Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"In the Hands of the Prophets"

3.5 stars

Air date: 6/21/1993
Written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

And so the first season comes to a close, showing exactly the direction DS9 intends to take where the major issues are concerned: Bajor and its politics and philosophies. "In the Hands of the Prophets" explores what happens when Federation secular teachings and Bajoran religion collide.

Bajoran Vedek Winn (Louise Fletcher) publicly denounces the classroom teachings of Keiko O'Brien's school. The result is a sudden rift between the Bajoran and Federation peoples, undermining everything Sisko hopes to accomplish. As with the best philosophy-oriented shows, this season-ender brings a great deal of probing substance to its plotting. Scenes like the one where Sisko fairly explains the meanings and intentions of Winn and her followers to his son are what really makes these events and attitudes believable. This is not simple by any stretch of the imagination, and by not reducing any of the characters to single dimensions, the script does a superb job of handling its premise.

Sisko attempts to seek help from another Bajoran religious establishment, introducing the character of Vedek Bareil (Philip Anglim), who cannot immediately offer help. ("It seems the Prophets also teach you politics," Sisko remarks very correctly.) Meanwhile, a subplot involving the mysterious death of one of O'Brien's engineering staff opens up hints of a conspiracy, which ties in beautifully with the main story. The bombing of Keiko's school complicates matters, and is enough to convince Bareil to come to the station to offer his religious perspectives on the matter.

There's a lot of plot here, and pretty much all of it works when it comes together, tying Winn in cahoots with O'Brien's Bajoran engineering assistant Neela (Robin Christopher) and revealing their intentions to assassinate Bareil—Winn's opposing candidate. The episode sports standout performances from everybody, but especially from Avery Brooks who plays Sisko with a commendable passion for his mission. The ending displays the understanding that the Bajorans and Federation have come to in the past six months, but it's easy to see there's much more to come in terms of political intrigue next season.

Previous episode: Duet
Next episode: The Homecoming

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184 comments on this post

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Joe Ford
Fri, Sep 21, 2007, 6:19pm (UTC -5)
Oh how I miss Deep Space Nine

Whilst I feel the first season was hit and miss when it came to episode quality the sheer size and scope of this universe and the potential for storytelling was phenomenal. From the opening moments of Emissary suddenly Star Trek was up close and personal and it was clear that this was a series that was a quantum leap away from Star Trek TNG.

Whilst Sisko, Dax and Bashir took a little while to mature and grown on me the alien characters were instantly fascinating. I can remember watching Emissary aged twelve and I felt as if I had been absorbed into a new world of political conspiracies, alien shapshifters, scarred worlds and aching sadness. It was eye opening.

So how does series one fare? Emissary is a big bold opener with lots of great ideas that would be built upon in late seasons, it is easily my favourite opening episode of any Trek series.

Past Prologue continues the trend, political wranglings and tortured Kira making for especially good viewing with Garak as added fun.

A Man Alone is the first dud but it still contains some gems of scenes, I feel a sense of uneasiness here of a show trying new things and uncertain how to get it right.

Babel is ridiculously entertaining for such a barmy premise. I really enjoy the Quark/Odo banter here and the two of them working together at the climax works a treat.

Captive Pursuit confirms it was a big triumph bringing over Colm Meaning from TNG and giving him more screen time. He emotes everybody else off the screen and provides this action episode with real heart.

DS9 works less well when it is trying to be TNG, a trick they soon learnt to forget (of which Voyager should have taken note!) and Q-Less is an exmaple of an episode with some comedy nuggets but little else to reccomend. Q's mockery of Bashir and Quark though is brilliant.

Dax is DS9's first courtroom drama and I find it far more interesting than any of the others they attempted. Farrell gives a lovely, sensitive performance and the writing is crisp and the Bajoran arbiter a delight. Another success.

I really enjoyed The Passenger on my first viewing but now enjoy it less and less. Siddig's performance as the villain is frankly an embarrassment (and it is rare to say that in DS9) and although the episode contains some nice dark moments I think this is a feeble attempt at horror compared to late efforts (Darkness and the Light)

Move Along Home is essentially a harmless episode with some nice visuals but it cheats at the end like the Voyager reset and for once Quark is actually quite annoying.

The Nagus was the first of many wonderful Ferengi episodes. I have been visiting Jammer's website for years and years and I think the only real disagreement I have with his DS9 reviews is the Ferengi episodes. The strike me as good old fashioned British humour, well scripted and performed. I just love the extended Ferengi family and they inadvertently end bringing that sense of warmness and family to DS9 that was absent on both TNG and Voyager despite many relations showing up.

Vortex allows the ever wonderful Rene Auberjonois to shine. Odo's story was probably the most interesting of all the regulars and his path to discover his people starts here. His little confession to the locket is lovely.

Battle Lines is one of my favourites this year, a really meaty episode with some striking performances. Kira's character growth brings me to tears in places and the cruel fate of Kai Opaka proves this is a series that plays by its own rules.

Bashir and O'Brien is one of the great Star Trek pairings so why is The Storyteller such a chore to watch? Their chemistry is not quite there yet and the story itself is a bit predictable.

Progress is one of the wonderful 'little' stories DS9 excels at every now and again. Whilst there is a larger story playing out the focus here is the intimate relationship between Mullibok and Kira. The 'great ugly tree' always gets a laugh from me and the finale is astonishingly understated and emotional.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, If Wishes Were Horses is a silly idea that is treated immaturely. The actors play the comedy well but this feels like a waste of an hour.

The Forsaken is very enjoyable. Three plots, farce, tragedy and SF and all work well. Mrs Troi has never been a favourite of mine (although she did send up some TNG characters wonderfully on the odd occasion) but her relationship with Odo is surprisingly sweet and watchable.

Dramatis Personae is my least favourite episode this year. It just feels WRONG. Kira is a ridiculous bully, Sisko the plotter, O'Brien the agressor...its a TNG episode that refuses to work on DS9. Lousy episode.

Duet was and is possibly the finest DS9 (and Trek) episode ever filmed. Proving the old adage that all you need is two good actors and a great script and you can produce magic, this proves the dramatic weight of focussing on the Bajoran/Cardassian war better than any other episode. It keeps you guessing throughout and ends on a dramatic high. Amazing.

In the Hands of the Prophets is the climax the series needed with some powerful dialogue and useful wrapping up of themes running through the episode. There is a lovely feeling of moving on to new pastures that is essential to keep interest in the show. Its also an intruiging mystery with a beautifully shot action climax.

Season One of Deep Space Nine, flawed but fascinating and full of possibilities...
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Dab Brill
Tue, Oct 23, 2007, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
I watched the first season of DS9 a year and a half ago. I loved Emmisary and some of the other eps in this season, but In the Hands of the Prophets was the episode that made me a diehard fan. After that, I was totally hooked.
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Graham Pilato
Mon, Oct 29, 2007, 4:24pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Joe Ford, Jammer, about the Ferengi episodes... not all, but several, I think are much more underrated than they should be. There is (or... was... it's nearly 15 years on now from this season...) a big fan following for those characters, but the greatness of the DS9 Ferengi world-building and world-deepening comes from the first season, and that was the main reason I fell for DS9 in its first year back in 1993. It was a much bigger and better developed world, a hundred times deeper than anything that was established in Star Trek up to this point, with the possible exception of the Klingons on TNG. Four DS9 Ferengi episodes in particular, I think, are just horribly underrated: The Nagus, Rules of Acquisition, Family Business, and Body Parts. A great Ferengi episode per season in the first four years of the show. Each of these episodes deepens things tremendously and, while maybe not a huge collection of big laughs, they're utterly true to the established characters and well played out. I cared more about Rom and Quark through the first five years of the show than just about any other character besides Odo and Kira.

It's the aliens who get well developed in sci-fi.

That was a key difference, of course, in DS9, that so many non-Federation, weird and unscrupulous people were about, with totally different cultures of their own that persisted for longer than one or two episodes of sterile, clinical investigation on the bland Enterprise or Voyager.

Of course, In the Hands of the Prophets then pulled all the political tension together so nicely, that a brilliant second season would succeed this hesitant, uncertain first. I think
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Jayson
Wed, Feb 13, 2008, 6:28pm (UTC -5)
Well, I’ve never really gone though the series or any of the seasons episode and reviewed them but Joe Ford has inspired me so here are my mini reviews.

Emissary - Out of every Star Trek series to date this episode is the best introduction of the world and the people who live in it. Ironically enough for me this episode has only gotten better over the years because of how it evolved over the course of seven years. Who knows, maybe the prophets had something do with it. I suppose for me the interesting thing to watch is the first time we meet Nog as a thief and considering where he ends up its a lot of fun to watch.

Past Prologue - There isn’t much to say about this episode except that it does mark the first appearance of Andrew J. Robinson AKA our favorite plain and simple tailor. Though I have to admit Garak is a much better character in the episode “Cardasians”. Btw, is it just me or does Garak seem to be hitting on Dr. Bashir from the get go, I leave it to others to think what you will of that.

A Man Alone - Like “Past Prologue” there isn’t a lot here but I did like the idea of creating a clone of your self only to murder it with the intention of framing someone, color me naïve but it struck me as pretty clever. Now, my main quibble with this episode is we don’t get a final scene when Ibundan’s clone (presumably) fully matures. I always thought there should have been scene between Odo and the clone where the clone doesn’t know who Odo.

Babel - Now I thought this was a really fun and original episode & I have to say this is the first episode that Kira as a character really worked for me. Also, there is great scene when Quark has to transport Odo off the station and just as Quark is transporting Odo he quickly reveals how only ever “watched” a transporter being used. Now given Quark is Quark I imagine he knew how to use a transporter but he just getting at Odo, just one of great jabs to come.

Captive Pursuit - This was the first of many great O’Brien episodes. I’m hard pressed to think of any other Starfleet officers that break all the rules and make it feel more convincing than contrived. Though I do wish we had met Tosk again later in the series maybe on the run from the Jem’Hadar but alas we never did.

Q-Less - Much to my surprise this was a bit of let down considering how entertaining Q can be but given all his appearances on VOY maybe Q was really a TNG thing that just didn’t translate well beyond the Enterprise D. But that’s not say Q doesn’t get in a few good ones like when Sisko hits him in a boxing match “Picard never hit me” “I’m not Picard” or when makes Bashir very tired and as he staggers away “Go sleep with your self for a change”

Dax - I can’t really say why but this wasn’t a particularly interesting episode and I’ll just leave it at that.

The Passenger - Ok, I’ll say it right off the bat, this episode is only ever going to be remember for Alexander Siddig’s almost comical over the top portrayal as a villain. Lets all be grateful he never attempted that again.
Move Along Home - I thought this was pretty fun and over all cool episode. The first thing I thought of when its revealed that the crew are actually and laterally “pawns” in this game were human beings used as a chess pieces which always makes me laugh. Also, this episode ends with a great line “Its only a game” which I suppose is good advice any time you start taking something too seriously.

The Nagus - Ah, the first of many really good Ferengi episodes and who better to play the head of The Ferengi alliance than Wallace Shaw, just about every line from him is comic gold. But beyond that this episode I think finally makes the Ferengi very real and the representation of something humanity in the 24th century has evolved out of.

Vortex - If there is only one reason this episode doesn’t work for me is because I don’t think the clues of Odo, his people and origins are nearly as tantalizing but to be fair I don’t really think the writers knew where they were going with that story line. In hind sight I wish Odo’s changeling key had made another appearance.

Battle Lines - I have to say this is another good episode for Kira (they keep getting better) because this is where she finally starts facing those demons and begins to evolve into the character we would all come to know and love. Now, again like other forgotten story threads I wish Kai Opaka would have brought back other than in visions or just a passing mention.

The Storyteller - I have to agree with Joe Ford in that this episode is hard to watch because Bashir and Obrien haven’t become friends yet and their friendship is a hi-light of DS9. That being said I liked the idea of belief being a very literal and powerful weapon against something hostile.

Progress - Now, here is the first really big Kira centric episode of the season and I think it works well but not nearly as well as “Duet”. Kira in this episode seems to be thinking things over rather facing them head on.

If Wishes Were Horses - Of all the fun light-weight episodes this season this one is only second to “Dramatis Persona” I think I like this episode mainly because the idea of powerful non-corporeal aliens who are just exploring is an appealing and rare notion in Star Trek. I think there was a missed opportunity in this episode in that we never got see Sisko playing baseball with Buck Bokai. On one final note the funniest part of the episode is when we see Odo’s fantasy is to have Quark locked up. Maybe not all the surprising a revelation but Odo’s little laugh at his own imagination coming to life cracks me up every time.

The Forsaken - I can’t really say much about this one so I won’t, moving along…

Dramatis Personae - I freely admit out of the first season this is my favorite light-weight episode. This episode has a lot of fun using all the characters in new ways just for one episode though not nearly as good as “Our man Bashir” or even remotely close to “Far Beyond The Stars” but still very entertaining. I particularly like Sisko’s alternate personality who if you slapped an eye patch on him, gave him a parrot then put him on pirate ship he would have been perfectly at home. One other thing, I did like that the alien influence was never fully explained but not that it probably would have had a creditable explanation anyway. Btw the thing that Sisko the pirate builds can still be seen in his office through out the series.

