The Orville

"Mad Idolatry"

3 stars

Air date: 12/7/2017
Written by Seth MacFarlane
Directed by Brannon Braga

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Mad Idolatry" is one of the best episodes of The Orville this season, and certainly the most ambitious. It also takes me back to the very first episode to explore this series' primary baggage, which is: This show tries very hard to be Star Trek (except populated by Average Joes), which means it sets itself up for comparisons and expectations that are among some of the best examples of televised sci-fi. In the case of this episode, it uses TNG's "Who Watches the Watchers" and Voyager's "Blink of an Eye" as starting points to examine its own take on the hazards of cultural contamination. It's a worthy tale that borrows aspects of classic episodes from those respective series. It thus invites the scrutiny of serious science fiction, even while employing characters that come off as amateurs. Can it survive that scrutiny?

This episode can (albeit not without caveats), but it continues to make me wonder whether the whole premise of the show grows from a fundamental flaw of imitation being the most sincere form of flattery. If you insist upon offering up direct takes (albeit modified and containing original ideas) on Star Trek episodes, you will forever live in its shadow. "Mad Idolatry" is definitely living in shadows; it's essentially the definitive Prime Directive cultural contamination episode for The Orville, much as "Who Watches the Watchers" was the definitive Prime Directive episode for TNG. Then it shifts into the long-term time-lapse observation mode of "Blink of an Eye."

This makes for a sometimes fascinating, sometimes derivative outing. I'm willing to say it's more fascinating than derivative, but it also suggests that this feeling The Orville is a Trek impersonator may never completely go away.

When a planet materializes from a parallel universe, the Orville crew investigates. They discover the presence of a Bronze Age society. Grayson stumbles across the locals, a little girl falls and is injured, Grayson heals her with a medical device, sends her and her family on their way, then leaves the scene and returns to the ship. The planet vanishes back to the parallel universe. When it re-emerges, 700 years have astonishingly passed on the planet, while only 11 days have passed for the Orville. This is because time passes more quickly in the other universe as the planet orbits its star (which exists in both universes). With 700 years having passed, Kelly discovers an entire religion has been built around her on this world because of her chance encounter being perceived as a deity's magic. And, of course, things have gone horribly wrong — as is frequently the case with religions and the fanaticism carried out in their names — with people being threatened and judged and strung up and executed based on the teachings of the Church of Kelly.

Now, I had my doubts here, as I did with "Who Watches the Watchers" that one chance encounter under these extremely narrow circumstances would necessarily result in the creation of an entire religion, but I can grant it as the story's given. What's tougher to grant is the sheer idiocy on the part of the Orville crew that leads to the cultural contamination. A significant problem in "Mad Idolatry" stems from the writing shortcuts that require the characters to either exhibit gross incompetence or willful insubordination in order to move the plot along.

When the locals are discovered at the outset, Mercer warns Grayson to be careful not to engage them, because avoiding cultural contamination is a key — one might say a prime — directive in these sorts of situations. Grayson says she will be careful and stay safely out of sight. We then, almost comically, cut directly to a heroic shot of her standing conspicuously and statuesquely atop a cliff. Way to stay hidden. I chalked that up to the editors having a good shot they wanted to use and not realizing the glaring disconnect between the shot and its message, but then Grayson continues to deliberately walk closer to the very people she should be staying away from. Hello?

Later, when investigating the surface 700 years later, an entire landing party walks right up to a country house with no cover whatsoever and are immediately confronted by a confused local. Hello? Does the Union not have strict protocols for how to conduct these matters? They probably do, but this crew wouldn't follow them anyway. This is demonstrated after Mercer gets chewed out by an admiral for covering for Grayson's error (followed by a funny moment where Mercer mocks the admiral without having first closed the video window). The admiral orders them in no uncertain terms not to further interfere with the planet. But Kelly feels guilty and wants desperately to undo the damage she did, prompting Mercer to abet willful insubordination to go back to the planet to try to prove, against 700 years of history, that "Kelly" is not a god.

These scenes (as with "If the Stars Should Appear") have that distinctly TOS "studio backlot as an alternate-Earth town" flavor to them, and Kelly makes urgent pleas/demonstrations showing how technology is indeed not magic, which are very similar to the ones Picard made to the natives in "Watchers." These scenes didn't do much for me (and I thought the entire plan was a stupid one likely to make a bad situation worse), but they set the stage for the much more interesting material to come.

For the next round, we get a modern-day world not unlike our current day, where now issues surrounding "Kelly" are grist for news, opinion, politics, and religious warfare using modern technology. This is fascinating because you can see how a seed planted 1,400 years ago has become an indestructible tree (Happy Arbor Day!) with roots reaching out, spanning the globe. It's a compelling demonstration of how this society's religion has become an integral piece of the whole, with no hope of it ever being reversed by the ones who put it there.

For his next feat of disobeying direct orders and thumbing his nose at the supposedly crucial rule of non-interference in alien cultures, Mercer allows Isaac to live on the planet for the next 700 years (an intriguing notion from a storytelling purpose, as Isaac does not feel the passage of time the way a human does — but a terrible decision for Mercer as a Union captain; doesn't this violate all the rules the admiral told him to obey, and shouldn't there be grave consequences for these actions?) in an attempt to mitigate further societal damage. By this point, mitigating the damage seems moot and actually counterproductive, but it stimulates our imaginations, as we see Isaac disappear with the planet, wondering what will lie on the flip side when it emerges in seven centuries. (The story doesn't even float the possibility that Isaac, and indeed this entire world, could be destroyed in the next 700 years, given the possibility of global war or catastrophe.)

When it does emerge, it's a compelling sight (this episode benefits from imaginative visuals), showing a society now far more advanced than even the Union's. It's a society that has continued to develop, retired "Kelly" and its religions to the dustbins of history, and makes a sanguine point for Grayson that even if "Kelly" had not been there to occupy that religious space, something else would have. It was just the way society would inevitably have developed, the story argues. It's an interesting take on the macro scale.

During the down time while the planet is out of play, there's a B-story involving the possibly rekindling relationship between Ed and Kelly. This proves reasonable. I'm not a huge fan of continuing to watch will-they-or-won't-they, but I must admit this is perhaps the season's most prominent and revisited character arc, so it makes a certain amount of sense to pay it off here. And I do appreciate the payoff, where they both realize they should remain "just friends" because of the inherent conflict between an intimate relationship and professional duties, which specifically plays out in this episode. (But, I mean, duh. To actively pursue this relationship would mean someone would have to transfer or resign given their ranks aboard the ship, right?)

In the process of reaching that conclusion we get some serviceable interludes. I'm not a huge fan of Man-Child Mercer. While this episode was the least annoying example of MCM this season, it still borders on goofy. I think there's a better middle ground to occupy that doesn't go as far as the super-cultured ultra-intellectualism of a Jean-Luc Picard but who is more of an adult than a guy who makes a PB&J sandwich for a dinner date. Sorry — it's actually a separate PB sandwich and J sandwich as a pretext to bring PB&J together via a make-out session. (Now that's one smooth move there.) Far funnier as these lighter character moments go was the Moclan game of hot potato, where you apparently win by losing.

I like the choice to go somewhat lower-key as a season finale, rather than doing the obligatory cliffhanger, and "Mad Idolatry" feels like a good way to go out for the year. (The Orville filmed 13 episodes this season, but one episode was held back and will not air until next season. For scheduling reasons Fox has that I don't understand, they don't feel next week's slot is worth airing a new episode.) As I said last week, I think this series has come quite a way since it began and has smoothed out many of its larger problems. But it still has things to work on, like determining just how professional this crew is supposed to be, and whether we're supposed to take them seriously as sci-fi characters or just jokey avatars in a space adventure. (Clearly there are larger aspirations here, so the show trying to have it both ways is problematic.) They also need to figure out how to build a universe that feels like its own thing rather than a remake of Trek's greatest hits. Stories like "Mad Idolatry" have the sort of ambitious themes and scope that could be mined for greatness, but it remains to be seen if The Orville is a vehicle that can carry it that far.

Previous episode: New Dimensions
Next episode: Ja'loja

◄ Season Index

150 comments on this review

Mertov
Thu, Dec 7, 2017, 8:59pm (UTC -6)
I can already see faithful Fox viewers condemning this episode..
:))))))))
anonymous
Thu, Dec 7, 2017, 9:01pm (UTC -6)
Thought I knew exactly what would happen as soon as that little girl spoke, but there were still some nice surprises in this one. Maybe my favorite episode tied with About A Girl. Although, for God's sake, I hope they stop focusing so much on Grayson/Mercer. I think any other character combo would be a more interesting focus for an episode at this point.
SlackerInc
Thu, Dec 7, 2017, 9:12pm (UTC -6)
A four star episode for me. There might have been a little borrowing from SGU, but it was applied in an interesting and novel way.

There's someone I want to get into this show who was a big fan of TNG but didn't like the pilot of "Orville". He is willing to watch one episode to give it one more chance. Previously, I was leaning toward the one where they sneak onto the Krill ship; now I'm thinking maybe this one. What do you all think? (Funny that my two choices revolve around religious extremism.)

If it helps, his favorite episodes of TNG are:

Measure of a Man
Yesterday's Enterprise
The Big Goodbye
Data's Day
Cause and Effect
Lower Decks
The Inner Light
Q Who
Best of Both Worlds
Pusher Robot
Thu, Dec 7, 2017, 11:36pm (UTC -6)
Slacker -

I'd consider If the Stars Should Appear as well. This episode was a good one, though. Interestingly, it's one of the least funny to date, or at least, it has the fewest gags, and the ones that are in there actually seem to fit in character. For a "serious" episode, I thought it hit exactly the right notes.

Obviously there's a lot of similarities with Who Watches the Watchers, but being as that is one of my favorite episodes I didn't mind it at all. It was unique enough that I didn't mind hitting some of the same beats, and the mechanism of getting to see how it all worked out put a nice bow on it. These are fundamental storytelling themes, and I don't see a real problem with exploring the same themes from different angles or with different approaches.

I thought there might be a real chance of the planet returning empty of life save for Isaac, the people having destroyed themselves, which would have been a sad twist, but I wasn't disappointed with an optimistic ending either.

I thought McFarlane did some of his best acting to date, and I was very happy to see him being a little more introspective and open rather then shouty and defensive, almost like he's growing as a character! Nice to see LaMarr still has his promotion too, though I'm still not sold on the acting.

I liked seeing some of the areas of the ship "after dark" for a change. I also like the look of the alien cities. As for criticisms, I have a few: I thought the planet people were just way too human. They looked human and apparently developed in exactly the same way humans did, with the exact same timeline and down to having almost identical cable news networks, even identical _news_. That feels a little lazy to me, especially because we already did that in Majority Rule. Also, they went through the trouble of setting up stakes for defying the admiralty and then never paid it off. I was waiting to find out how they were going to report or not the crew's little insurrection, and we never found out. I guess maybe they just didn't mention it? Or maybe in typical Star Trek faction, the No Harm, No Foul rule got applied? Oh well, guess we'll never know. I was also more than a little surprised that in almost a month, the Union didn't bother to send any more ships to research this anomaly. Hopefully they'll remember to have somebody hanging out there 11 days from now. Might be interesting.

But although I could pick at some of these things, this is definitely one of my top episodes for the season, and more than that, I'm very happy at the direction the show and the characters are going overall. I will be very much looking forward to Season 2!
J.B.
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 12:50am (UTC -6)
This was basically two (better) Star Trek episodes merged together, especially Voyager's excellent "Blink of an Eye." I really wish the show could come up with its own ideas, especially since it regularly botches the ones that it steals. It doesn't help that the plot is basically driven by contrivances and especially sloppy behavior by the crew. They basically go out of their way to be noticed by the planet's inhabitants and then, when they should have left well enough alone, they go back down to the surface anyway to try and make Grayson feel better. If I were the admiral, I would have put Mercer in jail. I did appreciate some of the later plot beats (aside from Isaac staying on the planet, again ripped straight out of Voyager when the Doctor did it) but the sledgehammer "we got out of the dark ages by renouncing organized religion" ending was overly simplistic. It's also a little disappointing that for a season finale, this felt just like a regular episode.

(That said, I give credit to the episode for giving me one huge laugh, when Mercer made fun of the admiral without realizing she was still on the line.)
Bob
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 2:25am (UTC -6)
This is a rehash of a Blink of an Eye. Albeit a good one, and an enjoyable episode. However I hope they make something original at some point.
Norvo
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 6:38am (UTC -6)
TNG's Who Watches the Watchers meets Voyager's Blink of an Eye with shades of DS9's Meridian plus some As The Warpcore Turns Ed/Kelly shtick.

But it's an enjoyable, engaging hour... I can't fault it at all.
PerryP
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 7:24am (UTC -6)
I'm going with SlackerInc review. Solid 🌠4 stars and worth watching it again! I guess it will be a while for the next Orville in the Spring. Anyone know when the next airing would be for just one episode?

< One of the most memorable moments is the captain not to mess with Bortus. >
Del_Duio
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 9:28am (UTC -6)
"Interestingly, it's one of the least funny to date, or at least, it has the fewest gags"

Those seem to be the best ones too. I kind of wish McFarlane just made a straight up drama series more akin to TNG.
Yanks
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 10:51am (UTC -6)
Not a bad episode. Definitely made me think of Voyager's far superior "Blink of an Eye" and DS9's inferior "Meridian".

So the CO of the ship walks around trying to find someone to get drunk with? Good lord. I don't care if this is supposed to be a comedy or not...

Every time they go down to a planet, they are a bunch of blundering idiots.

This whole ep was just so cheesy. From stepping on a branch to get noticed, to the super advanced spaceship approaching the Orville without hailing...

Lamar hooking up with a hottie!!

That's worth and additional star I guess.

2 stars from me.
Yanks
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 11:02am (UTC -6)
@ Mertov
Thu, Dec 7, 2017, 8:59pm (UTC -6)
"I can already see faithful Fox viewers condemning this episode..
:))))))))"

Why?
PerryP
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 12:00pm (UTC -6)
@Yanks

It must have to do with anti Catholic views but I don't see any shred of proof. I checked Facebook and a few mentions of that possibility but they LOVED the EPISODE. :)
Matt
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 12:59pm (UTC -6)
Is this really the season finale? After 12 episodes? What happened to the trusty 26? What do the actors do for the rest of the year?
PerryP
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 1:36pm (UTC -6)
@Matt I recall that it was a trial to see how The Orville do in Nielsen Ratings. They have exceeded expectations so they are primed to produce more shows. I dunno know if they can do 26 episodes all in the same season, maybe challenge 20+ because these are very difficult to make if pushing the boundaries of imagination to the fullest extent. And also the fact they want to make quality episodes that gardner the beefy audience.
PerryP
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 2:29pm (UTC -6)
correction to my last post, I mean next season!!!
Lynos
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 4:23pm (UTC -6)
Interesting take on TNG's Who Watches The Watchers, but the ending was too pat and hurried. And how did Isaac manage to influence them exactly?

Also, felt most of the humor didn't really work this time around. Interesting concept. Could've been done better.

The season had ended and my favorite episode of the season remains Cupid's Dagger, with Krill, About a Girl and Firestorm as possible runners up.
navamske
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 5:58pm (UTC -6)
OK, who else thought when the guy said, "Bring out the accused" he was going to say, "Bring out your dead"?
navamske
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 6:20pm (UTC -6)
All of a sudden they have cloaking technology? We've already speculated that the reason they don't have transporters is that the transporter is very Star Trek-y iconic, and maybe they thought they'd get sued. Here they have a cloak, plus they're *calling* it a cloak!

Do they have portable replicators that can produce native costumes?

