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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 17, 2018, 8:34pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S4: Scientific Method

""I cheered the destruction [of] the bad guys' ship because I didn't like their smugness and wanted to see them get their just desserts."

Actually, it's "just deserts," as in what one deserves."

Actually it's "just desserts", as in, the bad guy eats it.
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 17, 2018, 5:51pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: General Discussion

"I don't remember Marina Sirtis putting on an accent. I mean, she always had a slight accent because she's Greek, but apart from that..."

She's Greek by descent maybe but her normal speaking accent is English (British). They didn't want the English accent and it seems they asked her to do something vaguely Eastern European or Israeli (which are totally the same...). It ended up sounding like neither in my opinion, although later in the series it resolved itself into a more eccentric 'formal talk' with sort-of English overtones.
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 17, 2018, 3:02pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Improbable Cause

I'll just add to my comment that this episode gives us perhaps one of the only introspective looks at the Founders and Cardassians, albeit from an indirect perspective. We can see beneath their veneer through Garak and Odo's individual layers.

Garak comes off as mysterious, capable, dangerous, and driven, with humor and obfuscation deflecting attempts to analyse him; while Odo comes off as cold, efficient, driven, capable, and also deflecting with a sort of obfuscation and occasionally sarcasm. Both put on a very bombastic front, almost eccentric and overblown in some respects, only to hide something very simple and low-key, but vulnerable. It's the classic use of big distractions to hide a small truth. And the way each of them does this gives us direct insight into their people, which is one of the few chances we have to see this since we have the chance here to have a micro/macro look at the two people and the two peoples.

The Cardassians, like Garak, put on a big show, in their case pompous, arrogant, brazen, certain, and all that, and we might well infer that behind this sort of 'impressive' facade there is a people that use aggression to avoid facing their demons, whatever those are. And for the Founders we are likewise shown a people that give out being totally certain, unconcerned with solids, brutal, megalomaniacal, and in turn we might well suppose that Odo's inner vulnerability might be there for them as well. In the case of the Link since they have a hive mind to support the psyche this vulnerability has enough cover to avoid exposure, while in Odo's case he's alone and it's much more near the surface for him. We learn later in the series a bit more about what they may be vulnerable about (or scared of).

I like that we subtly get the notion here that behind two sets of fierce and tyrannical people there may be at heart little more than what Picard points out in Gul Madred: a scared child that uses violence and brutality to cover it over. In the case of Garak and Odo they're in touch with it enough that they can - with a bit of prodding - fess up to this without needing to become tyrants themselves to cover it over. And they both do have significant temptations to go that route over the course of the series.

I put this one right up there with ITPM, by the way.
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 17, 2018, 1:29pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Improbable Cause

@ William B,

"The disadvantage is that the story of the OO/TS vs. Founders is so big that it might threaten to dwarf Odo and Garak's personal stories, if it's not fully possible to integrate them into the bigger narrative."

What's amazing is that I think this doesn't happen. The stories seem to coalesce perfectly into the larger story, and instead of it eclipsing them I think *they* augment *it*. Because really the OO vs Founders story is an expanding of what's going on in microcosm between Odo and Garak. We have Garak who has essentially invented a detective story for Odo, teasing him with his secret identity as a spy to pique his interest, but who in reality has longings that are more familial. And likewise, Odo wants to solve the ultimate mystery - Garak's identity - and knows he's being set up and intends to follow through anyhow, all this despite secretly also having yearnings (one of which is hinted at by Garak in the shuttle), some of which are familial.

(SPOILER)

So both personas are a cover for a deeper desire to be "home", and both of them are confronted suddenly with what "home" really is. For Garak's it's a den of betrayal, while for Odo it's a viper's nest where in a similar manner you can't trust anything you see. In the end *both* of them reject the current reality of home and choose exile, and in a way choose each other. I can't think of a better way to cap of a 2-parter about individuals whose identity is about setting themselves apart under an impenetrable cloak. What initially seems like antagonism between Garak and Odo turns out to be both of them coping in a surprisingly similar manner to being in a similar situation.
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 17, 2018, 9:56am (UTC -5)
Re: TNG S7: Genesis

Having observed this topic to an extant in the past, I find speculations doubting the Darwinian story interesting and potentially plausible, which is different from saying they're correct. It's hard to say they're correct, but then again their premise is that it's hard to say that Darwin is correct because we have no literal evidence that we evolved from microbes. At best it's a black box hypothesis, at worst extreme speculation based on very limited short-term evidence. I agree it's the best we've got for now and there's no reason to treat the theory as fake, but it's also "settled" that it's a theory and not a fact, so there's nothing wrong there.