Duet - Ok, now this was the first and best Kira episodes of the series but ironically I can’t say specifically why its so good. The closest I can come to an explanation are most of the scenes between Kira and Marritza / Gul Darheel. Beyond that I think episode is so full of passion its impossible to nail down what actually works and what doesn’t. Simply put it’s a stellar episode that is almost as good as “Far Beyond The Stars”

In the Hands of the Prophets - This episode is what I really think separates DS9 from the rest of Star Trek in its ability to handle religion with out feeling preachy or over bearing. To me what The Bajoran’s believe seems very credible and real to me which is a credit to the writers. I think by the end of this episode its not really summing up the relationship between The Federation or Bajor but rather it comes down to the understanding of two people, Kira and Sisko. These are two characters who started out on virtually different sides but now are coming together. Besides Obrien and Bashir Kira and Sisko is one of the best and most important relationships in the series.
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Dan
Wed, Jul 23, 2008, 8:33am (UTC -5)
Revisited the early seasons on both Cable TV and with my Christmas Present Box Set.
I can safetly say that the first season of DS9 has aged very well. Especially when you look you compare it to TNG's first season.
Like TNG this got better and better as time went on. Even my Dad who has been a Trek fan since the 60's conceeds that this is the best Trek series of the lot.
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Nic
Mon, Sep 28, 2009, 8:43pm (UTC -5)
I wouldn't call DS9's freshman season "surprisingly good." It was definitely better than TNG's first season, but not as good as Voyager's. The pilot is very good at introducing the characters but nothing much of relevance happens and a lot of time is spent on Sisko explaining mundane things like baseball to the wormhole aliens.
I also disliked "Vortex", not just because Odo lets a murderer go free (which contradicts his sens of "justice" in the rest of the series) but especially because it promised to reveal information about his species but copped out at the last minute. I also thought Opaka staying behind in "Battle Lines" made no sense, other than the writers needed a character to die so we would 'find out' about the nanoprobes. However, this can be forgiven as it gave us the fantastic character of Kai Winn.
I'll admit "Duet" is still one of my favourite episodes, but the one I think you most underrated is "Dramatis Personae." This is the kind of fun you usually can't have with the characters until the third season, and it was nice to see this crop up so early in the series.
And THANK GOD Jake and Nog's annoying antics, which reminded me of Wesley Crusher, slowly faded away after this season.
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Dave F
Sun, Apr 17, 2011, 7:41pm (UTC -5)
So I have been re-watching DS9 since the beginning, because when it first aired there was quite a few episodes that I missed. Growing up I enjoyed TNG and Voyager a lot more - and I still do. The great thing about Star Trek is that there is such a variety and so many fans we can all like different things. While I love DS9, I enjoyed TNG or Voyager more.

The first season: I enjoyed it quite a bit. There was some wild swings in quality and a few dogs ("Babel" and "The Storyteller") but every first season is going to have get the kinks out of the show. While it is not fair to judge TNG's 6th season versus DS9's 1st season, since they aired during the same year I must say TNG's 6th season was far superior. It's not fair because TNG was running at warp drive by that point and this show was just starting. DS9's first season was much more structured than TNG's 1st season, as the writers knew what to avoid. Most of the stories were well thought out and allowed the characters to grow in a universe that was different than TNG, but still within the Federation.

The characters were given life and proper backstories and were definitely not copies of TNG or TOS. The actors were all quite enjoyable too. I have to admit that I didn't enjoy Bashir that much, and while he was never my favorite character I do like the journey his character took as he matured throughout the show. It was awful that Garak only appeared once this season! I for one thought that Garak should have been promoted to a regular character.

Would I recommend this season? Yes. Is it excellent? No. As a Star Trek fan I enjoyed it, but it was not my favorite season of Star Trek by far, but it set up the premise for some excellent episodes that were to come both in this season and in the future.

1) Emissary: *** -> An excellent premiere that set everything up quite nicely. The storyline was engaging and the introduction to DS9 and the wormhole was handled quite well. I did *not* like the way Sisko treated Picard (I understood the intentions by the writers) as it left a bad taste in my mouth as I was loyal to Picard. All of the characters received enough screen time for me to enjoy the new show.

2) Past Prologue: *** -> I enjoyed this episode quite a bit. The storyline moved swiftly and confidently and having this episode about Kira was a smart move. The character is brought to life by Nana Visitor in a terrific way. The Duras sisters was a great touch for Trek fans, in that why this is a different show - it's still Star Trek.

3) A Man Alone: ** 1/2 -> I enjoyed it more than other people. I thought it was a clever ending in that he killed a clone of himself to frame Odo. I love Odo, but I thought the way the Bajorans turned on him so fast (especially since he tried to be fair during the Occupation) was a little forced. An average hour, but enjoyable nonetheless.

4) Babel: * 1/2 -> Why do all Trek series have to do a "disease episode" in the first season? This was awful. The entire "babeling" got old fast and even the somewhat exciting "action" ending couldn't get past the 35 minutes it took dragging to get there.

5) Captive Pursuit: *** -> A great O'Brien episode. It gives the Gamma Quadrant a face: a scary face in that it's an unexplored dangerous place that we know nothing about. The Alpha and Beta Quadrants was pretty explored during the course of TNG's run so it was refreshing to see some real unchartered territory that does not know what the Federation is. I liked the contrast to TNG in how O'Brien "changed" the rules. I thought it was fair given the circumstances.

6) Q-Less: ** -> Medicore. I think it was a good thing Q never reappeared as this episode showed he did not fit with the DS9 crew at all. Seeing Vash was nice, but the story never really amounted to much. The line about the TNG crew figuring this stuff out was quite amusing....but it was interesting that the DS9 writers incorporated it.

7) Dax: *** 1/2 -> The first excellent episode of DS9. Jadzia was my favorite character of DS9 and this established just why and how she is so wise (and fun to watch on screen).

8) The Passenger: ** -> The first few acts were quite enjoyable and held my attention. However, it completely derailed in the last act. I enjoyed the action/science fiction premise but the ending was....bizarre. I hate to say this but Siddig's performance was absolutely horrendous and completely ruined the ending.

9) Move Along Home: ** -> The Gamma Qudadrant Ferengi? Average, but still it was nice to see the Gamma Quadrant explored. However, the whole "game" element got tiring fast especially as the aliens just repeated the same lines over and over.

10) The Nagus: *** -> The first Ferengi episode was quite good. However, howcome Rom was not reprimanded at the end? It was this gaping plot hole and made security look terrible on DS9. I'm sorry. He attempted murder, and something should have been done.

11) Vortex: *** 1/2 -> Giving clues to Odo's existence was the correct idea. It gave us some answers to keep our attention but enough to bring up new questions. A great hour that held my attention with some great special effects.

12) Battle Lines: *** -> An enjoyable episode that was not terrific but watchable. It was a good premise, and by having Kai Opaka stay on the planet to bring peace I thought was interesting, because of the possibilities that it brought up for Bajor as while a great character was not going to cause any trouble for Sisko.

13) The Storyteller: * -> This episode was horrendous! I was not a fan of the Jake/Nog B-stories of the early seasons, but when that is a highlight you've got issues. The A-story, while at least gave us a glimpse of the excellent friendship of Bashir and O'Brien. The plotline of a mythical energy being fed off by emotions was laughable. Thankfully it was never revisited.

14) Progress: *** -> A nice hour that had to occur. It showed Kira maturing and realizing Bajor needs to make some changes if it wants a brighter future. That meant sacrifices, and I thought while this episode dragged a bit it was a still enjoyable story. The B-story was basically a repeat of the previous week.

15) If Wishes Were Horses: * 1/2 -> Everyone think good thoughts and this episode might improve! It was bizarre that nobody seemed to care about their "impending doom" because of the anomaly so any jeopardy was non-existent as it seemed everyone just thought it was a regular day at the office.

16) The Forsaken: *** -> An enjoyable hour, that showcases that I must be the only person who loves Lwaxana! I think she's a hoot! I actually loved the Odo/Lwaxana pair because the acting and characterization was quite amusing to watch. The ending was quite touching.

17) Dramatis Personae: ** -> Another spatial anomaly to let the characters-not-be-themselves and it left me with a mediocre feeling. The storyline took forever to get going, but once it did it least became somewhat interesting as the premise of an ancient power struggle was interesting. Excitement was lacking here though.

18) Duet: **** -> A DS9 masterpiece but I think we all know that. Terrific story. Terrific acting. For a show that had no action it was a completely engrossing. Absolutely excellent.

19) In the Hands of the Prophets: *** 1/2 -> DS9 ends its first season on a high note. Action and political intrigue blended nicely into a very believable hour. Louise Fletcher is a wonderful addition to the cast. The storyline I thought exploited the premise of Bajor confronting the future in a profound and realistic way, that was not forced at all. The crew came off really well in this episode, and I thought it was a great ending to make people come back for the second season.
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grumpy_otter
Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 9:06pm (UTC -5)
I liked this, but not quite as much as Jammer. I was very excited by the beginning and thought this would be a science/religion conflict exploration.

Instead it became politically correct and pointed out that the religious crazies are the only ones to fear while the moderately religious are just fine, when any level of religious thinking is a contradiction of reason.

Sisko's conversation with Jake was the typical type of appeasement that has been given to the irrationality of religion for far too long.

I did enjoy it all right--just not as much as I thought I would. Keiko rocked in her refusal to compromise--I wish the episode had been more about that simple conflict rather than having to bring in a murder.

And after all these years, Nurse Ratched can still make me shudder. She is scary--perhaps most so when she is pretending to be nice.
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T'Paul
Mon, Jul 1, 2013, 9:24am (UTC -5)
The religion/science debate is pretty run of the mill in my opinion, but for me what really stands out here is the foreshadowing of Winn's character and personality, which as we know become key later in the series...

It's interesting to see how she's consistent from the very beginning, how she says "I'd love to look into the prophets' eyes" (or words to that effect)
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azcats
Wed, Sep 11, 2013, 3:01pm (UTC -5)
I dont know if DS9 did a good job with Vedek Winn or not? because, i absolutedly hated her. i am not sure because it was done on purpose or because it was done poorly? i mean, dukat was a villain and i liked him. but maybe, Winn is a villain in her own. but man...she drove me nuts.

this is an example of one of the few times that the A and B plots intertwine. and they do a great job. the mystery and detective work was fascinating.

heck, the science vs religion was just a way to move the plot along, and it too was great.

and iloved the conversation between sisko and jake.
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Snitch
Mon, Oct 14, 2013, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
These kinds of problems with the religious Taliban is still prevalent even in the USA. With Winn they further detail Winn as a perfect villainous character that I always enjoyed.

3 1/2 stars
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Kotas
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
Not a bad episode considering it is focused on the Bajoran storyline.

5/10
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Dusty
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 1:47am (UTC -5)
I didn't find the Bajoran stuff in DS9 very absorbing--until 'Duet', and this episode. Vedek Winn immediately looks like one of the most dangerous antagonists on the show, because she's a wolf in sheep's clothing. She hides behind religion, knowing Sisko can't deal with her as she deserves without compromising Federation and Bajoran relations. Her fanaticism and disregard for Sisko's role were evident as well. I also respected Keiko's character for the first time (her painful acting aside). This was the kind of religious and political intrigue that previous ST shows wouldn't have touched, and it put DS9 a cut above everything else. An oustanding finale to a rocky but promising first season.
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Dave in NC
Fri, May 30, 2014, 3:07am (UTC -5)
A multiple female character episode. I guess on Star Trek it goes unnoticed, but serious dramas with such strong female performances? It's not as common as some people think.

Anyways, a few notes:

1) When Winn talks about being admonished by Kai Opaka for wanting to see the prophets for herself, Kai Opaka told her she should sit in darkness and pray for atonement. I flashed ahead to the final season.

I think it was interesting that Winn ended up sending both Ranjen and Dukat to their own darknesses, yet in the end she only got to see the Pah Wraiths. I like the suggestion that Opaka had already glimpsed the future in a vision of the Prophets.

2) I liked Keiko taking a stand on not teaching the Bajoran religion in her class. I agree. Schools should teach facts, not uninformed mumbo-jumbo. However . . .

3) Since day one Keiko has been portrayed as a passive-aggressive antagonist to Miles, so I did get a perverse pleasure out of seeing both Vedek Winn and the ever-sassy Kira put her in her place. (I lol'd when Kira called her "Mrs. O'Brien" in a sing-songy tone.)

4) while it was very entertaining, the murder plot really was unnecessary. I would have been just fine with the episode continuing to go in a philosophical direction (An arbitration by a unbiased 3rd party perhaps?) There are so many ideas about superstition vs science that could have been explored.

Then again, this was a season finale. There are certain expectations and social commentary isn't one of them.

I'd give this 3 stars, not the best plot: but superior characterizations and strong performances abound.
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Dave in NC
Fri, May 30, 2014, 3:12am (UTC -5)
Really, this is a must view in terms of the plotlines that develop over the rest of the show.

Not the best episode, but truly essential viewing.
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Robert
Fri, May 30, 2014, 8:56am (UTC -5)
I actually see the murder plot as a darker social commentary. Without too much to a IRL political discussion most IRL politics is informed by votes and not by beliefs. As a liberal it's my opinion that most conservatives don't give a damn about gay marriage and abortion but if you whip religious types into a fever pitch it'll get people to the polls. It's my opinion that if Roe was ever overturned a lot of Republicans would be crying into their pillows because their "get religious types to the polls free" card would be spent.

As I said though, I don't want to paint this as an IRL political discussion or even to place judgement on non politicians. I'm sure many conservatives think liberals are only pretending to care for minorities/poor people to get votes for instance, it flows both ways.

To hop back to my original analogy though... looking at Vedek Winn through a lens of 7 seasons of knowledge... she never cared a bit about what Keiko was teaching in the school. Her rant about the wormhole aliens/prophets wasn't that of a true believer... it was to drum up support from true believers (like Neela). Winn is even said to come from a conservative sect. So she picks a pet issue to whip religious types into a fervor about and then uses them to advance her political agenda. It's a BRILLIANT condemnation on conservative politics and how non believers wield true believers to do their bidding.

