Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Who Watches the Watchers"


Air date: 10/16/1989
Written by Richard Manning & Hans Beimler
Directed by Robert Wiemer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

An anthropological research station overlooking a primitive society called the Mintakans suffers a catastrophic malfunction that allows the holographically shrouded station to become visible to its Mintakan subjects. A Mintakan named Liko (Ray Wise) witnesses the Enterprise's ensuing rescue mission and is critically injured in a fall. Rather than letting him die, Crusher beams him aboard, repairs his injuries, and erases his short-term memory. The memory wipe doesn't take, and Liko tells the story of what he witnessed aboard the Enterprise to his fellow Mintakans. He believes "the Picard" is a god who gave him back his life.

As an episode that dramatizes the purpose of the Prime Directive and the dangers of cultural contamination, "Who Watches the Watchers" is perhaps definitive. The question of whether you can study something without running the risk of affecting the results is answered here by a series of accidents that ultimately suggests an entire religion could eventually be formed around "the Picard" as based on Liko's experience.

But this episode is also definitive as an example of short-changing a concept by way of extreme microcosm. An entire planet's culture (and this has frequently been one of my complaints about Trek) is represented based solely on a dozen villagers who seem more like isolated nomads than part of a real, larger society. Meanwhile, characters in this story make sweeping assumptions that are almost absurd in their broadness. The idea that Liko's experience will "inevitably" lead to a religion worshipping Picard strikes me as an unlikely conclusion given what we know about the Mintakans. Surely there must be other societal factors in play in order for a religion to take hold and flourish. One man speaking secondhand nonsense cannot change the world.

For that matter, this episode's take on religion seems awfully simplistic. While it would be against the Prime Directive to allow Picard to be seen as a god, Picard has a speech here that seems to be against religion at all. The Mintakans left behind their supernatural beliefs generations ago, and Picard sees that as an achievement from the "dark ages" which he does not intend to allow they return to. Of course, there's no mention of the status of human religion. (I suppose the 20th century was still the "dark ages" because of all the silly human religious beliefs that persisted?)

In the latter acts, Picard tries to convince Nuria (Kathryn Leigh Scott) that he is not a god but simply part of a society that has more knowledge. This concept seems to arise from a what-if premise: What if you could show a person from 2,000 years ago what the world looks like today? The story does its best to create a sense of wonder in this, but never quite reaches takeoff velocity.

Previous episode: The Survivors
Next episode: The Bonding

Season Index

171 comments on this review

SirJonah - Sat, Oct 25, 2008 - 4:30am (USA Central)
"One man speaking secondhand nonsense cannot change the world."

In a completely rational, sane world without wishful or magical thinking that might be true... and there are always other societal factors at play, I agree. But just as Liko on Mintaka III revived belief in an "overseer", Saul of Tarsus (later Paul) on planet Earth did something similar... and I think that may possibly have been the writers' allegorical intent here. Saul never met Jesus of Nazareth in the flesh, so all of his information about his life and ministry was secondhand... but when he had that vision of the "messiah" on the road to Damascus (whatever the real nature or cause of it was), we are told that he was converted... and subsequently did more to spread the fledgling Christian religion beyond Palastine into the Roman world than did any of the disciples whom the Bible says new Christ personally.

So, according to the central text of the Christian religion anyway, one man speaking secondhand nonsense after a revelatory vision CAN change the world... apparently.

Great reviews, nonetheless!
Kiste - Thu, Jul 1, 2010 - 4:08pm (USA Central)
"One man speaking secondhand nonsense cannot change the world."

Saint Paul of Tarsus?
Elliott - Tue, Dec 28, 2010 - 9:42pm (USA Central)
The "What-if" premise in "Who Watches the Watchers" is about being able to show people that religious belief stems from a human psychological condition that is rooted in a world-view which lacks perspective; that in gaining perspective the tendency for a person or a people to adhere to those beliefs becomes less and less tenable.

Picard's speech is against religion, make no mistake. I find your tendency to be distrustful of anti-faith shows and praising of pro-faith shows displeasing. The strength of a story does not depend upon its philosophy.
David H - Mon, Jun 13, 2011 - 9:11pm (USA Central)
Elliott, you are absolutely right about the premise of "Who Watches the Watchers", and that is why it is my least favorite episode of an otherwise stellar season. I understand that any series will reflect the views of its creator, but I also find it ironic that the Trek universe that embraces tolerance and multiculturalism at every turn can also depict people of faith as less highly evolved. I also find it interesting to compare Picard's speech here with his answer to Data's question "What is death?"
Elliott - Sat, Aug 6, 2011 - 12:10am (USA Central)
RE: "Who watches..." again : Jammer "I suppose the 20th century was still the "dark ages" because of all the silly human religious beliefs that persisted?" Well, frankly, yes. If you can't tolerate this notion or at least some version of it, why in the world do you watch let alone review Star Trek episodes? The abandonment of religion is tied in with the other events which according to canon defined the future we see here. That Picard would have the same hope for a promising younger civilisation is totally reasonable. It seems that, because you are unwilling to grant this stance the validity it deserves, you turn your attention to a secondary aspect of the episode (namely this "wonder" idea) and criticise it for not being fully realised. But the real premise of the story is totally and wonderfully realised; you just don't like what it had to say.

@ David H. : Star Trek was never "multicultural" or "tolerant" as you imply--it was never some new-age hippy nonsense show-rather it made a point of distinguishing between doe-eyed idealism and the rational goal of bettering oneself-it was and for ever shall be a balance of forces represented most purely by the friendship between Spock and Kirk and which disseminates across most of the other series and movies. Regarding Data's question; the understanding that intelligent organisms must move away from religion and the denial of all things metaphysical are not one and the same. There can be (and perhaps must be) a higher plane which surpasses our ability to apprehend, but that does not imply such a plane is endowed with consciousness. In fact, Schopenhauer would argue that the point at which metaphysics reach their apex is a point of utter unconsciousness, ie death.
Paul - Fri, Sep 23, 2011 - 5:33am (USA Central)

For starters, let me tell you that I respect the passion and conviction you approach Star Trek with. From yor numerous comments it is obvious that its worldview (or is it Weltanschauung:) ) means much to you.

At the same time, I think you are spending way too much time on establishing ideological correctness and "truewayism" with regards to Trek. I get the feeling you watch it as prophetic ennobling vision of boundless human potential first, drama (art?, would that be pretentious?) a distant second.

Nothing wrong with that, of course.
Elliott - Fri, Sep 23, 2011 - 10:28am (USA Central)

Thank you for your lovely words. I find that you, like many, seem not to realise that first of all, coherence to premise is a fundamental factor in good drama--and I mean premise as defined by Lajos Egri as the core philosophical idea of a dramatic work (not an initial situation or "promo tagline" as many seem to define it).

Secondly, Star Trek in particular was designed with this in its hierarchy genetic code--the whole purpose of the thing was to espouse a philosophy founded upon a mythical journey. When that idea is removed, circumvented, denied or simply ignored, the drama becomes weak. Now, for many this was just a show about people travelling around in space (meaning either the show failed to prove its premise or even establish it or the episodic nature of TV meant that the thread of premise was ignorable). Both Voyager and DS9 in their own ways of course maintained something like a premise throughout their respective runs (although DS9's was reinvented twice, and was completely anti-trek), but TNG was a strange case. Overall, season 3 is the most philosophically consistent (and thereby strongest overall), but having peaked so early meant that by season 6 there was little left to prove or do, which led to a great deal of wandering in the final two seasons.

A drama must at all times strive to prove its premise; it must work constantly, and the machinations of that proof are the stuff of dialogue and plot. When this goal is ignored, it is precisely the artistic integrity of a work which suffers.
Paul - Fri, Sep 23, 2011 - 7:16pm (USA Central)

"...coherence to premise is a fundamental factor in good drama--and I mean premise (...) as the core philosophical idea of a dramatic work.

Agreed. That is one of the reasons why I could never fully support Voyager - its characterwork and plots are completely at odds with the established premise; the darn thing just won't let me get, what's the hip word nowadays, immersed in the setting.

But here's where I get off the train with regards to your definition of premise. Note that with Voyager I'm having problems with premise as conceived and followed through by *that* show. Voyager's premise, Voyager's (in)ability to live up to it.

On the other hand, you are critisizing DS9 for not being true to the premise of a completely *different* show, namely original Star Trek. Now, I'm not entirely certain even that's true, but for the sake of argument, let's say it is.

My question now is: why would DS9 have an obligation to TOS? That's what I was aiming at with my previous comment regarding your "Weltanchauung". Although it's absolutely your right to do so, I think you're imposing ideological boundaries on what a show can and can't do, what it can and can't *be*, establishing limits based not on internal dramatic considerations inherent to the show in question, but on external axioms or dogmas stipulated from above.
Sam - Thu, Dec 22, 2011 - 11:51am (USA Central)
Elliott wrote, "The abandonment of religion is tied in with the other events which according to canon defined the future we see here."

Actually, religion is treated unevenly in the Trek universe--sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. For instance, consider the TOS episode in which Kirk is defended in court against the death of a crewman ("Court Martial") and his lawyer speaks in praise of the Bible. Or, the episode in which the TOS crew battles "gods" and Kirk says we only need the one God. Or, perhaps the insistence by Kasidy Yates that her mother would prefer her to be married by a minister. Of course, then there is the ENTIRE series of DS9 with its treatment of faith.

Obviously, not all religion was abandoned by the 23rd and 24th centuries in the Star Trek Universe. Q.E.D.
Elliott - Sat, Jun 30, 2012 - 7:19pm (USA Central)
@ Sam :

I'll grant that Trek's treatment of economics is a bit botched with unnecessary references to "expense" and "gambling" but the religion issue throughout TNG's run was crystal clear.

In "Court Martial," Cogley brings up the bible as an example (one of many) of documents which define morality and list "human rights." It does in no way indicate a validation of Christianity as a religion and most definitely not evidence that it is practised in the 23rd century.

The second episode you mention is "Who Mourns for Adonais?" and the line is a bit perplexing given the episode's message seems rather clear that the worship of deities is counter to modern human culture. But, it is there, so I'll give you that one example.

The example from DS9 is something I and others have criticised as totally disrespectful of Trek reality. It's a slap in the face by René Echevarria of all people (the episode is "Penumbra"--a word which under a positive spin revels in DS9's signature "shades of grey" and spun under me is a poetic figurehead for "subversive uncertainty").

Religion was not purported to be abandoned by all people in the 23rd/24th centuries, but by humans and most of the Federation. Klingons, the Dominion (sort of), numerous Delta Quadrant species and of course Bajorans are quite undeniably religious. The issue isn't that religion shows up, it very well should being such an important part of human legacy and history. But the depiction in "Penumbra" is akin to doing a show set in 2012 with people worshiping Zeus or Bacab. It's historically inaccurate.
Elliott - Sat, Jun 30, 2012 - 8:56pm (USA Central)
@Paul :

My apologies for the tardiness of my reply :

1) Voyager ;
In a dramatic work, the premise can only be known by the end. Yes, the premise may be more or less stated in the beginning (this was done in BSG for a related example by way of Adama's 2nd speech to the fleet in the miniseries). Janeway said very clearly in the pilot that they would be "one crew: a Starfleet crew" which would continue to uphold the principles of the Federation and the goals of Starfleet whilst pursuing a course home. Now, many people wanted to see a conflict between the Maquis and Starfleet crews which led to a kind of warped or abandoned Trek philosophy which was radically different from TOS and TNG, but that was never the premise of the show. If it had been, it would be as guilty as DS9 of disrespecting the franchise. There were significant story-telling problems in Voyager, but it never violated its premise.

2) DS9's lack of respect for the franchise :

Let me use as a parallel case, the Prequel Trilogy from "Star Wars." While "fanboys' as their often derided will soak up and love absolutely anything which inhabits the Star Wars universe, most agree the films were regrettably awful. I have a few good things to say about them, but they are pale shadows of the originals. However, far worse than the fact that, on their own, they make pretty lousy movies, the philosophical inconsistencies ruin much of what was great about the Original Trilogy. That The Force became the product of sci-fi microörganisms, light sabres became stand-in plot devices and the entire mythology of Vader's character was proved to be false (that he was ever anything other than a terrible, selfish and murderous person is doubtful). Now, on the one hand, the prequel films catre to a different audience--they're rife with special effects and lots of fan-wanking that appeals to certain demographics. In terms of quality, the films did not have to exist in the same vein or appeal to the same audience as the original films did and do. Take, for example, the newest Indiana Jones film. It was horrendous, but because of the timeline and the way those films are structured, there is no way, no matter how awful, any new film can detract from the originals. In Star Wars' case, this is not so. It wasn't just that the films were poor, it is that the information they provided contradicted on a fundamental level the *premise* of Star Wars as a unified entity of art.

In that way, by calling itself Star Trek and inhabiting the Universe called "Star Trek," DS9 was responsible for adhering to the über-premise of Star Trek, as defined by the original creators, including Gene Roddenberry. That does not mean that "his word is law," and that there is little or no flexibility allowed in the writing, but veering so far away from the original premise was detrimental to the franchise.
Drachasor - Sun, Jul 8, 2012 - 4:05pm (USA Central)
To me this is one of the best episodes of TNG. Now, I might be biased because I'm an atheist, but I do think Picard's stance against religion in this context most definitely makes sense.

When you start trying to explain that which is hard to explain by invoking gods, you've entered a dangerous place in terms of trying to understand the universe. This sort of explanation is paper thin, because it doesn't really explain anything at all. Yet, as our history shows entire organizations and complicated dogmas can arise out of the most ridiculous declarations. So I think Picard is reasonably dismayed by this and understandably concerned how this might affect the Mintakan development. And let's not pretend that various religions on Earth has not repeatedly gotten into petty fights with people simply doing basic science that harmed no one. The danger is real enough.

I think we should also bear in mind that the Mintakans aren't given to flights of fancy the way humans are. So an eye-witness account of something might well carry more weight with them. For what it is worth.

Regarding the DS9 talk (and I don't think it is fair to judge this episode by a show that came quite a bit lateR), I feel that DS9 really let us down in how it portrayed religion. Here we had the objects of the religion as beings one could actually meet (with perhaps some difficulty). At first they seem unaware of Bajor. Throughout the show it is unclear if they want worship, how much they care about Bajor (see the Occupation), and whether they respond to prayer -- though they do respond to Sisko yelling at them, but that's a bit different. These issues aren't ever looked at carefully. Heck, as best I remember they don't even look at the issue of whether the prophets DESERVE worship (or if any kind of being ever deserves worship). "Who Mourns for Adonis?" at least did that. The treatment of religion in DS9 was distinctly lacking in thought.
Peremensoe - Wed, Jul 18, 2012 - 2:10am (USA Central)
"...a dozen villagers who seem more like isolated nomads than part of a real, larger society."

They're not nomads; they have obviously permanent structures. Nor do they seem particularly isolated; Troi and Riker's arrival is no great surprise, which means there must be travel and trade with other communities. No, the Mintakans have a perfectly solid society, just one that hasn't gotten past perhaps a Bronze Age-equivalent technology.
Ospero - Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - 5:28pm (USA Central)
@Peremensoe: Also, they explicitly state at the beginning that the duck blind is to observe an extended family unit. The microcosm might not really tie in with the fear of massive cultural contamination presented in the episode, but it is established right at the very beginning.
Patrick - Mon, Feb 18, 2013 - 8:23am (USA Central)
If this episode was rated on the curve of Star Trek Voyager or Star Trek Enterprise, I think it would have been rated at least 3 and a half stars.

It's take on the Prime Directive being considered definitive is well said--because it's a smart story that is beautifully told.

The scene where Nuria holds up her hand in anguish with Picard's blood to Liko is one of the best single shots of TNG.
Josh - Mon, Feb 18, 2013 - 3:15pm (USA Central)
Really? I always thought her anguish was overacted. The real strength of this episode are the earlier chase/action scenes which are tightly shot and interestingly scored. I do like this episode, of course, but its strength is certainly not in the acting by the guest stars.

I've said elsewhere that the star ratings need not mean very much, but two-and-a-half - on the same level as "The Ensigns of Command" - sounds about right.
William B - Wed, Apr 17, 2013 - 6:18am (USA Central)
This episode is primarily an episode-long elaboration on Arthur C. Clarke’s dictum that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. In this case, however, “magic” is specifically religion. To begin with, I am an agnostic who borders on atheism, but I generally do not oppose art or writing which argues for a religious perspective on principle; I like this episode a great deal, but not because I automatically approve of an anti-religious stance but because this episode argues its case well.

The Mintakans being identified as Vulcan-like species is a detail which is used primarily to establish that these are not unreasonable people (though this might have been a self-defeating decision, since we know that Vulcans were highly emotional before they devoted themselves completely to logic), and that it is not a matter of the people themselves being irrational but of the people attempting to make logical deductions from insufficient data. People (and Mintakans are meant to be stand-ins for people within our past) are pattern-seeking creatures, and it’s this pattern-seeking that allows for logical deduction (and induction) as well as our great advances. However, sometimes the patterns are false (the correlation between Riker and Troi rescuing the anthropologist and the thunderstorm is not causation) and the necessity of relying on the supernatural to explain certain events diminishes as knowledge about the natural world grows (i.e. Picard et al.’s life-saving abilities). The episode proceeds with everyone making generally well-reasoned arguments, if sometimes laced with a great deal of fear, and the structure of Picard et al. attempting various means to quell the consequences of “Gods” entering the Mintakan community’s consciousness and being confronted with the resiliency of the newfound belief makes for a good (if talky, which is not really a problem) series of debates.

It’s true that we are being shown only one small community, but I don’t think that this episode is really suggesting that this is a microcosm of the entire planet, or anything like that. Rather, this group is the group that was being observed, and the people that saw remarkable apparently supernatural happenings. As others have pointed out, Saul’s experience spread around the world given enough time, and it’s not impossible that something similar would happen here. Moreover, even if only a small community changes its worldview as a result of the interference, it is still a big deal and one which Picard understandably wants to correct if he can. The movement into fanaticism as a result of the possibility of an Overseer is obviously a jaundiced take on what religion does to people, but it does flow naturally from the Mintakans’ characters, wherein the belief that one’s fate is largely governed by one’s own actions and random chance is replaced by the belief that one’s own moral code becomes irrelevant in the face of attempting to adhere to the whims of an all-powerful being.

Picard’s dedication to the Prime Directive really shines through here, in ways that reflect both positively and negatively on him. The hint of a standard Picard/Crusher conflict comes up when he indicates that he would have preferred Crusher let Liko die, and his severity is nearly unsympathetic, but this is a man who puts his money where his mouth is, and is willing to risk death himself, particularly after he intuits (from his experience with Nuria) that only blood and death will establish that they are not Gods.

The episode’s real weakness, it seems to me, is that the ending, while somewhat sombre, doesn’t emphasize enough how much contamination has already been done. Picard bleeds, but he doesn’t die (or if he dies, he is revived immediately); it’s enough to communicate that he is not a god, but it doesn’t seem like his arm in a sling will really communicate his relative powerlessness the way it should. Additionally, these people have been shown a glimpse into the future—they know that there are alien life forms, that the technology exists to disappear into the air and to fly into the stars and to heal seemingly unhealable wounds. This doesn’t hurt the episode all that much, but the ending does feel fall a bit short of what came before and this keeps it firmly out of the 4 star range for me; I’d put it on the low end of 3.5 stars.
William B - Wed, Apr 17, 2013 - 8:41am (USA Central)
The other thing I want to add, in reference to the title: one big aspect of the Prime Directive is designed to limit Federation power, to curb imperialistic impulses. The Federation are much, much more powerful than many of the cultures in the galaxy, and any interference would end up being an attempt to remake these cultures into versions of the Federation, as is suggested by one of the anthropologists jumping on the idea that Picard could take the opportunity to give some guidelines. Non-interference except in extreme circumstances is the best way to avoid imposing their values and essentially frightening others into compliance.

This does make Picard's speech indicating that religion is something that all species shake off as they become more advanced, and also his statements that Nuria will certainly explore the stars eventually, a little ironic -- part of the reason Picard believes as strongly as he does in minimizing interference is because he assumes that all cultures will, if left to their own devices, evolve into the 'correct,' i.e. Federation-esque way. I'm not saying Picard is a hypocrite exactly; he certainly maintains respect for the Klingons, who are religious(-ish) and run counter to many Federation values. But it's an interesting (unexamined?) wrinkle in the episode.

This is of particular note in that it builds on the themes from "The Survivors" in the previous episode (in addition to many in other seasons) -- one could say that Kevin was following his own Prime Directive in refusing to use his power and maintaining his human identity as tightly as he can.
Elliott - Wed, Apr 17, 2013 - 11:53am (USA Central)
@William B:

May I just say, sir, how much of a pleasure it is to read your comments. Your criticisms, while never shallow and rarely betraying bias, demonstrate a firm grasp of the Trek genre as opposed to a more general literary criticism.