What I find funny about the article isn't the lack of methodological footnotes, especially because most popularizing journalism never has that anyhow. This kind of stuff isn't meant for science journals. What I do find funny is the mention of the origin of human life potentially being from aliens, which isn't altogether far-fetched even though it probably doesn't belong in a "scientific" article about objections to evolution. That's really out there, even though it's nice to see many bases covered and for weird ideas to be included. The main objection, though, which is that it's totally unknown how (or whether) complex systems can come about from simple ones is a significant objection.
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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 16, 2018, 10:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: General Discussion

@ Elliott,

I'm not saying the argument is unassailable, just that there is a real argument there beyond "something, something, misogyny."
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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 16, 2018, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Through the Looking Glass

In general I think William B's analysis is on point.

I'll just add that I don't think Sisko has to be the philosopher Picard is to be a good person. It's fine to aspire to great things and to try to stick to Federation principles, but I distinctly think it *is not* the case that to be a good person you have to abide by the rules to a fault, as Picard sometimes appears to do. Kirk certainly never did and Sisko is, I think, supposed to be a compromise between enlightened principles and being a "primal human" in the sense of feeling the burning spirit of desire. I think both are needed in a truly enlightened person, which is why I think to an extent that Riker is in some ways the real paragon of TNG, and not Picard. It goes back and forth a little bit, where the man of action must sit studiously at the knee of the philosopher, but vice versa as well.

In Sisko's case he has clear principles, but one of them (which is unstated) is that people are worth more than vague ideas are. He doesn't like it when good people are trampled, just like Kirk didn't. I can see moral debate here and I agree with Elliott that the episode certainly didn't take pains to spell out what Sisko's inner thinking is. My explanation of that this that these mirror episodes are mostly romps - high flying adventure in the Trek world that are "resets" (until the next mirror episode. In effect it's the same principle governing Voyager; to have a random adventure that's fun and has no care for continuity. This can be good or bad; as I like this episode's fun factor I call it good, but I can understand the opposite reaction.

Getting back to 'people matter more than ideas', I think William is right that Jennifer is the turning point here. It may well be that he can't stand to see a Jennifer that's a bad person and needs to convert her, more so even than he needs to help the rebels. It's hard to tell whether it's this, or confusion on his part, or secretly wanting to help the rebels even though he is intent on protesting at first. He is, after all, very antagonistic to being pushed around. But despite their flaws maybe he wants to help them on some level but can't quite justify it, and maybe getting a chance to help their Jennifer feels like 'a sign' or something that he has a real purpose here. Who knows. I think it's evident that he just decides to roll with it at one point, and after that the story can progress without needing to continually dial it back to his initial objection and make sure everything is kosher. That would certainly have killed the momentum.

But I agree that it would have been nice to get a word or two from Sisko here and there to show he's aware of the implications of what he's doing.
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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 16, 2018, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
Re: DSC S2: General Discussion

@ Elliott,

"I haven’t seen all of discovery yet, but based on the ridiculous fanboy rage against The Last Jedi, I’m pretty sure “SJW” is just code for “writers who put women in positions of authority.”"

You will no doubt be correct in this assessment in some cases, but this is definitely not what is meant in others. I guess YMMV about which is which. But I'd say "men are incompetent, evil, or wrong, and only women can save the galaxy" isn't an unfair way to read TLJ if one wanted to look at the gender axis portrayed in it. One can find a similar message in DISC; or at least it wants that to be the message, because the real message feels more like "everyone is incompetent, evil, or wrong."
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Peter G.
Mon, Oct 15, 2018, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Distant Voices

What about bonus points for the fact that it appears Robinson actually knows how to play tennis?
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Peter G.
Sat, Oct 13, 2018, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Destiny

