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 Religion in SciFi, spinoff from Kerra's B5 philosophy topic
Dennis10458
Posted: Feb 17 2008, 09:21 PM
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If anyone is interested, according to my local on-line cable listings, ST:Voyage Sacred Ground will air again late Monday the 18th or early Tuesday the 19th, depending on your time zone. Check spiketv.com . . .

It truly is an AMAZING episode . . .
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Kerra
Posted: Feb 18 2008, 05:31 PM
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Wow Dennis... thanks for the um, clarification.

If we are now talking religious values and not religion in SF then we are talking completely different topics.

With the correct spin anything can be taken as a religious value.

Just because the symbolism seemed religious does that make a story religious?

I am a deeply philosophical person bent squarely on religious phenomenon, and yet in SG-A: Trio, I find very little if any religious symbolism. I find a lot of Greek mythological symbols in that three top scientist from Atlantis fall into a deep, dark pit where they must use all their wiles to rescue themselves; a classic Greek adventure, but religious?

Are you suggesting that everytime courage is used it becomes a religious moment? Are you suggesting Sagan suggested that?


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Dennis10458
Posted: Feb 19 2008, 08:32 AM
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QUOTE (Kerra @ Feb 18 2008, 05:31 PM)

Are you suggesting that everytime courage is used it becomes a religious moment?


I think I was about 7 years old when I watched a harsh depiction of events in Germany. After being discovered, aspiring escapees from East Berlin had holed themselves up in a machine gun nest. Military units were dispatched to quell them.

The camera is behind the squad of soldiers assigned this suicide mission. Lines of young men charged the nest one after another. Each line of young men was mowed down in turn.

I thought, "They are brave."

A few more lines charged the nest and fell.

Then, a soldier at the end of one line turns and runs toward the camera. As he passes the camera, his commanding officer turns toward the camera, draws his sidearm from its holster and shouts "Halt!" The running footsteps continue. The officer fires a single shot. The running footsteps stop.

I read Scott Peck's The Road Less Traveled in 2005. At one point in it, he alludes to the soldier's situation with the enemy's guns in his face and his chain of command's gun to his back.

This is not to take away from the sacrifice made, nor the guts required to act at all in this situation. But how much of that action springs from courage? And how much of it springs from desperation?

I suppose the various scenes where a soldier throws himself on a hand grenade poses a similar conundrum.

It would be nice if a situation where the courageous characters would not die or likely die if they did NOT act. The movie Ghandi has at least one such scene.

Ghandi's actions clearly spring from deeply held religous beliefs.

In Trio, it being the characters will likely die if they do not act, which is confirmed by the chamber's plummet to the bottom immediately after Rodney is safe (. . . but then again, did not the extra weight of the dirt and the characters themselves contribute to the chamber's slide . . .? Seriously, you look at a structure that size, is a ton gonna' make a lot of difference? Not likely . . .), how much of their action springs from courage, and how much from desperation?

To the extent that the goal of their courageous acts is survival - arguably, that in itself is a religous value . . . then even the courageous acts in Trio can be seen as religious. I googled for a Biblical verse about "in your downsitting and in your up getting" - times at which believers were to be aware of their doctines . . . but did not find it.

. . . which tends toward a "yes" answer to the question you posed . . .

Ghandi's acts were aimed a liberation - deliverance from evil (evil in the form of oppression, colonial empiricism)

Liberation also strikes me as a religious value . . .

If the movie is any indication, in every waking moment, if not also in his dreams, Ghandi was aware of his religious doctrines and the goals they implied.

In Ghandi's case, I think it can be said that every act of courage on his part was a "religous moment".
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Kerra
  Posted: Feb 19 2008, 07:26 PM
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Ghandi was a religious man now turned into a religious icon.

What of the Athiest who acts with courage? Is that considered a religious moment?

I would assume Rodnay McKay is an anthiest. Would he say that he acted out of religious desparation to get himself and colleagues out of their predictament? I would hope not. I would hope he'd say, in true scientific athiest fashion that he did it because it was the decent, human thing to do.

I just don't see religion as the basis for all courageous motivation, and especially in my favorite scifi. I may see a suggestion here or there but I believe a good writer leaves it up to his/her audience to discover.


Here is an interesting web site, but scroll to the top of the site to understand why I placed this link here.. . . .
http://www.fractalwisdom.com/FractalWisdom...x.html#paradigm


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Dennis10458
Posted: Feb 19 2008, 08:51 PM
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QUOTE (Kerra @ Feb 19 2008, 07:26 PM)
What of the Atheist who acts with courage? Is that considered a religious moment?


Interesting link. It mentions existentialism. Existentialists have a concept "as if". Living life "as if" (as if we are real - read Velveteen Rabbit), etc. Whatever the existentialist follows the phrase "as if" with is their core belief - the heart of their religion . . .

Atheists might not believe in God. (a ~~ without, Theos ~~ God), but that does not mean they don't believe in something.

Perhaps "religious" is not the term the atheist would apply to a courageous act . . .

