian worldview published in 2008. The breathtaking thesis of the book is, in retrospect, so obvious that one could kick oneself for not seeing it before: science fiction and futurist speculation (dressed up as science) are in fact a new myth created to undermine the narrative of the Christian worldview. Here myth is the key idea: a narrative a culture tells itself in answering the great questions: who are we? where do we come from? what is the problem and the solution? SF culture, and the speculative science of leading lights such as Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking, exists to answer all of these questions, but in a way radically at odds with the West of Augustine and Aquinas. Despite some flaws (James Cameron directed the first Terminator movie, not just the second; yes, Star Trek's John de Lancie may be a white male, but the Guinan character, equally old and powerful, is played by a black woman, Whoopi Goldberg; only an American insouciance about European history would describe Irishman Liam Neeson as "British"), the brilliance of the thesis and the detailed exposition wins out.
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