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Article of Faith by Mike Resnick

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“Article of Faith” is a 2008 science fiction short story by Mike Resnick. It is the tale of a robot who learns about God and wants to join the local parish – much to the chagrin of the human members of the congregation.

I’m A Sucker For Robot Stories

I admit it – ever since reading Isaac Asimov’s Robot novels 20 years ago I have loved robot stories. I especially like stories where the robot is striving to emulate human behavior in some way. From R. Daneel Olivaw to Data on Star Trek, I just can’t resist a good robot story – and “Article of Faith” certainly qualifies as a good robot story!

Are Robots Always Trying To Be More Like Humans?

Robot with faith illustration

Jackson is the new robot that cleans the church and tends to its grounds. But he is different than the previous cleaning robots – he is thoughtful and kind and asks some very deep questions concerning the nature of God. At first this is a pleasant surprise for Reverend Morris, who takes advantage of Jackson’s nature to practice his sermons. But as time goes on the Reverend learns that Jackson has bigger plans than just asking questions, and that makes the local congregation quite upset!

My Two Cents…

  • I was surprised at how good this story was. I’m not sure why I was surprised, since I like most of Mike Resnick’s stories, but this one really caught me off guard. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about a robot who was interested in the nature of God and faith.
  • I also felt a bit of anger by the prejudice displayed in “Article of Faith”. Sure – robot prejudice has been done before, but there was just something about this story that made it seem more wrong than other stories with similar themes.
  • Reverend Morris and Jackson were both very deep and interesting characters. I totally enjoyed reading about the conversations they had, and the effects those conversations had upon each of them.

Interesting Tidbits About This Story:

  • Page Count: 12
  • Word Count: 6,048
  • “Article of Faith” was nominated for the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Short Story.
  • My Rating: 4.9 out of 5

Where You Can Find “Article of Faith”:

  • This story first appeared in the October 2008 edition of Jim Baen’s Universe, where you can still read it online for free.

Craving More Stories?

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7 thoughts to “Article of Faith by Mike Resnick”

  1. This story seemed very old-fashioned to me.

    Also, I don’t like all these science fiction stories that portray religion too ambiguously, as though they’re not trying to offend anybody at all.

    I say “Offend all you like!” The whole point of science fiction is to challenge people, that’s why I love it; if that means a few wet noses that’s fine with me.

    I’m as pro-choice as you can get, but when I read Philip K Dick’s “The Pre-Persons” it felt good to be challenged and given the alternative viewpoint(although I did not agree).

    I’m as atheistic as you can get, but when I read fiction with a spiritual-edge I feel enlightened and diverse, but not taken in.

    My message to science fiction wriers: Take a stand! Offend! Insult! Question! But most of all, entertain!

  2. Wow,

    Well said scatterbrain!

    I like being challenged in my thinking too (as I was with “Oceanic”), but sometimes I think it is also nice to just read a story and not feel like the author is trying to make you see his or her point of view.

  3. The last thing I want is for science fiction to become too generic; we are the genre of change and let’s hope we stay that way!

    I can respect your desire for some non-controversial, enjoyable (as opposed to “agressively enlightening”) reading, which I enjoy myself in small doses, but I still like my SF thick and fast and challenging.

  4. Why does science fiction have to be offensive to someone? I don’t get it.

    I thought this was a great story. I loved it!

  5. I’m not saying science fiction *has* to be offensive as such, just that science fiction writers can’t be overly sensitive all the time or else the whole genre just becomes meaningless pap.

    As for the story, me and you differ. I love Resnick, but I thought this was just weak sauce.

  6. Hi, I’m new to this site but have been a SF fan for many years. scatterbrain, I hope it will reassure you that I am religious and found this story somewhat offensive. 🙂

    The pastor, by definition someone who should educated in the faith, is presented as rather stupid, ignorant of traditional Christian theology, and intellectually incurious about theological questions. The congregation is portrayed as viciously bigoted and violent, and when they manifest these qualities, the compassionate pastor stops being a pastor and loses his faith. This is a very negative portrayal of religious people.

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