I was once told by a woman of 'advanced generation' in our church that a Christian couldn't enjoy, watch, read, or write science fiction because it was sacrilegious. I was very young, and worried about what she said for a long time, but with the maturity of my faith I fully accepted I didn't agree.
My father once said, "I think we'd be pretty stupid to think we're the only ones God bothered with." That struck me as far more true than the idea of imagination being sacrilege.
Psalms 8:3 says, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place."
In the age old debate of Science versus Faith, those who scream the loudest about either side don't seem to see what I see. I believe in creation, but I also see science as proof for my faith. Proof, you say? Yes, proof. I see again and again how the study of our world, our bodies, chemistry, biology, physics proves to me we are the result of divine creation and not a random event when nothing became something and exploded with such ferocity to create everything with such perfect intrinsic beauty and purpose.
So, if I can see science as proof of our divine origins, it isn't a long stretch to believe God in His desire to create life would look beyond the third planet of a single solar system. If all He wanted to do was create life on a single planet, why create all of the universe?
Religion is an element in just about every major vein of science fiction, in some way or another. In Star Wars you have The Force and the Jedi themselves were a type of religious sect. Star Trek addressed religion in the atheistic lack of religion. It's still an element in that they chose to present an anti-religion stance. Stargate addressed religion by using the existence of the stargate as the origin of many of the ancient 'gods' on Earth. On Firefly, the crew of Serenity included a Shepherd, a minister/pastor/preacher/man of the cloth from our future who often referenced the teachings of the Bible.
My favorite quote of his, while loading a weapon for a battle and Zoe asks him "Preacher, don't the Bible have some pretty specific things to say about killing?", to which he answers "Quite specific. It is, however, fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps."
So, how have I handled religion in my Phoenix series? Just like in life, my characters range in their belief systems. In the first series, Lieutenant Jace Quinn is the son of a preacher and ordained himself. He is grounded in his faith, but as he is absent for a good portion of the series it doesn't play much until the second series. Although never directly addressed, I see Nick Tanner as a man of faith though not a man who would be in a church every week. He sees God in creation. I do point out how the bad guys were so convincing on so many things, they convinced much of the population of the Earth to forget the religion of their forefathers.
Religion plays a larger part in the second series because in the second series I explore the concept of other worlds, other cultures, other evolutions of society much more than in the first series that was very much Earth-bound. I cannot recall a science fiction world that has a religion like Christianity in a society not originating from Earth. If the basis of Christianity is that Jesus Christ, son of God, came to Earth for us, I had to ask myself a question. If I believe God created all of existence, and God loves all His creations, why would his son choose Earth if other planets and life forms exist?
I endeavor to answer that question in Phoenix Rising, not as part of the series arc, but just as I addressed religion in the first series, as a part of the development and culture of the various people living in this Phoenix 'universe'. I've actually had some very interesting, thought provoking, and inspiring conversations with my pastor about this element of my story.
He actually thinks it's a pretty cool idea, and almost as excited about the concepts I've worked up as I am. Quite the left turn from Sister Esther back in Milo, Maine who told me just imagining such a thing was heresy.
You can read more about The Phoenix Rebellion, and it's upcoming sequel Phoenix Rising, at my website.