It touches on the evolution in schools bit, it goes back to Galileo, it's the beginning of Winn's arc, it touches on the fact that dismissing your opponent's views outright makes you a fanatic for the other side as it softens Sisko's thinking of the aliens as prophets (To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets?), it touches on religious hypocrisy (VENDOR: Seek the Prophets. ODO: Seek them yourself.).

You could hear echoes of bombing abortion clinics in it...

"SISKO: The Prophets had nothing to do with what happened here today. This was the work of a disturbed and violent mind who listened to your voice, not the Prophets."

It's easily in my top 10 episodes of DS9. And it caps the season REALLY nicely for a finale.

"KIRA: Commander, I heard what you said to Vedek Winn at the school. I just wanted you to know you were right what you said about the Bajorans, at least about me. I don't think you're the devil.
SISKO: Maybe we have made some progress after all."

I've always wondered why this episode doesn't make more favorite lists. It's brilliant. And coming after Duet and before the Circle Trilogy... some people say DS9 took off in it's 3rd year (with the Defiant) and some say it took off in it's 4th year (with the Klingon war) but these 5 episodes are where it went from pleasing fluff to must see TV.
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Robert
Fri, May 30, 2014, 10:10am (UTC -5)
Oh, and not to mention... it does all of that and never feels very preachy. Especially given Sisko's room for all philosophies speech and the fact that by the end of the series he is a truer believe than Winn. Emissary may be the anchor point for the series bible, but this episode grounds/informs literally everything that comes after.
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Paul
Fri, May 30, 2014, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
@Robert: I agree that this episode is underrated, but I think I know why it is ...

DS9 was still sort of finding its way in the first season. The only two characters who were sort of synched up at this point were Kira and O'Brien. All the others change a great deal over the next season.

Also, while this was a good episode, it wasn't what most people had come to expect from Star Trek at the time. That can be said for a lot of DS9, but the good stuff in that category in the early days was still sort of hard to figure out.

Frankly, I think DS9 found its footing in season two with the Maquis two-parter, and the series was strong -- aside from most Ferengi episodes -- for the next several seasons, peaking at the end of season five and in the first six episodes of season six. The seventh season was uneven at the beginning, but ended fairly well.

What's interesting is that episodes like this one echoed throughout the series run, but a lot of the first season and second season material -- random encounters with people from the Gamma Quadrant, more of the day-to-day life on the station, Keiko's school -- were sort of wiped away.
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Dave in NC
Fri, May 30, 2014, 11:15pm (UTC -5)
After reading the comments above, I'm rewatching the episode.

Some stray observations as I watch:

Opening scene: Keiko is mean to Miles, as usual. I would have taken that Jumjum stick and dropped it on the floor and walked away.

Classroom scene: At first I thought "How coincidental" Winn walks in right right as Keiko is teaching about the wormhole, but then I realized spying has never been something Winn had a problem with.

Kira and Keiko meet with Sisko: I've got to take Keiko's side. Teaching scientifically verifiable facts isn't a philosophy. Sorry, Kira.

Sisko at the temple with Winn: Can she really tell if people don't believe in the prophets by touching their ears?

Anyways, I get the feeling that Winn genuinely believes it is disrespectful not to teach about the prophets, but yes, she is taking advantage of the situation by fanning the "orthodox" flames.

Miles and Keiko can't buy a jum-ja stick: Reminds me of Mississippi making it legal to refuse service to gay people. Obviously, it doesn't change anyone's minds.

Winn with the crowd in front of the school: Winn does her Machiavellian thing by setting her up in front of the crowd, making it look as if she is the "reasonable" one and Keiko is the zealot, but I don't buy that for a second. Not teaching scientific fact because it doesn't agree with a spiritual belief is ridiculous.

If I were Keiko, I would have said "I'll pencil the Prophets in right between the Divine Treasury and Stovokor."

Sisko and Jake talk: Sisko tries to justify the Bajoran spiritual beliefs, but I'm sorry, there's no reason to take a rationally explainable thing and insert spirituality into it.

I was always of the opinion that the Prophets were highly evolved future Bajorans who decided to live outside of time, hence them saying "We are of Bajor".

Sisko at Bareil's garden: Wherever they filmed this, it is a BEAUTIFUL place.

Bareil explaining the fracturing in the Vedek Assembly reminded me of the Catholic bishops voting for a new Pope. And while Bareil gives off that "holy vibe", he shows his flaws when she let's slip his ambition to be Kai.

Sisko and Kira talk at ops: Kira's not being fair to Sisko when he asks her for some support. She IS his first officer, and it is totally inappropriate for her to support a "sick-out" amongst the station crew. Her philosophy comment was way off base.

The crew discusses Aquino's murder: A short scene, but it wasn't really necessary. The next scene with Miles and the Bajoran assistant covers the same information with effortless humanity and character development. By the way, Miles should have said yes. ;)

The Odo scenes with Miles: needless exposition, the killer was on pad A not pad C, blah blah.

School gets bombed: More on this in the final summary.

Sisko confronts Winn: he outright blames her when he has no actual evidence her nonsense caused the bombing. I would be very suspicious of her too, but calling her out on it? I wouldn't have done that. Image to some extent is reality, after all.

I definitely wouldn't have gotten into a passionate argument with her in front of a crowd of onlookers. That's not the appropriate way to put the Federation's best foot forward.

Winn meets with the Bajoran spy: talk about being fake- it is Winn's first time showing her true colors. The ends justify the means indeed.

Bariel meets the Kai: the seeds are sown for their dislike for each other in this, their first exchange. A well-acted scene. I definitely wish I could hear more of Bariel's speech supporting scientific research.

The attempted assassination scene is very well-done: the slow motion and the orchestral score are very effective, although the "Nooo!" yelled by Sisko was pretty cheesy.

Final thoughts:

I'm not sure if the parallel to conservatism is 100% accurate, simply because, unlike any religion on Earth, the Bajorans actually have some evidence their Gods exist. They have orbs, wormholes, and verifiable visions from the Prophets; we do not.

I do believe that Kai Winn believes in the Prophets existence, even if their motives are a complete mystery to her. I think she believes that if she gains enough importance, they will actually speak with her. After all, they chat with a human running a space station and he doesn't believe at all. She does this because of her CHARACTER, not because the script demanded an allegory.

So while I definitely think this episode was making some sly commentary that is obviously directed at fanatics, at it's core it was a character driven episode, not a moral-of-the-week.

I've revised my rating upwards to 3.5 stars. Rewatchability and world-building make this a true must-view.
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Robert
Mon, Jun 2, 2014, 8:58am (UTC -5)
I'm not telling you she doesn't believe in the prophets, and I like your observation that she might be growing in power BECAUSE she wants to speak to them.

"I once asked Kai Opaka why a disbeliever was destined to seek the Prophets, and she told me one should never look into the eyes of one's own gods. I disagreed. I told her I would do anything to look into their eyes."

That actually does seem to inform her character for the entire series. Her character's descent into well, what she eventually become beings in S6 Rapture.

"WINN: Prophet, hear me. I am the Kai of Bajor. I offer myself to you as your humble servant,
KIRA: I await their vessel.
WINN: Speak to me. Tell me what I should do.
KIRA: ::silence::"

She's the Kai, and a prophet is standing in front of her and STILL won't talk to her. It's gotta seem pretty unfair from her perspective.

I don't mean she's not a believer of the prophets, but I saw it differently than you.

"KIRA: It was all to get him here, wasn't it? The school, the protests, the bombing. You knew that would get him out of the monastery. You did it all to kill him, to stop him from becoming Kai. "

I just got the feeling Kira hit the nail on the head. Winn never cared about the school. That's something Neela would care about. Winn just cared about power. I could be wrong of course, there's no way to read Winn's mind.

"I'm not sure if the parallel to conservatism is 100% accurate, simply because, unlike any religion on Earth, the Bajorans actually have some evidence their Gods exist. They have orbs, wormholes, and verifiable visions from the Prophets; we do not."

Sure, but since Winn has never spoken to the prophets (which you find out later in the series), the analogy still stands. Let's assume the Roman Catholic God exists, barring anyone who has actually spoken to him, who the hell are any of us to assume how he'd feel about gay people (to use an example)? I actually am somewhat religious, but I find it quite audacious that anyone tries to condemn someone based on a line in a multiply translated bible or based on their own knowledge of what "God wants". That's where I think the parallel works.

Sure, the prophets are real and they talk to Sisko... but the Bajorans fight over prophecy interpretations all the time. Kira and Bareil do. The prophecy in Destiny comes true (albeit differently than ANYONE interpreted). I guess I just think that what Winn wants is power and respect from her gods. Getting Keiko to stop teaching what some small sect considers blasphemy is just a way to wield fanatics like Neela... just like gay marriage is a way for politicians who probably aren't that upset about it to wield evangelicals. Again, I could be wrong though (about Winn and some politicians, I'm sure some are true believers).

Last thing before this gets ridiculously longer. "Miles and Keiko can't buy a jum-ja stick: Reminds me of Mississippi making it legal to refuse service to gay people."

I CONSTANTLY see echoes of current issues that didn't exist back then in DS9. It's one of the things that has caused the show to age so well for me.
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Yanks
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 8:04am (UTC -5)
"JAKE: How could anyone be so stupid?
SISKO: It's easy to look back seven centuries and judge what was right and wrong.
JAKE: But the same thing is happening now with all this stuff about the Celestial Temple in the wormhole. It's dumb.
SISKO: No, it's not. You've got to realize something, Jake. For over fifty years, the one thing that allowed the Bajorans to survive the Cardassian occupation was their faith. The Prophets were their only source of hope and courage.
JAKE: But there were no Prophets. They were just some aliens that you found in the wormhole.
SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets?
JAKE: Are you serious?
SISKO: My point is, it's a matter of interpretation. It may not be what you believe, but that doesn't make it wrong. If you start to think that way, you'll be acting just like Vedek Winn, Only from the other side. We can't afford to think that way, Jake. We'd lose everything we've worked for here"

Militant atheists and zealots could learn a lesson here.

I think this episode should be shown in schools (high school and college) and be the basis for outstanding discussion with the students.

4 out of 4 stars for me. Right below "Duet" in my DS9 S1 rankings.
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Yanks
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 8:07am (UTC -5)
Sorry, by post was cut short. Here's the whole thing.

What a great S1 closer. This episode completely set the tone for the next 6 years of DS9 and did it very well.

I've read all the great comments above (great discussion) and have a couple things to say.

I never for one second thought that KIA winn was a true believer, never. My justification for this is - can you for a second see KIA Opaka resorting to the immoral/illegal acts that Winn did to gain and retain the KIA position? I think the answer to that is a resounding no. Opaka was a true religious leader in the best sense of the word and Winn was a wannabe that had no moral compass and only wanted power.

This episode DOES depict extremes. Religious extremists existed here long before 911. I love how this episode depicts politicians for what they are. They will fire up whatever group they need to achieve their goals (or win elections). Even Vedic Berial understands that in order for him to make change, he needs to win the KIA election and he knows that if he comes off as extreme he has no chance to win. So he plays the game. I'm sure the same goes on electing the Pope and I know it goes on in politics. They are all forced to play the game, regardless of intentions. And, as we see in politics here, Sisko and Berial took advantage of a "crisis" to play their angle too. (even though Winn set it up) So politics is politics, regardless of whether you're a "true believer" or not.

We have had the "Evolution vs Intelligent Design" war here for 50 years. This episode brings to light that dilemma in trek (for the first time I believe).

Aside from his delivery, I love Sisko's speech to the crowd. Just because the Federation doesn't create policy and educate based on religious beliefs, doesn't make them "the devil".

Keiko... what a b@##$#@$@#. Obrien should have definitely said YES!! :-) I do agree with her stance on teaching the facts and commend her for not wavering. I do think she could have brought out that the Bajoran beliefs would be taught in another class. (maybe she did, I can't remember)

I personally thought the best part and most important part of the entire episode was Sisko's exchange with Jake:

"JAKE: How could anyone be so stupid?
SISKO: It's easy to look back seven centuries and judge what was right and wrong.
JAKE: But the same thing is happening now with all this stuff about the Celestial Temple in the wormhole. It's dumb.
SISKO: No, it's not. You've got to realize something, Jake. For over fifty years, the one thing that allowed the Bajorans to survive the Cardassian occupation was their faith. The Prophets were their only source of hope and courage.
JAKE: But there were no Prophets. They were just some aliens that you found in the wormhole.
SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets?
JAKE: Are you serious?
SISKO: My point is, it's a matter of interpretation. It may not be what you believe, but that doesn't make it wrong. If you start to think that way, you'll be acting just like Vedek Winn, Only from the other side. We can't afford to think that way, Jake. We'd lose everything we've worked for here"

Militant atheists and zealots could learn a lesson here.

I think this episode should be shown in schools (high school and college) and be the basis for outstanding discussion with the students.

4 out of 4 stars for me. Right below "Duet" in my DS9 S1 rankings.
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Robert
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 10:46am (UTC -5)
"Keiko... what a b@##$#@$@#. Obrien should have definitely said YES!! :-) I do agree with her stance on teaching the facts and commend her for not wavering. I do think she could have brought out that the Bajoran beliefs would be taught in another class. (maybe she did, I can't remember)"

I think the issue is that she will not teach Bajoran beliefs as truth.

I learned about many religions in my social studies classes growing up, but I was never taught that any of it was true. I'm SURE Keiko would have no issues editing the curriculum to explain that Bajorans believe the wormhole aliens are prophets, but I doubt that would satisfy the people who were annoyed by her class.
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Yanks
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 11:24am (UTC -5)
@ Robert - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 10:46am (USA Central)

I think the issue is that she will not teach Bajoran beliefs as truth.

