Newswise – Some fans of Star Wars, including fans of the newestentry, “Episode III: Revenge of the Sith,” consider watchingthese films to be a religious experience. Two religionprofessors at different universities have studied the roleof religion in science fiction and say that movies like theStar Wars series can be more powerful than the Bible orother religious texts.

Tom Martin, who teaches at Susquehanna University inPennsylvania, sees the Star Wars religious themes as aclassic example of good versus evil. He says, “The Star Warsseries deals with the fundamental struggles of good againstevil, which is a deeply religious theme that carries over toall parts of life.”

Jim Herrick, who teaches at Hope College in Michigan, hasbeen studying the role of spirituality in Star Wars foryears. Star Wars introduced audiences to Yoda, thediminutive master of The Force. Herrick says, “?LukeSkywalker studies under Yoda’s direction until he is able tocontrol The Force?[the] source of spiritual energy emanatingfrom a unified field that is in all things. The Forceaffords all manner of physical and spiritual power,including the power to communicate with deceased individuals.”

Martin thinks The Force is most like Chinese religion.Herrick agrees and says, “The closest religious parallels toThe Force can be found in Taoism. In Chinese spirituality,Tao is the ultimate force, or driving power, in all nature.It flows through all of us and everything. You learn to movewith this force rather than fight against it.”

Lucas admitted he was making films with a religious theme ina 1999 interview, in which he said, “I put The Force in themovie to try to awaken a certain kind of spirituality inyoung people, more a belief in God than in any particularreligious system. I wanted to make it so that young peoplewould begin to ask questions about the mystery [of ourexistence]? I see Star Wars as taking all the issues thatreligion represents and trying to distill them down into amore modern and easily accessible construct.”

More than 70,000 people in Australia say they follow theJedi faith. Almost 40% of the population say they believe inThe Force. Over 70,000 people wrote “Jedi” in response to aquestion about their religion on the recent national censusform and the internet there is filled with emails urging itsadoption as an official religion. Before thinking thissounds silly, remember that Scientology, which is amajor religion among actors such as Tom Cruise, started as ajoke created by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.

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