What happened to Isaac's shuttle? Was it still working after 700 years? I don't think Isaac would have needed to use it. Maybe he buried it in the old Delgado mine.
Samuel
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 9:30pm (UTC -6)
Trite and unoriginal writing. Orville does its worst when Seth tries to wrestle with theology. Such a shame, since the episode had potential.
Jonathan
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 9:33pm (UTC -6)
@navamske. On your third point, they showed Malloy piloting the shuttle back to the Orville, he dropped off Isaac.
Henson
Fri, Dec 8, 2017, 11:47pm (UTC -6)
@Lynos: The point was that Isaac DIDN'T significantly influence their culture; they developed out of Kelly-worship and into space travel without his help. This gives Kelly a reason not to feel guilty about the religion based around her, since the superstitious nature of the culture at that time would probably just find something else to worship instead (or perhaps they already were worshiping something that got supplanted by Kelly).

Regarding season one, Orville has been fun, but the writing is incredibly clumsy. The ideas are okay, with some new angles on old stories, but the execution leaves quite a bit to be desired. I find I'm much more excited about the potential of Orville than the result so far: the concept for a 'fun sci-fi star trek about average joes in space' WORKS. What they need now are a few more skilled writers to iron out some of the wrinkles.
J.B.
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 1:50am (UTC -6)
I think as long as MacFarlane is head writer, the show is always going to have problems. He wrote eight of the twelve episodes this season (and no doubt rewrote the rest). The rest of the show's execution is fine. Special effects decent, music great, most of the cast are game. It's just the sloppy, uninspired writing that brings it down.
Pocket University
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 1:58am (UTC -6)
"Blink of an Eye" was a nearly straight lift of the novel Dragon's Egg. (Not that I'd ever recommend the latter, unless you're looking for a way to do penitence for some truly ghastly sin.)

How could Grayson possibly have had such a dramatic effect? In "Who Watches the Watchers" the native culture had abandonded religion a long time before and was by then structured around rationality and dispassionate observation, so the new "Picard religion" was surging out into a near-total vacuum. The Bronze Age culture here was pretty cleary hinted to be quite backward, so Grayson's appearance to a handful of villagers would have been just one more fabulous local legend among thousands. Why would it in particular become the core of an all-encompassing organized belief system?

Okay, it's a comedy, but it didn't particularly play the story as satire or parody. (And anyway, Red Dwarf's Cat civilization was a much funnier take on this sort of thing.)
Dave in MN
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 2:16am (UTC -6)
If it weren't for Seth MacFarlane, we wouldn't have any Orville at all.

Yes, it's only the first season and they are still feeling out the best ratio of comedy to drama, but I give Seth a lot of credit for creating believable endearing characters and a fascinating universe for them to inhabit.

Oh, and I liked this episode as well .... especially the slice of life glimpses we got in the cold open.

LaMarr and that ensign .... that scene reminded me of rooming with my buddies back in the day, very funny. ( Also, was her nipple actually visible? Maybe I'm imagining things, but it sure seemed like it for a second there).

The PB & J thing actually made me saw "aww" out loud. Ed and Kelly have a convincing rapport.

My only nitpick was the aliens looked too human, but then again, it's obvious the money was spent on set design and hiring dozens of extras and bit actors to create a convincing world.

By the way, is it really anti- religious to plausibly show how a species develops and, millennia later, eventually shrugs off a religion?

I personally think the protests from some posters aren't based on content, but on the subject matter itself.

Perhaps it strikes too close to home? Death is maybe the scariest thing there is, and some people will take affront at anything that challenges their hope/ wishful thinking/delusion that they can escape it.

If you are religious, you have to believe every religion but yours is wrong (unless you are Ba'hai or have cobbled together some personal faith based on your feelings). Don't take the history of the Word of Kelly as an attack on your faith .... take it as a logical critique of all those false religions you disagree with.

PS .... The moment with Capt. Mercer mocking Admiral Ozawa and then realizing she was still on the connection made me laugh so hard my stomach actually hurt.

Oh, yeah, almost forgot.

3.25 stars out of 4
Lynos
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 2:50am (UTC -6)
@Henson: if that is the case, then the episode should have made it clearer. They have made a big deal about sending Isaac to spend 700 years on the planet, only for him to return and say "hey it wasn't needed, they got along without me" and then the glowing people (neat effect) just explained everything in a few lines of dialogue.

Even if the aliens would have had something else to attach themselves to and beleive in other than Kelly, it was still Kelly that instigated the whole thing with her utter carelessness, and the fact that her responibility is brushed off in such a way by the end of the episode makes the whole story moot. If you are dealing with such a dramatic and world-altering concept, than go all the way with it. I can see why they would want to hit the restet button, since the tone of the show is lighthearted. But I find that the comedy keeps getting in the way of the dramatic concepts being presented, unless we are talking about a pure comedy script as in Cupid's Dagger. TOS for example was able to pull off comedic episodes next to dramatic episodes without damaging the series as a whole.

I am also struck by the fact how informal the crew of the Orville is. The series may copy TNG in almost every respect, but not here. The chain of command is much less strict then in TNG (Gordon opening the door to Mercer and saying to his captain "hey man", a scantily clad ensign is standing in front of ther captain not bothering to cover herself up), but then again, in other scenes, they use "yes captain" and "aye sir". It's odd.

The Orville certainly has an identity crisis at this point. But there is something trully fascinating about this show, just as an artistic experiment, so I can't wait for season 2.
bleakness
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 3:18am (UTC -6)
I really liked this episode, especially the character moments, As for the effect of religion, they did a lot in whatever was left of the 42 minutes that was not taken up by characters. In that way, the episode reminded me of "Who Watches the Watchers" one of my favorite TNG episodes. Jammer (a Trek reviewer) lambasted WWTW because it simplified religion. I thought the opposite, it had pretty nuanced characters, a sense of wonder, and it examined all sides pretty well.. and the fact is that religion IS simple. (comparatively, I listen to religious vs atheist debates all the time, each one being near two hours, and the religious debater has less substance to their argument than WWTW) so if there was ever an issue with Mad Idolatry, it's that it was even SIMPLER in it's look at religion than WWTW. Again, with only 43 minutes, and the fact that the foundations of religious belief ARE simple (my opinion) i was fine with it, but it was also a bit "on the nose" as it resembled the middle ages and, later, Catholicism, too closely, like on the nose.. and that's why it seemed simpler than it was. Whereas Pria improved on it's predecessor (A Matter of Time), Cupid's Dagger improved on DS9's Fascination, and New Dimensions improved on Parallax, this is the one case where the original inspiration, Who Watches the Watchers, is better than the Orville version. That being said I still LOVE this episode.
Skweeky
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 3:32am (UTC -6)
Best episode yet.

I don't see the comparison to Voyager's 'Blink of an eye', which I thought was medoicre. A planet going through rapid evolution. That is the only similarity with that episode, and that's a pretty thin comparison.

I think it is much closer to what other's have said. 'Who Watches the Watchers' since that dealt with the crew being treated as gods. Which is the main thrust of this episode.

I thought they handled it well. With a few caveats. I don't really see how Kelly healing one person would create a religion, but who knows. Scientology is based on less. And I didn't like that sending Isaac had no effect. That should have been a major factor in their refutation of their religion. After all, that's why they sent him.

But a very good episode even with it's faults.

3 1/2 stars.
Skweeky
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 3:39am (UTC -6)
First of all. It's mediocre. :) How I spelled that word in my last post. Not the episode. The episode was great.

And I forgot to mention what navamske mentioned.

@navamske
All of a sudden they have cloaking technology?

I noticed that immediately, and that annoyed me. They could have used that a few times already if they had it. So to introduce it know so offhandedly sort of pissed me off.
Matt
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 3:59am (UTC -6)
I'm sure they've used the cloaking technology before with the shuttle.
Matt
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 4:01am (UTC -6)
Also, I really liked how visibly upset Kelly was about the whole thing. That's something you wouldn't see in Trek, and it's exactly the kind of "ordinary people" characterization that will set Orville apart.
Skweeky
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 4:07am (UTC -6)
It's 'now' instead of 'know'. I do know how to spell words, I swear.

And now(know) I'll give my overall ratings for the season so far. Because I know(now) everyone was waiting with bated breath.

from best to worst.

Krill - 3.5
Mad Idolatry - 3.5
Majority Rule - 3.0
New Dimensions - 3.0
About a Girl - 2.5
If the Stars... - 2.5
Into the Fold - 2.5
Firestorm - 2.5
Old Wounds - 2.0
Command Performance - 2.0
Pria - 2.0
Cupid's Dagger - 1.5

That is an average of 2.54. Which for me, compared to the Star Trek shows is quite good. :D I did give The Orville a little bit more leeway as far as tech/science stuff went, but they didn't really disappoint me in that regard. At least not as much as Voyager did.
Skweeky
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 4:10am (UTC -6)
@Matt

'I'm sure they've used the cloaking technology before with the shuttle.'

Now that you mention it again, it seems like maybe they did, but did they? A reference would help. From anyone who remembers. I don't.
SlackerInc
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 5:37am (UTC -6)
As with many episodes of TNG, I was not aware of "Who Watches the Watchers". That does seem to make it less original. Still, adding the "time-lapse" element makes it a little different, although as I noted upthread there was something like that in SGU.

Oh well: the show may be something of a pastiche, but it's an enjoyable one most of the time.

@Pusher Robot: "I thought there might be a real chance of the planet returning empty of life save for Isaac, the people having destroyed themselves, which would have been a sad twist"

Wow, that's a pretty cool idea you had there. But too dark for this show, I think--putting genocide on an already-stressed-out Kelly would be too much.

Interesting to think about how advanced that world's society will be in just a few more weeks from the Union perspective. Will they content themselves with colonizing the galaxy they spend the vast majority of their time in? They could at this point obviously easily spread out and be the dominant force in both places (especially if they wait one or two more cycles). But maybe they will take a "Prime Directive" ("noncontamination") attitude toward what will soon be, from their perspective, the very primitive Union. So interesting to think about how this temporal mismatch allowed them to go from the backward ones to the advanced ones in a few weeks. Which, I think, is the one definitively original element of this episode unless there's another episode or story I am unaware of. [Oops, reading down further I see I was also unaware of "Blink of an Eye", which includes sending an "artificial life form"--the Doctor in this case--down to live out the longer time cycle on the planet. Sigh.]

But even if they prefer not to interfere, what about when their universe gets to a point of decline, heading toward a "Big Freeze" or "Big Crunch"? That's a looong way off, but only 1/50,000th as long on our side as on theirs (if my calculations are correct). It might eventually look pretty tempting to jump over to a "fresh" universe.

@Yank: "Not a bad episode[...]
This whole ep was just so cheesy.[...]
Lamar hooking up with a hottie!!
That's worth and additional star I guess.
2 stars from me."

That review confused me. Was it written by multiple people? LOL "Not bad" but "so cheesy" and an "additional star" only gets you up to 2? Huh.

I'm glad you reminded me of Lamar's hottie though. Is that the closest to nudity we've seen on a Trek show? Or are they pushing it further on DSC?

@Lynos: "And how did Isaac manage to influence them exactly?"

My take on what they said was that it wasn't really necessary for them to send Isaac. That ultimately, they would have gone through this evolution of belief to non-belief, just as is happening on Earth, regardless of whether it was oriented around Kelly or some other mythology. Note for instance that when they tuned in to the roughly 21st century cable news shoutiness, there were people arguing for separation of church and state without apparently getting their heads cut off. (Reading further, I see Henson made a similar point.)

@Pocket University: Glad to hear "Blink of an Eye" was already recycled, and I literally LOL'd at your "penitence" remark.

@Dave in MN: "If it weren't for Seth MacFarlane, we wouldn't have any Orville at all."

Excellent point, which people should keep in mind when they complain that Seth is ruining the show somehow. It's his show, take it or leave it.

"By the way, is it really anti- religious to plausibly show how a species develops and, millennia later, eventually shrugs off a religion?
I personally think the protests from some posters aren't based on content, but on the subject matter itself."

I'm completely with you. But, like MacFarlane, I'm a resolute and outspoken atheist. I can't blame people who are religious for having their feathers ruffled. What he's saying IS anti-religious, because Seth is anti-religious. See for example the following exchange from a 2009 Esquire interview:

--------
ESQ: I see you've recently become rather vocal about your atheism. Isn't it antithetical to make public proclamations about secularism?

SM: We have to. Because of all the mysticism and stuff that's gotten so popular.

ESQ: But when you wave banners, how does it differ from religion?

SM: It's like the civil-rights movement. There have to be people who are vocal about the advancement of knowledge over faith.
--------

If your sympathies lie on the "faith" side, I don't see how you could help but be offended. Unless you are convinced and convert to atheism, which Seth and I would both appreciate.

@Lynos: " The chain of command is much less strict then in TNG (Gordon opening the door to Mercer and saying to his captain 'hey man', a scantily clad ensign is standing in front of ther captain not bothering to cover herself up), but then again, in other scenes, they use "yes captain" and 'aye sir'. It's odd."

Isn't that just a function of whether they are on or off duty? Note too that Bortus initially took the visit quite differently. I actually thought the funniest part of the episode was his reaction. What did he say exactly? Mercer said "Hey Bortus, what are you up to?" and Bortus responded with something like "Am I suspected of some misdeed?"

@Skweeky: "I don't really see how Kelly healing one person would create a religion, but who knows."

Oh, I definitely see it. Look at how many religions are based on healing. Kelly (wearing colorful fabrics no one had ever seen) healed a bad wound nearly instantly, apparently magically, in front of a bunch of people, and then disappeared forever. I don't know how a Bronze Age could take her as anything else but a goddess. I suppose they could have gone with "witch" or "sorceress", but I find the religion angle highly plausible.
Lynos
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 6:04am (UTC -6)
I beleive the cloaking shuttle was seen in Majority Rule.

I don't subscribe to the fact that faith in itself is a negative thing. you can have faith in a higher power or in spiritual principles and still be a decent and loving human being.
It's what people do with the concept of faith and how they eploit it that makes relegions destructive.
Dave in MN
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 10:42am (UTC -6)
@Lynos

I doubt think there's anything odd about using "sir" while on duty/ working and more familiar terminology when you are not .... besides, Gordon and Ed have been longtime friends since they were training at Union Point.
Lynos
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 1:50pm (UTC -6)
Well, I found this talk on YouTube that the creators did at Google, and Seth says there that he was going for a casual atmosphere on the spaceship, so it is what is. It's just that the series is so TNG in its style that I find it unnerving where there are elements that are so different. The Orville is just doing a too good of a job being TNG...

Here's the talk if anyone's interested:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7N54eNGRDH8
Jammer
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 4:45pm (UTC -6)
Review now posted.
Jack
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 4:52pm (UTC -6)
They’ve used the cloak before.

And, storywise, it’s required. They don’t have transporters so they need some way to blend in for these stories. Maybe it only works within an atmosphere for some reason (or maybe other ships’l sensors can detect it) — that way it’s not a magic problem solver.

This episode frustrated me the same way most season 1-3 TNG episodes frustrated me — the resolution felt rushed and the ideas remained unexplored. But, then again, this show is at least as much about character relationships as anything else, and so it works better here.
Jack
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 4:58pm (UTC -6)
RE: Fox viewers. I’d be surprised if Fox News viewers watch much Fox TV, — although, I really don’t know much about Fox TV’s demographics.
Jack
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 5:03pm (UTC -6)
PS: I realize it’s just called Fox.

And, re: the PB&J thing, it seemed to fit the characters and the situation (he knows hos ex-wife likes PB&J), well, at least on paper.
Other Chris
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 5:51pm (UTC -6)
Fox local television, home of Married With Children, The Simpsons and Family Guy itself, has a much broader audience than cable's Fox News radio.
Other Chris
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 5:53pm (UTC -6)
I didn't mean radio, but that counts too!
Mentor397
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 6:01pm (UTC -6)
I have my own blog where I posted a much-poorer review of the series, from the standpoint of this episode. That's not important. I commented on some similarities and differences with the Fox show, Firefly.

