Here’s another example of more recent gSF reversing some of the traditional genre’s views of religion, in this case the belief that religious specialists tend to be judgmental, from Stephen Baxter’s “No More Stories”:
“Simon studied him. ‘I don’t believe, you know. Not sure if I ever did, once I was able to think for myself. You can be as calm and as certain as you like. I think it’s all a bluff.’
Father Nolan laughed. ‘That’s okay. What you choose to believe or not is irrelevant to the destiny of my immortal soul. And indeed yours’ ” (p. 177).
A couple qualifications: Father Nolan turns out not to be (quite?) whom he appears to be, which weakens the boldness of his statement somewhat. Also, that’s from 2007, and doesn’t initially seem to add much to gSF’s schema of religion: there are echoes of Matheson’s “The Last Day,” which I’ve already discussed in this blog, in that the devout person is the one to reach out to the unbeliever — indeed, to shrug off any difference.
But on the other hand, the fact that the one filling Nolan’s duties takes on the persona of “Father” seems somehow more significant than if he had really been a priest. And the … well, not just agreement, but homogeneity between Nolan’s persona and the protagonist at the end of the story … it’s quite moving.
More Stephen Baxter stories can be found HERE.
[Postscript … it’s been a couple days, and I’m still thinking about this story, in particular the central (religious) metaphor, which I can’t describe here without spoiling the ending … sigh.]
Baxter, S. “No More Stories.” In D.G. Hartwell & K. Cramer, Year’s Best SF 13 (pp. 169-184). New York: EOS.