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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old June 8 2013, 05:54 PM   #61
Geoff Peterson
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Re: Atheism, and "Bread and Circuses"

Shawnster wrote: View Post
TREK_GOD_1 wrote: View Post
The christening seems to be Roddenberry being like many "seekers" of faith in the 60s and 70s--meaning, he seemed to believe in God at the time, but he was unclear as to the means to reach God, hence the invitation to many, rather than one...

...by now, you can guess where this is going: Roddenberry's invite seems like it was inspired (to some degree) by his own IDIC concept, so, out of some respect for the different religious bodies (or said bodies he acknowledged), he thought a diversity of faith stood the chance of getting junior into heaven.
Add to all of this that GR and Majel were married in a traditional Buddhist-Shinto ceremony. If Roddernberry was of a mind to reject ALL religion back in that time, I think he would have found a more secular marriage ceremony. The fact that GR chose a Buddhist-Shinto ceremony seems to me that he was exploring and embracing all religions as part of his on IDIC. He found a non-Christian wedding ceremony that he liked and he chose it. (Well, I keep talking like Majel had no input.)

So, in the late 60s and early 70s GR gets married in a Buddhist-Shinto ceremony and has his son Christened by representatives from several religions.

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
Sounds like GR was having a bit of fun at the christening.
If GR was what Braga tried to hammer, the idea of GR having anything to do with religon--joke or not--around such an important moment with his son--does not hold even a drop of water.
I see what you did there
Both marriage and the christening sound like GR engaging in a bit of theater to me. I don't think he's above that, even if it involves his wife or son.
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Old June 8 2013, 06:05 PM   #62
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Re: Atheism, and "Bread and Circuses"

It hardly matters, since all of that was many years before he met Braga and before he said the numerous documented anti-religious things that he said.
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Old June 8 2013, 06:19 PM   #63
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Re: Atheism, and "Bread and Circuses"

True, its not like GR's opinions didn't evolve between 1964 and 1987.
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Old June 8 2013, 09:07 PM   #64
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Re: Atheism, and "Bread and Circuses"

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
Both marriage and the christening sound like GR engaging in a bit of theater to me. I don't think he's above that, even if it involves his wife or son.
I'm an atheist and I had a church wedding. That's where people in our culture get married (especially if the wife wants a 'big wedding'). I like the ritual, which we have too little of in modern society. I also had one of my children baptised--our friends wanted to be godparents, and it was another nice little bonding ritual. I don't have to believe in mermaids to enjoy a good mermaid movie.
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Old June 8 2013, 09:44 PM   #65
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Re: Atheism, and "Bread and Circuses"

This thread is a good read so far. My favorite type of story (and music) is fantasy, and it's what makes Bread and Circuses such a great episode. Parallel worlds are fantastic, indeed.

The only blatant Biblical or Christian references were at both the beginning and the end of the episode. At the opening, Bones mentions the Archangel Gabriel specifically (a Biblical concept), and the carrying of a pitchfork (a mythological reference and a suggestion of the fallen archangel, but really more a jab against Spock's diabolical appearance, something he's heard before). At the end, like the OP mentions, Uhura posits that Septimus, Flavius and Co. worship the Son of God, and (insert Captain's theme here) Kirk has his epiphany that what he just went through on planet 892-IV with its own Ceasar and Christ echoes the religious persecution our own human ancestors experienced. I think that is the big take-away from Bread and Circuses, with Capt. Merik's folly and the slave love of Kirk/Drusilla added in for good measure.

If planet 892-IV is supposed to be a world paralleling our own, except that the Roman Empire never fell, why should the episode be written in such a way that Christianity is not the inextricable part of Roman history it has been since at least Nero (hint: the emperor, not the Trek villain) and Constantine? Throwing Christians into the arena with wild beasts or gladiators happened on our planet. It should also happen on a parallel world. It is difficult to see how the Bread and Circuses fantasy could be any more discriminatory or offensive to an atheist than TNG's version of Genesis or say The Chase (with its idea of panspermia) would be to a theist. But, it's all still the Trek, it's all still entertainment, and it's all no real reason to grumble.