@ Elliott,

Actually it would be fun to rebut all of these individual points back and forth, but I think it's ok to simply disagree about how we perceive the details as shown in the show. One thing that I think bears mentioning, though, is the difference between something being a "belief", in the sense of some idea that interests you, almost like it was art or something, versus belief in the sense that it's someone's assessment of how reality really is. Skeptical mentioned that the distinction between the Prophets being "real" as compared to the Christian God is a distinction without a difference because Christians do believe God is real, albeit a different sort of affair than the Prophets are. It wouldn't even be accurate to say that the Christian God is incorporeal (to use a Trek term), because Jesus is depicted specifically as being corporeal, and so I think I agree with Skeptical that conceptual the dichotomy you're suggesting doesn't really work. Here's the chief case in point:

"Actually, Transubstantiation, and a lot of other Catholic/Christian symbolism"

It doesn't make sense to speak of the Eucharist as being a symbol and still say you're talking about Catholicism. According to Catholicism the Eucharist is a person, in the flesh (so to speak), more 'hard and real' than the Prophets seem to be. As a piece of anthropological cross-cultural analysis you might look at transubstantiation in all sorts of ways, comparing it to older religions and so forth, but at such a time as you do the discussion ceases to be strictly about the actual beliefs in the religion.

As you're interested in the subject I would say that the 'knife's edge' in this kind of area is to maintain the bird's eye view and see everything from above, while also bearing in mind the actual stated belief down on the ground, if you catch my meaning. To call something merely a belief sort of tacitly implies that it lacks veracity, which is a legitimate opinion to have but might well actually imply much more certainty than is intended (e.g. X belief is categorically false, which is a super-strong claim).
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Peter
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
Re: ENT S3: Anomaly

I’ve realized I have made it as far as I have through this series because I like most of the characters. Sure, Archer is no Kirk or Picard, but he’s okay. I actually like Trip, and T’Pol, Reed, and Plox are all enjoyable to watch.

That said, the episodes through the first two seasons have been very uneven and above average at best. If it wasn’t for the characters, I’d have given up by now.

This third season so far has been a big improvement. I agree that Archer’s theatening of the captive pirate is dark for Trek, but it is also clear that the stakes have never been this high. Archer said something, one or two episodes ago, that he no longer bears the responsibility for the lives of the crew, he now has the entire Earth depending on him and his mission. He wasn’t exactly pulling out the pirate’s finger nails but rather convincing him that he wasn’t just bluffing, as the pirate clearly believed.

In any case, the whole look and feel of the shownjas gone through some sort of upgrade. I don’t know if the effects budget got a boost, or Berman and Bragga hired a better writer or what, but this very uneven show seems to have improved noticeably this season.
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Peter G.
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S1: Ex Post Facto

We got it :)
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Peter G.
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 2:19pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S1: Ex Post Facto

@ William B,

""Overly harsh sentence" would still apply if adultery were a capital crime"

It's relative to what the damages are. I would call a sentence overly harsh that is either out of proportion or simply has no proportionality at all to the offence. Stepping on a the wrong blade of grass has nearly zero in damages to detail, as the gardener can come and fix it in one minute. But let's say you stepped on the one blade of grass they'd been cultivating for centuries that would create an antidote for their plague. Putting aside why it didn't have high security, at least in that case one could cite significant damages that resulted from the crime.

In the case of infidelity we'd need to know something about the culture in question to assess damages. If we assume something vaguely commonplace in a fairly conservative country on Earth, we might suppose that a proven infidelity will destroy the marriage, shame the entire family, possibly harm their respective friendships and business relations, and in general stand as a threat to trust in the institution of marriage itself, which subtly threatens everyone. Should that be a capital crime? Maybe not, but we can at least least some *significant* damages resulting from it, which I would say is categorically different than disturbing some lawn work. In Justice we're given a silly example of whether to respect local laws, and frankly even the Edo Guardian agrees that it's silly, so it's not much of an example. MAD Magazine lampooned this plot, it was so silly. This episode could have been a much better example of how far a Captain will go in respecting local laws.
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Peter G.
Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
Re: VOY S1: Ex Post Facto

@ William B,

"As you pointed out in the Destiny page, Trek is primarily allegorical. In principle, if it weren't allegorical, we coudl say that there's no way for Paris to know *what* issues are hot-button ones in another society, because every alien species would have a whole complex civilization that might be wholly different from anything else, and so kissing someone might be equally risky to snapping his fingers or any random action -- i.e., if it's a wholly blank canvas, then there's no way to know what the taboos are."

