Religion, Violence, and Apocalypse in H. G. Wells


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

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H.G. Wells's interest in cataclysmic violence that could save humanity from its biological heritage and propel it toward acceptance of the World State is a puzzling feature of his thought. This essay argues that Wells's view of human nature and his belief that apocalyptic violence might be necessary to help humans transcend their nature reflects a synthesis between his Christian background and his commitment to science. Wells's broader project throughout his career was to develop a scientific eschatology that could answer the questions raised by the Bible through appeal to the evidence furnished by science. His views on violence should be situated within the context of this larger apocalyptic vision of history. In light of this, Wells's ideas bear comparison to those of René Girard, another thinker who brought Darwinian reflections on human extinction into dialogue with Christian views of the end times. This essay brings the ideas of Wells and Girard into conversation in order to reflect on the nature of science fiction as a genre that is especially well situated to address questions about the relationships among religion, violence, and technology. It argues that near the end of his life, Wells came to reject the idea that sacrificial violence might pave the way for human transformation after undergoing what René Girard has called a "novelistic conversion."


treatment of violence; human nature; the apocalypse; relationship to Christianity; sacrifice; evolutionary theory; theories of Girard, René(1923-2015)

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Science Fiction Studies





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