Regarding the ending of this episode, I found the final scenes a demonstration of how, even without or *especially* without religion, the inspiration to grow and discover the Universe is is present in the Mentaken's culture. The grand mystery of the unknown is not lost upon them (made manifest by their brief and legendary interaction with the Federation), but does not demand caving to the fearful instinct to deify said unknown.
William B - Wed, Apr 17, 2013 - 5:26pm (USA Central)
@Elliott: Thank you! The high level set by Jammer and many of the commenters (yourself included) are an inspiration to write well. My girlfriend is currently watching TNG for the first time, and it's providing an opportunity for revisiting the show for the first time in, I don't know, more than a decade (and it was a pretty formative show for me, and I'd rewatched those episodes ad nauseam back then), and it's a pleasure to think about these in a way I was a little too young to at the time.

" Regarding the ending of this episode, I found the final scenes a demonstration of how, even without or *especially* without religion, the inspiration to grow and discover the Universe is is present in the Mentaken's culture. The grand mystery of the unknown is not lost upon them (made manifest by their brief and legendary interaction with the Federation), but does not demand caving to the fearful instinct to deify said unknown. "

Ah! Thank you. There was something about the ending to this episode that seemed to elude me, and I think this might be it -- I was so focused on the narrow resolution to the is-Picard-a-God question, but the sense of wonder at the unknown/the future and the response to it without fear (something Jammer also mentions) is there. I do especially like how the way to avoid fearing Picard et al. is to see the limits of their power, and to bond over the knowledge of death (first the anthropologist/observer, and later Picard's injury) -- which also suggests that there are some mysteries of the universe left to explore even after they get to the stars.

I still think there's a slight sense that Picard, by encouraging their sense of wonder at the unknown, is still trying to steer them toward (basically) human evolution in contrast to the spirit of the PD, but it's possible that it simply can't be helped after the initial damage is done.
Alex - Thu, May 9, 2013 - 5:12am (USA Central)
Some great comments here. My own personal feeling is that this is one of the episodes most true to the ethos of TNG. Spirituality (the belief in something greater than yourself that you are a part of) and Religion (dogma, supreme beings, etc), are NOT the same thing.

TNG has no issues with spirituality, as Picard's answer to Data about death shows, but is against organised religion in all its forms.

DS9 and Battlestar Galactica for me almost ruined themselves with their poorly thought out religious nonsense.

I think the wonderful music from Ron Jones deserves special mention here. Watching on Blu-Ray just now the scene where Picard is in the observation lounge with Nuria looking down on the planet gives me goosebumps.
The Romulans - Sat, May 18, 2013 - 2:29am (USA Central)
I agree that Jammer seems to be a little harsh with his review here. I thought this one was quite good and nailed the Prime Directive concerns appropriately. Solid episode, an easy 3 stars.
Gary - Sun, Jun 2, 2013 - 3:53am (USA Central)
Does it bother anyone else that Liko is able to understand Picard at all in the sickbay, when no one is addressing him such that a universal translator would be in effect? Much as with the leaps to absolute certainty this episode makes, it feels like a convenient shortcut for the sake of allegory that doesn't make sense.
Alex - Wed, Jun 12, 2013 - 3:43pm (USA Central)
That's a good point Gary!

Also, even though I'm sure we will develop a universal translator one day, it still has to take what you say, convert it and then output the translation. Given some languages can phrase things in total reverse to others, it's not gonna work until after a full phrase has been spoken.

So even when we see advanced Star Trek races talking to each other, the depiction of the universal translator doesn't really stand up to scrutiny!
Rikko - Sat, Aug 31, 2013 - 1:44pm (USA Central)
Ugh! now I know how Trajan felt about "The Measure of a Man". An episode that's otherwise fine and praised by others is completely ruined by the fact that it goes against stuff you've been studying for a while now. And I don't mean the religious thing.

It's the anthropology aspect of it what drives me crazy.

First, did you guys noticed that we wouldn't have a problematic situation if that accident at the observation installation didn't happen? So, it seems to be ok to spy on other civilizations just because they are less technologically advanced. Great. They are studying them like they were a bunch of animals.

Second, that underlying concept of linear evolution. The Federation feels the need to study the Mintakans because they are thought to be representative of a former state of their own evolution history. Oh, really? Why does it have to be that way? The Mintakans aren’t a transparent window to the past like the federation thinks they are. This is an almost pure XIX century anthropology mindset (early XX being generous). Now, I’m aware this is something more or less present all the time in TNG, but it never took central stage until now. And sure, we’re talking about a show that’s more concerned with human drama and sci-fi than being anthropologically correct, but I can’t help myself here.

Now, even if I ignore that issue, this episode still doesn’t work to me. The guest actors are a bit stiff, and the events seemed to develop far too quickly to feel convincing. We move from first contact to religious fervor in 20 minutes. Plus, the only real good scene in my eyes is Picard saying that speech right at the end; but that’s a huge throwback to season 1 with episodes such as “Justice”.

Jammer rating seems about right to me.

Edit. - On religion: I don't see anything wrong with Picard's actions in the context of this episode alone. Maybe his line of thought is a bit anti-religion but he couldn't be more right about the importance of not being called a God.

Picard is a fine guy and he wouldn't abuse that sudden position of power, but any other guy has the potential to enslave the whole Mintakans civilization. What he did was the best course of action given the situation at hand.

Plus, he only has one episode to get it right, hah.
Moonie - Sun, Sep 29, 2013 - 9:21am (USA Central)
I TOTALLY disagree with Jammer about "one an speaking nonsense" not being sufficient as the foundation of a religion. Human history proves it is actually TOTALLY sufficient.

And I loved Picard's anti-religion speech. Yay for The Picard! :-)

This episode does a really good job of explaining and defining the prime directive and its importance!

"An entire planet's culture (and this has frequently been one of my complaints about Trek) is represented based solely on a dozen villagers who seem more like isolated nomads than part of a real, larger society."

is of course a common occurrence in Trek episodes. A budget issue? It's not limited to only this one.

I understand why this episode might hurt the feelings of religious people. Yes I figure we are still in the dark ages ;-)
Corey - Mon, Oct 14, 2013 - 2:09pm (USA Central)
Agree with Elliot's comments above. This episode is entirely in keeping with the Trek ethos.
Nissa - Thu, Jan 9, 2014 - 2:42am (USA Central)
I feel that today people are quick to speak in a bigoted manner against those who believe in God. In fact, the very two first comments on this page are clear examples of that. However, intelligence does not bar one from believing in God, nor vice versa. Nor is atheism a sure bet against ignorance or wild theories that spread. After all, communism is an athiestic political system, and it spread far and killed many.

Let us now all realize that when wild ideas spread, it is not due necessarily to religion in general. It can be the specific religion in question, but usually dumb ideas are simply the flaws of humanity itself, by being unnecessarily intolerant, controlling of others, or one society just plain wanting what someone else has.

As far as Trek goes, an above person commented that Trek is pretty schizophrenic on the matter, and this is quite true. Roddenberry himself was an atheist, though probably he preferred atheism as he didn't like the idea of a supreme being having something to say about his promiscuity and theft. Seriously, Roddenberry stole film from Paramount to sell, took credit for other people's work, and wrote words to the TOS theme song so he could steal half the royalties from Sandy Courage. Certainly such a man would be uncomfortable with a moralistic God.

So, basically put, atheism is no guarantee that morality will exist.

Jons - Fri, Feb 14, 2014 - 12:52pm (USA Central)
"While it would be against the Prime Directive to allow Picard to be seen as a god, Picard has a speech here that seems to be against religion at all."

Interesting, that was one of the only interesting things in the episode, and with which I agreed.

If you can't understand why people believing in unproved (and unprovable) fables that dictate their behavior and thought, conveniently exploited by a few leaders, is a problem for science and the advancement of civilisations, then maybe you should give it some more thought...
Tom - Sun, Mar 30, 2014 - 10:29pm (USA Central)
This show started all right, but I lost interest about half way through. First, why is the Federation studying this civilization through a window (ceiling cat style)? It's creepy and as Rikko says, probably not very helpful for learning about the history of the Federation. And I felt like the Enterprise kept digging itself into a hole. If they had just decided to leave the system after the first guy had seen "the Picard", that would probably have minimized contact.

But no, the Enterprise needed to go back and eradicate the great evil of religion, "undo the damage it caused". They're laying it thick here. Just because one guy believes in "The Picard" doesn't mean "the inquisition, chaos or holy wars" are coming. Religion is a lot more complex than that and who knows what will happen or would have happened over centuries? The episode is extremely simplistic in suggesting that religious belief will automatically send them back into the dark ages.

The big failure of this episode, is that they end up violating the Prime Directive big time by letting them see the ship and telling them about the stars, etc. But of course, they won't share any of their technology with them. The creepy Federation scientists will just keep on spying on them through their window.
Elliott - Mon, Mar 31, 2014 - 1:12am (USA Central)
True, religion is more complex than "inquisitions, chaos or holy wars," but complexity is not a justification for Picard and the Enterprise to knowingly propagate a mistruth to an innocent population.

The historical events which get twisted and stuffed into holy narratives are not to blame when religious entities use their power to corrupt and manipulate their flocks, but the point here is the Mentakans developed sufficiently as a culture to draw their conclusions rationally and thus, credulity was minimal. Picard never told Nuria that "there is no God", simply that what she and Liko, et al. thought they were seeing was based on a misconception brought about by the extreme gulf in technology between the Mentakans and the Federation. When Picard was finally able to contextualise their interactions (via analogy and the very human limits of death), it was the Mentakans' OWN reasoning which led to their dismissal of Picard-as-God.

The Federation ideal--that eventually, all cultures evolve into atheistic, non-capitalistic problem-solvers--is ethically no different from the ideal that Americans and the west in general have about democracy; eventually, all nations will embrace this enlightened way of thinking and, while we mustn't *force* other cultures to accept our values, we ought to encourage their natural growth in that direction. It is no more or less arrogant of the Federation to believe/behave this way than for the US to support the Ukraine's advance towards western ideals.

Now, perhaps it IS arrogant, but again, that does not make it wrong.
Paul M. - Mon, Mar 31, 2014 - 2:28pm (USA Central)
@Elliott: "It is no more or less arrogant of the Federation to believe/behave this way than for the US to support the Ukraine's advance towards western ideals.

Now, perhaps it IS arrogant, but again, that does not make it wrong."

Fortunately for the Federation, Picard's strategy for dealing with the Mintakans didn't involve staging a coup on their planet while hiding behind grand ideas.
Picard from USS Phoenix - Mon, Apr 28, 2014 - 3:00pm (USA Central)
"One man speaking secondhand nonsense cannot change the world."

What about Christ, Mahomet, Buddha etc.? Religions often times started as teaching of a one man, who have ridiculous, supernatural claims. Unfortunately people believe them- and that's how all those "inquisitions, chaos or holy wars," mentioned by Jean-Luc, started in the first place. Yes, this episode - like most of "Star Trek" - is promoting atheist point of view so naturally religious people can be offended by it. Too bad I say, because there is nothing untrue about Picard's view on religion. In fact, this episode quite convincingly describes how religions could come to be. And unlike "TNG The Devil's due" it take itself seriously and it's even more friendly towards religious people, since it doesn't suggests that religions are simply work of a con artist, instead it suggests that it is a simple matter of misunderstanding and people's ignorance and naivete. There is no ill will in "Who Watches the Watchers".

"The episode is extremely simplistic in suggesting that religious belief will automatically send them back into the dark ages."

Funny, that beginning of secularism and enlightenment movements which diminished role of Church and rejected religious dogma, was the beginning of unprecedented, technological and social progress...
Sean - Thu, Jul 31, 2014 - 2:13am (USA Central)
I have a hard time accepting the premise that religion wouldn't exist at all in the Star Trek future. If anything, religion is notorious for its lack of ability to change. Knowing that there are alien races out there wouldn't stop religion from existing. Being able to explore the galaxy wouldn't stop it. WW3 wouldn't stop it. A nuclear war might even make MORE people religious.

I just can't see a point where religion just sort of stops existing. All of it, worldwide. It doesn't make sense. Indeed, you'd probably see aliens adopting human religion and vice versa. It just doesn't go away as easily as Trek wants it to. It never historically has. No matter how non-religious the population tends to be, religion is still there and pops back up again and again.
Elliott - Thu, Jul 31, 2014 - 2:34am (USA Central)
@ Sean :

If you consider human psychological evolution to increase in speed as much as the technological evolution the Trek-verse asks you to believe, it's not so difficult to conceive. Think about how much weaker religion's hold on us is now compared to 400 years ago. With the disappearance of money and corporate political institutions, religion serves to purpose in the Federation. I'm certain that people are still spiritual (there is evidence of this), but organised religion is anathema to the kind of civilisation we see.
Falconus - Thu, Aug 21, 2014 - 8:58pm (USA Central)
What is this "organized religion" that is being demonized?

It's nothing more than two or more people agreeing on a particular metaphysical premise. There's nothing sinister about that, nor much of anything to distinguish it from the vague "spirituality" that you find acceptable.

Now I'm disappointed because I don't know if this actually worth watching, or if evangelical atheists are just praising it because they agree with the message.
Elliott - Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - 12:51am (USA Central)
@Falconus: ironic that you would choose the word "demonised" since the concept of the demon is a unique product of religion itself. Religion has a way of damning itself, and bureucracies have a way of magnifying inherent faults. Granting political, bureucractic power to formalised collective wishful thinking is sinister in my book.
bhbor - Wed, Sep 17, 2014 - 1:43pm (USA Central)
I was really surprised by the low rating on this episode since it is easily my favorite in TNG.

People have made fine points back and forth about the consistency of atheism within the Federation here, and I don't really have the time to dig into that at the moment except to say that Sisko's role as Emissary in DS9 never, in my opinion, converted him from an atheist Star-Fleet commander into a believer. It seems that he maintains that the Prophets are some kind of 4th dimensional worm-hole aliens, incredibly intelligent but ignorant in their own way about corporeal life and certainly never regards them as gods. It is very interesting to ponder how such incredibly powerful entities could be so flawed in regard to their understanding of our universe. In this stage, Sisko's role is to define and defend "humanity" ie-corporeal beings by engaging in debate rhetoric was one of the most fascinating aspects of this show.

In regard to "Who Watches the Watchers", I found Patrick Stewart's interaction with the proto-Vulcan leader absolutely spellbinding. The musical score was perfect when Picard asked her to 'touch his face...flesh and blood', it gives me goosebumps every time I watch it. Picard's eventual answer to the question, "I wonder if we will ever travel the stars?" ... "of that I have no doubt" carries with it such a profound spirituality in itself, which I feel most true scientists today hold dear. Science is bad mouthed as a kind of religion in itself, but true explorers willingly except their own ignorance about the complexities of the universe through the profoundly limited lens of human perception, and carry on a question for knowledge despite the enormity of life's complexities.

Within this, religion was, and always has been a poor explanation for the wonders of life.
Josh - Wed, Jan 28, 2015 - 1:59pm (USA Central)
Changing gears from religion, I saw some of this episode while eating lunch today, specifically the portion from when Picard brings Nuria on board the Enterprise. The dramatic license during the scene in sickbay bothered me. I realize the point was to illustrate to Nuria that even "the Picard" cannot save everyone from dying (like the poor researcher in the scene), but you have to wonder about the lack of action from Crusher for someone who was, apparently, critically ill.

The woman is in fairly obvious distress (why?), so Crusher orders some sort of drug, which she oddly administers through her sternum. Now it's hard to assess given the black box of 24th century medicine, but no arrest code? No CPR? Intubation? It all looked very 19th century ("I think we're going to lose her"), as the staff hovered over the no-hope patient without actually, well, doing anything.

It's a fairly enormous contrast from how things work now, but then that's typical for TV and Star Trek in particular. Sick/dying people are always awake, distressed, or else able to carry on a conversation in a halting voice. Are there no ICUs in the 24th century?
John Logan - Mon, Apr 27, 2015 - 7:27am (USA Central)
@Picard from USS Phoenix: That is a simply unfactual remark. The first universities were started by the Catholic Church in the eleventh century. The new world was discovered by a Catholic. Ancient writings from, Josephus to Tacitus were preserved by the church, and many church fathers studied Aristotle. Even most of the first hospitals were founded by the Catholic Church. Look at Albertus Magnus, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, Pierre Duhem, Jean-Baptiste Dumas, Roger Boscovich, Blaise Pascal, André-Marie Ampère, Gregor Mendel, Charles-Augustin de Coulomb, Pierre de Fermat, Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, Marin Mersenne, Alessandro Volta, Amedeo Avogadro, John Desmond Bernal and Henri Becquerel. The current wars in the Ukraine, and World Wars I and II, as well as the Cold War show that secularism did not cause violence to go away.
Eddington - Sun, May 3, 2015 - 4:13pm (USA Central)
@John Logan:

A few things you have to realize in this kind of forum: the "science versus religion" paradigm is best understood when considered as the recent, western phenomenon that it is: secular humanism versus biblical literalism. You provide a nice collection of names and facts that should demonstrate the Cathlic Church's contribution to the natural (i.e. "pure") sciences, but I don't think that is really where the problem comes from. Indeed, the Catholic Church is hated by the evangelicals mainly because of her outright rejection of biblical literalism. So that makes her a target of both sides.

Also Islam truly is an organized religion which is anti science: Allah being pure will, his creation is an act purely of his will and not also of reason, so the universe is not reasonable or knowable by intellect but only if Allah wills that you know. But this subtlety is lost on those who have no interest in, or hate for, religion as such.

By the way I think you forgot to mention the Catholic priest who invented the Big Bang theory (although he called it "the primordial atom").

Where the Cathlic Church is harpooned over the natural sciences is squarely on it's flip-flop from Golden Boy Galileo to Social Parriah Galileo.

Outside of the technological developments from medieval monasteries, the Catholic Church has had very little interest in the applied sciences (i.e. technology), and I would guess this is because applied science doesn't give you that insight into the mind of God the like the pure sciences do.

It is also paramount to remember that when people shout "science!" they often times mean pure science, technology, and the speculations of popular scientists all at once, with an ignorance that a distinction exists.

Thanks for defending the faith and our Holy Mother and Teacher, the Roman Catholic Church, and for defending the truth of her constant, scientific search for knowledge and understanding of this universe.

Picard was right, by the way, in that he is not a god, and that the universe is knowable by reason, and not magic!
John Logan - Mon, May 18, 2015 - 8:33am (USA Central)
@Eddington Thank you for your balanced response. It is true Fundamentalists Protestants take the bible completely literally, and many Muslims reject science all together. This is ironic as in the nineteenth century rationalists tried to pain Catholicism as anti-science while portraying Islam and Protestantism as pro science. Also it is ironic that like with many issue Protestants are either extremely liberal or super conservative. They are either from the seventeenth century Puritan women don`t work tradition, or the enlighment inspired, modernist, the virgin birth was a metaphor abortion should be allowed for any reason till the baby is independent tradition. Either they bless gay marriages, or they would like them killed.

You are somewhat right about aplied science, but the church doesn`t object to it either. The church was fine with the advancement of medical care as it could help the innocent. Just as long as it is not used to change sexual ethics. Man am I happy that the federal appeals courts in Illinois and Washington ruled that Catholic hospitals and pharmacies do not have to provide the morning after pill. Hey Smile from Boston Legal your anti-Catholic episode was once again outdated by real life court cases. But I am getting extremely off track here.

Thank you. Yes Thomas Of Aquinas got it right on the reason part.

Also talking about generalising both science and religion, this episode can in no way paralell Christianity. Jesus was not an outsider to his believers, had no technological advantage over them, and although Paul was an important preacher the gospels were not written by him, and unlike Protestants both Catholics and Eastern Orthodoxes did not overplay his importance.
Luke - Sun, May 24, 2015 - 5:22pm (USA Central)
I'm probably going to open up a whole can of worms (if it hasn't been opened already in these comments), but I really do not like this episode.

I don't think I could say why any better than another reviewer already has, so I'm going to quote it, with slight additions of my own. If you're interested, it's from this site.... rightfans.blogspot.com

"In this episode, we've got Riker and Troi serving as the mouthpieces for a philosophical treatise that begins and ends (apparently) with polygamy and pure egalitarianism (taking the form of tribal/communal life) and the supposedly logical Mintakans behaving completely and totally without logic. In their dialogue, we heard the away team go to great pains to present the Mintakans as deeply logical (and of course, what's more logical than open relationships and polygamy...or so you'd believe if you'd listen to Troi). But at the same time, as soon as the Mintakans are confronted with something they don't understand, they go ballistic and prepare for the human sacrifices, inquisitions and holy wars!