Maybe it would be fair to assume that Paris knew she was married and had also taken the precaution to scout the planet's dating rules before proceeding, so that he'd know that adultery was frowned on but not a high crime? He'd still be risking alienating a new species, but on the other hand he'd at least be covering his own butt.

If we don't give him credit for that research then things are much worse, potentially worse even than you paint it. There are places on Earth right now with dire consequences for infidelity, like it or not. I imagine that in some place or another it could be considered a capital crime; in fact I believe I saw a play recently about how that is exactly the case in some places, where stoning can happen for both involved parties. So if Paris actually hadn't done his homework then just for the adultery alone (even assuming this is an allegory) he could have been looking at the death penalty for his actions, and then we'd have a prime directive episode. But unlike in Justice, here there would be no legitimate reason to stop them applying the penalty. In Justice the issue was an overly-harsh sentence for an irrelevant mistake, not well marked, and applied to people who meant no harm. But here none of that applies and so the fact that it was all fabricated is almost sad because I'd like to know what Janeway would have been willing to do in the case where Paris really was guilty and they were going to lose their helmsman for it.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 11, 2018, 11:10pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Destiny

@ Elliott,

"“People in the show *do* dismiss their beliefs as nonsense, and we *do* see them have to react to it”

Yes, but those people are always evil Cardassians"

Chief O'Brien, Keiko, and Odo are evil Cardassians? There are plenty of people on the show who roll their eyes about the Bajoran religion, even though they do come to respect the people. Keiko in particular goes toe to toe in S1 on this subject, albeit with an antagonist who is lacking in honesty. But my point is that few characters on the show are actually sympathetic with, or even interested in the Bajoran religion. Kira goes to work every day with Dax, who she knows thinks of her gods in the temple as wormhole aliens. How easy can that be? I think showing that they become good friends anyhow is a strong message.

"Your speculation is wrong, by the way. I have a great respect for people of genuine religious conviction who bother to understand the metaphysical implications of their beliefs. This show pretends to be nuanced but offers no challenge to the religious characters. Their “faith” is nothing of the sort. It’s insulting. "

Sorry if my guess was wrong. So you are saying that if the show had portrayed the Bajoran religion with some more depth you would have been pleased to see them explore their faith in that context?

I actually do find the general treatment of the religion to be, well, a little unimaginative actually. Considering that it's a sci-fi show based on magic aliens outside of time, I expect there were more interesting things they could have done besides mumble about faith and belief. Those are relevant to understanding the characters and what got them through the Occupation, but not that helpful in getting us to understand the religion itself. Given the premise of some combination of predestination, prefect prediction, or even just time manipulation, I figure we were worth at least a few timey-wimey episodes about what it's like to have gods like this. Maybe even a comedy episode about whacky prophecies about trivialities coming true. So from that standpoint I would agree with a notion that the *details* of the faith were left mostly unexplored, especially to show how their faith might differ from an Abrahamic faith, so say nothing of what happens to a people when their heaven is literally discovered.

However despite the lack of these wishlist items, I do take in-universe canon pretty seriously and enjoy giving it thought, and nothing that appeared on DS9 ever struck me as either incoherent or contradictory with its own canon. It's a bit simple, but what they show seems legit and not to complicated to accept. I do think that in this episode in particular the ex-Vedek is deliberately made to look foolish to an extent, until the very end where ironically even though he is sort of defeated, at the same time he turns out to be more right than he thought from a certain point of view. In other words he was wrong about everything *except* that he was right to have faith in the Prophets. But what he could never be was right about the prophecies, because they're beyond his comprehension. The lesson is that it's possible to realize that something is true, and that it's also not understandable; or at least not yet. This is a tough pill to swallow for someone absorbed with his own sense of self-importance. So I like the lesson of the episode for that reason - that religion shouldn't be a vehicle for some person to elevate his own importance. In a manner of speaking this is the same thing Winn does, so that's something interesting right there.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 11, 2018, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
Re: TOS S3: The Lights of Zetar