I think I would also take issue with the post-er upthread claiming that Christianity has been a negative influence throughout history. There were religious motivations to the Crusades, to be certain, but no real tenet or article of Christian faith commanded the invasions of the Holy Land. I believe one of the historical underpinnings of the Crusades was the European baronry ultimately preferring to fight a foreign enemy rather than fighting each other, as per the usual. The Inquisition did not come about from any genuine Biblical imperative, but rather as I understand it, was largely attributable to a brand of anti-Semitism with occult origins. I also do not perceive modern-day Christianity as genuinely resistant to science. Scientific models are changing all the time, so it's not like it would be "anti-science" to refrain from putting all of your faith into any of those models. Noting that science has no application to the unobservable or the incalculable is not resistance, it's actually like Chapter 1 in our grade-school science texts, called "The Scientific Method". My point is that everybody, regardless of religion, has an equal opportunity to do evil in this world. Atheist regimes under Stalin and Mao murdered tens of millions in cold blood. That is certainly a negative influence, but it can't be exclusively blamed on atheism. As a matter of history, warmongering and psychopathy have never been confined to any particular world view.

I agree with the post-ers who have noted that Dr. King did not promote colorblindness during his ministry. I think, though, that with Star Trek being the most colorblind show of the 60s, it is no mystery why the program would appeal to him. What Dr. King did as a peacemaker, he did as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I submit that being hateful toward or biased against Dr. King because he was a Christian is just as wrong as hating him for being a Trekker, or for the color of his skin. Tolerance for only those groups you agree with is definitional prejudice. And we know, as Trekkers, that Kirk was no fan of bigotry.

That everybody doesn't have to agree with Roddenberry is also a good point. I know I do not agree with what I consider to be his misogyny. I think the Roddenberry quote in the OP about all religions should not necessarily equate with the conclusion that Gene denied the existence of his own soul or believed, in his heart of hearts, in atheism. Who really knows?

It is an increasingly accepted misconception that atheism is the lack of religion. Lack of religion is irreligion. A • the • ism is not only an ism, but distilled to its purely dissected form, literally means a belief in no god (i.e., a = no • the = god • ism = belief in). It is still a system of beliefs, faith-based, just like any other religion. I think that anybody who wants or expects their ism to be respected needs to accord respect for all those other isms out there in the world. One thing we shouldn't disagree on is the Trek philosophy that beauty is in diversity. I view the Trek as a world of inclusion, to include all religions and beliefs (including the belief that God does not exist), all species, and all the divers assortment of mankind and womankind, even if imperfectly expressed by Roddenberry and his successors.

The Trek pendulum has hardly swayed too far one way or the other in terms of promoting any particular religion or irreligion, imo. T'Bonz, as always, makes the best point of the thread: hate really has no place on this bbs or among Trekkers. (Thanks for all the mostly thankless work you do, Bonzy, but a personal request... I could def. use more fun T'Bonz posts and Romulan commander in my life... I keep coming back here after almost a decade mostly b/c you make messageboarding, or whatever it is we do here, such a high art. More please.)

Lastly, it should not go without mentioning that the intolerance of Christianity at least impliedly promoted by some in this thread, can eventually be perverted and lead to the most grim of results. Remember that the Arab Spring came not too long after the Orthodox Christmas Day massacre of the Copts in Egypt. If you've seen photos of the aftermath at that Coptic Christian church, you saw a gory bloodbath. The fruits of intolerance grow ever increasingly poisonous. Our efforts, as Trekkers and as human beings, are better focused I think at loving and accepting one another for the beauty we each bring to the table. I doubt Gene would be too troubled by that.

From the Delta Quadrant with Love,
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Old June 8 2013, 09:57 PM   #66
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Re: Atheism, and "Bread and Circuses"

Seska wrote: View Post
If planet 892-IV is supposed to be a world paralleling our own, except that the Roman Empire never fell, why should the episode be written in such a way that Christianity is not the inextricable part of Roman history it has been since at least Nero (hint: the emperor, not the Trek villain) and Constantine? Throwing Christians into the arena with wild beasts or gladiators happened on our planet. It should also happen on a parallel world.
The episode itself answered the question.

The word of the Son didn't spread on 892-IV until its 20th century. Planet 892-IV and Earth were not entirely parallel.

Basically, the episode said that that difference was why their Roman Empire lasted so long.
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Old June 8 2013, 10:08 PM   #67
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Re: Atheism, and "Bread and Circuses"

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
Perhaps that was contributed by the co-writer, Gene Coon. The episode is based on a story by John Kneubuhl.
The sun is the son might have come from original story.