I learned about many religions in my social studies classes growing up, but I was never taught that any of it was true. I'm SURE Keiko would have no issues editing the curriculum to explain that Bajorans believe the wormhole aliens are prophets, but I doubt that would satisfy the people who were annoyed by her class.
=========================================

Exactly. More specifically "scientific truths". I had to go back to the transcript.

Winn was adamant that the prophets be included and Keiko was opposed:

WINN: I feel your anger toward me, and I forgive you for it. Mrs O'Brien, if I've misjudged you, I am terribly sorry. Have I? Is there a place in your school for the Prophets?
KEIKO: No.

It appears that Social Studies is a thing of the past.

Keiko does have the right idea here:

"KEIKO: I'm a teacher. My responsibility is to expose my students to knowledge, not hide it from them. The answer is no."

But not to teach that folks have religious affiliations/beliefs and the role it plays in society is wrong IMO.

Like I said, it's the classic "Evolution v ID" battle. Neither side wants to budge.
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Robert
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 11:33am (UTC -5)
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree, I didn't read any of that into this.

"KEIKO: Yes, on Bajor the entities are worshipped as prophets."

Keiko is MORE than willing to mention Bajoran spiritual beliefs in her classroom, but Winn wants her to put weight behind it. Keiko is not willing to say it's true, but only that it's what Bajor believes.

"KEIKO: Our studies of the wormhole have shown that it was formed by unique particles we call verterons that are apparently self-sustaining in nature. This begins to explain how a ship at impulse can safely pass through
WINN: Ships are safely guided through the passage by the hands of the Prophets.
KEIKO: In a manner of speaking.
WINN: Not apparently in your manner of speaking."

Again, Winn doesn't want her to expose the children TO the Bajoran religion, she wants her to teach the Bajoran religion as truth.

"KEIKO: Perhaps we should discuss this after class.
WINN: Do you believe the Celestial Temple of the Prophets exists within the passage?
KEIKO: I respect that the Bajoran people believe that it does."

I hear no unwillingness to discuss Bajoran spiritual beliefs here, she's just not willing to teach them as truth. Growing up I was exposed to religious beliefs in social studies classes but I was taught that those beliefs were true in my Sunday school. I see nothing in this text to assume Keiko would not be willing to have the same arrangement.

"WINN: But that's not what you teach.
KEIKO: No, I don't teach Bajoran spiritual beliefs. That's your job. Mine is to open the children's minds to history, to literature, to mathematics, to science."

She does mention it's her job to open the children's minds to history. I assume that when they get to Bajoran history, Bajoran religion will be covered, just as I learned about the Shinto religion when my social studies teacher covered Japan.

I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that every time Keiko tried to reach out to Winn halfway

"KEIKO: Yes, on Bajor the entities are worshipped as prophets."

"KEIKO: I respect that the Bajoran people believe that it does."

That wasn't good enough. Keiko KNEW that Winn needed her to say that the ships pass through safely guided by the prophets hands (which we learn is true in season 6 :P) in order to be satisfied. Exposing the kids to Bajoran beliefs is NOT what Winn was looking for here.
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Yanks
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
@ Robert.

I quote transcripts that prove my point and you say we have to agree to disagree?

You quote the exchange that occurred after Winn entered the classroom. Knowing how Keiko responded to Winn in the promenade can you honestly say that Keiko would have called the worm-hole aliens "prophets" in her class had KIA Winn not been there? No, you can't. Keiko was only responding to Winn's prodding after she was put on the spot in front of her students.

You can believe she would have covered that in history class, but that's pure speculation. Nothing in this episode would indicate she would. Much to the contrary. What part of "No" don't you get?

I had social studies too, but remember, this is the 24th century Federation. Religion is frowned upon, made a spectacle of and shunned by Star Fleet and the Federation. (as we've seen many times in trek)

Keiko had the opportunity to "reach out" in the promenade, and she emphatically said no. Twice.
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Elliott
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 12:11pm (UTC -5)
@Robert and Yanks:

I actually agree with both of you. Yanks is right about the Federation's attitude about religion and Robert is right that this episode paints Keiko out to be tolerant and even accommodating of Bajoran bullshit. Keiko's response to Winn should have been, "Why don't you get the hell out of my classroom before I call security?"
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Andy's Friend
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 12:35pm (UTC -5)
@Yanks:

The exchange you quote does NOT prove your point:

WINN: [...] Is there a place in your school for the Prophets?
KEIKO: No.

...merely means just that: Keiko is saying "No" to the Prophets as Prophets, not as wormhole aliens. This becomes totally evident in context. And as this is a series with some continuity, and we happen to know Keiko as a serious woman of science, there is nothing to support your claim that:

"You can believe she would have covered that in history class, but that's pure speculation. Nothing in this episode would indicate she would. Much to the contrary. What part of "No" don't you get?"

I'm saying Robert got the part of "No" that you didn't. No to Prophets, Yes to wormhole aliens worshipped by Bajorans.
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Yanks
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 1:00pm (UTC -5)
@ Andy's Friend

That's speculation and semantics on your part.

I just watched the episode last night. She only acknowledged Bajoran religious beliefs when confronted and when asked directly, she emphatically said no.

If she had any intention on including them in her school, don't you think the prudent answer, infront of everyone, in defense of her school would have been "Yes, in our social sciences (or something) class?

She teaches that there are wormhole aliens and that the wornhole it was artificially constructed and it was formed by unique particles called verterons that are apparently self-sustaining in nature. She believes it's her job to open the children's minds to history, to literature, to mathematics, to science... That's what she was teaching before Winn showed up. Now if it makes you feel better, you can include religion in history or literature. But there is nothing in this episode that would indicate she would. As you said, she’s a woman of science.
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Yanks
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
@ Elliott

I'll disagree. She was only tolerant when it was expedient. When she had a chance to prove it, she didn't.

But as to Winn's classroom interruption, that's exactly what I thought when I watched this episode.

KIA Winn enters classroom without permission.

Keiko: "Excuse me? May I help you?"

Winn: "Hello child..."

Keiko: "Carry your holy ass out of my classroom!"

LOL
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Robert
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 1:27pm (UTC -5)
"You quote the exchange that occurred after Winn entered the classroom. Knowing how Keiko responded to Winn in the promenade can you honestly say that Keiko would have called the worm-hole aliens "prophets" in her class had KIA Winn not been there? No, you can't. Keiko was only responding to Winn's prodding after she was put on the spot in front of her students."

Honestly, yes. That's how I read the scene. I agree with Andy's Friend... when when says "Is there a place in your school for the Prophets?" she's asking the same as a Catholic person would be asking a teacher "Isn't there a place in your school for God?" And that question does NOT MEAN in a Social Studies sense. She's asking a MUCH MORE loaded question than you are giving it credit for.
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Robert
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 1:31pm (UTC -5)
"As you said, she’s a woman of science."

Perhaps so, but it was a science lesson. Asking if there's room for the Prophets in a science lesson is like asking if there's room for God in a big bang lesson. The answer is that we can talk about God in Social Studies, but NOT in the way you'd like us to :)

Winn's question was loaded. I can demonstrate

"WINN: Let me be the one to make the first concession. I will no longer request that you teach anything about the Celestial Temple. Just don't teach anything about the wormhole at all.
KEIKO: Ignore it?
WINN: Find other ways, other things to teach the children.
KEIKO: And when we get to theories of evolution or creation of the universe, what then?
WINN: We'll face those issues when we come to them.
KEIKO: I'm a teacher. My responsibility is to expose my students to knowledge, not hide it from them. The answer is no. "

This is proof positive that Winn's request was that Keiko teach about the prophets DURING the wormhole science lesson AND call them prophets. She was not asking for a secular viewpoint lesson on Bajoran religion in social studies class.

You may say I'm reading too much into Winn's dialogue, but I think you're reading things that are not there into Keiko's.
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Andy's Friend
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
@Yanks: Yes, you're right that that would have been the prudent answer. But as we also know, Keiko has a temper. This is a classic example of giving a somewhat confrontational answer, rather than a diplomatic one, when facing someone whom we simply can't stand. Happens all the time.

I'm sure that the ever diplomatic Picard would have remained calm and collected and would have answered as you suggested. Keiko, also being true to character, answered as she did. It seems to me that you are basing your evaluation of Keiko as a teacher on that single answer to Winn. But that is mererely a perfectly reasonable expression of personal antipathy. Who can blame her? ;)

Like Elliott and you yourself just wrote, I would also have been somewhat harder on Winn than Keiko was. But that doesn't mean that I would neglect my duties as a teacher regarding the wormhole aliens. I'm betting that neither Elliott nor you would, either. And I'm betting that neither would Keiko.
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Andy's Friend
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
@Robert:

You're quite right in your lasts comments. Of course Winn would like to see some sort of Bajoran Catechism be taught on DS9 ― your "Sunday school" example. And Keiko makes it clear ― as you quoted earlier ― that that is not her responsibility. There is of course a huge difference between saying "These wormhole aliens are worshipped by the Bajorans thus and thus," and saying "These are The Prophets, and the Celestial Temple is their heavenly abode. Their will be done." I'm pretty sure that Keiko wouldn't mind teaching the former. But Winn obviously wants her to teach the latter. And as Yanks points out, the answer to that is "No." It really is as simple as that.
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Yanks
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 4:43pm (UTC -5)
@ Robert and Andy's Friend.

Love the discussion here. Thanks for commenting.

I'll try one more time :-)

Keiko isn't a teacher by trade. She's a bored scientist (botanist if I remember correctly). Sisko and O'brien basically gave her something to do. They threw a scientist in the classroom; teaching kids of all ages to boot.

Robert is convinced that she would teach religion in her school. I'm deducing, from what we know and have seen she would not.

Twice she had the opportunity to demonstrate that she would teach such a curriculum.

The 1st when KIA Winn burst into her classroom.

"WINN: Excuse me. By entities, do you not mean the Prophets?
KEIKO: Yes, on Bajor the entities are worshipped as prophets. Our studies of the wormhole have shown that it was formed by unique particles we call verterons that are apparently self-sustaining in nature. This begins to explain how a ship at impulse can safely pass through

(note: "our studies")

WINN: Ships are safely guided through the passage by the hands of the Prophets.
KEIKO: In a manner of speaking.
WINN: Not apparently in your manner of speaking.
KEIKO: Perhaps we should discuss this after class.
WINN: Do you believe the Celestial Temple of the Prophets exists within the passage?
KEIKO: I respect that the Bajoran people believe that it does.
WINN: But that's not what you teach.
KEIKO: No, I don't teach Bajoran spiritual beliefs. That's your job. Mine is to open the children's minds to history, to literature, to mathematics, to science."

(note: "I don't teach Bajoran spiritual beliefs")

Pretty clear there. Also a clear opportunity to say when and where they would cover that subject in her school. She clearly states that's not her job. If this was a subject matter covered in another class, this was the perfect time to tell her (and her Bajoran students). She did not.

The second is when she is addressed by KIA Winn in the promenade.

Without quoting the whole thing...

Winn: Is there a place in your school for the Prophets?
Keiko: No

WINN: Let me be the one to make the first concession. I will no longer request that you teach anything about the Celestial Temple. Just don't teach anything about the wormhole at all.
KEIKO: Ignore it?
WINN: Find other ways, other things to teach the children.
KEIKO: And when we get to theories of evolution or creation of the universe, what then?

More opportunities to tell Winn that that subject matter is taught in this or that class.

Nothing.

I don't see how anyone can deduce that somehow a scientist, thrown into teaching job, that clearly indicates that teaching religion "is your job" would ever teach that the prophets even exist in her school. Now that I'm not saying that she would teach the kids that they aren't prophets, but she wouldn't cover the religious aspect.

In no way am I condoning that snake Winn's actions either. Someone earlier mentioned hate WRT to Winn and her character. That was my take from the start. It's actually very well written (and expertly played by Louise Fletcher) We are supposed to hate her. I can't count the times I wanted to see her schwacked. :-)
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UnkownSample
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 11:34pm (UTC -5)
I don't understand the bajorans. Someone tell me what the bajorans mean when they say these "prophets" are gods? It's been stated on the show that they believe they are Gods. But It has been acknowledged that these entities in the wormhole can be killed with weapons and Kira has acknowledged this a couple times when the aliens were in danger. Also there was an episode where Kira was talking about the prophets and Worf says he prefers Klingon beliefs. Kira then says "I suppose your gods aren't as cryptic as ours." Worf proceeds to tell her that the Klingons killed their Gods a millennia ago. Kira says she doesn't understand Klingons. So it's not like on earth today where the major religions believe there is a single
god who created the universe. It's as though each planet has their own Gods or what they consider Gods. It's not like Kira believes the prophets created the Klingons. So I don't understand why bajorans worship these aliens when they know they can be killed and they didn't even know about linear time. Sisko had to explain that to them. The same linear time in which the bajorans live. This is one of my main problems with Sisko and DS9. I love the show but Picard would never have risked his sons life to let aliens play out a battle on the station. He really does buy into bajorans beliefs when he knows these are aliens. Just like any other alien in Star Trek who presented themselves as Gods to a primitive planet. Kirk and Picard have met a few of those races. Keiko should have pointed out to Winn that the prophets could be killed with some Torpedos or Chroniton particles.
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Robert
Wed, Jun 25, 2014, 9:04am (UTC -5)
@Yanks

I think we're having 2 different conversations in some ways.

"Robert is convinced that she would teach religion in her school. I'm deducing, from what we know and have seen she would not."