I never much liked this episode. When I was a kid the distorted croaking sounds freaked me out so much I couldn't watch it, and when I was older I felt like not that much was happening. Funny how time can change my opinion. This is just the sort of episode that the networks didn't want: cerebral sci-fi, where the tension is built through dialogue instead of action and special effects. In the investigation scene, when they realize that the brainwaves are those of the aliens, it's a downright creepy moment sold my nothing more than the performances and lines. That's good stuff, and honestly how I would prefer much of Trek to be. For all the good I'll say about TNG and DS9, they rarely managed to captured the dark emotions conveyed by TOS like creepiness, deep tension, and sometimes even scary situations. They do it on rare occasion, but only rarely.

Another thing I just realized is the meta-narrative going on here. The episode begins with some exposition about how Scotty has finally fallen in love, and although she's more shy about it we're led to believe that it may be mutual. We don't know her yet, but in Scotty's case we know that he's basically been married all this time to technical manuals and the engines, so engaging with a real person would be a different thing to explore. And lo and behold, we get a sci-fi plot whose reveal is that her mind is being changed due to her receptivity to new situations. She sees through another's eyes, has thoughts in her head that don't come from her - in short, she's experiencing a metaphoric effect of falling in love! The dread of losing herself and simply becoming the mind of the aliens is the very dread some people have of losing themselves in their partners. So they introduced a scary and threatening sci-fi element to graphically portray how scary it can be to enter a relationship with a person. Brilliant! It's still not entirely the most fascinating episode, although it does have the noteworthy introduction of Memory Alpha. But boy, conceptually this is how to write real sci-fi. It's not just about the spatial anomaly of the week.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 11, 2018, 3:48pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Destiny

@ Elliott,

"The Bajorans' behaviour treats the Aliens as deities because, to an primitive culture, they would appear to be so; the only reason this continues after "Emissary" is because the Bajorans self-consciously avoid interacting with their gods in a scientific way--which they are perfectly capable of doing. It's ridiculous."

I'm not even sure what you mean about interacting with them in a "scientific way". Do you mean shoving scanners in their faces? And where exactly are their faces? If you go into the wormhole you see a bunch of CGI and then come out the other side. The Prophets only interact when they choose to. But even putting this detail aside (although it's a serious one), why do you suppose that it would be good to insist on interacting with them in a way other than of their choosing? Do you think that it's police to barge into someone's wormhole and tell them the proper way to communicate? Respect for alien cultures would at the very least dictate allowing the wormhole aliens to use whatever form of communication suits them, and at such times as they're ready to talk; that's pretty much at the heart of Federation diplomacy. Nothing needs to be forced. If we wanted to be pedantic I'm sure we could assume that the Federation wasn't do dumb that they never sent a science vessel in there, and I'm sure they found nothing. So much for that, and why waste time writing episodes about it? It's pretty clear that communication will only ever happen when the aliens feel like it. And from a courtesy point of view, I don't see why the Bajorans in particular would even want to demand an alternate form of communication when they are very happy with the form they've always had. Why push it and be ungrateful?

"But that religion has to make contextual sense! The allegory has to hold up because overcoming these kinds of issues requires *understanding.* Earth religions which still exist have adapted to scientific advancement. Those who still deny evolution, for example, are self-consciously denying scientific reality--much like the Bajorans. Are we supposed to tolerate this? Are we supposed to allow schools to teach Creationism?"

I'm not quite sure what your argument is here. Are you saying that if the allegory doesn't conform exactly to how you think it should then it's nonsense? I think it works fine as an allegory about how to form bonds with people who believe in things you can't prove. That you need it to mean something beyond that (a 1:1 mapping as Skeptical put it) is your issue, but not the show's issue. And I see no evidence in the show that the Bajorans are anti-science; that seems to be you imputing things you believe about Christianity into the show.

"But that is unforgivably shallow! Religious people *do* have to contend with those who would dismiss their beliefs for being nonsense--and not just "bad guys." And atheists *do* have to contend with the fact that religious truth is able to deal with aspects of our existence which no science can explain."