The writers cannot have it both ways and maintain intellectual honesty. Because if we're to believe the events of this episode follow logically from its premise, then the writers must be arguing that religion is the source of all logical failings and conflict...and that, my friends, could not possibly be a more dangerous or historically inaccurate message. History is filled with irrational conflicts over everything from sex to limited resources to conflicting religious ideals...but the mere PRESENCE of a belief in a higher being has never once (you heard me!) been the true source of any conflict. How do I know that? Because atheists have never run a country...apart, perhaps, from Soviet Russia and now Communist China...and um...those countries don't exactly have a sterling record of peaceful, purely logical co-relations with their neighbors. Like it or not, my agnostic or atheist readers...every government's peculiar form of authority and morality is informed by an ethical standard that is owed, at least in part, to one religion or another - or it is informed by the needs of the empowered few (dictatorships, cabals, etc)...and none of those governments made war with their enemies simply because the other guy believed in God or not. Why should we assume, then, that the Mintakans are both logical...and somehow prone to a belief in the supernatural that would lead them to commit heinous crimes? Why should simply believing in a higher power lead IMMEDIATELY to ritual sacrifice? Where is the logic in that?

Incidentally, while I'm tearing this show apart, what is logical about polygamy? The heroic Enterprise crew hears about this culture and they all smile and nod at how impressive it is. Do you know who, here on Earth, likes polygamy? Misogynists. That's right...polygamy has never once been employed in our entire history as a means to greater freedom for one gender...and almost always, it creates significantly lesser sexual and emotional freedoms for women. Of course, the Mintakans' brand of polygamy is female dominated (Trek writers love doing that, because if they did it the other way, people would see how wrong it was immediately)...but one gender having the sexual power over another is always wrong...no matter who is the oppressor and who is the oppressed. And this is a flimsy cover for an obviously bad idea. Women don't like polygamy! There may be a few out there who think open relationships and multiple partners are great, but they are dwarfed by the men who are impressed with it. And that's as easy to understand as anything you'll see on this blog. Women are biologically programmed to dream for the security, emotional bonding and child-rearing assistance of ONE man...one committed partner. As one philosopher put it, "Men dream of waking up with a different beautiful woman every day...women dream of waking up with the same man." You can't fight reality, no matter how badly you might want to...a female-dominated polygamy simply doesn't work, long term.

Not that a male dominated polygamy is good either...in both arrangements, it's the women who suffer. In one, women are viewed as prized possessions...social standing is gained by the men who can attain many wives, each of whom is there to service some specific need of his. In the other arrangement, women carry the biologically unnatural function of caring for multiple men...men who would become a drain on her resources and her emotional energy. All of which is to say...there is nothing logical or desirable about a society that practices polygamy. Don't believe me? You go ask the victims of Mormon ideology.

Compound this episode's lousy moral foundation with some seriously bad acting on the part of Kathryn Leigh Scott (Nuria) and Ray Wise (Liko) and even the regulars...including (gasp!) Patrick Stewart (who's over-dramatic bellowing about how he will not allow a culture to fall into the dark ages of superstition is as bad a moment as he ever gives us), and you have a recipe for a big steaming pile of shit.

Atheism is no more logical than mysticism...they're all "isms" and that implies they all are irrational beliefs in things that cannot be proven. There is no evidence that the appearance of belief in one God was the way into darkness for prehistoric man and no evidence that atheism is bringing enlightenment to us now. In fact, I would argue that belief in God has inspired our greatest achievements...INCLUDING our thirst for freedom and the Western belief that all life is sacred."

Add to all of that the fact that this is yet ANOTHER example of how the application of the Prime Directive is morally questionable yet never questioned. So, apparently isn't better if Liko dies than risk the initial contamination, huh Picard?

What can I say in this episode's defense? Well, the music was nice.

John Logan - Mon, May 25, 2015 - 2:52am (USA Central)
@Luke I completely agree. It is a little known fact that the Romans and the Greeks were just as fine with infantcide as many Liberals are with abortion, and like with abortion this mainly targeted girls. This was banned by the Catholic Church, along with polygamy, gladiator games, human sacrifice, forced marriages, and so on. In fact under the Romans you could force slaves to have sex with you but the church also banned that. Under the Romans women could not independently own property, yet the church also changed that. In fact witchhunts were long seen as Pagan nonsense by the Catholic Church being forbidden by Pope Gregory VII and Pope Alexander IV.
Elliott - Mon, May 25, 2015 - 9:58am (USA Central)

I'm afraid it's glaringly obvious that your umbrage with this episode is an unwillingness to take at face value the destructiveness of the religious mind. Now that is your right and I'm not here to debate it with you, but you have devalued every nuance and beautiful turn of storytelling in this episode on the grounds that its message upset you, which is unfair. I find CS Lewis' conclusions to be woefully thin and borderline banal, but I don't hold that against the loveliness of his poetry or strength of his narrative.
Luke - Mon, May 25, 2015 - 11:20am (USA Central)

Well, given that I am religious and have been my entire life and yet haven't turned to human sacrifices or holy wars, I'd say, yes, I am unwilling to take the "destructiveness of the religious mind" at face value.

This episode seems hell-bent determined to say that even the mere trace of belief in the supernatural will automatically lead to disaster. I simply do not, cannot, accept that. Has religion been used by evil people. Of course it has. Does that mean that every religious person is evil. Of course not. The vast, overwhelming, majority of theists are not, and have never been, in the business of doing what the Mintakans do in this episode. All it takes for these supposedly rational and logical people to go crazy is the slightest trace of belief. One guy shows up, says he saw a god, and immediately it's "praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!" and "let's start fearing the weather!"

To me, that is what is banal - the unwillingness to even attempt to see the other side of the argument. As John Logan pointed out, religion has benefited humanity is numerous ways. Taking Christianity alone - it was Christians who originally built the modern university system, developed the concept of international law and ended the slave trade. To focus on only the good and ignore the bad about religion is only to create a straw-man. And let's be honest, there are bad aspects - the Inquisition was horrible, jihad is horrible, certain aspects of the Crusades were horrible, witch-hunts were horrible. But to do the reverse is also to create a straw-man.

If you, or anybody else out there reading this, is an atheist, I say - more power to you. It's your life; live it as you see fit, as long as you're not hurting anybody. But, I hate straw-man arguments and that's what this episode ultimately is. And it surprises me because Trek has had a history of more honest discussions about faith and non-faith - just look at episodes from "The Original Series" like "Balance of Terror," "Who Mourns for Adonis?" and "Bread and Circuses."
Robert - Tue, May 26, 2015 - 8:24am (USA Central)
"Does that mean that every religious person is evil. Of course not."

The idea that every religious person is not evil is irrelevant. This episode does not and can not argue that, and neither does Elliott.

Even if "This episode seems hell-bent determined to say that even the mere trace of belief in the supernatural will automatically lead to disaster" is true (which I do not think it is) such a premise does not immediately lead to "all religious people are evil".

I think what the episode is trying to say, and it's something I believe in... is that human beings think a higher power wants something FROM THEM will almost always lead to bad things. There really is no example (that I can think of) of human beings trying to please a higher power that hasn't gone horribly wrong at some point. Pick a religion where human beings have tried to please a higher power and you'll see examples of really bad things that come from it. Because somebody who believes/pretends to speak for the higher power will undoubtedly get stuff really, really freaking wrong and then lots of zealots will follow.

I personally am not against religion/religious beliefs/spirituality/etc. I don't even begrudge people the option to consider leading a life they believe would please a divine entity (I personally think the idea that you know what could please a God is ludicrous, but you're entitled). The second you attempt to try to convince large groups of OTHER PEOPLE that the things YOU THINK would please an divine entity would do so you are committing evil (IMHO)... with rare exceptions.

And as to the open relationships/polygamy think... I'm pretty sure Riker/Troi were joking around. I didn't particularly feel that they were being entirely serious in that scene... but I haven't watched it in awhile.

And as to their being rational meaning that they don't believe in God anymore... I don't think that's exactly what the episode means either. Rational beings don't believe that God controls the weather for crop season or that they send floods. You can be rational and believe in God, but science explains floods and weather patterns. They choose to not replace their believe in Greek-like Gods with a belief in a less intervention happy God, but the truth is that a lot of religion on this planet has been caused by people trying to explain things that their science was not advanced enough to explain.

The universe is a miraculous/wonderful place and it's beauty may be due to a creator... I can think of a dozen different ways that such a thing could be possible. But the last time the Mintakans believed in God they believed in the kind that could send lightning and floods if they were mad at you. It's not beneficial for anyone to believe in such nonsense.
Robert - Tue, May 26, 2015 - 8:36am (USA Central)
@John Logan - The church doing some good things is not quite the same as the church being a force FOR GOOD. The fact is that if you look back at the Inquisition, Witch Hunts, Crusades and other such nonsense I can find you something bad that the church has done for every thing you find it's done good.

And I actually think that the church is one of the top 3 destructive forces in America today. And as to your disgusting comment comparing infanticide to abortion... it is a FACT that being opposed to abortion and also opposed to birth control is sadistic. People in the church and on the right that want to keep mindless sheep going to the polls would like very, very much to keep people getting abortions so they have something to whine about.

And it's also awesome that most of those assholes want poor people to have to give birth to babies they don't want because they had pregnancies they didn't want because they weren't allowed to have birth control and then cut welfare because who cares about the baby once it's born. Raging about poor people being wellfare queens also gets the sheeple to the polls. It's as disgusting as your comment.

Anyone who can convince themselves that abstinence only education coupled with no contraceptives, no abortion and no welfare is a good thing has their head so far up their ass that they have no business pretending they even understand the WORD logic.
Luke - Tue, May 26, 2015 - 9:48am (USA Central)
"Pick a religion where human beings have tried to please a higher power and you'll see examples of really bad things that come from it. Because somebody who believes/pretends to speak for the higher power will undoubtedly get stuff really, really freaking wrong and then lots of zealots will follow."

But you could make that same argument for numerous human institutions, not just religion. Take the state, for instance - for any good that the institution of the state does for humanity, I can point to a corresponding evil (state-sponsored terrorism, genocide, war, violations of civil liberties, environmental disasters, etc.). Or take the environmentalist movement - it's done good by bringing important issues to public attention, but it's also spawned its own brand of zealots (like people saying we have to let people starve or forcibly sterilize whole populations in order to curb over-population).

The point I'm trying to make, which I don't see the episode making, is that you have to take the good with the bad. Or, don't throw the baby out with the bath water, I guess. Has religion caused evil? Yes, undoubtedly. Is that reason to view it as nothing more than (in Picard's own words) "superstition and ignorance and fear"? No.

I just don't see how belief in the supernatural will lead to a Dark Age. And, just to be clear, you're not saying that, but I do think this episode is. I especially have a hard time accepting that when some of humanity's greatest scientific minds (Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, Roger Bacon and Mendel just to name a few) were all practicing theists.
Robert - Tue, May 26, 2015 - 10:20am (USA Central)
I think the worrisome bit was just that the Mintakans were turning away from science explanations of things back towards religious/supernatural ones. Too many people (even today) reject science because of things in a book they believe in.

Those minds you mentioned (and Einstein is included as well) were occasionally persecuted when their theories contradicted a fictional book.

I'm not against the concept of belief in God (I'm personally not an atheist... although I don't really have a word to describe my own faith). I'm against ignorance and bigotry caused by religious zealot-ism.

Your point stands that any organization headed by man can be as evil as the man leading it is well taken though. Belief in religion should not cause a second dark age... rejection of science will.

It's a fine line that religion walks with science. I personally believe they could work together (and in my head the things I believe live happily with science). I just think that the issue in this episode was more than religion vs rationality... it was that a people who'd given up on the "magic" side of religious beliefs were confronted with technology that reignited a belief in "magic". If God exists it does not (in my belief) possess magic. It may possess something I'd interpret as magic, but that doesn't make it so.

And yes, movements (like environmentalism) can, like everything, be taken to the extreme. But I tend to feel that extreme ideas in secular movements are more isolated than extreme ideas in religious movements. Consider the amount of people in America that think the Earth is close to 10k years old vs the percentage of environmentalists that think we should force sterilize people.

For an example of a pro-faith story I like, I'll toss in Voyager's "Sacred Ground". There is nothing in the episode that cannot be explained by science... but Janeway learned that she can't always explain everything when she needs it explained and that it's ok to take a leap of faith sometimes. The episode is almost a non-religious religious experience.

I have faith in things... I may even have faith in something that is God-like. I may even talk to it for my own purposes sometimes. But I refuse to allow it to make me ignorant. Still, it has it's uses sometimes.
Robert - Tue, May 26, 2015 - 10:25am (USA Central)
Einsteins views on God are particularly fascinating if you've never read them.

He was against the kind of religious beliefs that are the form of superstition. I think those are the kinds of religious beliefs this episode casts down.

If you don't believe in the kind of "magic" that might cause God to send earthquakes because California has too many gay people... I don't think this episode condemns your breed of religion. You can feel free to disagree of course, but that's my feeling on it.
Luke - Tue, May 26, 2015 - 11:48am (USA Central)
One of the reasons I like DS9 so much is its layered approach to religion. It unhesitatingly shows the bad religion can cause, but it also doesn't shy away from the good. Kira is religious person who sees her religion as a comfort. Odo, while he does have some rather fascistic tendencies, is ultimately a moral and good person who is adamantly an atheist. Worf has his faith while O'Brien and Jadiza don't. Sisko goes on a seven year spiritual journey from a tolerant skeptic to a firm believer in the Prophets. Bariel is a compassionate man who is isn't above being personally ambitious with his faith. Wynn is a corrupt politician who uses the faith of others in her pursuit of power. Dukat is an evil bastard who uses religion for his own aggrandizement and as just another way to control people. The Bajoran religion helped that people get through the horrors of the Cardassian Occupation while it also led to a deadly cult with the followers of the Pah-Wraiths. Even Quark is shown to be religious in a way, though he probably gives it very little thought beyond a general belief in the afterlife.

I just wish this episode had some inkling of this. Instead, I can't help but view it as biased against religion in general. But, that's just my opinion.

As for a pro-faith episode that I really like, it would be VOY: Mortal Coil. Neelix has a near-death experience and doesn't experience the afterlife. He then begins to seriously question his faith. It shows that religion can have positive influences even in the absence of evidence for it. It provided Neelix with a lifetime of comfort and Chakotay pleads with him not to throw away that lifetime of faith because of one incident. It's probably one of my favorites from Voyager, which is saying something since it is, after all, a Neelix episode.
Robert - Tue, May 26, 2015 - 12:09pm (USA Central)
I like Mortal Coil too. A lot.

I guess that was my point though. I see THIS episode not really as one that has much to say about religion... but more about the prime directive and superstition/magic. Obviously two people can see the same thing differently... but I generally think when Trek does faith it's actually more pro-faith than against.
John Logan - Wed, May 27, 2015 - 12:39pm (USA Central)
Robert@ Crusades? Really? The Crusades were just and justified as the American invasion of Germany. Muslims had been waging war against Christians, Budhists, Hindus, Persians, etc. for centuries, they traded millions of Christian slaves, they enslaved millions of black people, slaughtered the Maronites, supressed the Copts, they later even conquered India, how was it weong of Catholicism to fight back? Inquisitions? After World War II Nazism was also outlawed, and Islam had been waging war in Spain for centuries. They had inflicted equal horrors on Christians. The Inquisition required them to accept the Original religion of Spain or leave. That is what happens when an invading force is defeated.

Witchhunts were largely a Protestant thing. They never occured in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, or Belgium. The Council of Frankfurt, the Council of Panderbon, Pope Gregory VII, Pope Alexander IV, and Augustine had all condemned witchhunts as Pagan nonsense.

I don`t, I value all human life. I oppose killing babies whether they are born or unborn. It is sadistic to conceive a life and then murder it.

I am in favour of welffare for poor mothers. I disagree with the right on this, and so do most bishops. The Catholic Church fouded many of the first orphanages for this reason, and actually supports pregnancy crisis centers.

I am in favour of welffare. I do believe chastity is the best way to avoid getting pregnant in the first place as it is full proof. It is how our grandparents and ancestors in general did it. I exist because of this, and so does my father. People used to cherish their bodies amd value sexuality.
Robert - Wed, May 27, 2015 - 2:43pm (USA Central)
@John Logan - "I don`t, I value all human life. I oppose killing babies whether they are born or unborn. It is sadistic to conceive a life and then murder it."

Unless your views are very different than the average pro-lifer, you don't know what the word sadistic means. "deriving pleasure or sexual gratification from extreme cruelty". Leaving off the sexual gratification bit (since that's OBVIOUSLY not the kind of sadistic we're talking about) murdering a living breathing infant is THOUSANDS of times more sadistic than killing a fetus the size of a lime.

It's fine if you think both are bad, but equating them is like saying punching you in the face is equivalent to stabbing you with a machete. Especially since pro-lifers tend to be against the morning after pill, and there you're killing a few cells. It's not the same as a baby.

I'm not trying to talking you out of your pro-life position. I'm trying to talk you out of a poor comparison. At least you aren't for making poor people have babies and then leaving them poor and hungry.

And while I respect your position on chastity and have no problem with it, teaching abstinence only without any other sex ed is a lot like doing a trapeze act without a net. It works great when it works great and when it doesn't you smack into the floor.

I have no problem with teaching abstinence. It's the only 100% fool proof birth control. I have an issue with abstinence ONLY.
Robert - Wed, May 27, 2015 - 2:52pm (USA Central)
@John Logan - Is it possible you are not American. The religious, largely Christian, right is so vile in American that I wonder if perhaps you just don't have to put up with them wherever you are. :)

It's hard to take pro-life seriously from people who are anti-welfare (as you admit much of the right is), who's gay and trans conversion policies drive youngsters to suicide, to be anti-contraception in a world where handing out contraception in third world countries would stop the spread of AIDS, people who accost (often violently) women seeking abortions (even if it's often simply to D&C an already miscarried and wanted pregnancy... doesn't matter... they don't know who they are screaming at and why she's there), etc.

I simply find the religious right where I'm from to be hypocrites and generally not Christ like. Christ would not consider these people Christians.

That said, I am aware that there are many Catholics and Catholic organizations that do a lot of good. But most people wouldn't put up with that success/failure ratio of good/evil from anyone other than their church.
John Logan - Thu, May 28, 2015 - 5:04am (USA Central)
Robert@ Yes I am against leaving them poor and hungry. I think Ireland did an excellent job banning nearly all abortions yet truelly caring for all children. Yes I know there was child abuse in a lot of assylums that was horrible, but generally family was valued a lot more. The church also strongly supported social services. Social care also improved a lot in South America where the economy is strangely enough growing fast.

True I don`t have anything against teaching birth control, I just think religious schools shouldn`t have to teach it as it violates religious freedom.

I live in the Netherlands, I consider myself of the tradition of the Catholic Centre Party, which is far more socialist and caring for the poor.

I am not sure if contraceptives would really solve Aids. Many goverments and charities hand them out in Africa. Many of the down sides of birth control are, they are not full proof but many people act under the assumption they are, they make it easier to have sex at a young age thinking you will face no consequences, easier to tell girls to either have sex with you, or you will dumb them, easier to commit polygamy, and so on. It makes promiscous and abusive behaviour easier. Contraceptives aren`t used nearly as much in South America, or the Philpines were Aids is rather rare. or Poland, or Ireland.

Well a lot of the thinks you mentioned sound more like Protestant fundamentalists. Catholics don`t harras people who want to hand out condoms in Africa, they simply teach the value of chastity, discouraging adultery, polygamy, spousal abuse and so on. This is how the church has Always fought evil, it banned polygamy, and forced marriages, and established the value of chastity.

Catholics are against bullying gays, they simply oppose gay marriage and adoption, and think homosexuals are called to chastity.
Robert - Thu, May 28, 2015 - 7:05am (USA Central)
I wish the things you've said about Catholics were true about the Catholics here. I would like to apologize to judging you harshly as a member of the religious right. While it sounds like we disagree on many things the Catholic religious right in the Netherlands sounds much less harmful than what we have here.

And for the record I like the new pope MUCH MUCH better than the last one. So I do feel like some things are heading the right direction.

"True I don`t have anything against teaching birth control, I just think religious schools shouldn`t have to teach it as it violates religious freedom."

I will totally agree with you here. In America we have the religious right trying to force things like this and creationism upon public schools. I agree with you, if you want your kid to learn those things instead of birth control/evolution you should send them to Catholic school. Leave the public schools alone (separation of church and state and all that).

I will also admit that it's possible many of the ills are not strictly done by "Catholics" but when the nut jobs in your country fly the banner of "Christianity" it behooves Catholics to find a way to stand apart from that banner if it doesn't represent them. All too often Catholic politicians just accept the religious right, warts and all, under their banner. It muddies the waters.

As I said though... I think my problem may be more with American Christians who are anything but Christlike. I may not agree with your views on many things, but I researched your party and, unlike the Christians here, while I can't claim to speak for him... I don't think Christ would have a problem with much of that.
John Logan - Thu, May 28, 2015 - 10:58am (USA Central)
Robert@ Thank you, apology accepted, but please don`t negatively compare Pope Benedict XVI to Pope Francis. Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the rights of immigrans, condemned Consumerism, spoke of ways to fight for poverty, and he strongly supported fighting Aids by ending poverty, and teaching faithfullness. Pope Francis also condemns the use of birth control, and gay marriage and adoption, and is strongly against abortion. He opposed gay marriage and the free distribution of birth control in Argentina, and urged all bishops there to excomunicate prochoice politicians. He equated abortion with murder countless times, and excomunicated an expriest who supported gay marriage.