"I don't see how anyone can deduce that somehow a scientist, thrown into teaching job, that clearly indicates that teaching religion "is your job" would ever teach that the prophets even exist in her school. "

I'm not saying she would teach religion or that the prophets exist. I'm saying she would likely teach ABOUT religion. Since Bajor seems nearly a theocracy, they are orbiting Bajor and have a ton of Bajorans one assumes Bajoran history is on the menu at some point.

I don't believe Keiko would ever say the prophets exist. I don't believe Keiko would ever teach Bajoran religion. I think she eventually would get around to have a secular discussion about Bajoran religion.

I think Jake might have to write a report on the orbs some day, or some prophecy's that have had a great impact on the culture. All from an anthropological standpoint.

What I'm postulating is that Keiko did not offer this solution up to Vedek Winn because Winn WOULD NOT have accepted it.

I think this exchange says it perfectly...

"WINN: Let me be the one to make the first concession. I will no longer request that you teach anything about the Celestial Temple. Just don't teach anything about the wormhole at all.
KEIKO: Ignore it?
WINN: Find other ways, other things to teach the children.
KEIKO: And when we get to theories of evolution or creation of the universe, what then? "

This is NOT, "could you please expose these children to the Bajoran faith in a secular way?"

This is "I would request that YOU NOT MENTION THE WORMHOLE unless you plan to teach it MY WAY". Keiko does not offer a compromise because Winn would never accept one. Also, as I said, I assume that Keiko would already be teaching Bajoran history, so there's nothing for her to offer.

TLDR Version - Keiko doesn't offer (in my opinion) to do a social studies class on Bajoran faith because she's probably already doing it and it's not what Winn wants anyway.
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Jack
Fri, Aug 22, 2014, 6:24pm (UTC -5)
Quite an absurd plot contrivance that Vedek Winn just happened to barge into the classroom on the day they happened to be learning about the wormhole. But since that contrivance is the only thing that made the episode possible...
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Dave in NC
Sat, Aug 23, 2014, 11:40am (UTC -5)
@ Jack

Coincidences DO happen, I suppose, but I think Winn doesn't do ANYTHING ahead of time without having the inside scoop AKA a spy.

Or maybe it's even simpler: one of the kids told their religious Bajoran parents they were going to be learning about the Prophets next week and word got around.

and to this:

Andy's friend said:
"Yes, you're right that that would have been the prudent answer. But as we also know, Keiko has a temper. This is a classic example of giving a somewhat confrontational answer, rather than a diplomatic one, when facing someone whom we simply can't stand. Happens all the time."

^
This is SO totally true. :)

The Keiko we all know would have told Winn not to enter the second the door started to open, but of course, then there would have been no show.
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Robert
Tue, Aug 26, 2014, 10:07am (UTC -5)
We have an online syllabus in schools now. I'm pretty sure Winn just googled it.
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Elliott
Tue, Aug 26, 2014, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
Teaser : ***, 5%

Keiko feigns the jealous wife bit, delivering a cute little scene with Miles (point for innuendo “be careful whom you share your Jum-Ja with”). She goes on to teach her class (about the same size as we saw it last in “The Nagus.” She's teaching them about the wormhole and its socio-political importance.

A Bajoran nun enters her room unannounced to “observe” and proceeds to interrupt her, insisting she use Bajoran mystical labels for the wormhole and the aliens who built it (“Celestial Temple” and “Prophets”). I wrote back in “Battle Lines” and “Progress” about how the Bajorans' faith is understandable given their history during the Occupation. One can appreciate the comfort it offers to a brutalised people. Understanding this however, does not excuse it. Just as we saw in “Duet,” understanding the Bajoran need for vengeance and hatred is also not an excuse for that behaviour. And here to remind us why is Louis Fletcher, AKA Vedek Bitchwhore.

Showing amazing restraint, Keiko acknowledges the Bajoran faith without negating it or embarrassing the Vedek. Bitchwhore continues to press and actually uses a Bajoran child as a kind of debate shield, holding his arm in that patronising, precious, holier-than-thou way while grinning through her teeth. Maintaining commendable composure (although, I think some anger is more than warranted, Mrs O'Brien), she suggests discussing the matter outside of the classroom. Ignoring her, Bitchwhore flat out asks her if she's accept the Prophets into her heart as her personal Lords and Saviours. Uck. Like all fundamentalists, Bitchwhore resorts to accusing Keiko of “blasphemy” and vows to shut down her school.

Although the substance of this scene is not sitting well, dramatically, this is well-focused and introduces a recurring villain with a credible charisma.

Act 1 : *, 17%

O'Brien and Neela demonstrate some cross-cultural comradeship and O'Brien notes that he's missing a tool, which is unusual for the usually meticulous tinkerer.

Meanwhile, Keiko meets with Sisko, who describes Bitchwhore's attitude as “inevitable.” Really? I don't recall you giving such a warning in “A Man Alone,” commander. He then goes on to lament the lack of “common ground” necessary to admit Bajor into the Federation. Huh? Common ground? We have always seen alien worlds eager and anxious to join the Federation (except for those that don't want to of course). The Federation has never attempted to realign or re-message itself in order to appeal to reluctant potential members. If the Bajorans don't want to give up their religious beliefs and allow their culture to evolve (one would think this would take a hell of a lot longer than the few months since you got here, Sisko), then they can remain independent.

Kira enters the conversation to undo the goodwill she built up in “Progress” and “Duet,” telling Keiko in that condescending know-it-all tone that betrays a singular close-mindedness that her curriculum should be “revised.” The director or someone has decided to stage this scene with Keiko showing hostility and anger while Kira keeps her calm and composure, thus artificially propping up Kira's more-or-less unjustifiable position as somehow reasonable, while making Keiko look hysterical just for adhering to the principle that a school is not the place to prosthelytise children into believing in magic. Kira suggests segregating the school (“a lot of Bajoran and Federation interests are separate”). Thanks, John Howard Ferguson.

And cue the strawman :
KEIKO : “I'm not teaching any philosophy!...”
KIRA : “Some would say teaching pure science without a spiritual context IS a philosophy, Mrs O'Brien.” [read with dripping condescension].

“Philosophy” is not the issue here; “agenda” is. Keiko's philosophy is to present ideas without a social or political bias, which in not way conflicts with Bajoran spirituality (if it did, then how could Neela work for O'Brien?). What Bitchwhore and Kira are suggesting is that science (and other disciplines) be taught with an *agenda* that promotes faith in the Prophets rather than leaving spiritual matters open for other contexts. If the writers had been honest, they would have put words to that effect in someone's mouth (Keiko, Sisko?), but no, we get more one-sided, pro-credulity, anti-Roddenberry bullshit in its stead.

Sisko has a chat with Bitchwhore in the Bajoran temple (we know it's a temple because there are candles and incense, duh). Let's flash back to “Who Watches the Watchers” and Picard's attitude towards being deified by the Mentakans, as Sisko has been deified by the Bajorans. In that episode, Picard was certainly horrified at the prospect of being a god, and expressed outrage in the company of his crew and the palaeontologist, but to the Mentakans themselves he was kind, but firm in his insistence that they not worship him. He did everything in his power to change that perception of himself including risk his own life. Compare that to Sisko's tepid “I wish you wouldn't call me that.” Grow a pair, Commander!

Opaka once commented to Bitchwhore, “One should never look into the eyes of one's own gods.” Okay, why not? What is the theological justification for this? From an in-Universe perspective, the “gods” have no trouble mucking around with people and covering Sisko in their cream of mushroom soup, or shipping Dax off in an hourglass. I'll tell you where this bullshit comes from; in real religions, this is a deflectionary tactic commonly used to explain the disparity between the apparently conversational and physically present deities in holy books and the absence of such presence in contemporary life. Oh, no it isn't that the people who wrote these books imagined these things or made them up, it's that *you* want to see them too badly! How dare you want things! Go say a prayer! And no masturbating!

Bitchwhore is nothing if unsympathetic, but her desire to see her own flipping gods should not be considered evidence to poor character. On the contrary, one should wish to see evidence for the things one believes in.

Wait a minute, Bitchwhore just said she had never seen nor spoken to the prophets, yet she claims that they “spoke to her through the Orbs” about her mission to disrupt Keiko's school. This isn't even a philosophical question of faith, but which the fuck is it? Have you spoken to them or not?

To me, Bitchwhore is portrayed rather complexly—her political ambition and dormant ruthlessness is apparent, but her skeptical and inquisitive mind are GOOD things. But the episode takes the side of baseless credulity, and thus she's “a bad guy.” She claims not to take responsibility for anything tragic which “might” happen to Keiko's school, because, you know, God did it.

Act 2 : ***, 17%

Meanwhile, O'Brien and Neela are on the hunt for his missing tool which is apparently some sort of skeleton key to every critical system on the station. Geez. Dax reports that an ensign is missing, while O'Brien and Neela discover an errant titanium signature which turns out to be O'Brien's missing tool and some “cooked” organic material. Uh-oh.

So, the O'Briens take a stroll for some Jum-ja sticks discussing the poor ensign's “accident” and the Bajoran merchant reveals that patented Bajoran idiocy last seen in “The Storyteller,” refusing to sell to the blasphemer or her husband. Odo gets the best line to the assbagging “Seek the prophets” the merchant calls out after them saying, “Seek them yourself.”

Bitchwhore has called forth a mob in front of her school, where she pulls a Mommy Dearest pointing to Keiko's holding to her convictions as unreasonable anti-faith stubbornness.

Keiko, in turn, becomes my hero in the line “I'm a teacher. My responsibility is to expose my students to knowledge, not hide it from them.” You go, girl. And like lemmings, ALL the Bajoran parents and their children leave the school en masse. Good riddance, I say.

Act 3 : **, 17%

The Ensign's odd accident points to evidence that something is amiss, and O'Brien suggests his death may not have been an accident at all. Jake arrives in Ops, for I think the first time. Keiko, ever my hero, taught the remaining students about Galileo and humanity's own troubled past in wriggling its way out from under the thumb of religion. With a beautiful simplicity, Jake notes the similarity between that case and the current drama between Keiko and Bitchwhore (if not for the massive bias the episode has against skeptical disbelief, I would point out that it's a bit presumptuous for Keiko to martyr herself this way). Jake points out that the whole thing is “dumb.”

SISKO : “No it's not. You've got to realise something, Jake. For over 50 years, the one thing that allowed the Bajorans to survive the Cardassian Occupation was their faith. The prophets were their only source of hope and courage.”

Granted, commander, but that doesn't change the fact the Bitchwhore's tirade against Keiko is fucking stupid. Well, actually, her motivations are laid bare later on and aren't so much stupid as manipulative, but what allows her manipulation to work is Bajoran stupidity, isn't it?

Sisko tries to cover his apologist ass by pointing out the the Prophets can see the future. First of all, writers, a prophet does not predict the future, that's an oracle. A prophet proclaims what is happening right now and how it fits a divine plan. Second of all, if that's all it takes to be considered a god, you'd better starting nailing statues of John de Lancie to wooden crosses right now.

“It may not be what you believe, but that doesn't make it wrong.” So, are we claiming that Galileo's issue was that he had a different belief from the church authorities? That it was a matter of interpretation that the earth revolves around the sun? Great lesson, there!

“If you start to act that way, you'll be just like Vedek Winn, only from the other side.” That is the other deflectionary tactic that is often employed; all ideas are equally valid, therefore defending one or promoting one or deriding others is automatically wrong. Don't stop to think, folks, just drink the feel-good Koolaid. Kumbayah....

Sisko travels to Bajor (which looks surprisingly pristine for having been occupied so recently) to meet with a Vedek from a rival, less right-wing order of Wormholism, or whatever the Bajoran faith is called. We are introduced to Barail, who is supposed to allegorise the understanding, progressive spiritual leader. As someone who has several priests as close friends, let me be the first to say, that they certainly do exist. They are in fact the only tolerable form of religious people I have encountered, those who have enough *actual* faith in their beliefs not to feel pressed to force others to think as they do. In spite of this, they have to build Barail up as the most clichéd anti-Winn possible—all he wants is to plant flowers! He has absolutely *no* ambition and thus is the perfect candidate for Kai to challenge Bitchwhore. Luckily, they do rectify this sugary nonsense by revealing his political ambition preventing him from befriending Sisko. He does get this very honest line, however, “Oh, we're all very good at conjuring up enough fear to justify whatever we want to do.”

Bajoran idiocy is further demonstrated when Sisko returns to the station to find many of those officers absent from their posts, feigning illness. As much crap as I give Sisko, I have to empathise with him here; after all the Federation has done to help Bajor, including discovering their damned temple, rebuilding their world, protecting their borders and all while offering friendship and community, the first troublemaker to show up and start banging her bible has nearly all the Bajorans on DS9 cowering away from Sisko and his team.

And, it turns out Ensign hotpocket was killed by a phaser before being deposited in the conduit where O'Brien and Neela found him. Shocker.

Act 4 : ***.5, 17%

Odo reveals that Ensign hotpocket was murdered in a runabout the night before he was discovered in the conduit (Notice Kira has regressed to her ornery self-righteous self, interrupting Bashir and jumping to conclusions). In said runabout, O'Brien and Neela have a nice little scene which makes me wish they had been given a little more screentime. She's wonderfully disarming and sweet, while alluding to Starfleet-Bajoran tensions that have never been shown up to this point (psst, that's an historical revision, or retcon if you prefer).

Odo questions Quark about hotpocket's murder to little avail, and O'Brien shows up to offer some additional evidence; a piece of technology which points to a possible motivation to the killer's plan. In a thrilling moment, Keiko's school blows up right in the middle of the day, and poor O'Brien desperately screams for his wife. Luckily, she's fine, but imagine the impact of the tragedy if they had actually killed her. It's a visceral scene and quite powerful.