Whatever beliefs a person espouses, courage comes from the same place . . . it comes from a devotion to a value or set of values . . .
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Kerra
Posted: Feb 19 2008, 09:46 PM
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QUOTE (Dennis10458 @ Feb 19 2008, 07:51 PM)
Perhaps "religious" is not the term the atheist would apply to a courageous act . . .

Whatever beliefs a person espouses, courage comes from the same place . . . it comes from a devotion to a value or set of values . . .

Now there is something we can agree on. biggrin.gif

A set of shared values can make for a fairly well oiled society, but the religious quality to those values are left to the individual.


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Dennis10458
Posted: Feb 23 2008, 09:23 AM
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QUOTE (Kerra @ Feb 18 2008, 05:31 PM)

Are you suggesting that everytime courage is used it becomes a religious moment? Are you suggesting Sagan suggested that?


Sagan's list does not explicitly mention courage.

rites of passage

ritual sacrifice

are two of the items he lists. Pertaining to ritual sacrifice, I suppose the sacrificee might try to be brave or show courage. (Or not)

And in rites of passage, particularly in "coming of age" ceremonies, the disciple may be required to show courage.

Those are the only two implicit mentions of courage in Sagan's list, the first being very weak, the second, not very strong.

I suppose Sagan's list has more to do with ethics. For example, if a discipline's dietary proscriptions say it's ok to eat strawberries, the eating strawberries is ethical. Then, what do you call it if someone never eats strawberries? Unethical, not ethical, evil?

Then, consider a discipline which says not to eat, let's say, pork for example. What do you call it if a disciple eats pork? Unethical, not ethical, evil?

The same might be said of each item on Sagan's list. If each of these items is considered a "religious" issue, then each "religion" has a position on each of these issues. If a disciple of a particular "religion" / "doctrine" observes the positions held by that religion/doctrine, then other disciples of the same religion/doctrine will most likely view those actions as "ethical".


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Dennis10458
Posted: Feb 23 2008, 09:35 AM
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QUOTE (Kerra @ Feb 18 2008, 05:31 PM)
If we are now talking religious values and not religion in SF then we are talking completely different topics.

With the correct spin anything can be taken as a religious value.

I first heard of Sagan's list in 1978. I was very impressed. Over the years, I have re-read it several times. As a result of my familiarity with this list, my viewing of scifi has been influenced significantly.

Sometimes, entire episodes, or a b-story line, focus on an aspect of religion that is recognized as religious. And these are interesting. Other times, the religious aspect is incidental to the story being told. To me, these incidental intersections with religion are often MUCH more interesting than the deliberate ones.

I hope to "drive" this thread with Sagan's list and scifi episodes that are readily accessible. And that is the bulk of what I will post here. But I do not intend to limit myself strictly to that. Neither do I intend to restrict the content of others strictly to that.
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Kerra
  Posted: Feb 23 2008, 12:41 PM
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Hi Dennis, perhaps you have no idea how wonderful it is for me to get the opportunity to think along these terms and have this conversation with you. I just want to thank you for this and challenging me to dig a little deeper and think intellectually.

And in rites of passage, particularly in "coming of age" ceremonies, the disciple may be required to show courage.


Every year in the Autumn I teach one particular story time my 10th graders titled, "By the Waters of Babylon" that is a rite of passage story. It is set in the future after an apocolyptic war and the main character must use courage to face the unknown to become preist and leader of his people. 10th graders are making the transition from childhood to adulthood. Most turn 16 during 10th grade. I try as best I can to teach this story and its topic sans religion because I am not allowed to bring religious content into the classroom. As a rite of passage the students can all identify with I have them think about the process of driving a car and all the things they must accomplish before they are allowed to do such a "grown-up" thing. They seem to understand this correlation well, without religious, philosophical, or ethical teachings from me (although I believe it takes courage and an ethical foundation to become a good driver).

To me, these incidental intersections with religion are often MUCH more interesting than the deliberate ones.

I am with you on this. Take last night's episode of Atlantis, I find the Michael character much more intriguing and worth close ethical/religious examination than I do any other character. Personally, when I find a incidental intersection that captures my interest so profoundly I have the desire to write a story concerning that character. I wish I had the time to do so.

As for Sagan's list I shall have to find the time to go over it in more detail. And, btw/fyi ... yahoo has a list of the ten most intelligent TV shows of all time and "Cosmos" happens to be on the list. biggrin.gif




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Dennis10458
Posted: Feb 25 2008, 07:16 PM
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Spike TV Schedule shows Voyager Favorite Son, Darkling, and Distant Origin airing this week. These eps have quasi-religous overtones . . . Also, don't forget SG-1 Maternal Instinct airs this week, too.
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Dennis10458
Posted: Mar 1 2008, 06:41 PM
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I programmed my vcr wrong and thus missed Favorite Son. However, I expected it to have ritual sacrifice overtones from Sagan's list.

Also, role of women, femme fatale, common literary motif.

