Atheism, and "Bread and Circuses"

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

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  1. Doomsday

    Doomsday Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Feb 17, 2006
    No, you are definitely not the only Christian on this forum.

    One of the wonderful things about Trek is how broad and deep it's attraction can be. And often we see in it what we want to see in it.

    Clearly, many atheists/humanists/ etc find great comfort in many of Trek's more humanistic stories and characters, and they are certainly there to see.

    But interestingly, Trek has always appealed to Christians as well. Most of the fellow Christians I have known since the 80's are also big Star Trek fans, or at least viewers and appreciators of the show.

    In fact, I once had an Assistant Pastor who used Trek episodes as parables to illuminate Biblical principles they sometimes reflected. (and this was a very conservative fundamentalist Baptist church, mind you).

    I am part of a small home-church group, and our entire group went togehter to see STID.

    The Trek universe is broad enough to make room for those who believe and for those who don't.

    I think it's arrogant for any of us (Christian or atheist) to think we can possibly know it all. There are too many unknowables.

    That is part of the basic Trek philosphy as I see it, tolerance for all kinds of beliefs. I am always saddened and dissappointed when I hear/read Trekkers being intolerant toward those they disagree with, particulary about matters of faith.

    I think true wisdom is not in what you know, but that you are aware of and acknowledge that wich you do NOT know.
  2. mb22

    mb22 Commander Red Shirt

    May 11, 2009
    What bothers some people is Braga's sweeping statement about Trek in general, particularly TOS. While Kirk certainly did his share of god-zapping, beginning with Gary Mitchell, there is no evidence from that show itself that GR was as totally hostile to to all manifestations of religious belief in the 1960s as he later became.
  3. Ovation

    Ovation Vice Admiral Admiral

    Yes, but what is more believable? Braga taking Roddenberry at face value when he expressed his anti-religious stance and just assuming it was a long-held view OR Braga having some nefarious anti-religious agenda and shamelessly co-opting Roddenberry for that agenda?
  4. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

    Mar 23, 2004
    Gov Kodos on Mohammed's Radio, WZVN Boston
    That was mixing atheism up with particular philosophical views, thanks. I would argue with the alien point that the aliens are non-existent or non-empirical, rather currently undetectable. (Likely lunacy, but that's something else.) The folks in question are not purposing anything metaphysical. They do have a bad understanding of physics and probably like to throw around terms from quantum mechanics and other branches of physics, but they likely try to stay in a physical framework of the universe for their delusions.

    It is the sort of poor thinking that Creationists utilize to claim their beliefs should be accounted equal to the beliefs of science, though. However, science doesn't work on belief as faith. The beliefs of science are knowledge of facts and knowledge of tested, verifiable, and replicable results. There is no issue of faith what so ever. Similarly, asserting Atheism is a belief as faith is simply wrong. It no more works from a position of faith than does science.
  5. Shaka Zulu

    Shaka Zulu Commodore Commodore

    Mar 28, 2013
    Bulawayo Military Krral
    THIS. Tragically, what the Magna Romans will get won't be as good as they think that it will be (eventually) with Christianity.

    Plus, most of the mainstream Christian churches were for the Vietnam War, including the Catholic Church (Cardinal Francis Spellman was a backer along with William Douglass of the American Friends Of Vietnam, which was an organization that supported the South Vietnamese government of Ngo Dinh Diem simply because Diem was Catholic and had almost become a Catholic priest as a young man, although he took a vow of chastity and never got married.) When the American Friends of Vietnam realized that Diem was an autocratic ruler and was treating Buddhists badly, it faded away, but the Church never really said anything about how bad the Vietnam War was, or even bothered to join in any condemnation of it (except for a certain Afro-American Southern Baptist minister who did condemn it in 1967.)

    THIS, again. Plus, the opposite is true; it was secular groups and the Quakers that were the ones most like Septimus and Flavius Maximus in our world during the '60s (and now in the 2010s opposing the Iraq/Afghanistan conflicts) in opposing the Vietnam War, plus the certain Afro-American minister I've mentioned above.

    Maybe he is, but it may be through something else that he is.

    For most Christians, maybe. For some in the hierarchy of this religion, not so much.
  6. Shawnster

    Shawnster Commodore Commodore

    Jul 28, 2008
    Clinton, OH
    Actually, I've grown to see that Atheism is a belief system. One of the people to influence my viewpoint was atheist Penn Jillette, from the Penn & Teller duo.

    Penn was interviewed for NPR's series "This I Believe" in 2005.

    His opening statement:
    I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy — you can't prove a negative, so there's no work to do. You can't prove that there isn't an elephant inside the trunk of my car. You sure? How about now? Maybe he was just hiding before. Check again. Did I mention that my personal heartfelt definition of the word "elephant" includes mystery, order, goodness, love and a spare tire?

    Penn goes on. I'm a Christian and yet I found the whole interview quite powerful and insightful.

    Now, granted, Penn starts off saying he's BEYOND atheism and that atheism is not believing in God. I did like his statement "I believe there is no God." It may be a grammar thing, but that statement is more positive and direct than "I don't believe in God." Tell me what you believe, not what you don't.

    Then, later, I found images like this image:


    For something that ISN'T a belief system, looks like they sure are trying hard to proselytize. Now, granted, this group does not represent every atheist.

