Science Fiction Film & Television

Catholicism in The X-Files

Dana Scully and the harmony of faith and reason

Science Fiction Film & Television (2013), 6, (1), 55–69.

Abstract

In discussions of The X-Files it has become almost a cliché to note that while Fox Mulder is known for being the believer and Dana Scully the sceptic, those roles reverse when the question of religious belief arises, in particular Scully's adherence to her Roman Catholic faith. Throughout the course of the series, Scully's acceptance of supernatural belief, as represented by her return to Catholicism, allows her to become more open to the paranormal possibilities advanced by Mulder. Moreover, the relationship between Scully and Mulder, as well as Scully's own character development, represents the alternating tension and harmony between faith and reason that forms the core of Catholic theology, as exemplified in the writings of theologian Thomas Aquinas, his contemporary Bonaventure of Bagnoregio and others. While the series does not dwell on specific theological questions or writers, the representation of Scully's religious journey is portrayed as beneficial to the agents' search for the ‘truth’. The reconciliation of Mulder and Scully's worldviews addresses societal anxieties over the tension between faith and reason, reflecting Catholicism's insistence on their interdependence.

Access Token
£25.00
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Aquinas, Thomas. Summa contra Gentiles. Trans. A. C. Pegis. South Bend: U of Notre Dame P, 1957 (orig. pub. c.1264-73). Summa contra Gentiles Google Scholar

Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologica. Trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province, rev. second edn, 1920 (orig. published c.1265-73). Google Scholar

Augustine of Hippo. The Confessions of Saint Augustine. Trans. John K. Ryan. New York: Image Books, 1960 (orig. c.397 to 398). The Confessions of Saint Augustine Google Scholar

Augustine of Hippo. ‘Sermon 117’. Essential Sermons. Ed. Daniel Edward Doyle and Edmund Hill. Hyde Park, NY: Augustinian Heritage Institute, 2007. Essential Sermons Google Scholar

Baron, Craig A. ‘Christian Theology and the Re-Enchantment of the World’. Crosscurrents 56.4 (Winter 2007): 112-23. ‘Christian Theology and the Re-Enchantment of the World’ Crosscurrents 56 112 23 Google Scholar

Bonaventure of Bagnoregio. ‘Journey into the Mind of God’. Trans. S. Bonaventurae. Opera Omniae. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classic Ethereal Library, 2002. Opera Omniae Google Scholar

Braun, Beth. ‘The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Ambiguity of Evil in Supernatural Representations’. Journal of Popular Film and Television 18.2 (2000): 88-94. ‘The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Ambiguity of Evil in Supernatural Representations’ Journal of Popular Film and Television 18 88 94 Google Scholar

Cathechism of the Catholic Church, Revised in Accordance with the Official Latin Text Promulgated by Pope John Paul II, second edn. New York: Image Books, 1995. Google Scholar

Hansen, Regina. ‘Mad, Drunken Exorcists: The Decline of Hero Priest’. Roman Catholicism and Fantastic Film. Ed. Regina Hansen. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2011. 268-74. Roman Catholicism and Fantastic Film 268 74 Google Scholar

John Paul II, Pope. Fides et Ratio, Encyclical Letter. 14 September 1998. www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals. Accessed 25 August 2012. www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals Fides et Ratio Encyclical Letter Google Scholar

John Paul II, Pope. Veritatis Splendor, Encyclical Letter. 6 August 1993. www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals Google Scholar

Kellner, Douglas. ‘The X-Files and Conspiracy: A Diagnostic Critique’. Conspiracy Nation: The Politics of Paranoia in Postwar America. Ed. Peter Knight. New York: New York UP, 2002. 205-32. Conspiracy Nation: The Politics of Paranoia in Postwar America 205 32 Google Scholar

Morgan, David. The Sacred Heart of Jesus: The Visual History of a Devotion. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP, 2009. The Sacred Heart of Jesus: The Visual History of a Devotion Google Scholar

Pilkington, Mark. ‘FT Interviews X-Files Creators’. www.forteantimes.com Google Scholar

‘Pope Reemphasizes Relationship between Faith and Reason, Cites Example of St. Thomas Aquinas’. Catholic News Agency. www.cna.org Google Scholar

Rhodes, Jesse. ‘Q and A: Chris Carter of The X-Files’. www.smithsonian.com Google Scholar

Synan, Edward A. ‘Introduction: Albertus Magnus and the Sciences’. Albertus Magnus and the Sciences: Commemorative Essays. 1980. Ed. James A. Weisheipl, OP. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1980. 1-12. Albertus Magnus and the Sciences: Commemorative Essays. 1980 1 12 Google Scholar

Wakefield, Sarah R. ‘"YOUR SISTER IN ST. SCULLY": An Electronic Community of Female Fans of the X-Files’. Journal of Popular Film and Television 29.3 (2001): 130-7. ‘"YOUR SISTER IN ST. SCULLY": An Electronic Community of Female Fans of the X-Files’ Journal of Popular Film and Television 29 130 7 Google Scholar

Wildermuth, Mark. ‘The Edge of Chaos: Structural Conspiracy and Epistemology in The X-Files’. Journal of Popular Film and Television 26.4 (1999): 146-57. ‘The Edge of Chaos: Structural Conspiracy and Epistemology in The X-Files’ Journal of Popular Film and Television 26 146 57 Google Scholar

Yang, Sharon R. ‘The Truth is Out There in Elsinore: Mulder and Scully as Hamlet and Horatio’. Literature/Film Quarterly 32.2 (2004): 97-107. ‘The Truth is Out There in Elsinore: Mulder and Scully as Hamlet and Horatio’ Literature/Film Quarterly 32 97 107 Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Hansen, Regina