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Eddington
Wed, Oct 14, 2015, 4:05pm (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S4: Mortal Coil

I'm sure Neelix had lost his faith by the end of the episode. It's not surprising that the writers would have someone lose or gain belief in an afterlife based upon memories near/at death or the lack of memories. It happens all the time to ordinary people. A commenter mentioned a book of interviews of people reporting such memories, a book with a dedicated fan base I'm sure. Yet another commenter saw a similarity between the Neelix's concept of an afterlife and that of mainstream American protestant Christians.

What I never understood was why it should make any sense at all that, stipulating this dimensional, physical concept of afterlife is true, your mind and/or body should have any evidence (physical or memories) of being there? I don't say this to people because it upsets them, but that's what I think.

Again I have to say that, as with so many other episodes of Star Trek where religionists are portrayed as superstitious ignoramouses, this episode portrays an infantile and illogical manifestation of a character "of faith". I doubt Neelix's faith was very strong to begin with, or else common (albeit painful and disturbing) events in the living world would not so easily shake it.

The afterlife is ostensibly *after* life, and we know for certain that, in death, the body remains and the mind is inactive. Everyone knows or has seen this happen. By what stretch of the imagination would someone be recussitated and actually have a memory of somewhere they never were and their eyes and mind have not seen? But we coddle this notion so as to placate people who are sad or scared.

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Eddington
Thu, Aug 20, 2015, 9:38pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Who Watches the Watchers

@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.
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Eddington
Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 9:40pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S2: Melora

Interestingly, they would use this concept of unwieldy assistive technology in a more mocking sense with the Doctor's mobile emitter backpack contraption in Author, Author's "Photons, Be Free".

Sadly, it was more effective there.
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Eddington
Thu, Aug 6, 2015, 3:20pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Who Watches the Watchers

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.
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Eddington
Sun, Jun 28, 2015, 1:42am (UTC -6)
Re: VOY S6: Good Shepherd

"Dark matter" is more a description than a hypothesis. Gravity is detected where seemingly insufficient mass is observed. The only thing we know of that generates gravity is matter. Therefore this "dark" matter must be the additional, unseen mass needed to explain the gravitational effects.

Be that as it may, the dark matter centipede was very creepy and none the worse for being an obvious and predictable plot point. Actually the episode was enjoyable despite the overplayed caricatures and Kate Mulgrew's contemptible on screen presence.

These three sixth-year misfits are far more interesting than any of the main characters.

And, for the record, if we're ever on a smallish space ship and a dark matter centipede alien bursts out of someone's neck and starts destabilizing the core or whatever, you shoot it. That's an order.
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Eddington
Sun, May 3, 2015, 4:13pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S3: Who Watches the Watchers

@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!
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Eddington
Tue, Mar 10, 2015, 11:23am (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: The Storyteller

@Yanks: It's hard to draw a line in the sand regarding the plausibility of fictional technology. Star Trek is full of implausible technology, but my point was less about actually being upset with plot contrivances based on difficult suspensions of disbelief, and more about taking offense, or not, at the writer's treatment of religion or people of faith.

I was trying to illustrate that the portrayal of superstitious characters as gullible, naive, or otherwise intellectually underdeveloped is not necessarily offensive to me as a religious believer, especially when I agree with that analysis. These Bajoran villagers are accepting a superstitious lie, albeit for their common good. My religion condemns the affront to truth perpetuated by the Sirah as well as the willful ignorance and superstitious behavior of the townspeople. The fact that the subjective good of the town, their political unity, is achieved by these evil acts (lies and superstitious belief), does not excuse any of them in the least. This is also a moral indictment against our heroes O'Brian and Brashier for not only failing to defend and spread the truth, even participating in and perpetuating falsehoods and superstitions.

The writers show less subtlety and insight regarding science, and that is only relevant in response Elliot, whom I perceive to be commenting from the paradigm that religion and science are somehow in perpetual opposition, or else mutually exclusive.

I simply find it amusing (or ironic) to note that, being at once a believer and a scientist, my scientific sensibilities are annoyed by Star Trek far more than my religious sensibilities, even though the franchise's admitted philosophy is antagonistic towards institutionalized, human religion.
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Eddington
Mon, Mar 9, 2015, 2:25pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: The Storyteller

I should add to my comment above that, as a scientist, I am far more likely to be offended by Star Trek's shallow and ignorant portrayal of science than anything a Paramount-employed screenwriter could ever offer as a jab against religion!

Fun With DNA, anyone? Send that proto-universe back safely to the Gamma Quadrant? Travel through time on a gravity assist? The holodeck is made of hammerspace and the safeties are off again? Warp particles, of course!!

Please.
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Eddington
Mon, Mar 9, 2015, 1:29pm (UTC -6)
Re: DS9 S1: The Storyteller

@Elliot: I am religious (or maybe "a religionist" is a better way to say it) and I am not offended by this episode's portrayal. Indeed, if I were to be offended by Star Trek's shallow and ignorant portayals of religion I would be endlessly and incurably offended, and wouldn't watch the shows.

