i also think that taking a look at aldous huxley's work would be a good idea. huxley brings up a lot of great points about society and belief, especially in his novel 'island'.
i think that science fiction novelists can get away with quite a lot because of their medium, at least as far as social commentary and the introduction of new ideas regarding religion and society.
i think heinlein was especially good at these things, seeing as he introduced a whole "religion" that was esensially a way of life in 'stranger in a strange land'. also, all of his characters live a certain way, and he wrote it like it was the norm, so by the time yr done with the novel, you almost start thinking that that's the norm and everyone else is just uptight.
well, it's late, and i feel this could be continued at a later date.