Act 5 : ***, 17%

Bitchwhore shows up at the site of the school and Sisko accuses her of motivating the terrorism against the school and she in turn accuses Sisko of conspiring to destroy the Bajoran people.

WINN : “You and your Federation live in Universe of darkness, and you would drag us in there with you.”

Oh, yeah. So much darkness, where we don't want for food or shelter, where we pursue careers that better ourselves and, oh yeah, are the reason you and your people aren't toiling away in mines or being raped by Cardassians!

Sisko's actual response is more diplomatic and is followed by Bitchwhore giving Neela a covert signal. Uh-oh.

Barail arrives unexpectedly in light of the explosion. He's obviously seen a political opportunity in befriending Sisko in light of the terrorism. Neela goes to Bitchwhore noting that O'Brien's and Odo's discovery will prevent her escape after she does whatever it is she's been asked to do. Bitchwhore responds that her 72 virgins will be waiting for her.

Meanwhile, O'Brien and Dax discover an anomalous programme which they begin to decode and Barail steps onto the promenade to adoring, um, fans, I guess. As the Smart People work to discover the secret, Barail pulls his own diplomatic overture, offering to resolve the differences between Bitchwhore and the Federations. O'Brien is winded when he discovers that Neela is the culprit. He warns Sisko who, in a bit of hammy slow-motion (complete with “Nooooooo!!!!”), throws himself over Neela, preventing her from assassinating Barail.

Kira and Sisko have a reasonable scene where they reconcile somewhat “I don't think you're the devil.” Gee, thanks, Major.

Episode as Functionary : **.5, 10%

The really shoddy strawman nonsense in the first few acts gives way to an action-mystery plot and a decent appraisal of the Bajoran-Federation alliance at this point. The O'Briens save a lot of face for this episode, offering smart dialogue and some strong characterisations. Sisko is all over the map, spouting stupid new-age crap on the one hand and smart political speech on the other. Kira is regressed about half a season. Bitchwhore proves to be a fun villain, but the episode completely drops its faith arguments in lieu of the action stuff. It's a mixed bag, for sure, but an okay end to the season.

Final Score : **.5
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DLPB
Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 11:53am (UTC -5)
I am not a fan of religion... at all. But the way it is treated here is so basic and with dice fully loaded. It seems to me like the writers tried to be as fair as they could be, but lacked any real understanding of the topic.

The main issue with this episode is that we, the audience, and the officers aboard DS9, KNOW that the "prophets" are aliens. WE know it to be a fact. Therefore, trying to convince the audience that both sides of the argument are equal, and that the Bajoran religion is just as valid as the science is a joke.

There is no shade of grey here... it's just very very silly writing.
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DLPB
Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 11:59am (UTC -5)
Also, what I hate about this episode the most is the ridiculous idea that religions should be respected the same as science is. No. Religions have caused, and do cause, a TON of problems. Islam is tearing numerous countries up at the current time, and has for centuries. Go back further, and other religions have had their fair share of death.

And it's all just a man made ideology. If Nazism was a religion, would we be expected to respect it? Don't make me laugh.
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Robert
Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 1:13pm (UTC -5)
"The main issue with this episode is that we, the audience, and the officers aboard DS9, KNOW that the "prophets" are aliens. WE know it to be a fact. Therefore, trying to convince the audience that both sides of the argument are equal, and that the Bajoran religion is just as valid as the science is a joke."

Huh? Can you tell me something in Bajoran religion that becomes wrong because the prophets are aliens? Anything? At all?
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Robert
Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 1:15pm (UTC -5)
"And it's all just a man made ideology"

But the Bajoran religion isn't. It's based on non-linear aliens in the only known stable wormhole with tremendous power who sent orbs to the Bajorans....
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Robert
Thu, Aug 28, 2014, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
And @Elliott - Picard wasn't a God but Sisko is the emissary of the very real prophets!
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dlpb
Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 7:19pm (UTC -5)
@Robert

. It's based on non-linear aliens

--------

It is a fake religion because they believe the aliens to be gods. They aren't, by your own admission.
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dlpb
Wed, Oct 1, 2014, 7:22pm (UTC -5)
Robert, you seem to be seriously confused as to what constitutes a god, a prophet, and a religion. You also seem to be playing apologist for some bad writing. It's better to just accept the writers were fallible.
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Robert
Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 8:49am (UTC -5)
"Robert, you seem to be seriously confused as to what constitutes a god, a prophet, and a religion. You also seem to be playing apologist for some bad writing. It's better to just accept the writers were fallible."

We can all pretty much agree that the prophets fit the human definition of prophet (they can see the future as easily as the past) and the Bajoran definition one.

What is a God? You've got me. A creator? All powerful being? Benevolent caretaker? Is the Edo God a God? Is the Caretaker an Ocampan God? Suspiria? Is Q a God?

I'll agree that I don't know exactly what a God is, but if you can scientifically explain the nature of God, let me know. As to the problem at hand (science and religion being painted as equal).

KEIKO: Yes, on Bajor the entities are worshipped as prophets. Our studies of the wormhole have shown that it was formed by unique particles we call verterons that are apparently self-sustaining in nature. This begins to explain how a ship at impulse can safely pass through
WINN: Ships are safely guided through the passage by the hands of the Prophets.
KEIKO: In a manner of speaking.
WINN: Not apparently in your manner of speaking.

I honestly think the Jem'Hadar from "Sacrifice of Angels" might agree with Vedek Winn. :P

As to religion. The Bajorans have based their religion are real entities. Your insistence that Bajoran religion is less valid than science is ridiculous. Their Gods are real and since Starfleet doesn't totally understand the Prophets... there may even be things the Bajoran religion can tell us about these aliens that we don't know.

The original argument was silly of course. Winn's insistence that Keiko CALL THEM Prophets in a mixed, non religious class was complete nonsense. But then, she was being obtuse on purpose. I think that's something else to remember when you knock the episode for poor writing. Winn's position was painted as intentionally disruptive, because she wanted everything else to play out exactly as it did.

The only points the episode itself (not Winn) tries to make in favor of religion vs science are....

"KEIKO: I'm not teaching any philosophy. What I'm trying to teach is pure science.
KIRA: Some might say pure science, taught without a spiritual context, is a philosophy, Mrs O'Brien.
SISKO: My philosophy is that there is room for all philosophies on this station. Now, how do you suggest we deal with this? "

and

"JAKE: But there were no Prophets. They were just some aliens that you found in the wormhole.
SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets?
JAKE: Are you serious?
SISKO: My point is, it's a matter of interpretation. It may not be what you believe, but that doesn't make it wrong. If you start to think that way, you'll be acting just like Vedek Winn"

We clearly can't look at this episode and think the writers are taking Winn's point of view though. She's clearly being impossible on purpose.

But looking at those 2 points of view... I agree with #2, but not with #1. I think Kira is being a little bit impossible here because she's being given a contemporary issue to speak about that doesn't fit the episode. Bajoran faith is NOT incompatible with science like modern religions are. Several bible books don't work with science, but having the Bajorans say Prophet and Celestial Temple vs Wormhole Aliens and Wormhole is a real potatoe potatato situation here.

As to #2, well he's right (IMHO), as explained above. I think if anything that's the whole point of the episode. Keiko is not teaching anything against Bajoran faith, and Winn knows that (again, she's being impossible on purpose). So does Bareil (who sides with the Federation). I suppose Kira is meant to not side with the Federation initially to create conflict, but I felt it was out of character. Still, to me, that one scene is the only thing that's not perfect about this episode.

4 Stars
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Elliott
Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 1:46pm (UTC -5)
@Robert:

Not that I'd expect you to have read my review above, but all of your points were directly addressed therein. Allow me to parse it out :

R : "We can all pretty much agree that the prophets fit the human definition of prophet (they can see the future as easily as the past) and the Bajoran definition one...As to religion. The Bajorans have based their religion are real entities. Your insistence that Bajoran religion is less valid than science is ridiculous. Their Gods are real and since Starfleet doesn't totally understand the Prophets... there may even be things the Bajoran religion can tell us about these aliens that we don't know."

E : "Sisko tries to cover his apologist ass by pointing out the the Prophets can see the future. First of all, writers, a prophet does not predict the future, that's an oracle. A prophet proclaims what is happening right now and how it fits a divine plan. Second of all, if that's all it takes to be considered a god, you'd better starting nailing statues of John de Lancie to wooden crosses right now.

'It may not be what you believe, but that doesn't make it wrong.' So, are we claiming that Galileo's issue was that he had a different belief from the church authorities? That it was a matter of interpretation that the earth revolves around the sun? Great lesson, there!

'If you start to act that way, you'll be just like Vedek Winn, only from the other side.' That is the other deflectionary tactic that is often employed; all ideas are equally valid, therefore defending one or promoting one or deriding others is automatically wrong. Don't stop to think, folks, just drink the feel-good Koolaid. Kumbayah...."

R : "Bajoran faith is NOT incompatible with science like modern religions are. Several bible books don't work with science, but having the Bajorans say Prophet and Celestial Temple vs Wormhole Aliens and Wormhole is a real potatoe potatato situation here. "

Okay, the Bible is not a religion, it's a book. A religion is an institutionalised and canonised set of beliefs. Christian religions derive their institutions and canons *partly* from the words of particular translations of the Bible, but also from other sources (conferences, treaties, other books and writings, traditions, etc).

As I've said before gods can take one of two possible forms in religions; they are stand-ins for either gaps in psychological understanding or scientific understanding (or sometimes both). Religions like the ancient Greek are the former, Abrahamic religions (like Christianity) are (or at least, have been) the latter. A scientific mind (like Jefferson or Einstein) has only one option when trying to square the circle of believing in a god; this god must be the god of Spinoza, omnipotent and non-interfering. Spinoza's god created the laws of nature and set the Universe in motion. Being actually omnipotent (non of the beings on Star Trek fit this description, including Q), he/it has the power ("potent") to suspend the very laws he set in motion, but chooses not to. Therefore, one can operate scientifically, discovering and applying the laws of nature to one's own advantage by way of logical deduction.

Bajor's "gods" are not this. They are not omnipotent (they can be killed by technology); they are not non-interfering, and they are *subject* to the laws of nature, not above them. They may be more powerful than we (potentior), but not all-powerful (omnipotens).

The show doesn't want us to see it this way, but Bajor's relationship to the Prophets is more like the Soviet model for the deified State than any actual religion. The Prophets lack the necessary qualities to grant them the rights of a deity, the right to be above reproach, the right to dictate morality, the right to existential superiority over other beings. The fact that the Bajorans can't see that is a tragic result of their history, and any honest writer would acknowledge this, but because the Bajoran faith is meant to allegorise contemporary human faiths (most closely Judaism), and the DS9 writers don't want to offend the politically correct audience, this issue is insultingly circumvented time and time again, and this episode is no exception. I honestly don't understand why things like so-called "plot holes" (why aren't they out of shuttlecraft?) bother people more than these gaping holes in Socratic logic.
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Robert
Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 2:34pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott - I guess I really just don't see any of this the way you do. I respect your opinion, but I read totally different things into this. I'll answer your first half (the part about Sisko being an apologist and the ridiculousness of treating all ideas as equal) first, since the second half is a whole other conversation and much more complicated.

People often think that respecting the beliefs of others means that all opinions are equal, but the episode comes down really hard in favor of Keiko and really hard against Winn and basically flat out states that even Winn doesn't believe what she was spouting. The episode does NOT treat all ideas as equal and neither does Sisko. His warning to Jake was to not be the hard head for the other side.

And as for prophets... "a prophet does not predict the future, that's an oracle". I call BS on that. A prophet in Christianity speaks with the word of God, but the Bajoran Gods clearly do speak with their own word and are called prophets because prophecy is (from the Dictionary) "a prediction" - synonyms: prediction, forecast, prognostication, prognosis, divination, augury. You might argue that calling them Oracles would have been slightly more correct, but my point here is that to dismiss Prophets are a decent term is probably silly too.

As for Sisko, this is literally all he says "JAKE: But there were no Prophets. They were just some aliens that you found in the wormhole.
SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets? "

Is that SO wrong? Honestly?! We're literally arguing semantics right now. Point 2 coming up....
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Robert
Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 2:49pm (UTC -5)
Point #2 is tougher because your view is that the Bajoran Prophets are morally bankrupt because they are higher beings that are not Gods (merely beings advanced enough to appear as magic), but they allow the Bajorans to think of them as Gods, worship them and even try to run society based on what they THINK these Gods want.

"The show doesn't want us to see it this way, but Bajor's relationship to the Prophets is more like the Soviet model for the deified State than any actual religion. "

It could be. But it could also be like the relationship a parent has with their child. I'm not all powerful, all knowing and I make mistakes... but I still try to guide my children. Is it really impossible that the Prophets have that kind of relationship with Bajor. And if so, is that immoral. And if Bajorans think of these Prophets as some kind of benign benefactor and guide.... is it really wrong of us to judge this relationship that we don't totally understand.

To put the Prophets on trial for all of this (and we could, I'd love to see Picard do it, especially after the Mintakan incident) we'd need to consider 5 things I think.

1) The Prophets seem to want to influence Bajor. Else, why send them the orbs. What are they trying to accomplish?

2) They seem to want to protect Bajor (see "Rapture" and "Sacrifice of Angels"). So ok... they want to guide and protect their "children", so far so good for my theory.