THANK YOU. We should just have public and religious schools.

Well the issue if that the left sees third trimester abortions on demand, as a grey area, with Obama opposing a law protecting born babies, from being murdered after being born. It is sort of like Franco, the alternative were the Communists.
Robert - Thu, May 28, 2015 - 11:19am (USA Central)
"Well the issue if that the left sees third trimester abortions on demand, as a grey area."

I think that's more of an extreme position on the left than the opposite is on the right (and I'm not aware of the born baby law you speak of). A lot on the right try to ban post 20 weeks (or sooner) when the reality is that a lot of horrible conditions don't come out until post 20 weeks. Many people don't get an amnio until after their nuchal translucency test (at 11-14 weeks) comes back with worrisome results and then you need to schedule, obtain and wait for the results of the amnio. The majority of post 20 week abortions are people who really wanted their babies... not people who didn't.

Third trimester begins at 28 weeks and the baby (if a healthy normal baby) actually has a pretty good shot of surviving outside the body with medical intervention at that point. I hope the number of pols that consider a no exceptions third trimester abortion to be a gray area are smaller than the number of pols that are slowly starting to pull away from rape/incest exceptions at the very least.
Elliott - Fri, May 29, 2015 - 12:58pm (USA Central)
John Logan is correct that Francis is no more progressive in policy than his predecessor on social issues. To be fair, if he himself wished to change or amend the Canon, I think the next big news story would be about how he was poisoned in his sleep.

What Francis has effectively done is to refocus the institution's energies and re-prioritise its agenda. That way, Catholics who stay in the Church out of faith but feel at odds with many of its teachings have a righteous cause to feel good about (social justice). What is often ignored is that (as this episode eludes to), those same people are perfectly capable of actively promoting social justice AND disjoining themselves from an institution whose social values are borderline mediæval by excommunicating.

Regarding abortion debates, I require a simple mandate from pro-lifers : Demonstrate that your fervent stance on the issue is genuine respect for human life by protesting with equal vigour every war, execution, preventable disease death, starving child (food stamps anyone?), and gun legalisation. Then I am willing to engage your position thoughtfully. Until then, I'm afraid it's all a lot of talk which disguising the real motivator which is sex-shaming and gender control.
John Logan - Sun, May 31, 2015 - 8:44am (USA Central)
Elliott@ Pope Francis didn`t really even refocus the issue either. He partook in prolife marches, called on doctors to evoke conscience clauses, is in favour of excomunicating pro-choice politicians, etc. The Catholic Church has Always been in favour of social care, it is what a lot of its fortune goes to. The Catholic Church provides 26 % of the worlds health care, is the largest non govermental provider of education, runs soup kitchens, orphanages, and just look at the work Mother Theresa did. The church doesn`t blindly support Republicanism and on social issues leans towards the left. Christian Socialism is usually supported by Catholicism. The USA unfortunately doesn`t really have this and forces you to chose between two extremes.

Also the poisened in his sleep joke was rather tasteless.

The papacy opposes the death penalty and unjust war, but the difference with that and abortion, is that it doesn`t murder children for convenience but is aimed at defending innocent life by killing evil life.

The church actually increased womens rights in the Roman Empire. It is far easier to be a woman in South America then in the Middle East.
John Logan - Sun, May 31, 2015 - 8:58am (USA Central)
Robert@ It was a born alive act in Illinois that required doctors to provide medical care to babies born from botched abortions. Obama opposed it. Canada allows abortions at 8 months for any reason what so ever. Roe Vs Wade allowed it till 24 weeks for any reason at all. Many prolifers are moderate on the issue of severly deformed fetuses, this was even allowed in Brazil. Catholic countries generally ban abortions but unlike republicans are far more in favour of supporting the poor, orphans, widows, etc. Ireland Always had far better social services while banning nearly all abortions, the Philipines increased care for pregnant women. The Catholic Church owns many pregnancy crisis centers.

Another issue is that they want to force Catholic hospitals to provide abortions, or birth control, neither of which they will ever do. The Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith allows non abortifacent birth control for rape victims, and Catholic hospitals have freely decided to provide these in Germany, Masschusetes, ad so on. This ironically leading to the false charge that Mit Romney forced Catholic hospitals to provide the morning after pill to rape victims, when the state has a conscience clause for birth control and Mit Romney oppised any change in the law. Even if they tried to override the conscience clause this failed in both Illinois and Washington as the federal appeal courts over turned such laws, so David E Klleys Boston Legal episode Smile once again looks really oudated and silly, but I digress.

Rape and incest are still rejected as valid grounds for abortion in many Catholic countries but care for rape victims is a lot better in those countries.
Robert - Mon, Jun 1, 2015 - 6:49am (USA Central)
"Also the poisened in his sleep joke was rather tasteless."

For what it's worth, I don't think Elliott was making a joke. I think it's entirely possible that if the pope came out tomorrow saying it's ok to be gay, the church should perform gay marriages and abortions were ok that somebody would off him.

I don't think that's being insulting, I think it's a pretty good possibility.

"Another issue is that they want to force Catholic hospitals to provide abortions, or birth control, neither of which they will ever do. "

At this point I'd settle for them letting abortion clinics perform abortions in peace. Every few weeks somebody wants to pass a new law pretending to protect women designed to shut down abortion clinics.

I will come down as completely against trying to make Catholic hospitals perform abortions (except in case of life of the mother exceptions) if they'll agree to stop picketing and messing with legal abortion clinics.

And as for the born alive act... not providing care is not entirely the same as murdering, and I'm guessing the lionshare of these "born alive" abortions are basically dead anyway (knowing the survival chances and quality of life prior to 23 weeks and the reason for most abortions after that are serious debilitating conditions). I'm against abortions post 24 weeks anyway, except in extreme cases (life of the mother and severe issues with the baby) so to me if somebody wants a perfectly healthy baby out of them at 27 weeks I'm sure we could find somebody that wants to adopt it.

But I doubt that happens very often. Still, I will take your point that the church != the religious right, even if I disagree with them... they are perhaps not as hypocritical. I'm not aware of their stance on some of the things Elliott mentioned as contradictions, but they are not for war or the death penalty AFAIK.

I will say that things like "Pope Francis is in favour of excomunicating pro-choice politicians" is why I don't go to church anymore. I feel like if people with "my views" aren't welcome than I am not either. It's a shame, because growing up I have fond memories of it and still mostly consider myself to be Catholic.
dlpb - Tue, Jun 2, 2015 - 6:28am (USA Central)
Religion has no right to dictate morality. It's a fairy tale. What people worship in their own homes is fine (as long as said religion doesn't break the law), but allowing it to dictate on matters of science and conscience is not.

I have my own set of values (I am pro death penalty, pro euthanasia, pro abortion (not totally, but I'm tired) and so on. But my positions on life are based on experience and reason and science. Not a bunch of self serving hypocrites wearing robes, worshiping the invisible man.
dlpb - Tue, Jun 2, 2015 - 6:37am (USA Central)
And before someone mentions that I am against homosexuals marrying in church, the answer is: yes and no. I am not against gays having the same rights under the law, but I find many want marriage in church just to get a reaction and to act like idiots. I'd be far happier with no churches and no mosques and then this issue wouldn't exist either. But I am mostly against pandering to minority views such that they impact unnecessarily on the majority. So it's not really that I am against gays marrying in church, it's that I am against the church and against Leftists and the militant branch of the homosexual community that are always looking for things to get offended at and complain about.
John Logan - Tue, Jun 2, 2015 - 7:09am (USA Central)
dlpb@ I don`t think you understand freedom of religion. It does not mean you have to keep it in your home. Religion may be practiced openly and publically, and it can also dictate ones conscience. The founding fathers were also strongly inspired by their religious believes, so was the abolishionists movement, various charities, the resistance to Nazism and Communism, etc. Freedom of conscience is an important human right.

You have the right to have your conscience dictated by humanist values, but in a secular society, religion is not discriminated against, and religion is not less then Humanism.
dlpb - Tue, Jun 2, 2015 - 6:44pm (USA Central)
I do understand freedom of religion, but I don't agree with it. I think religion should start and stop in your home. It should be a personal thing and that;s all. The right to practise religion outside of the home should be removed. I don't tolerate intolerance (religion is overwhelmingly intolerant).
Luke - Tue, Jun 2, 2015 - 7:29pm (USA Central)
@ dlpb

You don't tolerate intolerance yet you openly declare that people shouldn't be allowed to follow their consciences in public? Sounds kind of intolerant to me.
dlpb - Tue, Jun 2, 2015 - 8:31pm (USA Central)
Since religion is intolerant and always has been, my statement makes perfect sense.
Luke - Tue, Jun 2, 2015 - 9:24pm (USA Central)
Well, I never knew I was so intolerant, but I guess I have to be since I'm religious. You learn something new every day.
dlpb - Wed, Jun 3, 2015 - 12:59am (USA Central)
You seem to have a reading problem. I said "religion" not everyone who practises it. But I guess emotional responses are also a part of what religion has done to your mind.
dlpb - Wed, Jun 3, 2015 - 1:05am (USA Central)
Let me follow up on that: Religion is inherently intolerant and closed minded. There are some religions or variations that are worse than others, but they are all retrograde force in the modern age. They tell people how to live and make promises based on how the person obeys an old book. It is absolutely a negative thing to believe or practise a religion - even if good sometimes comes from it. A person doesn't need heavenly rewards for being a moral person, and a person does not need an old book telling them how to live their lives. But the worst part of religion is how it makes its followers band together and deny the truth. Copernicus knew only too well.

Does that mean all religious people are intolerant and incapable of rational thought? Of course not. But that doesn't change the fact that religion is inherently intolerant. And you'll notice the one's at the top - like the pope - are the worst of all. They actually claim to have divine guidance and have the audacity to proclaim what is right and wrong. We've had quite enough of that bullshit, thanks. It probably held back the microchip by centuries.

John Logan - Wed, Jun 3, 2015 - 6:15am (USA Central)
dlpb@ Interesting you oppose the basic human right of freedom of religion, yet you claim religion is intolerant. It weren`t religious people who organised the reign of terror in France, the Communists supression of religion and other autrocities in Cuba, Albania, Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union, China, Cambodja, Vietnam, Mexico, or North Korea. Atheists created the most violent autrocities in the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and the Facists of Italy were horribly intolerant. The Nazis also persecuted the churches in the kirchenkampf.

Many people do need a higher purpose, and eternal meaning to be motivated in life. Religion tells people that even if one gets away with evil in this life, it will eventually be punished. It was Catholicism that banned infantcide, gladiator games, mutilation, and so on, not Atheists. As Eistein said the free thinkers did nothing against the Nazis, the church did saving 860.000 Jews. The church due to its silly believe all life was sacred opposed Nazi eugenics, and helped the starving during World War I. The first opponents of slavery were Saint Patrick and Gregory of Nyssa.

Copernicus was a monk who dedicated his work to Pope Paul III and explained it to him and his cardinals.

You really fail to explain why and how religion is more intolerant then Atheism.

Yes popes like Pope Paul III had the audacity to claim by divine power that enslaving Indians and other peoples were wrong. Or like Pope Gregory XIV who condemned slavery in the Philipinis. Popes like Pope Pius XI had the audacity to condemn Nazism in Mit Brennender Sorge, or to condemn Communism.

Interesting as many of the first universities were founded by the Catholic Church, and as many popes donated to scientific advancement. Like Pope Leo X who donated greatly to learning and art yet also yearly gave 6000 dukats in alms.
dlpb - Thu, Jun 4, 2015 - 8:35am (USA Central)
Once again, you completely misrepresent my opinion. I am all for people practising their fairy tales in their own home, providing said tales are not promoting or inciting murder and so on... but the right to practise it in the workplace, or to promote it, or to worship outside of the home should be removed.

I welcome the day religion dies off. There is nothing noble or cool about tolerating ideologies that are intolerant. That's where my tolerance ends.
Luke - Thu, Jun 4, 2015 - 9:28am (USA Central)
Good Lord, dlpb. As far as I can see, you're the only one around here who's being intolerant. You're openly advocating for people to be kept from enjoying the same rights you claim for yourself. How is that not intolerant?

You're also the only one being dismissive, calling people out on their "fairy tales" and "bullshit."

How would you respond if someone said - "I welcome the day atheism dies off. There is nothing noble or cool about tolerating an ideology that has led to more suffering than all religions combined."?

I, personally, would never say something like that - because I don't care if you're an atheist. Even though I'm religious, if you don't want to be, then fine - it doesn't hurt me. If you also want to promote atheism, then knock yourself out.

All I would ask is that I, and other religious people, be accorded the same level of respect. If you claim the right to promote your worldview, don't then say that others don't have that same right. That is intolerant.

But even leaving all of that aside, let me ask this question - how do you envision it being possible for people to be kept from practicing religion outside of their homes? Wouldn't that require the government to crack down on people who are simply espousing a belief different from you (or from the majority)? What would that crackdown entail? Are you prepared to support things like penalties, fines, offender registries or possibly even prison sentences for theists? That sounds pretty totalitarian to me. Please tell me that that is not what you're arguing in favor of.
John Logan - Thu, Jun 4, 2015 - 11:53am (USA Central)
dlpb@ Then you are advocing abolishing the first amendment, freedom of religion, and going back to the seventeenth century Netherlands. Yes that sounds great. Or the times of the French revolution.

Again you are the one advocating intolerance which is rather ironic.
dlpb - Thu, Jun 4, 2015 - 3:13pm (USA Central)
I don't live in America. And amendments can be amended. And they certainly should be amended in circumstances where you tolerate the intolerant or protect criminals.

Isn't that first amendment of yours the reason people are blowing their heads off all over the place in America? I'm sure that outdated amendment means you basically allow ordinary citizens to buy lethal weaponry.
dlpb - Thu, Jun 4, 2015 - 3:17pm (USA Central)
How is that not intolerant?

I am allowing people to practise their doctrines in their own home and not in public. That's how a true secular society should and could work. I don't want "faith" schools, mosques or churches. Or anyone poisoning the minds of people as if their book is the ultimate guide on life. It isn't. Religion is an intolerant ideology with no basis in fact. It is a personal choice to pray, but you can do that in your own home. We don't allow people to have sex in public either. Is that against your lovely freedoms?

There are limits.
Luke - Thu, Jun 4, 2015 - 4:05pm (USA Central)
Well, I can see that there's no point in continuing this discussion. I've only posted six times in this thread (and only two at you) and yet you've already said that your atheism trumps other people's freedom and that you should get to decide what other people get taught.

Oh, and just FYI, you're confusing the First and Second Amendments. The First deals the freedoms of religion, speech, the press, assembly and redress of grievances. The Second deals with the right to bear arms (you know, the one that says it's okay for 117,000,000 people, or roughly only 37% of the U.S. population, to own guns). And just FYI again, roughly 99.99 percent of those 117,000,000 people have never killed anybody.

So long. I hope you enjoy promoting your totalitarian, atheistic paradise. It's been fun.
John Logan - Fri, Jun 5, 2015 - 4:42am (USA Central)
dlpb@ What you are suggesting is not Secularism. Secularism guarantees full religious freedom. You are suggesting state Atheism as practiced by Communists. You are still yet to explain how it are Christians who are intolerant? Many of them suffers martyrdom in the Middle East and Africa, they are usually victims of violence. Many soup kitchens, orphanages, hospitals, and so on were founded by churches. Most charity is church run and most Catholic charities provide to non Christians, even hospitals and schools work at lower prices.

This doesn`t sound intolerant. Banning religion from the public sounds intolerant. Again you have provided no proof for your accusations of intolerance you are yourself preaching intolerance without providing evidence Christians are more intolerant to justify it.

Comparing practicing your faith to having sex is a disgusting comparison and again shows you are the biggot.
dlpb - Sat, Jun 6, 2015 - 5:36am (USA Central)
I don't care what you call it. I don't want religion anywhere near the workplace or practised anywhere outside the home. I consider it dangerous, backward, and retrograde. It has no place in schools or work or as a place where people congregate in groups. It should not be afforded that kind of respect or freedom. Tolerating intolerant ideologies to the extent of allowing promotion is wrong and dumb.

The end :)
dlpb - Sat, Jun 6, 2015 - 5:47am (USA Central)
Also, one last thing to clear up: I am well aware that Christianity is, by and large, nowhere near as bad as Islam. That does not change the fact that ALL religions breed intolerance. By their doctrines and by human nature. They hold us back and they always will. What is worse is, they are all man-made rubbish. Religion has and still does cause more trouble and wars than anything else in history, and for what? An invisible sky god.

No thanks. Keep it in the home!
John Logan - Sun, Jun 7, 2015 - 1:56am (USA Central)
dlpb@ Then you are intolerant and hatefull. You show Atheists are just as in favour of persecution.

Also you still haven`t given any real arguments against religion, you have just been calling it names.

Again you are the one preaching intolerance. You are thge one wanting to ban religion, the way Communists did. Stalin was a lot more intolerant then the Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Jews he persecuted.
dlpb - Mon, Jun 8, 2015 - 11:52am (USA Central)
Your spelling and grammar isn't up to much, and that's factual as opposed to what you did to me by surmising that I am 1. hateful and 2. an atheist. If I am an atheist, then I am a weak one for many reasons. Believing there might be something greater than us (whatever that may be) is not the same as accepting that all religion is a form of man-made control with nonsense deities and false prophets. If you want "hateful", I suggest you look at your dumb post and your dumb religion.
Jovet - Fri, Jun 12, 2015 - 5:07am (USA Central)
I have always really liked this episode. I like watching the situation devolve and get worse and worse. The scientist's proposal that Picard go to the planet and start issuing decrees is decidedly ludicrous. That doesn't mean, to me, that he was wrong in believing this whole situation could kernel a religion. Of course it wouldn't happen overnight, but it certainly could. Picard's dialogue to the woman about caves to huts was very well written, even if it put the boom mic operator to sleep.

Some of the recent debate here about the merits and status of religions in the world is interesting, too. I can see how dlpb believes that all religions promote intolerance by their very existence; those who believe and follow the religion pit themselves against those who do not--at least on some level--no matter how much those people profess to be indifferent to non-believers. It's the assumed smug "I believe in this and you don't, so I'm secretly saved/better/safer/wiser than you!" mentality. At the same time, dlpb cannot see that his personally-comfortable limits on religions not his own are his own form of intolerance. It is for this reason that atheism is often seen as its own religion, because atheists can also profess the same smug "I don't believe in God and you do, so I'm secretly better/smarter/more-advanced than you!" mentality.

It seems to me the best way to NOT be intolerant is to worry solely about one's own affairs, and not care to or meddle in the affairs of others. But, then, I also believe that true religious faith cannot exist without skepticism and doubt...one can only truly have faith while acknowledging those doubts. This works both ways, whether you choose to believe in supreme being(s) or choose not to believe.
dlpb - Fri, Jun 12, 2015 - 6:45am (USA Central)
I don't know where you are getting that from - I have openly admitted that I am intolerant to religion. I am intolerant to a lot of things I consider seriously negative or dangerous and I don't see what is wrong with that.
John Logan - Sun, Jun 14, 2015 - 3:19pm (USA Central)
dlpb@ How was my post hatefull? You admitted to being intolerant, and I criticised your intolerance. I am not the one calling religions and posts dumb and idiotic. You want to treat religion the same way the French Revolution did which is very intolerant. You are a biggot.
dlpb - Mon, Jun 15, 2015 - 7:29am (USA Central)
I admitted to being intolerant of the intolerant. I have already explained your post and mine. Please stop listening to that ringing between your ears and read what I am writing.

"You are a biggot [sic]"

As I said, your post is just ad hominem attacks. Go away and learn how to spell, then maybe you can work on debate and reading comprehension :)
John Logan - Mon, Jun 15, 2015 - 11:41am (USA Central)
dlpb@ Again you have completely and utterly failed to make your case that religious people are automatically intolerant. You simply called them stupid, backwards, and dumb, which the Nazis also said of the Jews, and of Catholics, and in fact were the same insults used by the reign of Terror, the various Communists dictatorships, and IS. Did Catholics act intolerant to deserve that also? Again there have been various intolerant Atheists, like the Italian Facists, or the Spanish Communists.

So how are all religions automatically intolerant and why do they need to be banned from the public?

Again you haven`t debated at all, you just claim intolerance towards all religions is justified, because you claim without proof they started it. Wanting to ban religious freedom is bigotry. Look up what bigotry is.
dlpb - Tue, Jun 16, 2015 - 8:14am (USA Central)
And again, you are using a straw man. I have never claimed all religious people are "automatically intolerant". I have claimed that RELIGION is inherently intolerant and breeds intolerance. Can you even read?
John Logan - Tue, Jun 16, 2015 - 11:46am (USA Central)
dlpb@ So you want to ban it from the public, violating freedom of religion, expression, association, and various other basic human rights.
Robert - Tue, Jun 16, 2015 - 1:41pm (USA Central)
Although I don't do this that often....

dlpb's original statement was - "It has no place in schools or work or as a place where people congregate in groups. It should not be afforded that kind of respect or freedom. Tolerating intolerant ideologies to the extent of allowing promotion is wrong and dumb."

