Finally we reach the end of Red Dwarf series 3. And, from an ‘intersection of science-fiction and Christianity’ perspective, it’s a doozy. (That’s a theological term, by the way.)
The iron shall lie down with the lamp
Kryten, having over the last six weeks fully integrated himself into the crew if Red Dwarf, is obsolete. His manufacturers, DivaDroid International, as part of their customer service package, send out the new model to replace him – this is all very nice and something many 21st century companies could perhaps learn from. However, this is not the 21st century -it’s not even the 23rd century any more, and three million years alone in deep space have sent the new model, Hudzen 10, a little bit batty.
Along the way we discover that Kryten has become more than just a useful crew member:
You would gamble your safety for a mere android? Is this the human value you call “friendship?”
We also discover that Lister was abandoned in a cardboard box under a pool table – a detail that was proposed for inclusion either in Timeslides or the cancelled season opener, Dad, but finally found its way into a drunken conversation in the Officers’ Club.
And we discover that Rimmer’s family were Seventh Day Advent Hoppists – an obscure religious cult whose legalistic interpretation of an already dubious Bible translation (‘Faith, hop and charity, and the greatest of these is hop.’) is probably the best argument against literalism in… well, in this series of Red Dwarf, anyway.
This upbringing does make Rimmer a little more sympathetic towards Kryten’s ‘religious’ views, especially when Lister tries to impose his view (which essentially is that Kryten’s beliefs are a load of baloney) on Kryten.
And all this, of course, is where it gets quite interesting. It appears that the kind of pop spirituality which seems to be becoming more popular these days somehow evolves into a commonly held pantheistic belief system,leading to this exchange between Kryten and Lister:
KRYTEN: Surely you believe that god is in all things? Aren’t you a pantheist?
LISTER: Yeah, but I just don’t think it applies to kitchen utensils. I’m not a frying pantheist! Machines do not have souls. Computers and calculators do not have an afterlife. You don’t get hairdryers with tiny little wings, sitting on clouds and playing harps!
KRYTEN: But of course you do! For is it not written in the Electronic Bible, “The iron shall lie down with the lamp?” Well, it’s common sense, sir. If there were no afterlife to look forward to, why on Earth would machines spend the whole of their lifes serving mankind? Now that would be really dumb!
LISTER: (Quietly) That makes sense. Yeah. Silicon heaven.
KRYTEN: Don’t be sad, Mr David. I am going to a far, far better place.
LISTER: Just out of interest: Is silicon heaven the same place as human heaven?
KRYTEN: Human heaven? Goodness me! Humans don’t go to heaven! No, someone made that up to prevent you all from going nuts!
Well, there’s enough in that little exchange alone to base a decent sized sermon on, but I won’t do that just now; instead I’ll jut throw a few questions out for your consideration:
• Is God in all things?
• Can an artificial intelligence form some sort of religious belief?
• Without an afterlife to look forward to, why do any of us do anything?
• Did someone just make up ‘human heaven’ just to stop us all going nuts?
• If they did, would it matter?
• Where do all the calculators go?
Feel free to answer those – or pose your own, probably far more interesting, questions in the comments.
A couple of CGI spaceships. That’s your lot really, besides the usual colour and sound clean up.
Watch this episode for an abundance of android and skewed human theology.