Needless to say, I found it an interesting coincidence that later in this episode, one of the guest stars on that show, in the episode "Safe" was in this episode, "Mad Idolatry" - Erica Tazel.

I really hope this show does better than Firefly did. I'm still on the fence about the show in general, but I definitely think it takes more than twelve episodes for a series to find its footing and figure out where it wants to go. The seeds are here for a decent show, if they have the wit to make proper use of them.
PerryP
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 6:31pm (UTC -6)
If there is change we want to see next season, then maybe it has anything to do with Adrianne Palicki. She deserves a shot in the Captain's chair for some time. I would like a story that is two or three episodes long tackling the next frontier.

Very good review by Jammer, I have to discount the part on "determining just how professional this crew is supposed to be" I imagine "Law and Order" is having an impact on the whole crew staff. Are we superseded by scientific laws in the 24th century? For example; in America we separate Church and State so religion does not interfere with our laws, the constitutional rights, etc...
Josh
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 7:39pm (UTC -6)
The American obsession with the combination of peanut butter and jelly fascinates me. I like both in a sandwich (assuming the jelly in the sandwich that Kelly was eating was more like jam, as it appeared) but together?

Food culture evolves relatively fast. 100 years ago most British people were eating a mixture of animal innards for most meals. In 500 years I'm fairly confident that children will find something more palatable to snack on than PB&J.
Trek fan
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 8:15pm (UTC -6)
I agree with the few dissenters on this post: I found "Mad Idolatry" to be a predictable, derivative, and weak season finale. The overall take-away for me is "that's it?!" Like a train wreck, it's hard to look away from this one, but I found the whole show went downhill in a mishmash of bad stereotypes and TOS/TNG/VOY cliches after the initial romance-relationship prologue between Ed and Kelly. I give it 1 1/2 stars.

For whatever reason, and perhaps it's because I've watched too much Sci-Fi, there wasn't a single plot beat I didn't see coming a mile away here. As soon as Kelly and crew got into the shuttle, I said: "Oh no, something bad is going to happen to them, and we're going to forget that the wonderful first 15 minutes of the ep ever happened." Then Voyager's "Blink of an Eye" (itself a better take on TOS' "Wink of an Eye," where a planet of hyper-accelerated people is aging at a different time rate than the crew) intuitively popped up in my head as soon as the primitive people appeared; the plot of "Idolatry" indeed followed the same Voyager pattern of checking back in on the planet every few centuries to see how the crew's existence has affected its development until a ship finally came up to meet the crew. And when the "pope" character was left alone with the "cardinal" character, I knew he was going to get stabbed before they even spoke.

I'm sorry, folks, but this is pretty lousy plotting-by-numbers -- and there feels like a real disconnect between the early Ed-Kelly stuff (which I really enjoyed this time) and the main plot here, as their relationship merely bookends the show without any connective tissue. That's more weak writing from Macfarlane with an A-B story structure that feels tonally disjointed like the worst of post-TOS Trek. As for the story itself, I acknowledge the TNG "Watchers" reference of some posters, but I found myself thinking more of Voyager here, as Voyager did tons of stories (including the great space dinosaurs episode!) on cultures struggling between religious dogma and scientific progress, on developing societies (like the ep where the Doctor finds himself in an alien museum and the ship guilty of mass murder) affected by our crew's contamination, and on time paradoxes. In some ways, I think the themes of "Idolatry" are all Voyager staples more than any other Trek show. And folks, I never thought I'd say this out loud, but even the worst "Voyager" story along those lines feels like Shakespeare compared to Macfarlane's turgid mess in this one!

The Orville story's added critique of a society locked in mindless ideology recalls TOS episodes like "Return of the Archons," but generally was done far better in TOS and TNG shows like "Who Watches the Watchers," with greater nuance and respect for people's beliefs. Here we get the feeling that Orville, despite boasting a far bigger budget than TOS, is doing the old "parallel earth" trick to reuse old costumes and studio backlots. We have someone dressed in a Franciscan friar's habit torturing people, cathedrals and stained glass windows, religious figures dressed as pope and cardinals, and finally 21st century televangelists and TV news talking heads. Huh? At least TOS offered the "parallel earth" theory to explain this setup; "Orville" doesn't even acknowledge the parallel here, as not a single series regular comments on how similar the planet's trappings are to Earth's past and how all of the aliens look exactly like humans. We could excuse these shortcuts in the 1960s, but in 2017? I call BS on the lazy writing here.

Of course, the parallel is obviously meant to evoke Christianity in this episode, which we might excuse if the story's presentation of religion was in any way believable, or at least as believable as Kirk becoming the god "Kirok" in TOS. Unfortunately, we only get the very stupid notion that the entire religion revolves around Kelly healing someone's hand, with heretics punished by being crucified (which the History Channel tells me simply means being hung up on a pole, which is not something Christians did to each other historically) and their hands sliced. I'm sorry, but this is *really* dumb and offensive to serious-minded people. Unlike "Majority Rule," where this show's average-Joe allegorizing hit home in tackling our current-day attitudes in a way that felt close to reality, "Idolatry" serves up a critique of a Christianity that never was, taking potshots at a straw man ("the past") rather than at who we are today. Even "Life of Brian" is more believable than the religion we see here.

That's where "Idolatry" really falls short for me: The sting of a good allegory comes from hitting close to home, taking on attitudes that intelligent people actually espouse. "Majority Rule," with its spot-on critique of social media culture, excelled in presenting well-rounded people who look and talk enough like many of us in the U.S. today that I felt like I was watching something real. To be blunt, I *know* Americans (myself included) who sometimes act like the casual "down-button voters" (love the barista character) in Majority Rule, but I don't know any Christians outside of the extremes who act like the zealots in Mad Idolatry. And the extremes is not a good place to go for intelligent Trekkian dialogue so much as a mob scene, like we see in too much of our world today.

Another problem with "Idolatry," as in some past Orville shows including the equally Trek-derivative "If the Stars Should Appear," is that it seems to be lifting Prime Directive stories from Trek without a Prime Directive, which means the implications of its cultural encounters remain overlooked and underdeveloped. In stories like this one, we're never quite sure what the first contact rules of "the Union" might be, as Macfarlane seems to be stopping just short (does he fear a lawsuit?) of saying the "Main Principle" or something else that sounds like "Prime Directive." Since there's no clear sense of Union law here, we get none of the debate over principles and ideas that makes Trek prime directive episodes like TNG's "First Contact" so great, but rather trite and sophomoric cheap shots. And let's be clear that "Idolatry" is not an intelligent debate between reasoned people, as we see even in the most-disliked Trek shows (TOS' "The Apple"?) where Kirk talks a computer to death, but rather a screed at caricatured Christian "true believers" we are invited to dehumanize as backward neanderthals. There is a cynical and ugly underside to this "us against them" approach to religious polemics that doesn't feel anything like Roddenberry, no matter how many people feel (wrongly, I think) that "The Orville" is more truly "Trek" than the more promising "Discovery." In the best of "Trek," we get difficult encounters with worthy adversaries whose beliefs and motivations are respectable discussed as understandable and relatable, not ignorant people doing stupid things while uttering cartoon villain lines. Folks, I don't know a lot of things in life, but I know one thing for certain: Despite its trapping, this "Orville" show is not "Star Trek" and never will be.

Ok, rant over. On the plus side, I loved the funny early scenes of Mercer bouncing around looking for company, and the Moclan game "stinger" was a great gag. I'm just sorry Macfarlane jettisoned the whole relationship story to plug into a routine and unconvincing polemic against "Christianity" that, far from achieving even the exchange of ideas in something like the cheeky interviews of Bill Maher's "Religulous," doesn't even bother to take its subject seriously. And that's the biggest problem, here, in the end: To have a true dialogue between ideas in the Trekkian fashion to which "Orville" aspires, you have to take the other side seriously and understand it on its terms, which requires a story that invites us to say more than "those people are so stupid." Dialogue requires us to treat others with the same respect we expect for ourselves. On the other hand, if all you're looking for is a show that says "look at how stupid religions are and how we will one day evolve out of their childish beliefs," then "Mad Idolatry" is for you. Watching the crude and childish interpretation of Christianity in "Mad Idolatry," however, I kind of wonder if Macfarlane's unexamined atheism/agnosticism is really more mature than the "Christianity" it satirizes.
MiaBN
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 9:57pm (UTC -6)
Regarding the informality in aspects of the command structure:

I think a large part is Ed's preferred command style, which is informal in large part (clearly, the admiralty is more staid and formal). However, is it such a stretch that human cultural norms regarding formality would evolve a great deal over 400 years from the present? Look at changes in our own civilian and military formal culture from, say, the regency era to today. There is definitely a trend towards more casual interactions.

Um, was that ensign asking Ed in for a threesome? And were they smoking pot in there? Seems way more fun than that Disco party over on DSC.
bleakness
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 10:26pm (UTC -6)
Why would they air the last episode next wee? No one would watch. It would be a ratings disaster. there's a certain Jedi thing happening
Peter G.
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 10:44pm (UTC -6)
I'll preface this post by saying that I don't watch this show and haven't seen any episodes since the pilot. However I trust Trek fan's reviews and based on what he says I'd like to chime in with one point. MacFarlane isn't a thinker, and his writing in general isn't ever meant to show two intelligent sides to any topic. Family Guy is an example par excellence of how MacFarlane thrives on creating straw men to mock any world views other than his own, and how the intellectual tenor of the show was to deride without raising anything up. It's indicative of a downward spiral of nihilism, where the only value is to demonstrate that there are no values. Based on Trek fan's description here (and I apologize for dragging you into my post) it sounds right on point for MacFarlane's track record, which in this case sounds like a completely one-sided mudslinging effort designed to once again trounce a straw man and make people who agree with the fake position feel really smart for being so superior to the dumb religious people. Go check out TOS for examples of how local religions are treated with respect regardless of whether the Enterprise crew agrees with them. Creating a ridiculous version of "Christianity" just to throw religion under the bus isn't a debate, it's merely flimsy propaganda. Although I might add, sadly, that this kind of ham-fisted propaganda can be all-too effective. Once again, based purely on what I'm hearing, the Orville sounds like the precise opposite of everything Trek stands for. There's nothing more scurrilous than a hateful message being delivered with a smile, just like a bottle of arsenic with sweet flavoring.
Jonah
Sat, Dec 9, 2017, 11:53pm (UTC -6)
"Creating a ridiculous version of "Christianity" just to throw religion under the bus isn't a debate, it's merely flimsy propaganda."

I think what Mad Idolatry does is actually worse. At the end, the emissaries of the "enlightened" futuristic civilization tells Kelly that she didn't poison their culture with false faith, and that she "must have faith in reason and endurance of the logical mind". Thus reason and logic are taken as some kind of evolutionary endpoint rather than simply another stage of evolution. This is not sci-fi, it is not looking to the future. There may come a time where our reliance on reason and logic (which represent a mere millisecond of the timescale of human existence) will come to an end or be subjected to a new metaphysics. If The Orville demonstrates anything with its flawed characters, it's that the benefits of reason and logic will not bring our miseries to an end (hell, our own civilization demonstrates it). This is something Bones might have pointed out but is lost in the absence of the dialogue that the original Star Trek had between competing ideologies.
wolfstar
Sun, Dec 10, 2017, 6:19am (UTC -6)
2 stars - I thought this ep was only borderline OK, a real mixed bag. The ship scenes (especially the Ed-Kelly material) worked, the planet scenes largely didn't - the depiction of the (apparently British/Irish/Australian) peasant inhabitants was extremely hackneyed in the vein of Up The Long Ladder, and I could see every plot twist coming, from the Meridian/Blink Of An Eye-style time differential to the priest being assassinated to Isaac spending a cycle on the planet. It picked up towards the end, but social satire (of Catholicism/televangelism/Middle-East conflict) shouldn't be so obvious, particularly when it's not especially biting. The humor wasn't as well integrated as in recent episodes, Bortus was again only used for comedy, and the supporting characters weren't used well (Gordon/LaMarr/Alara were superfluous, Claire was defacto absent).
bleakness
Sun, Dec 10, 2017, 7:14am (UTC -6)
@Peter G.
"Creating a ridiculous version of "Christianity" just to throw religion under the bus isn't a debate, it's merely flimsy propaganda. ".
Uh maybe Christianity itself is so wholeheartedl;y simple, built around things such as fear and guilt and has somehow created a huge following yet cannot itself stand up to scrutiny, is the VERY POINT. Sure I said above it was too under the nose.. but to call it propaganda is hypocritical.
bleakness
Sun, Dec 10, 2017, 7:19am (UTC -6)
I mean too "on the nose". But since it was a satire of modern day Catholocism, than I'm fine with that.
I've noticed something in common with most good sci fi writers have with good comedians: if you are easily offended.. if you are JUST LOOKING to be offended, and then complain when you are offended.. GET OUT
Peter G.
Sun, Dec 10, 2017, 9:00am (UTC -6)
@ bleakness,

"I mean too "on the nose". But since it was a satire of modern day Catholocism, than I'm fine with that.
I've noticed something in common with most good sci fi writers have with good comedians: if you are easily offended.. if you are JUST LOOKING to be offended, and then complain when you are offended.. GET OUT"

You have missed my point. Something cannot be a satire of something (like Catholicism) unless it actually understands that thing. I assure you that Seth doesn't, and further, that he couldn't care less to understand it. Putting out legitimate grievances with a religion is perfectly valid as an excercise in the intellectual forum. Putting out a 'rebuttal' of a fake version of the thing isn't satire, it's propaganda designed to whip up hatred based on a lie. It's the same tool fascists use to make the population angry. It's true, I am offended. But not at the attack on religion, but rather on the attack on intellectual integrity. A show being associated with Trek and yet undermining all of its values - that's what offends me.
wolfstar
Sun, Dec 10, 2017, 9:57am (UTC -6)
I totally agree with Henson.

Coming at this from an agnostic/irreligious perspective, I did find this episode's brief jabs at Catholicism and US televangelism pretty weak and facile, because it didn't really have anything to say or say it with any conviction. The episode was at its best when it articulated that the "Kelly" period was just part of the society's development and wasn't her fault - if it wasn't her, it'd have been something else. If you're going to criticize religion, do it with teeth, passion and intelligence - satire needs to be cutting and intellectually rigorous, not just lazy, obvious "thing X is bad" material that's designed to play to the gallery. It's exactly the type of lazy material that religious people will see and think "the liberal media hates us", which furthers social division.
Bleakness
Sun, Dec 10, 2017, 3:31pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G.
Before we go one, what doesn't Seth understand about Catholicism? Please tell me.

Maybe it's the notion that there are special people who only can convey God's message? How quaint. Or maybe it's the unfounded beliefs, or the guilt, or the acts of moving pedophiles around to avoid prosecution, or how rich the leaders see do to acquiring gullible followers?
bleakness
Sun, Dec 10, 2017, 3:56pm (UTC -6)
@ Peter G

Tell me what he does not know about the system that is more corrupt than any other system
Trek fan
Sun, Dec 10, 2017, 5:36pm (UTC -6)
@bleakness

To be fair, Peter G. said he hasn't seen the episode yet. But to answer your question, Macfarlane doesn't understand how religions originate and develop, as any sociologist of religion will tell you (from an entirely non-religious standpoint) that they don't begin with someone performing a miracle and being declared a god. Regarding Catholicism and Christianity in particular, I suppose Macfarlane's story implies with the Kelly analogy that Jesus was a guy who healed some people and was mistakenly worshiped as a god after he disappeared. And now we are evolving beyond that belief into a more logical and enlightened view. But I've never seen any account, least of all by Catholics themselves, that argues this view.

