Religion in CyberpunkPosted by Psychochild
Let’s take a look at what is often a touchy subject: religion. How does it fit within cyberpunk?
If you’re interested in reading about religion in science fiction in general, I highly recommend a wonderful series of posts on the topic over at Chris Bateman’s “Only a Game” blog. A really great look at how religion is in various stories and major science fiction shows.
Personally, my religious beliefs are complex. I was raised going a fundamentalist Christian church. I attended pagan/Wiccan group in college, even though I didn’t quite agree with the dogma of the group. I don’t currently attend religious services, although I consider myself a fairly spiritual person. (Obviously, let’s keep attacks against individuals and religion to a minimum in the comments, okay?)
In general, we don’t see much religion in cyberpunk directly, although we see obvious themes. Neo as a messiah figure in The Matrix is perhaps the most obvious of the mainstream works. You also see themes of duality or rebirth as a net-runner describes their near ecstatic experiences when they enter the net.
Organized religion is not often portrayed. One would suspect that if it were, it would be put in a negative light. Cyberpunk tends to show organized hierarchy in a negative light: corporations, governments, and one would suspect religions would fit this bill. There’s also the belief that high science conflicts with religious faith, so it tends to get left out of a high technology setting.
The one big exception was the cyberpapacy and the GodNet network in the role-playing game TORG by West End Games. This was a cyberpunk setting where the church controlled the network. TORG was a multi-genre role-playing game, and this was just one small subset of the game. But, it made for an interesting setting that wasn’t typical of other cyberpunk settings of the time.
What about you? Have you found much religion in cyberpunk works? Any religious themes? Do you think there’s a place for religion in such a setting?