    Just for the record, there are millions of Christians that believe in creation, yet reject Creationism. Please do not confuse their misrepresentation of facts with our sound beliefs.
  7. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Feb 12, 2011
    Taking up space
    So, there you go.
  8. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    One problem in our modern culture is that the word "myth" is widely believed to mean "lie." A myth is a system of shared sentiments, a truth (the opposite of a lie) which can be communicated no other way. Calling someone's belief a myth is not, in many cases, supposed to be an attack on those beliefs.
  9. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

    Feb 12, 2011
    Taking up space
    American Atheists doesn't speak for all atheists (not even in the US), just as Bible fundamentalists don't speak for all Christians.
  10. Ovation

    Ovation Vice Admiral Admiral

    Fair enough. But myths are not factual and therein lies much of the confusion in terms of responding to them. Greek mythology offered many truths but they did not represent a factual account of reality. It is the assertion that "there is a higher power" as a factual statement that sets off alarm bells. Such an assertion has no factual basis and thus no material basis. Hence, for some, a lie.
  11. 1001001

    1001001 VERY STABLE GENIUS!!! Moderator

    Nov 3, 2001
    In a Bozo Nightmare
    My first day of college, Fr. Nolan came into our Theology class and without saying a word, wrote on the board in big letters: THE BIBLE IS A MYTH.

    He went on to say that if that bothers you, you don't understand your own faith. He said that myths reveal underlying truths, not facts.

    He then gave the following example, which is probably not PC, but there you go:

    A Catholic and a Fundamentalist read Aesop's fable about the Lion and the Mouse. A good Catholic reflects on the underlying truths: kindness begets kindness, size doesn't always indicate value, a "gentle answer turneth away wrath", and so forth.

    The Fundamentalist starts worshipping the mouse.


    I've always liked that. Even though I don't believe most dogma, I like the idea that there are things to uncover with reflection and examination, rather than just taking the face value.
  12. iguana_tonante

    iguana_tonante Admiral Admiral

    Sep 15, 2006
    Italy, EU
    Yeah, pretty much.

  13. Hober Mallow

    Hober Mallow Commodore Commodore

    And therein lies the problems.

    Religious texts aren't supposed to be regarded as historical or scientific. When one does so, one no longer has religion, but ideology. Most Christian believers in the U.S. believe the Bible is a book of historical and scientific facts. Atheists believe the Bible is not a book of historical and scientific facts. Neither side gets it.

    When I talk to someone in my family who takes the Bible as literal and historical, I point out that if one takes Jesus' parables literally, one misses the point entirely.

    Joseph Campbell pointed out there is no conflict at all between religion and science. The conflict is between the science of today and the science of three thousand years ago.
  14. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 9, 2012
    The Enterprise's Restroom
    Not addressing anybodies specific point other than the general one about atheism. :) Gene Roddenberry, writing in 'The Making of Star Trek' (page 40):
    This was the Roddenberry of the 1960s. It sounds to me like what he advocates isn't that humanity don't believe in God(s), but that nobody actually cares about other people's belief systems anymore. Humanity has moved beyond the point where they start conflicts based on one faith or another, and they all respect each others right to have whatever beliefs they want. Some of them probably don't believe in God, while others probably still do. But they aren't hung up on the emotional ramifications of it. They accept and respect each other.

    I do think by the TNG era Roddenberry had definitely developed a much more staunch opinion that religion would not survive in the humanity of the future that he had envisioned, and occasionally TNG/DS9/VOY reflects on that. But it sounds to me like he wasn't actually dismissing religions in the above quote... he was just saying that the people on the original Enterprise feel comfortable enough with who they are that believing in one faith or another, or indeed not believing in a God at all, means nothing to them as people.
  15. prizzm

    prizzm Ensign Newbie

    May 23, 2013
    Myths may be unproved. They may be unprovable. But why assume that they are not factual, or at least have some factual basis? One example: In the dim past people of several cultures believed that gods, or some supernormal people, mated with humans. Were these ancient people simpletons? Or could they have observed something, some fact, which motivated such belief? I don't know, but I'm not going to call them liars.

    I listen to way too much Coast to Coast.
  16. Timelord Victorious

    Timelord Victorious Vice Admiral Admiral

    Feb 27, 2006
    Germany, Earth, the Solar System
    I think I know what you mean.
    I would agree that many myths resulted from observations that might have seemed superimpressiv and the human desire to explain them.
    Think volcano, lightning, rainbows, shooting stars... The list is endless.
    So religion was the next best thing to science, but only because they did Not have the means yet to investigate proper.
    Today we know exactly how those things I listed came about and they seem still impressiv and spark the Imagination, but none of us would call those phenomenons magic or devine.
  17. suarezguy

    suarezguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM, USA
    It's interesting to consider if atheism at least verges on religion when the "adherents" actively, let alone aggressively, try to proselytize (not collecting stamps isn't a hobby but actively bashing stamp-collecting, the Star Wars prequels (let alone a weekly show) or Nascar seem to at least be hobbies) or when they feel that atheism does demand or necessarily call for alternative ethical codes, most notably secular humanism.
    From the General Trek thread on United Earth, stj seems to think that democracy (the will of the greatest majority of people) is not merely the best form of government but should be maximized and trump all other considerations. I myself valorize human rights; I admit that they can come into conflict with themselves and there can be disagreements about what to do when they do (let alone in how to best secure them) but some religious people could admit and uneasily accept that their religion's ethical prescripts or even descriptions of the nature of God can conflict.
  18. Admiral Buzzkill

    Admiral Buzzkill Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Mar 8, 2001
    So because Penn contradicted your incorrect notion that atheism is a belief system, you decided that atheism is indeed a belief system.

    You're mistaken.
  19. Ovation

    Ovation Vice Admiral Admiral

    Then any and all ideological movements would have to be classified as a religion. So no.
  20. suarezguy

    suarezguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 9, 2008
    Albuquerque, NM, USA
    If you truly think a person or commandment trumps all other considerations (indeed, all alternatives are invalid) and people must live their lives around it, aren't they essentially "deifying" it (feeling and acting towards it as people traditionally have towards god)? It is more obvious when the object of devotion is a particular person.
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