Anyway, Macfarlane's approach of reducing things he doesn't like to absurdity only works when they evoke real things which people universally recognize as absurd. This approach worked for me in "Majority Rule" because the government by social media, with its up-vote and down-vote culture, satirized a part of our current Zeitgeist that is very real (we actually like/dislike things on social media) but not terribly deep. The problem in taking on religion with the same absurdist approach -- especially Catholicism, which has always been full of sensitive and intelligent people, even back in the medieval period -- is that it's much deeper and quite different in reality from the vision presented in this episode. There are certainly absurdities in religion, but cutting people's hands for heresy against the great hand healer doesn't happen to be one of the vices of Catholics, and so takes all bit out of the satire. As someone said upthread, the problem here is that Seth isn't satirizing anything that feels real, because he's not tackling any actual Christian/Catholic beliefs so much as painting religious people as "stupid heads."

@Peter G.

I agree with you on the cynicism in Macfarlane's writing (which I think we both concur does not fall under your category of "good Sci-Fi" or "good comedy") that makes "Orville" feel like the anti-Trek. It reminds me of a book I once read that argued there are two kinds of comedy. One is the vulnerable kind that builds up ordinary people (i.e. Richard Pryor) by comforting the marginalized and ridiculing the powerful; it's a sort of "comedy that does justice" in an unjust world. The other is the smarmy and cynical comedy of powerful people (i.e. Macfarlane) who ridicule ordinary folks from a position of privilege and power. If the social satire on TOS and the other real Trek shows is about comforting the afflicted and afflicting the powerful, Macfarlane's Sci-Fi satire seems to be about shaming and mocking the values of ordinary people both religious and secular. To be fair, I think this kind of satire can work to an extent if it sympathizes with some of these ordinary people as their characters develop in a believeable way, like that great barista character in "Majority Rule." But I think you get my point: The basic difference is between comedy of the people that speaks truth to power (as in the best Shakespearean works and in comics like Gilda Radner) and comedy of the elite that is content to mock "the herd" (as in Macfarlane's work more generally and in "The Office") by ridiculing the values of ordinary people who are just struggling to get by in our world.
Riker
Sun, Dec 10, 2017, 6:25pm (UTC -6)
"As someone said upthread, the problem here is that Seth isn't satirizing anything that feels real, because he's not tackling any actual Christian/Catholic beliefs so much as painting religious people as "stupid heads." "

Is he really though? The "pope" in this episode was quite intelligent when Kelly came back, and was willing to believe the evidence before his eyes to learn the truth about his religion. Would members of the Catholic clergy by so open minded if Jesus were to appear before them in similar circumstances? Highly doubtful.

At the end, it's clear that the writers portray Kelly's views that she has tainted the world with religion as flawed. The representatives from the advanced world tell her this themselves. If anything, the episode is no more an attack on religion than the idea of "cultural contamination". In this sense, it is "anti-Trek".
PerryP
Sun, Dec 10, 2017, 8:11pm (UTC -6)
[ If anything, the episode is no more an attack on religion than the idea of "cultural contamination". In this sense, it is "anti-Trek". ]

SADLY, I DISAGREE! My family is raised Catholic so if you don't like The Orville, then your best alternative is to watch Star Trek Discovery. I watch them both but I like The Orville better. If you think Seth as a writer is Antichrist then you must be on herion. Most of his crew are affiliated with Catholic or Christain beliefs.
Dan
Sun, Dec 10, 2017, 8:29pm (UTC -6)
Wait... McFarlane made something that's pretty much a copy of something else? Pull me up a chair!
PerryP
Sun, Dec 10, 2017, 8:34pm (UTC -6)
Dig my last post, I wish there was a way to correct my previous post. 24th century brings in new religions and that's hardly new. Calling it anti-Trek is at least a silly thing to say. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. :(
SlackerInc
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, 10:34am (UTC -6)
@Trek fan: “And that's the biggest problem, here, in the end: To have a true dialogue between ideas in the Trekkian fashion to which ‘Orville’ aspires, you have to take the other side seriously and understand it on its terms, which requires a story that invites us to say more than ‘those people are so stupid.’ Dialogue requires us to treat others with the same respect we expect for ourselves.”

Personally, I find it refreshing that some atheists/secularists like MacFarlane are willing to dispense with all those niceties and just speak forthrightly. For example, Dave Foley in this comedy special:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7f2eXQxfHk

He says “Now, I know some of you here tonight are people of faith, and that’s...creepy.” He talks about how if there weren’t so many people who believed in religion, we’d just call religious beliefs psychotic. Yet he also points out the absurdity of religious people whining about a “war on religion”, given that polls show atheists are the least likely to get people’s votes--and there was one single open atheist in Congress who has now retired. And even that guy took like forty years to admit his atheism.

MiaBN: “However, is it such a stretch that human cultural norms regarding formality would evolve a great deal over 400 years from the present? Look at changes in our own civilian and military formal culture from, say, the regency era to today.”

I agree with you, but I think change has been a lot faster than that, even. When I was in college in the mid-’90s, I worked a few telemarketing jobs. We were always strictly trained to address the people we called as “Mr./Mrs./Ms. Smith”. My oldest son is in high school now, and he got a telemarketing job where they were taught to address people by their first names. For another example, look at the young women who were invited to the White House and wore flip-flops. A lot of older people harrumphed about it and needed fainting couches, but younger people were like “huh, what’s wrong with that?”

“Um, was that ensign asking Ed in for a threesome? And were they smoking pot in there?”

I sure would have been tempted in Ed’s shoes, but of course John was furiously waving him off.

Peter G: “I'll preface this post by saying that I don't watch this show and haven't seen any episodes since the pilot.”

Hoo boy. Uninformed take coming!

@Jonah: “There may come a time where our reliance on reason and logic (which represent a mere millisecond of the timescale of human existence) will come to an end or be subjected to a new metaphysics.”

I find that VERY doubtful. It is, however, an unusual and original idea. You should feel free to write a story or novel based on this premise. But MacFarlane obviously sees it as I and most secular rationalists do (including, BTW, most of the people who keep our technological society afloat), and it’s his show.

BTW, I find it interesting that all the people getting offended here seem not to acknowledge that (as Riker pointed out) the “pope” was actually portrayed as a man of integrity! As an atheist who finds Catholicism extremely corrupt even by religion’s already poor standards, I thought that was pretty generous of him, actually.
Bufo
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, 11:27am (UTC -6)
I can't tell what MacFarlane's goal is for Orville: ST tribute, ST updating, ST replacement, Galaxy Quest update, GQ tribute? And I hoped I would know by the end of season 1. What does strike me is the most memorable moments from the show for me were the comedy moments that worked (2/3s of which didn't, IMO), such as the leg removal early in the season or Isaac appearing at the helmsman's side stroking his arm and asking if they're bonding. Memorable because those weren't ST moments but could perhaps best be described as "fun with ST." But, as many have pointed out here, if those moments were his only or even main goal, it's puzzling that he's putting so much effort into all the rest of it, such as the prime directive aspects of this episode which very clearly were ST moments.

Otherwise what I can offer at this point is the thought that this show, with its many flaws, is feeding me a reasonably satisfying weekly ST fix whereas STD with its pilot filled with utterly serious but utterly unbelievable cardboard Hollywood characters and nonstop shouting, holds virtually no interest for me.
Peter G.
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, 12:59pm (UTC -6)
@ SlackerInc,

"Personally, I find it refreshing that some atheists/secularists like MacFarlane are willing to dispense with all those niceties and just speak forthrightly."

Refreshing? Have you been living under a rock for 15 years? Or maybe you're from Utah and don't see anti-religious sentiment very often around your parts.

"I find it interesting that all the people getting offended here seem not to acknowledge that (as Riker pointed out) the “pope” was actually portrayed as a man of integrity!"

Again, I haven't seen the episode, but if your definition of "integrity" is that he acknowledged that his religion was a bunch of nonsense then that's a very self-serving definition. A Catholic could just as soon turn around and say that in order to demonstrate integrity you'd have to admit that atheism is a bunch of nonsense. It ought to go both ways, right?

There seems to be some kind of weird premise a lot of Trek fans have that Roddenberry's vision of the future is anti-religious and that enlightened humans are too smart for such superstition. Nothing could be further from the truth, and doing a good viewing of TOS followed by TNG would demonstrate over and over that this isn't the case. Neither is it the case, mind you, that Roddenberry seemed to care to say much of anything about religion in the other direction, so we could perhaps suggest that the series is agnostic about statements of truth in this arena.

I rewatched TNG's Where Silence Has Lease the other day and came across this gem of a quote from Picard, which should dispel any idea that Trek somehow backs a materialist position in regards to existence:

"DATA
I have a question, sir.
(sits)
What is death?

PICARD
You've picked probably the most
difficult of all questions, Data.

There is the beginning of a twinkle in Picard's eyes
again. It is the sort of question that his mind loves.

PICARD
(continuing)
Some explain it by inventing
gods wearing their own form...
and argue that the purpose of the
entire universe is to maintain
themselves in their present form
in an Earth-like garden which
will give them pleasure through
all eternity. And at the other
extreme, assuming that is an
"extreme," are those who prefer
the idea of our blinking into
nothingness with all our
experiences, hopes and dreams only
an illusion.

DATA
Which do you believe?

PICARD
Considering the marvelous
complexity of our universe, its
clockwork perfection, its balances
of this against that... matter,
energy, gravitation, time,
dimension, pattern, I believe
our existence must mean more than
a meaningless illusion. I prefer
to believe that my and your
existence goes beyond Euclidian
and other "practical" measuring
systems... and that, in ways
we cannot yet fathom, our
existence is part of a reality
beyond what we understand now
as reality."

This is surely not a statement definitively describing a creator, and yet at the same time it calls into question the logic of assuming that a universe so perfectly tuned could be imagined to be merely the random result of a bunch of meaningless stuff. This kind of statement, an acknowledgement of wonder and realizing that what we perceive is certainly not the extent of what there is - this is the heart of Trek. One can disagree until the cows come home about one theory of existence or another, but mockery of a belief system and calling people psychotic for thinking there's something beyond crude matter, well that's what I'd call completely anti-Trek. There's nothing rational about thinking you're so smart that you can slam dunk an entire sphere of inquiry (metaphysics) and call people idiots who think about such things.
SlackerInc
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, 1:40pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G: It would be ludicrous for me to discuss the episode with someone who hasn’t watched the episode. But I will answer your question. No, I don’t live in Utah. But where I live now there are lots of churches; and where I recently moved from, there are even more (per capita anyway). No war on religion happening around here! Or if there is, my side is losing — badly.
Peter G.
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, 4:42pm (UTC -6)
@ SlackerInc,

No need to argue the episode with me, as I have no right to make claims about its content. My point was more about MacFarlane that about the specifics of the episode anyhow. I stuck my nose in anyhow just because what I read was disquieting as part of a would-be Trek series so I waned to comment on that aspect of it.

If you live in a religious area then from your perspective I can see how the anti-religious view would be a minority position in your daily life. But it's certainly prevalent enough in TV and film (to say nothing of certain geographical areas) that I don't see how a skewering of religion could be seen as 'refreshing.' When Voltaire wrote Candide it was refreshing. At this point it's almost a cliche. That doesn't take away from your right to enjoy such a message, but MacFarlane is hardly taking some kind of chance portraying religion as being ridiculous; on the contrary, he's merely repeating the chorus of his main audience, reaching for low-hanging fruit. In fact, for someone like him to praise religion in any sense would be the risky move as many who like his kind of work would go apes**t if they heard anything other than what they expect.
SlackerInc
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, 9:48pm (UTC -6)
I'll buy that when I see politicians actually admitting to being atheists.

@Lynos: I watched that YouTube talk. Really interesting, thanks! Seems like a really good, happy group of creators.
Skweeky
Mon, Dec 11, 2017, 9:58pm (UTC -6)
@peter g.

'Something cannot be a satire of something (like Catholicism) unless it actually understands that thing. I assure you that Seth doesn't, and further, that he couldn't care less to understand it.'

I see. You know Seth well do you? Best friends are you?

Maybe you should watch the episode before assuming what MacFarlane was trying to say about religion, or what he does or doesn't understand, or care to understand. You sould like the one who doesn't understand, or care to. Your initials aren't OTDP are they?

I never got a sense of this episode being anti-religious, and it certainly didn't say anything about anyone being psychotic for being religious.

It was far more about how they inadvertently affected this culture and how they can try to undo the effect to avoid contamination. But, in fact, at the end the people on the planet say that they would have turned out the same anyway. And that religion was virtually a necessitiy.

'We've been waiting for the phasing to occur again so we could meet you.
Our society has become a spacefaring culture with ships spread out across the galaxy.
In our home universe, that is.
But we wouldn't have gotten where we are without growing pains.
Our planet worshipped you as a deity for many centuries.
But had it not been you, the mythology would have found another face.
It's a part of every culture's evolution.
It's one of the stages of learning.
And eventually, it brought us here.'

I don't see how the message of this episode is anti-religious in any way. It's very nearly the opposite.

Try watching it before assuming things based on what you think some person you don't know would write.

And by the way, this isn't Star Trek, so the attitude towards religion in that is irrelevant as far as The Orville goes.
Tomalak
Tue, Dec 12, 2017, 6:37am (UTC -6)
I don't understand how anyone can consider this episode (or TNG's Who Watches the Watchers?) a remotely convincing critique of religion.

I find it very plausible that primitive people could worship people with far more advanced technology (e.g. look up the cargo cult). But unless one is arguing that Jesus or Mohammed or Moses was using technology from the far future, I can't see the relevance to the actual religious beliefs that people on Earth have.

I enjoyed this episode and WWTW but I think anyone who comes away from them thinking they've seen a critique of religion is seeing what they want to see and hasn't thought it through.
Shannon
Tue, Dec 12, 2017, 12:12pm (UTC -6)
I think we are getting two concepts confused here, faith and religion. I felt the episode was more of an allegory on how the latter can be corrupted and perverted due to sinister motives, like power. No one can deny that throughout our history religion has been twisted by those seeking power in order to control the masses. In medieval times the Pope had more power than kings, because all he had to do was excommunicate an uncooperative king and that king all of the sudden found himself out of power, or worse yet dead. We see that same behavior today in Islam, whereby there are those perverting that religion to kill others in the name of Allah... There is nothing wrong with having faith in God and believing in the core tenets of Christianity, or whatever your faith may be. It's when humans with nefarious motives get involved that religion gets its bad reputation. MacFarlane shows that when the Kelly religion "priest" sees the errors of his people's ways and wants to tell the people, but is killed by a power-hungry surrogate who wants to continue using the religion to control people.
Outsider65
Tue, Dec 12, 2017, 12:40pm (UTC -6)
This episode was surprisingly tame for a Seth McFarlane piece dealing with religion. The head guy was portrayed as being dedicated to truth, even when it was unpleasant, and the people even claimed religion was a necessary part of their planet's evolution. Wow.

I'm pretty sick of seeing militant atheists circle jerk it in the comments of any episode of anything on this site that portrays religious people in a negative light. We get it, you hate people who have different beliefs than you. Shut up already. You're worse than the fundies. At least they're trying to do right by others in their own worldview. You're just spreading hate and bigotry and claiming those people are inferior animals or even suggesting genocide in some of the comments I've seen. I'm not sure what standards you're going by, but you are definitely not superior to anyone. Star Trek, mass media as a whole, is for EVERYONE, it's not some exclusive club that's militants only and everyone else needs to be constantly bashed because how dare they watch my precious sci fi when it's not for them those dirty animals. I know a lot of people who enjoy Trek, many of them religious, and their interpretations and opinions are not any less valid for it. Stop constantly derailing the conversation with your own bigotry.
Trent
Tue, Dec 12, 2017, 4:24pm (UTC -6)
Outsider 65 said: "Stop constantly derailing the conversation with your own bigotry."