People in the show *do* dismiss their beliefs as nonsense, and we *do* see them have to react to it. I'm not sure what your concern is here. What I said is that we, the viewer, don't have to contend with wondering whether their belief is nonsense; or at least, that's tabled as being a primary concern since we've given a rough explanation of where their beliefs come from. The *writers* are then free to discuss other issues besides whether the religion makes sense. But there are plenty of episodes featuring characters who don't think it does.

Overall it seems to me that your main objection seems to come from the place that the religion isn't allegorical enough to be likened to Abrahamic religions, and in turn it really seems like this irks you because you want to be able to definitively say that their beliefs are stupid. But since you can't your claim is that the show fails to portray them realistically, but in reality beliefs of such a people could be easily called stupid. I'm speculating here, but you can tell me if I'm right, that basically your position is that religion is a bunch of hooey and that it's two-faced to portray a religion that really is a religion and really isn't a bunch of hooey. It's hard to read your interpretation of the Bajoran religion in a way other than this, to be honest. It sounds like you want to call then anti-scientific wingnuts and regret that the show doesn't really supply the ammo for you to do that. Or am I wrong?

@ Chrome,

"the issue a religious believer would have with making miracles real and undeniable is that you’re robbed then of the chance to discover the metaphysical aspects of a God through hard-earned meditation and piety."

Why can't it be about a people who worship powerful beings? Must the issue always devolve into calling it miracles or a cheap substitution for God? I don't think it's supposed to be any kind of substitution for God, although certainly the issue of faith is treated similarly in DS9 at times to how it is in Abrahamic religion. And insofar as the Prophets seem to only communicate with worthy people and pass down information that it requires a priesthood to interpret, there is certainly good reason to need a faith life including meditation and piety to interact with them properly on a practical basis. And why must worship be impractical, anyhow?
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 11, 2018, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Destiny

@ Elliott,

"Everything about the Bajoran religion, from its customs, to its connection with attempted genocide, to the way in which it is described as being an article of "faith,"--all of that is directly borrowed from the meaning of "worship" which is a part of modern religions. "Worship" is a matter of supernatural exultation."

I'm not sure where you get this from. That's certainly not the dictionary definition, and seems more limiting than I've ever encountered in general usage.

"By doing this, the writers create a situation in which allegorising religion is impossible, and therefore any discussions on the show are virtually meaningless. We can't have an honest debate about the merits of faith v. skepticism because the Prophets' existence and abilities are not in question."

What the writers are avoiding is *trivially* allegorising the Bajorans' religion. It doesn't mean we can't talk about it, but it does mean that it's not just an Abrahamic religion dressed up with another name. What may rankle about this is that it's not easy to strawman the religion because it's not directly equivalent to something we've already heard of. What's more relevant than which religion of ours it's closest to is how to interact with a culture that has its own beliefs that are different than Starfleet's.

"Everything in the Star Trek universe is allegorical. The Cardassians allegorise Nazis, the Klingons (and later Romulans) allegorise the Soviets. That is the conceit of the entire show. To pretend like there isn't an attempt to say something about the relationship between science and religion, belief and knowledge, etc. in the show's choice to make the Bajorans religious is super dishonest."

I agree completely. The show definitely aims to portray what *we* perceive to be a tension between faith and science; this is especially present in S1 and maybe S2. But in context of the show I think they do a bit of work to demonstrate that this isn't really the important tension to discuss, if it is one at all. The important one is whether those of faith can agree on common goals with those of science. *This* is the allegory the show features, as we can see plainly it's not about dissecting the rationale behind the Bajoran religion and judging whether it's correct or incorrect. The reason Winn is an antagonist isn't because she's religious, but because she's political and corrupt. What people like Bareil and Opaka have in common with Sisko is that they all agree on some generalities to do with bettering life for everyone, and that this is better done through peace than violence. That's not a trivial thing to agree on! Contrast this with sectarian infighting and politics, and we do indeed get a good allegory - even more accurate to the present than it was in 1994.

There's a good reason DS9 has the prophets be explicitly real: because it takes off the table any possible discussion of the Bajoran religion being "nonsense". And that's a good thing to take off the table. In any reasonable discussion about whether religious people can find common cause with non-religious, the matter will always devolve when someone brings up "But their religion is dumb and makes no sense! Why should I respect them??" Here it's not dumb because it's based on facts, so that type of critique is off the table, leaving us to ponder how the people of faith can learn to work together with Starfleet. And that's as Trek as it gets.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 11, 2018, 9:47am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Destiny

@ Elliott,

I agree with much of what Jason R. wrote. But just to answer a few points:

"the Judeochristian concept of god is compatible with a post-Enlightenment understanding of science in a way in which the Pagan religions are not."

