All my life, I've found true inspiration in only one source: Science fiction, especially its literary form. When everything else in the world seemed pointless, vapid, and nihilistic, I would immerse myself in the worlds of Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and Frank Herbert, among other, lesser talents, to rediscover the wonder in myself that made everything meaningful. Because through them my mind was freed, in my dreams I roamed across time and space, seeing things and having extraordinary experiences that I only barely remember today as my imagination has waned. And yet I remember enough to feel awed whenever I smell the pages of those books.
Science fiction makes prophecies that come true - e.g., air flight, spaceflight, the communications satellite, the Star Trek communicator, solar panels, the internet, men on the Moon, etc. - and casts dire warnings about retribution from on high if we do not change our ways when we're behaving stupidly. It offers Ways Out when humanity is trapped, and Ways In when Humanity is excluded by an elite. It celebrates the lives of people who celebrate life by exploring its larger mysteries boldly and intelligently. It drives generations of children into scientific and technology careers in order to reach for the visions it puts in their minds: Visions of a utopia for those willing to build it, and of a sad, impoverished world for those too weak, foolish, and distracted to keep their eye on the ball.
But always the choice is theirs to take one road or the other, because science fiction liberates the human mind and spirit rather than trying to silence or pacify them. The technologies all around us, running all through our bodies in advanced pharmaceuticals, and mediating our ability to communicate in vast webs of electronic abstraction are the proof that science fiction is the Word of the Cosmos, to be adored, studied, and yet unlike other "Words," challenged and built upon. Science alone tells us the What but cannot by itself feed the yearning soul to seek new horizons, because its numbers and statistics are hard to translate into the human-level stories that connect with us on our most basic levels.
For that, there must be storytellers to reveal the universe by revealing the people in it traveling Roads Less Taken, living in future worlds where the right or the wrong choices have been made (or somewhere in between). As we the reader breathe in the soft, nurturing Elysian sunlight from the Good World we read where intelligence, humanity, and curiosity conquer all obstacles, their light shines inside us and propagates into the real world, if only a little bit, in our attitude to life.
When I am in the hospital with someone unknown ailment, I'm not praying to Santa Claus to magically deliver me: I'm hoping that in the ten years since the last time I was in a hospital, medical technology has advanced enough that whatever's messing with me is quickly and painlessly treatable - or at least that their Happy Drugs have fewer side-effects. I don't see a world of things that shouldn't be: I see a world that is painfully lacking in things that should be, and every once in a while, one of them becomes real because another person saw it too and made it happen for the same visionary imperatives that drive all human progress.
So I don't begrudge people with low IQs their illiterate goatherder's campfire tales, if that's the best they can understand. But I have my own Good Book written by dead men. Looks a little something like this:
Spare me your stories of Levantine barbarians committing genocide because their leader has a schizophrenic voice in his head telling him to Kill, he's not that interesting a villain and even worse as a hero. Spare me your Christ's Hellenistic plagiarism of philosophies invented in India thousands of years before he was born. Spare your Waiting for Godot routine of an Apocalypse that either already came when the Roman Empire ended - and in the slowest, most boring ways imaginable - or will never come. You don't inherit paradise - you either build it, or deserve whatever you get that others who don't care about you choose to build in order to take your money.
Scientists and engineers are humanity's true leaders, not the ciphers in flag lapel pins haunting the halls of government or the monied parasites who own them from their yachts and private islands. And science fiction authors are humanity's true prophets and priests, its conscience in metaphor where it has not yet manifested openly. Its apotheosis is a universe of infinite surprises, infinite freedom, infinite diversity in infinite combinations across infinite time, where all things become, and all things are created, and all things create in turn.
Compare that with the eschatology of religion: A "paradise" like a painting on the wall of a tomb - superficial states of unchanging joy, forever under the absolute dictatorship of some Master. So while it will have no effect, I highly recommend that anyone who puts emotional stock in the Bible should read the Foundation trilogy, read the colleted works of Arthur C. Clarke, and read the core tetralogy of the Dune novels (do not read the author's son's prequels and sequels, they are blasphemy). Step into a world bigger and more joyous than the one your primitive ancestors imagined.