Much apologizings for delayed posting and missed viewing of ep.
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Dennis10458
Posted: Mar 1 2008, 06:47 PM
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Darking is Voyager's answer to ST:TOS The Enemy Within. This ep revisits GR's position on the origin of evil (from Sagan's list - although, I do not mean to imply GR was even aware of that list, though well he may have been AFTER ST:TOS)
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Dennis10458
Posted: Mar 1 2008, 06:52 PM
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In his movie Contact Sagn poses the question, "Are we really any better off for all this technology and sciientific information?"

For the Voth, Distant Origin says 20 million years of doctrine is more important than truth. 20 million vs 400 or so since Renaissance.
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Dennis10458
Posted: Mar 1 2008, 06:57 PM
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An unscheduled (non-routine) service call pre-empted my viewing of Maternal Instinct. However, during his visit to Kheb, Daniel Jackson attempt to understand ascension and ascended beings. I once heard a talk where the religious urge was equated with "Transcending Barriers". To me, Daniel what discovers on Kheb, helps him to ascend (transcend THAT barrier) in Meridian.

Again, many apologizings for delayed posting and missed viewing(s)
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Dennis10458
Posted: Mar 2 2008, 04:47 PM
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SpikeTv schedule is being non-functional today, so I can't tell you about any germane upcoming Voyager episodes.

Use the SciFi Channel Schedulebot and enter SG-1 (exactly as written here) for a search key at the bottom. Several promising episode titles appear, including the following:

The Other Side

Beneath the Surface

Ascension

Rite of Passage

Beast of Burden

When I have more time to look, I'll see if some of the others are promising.
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Dennis10458
Posted: Mar 6 2008, 09:28 PM
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ST: Voyager Mortal Coil will air Tuesday, March 11. This episode has highly pronounced religious overtones.
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Dennis10458
Posted: Mar 6 2008, 09:44 PM
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SG-1 The Other Side aired the 4th. I missed it. (durn the trouble you have to go through to pay these pesky ol' bills!) The germane issue from Sagan's list is:

the community of beings to whom special ethical considerations are due
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Dennis10458
Posted: Mar 10 2008, 04:38 PM
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I started this thread revolving around Sagan's list and the concept of religion as one's "response to life".

Although this isn't scifi in anywise, if you're following this thread, spend the 15 minutes it takes to watch a talk given by Randy Pausch on Oprah
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Kerra
  Posted: Mar 10 2008, 05:18 PM
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Wow, Dennis. Powerful. Thanks so much. I have got to find a way to show this to my students.


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Dennis10458
Posted: Mar 12 2008, 08:02 AM
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SG-1 Beneath the Surface airs Tuesday, March 18. That's the closest upcoming ep that I'm aware of which is germane to this thread.
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Dennis10458
Posted: Mar 12 2008, 08:08 AM
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Concerning Voyager's ep Mortal Coil, I suppose the germane item from Sagan's list is reincarnation, loosely as afterlife . . .

Also, from Sagan's paragraph,

what human needs are fulfilled

is the germane excerpt. A need to feel safe is Naomi Wildman's need that is fulfilled by Neelix' story about the Great Forest. The final scene of the ep strongly "states" that . . .
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Dennis10458
Posted: Mar 13 2008, 08:45 PM
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ST:Voyager episode The Omega Directive will air Monday, the 17th, Saint Patrick's Day AND(!!!!) the day Spitz's resignation takes effect.

There is a single scene that relates to religion.
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Dennis10458
Posted: Mar 19 2008, 09:00 PM
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The two issues from Sagan's list that are germane to Beneath the Surface are

Slavery

The race of individuals to whom special ethical considerations are due.
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Dennis10458
Posted: Mar 19 2008, 09:03 PM
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The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight . . .

excerpt from "Oh Little Town of Bethlehem"

For various aliens involved, the Omega molecule represented a hope or a fear. For humans, it represented fear. For the "alien race of the week", it was a hope. For the Borg, it represented nothing less than perfection.

Seven of nine said her life would not be complete if she could not observe the molecule.

Thus the drama between Seven and Janeway in this episode.

But that is beside the point.

The "religious" moment in this episode occurs when the Omega molecule unexpectedly began to stabilize. Seven observes "perfection" for 3.2 seconds.

The expression on her face reflects amazement, reverence, wonder, awe . . .

In a word - worship. An interesting response considering that it stems from a quest in the objective scientific realm . . .

Seven is deeply affected by this experience, as is demonstrated by her subsequent conversation on the holodeck with Janeway. Janeway thinks Seven has had "her first spiritual experience."
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Dennis10458
Posted: Mar 23 2008, 10:57 AM
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Here is a list of promising Voyager episodes to be aired next week:

Once Upon a Time

Nothing Human

Latent Image

Gravity

ST:Voyager Season 5 Episode Listing

SG-1

Beast of Burden

Rite of Passage

Seasons 6 and 7 of Voyager have some great eps, too. Each season takes about 2 1/2 weeks, so, by Mid-May we should be at the end of the eps for that series.

I suppose the only issue on Sagan's list that has NOT come up is "dietary proscriptions", although, could "Blue Jello" count?
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