Furthermore, this episode portrays provincial, simple-minded Bajorans who only obliquely use their religion as an excuse for their superstitions. The driving force behind this ritual charade is political unity, not a matter of their faith in the Prophets.

So, we have superstitious people playing into the illusions and deceptions of their political leaders... this is hardly groundbreaking or insightful commentary! Certainly not offensive. Why didn't O'Brian and Bashier try to expose the trickery? Instead they just chuckled a bit and played along.

The politics of the warring Bajoran factions was far more engaging than the superstitious villagers. It's nice to see the Bajorans portrayed with a healthy amount of diversity of lifestyles and opinions, and not another Planet of Hats.
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Eddington
Mon, Mar 9, 2015, 12:19pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S4: Devil's Due

This episode is anti-superstition, as one commenter mentioned, not anti-religion. An important distinction.

There are plenty of anti-religion sentiments, episodes, and exposition throughout Star Trek in general, to say nothing of TNG in particular, which are better fodder for commentary and debate then this dismal, boring episode.

I'm more interested in who the devil the Ventaxians made their original bargain with a millenium ago, and also if that person was the true cause of their long, albeit temporary peace. There was far too little development and characterization of these aliens of the week, and Ardra is only fleshed out in her motives.

The DS9 episode "The Storyteller" is like the bizarro-world, mirror universe opposite of this episode in that it completely characterizes the Bajoran villagers, has no Scooby Doo villain preying on their superstitions, and our heroes don't disabuse the Bajoran villagers of their wrongheaded notions but instead play along and perpetuate the farce for, seemingly, their own good.
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Eddington
Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 9:50pm (UTC -6)
Re: TNG S5: I, Borg

I understand that this is a metaphore for genocide, but it is a weak one. The Borg are not a species and not a race, and they share among themselves very little in the way of genetics, and they do not sexually reproduce so there is no "emerging" species or race. It is a purely techno-social military organization, albeit involuntarily conscripted. Aggressive military targets are fair game for extermination, if you ask me.

Yes, genocide is always wrong, even if it's your only hope for survival and you do it out of desperation. Your fear and desperation may mitigate your moral culpability, and good may come from your survival, but the genocidal act is objectively evil.

But the fact remains that exterminating the Borg is not genocide. Once again TNG's attempts to preach their morality have rung false due to bad science, sophomoric use of English, and shallow philosophy.

DS9, as usual, got it right. Section 31 was attempting to commit bona fide genocide, and that's why the story was so hard-hitting: they were actually dealing with the moral implications in a sci-fi setting with good science (a synthetic virus infecting a species), good English (look up genocide, they did), and deep philosophy (desperation, remorse, risk and sacrifice, action and rectification).
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Eddington
Sun, May 25, 2014, 3:50pm (UTC -6)
Re: Star Trek Into Darkness

I guess I'm a little late to the game here, but I just watched STID yesterday when I saw it was on Netflix.

To me, it had nearly all the problems that all of Star Trek always had. Most notably a completely incoherent portrayal of the Prime Directive where the Directive is only invoked after it has been grossly violated (we join a such a violation in- progress as the crew attempts to alter the natural evolution of a pre-warp civilization... with awesome red trees). It's only when things get physically dangerous or uncomfortable that someone mentions that all this just might be a violation of the Prime Directive. Sorry, but this is classic Trek and totally reminiscent of TNG.

The list of problems goes on, and reads like a list of problems from any number of episodes, pick any series.

I am ok with the warp travel time, unlike many others. Trek is notoriously ambiguous and very inconsistent about warp travel time, and indeed even with the location and distance to Vulcan, Kronos, etc. The rebooted Enterprise is more consistent in that it takes almost no time at all to travel the Federation and its neighboring territories.

And last, but not least, I never saw "Wrath of Kahn", but in Engineering when Kirk dies and Spock starts whimpering, even *I* saw it coming and had plenty of time to set my face to Cringe!!!

I probably enjoyed these two movies more than most non-DS9 Trek. A lot of fun and the plot, thin as it is, sticks together better than anything VOY ever gave us.

And I'm sorry Kahn was a white dude, but you have to realize that Kahn was originally said to be a Sikh of Indian ethnicity, if I remember correctly. Sikhs do *not* shave their beards, nor uncover their (unshorn) hair like old Kahn did. Trek writers have a habit of betraying their ignorance of any religion or philosophy, and this ignorance is oftentimes fanned into active disdain and telegraphed through the dialog and plot with insulting results. The old-Kahn seemed to draw solely on the Sikhs' legendary prowess for counterinsurgency, but warped that into a genocidal lunacy! So I find it much more palatable to swallow "britisher with Indian name" rather than whatever old-Kahn was supposed to be, and I'm happy to see the trend of insults has been suspended by the new regime.

Full disclosure: I'm not a Sikh.
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