All the religious conversations on this thread have been respectful and polite. You have been the only person to get inordinately hot and bothered. And a questioning and challenging and even overthrowing of organised religion and its oft twisted grasp on politics, culture and thinking (the tacit Just World et al dogmas of most religions unconciously rubber stamp countless forms of systemic exploitation), is not "bigotry", but a kind of slow progress.
wolfstar
Tue, Dec 12, 2017, 6:28pm (UTC -6)
Seconding Shannon's excellent comment. I'd hope both religious and non-religious people would be able to agree that individuals who cynically instrumentalize religion as a tool for power and control - as in the case of Winn, and the murderous priest in this episode - unfortunately exist in every belief system (whether cults or major religions, as well as "political religions" like communism and extreme nationalism). On this front, I guess the episode would have worked better for me without the parallel-earth touches - it was too unsubtle.
Bob
Tue, Dec 12, 2017, 7:14pm (UTC -6)
@Shannon
"I think we are getting two concepts confused here, faith and religion. I felt the episode was more of an allegory on how the latter can be corrupted and perverted due to sinister motives, like power."

What? The episode was not about that at all.
Samuel
Tue, Dec 12, 2017, 11:28pm (UTC -6)
So the next month the civilization will be gone, at the rate it evolves. So who cares? The plot contrivance is a pointless excuse to make religion a strawman. Yaaaaaaaaaaawn...
bleakness
Wed, Dec 13, 2017, 5:55am (UTC -6)
So in addition to be a shorthanded allegory.. the whole reason Seth made the statue so identical to Kelly is to point out that people today seem to all have the same look for Jesus as if they knew what he looked like and they'd recognize him if they would see him. I love that

@Samuel. that is unfair I'm so sorry that religion is so simple that it can't stand up[ to surface scrutiny. By your rationale any important issue brought up in Trek is actually a strawman ..

Get a handle bro
bleakness
Wed, Dec 13, 2017, 6:08am (UTC -6)
Ironic.. that religious people HATE when a show makes everything in their religion simple. They hate it. Yet I've watched MANY artiest vs believer debates.. and every argument by the theist is so simple, and so easy to take down.. they HAVE NO ARGUMENT .. no real argument.

Have you all ever considered that your religions are as simple as these episodes make them out to be.. (or at least nearly as simple) ??
bleakness
Wed, Dec 13, 2017, 6:15am (UTC -6)
and when I saw debates.. I'm talking about structured 3 hour long debates where the religious person has a chance to make their case.. and not even a simple case.. they can portray their argument however they want to. And yet I've never seen one that gets past the idea that they just want to believe, or that it's an argument form personal incredulity or and argument from ignorance.. they all go down the seam path
PerryP
Wed, Dec 13, 2017, 12:25pm (UTC -6)
People love to debate. On religion maybe you should watch Dr Who episodes and debate on which faired worse.

This is my last post until 2018 so Happy Holidays! Merry Xmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa! And Happy New Year to the Orville Faithfuls! 😁
Hank
Wed, Dec 13, 2017, 7:47pm (UTC -6)
Was a good episode, 3 stars from me. Yeah, of course, the plot was contrieved in places, and Kelly was stupid to just show herself, but lets be honest, it was just a shorthand to get the plot moving. Now, you might not like that, but given that the story only has about 40 minutes to get going, I personally can live with that.

As for the religious aspect: Seth was actually really kind to the religion. The head-priest or pope that was entirely reasonable and valued truth over dogma, the explanation at the end that religion is a necessary step on the path to enlightenment ... Really, if he had wanted to shit on religion, there were many more options open to him.

And for the people criticizing him for supposedly not understanding religion: First, he didn't try, that was not the focus of the episode. The focus was on "how can an advanced civilization affect an underdeveloped culture". Secondly, he does not have to understand the intricate details of religion - the effects that religion has on people is enough reason to criticize religion. To all of you defending religion, must I remind you of the Middle East? Or the Middle Ages? I get it, you don't want to lose your faith, but face the facts: God has retreated into the farthest corners of the universe, to a time before the Big Bang, and clinging to a belief in god today is like believing in Santa Claus. Now, does that mean that religion teaching or spirituality can not teach us anything? No. But it is time that supernatural superstition and organized religion goes the way of the dinosaurs.
hpontes
Thu, Dec 14, 2017, 7:21pm (UTC -6)
3.75/4 for me.

This was a great great episode.

I'd like to point out that I don't mind if they reuse plots from anything else, because the point of The Orville to me is to "red lamp" usual plots and show how "it would really happen". Meaning things like, Star Trek would've over dramatize the second visit, with grandiose meetings, being captured, etc etc. Whereas Kelly just plainly, "look at my hand, look at it healed, done".

That's where the Orville really excells.

Where it fails, unfortunately, is still how it's becoming a serious show, but still struggling to keep adding humor. If you took off the random humor it'd be great for me. Not the hilarious scenes like the hot potato game, or the leaving the admiral on, that's fine and organic. It's the little tid bits like the "Don't tell them I screamed". They're jarring.

I think they didn't quite realize how good of a serious show they had, and halfway between the season started realizing the humor is hard to keep up.

Also, the actress for Kelly was so good this episode. I could really feel her emotions.
hpontes
Thu, Dec 14, 2017, 7:40pm (UTC -6)
Wow read all the comments. The conversation that this episode brought definitely adds some points to the show.

I won't be an apologetic though, if someone is really religious and sensitive about it, and this episode felt personal, then it was meant to be.

If someone is open minded, and it allowed them some leeway into how religion today really is nonsensical at times like the show portrayed, as no one has _any_ proof that we didn't have a "Kelly", then that's awesome.

The TNG quotes shown and etc were apologetic. Star Trek has been very silly sometimes in trying really hard to make it seem like somehow many of our religions are still maybe true/right when they have met things that are hugely proofs of the opposite. The prophets, the center of the universe, the aliens that made all humanoid aliens, etc etc. It's pandering to viewership to allow them to feel comfortable watching it.

It does get supernatural a bit, Star Trek, which is always fun.

The Orville once again is showing what "would really happen". A society that evolves past spaceflight and sees all sorts of stuff like that would respect religion, but it would not "follow" it as systematically as we do today. It becomes things like Chakotay's spirit journey, the Klingons rituals, etc. Not something you would be ridiculed for not believing or such a permeation through all of society.

I am religious, but I'm also a being with logic, and I can't fathom our society behaving like it does today in the future.
Yanks
Sun, Dec 17, 2017, 11:48am (UTC -6)
@ Slackerinc,

"That review confused me. Was it written by multiple people? LOL "Not bad" but "so cheesy" and an "additional star" only gets you up to 2? Huh."

Yeah, I just tired of them being idiots. That and the cheese factor knocked it down for me. I actually like the story idea.

Love your screen name BTW. :-)
Skweeky
Mon, Dec 18, 2017, 4:16am (UTC -6)
@SlackerInc

'I'm glad you reminded me of Lamar's hottie though. Is that the closest to nudity we've seen on a Trek show? Or are they pushing it further on DSC?'

There are Klingon boobs on DIS. :D Complete nipplage.

I don't like that in a Star Trek show, but that's what they did.
SlackerInc
Tue, Dec 19, 2017, 3:05am (UTC -6)
@Outsider65: "Star Trek, mass media as a whole, is for EVERYONE, it's not some exclusive club that's militants only and everyone else needs to be constantly bashed because how dare they watch my precious sci fi when it's not for them those dirty animals."

That rant seemed a bit over the top if you ask me. And I certainly want religious people to watch this show, because it won't stay on the air if it's only watched by atheists.

But I can't help but point out that Seth MacFarlane's interview shows that he is quite clearly one of the "militant atheists" you are complaining about. If you watch a show made by, and starring, an outspoken "militant atheist", it seems churlish to object to others like him watching and commenting on the show from a perspective they share with him.

@hpontes: Interesting points about "red lamping" Star Trek plots. Is that a term you made up, or is it a TV trope I haven't heard of?

@Yanks: "Love your screen name BTW. :-)"

Thanks! I use the same one on Twitter, the SDMB, Disqus, and other places.
Dougie
Sat, Dec 23, 2017, 9:58pm (UTC -6)
It feels like every camera angle with MacFarlane is designed to get us to accept his hairpiece. Sad that someone so set on how beliefy they are not, is caught up on their own simple vanity. He’ll have no business lecturing me on any topic with that level of sloppy philosophy.
Skweeky
Sun, Dec 24, 2017, 3:04am (UTC -6)
Lol. Hair.

That made me lol for real.
Dougie
Sun, Dec 24, 2017, 7:23am (UTC -6)
It makes me long for Picard. There was a man of few vanities. I will allow him the uniform pulls - I hear they were very poorly fitted.
Skweeky
Tue, Dec 26, 2017, 5:13pm (UTC -6)
And he had little hair. :D
SlackerInc
Fri, Dec 29, 2017, 12:32am (UTC -6)
OMG, did you guys know Seth MacFarlane made a Star Trek fan film as a teenager? I actually was fairly impressed:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sn_Sgcxg5PQ
Dougie
Fri, Dec 29, 2017, 9:28am (UTC -6)
As do I, Skweeky. I began losing mine in the late 80's, as senior in college. Stewart represented the virile bald Alpha male. I immediately respected the man and patterned some of my life after his mannerisms, including some stoic behaviors I wish I had not developed. They were more the Picard character than the man himself, as I later realized, but I was an impressionable. It was better than John Larroquette's Night Court character Dan Fielding... who by the way I also think was one of the funnier actors... and was someone making an impression on me at an earlier time when I should have been learning more respect. (Turns out he was in Star Trek III)
SlackerInc
Sat, Dec 30, 2017, 3:10am (UTC -6)
Turns out the writer of the TNG episode “Measure of a Man” absolutely LOVES “The Orville”. She is green with envy because she and other writers would have loved to be allowed to turn in the same kinds of scripts.
She talked about it here: https://geeksguideshow.com/2017/12/17/ggg288-the-orville-season-one-review/
Dougie
Sun, Dec 31, 2017, 5:43pm (UTC -6)
I’d like to see MacBraga and team do a re-envisionment of Threshold through Orville. Perhaps they can weave Neelix and StutterManReg into it somehow.
Troy G
Tue, Jan 30, 2018, 8:04pm (UTC -6)
Jammer,

Will you do a Season 1 recap on The Orville?
Jammer
Tue, Jan 30, 2018, 8:14pm (UTC -6)
No, the full-season recaps ended with Enterprise in 2005.
Cmj
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 2:31pm (UTC -6)
I saw the pilot episode of Orville and was disappointed. I gave it one more chance and I'm glad I did. It's an interesting show for me. Some eye rolls and laughs but interesting. I think that MacFarlane is just having trouble finding the right note for the show. I expect he learned alot from his first season and that next season will be even better. I can't wait.
Trekker
Thu, Feb 15, 2018, 9:12pm (UTC -6)
Jammer, I have to agree with you on this one with half a star more for its ambition.

I give it a half point more, because there's something about the idea of humanity being in a bumpy spot at our history with conflicts of religion and ideas, it just speaks volumes about the macro-human experience, which is fundamental to Sci-Fi.

Personally, I think you overrated Star Trek Discovery Season 1 and underrated Orville Season 1, but I see your point. The problem with the Orville is that it has a lot of good ideas and a clean slate that reminds you of "old" Star Trek, while Star Trek Discovery has fallen back to old ideas and is tedious at times now to enjoy.

At the heart of why I enjoy Orville more than Discovery, it's the sense of humanity I feel in Orville is actually more human and relatable, something that is impect, but explores things and ideas with far more potency. There were flops of course, but I like the ideas behind the story.
Trent
Sun, Feb 18, 2018, 8:40am (UTC -6)
Here's a video where Shatner and Seth talk:

https://streamable.com/ry1db

He's obviously a huge Trek fan.
Trent
Mon, Feb 19, 2018, 9:03am (UTC -6)
I've finished Orville's first season, and think it's pretty much beyond criticism.

Orville is what it is; a light comedy, light drama, with loving homages to Trek and classic scifi, which is unpretentious, simple, aims low, has a few bone-throwing jokes to frat boy audiences, a lot of bone-throwing jokes to Trekkies, and which never tries to be cutting edge (dramatically or science fictionally), hip or modern. At its best, it lets you hang out with cute, friendly people on a bright, fancy starship, and taps into the camraderie, optimism and cheeriness of Trek at its most utopian.
lizzzi
Sun, Feb 25, 2018, 6:40pm (UTC -6)
I like Orville far more than I ever expected to. Yes, it's very uneven, but I love the visuals and the music--the sense of hope--the ordinary, non-heroic crew members doing their heartfelt best to deal with what's thrown at them. I'm looking forward to the second season.
Artymiss
Sun, May 6, 2018, 7:22am (UTC -6)
I've - on the whole - enjoyed Orville far more than I was expecting. I'm even looking forward to the second season.

Am I the only person who feels sorry for Yaphut?! He's a very 'alien' alien trying to fit into a humanoid workplace and it isn't easy.

I am disappointed Issac didn't return from his very long absence with a few changes to his appearance, I really think he needs to experiment with facial features next series.

I didn't enjoy this episode as much as most people seemed to (I loved the previous one, think it was my favourite) and the ending seemed strangely abrupt.
navamske
Sat, May 12, 2018, 12:01pm (UTC -6)
"What's tougher to grant is the sheer idiocy on the part of the Orville crew that leads to the cultural contamination."

The crew of the Orville seems to forget, as I guess we the viewers are supposed to also, that even though alien species *look* human, they are *not* human. How did Grayson know that her medical device would work on the little girl?
Joseph B
Sat, Jul 7, 2018, 3:10am (UTC -6)
Wow! I just looked at the Fox schedule for Season 2 and it suddenly hit me that there will be only one new episode released for the entire calendar year of 2018! How messed up is that?!!

BTW, that one new episode is scheduled for 12/30/2018 so they just barely squeaked it in!
NCC-1701-Z
Sat, Jul 28, 2018, 7:16pm (UTC -6)
Orville Season 2 trailer is out!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lavy7qZ1aoo

Thoughts?

It's too soon to judge based on one trailer, but it looks like they're focusing more on serious story/plot this season, although humor will still be present.

Might actually give this season a serious try...
Dave in MN
Sun, Jul 29, 2018, 5:06pm (UTC -6)
I'm pretty excited!

I've been following news on the production and

#1) There will be 15 episodes this season

#2) The will be lots of Trek alumni both on and behind the screen (including Robert Picardo, Marina Sirtis and Tim Russ, as wwell as Joe Menosky joining as EP.)

#3) The sci-fi quotient will be higher

and

#4) there will be two-parters!

I thought the show was just hitting it's groove at the end of Season 1, but it's all highly rewatchable. I can't wait!!

PS was I the only one who got a Orville vibe from the STD trailer?
NCC-1701-Z
Mon, Jul 30, 2018, 11:34am (UTC -6)
@Dave in MN

I think that the STD higher ups saw how a lot of Trek fans were more enthused for Orville than STD and are adjusting accordingly. (I love free market competition!)

For me personally I skipped Orville season 1, but I saw the social media ep and really liked it, so I'm going to watch the rest of the season, just a matter of finding time to do so :)
PerryP
Thu, Dec 6, 2018, 10:23am (UTC -6)
Take a peak of season 2 of Orville, looks promising!

https://trekmovie.com/2018/12/04/10-things-to-know-about-the-the-orville-season-2/
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi"
Sat, Dec 8, 2018, 3:31pm (UTC -6)
Why is there no "Season 2 General Discussion" page for the Orville? It's coming up in three weeks!
Dave in MN
Mon, Dec 17, 2018, 8:33pm (UTC -6)
I can't wait!
Dave in MN
Thu, Dec 27, 2018, 6:00pm (UTC -6)
Hey Jammer,

The new season starts Sunday. Will you be creating a page to post reviews of Season 2?

