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Old December 17 2012, 01:47 AM   #225
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Re: Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

Timelord_Victorious wrote: View Post
I don't deny that there are nearly as many flavours of religion and believe as there are people. But there can only be one truth.
Truth is not a flexible thing. Either it is, or it isn't.
That means those many many different flavours of believe are by definition not true. Only one of them can be in theory, and what are the chances of that?
That's a very strict view. Truth may or may not be flexible, but our path to it is. Religion may or may not have any validity, but it's a road that may lead to the right place eventually. How are we to know? All roads lead to Rome, after all. How important is the specific path taken to get there?

If there is something supernatural, chances are no one got it right yet, and as long as there is no evidence there is no reason to believe it.
Does there have to be a god for a belief in one (or more) to be a positive influence in society? Does the lack of an actual deity or pantheon make any faith a negative influence?
And evidence means, something universally observable, verifiable allowing others to come to the same conclusion.
Maybe to an engineer. But to a refugee giving up hope, saying "Give me a sign", seeing a rescue chopper at the right moment is not merely evidence, but practically proof of whatever divinity they prayed to.

The face of Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich is no different than seeing bunnies in the clouds. Someone can be convinced it is true, because he WANTS it to be true, but that doesn't mean the Easter Bunny is real, even though you can't disprove it.
Hey, on behalf of E. Aster Bunnymund, I take offense to that!

It is also true, that some people draw some form of comfort and hope from religion.
But again, those is true for all religions and beliefs, so for most if not all people this must be purely psychological or a placebo effect. No supernatural being required.
Non sequitur. The existence or lack thereof of actual godhead does not indicate that Starfleet can prove the same, nor that religion is dead and that, therefore, chaplains serve no purpose. And a religious funeral service is a catharsis for the survivors, so the actual hope of resurrection of the deceased is not the real reason to attend. That hope of return helps comfort the bereaved as they share their pain with their social set.

Religion as a source of morality...
Yeah, can't let that fly, as I always find it mildly insulting when religion is declared a requirement for a moral compass.
That implies that atheists are immoral, which is not the case.
That's your problem, not mine. I see churches as social club and a venue for teaching kids the broad brush strokes for your socieities morality. And they're useful in that way. Anything deeper is up to each individual to decide for themselves. Yeah, some churches are better than others for that. Growing up, I knew kids who were taught at their parents' church things I felt were seriously messed up. When I found out my own church held infant damnation as point of doctrine, I started asking why we had to accept such a repugnant idea as part of god's plan.
But kids usually only get the simple ideas, and so the church serves a social purpose. The faith itself, may or may not be valid, although I hope not. But to it's members and society, churches can be very good things, so long as they have no temporal power.
I am sure you know a few atheists and you wouldn't call any of them immoral.
I wouldn't go that far. There are moral and immoral people from any ism. So, yeah, some atheists I know AREN'T moral. I've known such people who later got religion, and think they're more moral now, but some of them really aren't, IMO. I've known religious people who, like me, lost their faith. Some lost their moral compass, because they didn't know how to separate the good ideas from church from the bad.

Morality comes from reason and compassion for others and is found in any social structure.
What is or is not moral is defined by our experiences and what we deem acceptable behaviour in a social context.
And the social club we call church is one of the vehicles that can impart that.

No ancient books that claims exclusivity on moral required.
True. But a certain old book, arrogantly named BOOK, as in The One Book, is also the source of much of the moral code we developed for western civilization.

Now if someone finds himself incapable of being moral without his religion and starts murdering, raping and stealing, please, let him stay religious, it's saver for others. but I trust that this is not true for most human beings.
Now this is simply nonsense. Losing faith and one's moral compass may mean sleeping around, petty theft, etc, but is hardly liable to result in Bernie Madoff, Ted Bundy, and all the rest.

So, let's try to get back on-topic. Given the stipulation that a Trek series were to feature a chaplain as a main character, how should that best be implemented?
1. In-story - you'd want a good character, who'd be an asset to the crew.
2. Meta-story - for drama, you might want a bad character to play a specific role and create conflict, or you might want a good one to help explain how some of the crew get through tough times when you have an arc like the Dominion War.

Now, from my real world experience, the Navy used to station chaplains on every ship. To reduce manpower and save money, they now only permanently station them on big-deck ships (carriers, LHAs/LHDs), and at base chapels and squadrons. Smaller ships only get a chaplain when they go on deployment, and s/he is sent temporarily to that unit for the deployment. That helps and hurt. When chaplains were part of the crew, BuPers assigned them, and all they have to go on in deciding that is the record - what fitness report marks, what qualifications, etc. So good chaplains and bad made it to different commands. Now, since they belong to a given chapel or squadron, there's some latitude for a local authority, who actually knows each one, to decide who gets sent. So ships tend to get better, more-ecumenical chaplains, who aren't as wrapped up in their own doctrine. But they also aren't there with the crew all the time, and have to wait till pre-deployment work-ups to start getting to know the crew they'll be ministering to. That makes their relationships shallower at first.
I've known good, caring chaplains who were there for sailors, and I've known (some well-read, some ignorant) strongly-opinionated chaplains who placed the doctrine of their denomination before the needs of their flock. Both ends can make good fodder for story purposes. So, both from an in-universe and from a writer's external perspective, how should a chaplain be integrated into and used in a series as a main character, and why?
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