The Bajoran religion isn't a pagan religion in the sense you mean, involving some abstract pantheon explaining physical processes. The Bajorans have no illusions that the Prophets created the universe or anything. And actually despite the awkward name for the gods (Prophets), it's actually telling that they call them by this name because it implies that they are aware they their powers are mostly to do with prophecy.

Jason R. wrote: "there is no law of the universe that says that a modern civilization cannot worship "gods" unless they are Gods in some Judeo Christian sense of total infallibility and omnipotence. "

Elliott: "The onus is on you (or the show) to prove this, because your position has no real-world equivalent."

I don't think the onus is on anyone to show that something in science fiction exists in the real world! Your whole argument seems centered on the idea that the Bajoran religion is meant to parallel some Earth religion and fails to do so and is therefore unrealistic. Except it clearly isn't meant to. Here's a good reason why: we don't have a wormhole nearby with aliens sending us orbs. Confusing their religion with Christianity or something is probably an understandable mistake given the subtext and tone of episodes like In the Hands of the Prophets, but on its face the facts on the ground do not support any such comparison.

In DS9 we're seeing a new religion and should judge it on its own grounds. Those grounds could include some of the following criteria:

-Does their belief make sense? Is it self-consistent?
-Do the people practice what they preach?
-Does practicing this religion seem to make them good people?
-How does following this religion affect their interactions with science, and with other species?

To me these are sci-fi questions that go somewhere. Saying that Earth history has "proved" that their religion makes no sense - that goes nowhere for me.
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Peter G.
Thu, Oct 11, 2018, 12:12am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Destiny

@ Chrome,

"It’s puzzling to decide if DS9’s writers understand how religion or faith works. It often feels like they’re subtly poking fun at Bajorans for worshipping a scientifically explanable alien species (like the Edo from TNG’s “Justice”). And yeah, a scientifically explanlable lifeform is pretty much at odds with a metaphysical deity religion revolves around."

I don't think they're poking fun, and I also don't think the Bajoran religion is supposed to be a cut-and-paste of 'modern religion'. As to whether the fact that the 'wormhole aliens' are scientifically explainable - are they? Federation science certainly cannot explain what they do, even though Federations scientists no doubt assume that they do it in some explainable way. But from 24th century standards it's a pretty godlike power. And this is, I think, where the spirit of the series must be understood to be: squarely in the Arthur C. Clarke camp that also underlay so much of TOS, where any sufficiently advanced science will be indistinguishable from magic.

Lots of TOS species (and the odd TNG one) can do things that are basically godlike, even though it's often said that they are merely more advanced species. At a certain point I don't think there's much point quibbling about which is which. Now, it would be another matter to say that one of these beings (like Q, or Kevin Uxbridge) is THE God. But to call them 'a god'? I don't see why not; it makes little difference either way and is functionally accurate enough. If a being could not only predict the future with 100% accuracy but also alter it to suit a given timeline with 100% accuracy - hot damn, that would be a good candidate for a being to follow 'religiously'. They'd sure be a lot more reliable in their predictions than scientists.

Now the question to answer there isn't whether it's reasonable to believe in the Prophets (who are never referred to as God, but as gods) and to worship them; of course it's reasonable, as it gets results and they are friggin powerful. But the better question, as has sometimes been posed here, is whether to trust their motives, and I think that's a good question to explore. Most of DS9 was hung up on "do you believe in them", which frankly is weak sauce and if anything showed Starfleet as being slow on the uptake. The real question should have been "are they allies?" No point picking on the Bajorans for worshipping these crazy powerful entities; one could hardly be faulted for doing what such beings say. It would be bad, though, to see such worship requiring Bajorans to, say, commit atrocities or deny obvious facts, and in that department I think DS9 did a good job showing the difference between reasonable Bajorans and unreasonable ones.