Anyways, happy new year sir

Dave
Jammer
Thu, Dec 27, 2018, 7:46pm (UTC -6)
Yes, working on it. An update about that as well as a new (delayed) review are in the works and should be posted later tonight!
Demosthenes
Tue, May 7, 2019, 12:32am (UTC -6)
bleakness says about religion:

"...and the fact is that religion IS simple. (comparatively, I listen to religious vs atheist debates all the time, each one being near two hours, and the religious debater has less substance to their argument than WWTW)"

I can't help but notice that though bleakness claims to listen to these lengthy debates "all the time," no details of the engagements are provided. I would rather like to know: what are the topics of debate, who are the persons debating, what are the rules of engagement, and where I can find these debates so I could listen and judge for myself if I so chose.

Because frankly, bleakness, I'm not willing to accept your unsupported and vague characterizations at face-value. As far as I'm concerned, they lack...substance. For all I know, you might be the sort of person who listens to five minutes of Alex Jones and thinks "Well, that about wraps it up for conservatism"* -- yet has never read, or even heard of, Edmund Burke or Russell Kirk or Thomas Sowell.

(* With apologies to Oolon Colluphid.)

Also, this is from bleakness:

"Uh maybe Christianity itself is so wholeheartedl;y simple, built around things such as fear and guilt and has somehow created a huge following yet cannot itself stand up to scrutiny, is the VERY POINT."

In one sense, Christianity is indeed extremely simple. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength -- and love your neighbor as yourself. Easy to understand in the abstract, anyway, though perhaps not so easy to apply.

But "cannot stand up to scrutiny"? Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Abelard, Aquinas, Luther, Thomas More, Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, Wesley, C.S. Lewis...Christianity seems to have stood up to THEIR scrutiny just fine. And I don't think bleakness has written anything to compare to the Summa, or City of God, or the Consolation, or Mere Christianity. Anyone who agrees with bleakness might at least test their own convictions by tackling one or two of those great books, rather than listening to podcasts.
Dave in MN
Tue, May 7, 2019, 7:34am (UTC -6)
@ Denosthenes

Have you read Bertrand Russell?

He's just as famous and respected of a philosopher and mathematician as the laundry list of 16th-19th century guys you cited (excepting CS Lewis), and he had a much better scientific and logical knowledge base to base his arguments on than any of your faves. His hypotheses/conclusions are clearly expressed and he utilizes no ontological backflips or linguistic trickery to arrive at his summations.

He eviscerates every argument put up by your favorite theists point for point.

I think it's pretty disingenuous to dismiss 20th century developments in philosophical thought. Intellectually shaming someone will only succeed if the shamee agrees your Book Club endorsements are the be-all and end-all of religious discussion.

PS-

I could've gone further down the "but-what-about" rabbit hole by citing James's pragmatism or Nietzsche or Schrodinger or Wittginstein or Stephen Hawking ... but if I did, I'd be citing my own Book Club recommendations AND I wouldn't be able to justify being a bit snarky with you. ;)
Demosthenes
Tue, May 7, 2019, 10:46pm (UTC -6)
@ Dave in MN:

Oh, I don't mind a little snark, honestly. I could just as easily indulge in it myself by asking you which Bertrand Russell you were asking me if I had read...since Russell changed his views on a great many issues over the course of his public career, you will often find late Russell endorsing a position at which early Russell would have turned up his nose.

I will separate my reply into two major sections.

1) First off, you are mischaracterizing me. Nowhere did I "dismiss 20th century developments in philosophical thought." I didn't discuss them, or even mention them -- so how could I dismiss them? They were not germane to my point.

What bleakness said was that Christianity "cannot itself stand up to scrutiny," which implies that anyone who is a Christian either hasn't taken the time to scrutinize it, or else is incapable (for whatever reason) of doing so. So I gave a list (a "laundry list," if you like) of world-class intellectual heavyweights of the last 2000 years who are manifestly intelligent and rational men, who have thoroughly examined Christianity, and who have believed in it. My point, in other words, is that bleakness's dismissal of Christianity was hasty and unfair.

If you take my words in that light, you might see that my "Book Club endorsements" are not meant to *prove Christianity true*. Rather, these books, and at least a dozen others I could name, are the ones that flat-out *prove bleakness wrong.* Reading them may, or may not, convince someone to become a Christian. Many theists of other religions have read them without converting; many atheists have read them and have remained non-believers. But what you cannot honestly do after reading these books, if you are reading with an open mind, is to say that there is no intellectual case to be made for Christianity.

Nor am I blind to the fact that there are cases to be made for other religions, and a case to be made for atheism. There are many important atheist intellectuals. I know this, because I've read many of them -- which is why I would never say that atheism is not an intellectually serious position. I don't agree with Nietzsche or Wittgenstein or Schopenhauer, but it would be foolish for me to say that they were not very bright men, or that they had no arguments worth considering. (By the way, you do know that William James defended religious belief on pragmatic grounds, right?)

2) I have read some of Russell, yes -- as well as most of the other fellows you mentioned -- since I spent a fair few years in graduate school for a philosophy degree. And it is simply not true that Russell "eviscerates" Christianity. (I'm assuming that you are referring to "Why I am Not a Christian," either by itself or in conjunction with other writings.) I am glad that you enjoy Russell's work, because he is a man of considerable intellectual substance on many issues. However, this piece is a poor example of his work. Since I don't have time for a full laundry list, my two biggest objections:

a) He seriously mischaracterizes Christ and His teachings on several points, and even doubts whether there was such a man as Jesus of Nazareth -- not a generally-held position among historians regardless of their religious beliefs.

b) He flat-out lies about the historical Church. It's hard to say anything nicer than that. His position, after all, is that organized religion in every form has had absolutely no positive effects on the world, and has served merely as an obstacle to progress. Such a position isn't serious enough to be worth arguing against.

Even a number of the fair points he does make -- for example, that Christ is not the first to put forward certain moral teachings -- are not knock-down objections, but rather simple statements of fact that can also be used to support theistic arguments. If the natural-law doctrine of morality is true, then at least some of the moral law must be discoverable by reason. Thus, a Christian should not be surprised to find at least some virtuous moral teachings being propounded by enlightened people of some other faith, or of no faith at all. That is the view held by C.S. Lewis, who was Russell's contemporary, and had access to the same "scientific and logical knowledge base" as did Russell.
Booming
Wed, May 8, 2019, 12:45am (UTC -6)
@ Demosthenes
The people you name apart from C.S. Lewis lived during times when not believing in the Christian religion would mean at least losing your job and often far worse. Doesn't that diminish whatever they wrote?

And no religion holds up to scrutiny in a scientific sense. Isn't that kind of the point in Christianity. That you have to believe without knowing?
Dave in MN
Wed, May 8, 2019, 9:23am (UTC -6)
@ Booming

Thanks for pointing that out.

Personally, I have an issue with philosophers who start off with a inherently flawed "grand premise". I can't just willingly accept an absurd hypothesis: that's not how logic works.

@ Demosthenes

Let's set aside all the leather-bound books for a second.

Didn't you find that this episode had a good counterargument?

It seems highly plausible to me that a seemingly insignificant event could/did spawn an entire religion.

Case in point: Scientology was (at one point) just an amusing notion L Ron Hubbard would tell his friends for a chuckle and now there are thousands of people who 100% believe in Xenu and Thetans and magic powers.
Peter G.
Wed, May 8, 2019, 11:35am (UTC -6)
@ Booming,

"And no religion holds up to scrutiny in a scientific sense."

I know this is an oft-repeated sentiment, but I'd be interested to see if you can define this statement to some degree of precision. Unless you just mean that looking through a microscope and failing to see angels means that religion must be wrong?

"Isn't that kind of the point in Christianity. That you have to believe without knowing?"

No.
Booming
Wed, May 8, 2019, 12:34pm (UTC -6)
@ Peter G.
I mean it in the sense that you cannot falsify it (Popper). Falsification is the basis of science I would argue. You cannot falsify god. How would you prove that god doesn't exist (falsify)? It is impossible.

That is for example the reason that no climate scientist will ever say: "I know that climate change is definitely man made." even if he/she thinks that it is extremely likely.

So religion doesn't hold up in the sense that it's core, God, cannot be falsified. If religion is useful or harmful is another matter. As a moral philosophy it has certainly it's weaknesses. For example because a few disgruntled Jews in a suburb of Babylon thought that man on man action was something that separated them from the Babylonians so they made it illegal and 3000 years later people in Saudi Arabia and Iran get their heads chopped off because of it (ok ok you get hanged in Iran, not decapitated).

Which means religion certainly exists and it is not important to the existence of religion if God exists . In the sense of the Thomas theorem : "If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences."

An example I always found interesting is the famous theologian Bonhoeffer who during his time in a concentration camp was surprised to find out that other inmates who were atheists (mostly socialists and communists) were as good to on another as one could wish which made him question religion and the church in general. If people can be good without any kind of religion what use has religion? This brought him to the so called concept of "religionless Christianity"

Sorry, it is all very disjointed but maybe it answers your question to a certain degree.
Peter G.
Wed, May 8, 2019, 12:53pm (UTC -6)
@ Booming,

Thanks for the answer. But it's a common misconception that all things in existence are meant to be "provable" by science. As it happens science doesn't (and literally cannot) prove anything; it can only generate sets of data that suggest trends. Likewise, Popper has long since gone out of fashion and been shown to have described the study of science incorrectly: Kuhn was a major update, whose theories outright announce Popper's to be deeply flawed. Lest this get into the weeds, the gist of it is that science does not set out to "disprove" things, but rather operates on models of hypothesis until they can't hold up any more, and then a revolution is needed with a new model. I mention this specifically because science never claims anything; but analysis of the data has shifting models, which often alter radically with new revolutions. What was impossible yesterday is 'common knowledge' today, so long as the data is respected.

But this empirical process only functions in certain realms: namely, those subject to repeatable experiment. There is no scientific study of geometry, which is a hypothetical domain. There is no scientific study of ethics, as it cannot be measured by a spectrometer. And there is no scientific study of religion, whose aim generally purports to discuss issues which go beyond hard matter. If you think there is nothing but hard matter then perhaps you might think there that is no use for religion - science and philosophy would be enough. However that positon would be based on a guess and not on anything in evidence (i.e. that there exists nothing but hard matter).

God being non-falsifiable isn't relevant to science because if there is a God he/she/it exists outside the ream of science. That's sort of the definition of studying things *withint a system*, is that if someone is outside of it you can't study it. That being said, there can perhaps be a bridge between the two but that's another discussion. And in any case, being non-falsifiable isn't relevant to something being true, as we learn from Godel's incompleteness theorem: not everything that is true can be proven within a system. And although this fact is enormous to contemplate, it goes further: our understanding of science is currently *so* weak, and likewise of the universe, that it scarcely befits us to say what can and can't be examined with science at this point, just as it was retrospectively embarassing when renowned scientists at the turn of the century declared science to be nearly at an end, with all things known that could be known. Just think of Q's message in All Good Things, about how much left there is to learn, even about learning.

Until we know what we don't knowi it's better to study what we can, and remain silent on the rest (in terms of dismissing it). The scientific spirit should, if anything, choosing to refrain from making positive statements about things that stand unexamined. If certain types of things cannot be examined, it doesn't mean they don't exist, only that we are either not ready, or else perhaps there is some gap between us and that thing. What that gap might consist in is anyone's guess.
Booming
Wed, May 8, 2019, 1:58pm (UTC -6)
@ Peter G.
"operates on models of hypothesis until they can't hold up any more, and then a revolution is needed with a new model."
I would consider this falsification or maybe an improved model of it. I didn't know that we would really get into methodology. I must admit that I was always more practically inclined. There are so many practical problems in sociology but especially political science right now, polls/surveys for example. It's a mess. If you want to do political scientists a solid then keep your landline.

" If you think there is nothing but hard matter then perhaps you might think there that is no use for religion - science and philosophy would be enough"
I guess that is my view right now. I'm kind of swinging between existential nihilism and cosmic nihilism.

"God being non-falsifiable isn't relevant to science because if there is a God he/she/it exists outside the ream of science." How can something be outside of science?

"remain silent on the rest" That is my problem with religion. They barely remain silent. Just think about it even the most powerful man on earth is a victim of a witch hunt.

But seriously. Could there be a god? Sure. But as long as this possible entity isn't ready to be poked in a lab I'm not ready to build my life around the interpretation of that possible entity.
Jason R.
Wed, May 8, 2019, 2:47pm (UTC -6)
"But as long as this possible entity isn't ready to be poked in a lab I'm not ready to build my life around the interpretation of that possible entity."

So much of the cosmos falls into this category - things that not only can't be observed / tested, but literally can't *ever* be without breaking the fundamental laws physics themselves as we know them. At both the microscopic and macroscopic scales our observations are so hilariously small in scope. It's a humbling epiphany to realize that if we had the technology of Star Trek in our hands today, we would be, in cosmic terms, no closer to the truth of existence than a man sitting in his basement is to China.

Not that I would suggest throwing up my hands, casting off science and worshipping Baal. But we shouldn't be too quick to dismiss things that can't be measured in a lab.

It's ironic that the more knowledge I consume about the universe the more religiously inclined I become - though this is more in a very general sense of awe and less about a specific set of beliefs. Call it atheism with humility.
Dave in MN
Wed, May 8, 2019, 5:55pm (UTC -6)
According to Google there are at least 4200 actively practiced dogmatic religions on the planet. So....

If you are an atheist, you believe that's 4,200 religious systems that are wrong.

If you have a personal faith but aren't a member of any dogmatic religion, you believe that's 4,200 religious systems that are wrong.

If you are a member of any dogmatic religion, you believe 4,199 religious systems are wrong.

The gulf between a theist and an atheist really isn't that large, is it? ;)
Demosthenes
Wed, May 8, 2019, 6:43pm (UTC -6)
@ Booming:

Peter G. has already said many of the things I would have said in response to your "no religion holds up to scrutiny" comment. I will add that I believe "holds up" is the wrong language -- it would be better to say that the theological claims of religions do not *answer* to scientific scrutiny. They can't; as Peter already said, they deal with claims that lie outside the ability of science to test. The problems of a scientist trying to falsify the claim that God exists are roughly analogous to the problems that Scarlett O'Hara would face if she tried to discover whether there was such a person as Margaret Mitchell.

As for your question about whether the value of apologetics written by Christian writers is diminished because they lived in a predominantly Christian age, I have two answers. The first is to say simply, "No." The proper standard to measure the worth of a philosophical work is simply whether, and to what extent, it makes its case. The circumstances of the author do not enter into it. Lucilio Vanini had a harder time than Denis Diderot, and a much harder time than Bertrand Russell or Richard Dawkins. That may make Vanini a braver man, but it does not necessarily make his work mean more.

Second, your argument could only go through if its implied premise -- that Christian writers living in Christian lands and times would not have to worry about religious persecution -- is true. But the lives of half my list prove that premise false. Boethius was imprisoned and executed for something he did because of his religious convictions. More met the same fate for something his religious convictions would not allow him to do. Luther famously "lost his job" because his beliefs angered Pope Leo X; Anselm almost lost his because his beliefs angered King William II. Abelard was excommunicated, imprisoned multiple times, and forced to burn his own work. None of their suffering is evidence for the truth of Christianity. But if you hold to your own argument, you should think their work more valuable, rather than less.
Demosthenes
Wed, May 8, 2019, 6:56pm (UTC -6)
@ Dave in MN:

No, I don't think the counterargument of "Mad Idolatry" is worth much of anything, really. That's not a mark against it, by the way. It's not trying to make an argument. It's trying to tell a story of the genesis of a false religion, and the effects it had on a developing civilization. Now that, it did reasonably well.

