Joss Whedon has never been shy about expressing his views on religion. When asked by The Onion if there was a God, he offered, “No… absolutely not. That's a very important and necessary thing to learn.” In fact Whedon self-identifies as a humanist and received the 2009 Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism from the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy.
So it’s no surprise that Whedon’s masterful space cowboy series “Firefly” is frankly pessimistic about religion. Scenes include a mentally disturbed character editing out inconsistencies and inaccuracies in a Bible (“Bible's broken. Contradictions, false logistics... doesn't make sense.”), cutting out so much she renders the book to tatters, and, of course, persistent sparring between a priest and the intrepid, atheistic captain of the show, Mal. This crew of celestial nomads travels from system to system, smuggling cattle or contraband, encountering danger, and working together to survive. The show is praised for its gritty look at a dirty future where humanity exhausted the resources of Earth and colonized other worlds, never encountering another form of life. Despite Mal’s pessimism about religion he is shown to be compassionate and caring toward his fellow crewmate, a mysterious priest named Shepherd Book. In fact, Mal was once a believer who found his religious faith shattered by a battlefield defeat in his youth. The show suggests that religion may occasionally act as a force for good but all too often leads to irrationality and violence. But the bonds developed by the crew, and the obvious love they have for one another, transcends mere spirituality and affirms the humanist ethic.
The Whedonverse has also seen characters criticize belief in God in shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Dollhouse.