I don't think dlpb is saying you can't wear a cross in public. He's saying religious ideology should stay the hell away from schools (evolution vs creationism), workplaces (Hobby Lobby), and other such things.

I probably do not fully agree with dlpb on this (or any) subject, but the fact of the matter is that you're arguing PAST him instead of with him. dlpb is abrasive, but you're arguing against his abrasiveness instead of the spirit of his post. And that's just making for boring reading.

Now that I've fixed it I expect more of a quality discussion. ::grabs popcorn::
Robert - Tue, Jun 16, 2015 - 1:48pm (USA Central)
Put another way... (and this is a thought experiment... NOT a comparison). The KKK is a dangerous, intolerant, bigoted ideology. We (sort of) support their right to exist and congregate, but not to influence schools, work and polices. If religion was even 1% as dangerous, bigoted and intolerant as the KKK... should we allow our politicians to talk about how their religious views shape their abortion policies?

And in an unrelated topic... If I move further to the left and dlpb keeps heading right... can we meet at the other side of the circle?!!
John Logan - Tue, Jun 16, 2015 - 4:27pm (USA Central)
Robert@ The freedom of religious education as well as institutions in general, and the right to lead ones company according to religious principles, or consciously abstain from things one considers immoral, is all a pivotal part of religious freedom and the First Amendment. Anything less would merely be religious freedom as provided by the Dutch Republic, the Yugoslavian Communists, or the French revolution, and would not be true secularism. Especially considering the important role religion had in the founding of the first universities and schools, and orphanages and hospitals, and the roles these institutions had in shaping America and the Wester World it seems rather ungratefull to violate basic human rights of religious freedom.

Also abortion started with Nazism and Communism, while opposition to abortion started with the early Christians who abolished infantcide and mutilation. I think it`s clear which side is bigoted.
Robert - Wed, Jun 17, 2015 - 10:36am (USA Central)
"The freedom of religious education"

I've never seen anything in any of dlpb's or my posts that would lead me to believe that he thinks you shouldn't be able to enroll your kids in a private school that taught religious things. This is actually why I bothered to respond to this debate, because a lot of it is dlpb saying "A is bad!!" and you saying "B is not bad!!" I'm not trying to say you don't have any points, I'm telling you that you are arguing PAST him instead of at him.

"The right to lead ones company according to religious principles"

Except that Hobby Lobby is about so much more than that. Hobby Lobby is about having your religious company demand that OTHER COMPANIES modify their product offerings as a means of controlling their employees private lives. This is the kind of thing that actually WOULD be something valid to discuss in line with dlpb's "I don't want religion anywhere near the workplace".

"Especially considering the important role religion had in the founding of the first universities and schools, and orphanages and hospitals, and the roles these institutions had in shaping America and the Western World it seems rather ungrateful to violate basic human rights of religious freedom."

In my opinion? Separation of church and state. You get a dollar from the government? NO RELIGIOUS RULES AT ALL. you want to totally go it alone? Your hospital can ban abortions if it wants to. Don't let me see you taking that dollar from the government though.

"Also abortion started with Nazism and Communism, while opposition to abortion started with the early Christians who abolished infantcide and mutilation. I think it`s clear which side is bigoted. "

LOL. That's probably the worst argument you could ever make for abortion being bad. Early Christians abolished bad things, so all of their ideas were good? Nazis did bad things so all of their ideas were bad? The world is not that black/white.
John Logan - Wed, Jun 17, 2015 - 4:12pm (USA Central)
Robert@ As the majority of taks payers are religious, taks money should certainly not be denied to those who refuse to butcher children. They do it based on the same principles that formed the constitution after all. That all men are created equal, not born. Catholic hospitals aided this nation long before abortion was even legal.

Hobby Lobby simply refused to insure abortifacent, murderous birth control. They refuse to aid the murder of the unborn. So do Catholic hospitals. They cannot be discriminated on those grounds. The constitution and the supreme court ensured equal funding for religious institutions anyways.

Also as the church spent millions for years to support the Marshial Aid programming the US owns us.

No that is true, but you tried to make a link to the KKK, so..
dlpb - Wed, Jun 17, 2015 - 5:28pm (USA Central)
dlpb@ So you want to ban it from the public, violating freedom of religion, expression, association, and various other basic human rights.

I want it banning in the work place and any *authority* it has in public removing. I don't see religious freedom in the work place or in places of influence as a "human right". I believe human rights are important things, which sky fairy you believe in is NOT. Using "human right" is not an argument. I could make a similar ridiculous "argument" about why Nazis deserve to have their ideas listened to and respected. Religion deserves 0 respect and, as I said, your so-called "human rights" allow for it to be practised ON YOUR OWN TIME. NOT in anyone else's. The sooner religion dies out for good - the better. This whole thread shows what it can do to a human mind.
John Logan - Thu, Jun 18, 2015 - 5:10am (USA Central)
dlpb@ This again violates secularism and freedom of religion. Guess what, one human right, is the right to publically and openly worship that sky fairy and to lead once life based on it. This is what Chris Columbus did, or Kennedy, Klaus Von Staufenburg, Churchill, etc.

Again the burden is on you to proof why religion doesn`t deserve respect, even though it is what founded the modern concept of universal human rights, charity, caring for the poor, and lead to the abolishment of slavery, mutilation, polygamy, incest and so on.

You are the one being a hatefull bigot who is still to show how religion is harmfull and why.
Robert - Thu, Jun 18, 2015 - 6:41am (USA Central)
"As the majority of tax payers are religious, tax money should certainly not be denied to those who refuse to butcher children. They do it based on the same principles that formed the constitution after all. That all men are created equal, not born. Catholic hospitals aided this nation long before abortion was even legal."

It is not possible for every one of your tax dollars to be spent in a way you see fit. Abortion is legal in America. If people don't like that they are free to take it up with the Supreme Court. Spending your tax dollars on something that is legal is something that you should only take umbrage with if you'd like a theocracy.

And I will also point out that "religious freedom" kills born children too (faith healing for example). Not strictly speaking Catholic here, just taking another lob at how religious freedom should be allowed to exist next to the government, not supplant it. If refusing your sick child a blood transfusion is child abuse when I do it, it should be child abuse when EVERYONE does it.

Things like this are we people dislike "religious freedom". "Religious freedom" is often a way to skirt the law (be it by forcing the government to spend your tax dollars the way you want, not charge you with child abuse or teach what amounts to doctrine in public schools).

"Hobby Lobby simply refused to insure abortifacent, murderous birth control. They refuse to aid the murder of the unborn."

Hobby Lobby sells arts and crafts supplies, they weren't insuring anybody anyway. They were buying insurance for their employees and then trying to tell their employees they can't do legal things with their insurance. THIS violates separation of church and state.

"No that is true, but you tried to make a link to the KKK, so..."

You don't really feel I tried to link the church to the KKK... do you? It's merely a thought experiment about how you'd happily ban ideology that you find dangerous but you'd look down on us for doing the same when the thing we find dangerous is your ideology. I'm not trying to compare on a scale which is worse. If I were to do so (let's call the scale Nazis, since you brought them up), I'd say the Nazi's earn 100 out of a possible 100 Nazis, the KKK is probably about a 65/70 and the Catholic Church today is probably closer to a 15/20 (though various Christian sects would be higher).
Robert - Thu, Jun 18, 2015 - 6:43am (USA Central)
So on an evil scale I'm putting the church further away from the KKK than I'm putting the KKK from the Nazi's. So that should squelch any argument that I'm trying to compare the 2 in any way.
Robert - Thu, Jun 18, 2015 - 6:50am (USA Central)
"Again the burden is on you to proof why religion doesn`t deserve respect, even though it is what founded the modern concept of universal human rights, charity, caring for the poor, and lead to the abolishment of slavery, mutilation, polygamy, incest and so on."

Last one... with all due respect... (and as for respect I'm not saying religion doesn't deserve any) your coin is very one sided there, don't you think. I'd rather have polygamy legalized than touching altar boys and a lot of that charity was done in the name of spreading conversion.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, but if you really have such a saint-like view of the church you're being naive. I hardly think the opposite or anything, and if I had to pick a religion to define myself as it'd come closest to Catholic (I've come away from the church because I don't like their politics), but my view is less one-sided.
John Logan - Thu, Jun 18, 2015 - 9:00am (USA Central)
Robert@ Yes it is legal, yet no obligatorry to provide. Federal laws were enacted that guaranteed funding for religious hospitals that refuse both abortion and sterilisation, right after Roe Vs Wade. Just because something is legal, like alcahol, does not mean one has to provide it. Guns are legal, but if you consider ownership of firearms immoral you can not sell them. It are called conscience clauses, and they were enacted in Federal law and 46 states after Roe Vs Wade.

Also amendments were enacted to deny funding for abortion. The Supreme Court upheld both of this. Also the supreme Court supported Hobby Lobby.

Faith healing was legally protected as a right of religious freedom. However as you pointed out it was not a Catholic practie. The Catholic Church abolished infantcide, and founded the first orphanages.

Actually religious freedom has generally been considered paramount making the refusal of blood transfusions acceptable.

Well if the law gets increasingly tolitarian, and if the goverment tries to control education, health care and so on, then yes the only way for religious freedom to exist is for various exemptions to exist. Religious freedom is the main thing preventing Socialist governoured countries from becoming plain Communist countries.

What doctrine in public schools? You mean birth control? Again religious freedom does mean the right to free religious education, to freely raise your child, to follow your own conscience in raising your child. Yes the supreme court has consistently interpeted the First Amendment as such.

The Obama administration forced all employers to provide Insurance remember.

My point was that if you look at ideoloigies that are dangerous, Atheism has quite some stains. Like Nazism, Communism, the reign of terror, Italian Facism, and so on.

Why does the Catholic Church get a 15-20?

Touching altar boys? Right because the church supported this, oh wait the Vatican has actually done investigations into abuse, set guidelines for fighting it, defrocked priests, compensated victims, and child abuse is even more common in the public school system, or other public institutions.

Actually Catholics never deny any charity to non Catholics. Ever. This is one of the reasons many Romans came to support Catholicism, because they provided charity for all. The Romans killed infants, raped slaves, and mutilated people, all of this was banned by the church. The church banned forced marriages, child marriages, human sacrifice, gladiator games, unjust war, and chattel slavery.

Bringing up the touching of altar boys is tasteless as quite some Atheist teachers and care givers also molested students.

So if my view is naive, could you please cite some failing of the church, not of local priests, who did the same thing, many people who worked with children did?
Robert - Thu, Jun 18, 2015 - 10:31am (USA Central)
"but if you consider ownership of firearms immoral you can not sell them"

Again though, Hobby Lobby isn't SELLING insurance. They are buying it. There's a huge difference.

"Also amendments were enacted to deny funding for abortion. The Supreme Court upheld both of this. Also the supreme Court supported Hobby Lobby."

Yes, the conservative Supreme Court supported Hobby Lobby. Because religion has too much influence in politics. At least now we're discussing the same things.

I actually don't think doctor's should be forced to provide abortions (except in the case of life of the mother), but I don't think hospitals should be allowed to ban it either. Public hospitals are public.

"Faith healing was legally protected as a right of religious freedom."

Sadly. See now, I'd be curious how you feel about this. Because, as you said, YOUR doctrine DOESN'T do this. So it's a religious thing that is dangerous and ridiculous that you disagree with. It's a perfect counterpoint to how we feel about abortion, birth control and creationism.

"Actually religious freedom has generally been considered paramount making the refusal of blood transfusions acceptable."

YOU should be allowed to refuse a blood transfusion. The right to be stupid is well and protected. You should not be able to refuse it for your kids and your kids aren't old enough to consent. Child abuse. If you can call abortion murder, I can call this child abuse.

"What doctrine in public schools? You mean birth control? Again religious freedom does mean the right to free religious education, to freely raise your child, to follow your own conscience in raising your child."

Creationism and abstinence only education are 2 things that are currently being taught in public school because Christianity has too much political power. You should have to home school or pay up for private school for your kids to learn that kind of doctrine.

"My point was that if you look at ideoloigies that are dangerous, Atheism has quite some stains. Like Nazism, Communism, the reign of terror, Italian Facism, and so on."

Atheism is not an ideology. I'll claim all atheism under one banner when you claim the sins of all religions that worship Christ under your banner. Fairs fair (and I'm not atheist to boot, but this is not fair).

"Why does the Catholic Church get a 15-20?"

Anything that limits the mind to keep people indoctrinated is partially evil. 15-20 is not that evil though, don't think there's anything that gets a 0. EVERYTHING is somewhat evil which brings us to....

"Touching altar boys? Right because the church supported this, oh wait the Vatican has actually done investigations into abuse, set guidelines for fighting it, defrocked priests, compensated victims, and child abuse is even more common in the public school system, or other public institutions."

If you don't think their investigations were too little, too late you're biased. Sorry, this is a fact, not an opinion. They should have acted sooner but didn't. But I'm actually NOT holding it against the church, I'm just saying your views on the church are waaaaay too saintly. The church is populated by stupid, fallible humans, same as every other organization. There's nothing magic about it. That's all I'm trying to say here.

"Actually Catholics never deny any charity to non Catholics. Ever. "

I never said that. I said there was an underlying, selfish motivation. Still true.

"Bringing up the touching of altar boys is tasteless as quite some Atheist teachers and care givers also molested students."

It's not tasteless. You seem to think there's no sin on the hands of the church. You're practically deifying the saintliness of an organization made of fallible, stupid, sinful men. This is why I don't go to church. The pope is a man. The bishop is a man. They are just as sinful as I am. There is nothing special about them. It has nothing to do with what I believe. It has to do with there being no reason to FOLLOW them, or think that their morality is any better than mine.

Would Jesus be against pro-choice? I think so. And I know him just as well as you do, and just as well as the pope does.

"So if my view is naive, could you please cite some failing of the church, not of local priests, who did the same thing, many people who worked with children did?"

Evidence exists that the coverups went straight to the top. I'm not faulting the church with the molestations, obviously that's not fair.

I'm actually taking a really middle-road here, I'm not against religion, I'm not even against practicing religion locally. A global organization doesn't get to be that way without wracking up evil points though, it's the way of man.
Robert - Thu, Jun 18, 2015 - 10:43am (USA Central)
That should have read...

"Would Jesus be pro-choice? I think so."
dlpb - Thu, Jun 18, 2015 - 10:59am (USA Central)
We don't allow Republican schools or Democrat schools, so why should we allow religious schools? They are all ideologies. Ideas need to be examined and challenged, not made out to be the sole truth. And it gets worse than Christianity when you start to add Muslim schools to the mix - dear Dawkins - a lot worse.

Believe what you want to believe, on that you are free. But not to peddle it as a main doctrine in schools. It comes down to being an open secular society, or a closed-minded fairy believing brainwasher. I take the former, any day.
Elliott - Thu, Jun 18, 2015 - 11:27am (USA Central)
I am having a really hard time with this thread because, dlpb, you are a hateful bigot (at least so far as the majority of your posts go), but, John Logan, you are almost completely wrong in every other point you make. It kind of turns my stomach to do this, but on even debate grounds, dlpb has clearly won the debate. However, Robert's comments are a hell of a lot more useful and insightful.

John Logan, you are not skirting around the child-abuse issue. I happen to work for the local Bishop at the cathedral and know first hand exactly how the Church dealt with abuse accusations. When a priest was accused of child abuse (or any crime really, theft, negligence, etc.), he would be reassigned to a new parish in order to keep the jurisprudence "in-house." Some Bishops would purposefully assign molester-priests to retirement communities or hospitals or seminaries, where they would theoretically not have unsupervised access to children. Some simply moved them to new parishes so their former congregations wouldn't have to deal with them anymore. While these "solutions" may have keep the issue relatively organised, the effect was to shield criminals from legal prosecution using the protective status (legal and social) of the Church. Obviously, the church does not directly condone child-molestation (well, unless you marry the child I suppose), but it actively propagated the act by prioritising its own bureaucratic control and hegemony over the well-being of its flock. Never mind that the totally ridiculous policy the Church holds about priest gender and celibacy only serves to encourage sexual deviance.

You've got an incredibly biased view of history as well. Catholic charities convinced Rome to adopt Christianity? What a laugh! FIrst of all, the persecuted and marginalised Christian minority barely had the resources to keep itself alive, much less provide charity to others. So that's nonsense. Second, Rome accepted Christianity because Constantine had a conversion. This fact is germane to the larger thread because Constantine made it imperial policy to finance the Church, grant privilege and special treatment to Christian clergy and make legal *exemptions* (not only equality of status) for Christians. He did this because he believed God was providing him military victories and wanted to pay Him tribute (you know, like every leering pagan before him).

Religious institutions should be free to sell their invisible products like any other capitalist entity and enact policies within the confines of their autonomy like any other private enterprise. This means that churches, mosques and temples must not circumvent any law and must pay taxes to the state. Anything beyond transcends religious freedom to religious privilege.
Elliott - Thu, Jun 18, 2015 - 11:39am (USA Central)
"[The Church] is what founded the modern concept of universal human rights, charity, caring for the poor, and lead to the abolishment of slavery, mutilation, polygamy, incest and so on."

Excuse me? Again, take a history lesson; the Magna Carta (that thing which actually first did all those things you listed) was originally abolished by Innocent III, which, in addition to being a hateful act on its own, lead to the Baron's Wars which killed tens of thousands of people. Yeah.
John Logan - Thu, Jun 18, 2015 - 3:29pm (USA Central)
Robert@ Religious hospitals are religious and can enforce their teachings on their employees.

I think faith healing is a tricky issue, but unlike with abortion and birth control. You don`t merely oppose perverse practices, but refrain from providing medical care to a child. Not education you disagree with, nor the killing of unborn children.

Exactly but our definitions of abuse differ, I consider slaughtering an unborn infant one of the worst forms of abuse, and many people do, and we can live by these principles.

Again it are mainly Christians who pay for education, the USA was discovered, founded, and lead by Christians after all.

True but this shows faith healing is as seperate from freedom for Catholics, as Nazism is seperate from freedom for Atheists.

How are they too little? Victims were asked to come forward, the congregation of the doctrine of faith was put in charge, hundreds of priests were defrocked, many public schools, and Protestant churches are yet to aknowledge they suffer from this problem also. Real social awareness about child abuse is recent anyways.

The Vatican wasn`t aware of it earlier, as local diocees had become very disobedient from the sixties onwards, and abuse was generally not spoken of.

Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII, showed the pope is more then just a man. If people had listened to what Eugenio Pacelli said in the twenties, or if the US had acted on Mit Brennender Sorge a lot could have been avoided.

You described the sins of the lower clergy, not the Vatican.

The fact that Pope Pius XI condemned Communism, Facism and Nazism in 1937, the fact that Pope Pius XII was nearly kidnapped, that both Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI saved Jews, gives me plenty of reason to follow the papacy.

What evidence prooves it went to the top?

What makes you think Jesus would be prochoice? Read the Didache, the Epistle of Barnabas, or the Apocalypse of Peter, or even Enoch.
John Logan - Thu, Jun 18, 2015 - 4:39pm (USA Central)
Elliott@ I know certain bishops did what you described. Cardinals like Alfrink shared the eucharist with Protestants. The Canadian bishop cobference rebelled against Human Vitae. dlpb didn`t even bring up child abuse cases, Robert did. He just kept saying religion was stupid and dangerous and never once answered my challenge for proof, I don`t see how I could lose a debate while my opponent didn`t cite examples of his criticisms.

Also what you described of child abuse, describes how heads of schools, Lutheran bishops, Anglican bishops, Episcopelian bishops, Methodists, and so on all dealt with it.

The Vatican instructions Always ordered such priests to be disciplined and punished.

Really? Back to the celibacy? Strange that if celibacy causes molestation, that most children are abused by their own parents, or grandparents, and strange that abuse is also common in Protestant churches that ordain women. Many of the bishops who mishandled abuse were actually from a more liberal generation, people Ratzinger, Pell, and Muller are the most active opponents of pedophilia.

Actually if you read Ignatius, the Didache, or Polycarp, you read in detail how Christians practiced charity while being persecuted. Most converts gave everything they had to the church and poor. Quite a couple of aristocrats became Catholics. Senators, governors, generals. Pliny the Younger describes they were actually more concerned with helping others. Lucian even rediculed them for how easily they would provide for others.

By the time that Constantine converted, there were already giant Christian communities from Armenia, to Marocco, to France. Even Ireland, Georgia, and Etheopia became Christian. Persia had a vast Christian community also, which was persecuted for a while as well.