As a science-fiction concept, I found the idea pleasing. Clarke's Law may have been written to apply to magic, but the corollary to religion is obvious. "Devil's Due" in TNG also touched on this issue from a different angle -- that religious miracles could merely be the result of misunderstood technology, here applied accidentally. I do have to take points away, though, because I can't believe that a fully-developed religion could develop from the paucity of material Kelly gave them to work with. Several dozen miracles were attributed to Jesus over the course of a three-year ministry; healing one kid one time ain't gonna do that.

Where I think we will differ is the ending. Yes, the planet grew out of its Kelly-worship. Both you and I will agree that it should have -- because though Adrianne Palicki may look divine, Kelly Grayson isn't actually divine. It is good when people stop worshipping false gods. But it does not thereby follow that all gods are false, and Seth MacFarlane asserting it at the end of an episode doesn't make it so.

While we're playing "what if" games, here's one: what if Kelly's arrival jerked the planet's natives out of adherence to a more or less true faith? Taken from that angle, this story could as easily be the tragedy of a civilization that doesn't even realize it's fallen, and the loss of billions of souls, all due to the ill-timed arrival of a well-meaning Union officer.

As for your latest post, it's a cute bit of rhetoric, but even "wrong" things can be wrong to different degrees. A kid faced with the math problem "72 + 29 = ?" has reached a wrong answer if he gets 91. But he is far closer than a kid who turns in an answer of 2088. And both of them have understood the question better than a kid who says -634. I can look at religions with which I disagree, and say which ones I think are more and less right. An atheist, on the other hand, is committed to the belief that every religion gets the most important question on the paper 100% perfectly wrong. That's a bigger gap than you think.
Robert
Wed, May 8, 2019, 10:24pm (UTC -6)
Excellent post, Demosthenes. :-)
Booming
Thu, May 9, 2019, 1:37am (UTC -6)
@ Demosthenes
True. We started discussing a question without first agreeing what the question "means". When I said "no religion holds up to scrutiny" I meant that because the existence of god or whatever higher state is the core of a religion isn't scientifically verifiable then that means that no religion can, with absolute certainty, claim to be true or valid. And because no religion has that claim imposing rules based on a religion is non justifiable.
To be clear though I'm agnostic not an atheist. Even though Richard Dawkins would call me an atheist.

From a sociological standpoint religions/believe systems are also clearly influenced by the time and place they came into existence. That's why there are clear justifications for slavery in the old testament because slavery was the unquestioned norm 2500 years ago or why Mormonism is so very compatible with capitalism.

"apologetics" I did not now what that word meant. I like to learn new meanings of words. Thanks.

"The circumstances of the author do not enter into it (his work)." I cannot agree here. First of all we all grow up in a culture that forms us to a high degree. All these theologians you name would have been Muslims or Confucians or something else if they were born somewhere else. They only wrote about Christianity because they were born in predominantly Christian countries during times when religious debate was omnipresent.

Second. Here we will obviously disagree. From a pure logical standpoint justifying a believe system or as you call it theologians "making their case" makes no sense to me because when stuff is uncertain they cannot go to god and ask: "Hey, is it ok to have a slave? or "should we pray on Sunday or Saturday? or "Pork or no pork?" As Dave in MN pointed out all these debates start at a great premise that is unproven.

All these crazy debates (again from my viewpoint) about religion in "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" made me stop reading it. I was bored out of my mind.

And to you argument that the fact that half of them were actually prosecuted by their own religion does prove that they wrote what they thought was right. Maybe they just thought:" Ok, this is as much as I can push this or that topic without getting burned at the stake even though I actually believe far more radical things."

Luther for example was probably influenced by the fact that his life depended on the goodwill of a few people from the high nobility which, when the peasants war came around, probably effected his infamous piece "Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants." We don't know how much this piece was influenced by the dangerous situation Luther was in but it is certainly possible that he was thinking of his powerful benefactors when he wrote: "anyone who is killed fighting on the side of the rulers may be a true martyr in the eyes of God"

"But if you hold to your own argument, you should think their work more valuable, rather than less. " Again, this is were we certainly disagree but for me these are all just different interpretations of a fairy tale. Disagreeing with the dominant interpretation of that fairy tale can certainly be courageous if it puts you in harms way but it is not more "valuable" whatever that means.

I doubt that we will ever really agree here but as long as I do not send you to the Gulag and you do not burn me at the stake we should be fine. :)

@ Jason R.
For me it actually goes in the opposite direction. Knowing that the universe is so immensely old and gigantic definitely leaves me in awe but that doesn't lead to religion but to nihilism. I think we can be fairly certain that humanity will be gone in 500 million years but the universe will probably still do it's thing. If humanity isn't a constant development until the end of time then what is the point of anything?

Why would a higher being place us on an mid sized planet flying around a mid sized sun in one of the smaller arms of a mid sized spiral galaxy which is part of galaxy group which is part of a super cluster which is part of a super cluster complex.

I never understood how a rational person could know that and be religious. (Of course I understand the psychological value of religion. Paradise and all, fear of the end of your own existence, pain of losing people)

@Dave in MN
Somebody has been watching Dawkins. :)
Thomas
Thu, May 9, 2019, 2:17am (UTC -6)
"Why would a higher being place us on an mid sized planet flying around a mid sized sun in one of the smaller arms of a mid sized spiral galaxy which is part of galaxy group which is part of a super cluster which is part of a super cluster complex.

I never understood how a rational person could know that and be religious."

I might be able to help you out there. I think you lack some understanding about Christianity. The question assumes that God has placed us, as bodies, on planet Earth. But the whole basis of Christianity is that we are not mere bodies, but that our real identity is Christ - perfect, holy, divine love. If that is true then our senses deceive us and bear witness to the absence of God - and to existence in a nihilistic, cruel and massive universe where life is meaningless and death is certain. Such a universe cannot be God's creation, but it can be a symbol of a "fall" or "separation" from Him, and therefore cannot be real because God is all there is and one cannot separate from Him.

If you had the choice between these two self-concepts, seeing yourself as beautiful perfect love or alternatively as a miserable speck of dust, you should be able to understand why the Christian finds theirs more appealing.
Booming
Thu, May 9, 2019, 2:52am (UTC -6)
"If that is true then our senses deceive us and bear witness to the absence of God - and to existence in a nihilistic, cruel and massive universe where life is meaningless and death is certain."
Said the pope to Galileo. :) I actually hope that Christians don't believe that, the pope included. Because that all boils down to: "Science is just the devils way to deceive us." Sounds pretty medieval to me.
Thomas
Thu, May 9, 2019, 3:06am (UTC -6)
Well, as far as I'm aware, Christians believe the story of Jesus, including the miracles he was said to have performed. Miracles which contradict some of the laws of science, or at least suggest that those laws aren't set in stone.
Jason R.
Thu, May 9, 2019, 6:09am (UTC -6)
"@ Jason R.
For me it actually goes in the opposite direction. Knowing that the universe is so immensely old and gigantic definitely leaves me in awe but that doesn't lead to religion but to nihilism. I think we can be fairly certain that humanity will be gone in 500 million years but the universe will probably still do it's thing. If humanity isn't a constant development until the end of time then what is the point of anything?

Why would a higher being place us on an mid sized planet flying around a mid sized sun in one of the smaller arms of a mid sized spiral galaxy which is part of galaxy group which is part of a super cluster which is part of a super cluster complex. "

@Booming let me try to address this. First, when I use the word "religious" I wasn't talking about Jesus or Odin or some other parochial Earth religion. I was speaking in a much more general sense referring to some cosmic 'purpose' of which we seem to be some small part of.

You look at the cosmos and imagine we don't matter at all and our existence is just a meaningless fluke. And I get that point of view. But then I think: why shouldn't we matter? The fundamental forces of the cosmos exist at the largest levels (like gravity) and at the smallest with the strong nuclear force at the level of the atomic nucleus. Stars, the engines of creation, literally began as diffuse clouds of hydrogen with no discernable order or purpose except to coalesce in denser and denser clouds seemingly at random. But when enough of them clumped together something awesome suddenly happened. Why should something be unimportant merely because it is small or (seemingly) insignificant in isolation?

We have some inkling as to how the universe began but not the foggiest concept of how, let alone why. And science will never ever reveal that to us because it literally can't - our science disintegrates at the moment just before the big bang. Even the universe as it exists today has parts that can never be observed, as their light has red shifted away in the expanding universe, lost forever to any possibility of observation.

You could believe that the genesis of the cosmos is just some random fluke with no purpose at all. But this hypothesis has no greater validity or probability of being true than believing that there is a purpose. And why should that purpose exclude us, any more than it excludes a single hydrogen nucleus that will one day power a star?
Trent
Thu, May 9, 2019, 6:20am (UTC -6)
Christianity used to be cool and edgy, man. This was a religion about a gender-neutral hebephile who impregnates their own underage mother in order to incestuously give birth to a proto-Marxist bankster-bashing son who was simultaneously his own father and who possesses a magical save-game function which restores the sin-health-bars of humans whenever he presses reset on a cross.

That is cool, edgy stuff. But then Christians ruined Christianity and turned it into the worst kind of conformism. Your modern western Christian is just like everyone else, down to its day to day activities, thought processes, wants and desires. Worshiping at the alter of the Invisible Hand, the Holy Market and the self, Christ's believers demote Jesus to a kind of teddy bear, selfishly and periodically rolled out.

We gotta bring back the fire-and-brimstone Big Lebowski Jesus. Drunk stoner hippie-love Picard-in-a-toga Jesus. No other religion has a hero as cool as him, except, arguably, Buddhism.

Someone above mentioned "Devil's Due". This episode seems to present the reverse message of "Devil's Due". In this episode, Orville defends religion as a "stage", a "vital crutch" which helps societies "evolve". Religion as a kind of wisdom laid upon cultures, which helps add structure, guidance and shape, and which helps bootstraps humanity to something more nuanced.

"Devil's Due" offers sort of the same message, but is IMO a bit more critical of religion; religion in "Devil's Due" is more parasitic, it claims victories and achievements which the aliens would have accomplished without its presence, and its demands for payments and fidelity get in the way of, stymie and slow past and future accomplishments.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, May 9, 2019, 7:42am (UTC -6)
@Dave MN

"If you are a member of any dogmatic religion, you believe 4,199 religious systems are wrong."

That's an excellent argument against dogmatic view points in general.

It has, however, absolutely nothing to do with the question of whether God exists.

It doesn't even serve as an objection to being a member of a given religion, unless you can demonstrate that they are following it dogmatically. This, really, has more to do with the specific religious person in question, and less to do with the specific religion he is practicing.

Also, you've yet to demonstrate that atheists in general are somehow less dogmatic in their philosophy. I've met people who quote Dawkins (for example) with the same brain-dead devotion as the most hard-core fundamentalist. There's absolutely no correlation between being a dogma-free thinker and belief/disbelief in the existence of God.

(for further evidence, I cite your own post. You've just equated theism with dogma without even realizing that the two aren't the same. Isn't that... well... dogmatic?)

"The gulf between a theist and an atheist really isn't that large, is it? ;)"

As Picard once said to Q: What you say in irony, I say in conviction.

The gulf between theists and atheists is mostly imaginary. We just make sense of the world around us in different ways. And the real enemy we should all be weary of isn't religion but prejudice, dogamtic thinking, and the notion that people who have a different perspective than us our somehow inferior.

It is also helpful to remember that we are a very young species. In all probability, we are all wrong about many things. Let us all try to remember that, shall we?

@Booming
"Why would a higher being place us on an mid sized planet flying around a mid sized sun in one of the smaller arms of a mid sized spiral galaxy which is part of galaxy group which is part of a super cluster which is part of a super cluster complex."

Why not?

I never understood this argument.

We are part of a 14 billion year old saga (and counting). The galaxies and stars and planets are part of this awesome story. Some of these planets eventually gave rise (with or without some direct divine intervention - the jury is still out on this one) to self-aware beings like us.

Doesn't this sound like a story that befits a higher being to write?
Booming
Fri, May 10, 2019, 1:17am (UTC -6)
@ Jason R.
I think all the words: purpose, matter and whatnot are human concepts which we come up with to understand patterns or to perceive our own existence as meaningful.

If there is purpose to us then who gave us that purpose because purpose can only exist if there is will.

Do we matter? Well, we matter to us but that is where it ends.

Could we be some link in a greater purpose. Sure. But stars and life does exist because of gravity/physics. Imbalances create greater imbalances. Particles lump together. The gravitational pull catches more and more particles which then creates a star. Smaller particle clouds cannot escape the pull of that star and start to become planets. The heat energizes the surface of these planets. Energized Amino acids lump together until the very early forms of life start to develop.
Were you see purpose I see physical laws.

You also use other words that are value judgements like meaningless or random fluke. As I wrote above to me live is just another consequence of imbalance and if human existence shouts one thing then that is imbalance.

@Trent
I know you are joking but there is a sad side to all of this. The most ardent supporters of early Christianity were women and slaves. So where was the bible we know today created? In an imperialistic slave state (ERE) by an all male group.

@ Omicron
I could basically write the same I wrote Jason but to give you a different take.

If there is a higher being doing all of this and if we believe the monotheistic interpretation of an omnipotent god then this being either went to great length to put us somewhere really average or we aren't special to this being. There is nothing special about our place in the galaxy, our galaxy even our supercluster isn't that special. We are at the complete opposite of where religions see us: in the absolute center.

To me Jason and Omicron it just seems far more likely that we Humans come up with all these concepts like purpose or great saga to feel better about our relatively short existence.

So what gives me solace in the darkest hours of the night? Well, there is alcohol... I love nature. When the trees get their new leaves in spring and the animals brim with life. Wonderful. The thought that yes my conscious may end but the matter that I am now will just become something else. To quote the very misunderstood founder from DS9:"The drop becomes the ocean again." ;)
Even though it kind of bugs me that I will miss the time when Humanity flies to the stars if we ever do.

And against all rationality I have a real soft spot for Humans.

Meaning, purpose. If I'm right then we will never know. If you are right then I'm looking forward to seeing you all in Purgatory. :)
OmicronThetaDeltaPhig
Fri, May 10, 2019, 5:41am (UTC -6)
@Booming

"@ Omicron
If there is a higher being doing all of this and if we believe the monotheistic interpretation of an omnipotent god then this being either went to great length to put us somewhere really average or we aren't special to this being. There is nothing special about our place in the galaxy, our galaxy even our supercluster isn't that special. We are at the complete opposite of where religions see us: in the absolute center."

This, pretty much, was the reason that the Catholic Church originally rejected Copernicus. The problem with argument, however, it is that it attributes petty human weaknesses to a Superhuman being.

Why on earth would you expect God to care about how "impressive" our location is? What makes us special is that we are self-aware. As Sagan once said (and Captain Mercer once stole) "We are the way for the Universe to know itself".

In short, our physical location is irrelevant. Perhaps we could excuse the 16th Century Church for not understanding this, given the primitive state of scientific knowledge at the time.

But a 21st century scholar, whether religious or secular, has no excuse to make a similar error.

"To me it just seems far more likely that we Humans come up with all these concepts like purpose or great saga to feel better about our relatively short existence."

Perhaps we did.

So? Does it make these concepts any less true?

After all, the story of humanity is OUR story. We can CHOOSE to treat ourselves as unimportant specks of dusts. Or we can CHOOSE to view ourselves as a part of something bigger.

One does not even have to be a theist in order to choose the latter route. Star Trek and the Orville advocate it, even though they are secular. Sagan advocated it, even though he was an atheist.

Once again, we have another demonstration of my previous claim that the difference between theists and atheists isn't a big as many people think.

"Were you see purpose I see physical laws."

Why do you believe that these two options mutually exclusive? Yes, the universe works in accordance to physical laws. So?

Stop for a moment to think about this: All the known physical laws of the universe can be summarized a single page of equations (The Standard Model of Particle Physics + General Relativity).