3) They do muddle the message sometimes. The biggest problem with the Abrahamic God is that people do things in his name that, if he is real, I'd imagine would sicken him. In Accession they totally allow all of Bajor to be turned upside down to teach Sisko a lesson and they constantly let Winn speak for them (and run their religion) even though she clearly doesn't. The first example was screwed up (although some parents are harsh with lessons) but the second is silly. I mean, at one point they tell Kira and Shakkar to break up in an orb vision (::eyeroll::). Can't they just tell somebody that Kai Winn is an ass?

4) What were they thinking during the Occupation would have to be addressed as well.

5) Since they are non-linear.... do they even understand any of these things? What is their connection with Bajor? ARE they future Bajorans or something?

But in the long run.... is worshipping them bad, good or in between for Bajor? And if we assume it's bad simply for the sake of the fact that they aren't true Gods (but they might be true Prophets, since their yanno Prophecies come true) would Bajor still be wrong in thinking of them as guides (not Gods)?
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William B
Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
From Merriam-Webster (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prophet)

proph·et noun \ˈprä-fət\
: a member of some religions (such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) who delivers messages that are believed to have come from God

the Prophet —used as another name for Muhammad, the founder of Islam

the Prophets : the writers of the books of the Bible that describe what will happen in the future

Full Definition of PROPHET

1
: one who utters divinely inspired revelations: as
a often capitalized : the writer of one of the prophetic books of the Bible
b capitalized : one regarded by a group of followers as the final authoritative revealer of God's will
2
: one gifted with more than ordinary spiritual and moral insight; especially : an inspired poet
3
: one who foretells future events : predictor
4
: an effective or leading spokesman for a cause, doctrine, or group
5
Christian Science
a : a spiritual seer
b : disappearance of material sense before the conscious facts of spiritual Truth

----

Elliott is using definition 1 or 2, Robert is using definition 3.

Cleared it up! Or did I? I guess the open question is whether these definitions are compatible, and what the series seems to imply by using the word Prophet. I think that there is a conflation of "prophet" in the sense of predictor and "prophet" in the sense of spiritual/moral authority within the series, at least to some extent, and that fuzziness is part of the reason these debates are going on (and going on in the series). No one really can deny that the Prophets -- or, to simplify the discussion, Wormhole Aliens -- can be prophets in the predictor sense, as they have nonlinear time. The question of whether they use this predictor ability effectively is more ambiguous; it's definitely there in (e.g.) "Destiny" where the prediction about the vipers et al. is of a real sequence of events.

There is still some ambiguity even here -- if the Wormhole Aliens reveal some future event to people, can the people not then change their future? If they can, through the Orb of Time, allow access to the past, someone can change the past (like Arne Darvin in "Trials and Tribble-ations" attempts to do, and as possibly Kira tries to do in "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night" depending on how one reads the episode). So this aspects is...fuzzy, but let's take it for read that in general the Wormhole Aliens' statements about events in the puny biped mortals' future can serve as accurate "predictions," i.e. accurately state what will happen before it happens.

They also have powers of gods more generally, in the sense of having power nearly unlimited on the scale of humans -- like Q, for instance.

The question is whether they have moral authority. And here I think we're mostly agreed that it is possible to see why Bajorans tend to view the Wormhole Aliens as having moral authority -- these are extremely powerful beings who make warnings and predictions which, if not followed, could spell disaster, maybe because they are predicting things or maybe because the Wormhole Aliens themselves will cause the disaster. But it's worth noting that if the Wormhole Aliens warn Sisko not to leave on a mission and he does anyway and then something bad happens, that is no more evidence of godhood than if Rasmussen brought future tech to the 22nd century in "A Matter of Time," or choose any other given time travel example. (I chose that one because it's the most absurd. One could say that Guinan's intuition seems almost divine in some small measure, for example; but I don't think anyone would genuinely think Rasmussen is any kind of demigod.) Similarly, the fact that the Wormhole Aliens can destroy a fleet of ships doesn't prove anything but that they're super powerful and can do whatever.

Anyway, it is a little bit annoying to me that the show does conflate these issues together. I'm not, I think, as annoyed by it as Elliott -- but it is a bit annoying. In that Ben and Jake argument, for example, where Sisko points out that they could be considered Prophets and Jake regards him with incredulity, it's kind of dumb because the only ambiguity lies in which definition of the *word* Prophet is being used. Ben indicates they might be Prophets because they stand out of linear time and thus may be able to have particular insight into future events -- i.e. they are Predictors. Jake rankles because how could his father really believe that the Prophets are Beings of Higher Moral Authority? If they just ditched the ambiguous language, there would be no, or at least, very little conflict between their views. I mean, let me make it explicit: imagine that this is their ACTUAL conversation:

"JAKE: But there were no Beings Of Higher Moral Authority. They were just some aliens that you found in the wormhole.
SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Predictors Of the Future? "

Now, maybe it is a condition of a Prophet that it is BOTH a Being of Higher Moral Authority, and a Predictor of Future Events -- in which the fact that they can Predict Future Events is a necessary condition for this type of Prophet, and as such obviously they COULD be Prophets because they could Predict Future Events. But as far as I can recall, no one says outright that Prophets must be both higher authority beings and predictors; it sort of goes without saying. But there are beings with higher moral authority, at least in fiction and myth, who are not predictors of the future (within Trek, one could make a case for the Organians in terms of how the story treats them); and there are beings who can predict the future but do not have higher moral authority, including within the Trek canon.

I think that confusion is the big source of the problem. Now, maybe the series disentangles these disparate notions of divinity (godlike moral authority, and godlike power including future prediction) more effectively than I recall.
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William B
Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 3:29pm (UTC -5)
Incidentally, I'm reading through the Dune novels right now (actually, listening to them on audiobook with my girlfriend) and there is a lot of interest on similar themes -- where the main characters build a religion centred on themselves, in part using their prescience/ability to see the future as a way of giving themselves divine clout. The conflation of seemingly supernatural power with moral authority is one of the big methods by which they maintain power -- and they are...sympathetic, to a degree, but the novels and main characters repeatedly question this. It's interesting. I feel like I've yet to really figure out what the books are fully "advocating," what moral perspective they are outlining, except as a sort of primer on the way in which a messiah's image is created and controlled and the consequences, both good and ill, this can have. Each novel leaves me feeling slightly unsatisfied when it ends -- but I find the journey interesting. And it's a pretty direct confrontation of many of these issues, of what makes a god a god, and whether some "ordinary" being with extraordinary gifts can effectively fill the societal role of a god, particularly for an oppressed people struggling to survive and thrive, the way the Prophets, who are ultimately not omnipotent but just much, much more powerful than humans and Bajorans, can for the Bajorans.
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Robert
Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 3:43pm (UTC -5)
Well at the very least you cleared up the point I originally made.

"We can all pretty much agree that the prophets fit the human definition of prophet (they can see the future as easily as the past) and the Bajoran definition of one."

Yes, by the "they can see the future as easily as the past" definition in English, or as you specifically put it " one who foretells future events : predictor" they fit the bill. And if the Bajorans are using such (I suspect they are, it's a good name for non-linear aliens), it still fits and makes Sisko's line in this episode ""JAKE: But there were no Prophets. They were just some aliens that you found in the wormhole.
SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets? "" really, really harmless (IMHO).

Now that DOES not clear up if we should consider them Gods who have (and or deserve to have) moral authority over Bajor. And Major Kira does make it quite plain that they do in "Homefront" "KIRA: I suppose your gods aren't as cryptic as ours."

William, I really like your final couple of paragraphs as it makes very clear to me exactly what's going on right here. I'm Sisko and Elliot is Jake. I'm sitting here basically still talking about my original point (which was that Bajoran mysticism isn't just hokum because it's based on real beings with real powers and real interest in Bajor)

""And it's all just a man made ideology"

But the Bajoran religion isn't. It's based on non-linear aliens in the only known stable wormhole with tremendous power who sent orbs to the Bajorans....

And Elliott is rankled that they are being given moral authority. In essence, we are having 2 completely different sets of conversations. What's interesting though, is that because the only time in THIS episode that they point even comes up in, as you said, ambiguous language was through Jake... I guess I just felt like he was being a stupid kid who needed some help to see beyond the black and white positions of "they are gods" and "they are just random aliens". The truth (and the nature of their special relationship with Bajor) lies in between. I think Elliott feels rankled because he's reading those lines as giving some kind of validation to real world religions, but I don't see it that way (from either Jake or the writers).

OTHER episodes may be more problematic in this regard, but I don't see this one as being. I guess what's REALLY interesting is that while I'm not sure they do have moral authority (in fact I'd think they don't) I'm still not sure it's a great plan to ignore them... cause really bad things tend to happen. So are they abusive or helpful guides? I think it really all depends on your reading of the show.

But Elliott and I are not having the same conversation and your illustration


"JAKE: But there were no Beings Of Higher Moral Authority. They were just some aliens that you found in the wormhole.
SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Predictors Of the Future? "

makes that really, really clear.
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Robert
Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
I'd also like to point out as well that our "what makes a God" and "moral authority" conversations are VERY Abrahamic. The Greek Gods certainly could not have had moral authority (all that in-fighting basically means it's impossible that more than 1 or 2 of them had true moral authority, else how were they constantly in conflict). Yet they WERE Gods.
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Elliott
Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 5:51pm (UTC -5)
@Robert :

First of all, I brought up the point about the Greek gods already--as I said, that type of deity is a precursor to what we now call psychology (Wagner-Nietzsche-Freud-Jung-Campbell), where as Abrahamic God is a remnant of a pre-skeptical age in Mesopotamian culture. The Prophets are unambiguously portrayed as the former type of god which is why we are having this conversation in this manner.

I am "rankled" as you say because you are being pretty obtuse about the show's take on Religion :

"To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets? "" really, really harmless (IMHO)."

It's only harmless if you completely ignore the innuendo and subtext of the conversation. The substance of Jake's question was in reference to the fact that his Bajoran classmates weren't allowed to attend school and learn about science and history, which was predicated on Bajoran credulity, which Sisko excuses (partially) on the basis that the WA can actually predict the future. The episode even shows the extreme end of religious thinking in the bombing of Keiko's school. So, no, I don't find it "harmless" as you say.

"I think Elliott feels rankled because he's reading those lines as giving some kind of validation to real world religions, but I don't see it that way (from either Jake or the writers)."

Forgive me, but your belief that a franchise whose identity is so deeply rooted in social commentary to spend so much time discussing the implications of the Bajoran religion to have no agenda or philosophical motivation is, I think, pretty damned naïve.

The Bajorans DO take the Prophets (or interpretations of them) to be the lode stone of their morality, and the only justification the series gives us for this is this idea about non-linear time. So we are *not* having two different conversations, you are just unwilling to confront the implications of certain ideas raised on the show.

@Robert & William :

The word "Prophet" has a particular flavour and connotation in our vernacular in the west; it is *implicitly* religious without feeling pushy the way "God" does, but not fully mythical the way "Muse" would. It was specifically chosen, I believe, for the fact that it gives wiggle room for the writers to paint them as either pseudo-Christian or pseudo-Greek depending on the demands of the story. But this conflation as William rightly pointed out is a source of incredible and (to me) infuriating ineptitude in dealing with a profound and volatile subject.
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Elliott
Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 5:52pm (UTC -5)
"The Prophets are unambiguously portrayed as the former type of god..."

should have read :

"The Prophets are unambiguously portrayed as the [LATTER] type of god..."
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Robert
Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 10:14am (UTC -5)
"First of all, I brought up the point about the Greek gods already--as I said, that type of deity is a precursor to what we now call psychology (Wagner-Nietzsche-Freud-Jung-Campbell), where as Abrahamic God is a remnant of a pre-skeptical age in Mesopotamian culture. The Prophets are unambiguously portrayed as the latter type of god "

Are we sure? There are more than one of them (that doesn't smack of monotheism). They don't always agree (Pah Wraiths anyone). Even the Sarah Prophet seems to be giving him a personal warning at some point.

I do agree they lean the other way, but I'm not really seeing it as an absolute.

"It's only harmless if you completely ignore the innuendo and subtext of the conversation. The substance of Jake's question was in reference to the fact that his Bajoran classmates weren't allowed to attend school and learn about science and history, which was predicated on Bajoran credulity, which Sisko excuses (partially) on the basis that the WA can actually predict the future. The episode even shows the extreme end of religious thinking in the bombing of Keiko's school. So, no, I don't find it "harmless" as you say."

I think we may have to agree to disagree. There is a position between "Bajoran belief is stupid [Jake] and children can't hear anything that might slightly contradict Bajoran belief [Winn]." And that in between point is Sisko. And his beliefs (which seem to be that Winn is a jackass but that Jake doesn't need to be as obtuse as Winn) doesn't seem that horrid to me. If you read Jake/Ben's position the way I do. If you see their positions as differently than I do, I don't think we can reconcile that.

It's my belief that Christians/Jews/Muslims are entitles to their beliefs as long as they don't try to make schools stop teaching evolution and the like. I don't have to agree with them, but Jake is basically calling them stupid. And I kind of agree with Ben that it's not cool. Again, this is tough because the Gods are real and you don't see them as Gods. But what would they have to do to be Gods for sure? Would Bajorans have to end up there in the afterlife? (are we sure they don't??)

Also, it's really not fair to say that not being anti-religion is harmful because religious jackasses might blow up a school! I (and Ben) are anti-those guys!!! And Winn wasn't even blowing up schools for religious beliefs, she was doing it as a political power play.... Maybe instead of being anti-Prophets we should just be anti-Winn.

"Forgive me, but your belief that a franchise whose identity is so deeply rooted in social commentary to spend so much time discussing the implications of the Bajoran religion to have no agenda or philosophical motivation is, I think, pretty damned naïve.