Constantine indeed supported Christianity, but few if any persecutions of Pagans were needed to have most Pagans convert. Julian the Apostate even tried to introduce charity into Paganism.

Tax exempt status is also guaranteed by the first amendment, as the goverment cannot profit from religious institutions, the way goverments profited from state churches.

Religious freedom was generally treated as a privilege by the founding fathers, and most people in favour of the seperation of church and state.

Also incest had been abolished long before, by the church, as had polygamy, and forced marriage. The church dictated marriage was between one man and women, and that it could not be entered under force or with family.

Aren`t you familiar with the myths about the Magna Carta? It didn`t promise nearly as much as you laim, it statisfied neither side, both asking the pope to annul it.

John Logan - Thu, Jun 18, 2015 - 4:43pm (USA Central)
dlpb@ What you describe is relativism, which is also an ideology. We allow religious schools, as religion as part of the constitution has a special protected status, aknowledged by nearly all democratic countries, and it also has to do with the church starting the first universities.

Your society wouldn`t be secular, as it would be against religous education, hence it would be state Atheism, not secularism. It wouldn`t be open either as you don`t allow both Atheism and Christianity to be taught side by side. It would directly against the pluralism and freedom guaranteed by the constitution.
Robert - Fri, Jun 19, 2015 - 6:42am (USA Central)
"What makes you think Jesus would be prochoice?"

Religion is about faith, not evidence. What evidence do you have that God exists but what is in your heart?

The God I believe in wouldn't be punitive to people who've had sex for a purpose other than procreation, and that is the heart of being anti-choice.

Think about DS9 S4's "Body Parts". Would it have been murder if Kira had said no to Bashir? The baby would have died because Kira refused to carry it, same as when a person has an abortion. An infant cannot survive on it's own (let's put aside issues of post viability here), requires somebody to be willing to be connected to it, in a parasitic or symbiotic (depending on your view I suppose) relationship. I don't tell you abortion isn't killing, I tell you it's wrong to force someone else to give of their own body to support another.

A person is dying next to me and we're in a hospital. I refuse to give blood. Did I murder them? I refuse to give a kidney. Did I murder them?

My conjecture (and I don't claim to speak for you), is that most anti-choice people would say that the reason abortion is different is because the woman created the baby so now she must live with the consequences. She is being punished for having sex without intent to procreate. She's losing her autonomy to make decisions about her body because she sinned.

Would Kira have murdered Yoshi by turning the procedure down? If you don't think so, then you aren't "pro-life", you're "anti-choice".
Robert - Fri, Jun 19, 2015 - 6:44am (USA Central)
Also... ::pats self on back:: I brought this conversation back to the 24th century! :P
dlpb - Fri, Jun 19, 2015 - 8:22am (USA Central)
https://themuslimissue.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/moderate-muslims-in-the-u-s -46-want-to-criminalize-parody-of-mohammed-18-want-death-penalty-for-insult ing-islam-40-say-yes-to-sharia-law-not-u-s-laws/

Sadly, with that around, we are never going to be enlightened.
dlpb - Fri, Jun 19, 2015 - 8:25am (USA Central)
Elliot, you don;t debate, you name call. As you did above. People in glass houses should not throw stones. And if you want to start throwing "bigot" around, you might want to look in the mirror given your ridiculously one-sided and closed-minded debates with DS9 fans.
dlpb - Fri, Jun 19, 2015 - 8:29am (USA Central)
Also, Eliott, what I really despise about you is that you are a typical hypocrite. Most of the things you say about religion are true, but you never apply them to the worst religion (Islam) or have a fair and balanced critique on anything. It's always one-sided. I attack all forms of injustice and I champion that above all else. You only care about what Trek preaches and your own lefty propaganda.
Robert - Fri, Jun 19, 2015 - 8:41am (USA Central)
@dlpb - Although I can't reach that link right now, anything that claims MODERATE Muslims want Sharia law to the tune of 40% of them is propaganda too. But I'm against Islam and Christianity pretty equally. I just have different tactics in mind than you do for combating them.
Robert - Fri, Jun 19, 2015 - 8:46am (USA Central)
Being a self-identified moderate is like being middle class. Most people don't want to be considered a zealot, and most people don't want to be considered poor. But you are what you are, regardless of what you call yourself.

As to your comment that "we are never going to be enlightened".... on really pessimistic days, I totally agree with you.
John Logan - Fri, Jun 19, 2015 - 9:46am (USA Central)
Robert@ Kira didn`t conceive that baby. The point of prochoicers is that they are in favour of non procreative sex and they want the child to pay for the free pleasure of its parents, even though you would think birth control would be enough.

Whos fault is it the fetus is in that dependent state? Right it is the fault of the parents. So if it dies its blood is on there hands.

Did you cause that person to be bleeding? If so, yes that would be murder. If I cllone a human being that will need blood, I should have blood ready. If I create an A.I. that needs elecricity, oils, or whatever I should have that ready. If I create a dependent life, I am responsible for caring to the needs and the being I created.

No it is not they want the punish the women for having sex for fun, they just don`t want the child to be punished for it instead. The child certainly didn`t chose to be conceived.

No because she conceived another person with needs inside her. There is a difference between being punished for having sex or having to take responsibility for it. Men also have to take responsibility by paying child support.

Also you are ignoring that Kira is not the childs mother, but yes it would be murder. We have a duty to take care of fellow human beings we are not anarchists or social darwinists. Also you have already donated your blood, the child is inside you, connected to you, and your womb exists to support the child. It was naturally intended not artificially created. It is like breastfeeding, if you have no alternative means you have to breastfeed your child or be charged with neglect.
Robert - Fri, Jun 19, 2015 - 10:18am (USA Central)
You are either entitled to bodily autonomy or you are not. And nobody caused the child to be born requiring 40 weeks of parasitic activity, it was born that way. The choice to deny it your body is yours.

The second a Star Trek transporter allows womb to womb adoption with no risk to the mother, I'll allow for outlawing abortion.

"Also you are ignoring that Kira is not the childs mother, but yes it would be murder. We have a duty to take care of fellow human beings we are not anarchists or social darwinists."

This is quite a position I'm not sure many would be willing to take.
Robert - Fri, Jun 19, 2015 - 10:19am (USA Central)
"No it is not they want the punish the women for having sex for fun, they just don`t want the child to be punished for it instead. The child certainly didn`t chose to be conceived."

This is the same difference. Child carrying is not without risk. What you are saying is "Do the crime, you do the time."
Robert - Fri, Jun 19, 2015 - 10:27am (USA Central)
I doubt this is going to be something I'm going to convince you of... but the bottom line is that this is the danger of religion, right?

In my heart I believe God would be pro-choice. Evidence from the Bible on most of this stuff is wishy-washy and conflicting at best.

There's more support for enslaving foreigners in the Bible than for banning gay marriage for instance....

In the end it's faith, what we believe... and you and I believe very different things from the same source. Which is why secular things (like laws and public institutions/schools) should be left secular and religion free.
John Logan - Fri, Jun 19, 2015 - 11:40am (USA Central)
Robert@ Actually you can forfeit rights by taking on responsibilities. No the mother created it, so she did cause it to be dependent, so if dies, she killed it.

Here is an idea, don`t conceive children you will just murder.

Well yes. The child didn`t conceive itself.

Actually the bible forbids mistreating foreigners, you could only enslave enemies of war, you would otherwise have to kill. Also the church fathers are very clear on all these isses.
Robert - Fri, Jun 19, 2015 - 2:26pm (USA Central)
"No the mother created it, so she did cause it to be dependent, so if dies, she killed it."

Killing and murder are not the same.

If I shoot you in the chest and donate blood to you to save you after I've come to my senses I may avoid a murder charge (though attempted manslaughter is probably still on the table).

If dlpb shoots you in the chest and I don't donate the same blood to you, I'm scott free. No murder.

Ergo if I do something illegal that causes you to require my assistance, there could be legal benefit to me providing it.

Having sex is not illegal, ergo the woman, through no illegal action has lost her bodily autonomy. For a civilized nation to be ok with this is wrong.

"Actually you can forfeit rights by taking on responsibilities."

By WILLINGLY taking on responsibilities you can be required to fulfill them, yes. You can also walk away from damned near any responsibilities at any time, including your kids (just requires someone to adopt them), your marriage and your mortgage (that one's even easier).
Robert - Fri, Jun 19, 2015 - 2:27pm (USA Central)
By the way... the above is a thought experiment, nothing violent was intended or intended to be implied.
John Logan - Fri, Jun 19, 2015 - 3:15pm (USA Central)
Robert@ Exactly but the mother did the shooting. If it hadn`t been for her there would have been no dependent fetus.

If you shot me in the chest to actually allow me to developp heathly, it would be like a doctor performing surgery. No harm was intended, if however a surgeon walks away halfway during the procedure, then he is a murderer.

No having sex isn`t illegal, but neither is performing surgery. However performing a surgery poorly resulting in someone dying is a crime, so is driving recklessly, or doing anything that is normally legal, in a way that results in someones death.

You conceive willingly.
dlpb - Fri, Jun 19, 2015 - 4:53pm (USA Central)
@John Logan

Let's look at some good old religion, shall we?



Now, come to me with a straight face and tell me that religion is mostly a cause for good. It's been the most divisive and destructive thing EVER conceived of.
John Logan - Sat, Jun 20, 2015 - 2:21am (USA Central)
dlpb@ Most of the ones you cite are from Islam. All of the current ones are.

The Crusades were a response to this Islamic violence and a defensive war. If everyone in Europe at the time had been Atheists, they would have either done the same thing, or Atheism would no longer exist.

All you did was show that Muslims follow Quran in hating their enemies and that Christians practiced selfdefense.

Also let`s look at World War II and the Holocaust, or all the things done by Stalin, or Mao. This killed around 200 million people. Look at Yugoslavia, Cambodja, Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba, and Mexico, Atheist Communists commited the worst autrocities, and tried to exterminate all religions through violence.
dlpb - Sat, Jun 20, 2015 - 10:09am (USA Central)
That does not change the European wars (and they are numerous) or that Islam is "a religion". You can't say religion is a force for good and then say "only mine".

Also, it doesn't change the stranglehold that Catholicism had over the population at one time (and still does in some places). Religion enslaves the mind, and it persecuted free thinkers like Copernicus and Galileo.


I'm sorry, but atheists would never behave in that manner. Only religion can do that. And it's YOUR precious Christian branch, this time.
John Logan - Sun, Jun 21, 2015 - 5:57am (USA Central)
dlpb@ Right but not all religions are the same. Some are evil. As a Catholic I only defend Catholicism. Catholicism provides 26 % of the worlds health care, and has founded thousands of soup kitchens, orpphanes, old fokes homes, and introduced the concept of systematic charity, as well as the first universities to the world.

As for the European Wars, most were started by Protestants who tried to exterminate Catholicism, as well as other forms of Protestantism, and who created these wars by starting a schism. The Reformation was a political revolution that sought to violenty over throw Catholicism. Like Islam Protestantism was very intolerant towards non conformists, Jews, Atheists and Catholics. So by your own argumentation that one can be intolerant towards intolerance, that one in fact should be, Catholicism was justified in fighting both the intolerance of Protestantism and Islam.

The papacy generally tried to use negotiation and dialogue to create peace, and used negotiation to avoid war.

I never said religion is a force of good, I said Catholicism is. Just as not al Atheists are like Stalin or Mao, not all religions are the same. One of the reasons Catholicism was sometimes intolerant of Islam is the same reason you are intolerant of it, it started the chain of intolerance.

The Catholic Church rarely started a conflict.

Pope Paul III rejected the Spanish wars of conquest in South and Middle America, as well as the enslavement of Indians. The enslavement of black people was also condemned. Also Catholicism encouraged Germanic rulers to avert war, and tried to peacefully resist the Normans.

In what place would Catholicism still have a strangehold? The church supports freedom of religion as a human right. The Philipines, South America, they all have religious freedom. Catholic countries nearly Always have freedom of speech, the press, and are democratic.

Pope Benedict XV even tried to prevent World War I.

Copernicus was a Catholic monk, who dedicated his work to Pope Paul III and explained it to his cardinals. Gallileo meddled in theological matters, but non the less Pope Urban VIII supported him at first.

Also you seem to usually go back to things that happened centuries ago, and then you can only cite Gallileo. As Copernicus was not condemned by the church, but supported by her.

This is like how Anti-Semitism was justified by reaching back to the crucifixion of Christ. If you want to argue it is oke to be intolerant of Catholicism as it is in its actions intolerant, you need atleast one recent example. If you cannot, you are the one who starts being intolerant.

Except for Stalin, Mao, Tiso, Hitler, Goebbels, Lenin, the Albanian, and Mexican Communists, the French revolutionaries and their reign of terror, Fidel Castro, the Cambodjan Communists, and so on.

You cite how one person was placed under house arest. The Atheist Stalin brutally murdered 20 million people. He had thousands of monks and priests deported, millions of Ukrainians killed, synagogues burned down, Wolga Germans persecuted, etc.
dlpb - Sun, Jun 21, 2015 - 8:33am (USA Central)
OK, that's me done with the convo. It's been "fun". It's clear that you are not here to listen or understand, just protect your religion at all costs (which is another bad trait of what religions do to a person).

Good luck.
John Logan - Sun, Jun 21, 2015 - 8:37am (USA Central)
dlpb@ You simply didn`t answer my simple question: what has Catholicism done revcently that makes it intolerant, dangerous or violent, that justifies responding to it with intolerance, or limiting its rights? I have asked this from the beginning and not received an answer.

It is really more the case that you want to criticise religion indiscriminately, at all costs, without providing evidence, and anyone who simply responds to these would automatically be blind.
Robert - Mon, Jun 22, 2015 - 7:53am (USA Central)
"Robert@ Exactly but the mother did the shooting. If it hadn`t been for her there would have been no dependent fetus."

Except that shooting is illegal and having sex without protection is not. That's my issue. I don't care if you want to think abortion is morally wrong, but the reason we keep coming back to it is that wanting it to be legally wrong is quite literally the perfect embodiment of what religion overstepping it's bounds looks like.

That's what I think makes religion dangerous. The other part is the group think. The amount of politicians in the US that get into office by paying lip service and pretending to give a crap about the religious right is stunning. Those people would actually have to have good ideas for how to fix the country if they couldn't just get votes by whipping up the religious types into an anti-abortion/anti-gay marriage frenzy.

"You conceive willingly."

That's news to me. If I could have willed it to happen I sure would have. And beyond that, birth control doesn't fail? Which again brings us to the fact that the crime is having sex without intending to procreate.

I feel like the history of religion in this country is that people fled Europe to escape religious persecution so they could come here and enforce their religion on other people. Obviously that's a SERIOUS TLDR/yadayadayada skip over what actually happened over 100s of years, but I think you get my point.

But as I said before, I doubt I'd ever (at least not over the internet in a few posts) manage to convince anyone that abortion should be legal (notice I'm not saying moral, I don't want to convince you of it's morality, I'm trying to point out that it's immoral to make those decisions for other people), but I do really think Jesus would be pro-choice. Quite honestly it's better for the poor and downtrodden of the world to have cheap/easy access to abortion.

But the fact that we disagree on that point is the biggest problem with religion. We're all so far removed from these events and the original texts/languages.... and the problem becomes worse as we get farther away from Jesus too. The old testament is a nightmare to reconcile. Either Jesus' father is NOT the old testament God, or the guy went soft in later years.

In the end I'll just end with the concept that what I took away from my religious studies as a child is not a specific passage, or a set of rules. It's a feeling of Jesus. Of how we should treat each other. Of what it means to be a good person.

That God would not be intolerant of gay people, regardless of 2 lines in multi-translated multiple thousands of year old book. That God would send a man to hell for screaming in a woman's face on the worst day of her life before he'd send her to hell for making the choice to end her pregnancy. That God would send a politician who lies to the world to hell for pretending to care about women's health by requiring BS credentials that de-facto cause almost every abortion clinic in a state to close so that a couple who spent years praying for a baby now have to travel across state lines with money they don't have because it's all been spent on fertility meds to end a pregnancy after receiving a terrible diagnosis.

Add to the list of religious sins faith healing, holy wars, jihad, witch hunts, gender inequality, underage marriage, gay persecution, sharia law (I'll throw dlpb a bone :) ), bombing abortion clinics, civil wars, forcibly taught ignorance of children (basically all of them), and purchasing indulgences.

My point is that the God I believe in would shun all the people that causes those things. Somehow the greedy oligarchs who run the Republican Party always manage to find the 2 lines that support "God hates fags" but always miss the part about it being easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven. Which brings me to my last point. I have YET to meet a person who claims to be really religious that isn't REALLY, REALLY good at cherry picking the bible. If you cherry pick the bible you aren't religious, you're a hypocrite.

I don't think anyone needs me to explain why someone who is a hypocrite and really good at finding religious cherry picked quotes to support their own agenda and at the same time manages have a built in base of fanatics ready to swarm because of where those quotes come from is dangerous. That sounds pretty obviously dangerous to me.

So I ask one time before I walk away from the conversation. You continuously ask for proof of the danger of Catholicism and you tout the Church's goodness over and over. I just presented a wall of text of the dangers of religion. Can you not find one sin of the Church here to own alongside all of those wonderful things? Even one sin to own?
John Logan - Mon, Jun 22, 2015 - 9:01am (USA Central)
Robert@ Again performing surgery isn`t illegal either, doing it poorly is. Driving isn`t illegal, but driving drunk and smashing into a child is. Getting children is natural, conceiving one to then leave it to die isn`t. You start the pregnancy, create the fetus, and become connected to it. Use birth control properly if you don`t want to get pregnant. It is not the fault of the fetus that it is conceived and dependent.

It is not based on religion, but on the idea that all men are created equal and have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happines. That all human beings have a right to live. That parents can not punish their children for their actions. That you don`t conceive a human being to kill it.

No the crime is not having sex without wanting to procreate. Go ahead, aslong as another human being doesn`t have to die for it instead I am fine with it.

It is not immoral to force parents to keep the children they created alive till they can give it to someone else.

Ironically the poor often value the meaning of family, children, and all human life. I think Ireland and Poland do just fine with their anti abortion laws. The Philipines is one of the most stable countries in Asia, and South America also continues to do better. They value family. I don`t think human life is disposable.

Read the church fathers from the first century, the Didache, and Barnabas, they comment very clearly on both abortion and infantcide. It was in fact the church that banned infantcide. It would still be the norm if it weren`t for Catholicism.

Being a good person isn`t slaughtering unborn babies.

Under age marriage was normal under the Romans and banned by the church. The Catholic Church banned forced marriage, sex slavery, and allowed women to independently own property.

You cannot treat all religions as the same. Witchhunts were largely a Protestant affairs, Pope Gregory VII and Pope Alexander IV banned witchunts.

I give all my money to the poor, and the church opposes rampant extreme capitalism, supports charity, and the church condemns violence or discrimination against homosexuals.

Well I think you mentioned many sins of Islam and Protestantism, as well as the republican party, which the Catholic Church never declared her loyalty to, the republicans often value religious freedom more, but the church has criticised the republican party quite a bit also. Rejects homophobia, jihad, Sharia, and so forth.

I agree many fundamentalists and rightwhingers can be awfull, but Catholicism has Always been more centric, and also supported Christian socialism. No party in the US truelly fits it, and the church never denied the importance of charity, which is why the church would like the democrats to stop trying to prevent Catholic from providing voluntarely charity, by requiring us to act contrary to our sexual ethics. The church helped HIV victims but not by providing condoms, and the church provides health care but not abortions.

If health care is so important then the left should apreciate that the church provides 26 % of th worlds health care.

I could agree on civil wars I guess, but which ones, and which holy wars? The church like during the Crusades often responded to violence, it didn`t iniate it. The church even tried to prevent the popularity of witchunts from spreading.
Robert - Mon, Jun 22, 2015 - 10:19am (USA Central)
"It is not immoral to force parents to keep the children they created alive till they can give it to someone else."

Force someone to do something else that is dangerous with their body? Yep, immoral. No way around it.

"No the crime is not having sex without wanting to procreate. Go ahead, as long as another human being doesn`t have to die for it instead I am fine with it."

Obviously that IS the crime. Because if conception occurs you want to make sure they pay for having caused it. If it's not a crime you cannot remove a woman's bodily autonomy for committing no crime. You are saying "You who have done nothing wrong should lose the right to your own body for the sake of another life."

"Being a good person isn`t slaughtering unborn babies."

That is your opinion and you are entitled to it. Forcing this into the legal code makes you not a good person in my opinion.

"The church helped HIV victims but not by providing condoms"

Because the church believe in it's own ethics above proven science, something that is dangerous. It's great that they help HIV victims, but they have the power to make there be less victims and choose not to because it goes against doctrine.

"church condemns violence or discrimination against homosexuals"

It's a logical contradiction to talk about Sodom and Gomorrah being destroyed for homosexuality and condemn violence against homosexuals. It's nice that they say it, but until homosexuality is not a sin under the church's eyes I cannot consider the church to be against discrimination. Teachers have been fired from Catholic schools for being gay. Until the pope calls the head of the school and says it's wrong to do so, one assumes the church supports this.