But I certainly wouldn't call controlling the future as "scientifically explainable". At least, not until it does! Until then that is some voodoo right there.
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 10, 2018, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Destiny

I doubt that Tain's plan was shared with many people. There could have been factions in the OO that weren't part of it and had their own half baked attempt here. Or maybe they did it *because of* Tain's plan, to shut it down. In hindsight Cardassia would have been better off if Tain had stayed in retirement.
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Peter G.
Wed, Oct 10, 2018, 10:19am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Heart of Stone

"Even if a stereotype about a group is largely true, that doesn't make prejudice justified. "

Sisko's assumptions about the Ferengi, even on DS9, are not "largely true", they are simply true. It is completely legitimate to develop assumptions and expectations based on behavior you *actually see* in the individuals in question. That's not prejudice. Although no doubt Sisko did come to the station already knowing bad things about the Ferengi, he was never down on Jake befriending Nog until after Emissary, when we had already seen Nog committing a crime, likely at his family's request. So any assumption beyond that Sisko makes about their trustworthiness is based on facts, not prejudices. It's up to them to 'clear their name' if they're going to clean up their act.
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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 9, 2018, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Heart of Stone

@ Iceman,

"Contrary to what Sisko protests, he is shown to be a bit prejudiced against Ferengi."

It's not "prejudice" when you accurately speak about the way people are actually acting. That's not prejudice, it's simply a statement of facts. Now, if Sisko's impression of the Ferengi was baseless then we could call that a prejudice; or if his general idea of them was really not true of the DS9 Ferengi then it would be a prejudice. But the writers seem to go to lengths to show that his general sentiments are accurate, and in particular are also true of the DS9 Ferengi. To whatever extent some of them,like Rom and Nog change over the series, Sisko is happy to revisit his assumptions, which is fair. And lest we blame the DS9 writers (and they do have something to answer for here) for the portrayal of the Ferengi, it's practically saintly compared to what TNG did with them...
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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 9, 2018, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Heart of Stone

@ Elliott,

No doubt it is very hard to get in, based purely on the sheer numbers of candidates that must be applying. But I think early TNG wasn't basing it on numbers of applicants with that kind of logic; I think the idea was more that Starfleet people are expected to be so superior that the bar would be that high regardless of how many applicants there are. "We're Starfleet, we don't lie" was the initial TNG concept of what sort of moral and intellectual paragons Starfleet officers were. And c'mon, that's a laughable line, right? And I don't say that because I scoff at Trek's vision of our advancement, but because of how early TNG envisioned that advancement. Luckily S3 and onward mostly dispensed with that stuff and humanized everyone more.

"Nog learned how to read like 2 years ago. He wouldn't be able to get into community college at this point."

For an average modern human, yes. In Nog's case he was accustomed to burdensome levels of labor, mostly compensated poorly, with no leniency or expectation that he'd ever advance or gain from it. With this kind of discipline and willingness to endure hardship I'd say that someone like Nog could probably put in the hours and work to catch up in a few years to where a normal human child was that only did school work for a few hours a day. They don't really explain this, which is a shame, because it would be good to note that one of Nog's beneficial attributes is his ability to do endless work without complaint. This is only slightly hinted at with his work doing inventory, and it would have been nice for us to learn conclusively that he has superlative capabilities in certain areas that would put him ahead of a human candidate.
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Peter G.
Tue, Oct 9, 2018, 12:15pm (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S3: Heart of Stone

"So is this the episode where the entrance gets retconned as Peter G. suggests, or is there another explanation?"

I don't really think it ever made sense to accept that it was *that* difficult to get in. I mean, in TNG we see people like Barclay who are clearly smart but also deficient in what might be called personal discipline. And then there are people like Deanna...I mean, how did she ever get in? As an officer she must have been to the Academy. Out of so many Federation worlds I'm sure there really was a lot of competition to get in, but on the other hand, we're shown people on the Enterprise many times who are clearly not Picard's equal and who seemed to get in just fine at a young age. So at best the portrayal of who got into the academy is inconsistent; at worst it was simply incoherent.

Incidentally, I don't see why we need to assume that Nog is too inept to make it into a fairly tough institution. What would really drag him down would be the lack of higher education leading up to his application, especially in physics or whatever. But maybe he got insane marks in bravery or something?
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