Assuming a purely materialistic view point for a moment, this single page of dense mathematics is what powers EVERYTHING in our universe. From the animals and the trees to the human mind to the mind-boggling way in which strands of DNA can tell a single cell to create a fully-functional baby in 9 months.

Now, I can't say for sure that these equations were designed for a purpose (though I certainly believe so). But I do find it funny when people (both atheists and religious) casually mention the laws of physics as if there's nothing totally awesome about them.

"The thought that yes my conscious may end but the matter that I am now will just become something else. To quote the very misunderstood founder from DS9:"The drop becomes the ocean again." ;)"

I gotta admit that I couldn't care less about where the atoms in my body end up in a million years. After all, the atoms in a human body are replaced all the time.

What matters to me, is that - in the here and now - I am contributing my small part to the ongoing story of consciousness in this universe.

Perhaps as an individual being, I will not be there to witness humanity's first interstellar ships. But I, like you and like every other human being on this planet, am a part of the story that will eventually take place among the stars.
Peter G.
Fri, May 10, 2019, 10:57am (UTC -6)
"This, pretty much, was the reason that the Catholic Church originally rejected Copernicus. The problem with argument, however, it is that it attributes petty human weaknesses to a Superhuman being. "

I'll just address this point because I think it's interesting. While I'm sure many Catholics were upset about a new way of thinking just because it was new, there were many 'legitimate' reasons to question this theory as well. For one thing, it was visually crazy to think that the sun didn't move. Up until Galileo, all astronomy was naked eye astronomy, and basing theories on what you saw with your own eyes was the best science could do. Seeing the sun move, and hearing a theory that in fact it didn't, was bonkers. Likewise, science wasn't yet to the point where it could be understood that a body in motion might feel, to those on that body, that it was still. This has to do with frames of reference, and is in fact a far more difficult notion even than heliocentrism. So there were holes in other parts of science that would have made it difficult to accept heliocentrism as presented wholesale.

In fact, even for those who did study Copernican ideas, it was common until Galileo to treat them as mathematical notions that may or may not in fact have a physical reality to them. Not that many scientists as far as we know were actually convinced of the physical reality of the theory. This is not unlike the current manner of treating quantum mechanics, where our mathematical models of how QM works are not understood to be physical descriptions of what's "really happening" but rather are mathematical models that try to fit the data. There's a big difference between the two! That said, Bruno and Digges did in fact believe the theory wholesale, so some certainly took it seriously as a physical reality.

All this to say, it's easy in hindsight to accuse various parties of being on the wrong side of history, but it's not so easy as that.
Booming
Fri, May 10, 2019, 1:01pm (UTC -6)
@Omicron
"After all, the story of humanity is OUR story. We can CHOOSE to treat ourselves as unimportant specks of dusts. Or we can CHOOSE to view ourselves as a part of something bigger."

I wouldn't say that we treat ourselves as unimportant just that there is no higher purpose and we have to come up with our own reasons and purposes without knowing that it makes any sense simply put existential nihilism.

If you feel more comfortable with the belief that there is some guiding superhuman entity. Ok. As long as you do not accept the orders of a human organization that claims to speak the truth in the name of that entity then that's fine with me. Not that you need my permission. ;)


@ Peter G.
I think many people even back then could fathom that for example when a ship sailed away from a landmass that the ship was moving and not the landmass. It was also known to many astronomers far earlier than Copernicus that the Ptolemaic model was incorrect. The math didn't work out.

This was also not only about being right or wrong but about life or death for many scientists of the period. The catholic church needed 200 years to stop banning books with the heliocentric model and another 100 years (1822) to allow reading/printing Copernicus and Galileo books.
Karl
Fri, May 10, 2019, 6:44pm (UTC -6)
Can science tell us whether the universe it studies in such detail is real? And if not, what relevance does what it has to say about its alleged lack of meaning have to a potentially unreal universe?
Dougie
Sat, May 11, 2019, 6:46pm (UTC -6)
@Karl
Solipsism, and it's variants, is the philosophy of which you speak, and it is my philosophy. In my form, I believe only I exist - everything is an aspect of me. People might translate this as 'I am God'. It's more like: I am all and everything. It is not a narcissistic view. Actually, I've debated long and hard with my best friend whether it's really his universe, and I'm just an aspect, and would he please just relent and like tomatoes already.

The philosophy is considered "non verifiable." I have been trying for all my years to find the edge, peel it back, and find if it's real. This includes some very extensive experimentation in the 80's and 90's with the Dead. Extensive.

I admit that it can be just a feeling, but then life things happen that reinforce it. It falls in line with my death belief, so I think on the continuum, it all works out.

As for any alleged meaning to all this (waves arm), as it's my universe, I think Jerry and Bob said it best (by the way, one of my greatest creations) - we're going to hell in a bucket, shall we at least enjoy the ride?
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Sun, May 12, 2019, 4:11am (UTC -6)
@Dougie

"...but then life things happen that reinforce it."

Not surprising, because you *are* at the center of your personal universe. Each of us is at the center of their own universe. Ever feel like you're the main character of the universal story? That's the reason.

But why on earth would you believe that it only applies to you? Talk about hubris...

@Peter G.
"While I'm sure many Catholics were upset about a new way of thinking just because it was new, there were many 'legitimate' reasons to question this theory as well."

In addition to all the reasons you listed, there's also the fact that the simple Copernican model didn't quite agree with the observations. The fix for this had to wait until Kepler's breakthrough that the planetary orbits are ellipses rather than circles.

But the fact remains that in many parts of Europe, heliocentricism was opposed on religious grounds for a long time after these problems were solved. After Newton discovered his laws of gravity (I think 1666?) there was really no good reason to oppose it, yet the opposition was still there.

By the way, Galileo himself already used telescopes in 1609 and he discovered the Galilean moons (which most definitely *don't* orbit the earth) in 1610. So even at that early time, there were some strong grounds to question the status-quo.

(of-course we don't need to look so far back to make this point. Just look at the percentage of Christians who oppose evolution today, because of similar reasons)

@Booming
"I wouldn't say that we treat ourselves as unimportant just that there is no higher purpose and we have to come up with our own reasons and purposes without knowing that it makes any sense simply put existential nihilism."

Fair enough.

But surely you'll agree that not all human-made purposes are made equal? If I suddenly decide that my purpose is to go around and start killing people, that's not cool, right?

Or think of the values that Classic Trek and the Orville teach. Things like accepting others, cooperation, forgiveness, overcoming flaws and so forth. Are these just arbitrary goals? Or are these universal tenets that all sentient beings should strive for?

Note that I haven't mentioned God here. One does not, necessarily, need to believe in the existence of a higher being in order to accept the notion of some absolute standards of purpose and morality. You can call it utilitarianism, or logic, or "doing what's right" or "doing what's best for everyone in the long run" or whatever else fits your fancy.

But however you call it, you've defined a universal sense of purpose.

Whether you attribute it to an actual literal Universal Consciousness (God) or to a set of principles (similar to physical or mathematical laws), that's a whole different question.

"As long as you do not accept the orders of a human organization that claims to speak the truth in the name of that entity then that's fine with me."

I accept them for what they are: Attempt by mortals to connect with the divine, with varying levels of success.

I also see nothing wrong with being part of such a religious community. Walking this path together is far more efficient and fulfilling than doing so on your own.

But of-course, I don't accept any human-made organization as the final arbiter of what God wants. Humans are fallible. Besides, as I've already written on the Discovery thread, I trust no one :-)
Dougie
Sun, May 12, 2019, 1:13pm (UTC -6)
/ˈ(h)yo͞obrəs/
On a dark night, during a violent storm over the ocean, some people on shore observe the oscillations of a floating collection of many colored electric lamps, connected with each other at long intervals and at the ends with two wires.
Although these colored lamps draw their current from one and the same source, yet since their rays pass through changing conditions of various kinds, some shine out to a distance, others affect each other as they interpenetrate, still others are completely swallowed up either mid- way or at the very place of their arising.
If two people are together, the closer they are to each other, the more intimate is the mixing of their atmospheres, and therefore the better is the contact achieved between their specific vibrations.
The blending and fusion of the specific vibrations given off by different people take place mechanically, depending on their situation in relation to each other and on the conditions they are in.
And so, among the people with whom I come in contact, the formation of the psychic factors necessary for the manifestation of attitudes diametrically opposed to me must inevitably occur in the following way:
Booming
Tue, May 14, 2019, 5:07pm (UTC -6)
@ Omicron
I always feel a little guilty writing about this stuff because it is barely a tangent to the show now. To be perfectly honest I'm not big on religious discussions and I think that philosophy already has it's head on the chopping block.
And neurology, psychology and sociology are swinging the axe. It is comparable to alchemy. At some point chemistry, physics and biology came around.

Sooner or later we will really understand that brain thingy and after that it is only about achieving the desired effect through means that are deemed appropriate.
Most if not all these philosophical questions will be meaningless in the not so far future. That may sound crazy now but I guarantee you it will happen. But don't worry it won't be as awful as it sounds.... or maybe it will like advertisements or propaganda that really messes with your brain. Maybe we are lucky and climate change gets us sooner. :)

Oh and no I don't think that there are universal truth. (more or less) Universal cultural patterns yes, like banning incest and cannibalism for example. For the time being there is only personal truth for which one can of course argue and other people may voluntarily change their views. Everything else can become dangerous pretty quickly.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, May 15, 2019, 4:54am (UTC -6)
"It is comparable to alchemy. At some point chemistry, physics and biology came around."

You need to brush up on your science history.

Modern chemistry evolved directly from alchemy. It has many of the same procedures and uses many of the same tools. Chemistry is basically alchemy augmented with the scientific method.

And if you want to argue that theology should also be augmented with the scientific method, you're not going to get any argument from me.

"Sooner or later we will really understand that brain thingy and after that it is only about achieving the desired effect through means that are deemed appropriate.
That may sound crazy now but I guarantee you it will happen. But don't worry it won't be as awful as it sounds... or maybe it will like advertisements or propaganda that really messes with your brain."

I see. So having a society that brain-washes the masses with scientific accuacy, is not "as awful as it sounds"?

The scary thing is that we're already 80% there. We already have targeted propaganda and targeted advertising that are created by psychology experts. We already have mega-corporations that track our every move and use the dirtiest psychological tricks for the sole purpose of making more money.

Me thinks you've just demonstrated why the notion that there's no absolute morality is so dangerous.

(and again, one could have

"Oh and no I don't think that there are universal truth."

Of-course there is.

Murder is wrong. Slavery is wrong. Prejudice is wrong. Trampling over other people's basic rights to sustain our own greed is wrong.

And get this: These things remain wrong even if society "decides" otherwise. Slavery was wrong in 19th century America no less than it is wrong now. And two plus two will always be four, even if society "decides" that it is five.

Sure, there are also grey areas. There's also considerable room for variations and personal/national/planetwide preferences. This too is part of the Universal Truth: there's more than one way to be a good person and/or to create a good society.

And I must admit, that I find it odd that you - of all people - would reject the idea of absolute ethical truth. At the very least, I would have expected you to realize that prejudice and discrimination are unethical in the absolute sense.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, May 15, 2019, 5:07am (UTC -6)
Oops... seems like one line was cut off from the middle of my previous comment.

This:
"(and again, one could have"

Should have been:
"(and again, one could have universal ethics without being religious. See Star Trek and the Orville as examples)"
OmicronThetadDeltaPhi
Wed, May 15, 2019, 5:40am (UTC -6)
By the way:

Once we fully understand what makes people "tick" there are plenty of beneficial uses for this knowledge.

Imagine a world with no more petty misunderstandings. A world where the knowledge of how to break habits and overcoming personal flaws makes everyone happier, better people. A world where every child can learn anything he wants in his own way, making "learning disabilities" irrelevant.

The possibilities are literally endless.

Here's to hope that in the future, humanity will be wise enough to use this knowledge for our collective benefit rather than as psychological weapons.
Booming
Wed, May 15, 2019, 7:38am (UTC -6)
@ Omicron
"You need to brush up on your science history."
I don't think that I do.
Psychology and sociology directly evolved from philosophy. Philosophy is about questioning/finding the meaning of life. This question is still debated because we don't know, which is going to end when we fully understand the brain and then use that understanding.

"I see. So having a society that brain-washes the masses with scientific accuacy (sic), is not "as awful as it sounds"?"
That is not what I said. I only said that it is going to happen. Could be good, could be bad. Looking back on human history there is potential for both. I am certainly worried, though but in a very relaxed way. I cannot change humanities desire for new knowledge nor would I.

"The scary thing is that we're already 80% there."
I would say more like 30% maybe even less. All the stuff that is done today is still mostly shots in the dark or simple A will often lead to B kind of experiments. The problem so to speak is that the brain is still basically a black box.

For example Candy Crush was developed with lots (and I mean lots) of psychological input but most of it boils down to very simply poking the reward system. It is not very sophisticated.

The problem with absolute ethical norms is not that they exist but who defines them, and I know nobody I would trust with that. We humans are dominated by so many illogical impulses... eh no thanks.

"Murder is wrong." Murder is defined as intentionally killing another person. What about a bomber pilot dropping bombs on a village. He/She isn't threatened directly. Is that person not a murderer? But that kind of murder is ok (at least for the one who owns the bomber)

"Slavery is wrong" I'll think about that when I walk past a clothing store. Then there is compulsory military service during times of war (real wars, not like bombing third world countries).

"Prejudice is wrong." But I can still hate Nazis, can I?

"Trampling over other people's basic rights to sustain our own greed ... ." Isn't that a nice definition of the economic model we are following right now as far as I know almost everywhere with no change in sight.

"And I must admit, that I find it odd that you - of all people - would reject the idea of absolute ethical truth."
I would say that my point is pretty clear. I think aggregates of individual truth are fine. In other words people finding personal truth and then banding together to fight more efficiently. I have strong convictions and are ready to fight for them.

Maybe you should clearer define what you mean with universal truth. Or is that just what you define as morally and ethically right?

"Imagine a world with no more petty misunderstandings. A world where the knowledge of how to break habits and overcoming personal flaws makes everyone happier, better people"
That would be the good outcome of really understanding our lovely little meatball :)
Jonas
Wed, May 15, 2019, 8:49pm (UTC -6)
The only thing understanding the brain may potentially gain us is knowing how small a role it actually plays in our functioning.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, May 16, 2019, 1:21am (UTC -6)
@Booming

You said earlier that you feel guilty about having these discussions here because they are "off-topic". At this point, I agree with you. If we've reached the point were I need to explain why discriminating women/blacks/gays is different than hating Nazis, then there is little point to continue.
Booming
Thu, May 16, 2019, 4:01am (UTC -6)
@ Omicron

I was pointing out that what you consider universal truth is just your personal truth. The mistake you make is to think that your personal truth is more valid than the personal truth other people hold and in addition that your personal truth will prevail. By the way, there were prominent female Nazis (Riefenstahl) and gay Nazis (Röhm). Who decides which group can be discriminated? You?

Do you realize that black or gay are socially defined categories? Especially skin color. Separating people because of skin pigmentation. Makes no sense. And the gay culture mostly exists because society defined being attracted to ones own sex as deviant. You can say that about many categories we people use.

How about ultra orthodox Jews or Quaker, religious fundamentalists in general? How about people who are against abortion or for the death penalty or anti vaxxer ? Is it ok to discriminate these people?

As most people, you want simple answers which are also in line with what you already believe to be true.
Or in other words.
https://www.bingeclock.com/memes/frasier___yanking_my_giggle_chain.png
Hi
Fri, Jun 21, 2019, 3:59am (UTC -6)
I don't think tonal inconsistency is a problem, tonal variance is required for story telling, and I think their mixture of serious and sarcastic is superb (Want me to use another S?) It's an experiment, yes, but it only enhances my viewing

Whose to say some humans will never be incompetent in the future. Why must space-faring ships be devoid of humour - certainly isn't for sea-faring vessels!

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