Atheism, and "Bread and Circuses"

Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Zameaze, Jun 7, 2013.

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  1. Zameaze

    Zameaze Commodore Commodore

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    Religions vary in their degree of idiocy, but I reject them all. For most people, religion is nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain. --Gene Roddenberry


    Does anyone know how Gene Roddenberry, an atheist, came to write the teleplay for "Bread and Circuses," where the bridge crew stood around fawning over the fact that the planet's residents weren't worshiping the sun, but rather the Son of God. It always seemed rather strange to me.
     
  2. Praetor Baldric

    Praetor Baldric Lieutenant Commander

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    There is another allusion to monotheism in Who Mourns for Adonais, when Kirk refers to the one god being sufficient, or something to that effect.
     
  3. Zameaze

    Zameaze Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, that surprised me, too, however, I put it down to appeasing the bible thumpers. But "Bread and Circuses" had Christianity as the denouement.
     
  4. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Just playing to the audience. No matter his thoughts on religion, the audience was still predominately religious in the 1960's.
     
  5. Zameaze

    Zameaze Commodore Commodore

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    It seems like it, but they asserted that religion was not going to be a part of Star Trek. Here is a quote from Memory-Alpha: Brannon Braga said that "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.”
     
  6. sbk1234

    sbk1234 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think it could be that they were simply surprised that even an Earth religion such as Christianity would also be duplicated on that world, even though 2000 years later than on Earth. Depending on your perspective, it wouldn't necessarily mean an acceptance of that religion.
     
  7. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    You realize that Braga's involvement with Trek and Roddenberry began decades after TOS ended, right?

    Roddenberry's original proposal for Star Trek included a one or two line story premise ("The Coming") about a planet with its own Christ, which may have evolved into "Bread And Circuses."
     
  8. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    Brannon Braga is no spokesperson for Roddenberry's intent for ST as originally developed. The quote is dripping with the kind of revisionist, agenda-driven hatred of religion not seen or suggested in TOS.
     
  9. Zameaze

    Zameaze Commodore Commodore

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    When Roddenberry spoke for himself, he said things like: "I condemn false prophets, I condemn the effort to take away the power of rational decision, to drain people of their free will--and a hell of a lot of money in the bargain. Religions vary in their degree of idiocy, but I reject them all. For most people, religion is nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain," and "We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes."
     
  10. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    Perhaps that was contributed by the co-writer, Gene Coon. The episode is based on a story by John Kneubuhl.
     
  11. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I chalk it up to it being the 1960s.

    In Simpsons season 3, in 1991, they did an episode where it was a moral tragedy that Homer wanted to stop going to church.

    Ten years later they did an episode where the church sold out and Lisa converted to Buddhism.

    Before the 90s everybody on TV was Christian unless proven otherwise. Around the mid nineties religion started being an aspect of a person's life rather than the defining element of culture. In the 80s you couldn't address religion on TV without flaunting Christianity. In the 60s they pretty much had no choice.
     
  12. prizzm

    prizzm Ensign Newbie

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    But remember the chapel in Kirk's Enterprise? And didn't the girl who was going to get married in Balance of Terror come into the chapel and kneel for a moment as if in prayer?
     
  13. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    I'm sure the chapel was non denominational. I grew up in the military. The base chapel was used by all faiths.
     
  14. prizzm

    prizzm Ensign Newbie

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    Yes, the chapel was nondenominational. In Kirk's opening remarks at the wedding, he mentioned "our many beliefs." Seems to me that would imply that some of the crew had some sort of spiritual beliefs, maybe even religious beliefs.
     
  15. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Right! So obviously not everyone is an atheist.


    Edit: Gaaah! Ninja'd!
     
  16. prizzm

    prizzm Ensign Newbie

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    So even if Roddenberry did intend for earth people not to be religious, it looks to me as though some references to belief in a god slipped through the cracks.

    But as to the original question of why Roddenberry mentioned Caesar and Christ in Bread and Circuses -- beats me. Maybe he wrote a rough draft of the screenplay and it was edited?
     
  17. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Or maybe all his anti-religious rhetoric came after the series?
     
  18. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Do you happen to know from what time period this quote comes?

    Roddenberry's beliefs changed over the course of the years, the quote from the OP perhaps does not reflect Roddenberry's thoughts at the time of the episode.

    :)
     
  19. mos6507

    mos6507 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The episode doesn't posit that the deity they believe in is real. The most you could say about it is that Kirk and co. preferred religiosity to the cruelty and oppression of the status quo, playing into Gene's idea of human progress towards a more compassionate future. This, of course, ignores the negative influence of Christianity over time (like the crusades, inquisition, or most relevant-- resistance to science, of which, we're still suffering).
     
  20. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    Advocates of the "Roddenberry=atheist" missed the following along the way:

    In the book Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation (pg. 99), Scheimer recalled something telling, which the hardline, "Roddenberry=atheist" group did not know, or choose to ignore:

    That was not a joke or stunt. Even if one argues that GR's invitation to the reverend, rabbi and priest implied he was not sure--he still moved in a conscious direction of faith the atheist would not even entertain.

    With EWR, jr. born in 1974--long after TOS and just at the end of TAS' production. Roddenberry's statement--at one of the most important moments of his life--paints a clear picture that he was not the atheism cheerleader of latter day revisionist accounts, and certainly not during TOS' production. This explains the direction of the closing lines in "Bread and Circuses," which never read like the mere offering of opinion on a parallel event (in the way one would say, "oh, they just invented the car--cool!"), but some kind of deeper recognition/connection.

    GR clearly did not like the false god types (Apollo, Gary Mitchell, et al), but TOS was not anti-God, or the series characters having no belief in God (ex. Kirk's line "We find the One quite adequate").

    Braga's agenda had him talking out of his ass, an agenda which ignored experiences and 1st hand accounts where GR expressed faith--in order to paint him as the TV producer version of Dawkins.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2013
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