"You cannot treat all religions as the same."

I don't. What is the same of all religions is that they seek to oppress facts that don't coincide with doctrine in order to keep the minds of their flock smaller to minimize strays. Are Catholic schools better than a lot of other Christian sects/schools/etc. Yes. I've acknowledged this many times as we speak. Actually, Catholic schools teach evolution. I give credit where credit is due. I've even said that I consider myself Catholic (although you likely would not).

The church does many good things, but politically they have too much power in too many countries where there should be separation of church/state. This is dangerous. Democrats have had bishops deny them communion for supporting abortion. You say the church does not support the Republican party. I say these 2 facts cannot both be true (and yes, the pope is making it pretty uncomfortable for Catholic Republican candidates this week, and while I enjoy a bit of schadenfreude over this, it doesn't make it less true).
John Logan - Mon, Jun 22, 2015 - 3:32pm (USA Central)
Robert@ Most abortions are for healthy pregnancies when women freely consented to sex. No I want to make sure the fetus doesn`t pay for it instead. It didn`t do anything.

No you eho conceived this life knowing it would be dependent on you, should take care of the live you created, you are doing something wrong if you create a live just to kill it. Whether it is wrong to create a life or not, depends on whether you do it responsibly. Getting children isn`t a crime, but fathers still have to pay child support.

You can consider adultery a sin without advocating stoning them. You can consider masturbation a sin, without wanting to beat up children who do it. According to the church we all struggle with sin and need to fight our natural sinful tendencies. Yet we should treat eachother with kindness and leave the judgement up to God.

Forcing into the legal code that all human beings have a right to live, is basic human kidness.

Actually they teach chastity which is a full proof way to prevent the spread of HIV, which is why South America and the Philipines or even Ireland have less then the world wide average.

Actually it makes sense to believe God punishes sinners, yet as we are not without sin, we cannot cast the first stone and need to forgive others their tresspassings, so others may be forgiven.

Catholic schools only hire teachers who agree with and live by church teachings. Discrimination by religious institutions for ministerial positions is different from secular public discrimination. The church fires all who dissent from her teachings, from positions where they are to teach the Catholic faith. One has to be a commited Catholic or at least a crypto Catholic Christian to teach Catholicism.

Yes the pope supports the right of the church, to appoint her own ministers. So did the founding fathers. The church believes in the right of women to receive any job with equal pay except the priesthood as that is a religious position. For example I am against firing people because they are Muslims but ofcourse this would be normal if they wanted to teach at a Protestant or Jewish school. You confuse public life, and private religious institutions.

Well Democrats who support the murder of babies, yes they are refused communion. That is not an unconditional endorsement of the republican. The church also excomunicated all Nazis and Communists in the thiries while not unconditionally supporting either Social Democrats or Nationalists.

Pope Francis also did this in Argentina, if people support the murder of innocent life, then they do follow the teachings of Christ and his church, and should not eat the flesh of the man who taught us to love the weak, not murder them for being weak. He taught us the narrow path, not that we can be irresponsible and make our weak children pay for our actions.
Robert - Tue, Jun 23, 2015 - 7:01am (USA Central)
Moving away from abortion (since that's really a non starter on the internet and I'm not sure why I let it go along that far anyways). I agree with much of what you say. We obviously need to put some sins in the legal code and we obviously don't want to stone everyone that sins. And yes, fathers pay child support but the only other crime in which one loses bodily autonomy are those which carry capital punishment. Consider that. But obviously a large % of the population is judeo-christian and some of their values are going to end up in the legal code. I don't mean to suggest a blanket "anything the bible says should be out of the law books". That "thou shalt not kill" thing is pretty useful (and yes I see how you might take that bait on abortion, but resist the temptation... as I said before, to me it's about losing the right to your body, not about not killing).

"Actually they teach chastity which is a full proof way to prevent the spread of HIV, which is why South America and the Philippines or even Ireland have less then the world wide average."

Correlation does not prove causation. I don't pretend to be an expert on those countries, but it's pretty well established in this country that abstinence only education doesn't work. I can't imagine it works better in the Philippines, but I can't argue that which I have no information about.

"Discrimination by religious institutions for ministerial positions is different from secular public discrimination. "

I didn't say it shouldn't be allowed. I fully support the right of the church to fire gay people, adulterers, and gamblers. But you cannot say "You are not a good moral person, you cannot teach my children" and assume that it does not contribute to general discrimination against gay people. My point in bringing that up is that the church IS part of the problem here. It's nice they give lip service to "don't discriminate against gays" but until they stop doing so their flock will continue.

"You confuse public life, and private religious institutions."

I don't think so, I just believe that people who call themselves father should be aware that only bad parents don't lead by example. If you say "don't discriminate against gays" you have to do it yourself in order for your children to follow you.

"Well Democrats who support the murder of babies, yes they are refused communion. That is not an unconditional endorsement of the republican. The church also excomunicated all Nazis and Communists in the thiries while not unconditionally supporting either Social Democrats or Nationalists."

Again, this is a follow the leader thing. The Democratic presidential candidate in a 2 party system is not welcome to receive communion under my roof... but that's not an endorsement to not vote for them. Come now, you cannot believe that... and this is never applied evenly either, it's a dog and pony show. And largely it's why I don't attend church and my kids won't either. If people like me are not welcome under your roof, neither am I. You must realize this is done to affect power over the elections.
John Logan - Tue, Jun 23, 2015 - 11:00am (USA Central)
Robert @ Thank you for the kind response. Abstinence only worked well in the entire continent of South America.

Actually saying you do not follow all Catholic teachings, so you cannot teach Catholicism doesn`t mean so we generally discriminate towards you. I doubt I`d be allowed to teach at an Islamic school. It is about ministerial positions which is seperate from human rights issues and the issue of discrimination.

That is like saying that the church should allow Muslims to teach at Catholic schools because if not they encourage Islamophobia. Again ministerial positions are an exceptional issue.

Again the two issues are not comparable. Catholic teachers have to follow the Catholic faith, that is different from requiring someone to follow Catholic teachings for a secular job.

The church is seperate from public society, and supposed to be the body of chridt, not a representation of an ideal earthly society.

Suggesting Catholics allow those who oppose the churches teachings to teach at their schools just to set an example is an extreme form of over compensation.

Yeah that is the issue of a two party system, if one of the two supports murdering babies, that creates problem.

The church was often more supportive of the democrats before they embraced the culture of death.

Right now the Republicans seem like a lesser evil as they value all innocent human life.

Well yes the church needs to protect innocent life, just as it did in the thirties. You cannot receive the body of Christ if you do not wish to protect all innocent humans.
Robert - Tue, Jun 23, 2015 - 1:23pm (USA Central)
"Actually saying you do not follow all Catholic teachings, so you cannot teach Catholicism doesn`t mean so we generally discriminate towards you. I doubt I`d be allowed to teach at an Islamic school. It is about ministerial positions which is seperate from human rights issues and the issue of discrimination."

Simply the fact that the church considers living as an out gay person to be sinful/not following the Catholic teachings is, quite literally a discriminatory thought. It's backwards, dangerous, and the support for it in the bible is minor compared to not eating ham.

"That is like saying that the church should allow Muslims to teach at Catholic schools because if not they encourage Islamophobia. Again ministerial positions are an exceptional issue."

Simply considering being gay to be a lifestyle, a choice or a position akin to your religion is bigoted and backwards. The fact that you don't realize that is pretty solid proof of the danger of the church and group think that goes along with doctrine.

"Well yes the church needs to protect innocent life, just as it did in the thirties. You cannot receive the body of Christ if you do not wish to protect all innocent humans. "

Except the pope just made a whole bunch of anti-war statements and hawks (a lot of whom are Republican) don't get the same treatment as Democrats. It's political, it's not particularly fair, it's playing favorites and it's wielding too much power.

And it really brings this conversation full circle since the whole point of the conversation was the dangers of religion, Catholicism in particular. So we have a whole slew of Republican candidates, who are Catholic, a pope spouting anti-war rhetoric (and I liked his speech btw), but bishops who'd deny communion to pro-choice candidates but not pro-war candidates. Fairs fair. If ever there was a party of death, it's not the Democrats.
Robert - Tue, Jun 23, 2015 - 1:24pm (USA Central)
Just out of curiosity, if picked say... 250 issues, is there ONE you'd disagree with the pope on?
John Logan - Tue, Jun 23, 2015 - 2:53pm (USA Central)
Robert@ Discriminatorry thought? Well what is wrong with that? We have freedom of religion. Religion discriminates nearly Always, unless it is relativistic. Religion discriminates against sin, and against what it perceives to be heretical and false. In this sense all religions discriminate against eachother. Protestants can be against anti-Catholic violence and discrimination in public life, yet still not want Catholics to teach in their schools. Jews can think that the Christian religion is incorrect and forbid those who are uncircumcised from teaching in Jewish schools. That would not be the same in any way, as commiting violence against Christians, as refusing them public jobs, positions in goverment or anything else. Many Catholics opposed anti-Semitic Nazi laws, but that didn`t mean they would be oke with Jews teaching in Catholic schools.

How is disagreeing with sexual promiscuety dangerous? The church teaches sex is only allowed when it is within marriage for reproduction. This has been the cionstant teaching of the church fathers. The Didache, Justin Martyr, Cyprian, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, all of them were against birth control, abortion and homosexual practices.

Jesus indicated marriage is a permanent sacramental Union between one man and one woman.

The church does not stone the adulterer, and we would protect them if others wished to do so, but we ciould not have adulterers teach in our schools.

You are yourself disceiminating against traditionalistic Catholicism, why would that be any more oke? Condemning the church for following the church fathers is also discriminatorry.

The church does not consider gay feelings a life stule our choice. Conspucience is not sinfull. The church views acts as sinfil.

All sexual acts not open to reproduction are a sin according to the bible and sacred tradition.

One still choses to practice homosexual acts or not, just as one choses whether to practice Catholicism or not. You can argue you don`t chose to have homosexual feelings, but you also don`t chose to think the bible is correct you just do. Religious feelings and thoughts aren`t more up to free will then sexual feelings. Both are inffluenced by nature and nurture.

Actually the church indeed disagrees with most wars and the death penalty, but since John Paul II the church has stated one can faithfully disagree with the church on this, as it has not been infallibly defined, many church fathers believed in just war, many Catholic saints did, and whether taking evil lives to save thiose of the innocent is justified, is considered more grey than whether mothers may kill their babies.

Democrats violate infallible teachings that all the church fathers held since the first century. Those in favour of preemptive war do not.

That really ddoesn`t proof religion is harmfull. The church does not refuse communion to those who disagree on non essential debatable matters, it does refuse communion to those who reject infallible dogmas.

I don`t know pick something? If it is an infallible dogma than no, I follow all de fide articles of the church.

I used to disagree on masturbation, but I conquered that sin. I have come to accept that the pope holds the keys.
Robert - Tue, Jun 23, 2015 - 3:15pm (USA Central)
The church does not consider gay feelings a life stule our choice. Conspucience is not sinfull. The church views acts as sinfil.

All sexual acts not open to reproduction are a sin according to the bible and sacred tradition.

One still choses to practice homosexual acts or not, just as one choses whether to practice Catholicism or not. You can argue you don`t chose to have homosexual feelings, but you also don`t chose to think the bible is correct you just do. Religious feelings and thoughts aren`t more up to free will then sexual feelings. Both are inffluenced by nature and nurture."

But these thoughts cause children to kill themselves. I don't think I have more to say on the subject so I'll leave us with a Star Trek quote and a prediction.

Some day the church will decide it's ok to be gay and the faithful will pull a switch and suddenly it will be ok to be gay. The same way it was suddenly ok to have female altar servers.

And on that day nobody will think anything was wrong with the fact that they felt differently yesterday. And THAT is frightening as hell to me!

ODO: Major. Come to see Akorem speak?
KIRA: The Emissary's first public appearance? I wouldn't miss it.
ODO: I'm surprised to hear you call him that.
KIRA: Why? Akorem Laan was, is a great man. He's been with the Prophets for over two hundred years, and now they've sent him back to us.
ODO: Yes, but two days ago you believed Captain Sisko was the Emissary.
KIRA: Well, he made it clear he wants to step aside.
ODO: Does that mean he never really was the Emissary?
ODO: But they can't both be.
KIRA: I don't know. What do you want from me, Odo?
ODO: Forgive me, Major, I don't mean to be difficult, but your faith seems to have led you to something of a contradiction.
KIRA: I don't see it as a contradiction.
ODO: I don't understand.
KIRA: That's the thing about faith. If you don't have it, you can't understand it, and if you do, no explanation is necessary.

John Logan - Tue, Jun 23, 2015 - 3:51pm (USA Central)
Robert@ Children have killed themselves for various reasons. You don`t have to aproove incest, drug use, pedophilia, or anything you consider wrong, just because someone people want to kill themselves unless you agree with them. Anti-Catholicism has also resulted in countless murders.

If I couldn`t faithfully follow the bible I would kill myself.

Altar girls is a discplinarry issue. Ethics are dogmatic.

Yeah tell me what contradiction exists within Catholicism without citing fallible disciplinarry issues, or generally fallible non dogmatic teachings?
Robert - Wed, Jun 24, 2015 - 8:01am (USA Central)
The fact that a Catholic feels comfortable comparing being gay to incest and pedophilia just drives home how you all really feel about gay people. And yes, there are gay people that don't have gay sex because they think god would be sad and that's an abomination caused by Catholicism/Christianity too. Like conversion therapy. Anti-science mumbo jumbo at it's finest.

I wasn't speaking of an existing contradiction. I was saying that if one day the pope woke up and said that gay sex inside a marriage was ok and that the church would begin performing gay marriage that the flock would follow him.

As to what contradictions exist? Well, let's keep on the same subject. Sodom and Gomorrah never actually mention gay sex. Leviticus does, so you have that. And there is a little bit of support in the New Testament for it. But to what end should we follow things in the bible when there is a little bit of support for them?

Do we follow this one thing because the pope says so? (that's what the quote from DS9 was really about... that 2 men decided to change who the emissary was and the flock went along with it)

Actually I find the biggest flaw with Catholicism is that you aren't supposed to interpret the bible for yourself. An organization dedicated to preventing you from thinking for yourself might as well be a cult.

Consider the following. The bible says a man shall not lay with a man as he does with a woman (I'm paraphrasing, I was never good at quoting scripture even when I was a better Catholic).

It also says you can't eat pig (but Easter ham is so delicious) and I believe it has a restriction on shellfish.

Leviticus (the main support for no gay sex) also says you can't walk around with your head uncovered and the only person I know who follows that is a Jew. Also thou shalt not mar the corners of thy beard. I've always liked that one, and I hope you have your beard in tact or you'll have to work on that one now that you've finished with masturbation.

New moms are unclean (yay women hating bible) and need to stay out of church. EVERY single woman who attends her child's baptism is as big a sinner as someone who has gay sex. And of course we work on Sundays (Orthodox Jews try really hard to follow this one, though it ends up kind of ridiculous).
Robert - Wed, Jun 24, 2015 - 8:12am (USA Central)
"You can argue you don`t chose to have homosexual feelings, but you also don`t chose to think the bible is correct you just do. Religious feelings and thoughts aren`t more up to free will then sexual feelings. Both are inffluenced by nature and nurture."

I will also take issue with this. I can't tell you when I "chose" to be straight, but I sure can tell you when I decided I wasn't going to go to church anymore (though I still go on holidays with my Dad... but for him, not me).
John Logan - Wed, Jun 24, 2015 - 10:25am (USA Central)
Robert@ Actually it just shows how I feel about all non reproductive sex, or sex outside of a sacramental marriage. Incest even involves consenting adults, but the point is those people didn`t chose those feelings either, so if you mstill think you can disagree with their choices, it shows the argument I was born with these feelings is invalid. Just as you don`t chose to have feeling of bestiality but you chose whether you act on them or not. The same with rape, sadism, polygamy, fornivation, adultery, masturbation, etc.

What does choosing to be chaste have to do with science mumbo jumbo? It is also nothing like conversion therapy, you merely chose to be celibate, it doesn`t require you to change who you are, only how you act. The church gives the same calling to the divorced remarried, those who don`t want children, or who aren`t married yet. How is asking people to be celibate an abomination?

When the church fathers and the magisterium interpet the bible a certain way, that interpetation is valid.

Well that is why Jesus made Peter the pope, because you can have good and evil interpetations. Claiming that an orginisation that is to explain sacred scripture is a cult is a gross stereotype.

Not everybody believes in individualism, that doesn`t automatically make you cult thinker.

Those dietarry laws were abolished in the New Testament when Jesus declared all foods clean. The church fathers never forbade pig meat, they Always banned homosexual acts.

Actually again, these laws weren`t upheld in the New Testament, if you read Jude, Timothy, Romans, or Corinthians, you see the laws on homosexuality were. Also I sugest you read the Didache from 70 A.D., the earliest cathechism which bans both abortion, and homosexual acts.

Again read the Didache or even Ignatius for Sunday worship.

I can tell you when I chose not to masturbate, fornicate, swear, or not practice any sinful acts. A homosexual can tell you when he stopped sleeping with men, just as you stopped going to church.

That comparison is much better. A better comparison to chosing to be straight, ( which I didn`t say, I said chosing to be celibate), is chosing to no longer believe in God, or to feel as though God exists, or to chose to no longer fear Hell, believe the bible, or to feel as though your traditionalist parents were right.
Robert - Wed, Jun 24, 2015 - 1:29pm (USA Central)
Some of your points I will give you. I appreciate you framing it is "choose to be celibate" even though I think that's a crappy awful choice to pick between celibacy and damnation... at least you aren't saying "choose to be gay". So I appreciate that. "Pray the gay away"/conversion therapy is anti-science mumbo jumbo but you don't seem to believe in any of that, so perhaps that's just a Christian thing and I'll retract that point.

Also, I think I get what you're saying at the end there. You cannot choose to stop believing in God. You can come to the realization that you have stopped believing in God at some point in the past, but you can't just wake up one day and decide to stop believing in God. I get that.

I think I realized one day that the God I believed in wasn't the one that is discussed in Church anymore. I think I still feel that way. But it wasn't a choice. That God just felt wrong. It says in the Bible that “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me". The church fathers think a lot of things in the bible are literal. That you're going to hell if you aren't Catholic for instance, based on that quote. My God wouldn't send a Jewish person to hell if they lived in a way that would make Jesus happy. That's what that quote means to me. I feel most of the bible feels better to me when it's not taken literally...

"Actually again, these laws weren`t upheld in the New Testament, if you read Jude, Timothy, Romans, or Corinthians, you see the laws on homosexuality were."

I personally feel the new testament is actually contradictory on the old laws, BUT I'll grant you them for the sake of argument. Let's just play with those books you mentioned by your rules...

1 Corinthians 14:34-35
Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

1 Timothy 2:11-12
A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man;she must be quiet.

Should not female Catholic politicians be denied communion?
John Logan - Thu, Jun 25, 2015 - 2:40am (USA Central)
Robert@ Thank you. Yes I as a Catholic believe celibacy is the calling for all who are not ready to have kids within a sacramental marriage, which is most people nowadays really. You don`t have to pray the gay away, just pray you can not have sex, which those who aren`t married yet should pray also.

We don`t say don`t be gay, we say don`t have sex we disagree with, which is most forms really.

Considering the first quote refers to women in the church, and the second was in a pastoral epistle speaking of how to lead the church, and referred back to the first, this clearly refers to church matters, and church leadeship. They are one of the reasons the church does not ordain women.

However the church fathers never opposed women being involved with politics. It was the church that gave women the right to independently own property, and the ban on infantcide also really helped out young girls. It is really sad many people call the church sexist just for her refusal to not ordain women.

Like with gay people at schools, church teaching positions are seperate from public life. So no. Women can be politicians, they have been so for 2000 years. Empresses could even cal councils like Nicea II. We greatly honour Mary Queen of Scots, or Empress Theresa.
Robert - Thu, Jun 25, 2015 - 6:44am (USA Central)
Considering the primary place for learning back in the day was the temple and rabbi means teacher I actually interpret those passages to mean that women should learn what their husbands want to teach them and not be in charge of men ever. And there are several other passages that can be interpreted similarly in the New Testament. At the very least married women don't need the right to vote because they'd never vote opposite their husbands.

But let's return to the crux of the problem which is that the main danger of the church to those outside the church is power overreach.

Why are Catholics not then for gay marriage? Or at least not against it. I mean, it would seem to me that your, I would even call it very reasonable point of view is that...

1. Lots of people shouldn't have sex.

2. You should only have procreative sex.

3. You should only have said procreative sex inside a loving FIRST marriage between a man and a women.

4. Other kinds of sex... gay sex, fun sex with birth control, extramarital sex, pre-marital sex, masturbation, etc. is all off limits.