There's a great site somewhere that contain many of the original Star Trek story concepts, but I've forgotten where it is.

stj wrote: View Post
And, no, it is not an accident that Kirk never met a God figure he didn't reject. He's no Sisko.
Kirk obviously wasn't impressed with beings who simply had a small number of unusual abilities. Parman (in Plato's Stepchildren) had a nice little "god-lite" power, but he certainly wasn't Kirk's God.

At the end of Generations as Kirk was dying under the bridge, when he looks outward and says "oh my," I think he was seeing God.

The "Romans" in Bread and Circuses are us (US us,) complete with TV car commercials.
Kirk: "But on this Earth, Rome never fell."

I don't see the culture of the Empire depicted in the episode as representing the culture of the American viewing audience, despite the inclusion of automobiles and "smog." The dissidents opposing the Empire, people seeking their freedom and the growth of the "Son of God" Religion, would more likely be the culture that was to have been representing America.

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
'Bible thumper' ... giving large sums of money to pass laws to persecute any form of behavior they disagree with
And this differs from atheists how?

prizzm wrote: View Post
The Original Series has always struck me as having a sort of split personality regarding spiritual ideas.
Star Trek scripts did come from a variety of writers, and there were different directors too.

There's a scene at the end of Balance of Terror with Kirk in the ship's chapel after Angela leaves, for a few moments Kirk faces the alter (a brief prayer for Tomlinson perhaps), that could have come from the script, or from the director's instructions to Shatner during the shoot.

The Enterprise characters were very rational, and they expressed no overt religious beliefs.
Kirk does indicate that he is a monotheist, and we subsequently find out that Vulcans have shrines, monasteries, priests and temples.

Very rational people I would agree.

There was the recurring theme of Kirk's rejection of paradise/supreme being (This Side of Paradise, The Return of the Archons, The Apple). Kirk was adamant in his view that people weren't meant to live an easy life, to stagnate under the influence of a higher power, no matter how benign. They were meant to struggle, to strive for improvement.
Much of that suggest that Kirk is in fact a Christian, who embraces that growth comes no other way but through "The Struggle."

Hardship is normal for the Christian life, it's how we improve ourselves.

Seems to me that Kirk believed in some sort of innate purpose for sentient beings, and that he thought he knew what that purpose was.
I would agree.



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Last edited by T'Girl; June 9 2013 at 01:32 PM.
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Old June 9 2013, 07:18 AM   #68
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Re: Atheism, and "Bread and Circuses"

Seska wrote: View Post
but a personal request... I could def. use more fun T'Bonz posts and Romulan commander in my life... I keep coming back here after almost a decade mostly b/c you make messageboarding, or whatever it is we do here, such a high art. More please.)
*snortle!* I'm SO using this quote against the throngs that wish I'd shut up and go away.
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Old June 9 2013, 02:11 PM   #69
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Re: Atheism, and "Bread and Circuses"

Zameaze wrote: View Post
Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
Both marriage and the christening sound like GR engaging in a bit of theater to me. I don't think he's above that, even if it involves his wife or son.
I'm an atheist and I had a church wedding. That's where people in our culture get married (especially if the wife wants a 'big wedding'). I like the ritual, which we have too little of in modern society. I also had one of my children baptised--our friends wanted to be godparents, and it was another nice little bonding ritual. I don't have to believe in mermaids to enjoy a good mermaid movie.
Like you, I had a church wedding, because my wife is Christian. I wasn't opposed to it, though.

And, everybody seems to assume that Gene and Majel's wedding and their son's christening were entirely his idea. How much input did Majel have in the decision to make them religious ceremonies?
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Old June 9 2013, 02:20 PM   #70
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Re: Atheism, and "Bread and Circuses"

Doug Otte wrote: View Post
And, everybody seems to assume that Gene and Majel's wedding and their son's christening were entirely his idea. How much input did Majel have in the decision to make them religious ceremonies?

I've always figured that the wedding abroad (away from family), under the auspices of an Asian religion (rejecting American culture), was all Gene's idea. And Majel must have been privately very pained, but she put up with it to marry what she considered to be an important man. I don't have a source to back up this interpretation, but that's what I think and I've often felt very sorry for her.
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Old June 9 2013, 02:32 PM   #71
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Re: Atheism, and "Bread and Circuses"

Just to muck it up further, there are those who would argue that Buddhism is not a religion. Including some Buddhists. You can be an atheist and a Buddhist at the same time.

There are certain beliefs in Buddhism that I think would make it very attractive to a secular humanist/science-minded person.

So I don't know that you can read much into Roddenberry's choice of wedding ceremony.
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Old June 9 2013, 03:33 PM   #72
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Re: Atheism, and "Bread and Circuses"

ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post
Doug Otte wrote: View Post
And, everybody seems to assume that Gene and Majel's wedding and their son's christening were entirely his idea. How much input did Majel have in the decision to make them religious ceremonies?

I've always figured that the wedding abroad (away from family), under the auspices of an Asian religion (rejecting American culture), was all Gene's idea. And Majel must have been privately very pained, but she put up with it to marry what she considered to be an important man. I don't have a source to back up this interpretation, but that's what I think and I've often felt very sorry for her.
I took the opposite view and always suspected Majel had the same socio-religious outlook that Gene had. Instead of being pained, I always assumed she was happy with those choices.


1001001 wrote: View Post
Just to muck it up further, there are those who would argue that Buddhism is not a religion. Including some Buddhists. You can be an atheist and a Buddhist at the same time.
Ah, but their wedding was Buddhist-Shinto, or Shinto-Buddhist. It wasn't just pure Buddhist and Shinto is a recognized religion.

Whatever that's worth.
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Old June 9 2013, 04:15 PM   #73
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Re: Atheism, and "Bread and Circuses"

J. Lester wrote: View Post
I was beginning to think I was the only Christian on this forum.
Lulz.

Seska wrote: View Post
A • the • ism is not only an ism, but distilled to its purely dissected form, literally means a belief in no god (i.e., a = no • the = god • ism = belief in). It is still a system of beliefs, faith-based, just like any other religion.
No.
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Old June 9 2013, 05:15 PM   #74
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Re: Atheism, and "Bread and Circuses"

TREK_GOD_1 wrote: View Post
Admiral Buzzkill wrote: View Post

TREK_GOD_1 is entirely wrong, BTW, in suggesting that Braga misrepresented Roddenberry's expressed opinions about religion during the time that they would have worked together on TNG. GR was not at all shy about expressing his complete disdain for all forms of religious belief and practice during that period of his life. Trying to drag the "Braga is suspect" meme into this discussion is a non-starter.
You are the one entirely wrong, as Braga's comment was included the TOS period, which is woefully incorrect. Try reading the posted quote again:

"In Gene Roddenberry's imagining of the future [...] religion is completely gone. Not a single human being on Earth believes in any of the nonsense that has plagued our civilization for thousands of years. This was an important part of Roddenberry's mythology. He, himself, was a secular humanist and made it well-known to writers of Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation that religion and superstition and mystical thinking were not to be part of his universe. On Roddenberry's future Earth, everyone is an atheist. And that world is the better for it.”
Braga tossed his own ideological net on the TOS period of GR's life, and could not be more out in left field. From the episodes discussed in this thread, to Lou Scheimer's own firsthand account of GR's interest/faith at his son's christening (years after TOS), Braga's agenda attempted to make a sweeping reboot of Roddenberry's history to suit his own bias.

The chain of behavior in a man's history cannot be tossed aside in favor of fantasy.
Or it could simply be that Braga was accepting Roddenberry at face value--is it really so hard to imagine Roddenberry (or anyone to anyone else, for that matter) presenting his views to Braga in such a way as to make the latter think it was a consistent view? Unless there was some specific reason to do otherwise, why wouldn't Braga take him at his word?

As for the definition of atheism offered above--no. A- in front of a word means "non" (ex: ahistorical means non-historical). Atheism is an absence of belief in a god or gods--not a belief system. Attempts to equate atheism with religion don't fly (religions make an affirmative claim for the existence of the unprovable--atheism indicates the absence of such a claim). "I believe there is no god." and "I do not believe there is a god." are NOT equivalent statements. The first resembles a religious affirmation and is unprovable. The second indicates a lack of compelling evidence or reason to believe there is a god. It makes no unprovable affirmation. And it is the grammatically and logically correct expression of atheism--an absence of belief.
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Old June 9 2013, 06:49 PM   #75
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Re: Atheism, and "Bread and Circuses"

Yeah, from an Atheist's point of view to say that a-theism is a belief system is just as ridiculous sounding as saying a-easter-bunnyism is a bleief system.

You wouldn't say that your non belief in the easter bunny or santa or the tooth fairy consitutes a belief system, would you?
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