So the truth is that since I have 2 kids and don't want more it really wouldn't suck to be a gay Catholic much more than it would suck to be me and Catholic if I was following the rules properly because I'm in my early 30s and I'd be done having sex forever already. Let's call this "checkpoint A". Are we in agreement here at "checkpoint A"? A place I'd call silly but logically consistent thus far.

So if Catholics want to prevent gay couples from getting legally married (we're not speaking of in church marriages) and adopting kids... why are they not equally trying to stop divorces from occurring? Remarried couples from having kids? The position seems logically consistent in most other places (Catholics are for abstinence only, against birth control, etc.).

But as you've said they are against THEIR employees getting birth control. They are only against teaching abstinence only education in THEIR kid's schools. They are only against remarriage in church (unless you're Newt Gingrich apparently). As you keep saying "church teaching positions are seperate from public life."

So I ask you, if I tried to pass a law that said gay people could be legally married BUT that no institution would ever be forced to perform that marriage, if that wording was coded into that law... would you be for or against? Such a law would, in a way, be a win for churches that fear of legislative overreach forcing them to perform these marriages (something I'd never be for).

If not, why? And if not, do you think the rest of Catholic dogma should be enshrined in our legal system? Specifically no divorces? And if so, how do you feel about the church hypocrisy in those matters (like in Newt's case).
Robert - Thu, Jun 25, 2015 - 6:53am (USA Central)
And before you explain to me what an annulment is, I'm not totally against it (even from a Catholic perspective), but a marriage that lasts over a decade and produces multiple children can only be annulled by a hypocrite. And granted, the hypocrite was a Bishop, not the Pope, but I was just wondering how you feel about it anyway. I presume you are at least allowed to think Bishops are hypocrites sometimes even if you aren't really allowed to disagree with the Pope. I was never 100% clear on that, but I know he speaks with the authority of God.
John Logan - Thu, Jun 25, 2015 - 9:10am (USA Central)
Robert@ Actually secular education already existed in Roman times. Paul epistles are pastoral and refer to roles in the church, and it means women should not try to discuss the faith within the church. Temple discussion and discussions in church were theological, and sacramental.

You shoulde check the constitutional ban on divorce that existed in Ireland till 1993, or the protests of the church and papacy over the legalisation of divorce in Austria-Hungary, the constitutional ban on divorce in Brazil in 1978, the attempts to ban divorce in Italy trough referendum in the sixties, to opposition to divorce in Spain and Portugal.

To be very honest. We lost.

Similarly Ireland, Argentina, Chile, etc. all used to ban birth control. I think Bolivia, El Salvador, and Colombia still do. The Philipines still has a ban on divorce.

The church mainly opposes gay adoption as like abortion it is seen as hurtful to young children. They believe children need both a father and mother.

The church Always defended marriage as it started out as a religious Union first, and the goverment used to base its views on marriage on the Christian religion of the founding fathers.

The church has Always requested the goverment upholds the Christian ethics the Western world was founded upon.

If they wouldn`t adopt kids I wouldn`t have a big problem with it. Also if it would legalise adoption the church would request their adoption agencies be exempted. Which too often they are not, forcing them to close centuries old adoption agencies and abandon hundreds of children.

I would prefer for divorce to be banned as well, as I have seen what it did to countless children. Most became bullies, or severly depressed. I believe divorce goes against the promises you make, the vows you take.

I think birth control also has done great harm, as it caused people to view their own bodies in a superfisial way, and caused certain children to be accidents. It caused getting children to become a choice, and it suggests my grandparents were breeders. Many of us exist thanks to the times that birth control and abortion were banned. Also considering birth control was made popular by Communists and eugenicists I could favour banning that.

Pope Francis tried to keep birth control illegal in Argentina.

Also one a personal note, one of the reasons I became Catholic is because I have OCD and Tourette and have been bullied for that, relentlessly, including by own liberal teachers, and I soon learned that the liberal anti-discrimination movement only wanted to protect certain groups, while allowing the truewlly handicapped and weak to suffer. If you were gay you were totally save, but I was physically assaulted by own liberal teachers.

I also came to discover liberal doctors and psychiatrists supported the Nazi eugenics program, and that it was the silly Catholic Church that opposed eugenics.

I became prolife after learning of the aborting of children with downsyndrome, and girls, and because women wanted to go on vacation.

Also my parents sometimes treated me as a burden, and sometimes that caused me to wish I hadn`t been born, till I realised it was their choice to get me, and that children are not pets you can love or take responsibility for, only if they suit your demands.

I came to the conclusion that the liberal freedom= happines culture, was a mild version of anarchism. Of allowing 2 wolves and 1 sheep, to vote over what you are going to do. Seeing the silent scream was especially interesting. Learning of partial birth abortion was also horrifying. One person even said he didn`t care if the fetus felt pain.

I was also interested to learn that the church stance against abortion and euthenesia and birth control made them one of the greatest opponents of both Nazism and Communism, and the heroic role of the church during World War II was universally aknowledged till a disinformation campaign from the KGB in the sixties started to influence public opinion.

As for your last question, I think the annulment might have been granted because of lack of maturity when entering the marriage, not being ready for it, and that the new marriage might be less harmfull to the children then one that didn`t work. I hope they had valid reasons for it. Henry VIII showed annulments aren`t granted lightly. But the bishop could have been a hypocrite, yes. I hope he wasn`t. Even the pope can make mistakes when not speaking ex cathedra, although rarely.
Robert - Thu, Jun 25, 2015 - 10:59am (USA Central)
"As for your last question, I think the annulment might have been granted because of lack of maturity when entering the marriage, not being ready for it, and that the new marriage might be less harmfull to the children then one that didn`t work."

It was his third marriage and the previous 2 spanned nearly 40 years. I think he was ready to make those vows the first time.

I also get where you are coming from and I'm sorry for your experience, but I think things like this are pendulum issues. Like... if conservatives and liberals could just be centrists we could mix the good ideas from both sides.

I also appreciate you saying that you have no intrinsic opposition to gay marriage IF you could be certain Catholic churches and Catholic adoption agencies were exempt. I think that if more people were against the separation of church and state in that way that the Church would be less dangerous.

And I understand the sentiment behind things like "I became prolife after learning of the aborting of children with downsyndrome, and girls, and because women wanted to go on vacation." but I feel like that's the argument for a lot of conservative things and I hate it. If you start banning things because of potential for abuse you end up with a country that is not free. Damn near everything can be abused. But conservatives use this to say why affirmative action, welfare, abortion, pot, and a myriad of other things are bad (I'm not actually 100% supportive of all of those things in their current form, but I would not use their potential for abuse as reasons to get rid of them).

To be honest I've never felt the Catholic Church belonged with the conservatives and if they could find a way to ally themselves with liberals instead and focus on the compassionate side of Catholicism instead of the judging sin side (which they shouldn't be doing anyway, judge not lest ye be judged and all of that) that it would strengthen the church and lengthen it's life. At least in America that's a big problem for them. Some joke that Catholics like me who are, for all intents and purposes non practicing, are the second biggest religion in the country....

John Logan - Thu, Jun 25, 2015 - 12:10pm (USA Central)
Robert@ The Catholic Church actually supported centrist parties a lot like the Catholic Centre Party in Germany.

True but I think killing babies before they are born, chosing who lives and who dies, is a freedom noone deserves.

The church long did ally itself with centrists, in many countries, especially south America, Poland, the Philipines, Australia, and Germany they still do.

However I think you understand that if you are really prolife abortion is like murdering a baby. So the liberals have to give way on that. The church generally supports the Republicans indirectly, by default.

Also there is a difference between judginng sins and the sinners. The church is not merely a charity orginisation. The Nazis also provided social services to Aryans, the church condemns what it connsiders the murder of the innocent. The church saved many mentally handicapped people from the Nationnal Socialists because they refused to compromise.

The Episcopelians, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and generally all liberal protestants have done what you suggested. Those churches are already practically dead.

As Catholicism is the biggest single denomination this makes sense. Most Protestants are agnostics as well, but there churches have themselves become agnostic and don`t even care whether you show up or not, so noone notices.

Liberal Christianity has also seen better days. Also if the church in Poland had followed your advice, the iron curtain might still be up.
Robert - Thu, Jun 25, 2015 - 12:48pm (USA Central)
"However I think you understand that if you are really prolife abortion is like murdering a baby. So the liberals have to give way on that. The church generally supports the Republicans indirectly, by default."

I would hope we could agree to disagree on that one. I don't expect them to ever not see it as killing a baby, but I hope there could be some common ground between killing and murder. It's my hope that the church one day says "I cannot control your body, but I'm here to offer you support both financial and otherwise if you make the right choice." I think attempting to control another person's body is immoral and the middle road is the only moral choice.

"Liberal Christianity has also seen better days."

At least in big cities it's dying, albeit slowly. Where I live the # of parishes has more than halved in my lifetime. My cousins and I all have pleasant memories of church and going with our parents. Of the 10 of us, only 3 still attend, and 2 of those are minors. The previous generation all 6 of them went. My kids are not and will not be baptized. I know in the South it's doing well, but young liberals aren't going to church.
John Logan - Thu, Jun 25, 2015 - 1:19pm (USA Central)
Robert@ The church also condemns spousal abuse, believing it is oke to control how a man treats his family to protect the innocent. The church banbed infantcide on the grounds you could control people to not harm others. As the woman is the cause of the fetus being inside her, the church doesn`t see it as a justifficationn for murder. It is infantcide. The church like with the T4 program, will not compromise.

Telling a man not to rape is also controlling his body in a sense. The women harms not just her own body, but the fetus, she put inside her body. I am allowed to kill trespassers, but not my own children I take care of inside my home. I also cannot kick them out while it is storming or until I have found another home. The burden is on the parent to find alternative care. So go work on that.

No but they wouldn`t be going even the church sold out to the evils of the world, as Protestantism has shown.

Nazis were excomunicated, anyone else who supports a holocaust will receive the same treatment.
Robert - Thu, Jun 25, 2015 - 2:51pm (USA Central)
I think I'm going to have to check out of the conversation if you're comparing pro-choice/abortion doctors to a holocaust....

I am pleased we were able to find common grounds in some places though.
John Logan - Thu, Jun 25, 2015 - 3:12pm (USA Central)
Robert@ That is not my view, but the view of the pope and the church.
Robert - Fri, Jun 26, 2015 - 7:05am (USA Central)
I appreciate the distinction. It'd be nice some day if the left and the right weren't at war, but I guess there's still a chasm to overcome. Still, it was nice finding some common ground. I hope you walk away with a bit more understanding of what the other side finds scary about the church and I definitely have more understanding of how a person in your shoes feels.
Elliott - Thu, Jul 9, 2015 - 11:42pm (USA Central)
Luke :

"Has religion been used by evil people. Of course it has. Does that mean that every religious person is evil. Of course not. "

That is not the premise in the episode. To paraphrase the great Christopher Hitchens: good people tend to do good, evil people tend to do evil; for a good person to evil and believe himself doing good, that takes religion.

Likko, in his credulous fear, resorted to behaviour which, without that religious conviction, he would be incapable. Because his morality was being defined by a non-rational source, actions which would naturally be deemed evil are felt to be acceptable or even righteous.

"religion has benefited humanity is numerous ways. "

How exactly? Human beings, some of whom belonged to religious institutions, have benefited humanity in numerous ways. How has religion itself done so? How has promulgating religious thinking actually helped our species in any way?

Without getting too far off the subject, there is something about the human condition that pure rationalism cannot touch. One may call it metaphysics or the numinous, or the spiritual, the label is relatively unimportant. Religions do address this dimension of our reality, but they also impose the irrational (which this by definition is) onto the rational. For example, one has a sense of the divine, a connection to other human beings which cannot be explained by physics or biology. Fine, that is a numinous reality. But to then say that this sense justifies enacted codes of conduct about society (a rational construct), science (likewise), or sex (irrational in its way, but it has a physical component) is problematic to say the least. That is the core problem of religion. There is at least one other human activity which touches this part of ourselves which does not come with this problematic baggage however, and that is art. Art is the compassionate, rational-complementary alternative to the religious experience.
Luke - Fri, Jul 10, 2015 - 2:19am (USA Central)
I hesitate to get back into this comment thread after the rather disturbing place I saw it go last time, but I do want to say this....

"How has promulgating religious thinking actually helped our species in any way?"

I can't speak for other faiths but it was the promulgation of Christian ideology that directly led to the ending of the gladiatorial games of ancient Rome. It also brought about the end of the Roman practice of infanticide. It was Christian clerics who, based upon their religious faith, first condemned the treatment of Natives Americans in the early days after Columbus' discovery of the New World. It was again Christians who, due to their religious faith, brought an end to the trans-Atlantic slave trade and eventually an end to the entire practice of slavery in the Western world.

Religious thinking was absolutely essential in all of those improvements in our species.
Elliott - Fri, Jul 10, 2015 - 10:59am (USA Central)
@Luke :

Christianity replaced the Roman faith, but it did not replace non-religious thinking with religious thinking. I would say that, from an anthropomorphic perspective, Christianity is a more evolved religion than the Roman faith (as far as we know), so yes, I am unsurprised that it helped produce slightly less violent social norms for its time (ignoring for the moment that the majority of the victims of Roman brutality tended to be Christians, so it's a bit self-serving if justified). As far as the rest of your examples, I'm afraid not. Christianity was at the core of the justification for the original conquest of American AND most definitely slavery. At best, I would call those a wash, but that's generous. One does not require religious thinking to recognise the immorality of slavery. Any psychologically balanced child can tell that. But when religion is introduced--when an ideology that deals in absolute terms with a father (human)-like arbitrator of right and wrong for all people throughout time, that's when one's mind can be twisted into believing that it is perfectly natural to denigrate, mistreat and enslave his fellow human beings. Sure, one is always capable of this, but is he capable of believing that he is doing the righteous work of the Lord in so doing? You might read the Confederate propaganda from the antebellum United States or the correspondences of the Conquistadors before claiming that "religious thinking" actual helped fight those phenomena. Religious PEOPLE may have done so, but not the religiosity of their thinking. The justification for ending slavery and barbarism requires only basic humanist principles, which any person can profess with or without religion. Religion tends to make good people do terrible things, but I would like an example of a situation where ONLY as a result of thinking in a religious way was mankind in some way benefited.
John Logan - Mon, Jul 13, 2015 - 5:52am (USA Central)
"That is not the premise in the episode. To paraphrase the great Christopher Hitchens: good people tend to do good, evil people tend to do evil; for a good person to evil and believe himself doing good, that takes religion."

I have said this before and will say it again: in order for this to be true, Atheists would have to percentage wise produce less psychopaths and murderers, compared to every existing religious group. The reign of terror, Mao, North Korea, and Cambodja all make this rather difficult to assert.
John Logan - Mon, Jul 13, 2015 - 5:57am (USA Central)
Elliott@ The Romans were rather secular. They were very pragmatic about religion and it had no influence at all in politics. Slavery was a common practice under the Romans. Including the raping of slaves. The raping of slaves, or forbidding them to marry was abolished by the church. Various saints freed slaves, or opposed slavery al together like Saint Patrick and Gregory of Nyssa.

La Casas was the ultimate patron of Indian rights. The North was also devoutly religious, and the jesuits long protected the Indians.
DLPB - Mon, Jul 13, 2015 - 2:37pm (USA Central)
If you need a religion or god or promises of afterlife to do good, you are not really doing good. If I buy someone something and I expect to gain something from that act, I am not doing it selflessly. Another reason religion is a joke.
Eddington - Thu, Aug 6, 2015 - 3:20pm (USA Central)
So what we see here is not science versus religion, but rather religion-haters versus Catholics. I must admit I was wrong above: this is not a forum driven by the paradigm of secular humanism versus biblical literalism. I haven't seen any arguments for humanism, and if there were some bible quotes up there I missed them.

I think Who Watches the Watchers demonstrates this, too. It portrays religionists as stupid, irrational, and dangerously violent; while our heroes are helpless against them except to yell at them that they're stupid and affect a politely-moderated sense of superiority.

@DLPB: You are correct in your morality, but it is clear you don't understand anything about Catholicism, arguably a major player in things related to religion. I bring up Catholicism because that's my religion and also it seems the only other religion represented in this thread.

Of course it's of no moral value to do good simply because you're afraid of getting caught and punished, but who can say they haven't done just that from time to time? Yet, as DLPB reminds us, you must always bear in mind that to truly profit from doing good, you must do it selflessly, as an act of charity. Allow me to be the first to confess that I have many times avoided evil or done good only because I feared the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, while I should have done so out of selfless charity and love of God and neighbor.

"If I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing."*

@DLPB: you speak of things you know nothing about.

*I figured I'd add a Bible verse, but with the twist of using it to defend the position of someone calling all religion "a joke". And honestly I don't see what any of this has to do with science such that it should be antithetical to it.
Robert - Fri, Aug 7, 2015 - 7:26am (USA Central)
For what it's worth, I see pure Catholicism (some people take this stuff in a bad direction) as a step up from the kind of religion this episode bases. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable in Catholicism than me could help me out, but the big difference between this religion and Catholicism is that Catholics do what they think God would find good to secure a place in heaven. These people are doing what they think God would find good to provoke a response.

And they read that response in weather and other perfectly explainable phenomenon. This is akin to people who say that natural disasters are caused by gay people (www.advocate.com/politics/2012/10/31/10-disasters-gays-were-blamed-causing ?page=full)

Luke and I don't see eye to eye, but I recognize that these are Christian sects propagating that nonsense for the most part, not Catholics. Something tells me that he's against reading weather like their tea leaves for God's will.

Primitive religions were needed to understand things we couldn't understand without religion. Now we can. It's called science. You CAN be Catholic and not be against science (see the pope's recent comments on Global Warming). Luke and John and I were primarily arguing about the danger of religions try to impose themselves on others.

I don't think this episode dismisses the kind of religion that Catholicism is.
DLPB - Sun, Aug 9, 2015 - 11:49am (USA Central)
@Eddington - I was brought up a Roman Catholic and attended church for 10 years. I attended two Roman Catholic schools. Perhaps next time you will think before making assumptions?

The difference between you and me is this: I have woken up. I had the intelligence to grow out of fairy tales and man-made dogma.
Eddington - Thu, Aug 20, 2015 - 9:38pm (USA Central)
@Robert: it seems to me you're oulining a case against superstition: doing something "to provoke a response". Or, maybe in other words, to control or predict the natural world using magic or other chance occurrences rather than by using knowledge (science).

I suggest many episodes of Star Trek, appearing to be self-consciously anti-religion, are better interpreted as anti-superstition. This is what plays out on the screen.

And as for the Pope, when he wants to talk about science then you will know the Pope has lost his wits. His "scientific" utterances are spurious and contradictory. He's not even a good scientist as a hobby on the side. And good thing, too, because a Pope isn't needed to lecture us on science. Catholicism doesn't change on a Pope's command, and the scientific truths of the natural order are older than the Church.

Remember Galileo?

If any of us want to cheer the Pope lecturing on science as if to endorse, through faith and morals, any particular theory in exclusion to another, we are no better than these silly "Protovulcan" villagers. Catholic or otherwise.

For those who aren't catholic, please understand that there is no requirement for intelligence to be a member, and the requirements for Pope are lower still. Catholics come from many different cultures, times, and scientific traditions. Any of them could be "good cathlics" or just as likely ignorant jerks. The fact is, there is no scientific theory that I must accept or reject to be or stay catholic. For this religion, at least, claims of "anti-science" are baseless.
Robert - Fri, Aug 21, 2015 - 8:25am (USA Central)
@Eddington - I will agree with you on the point that "many episodes of Star Trek, appearing to be self-consciously anti-religion, are better interpreted as anti-superstition."

As for the Pope talking about global warming... well if God gave us the gift of this planet, teaching people to protect it is more important than any anti-war or pro-life message the church could give. If we accidentally kill all of the things, who the hell cares about war or abortions?
Sammi - Wed, Aug 26, 2015 - 1:10pm (USA Central)
What I would have like to seen was more mention of the Vulcans or Romulans. The should have been shown to the Mintakan leader as an example of where their race could go. Furthermore, why weren't there any Vulcans with the scientists in the begining of the episode. Wouldn't the Vulcans have some curiosity concerning an offshoot of their race?
Diamond Dave - Mon, Aug 31, 2015 - 4:30pm (USA Central)
A wonderful little episode - but one that for obvious reasons is going to lead to strong opinions on either side of the spectrum.

For me, this is an examination of what might happen if a primitive but rational people were exposed to the dictum "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". Some might interpret that as evidence of a supreme being. Others might believe in the supreme being, but question how to interpret the wishes of that being. Others might not believe without proof. And if proof were provided - a primitive but rational people might conclude that the supreme being was not actually a supreme being.

Given the broad constraints of an hour's TV this episode does not perhaps examine all of these elements with subtlety. But it does at least ask the question based on its premise with some sensitivity. The scenes between Nuria and Picard on the Enterprise are particular highlights. 3 stars.

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