The Bajorans DO take the Prophets (or interpretations of them) to be the lode stone of their morality, and the only justification the series gives us for this is this idea about non-linear time. So we are *not* having two different conversations, you are just unwilling to confront the implications of certain ideas raised on the show."

I DO think that this episode is an allegory for real world things having to do with religion. I just don't think it's the allegory you think it is. I mean, we COULD get the writers in on this conversation somehow, but I'm not sure how to do so....

To ME this episode is not about being tolerant of backwards religious points. To ME this episode is about politicians using backwards religious points to score political victories and how loving religious people (Bajorans are said to be kind, gentle people on more than one occasions) can be turned into bigots when someone wields the word of God in a negative way. You look at Sisko and you see "apologist for backwards beliefs". I look at EVERY OTHER LINE in the episode and see my view. And for someone who writes reviews scene by scene (which is cool btw) I really have to say I think you're letting your view of the Bajoran religion across 7 seasons affect what you're seeing in THIS episode.

What were the writer's thinking when they wrote THIS episode?

"WINN: The prophets have spoken to me through the orbs, Emissary. I understand my duty to defend the Bajoran faith. The teacher has dishonoured the Celestial Temple. If she does not recant, I cannot be responsible for the consequences. " (She's flat out lying, we guessed this back then, we know this for a FACT by the end of the series. They've never spoken to her, she doesn't believe a word she's saying)

"ODO: Why wouldn't you want to sell to them?
KEIKO: Miles, can we go? Let's go.
VENDOR: Seek the Prophets.
ODO: Seek them yourself."
(Odo is painted as the voice of reason here. Another brainwashed zombie using a religious extremist/false prophet's word as an excuse for hate)

"KEIKO: I'm a teacher. My responsibility is to expose my students to knowledge, not hide it from them. The answer is no. "
(The episode is clearing painting Keiko as the hero... especially pitted against Winn. She is the mouthpiece for the writers here)

And then the nutjobs bomb the school. BOMB A SCHOOL!

And the ONLY thing the episode offers in favor of Winn's point of view is Sisko telling Jake not to be a hard head for the other side. That's it. Just "don't be an extremist". And for that you think the episode is somehow being uber-pro religion to the point where you equate Sisko's words as being harmful to the point of relating him to the bombing?!

If this episode were written today I'm pretty sure watching it I would just hear it SCREAMING at the top of the writer's lungs "THE TEA PARTY IS BAD, THE TEA PARTY IS BAD, THE TEA PARTY IS BAD!!!!"

Again though, it's just MY reading of the episode, but I certainly am not saying that the episode is an allegory, just not the one you think it is!

"The word "Prophet" has a particular flavour and connotation in our vernacular in the west; it is *implicitly* religious without feeling pushy the way "God" does, but not fully mythical the way "Muse" would. It was specifically chosen, I believe, for the fact that it gives wiggle room for the writers to paint them as either pseudo-Christian or pseudo-Greek depending on the demands of the story. But this conflation as William rightly pointed out is a source of incredible and (to me) infuriating ineptitude in dealing with a profound and volatile subject. "

Since prophet in the pseudo-Christian sense means "speaking for God" basically... I just assumed that the writers had to mean it in the Greek sense, namely because otherwise you'd have the meaning be "Gods that speak for God". Which is kind of obvious. If a God is called a prophet and they exist in non-linear time I can only assume that they don't mean the Christian sense. Now whether of not it was chosen for the judeo-Christian flavor of the word... it could be. But I personally never took the meaning to be anything other than predictor while I was watching the show.

Doesn't mean I'm right, just how I personally interpreted it. Don't want to start a conversation about death of the author or whatnot, but we can have 2 totally different readings of the show, and that's ok (IMHO).

Really sorry about how long this got :-(
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Robert
Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 10:24am (UTC -5)
That should read "but I certainly am not saying that the episode isn't an allegory, it's just not the one you think it is!"
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Elliott
Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 11:16am (UTC -5)
@Robert :

Thanks again for the reply--and please don't apologise for length of all things! I enjoy these little debates.

"There are more than one of them (that doesn't smack of monotheism). They don't always agree (Pah Wraiths anyone). Even the Sarah Prophet seems to be giving him a personal warning at some point."

Well, true the Bajorans are polytheists, but the Prophets don't stand in mythologically for what we now analyse psychologically, because psychology exists. The Prophets are more the doling out morals and doing magic tricks type (Abraham's God).

"There is a position between 'Bajoran belief is stupid [Jake]' and 'children can't hear anything that might slightly contradict Bajoran belief [Winn].'"

You seem to be implying that these two positions lie on either extreme of a linear argument, and thus whichever position bisects that line is the most "reasonable," but this is a sophomoric argument. It's like saying that whichever political system is half-way between Fascism (right) and Communism (left) is the most reasonable. All I ask is that these positions be analysed for what they are, not simply taken at face value.

Your distillations "Bajoran belief is stupid" and "[Bajoran] children can't hear anything that might slightly contradict Bajoran belief" are worth looking at more closely before deciding if a compromise in between is really desirable.

First of all "Bajoran belief is stupid" is pretty vague--even young Jake wasn't making this claim--he specifically pointed out what he found stupid about it, namely that it caused otherwise rational people to behave incredibly stupidly (denying their children education) at the behest of one moustache-twirling villain. Is it reasonable to say that the behaviour of the Bajoran parents was stupid? Yes, it is. It brings about the least amount of good for the most amount of people. It's stupid. Is this a particularly diplomatic way of phrasing this? Of course not, Jake's no ambassador. So I don't mind Sisko looking for ways to soft-pedal this idea. That IS is his job after all.

Bitchwhore's position is interesting here; I wonder if it was beliefs like hers which made the Bajoran parents so easy to manipulate. If one refuses to entertain the notion that a diversity of ideas is good for the mind, one's mind tends not to grow very large or deep, and one becomes a pawn in someone else's game. Bitchwhore's position is so clearly constructed out a specific agenda that it is not worth considering in the same spectrum of ideas as Jake's. Jake may be uncouth and unrefined in his opinion, but it stems from genuine deductive reasoning and earnest motivation. Bitchwhore is simply promoting the most expedient philosophy to attain her own goals.

"To ME this episode is not about being tolerant of backwards religious points. To ME this episode is about politicians using backwards religious points to score political victories and how loving religious people (Bajorans are said to be kind, gentle people on more than one occasions) can be turned into bigots when someone wields the word of God in a negative way."

That's the rub, isn't it? "Loving...people can be turned into bigots" BECAUSE they are religious, because they think in terms which force them to abandon reason when it conflicts with their inherited wisdom and beliefs. Yes, we should hold those who would abuse weak-minded people for their own ends accountable, but we don't let religion off the hook either. If a house is damaged by termite infestation and someone ceases the opportunity to knock it down with a sledge hammer, we can certainly blame the person for knocking it down so cruelly, but we don't then say that the house was just fine before in its infested state!

"I think you're letting your view of the Bajoran religion across 7 seasons affect what you're seeing in THIS episode."

You're free to think that, but believe me, if I were to bring it the drivel from later episodes (especially from the last season), I would have a LOT more to say about how stupid Bajoran faith is. No, really am basing my views on this episode and those which came before it (especially "Emissary" and "Battle Lines").

"the ONLY thing the episode offers in favor of Winn's point of view is Sisko telling Jake not to be a hard head for the other side. That's it. Just 'don't be an extremist'."

Jake an extremist? Okay, the day an atheist blows up a church or a temple, let me know. It doesn't happen! Does this then mean that every single religious person is going to blow up a building? No, of course not, but what is extremist atheism? Christopher Hitchens giving lectures? Bill Maher doing standup? And don't dare bring up the USSR, because as has been explained many times by thinkers far greater than I, the USSR was a quasi-religious nation that deified the State (made it infallible, perfect, and the source of wisdom and truth). That's not atheism.

What I blame Sisko for is apologising for the mode of thinking which allowed Neela to blow up a school and try to assassinate Bareil, because not every credulous Bajoran would do so. A non-religious person is capable of blowing up a school, sure, but that has to be in their character (Garak, for example). For an otherwise sweet, compassionate and reasonable person to do something horrible, that takes religion.
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Robert
Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 11:54am (UTC -5)
"First of all "Bajoran belief is stupid" is pretty vague--even young Jake wasn't making this claim--he specifically pointed out what he found stupid about it, namely that it caused otherwise rational people to behave incredibly stupidly (denying their children education) at the behest of one moustache-twirling villain. Is it reasonable to say that the behaviour of the Bajoran parents was stupid? Yes, it is. It brings about the least amount of good for the most amount of people. It's stupid. Is this a particularly diplomatic way of phrasing this? Of course not, Jake's no ambassador. So I don't mind Sisko looking for ways to soft-pedal this idea. That IS is his job after all. "

This is a fairly interesting point to look at. You are right, some people dismiss religion as being evil in general because the bad it causes outweighs the good. But, as William points out, Sisko and Jake were sort of having 2 conversations.

"JAKE: But the same thing is happening now with all this stuff about the Celestial Temple in the wormhole. It's dumb.
SISKO: No, it's not. You've got to realise something, Jake. For over fifty years, the one thing that allowed the Bajorans to survive the Cardassian occupation was their faith. The Prophets were their only source of hope and courage."

In this case I side with Jake and you actually. It IS dumb that the parents were abandoning their school at the behest of one mustache twirling villain. I don't necessarily know that Sisko is wrong (I think he's trying to empathize with them more than agreeing with them). But Jake is right, it IS dumb.

"JAKE: But there were no Prophets. They were just some aliens that you found in the wormhole.
SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets?
JAKE: Are you serious? "

Here Jake being incredulous is much less on track. But this is not the same conversation they were having 10 seconds ago, they jumped tracks.

In this way, I see your annoyance with this scene. They paint Jake as an extremist because he can't even fathom why the Bajorans have such stupid beliefs... but in one second we're saying their beliefs are stupid because they are all worked up and ready to bomb schools (even if we didn't know that yet) and the next because they call the wormhole aliens Gods. I do think upon looking carefully here that Jake is meant to look less reasonable than he should be.

"That's the rub, isn't it? "Loving...people can be turned into bigots" BECAUSE they are religious, because they think in terms which force them to abandon reason when it conflicts with their inherited wisdom and beliefs. Yes, we should hold those who would abuse weak-minded people for their own ends accountable, but we don't let religion off the hook either."

But that's specifically why I don't think this episode is being really apologist for religion. This episode comes just short of saying religious folk are 3 good sermons away from being school bombing zealots. :P

"Jake an extremist? Okay, the day an atheist blows up a church or a temple, let me know. It doesn't happen! Does this then mean that every single religious person is going to blow up a building? No, of course not, but what is extremist atheism? Christopher Hitchens giving lectures? Bill Maher doing standup?"

Hate is hate though, right? I mean... you don't have to blow stuff up to be hateful. Sisko was seeing his son condemn people not for their actions, but for their beliefs and that made him want to counter-argue. I get where he was coming from.

"What I blame Sisko for is apologising for the mode of thinking which allowed Neela to blow up a school and try to assassinate Bareil, because not every credulous Bajoran would do so. A non-religious person is capable of blowing up a school, sure, but that has to be in their character (Garak, for example). For an otherwise sweet, compassionate and reasonable person to do something horrible, that takes religion. "

It's interesting though, isn't it. A minute ago you mentioned something quasi-religious (the USSR) that could inspire the same kind of nuttery. And so can political zealots/extremists.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that group think is bad. Diversity is good. Kira is less nuts because she has other people giving her other points of view (namely her Federation friends). Bareil/Opaka are benevolent religious forces. We pledge allegiance to the flag in this country. Group think, religion, brainwashing, propaganda.... heck, look at Nazi Germany. That wasn't a religion either.

Religion can inspire a special kind of nutterism, but any kind of group think that doesn't allow in other points of view are dangerous. Sisko's position of "SISKO: My philosophy is that there is room for all philosophies on this station." is a pretty good one I think. One that encourages the opposite of what causes this kind of zealotry.

For full disclosure I fall somewhere between spiritual, agnostic and Christian. But I have a general dislike of organized religion. Especially large ones.
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Elliott
Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 1:07pm (UTC -5)
Yes, groupthink is a part of it, but that's not really the issue. One can say, "as an American, I support my country, as should every American" and it's not intrinsically bad. When that turns into "America can do no wrong, and if you disagree with me, you're un-patriotic," one has crossed the threshold to a *religious* mindset. True, the object of the deification is a physical state, rather than a numinous being (just like the Prophets, physical beings), but the mentality is the same. Religion (that is, non-Greek, proto-psychological) requires a belief in divine perfection, incorruptible purity and infallibility (like the Soviets and Nazis forced on the populace with regards to the State).

Large organised religions are problematic because they hold freethinkers hostage to the logical fallacies of spirituality. They do this precisely because the only way they can maintain their existence is in this hostage-taking. Why does a numinous God who is omnipresent, timeless and purely benevolent require the intervention of an institution that collects money and imposes restrictions on physical, phenomenal mortal life? That's idiotic, and I think we agree on this point. However, "spiritual" aligned people have simply removed the urgency of a convicting organisation to test their beliefs. The illogic remains, the contradictions remain, and the potential for extremism remains, although it is less likely.

"'My philosophy is that there is room for all philosophies on this station.' is a pretty good one I think."

I wonder if Sisko would tolerate a delegation of the KKK on DS9, or Terre'Blanche. It's nothing but wishy-washy bullshit. Some philosophies should not be tolerated. I am not saying any religious person is philosophically equivalent to a Klansman or AWB, but nor is his philosophical deficiency negated by virtue of its "diversity."
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Elliott
Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 1:10pm (UTC -5)
"However, "spiritual" aligned people have simply removed the urgency of a convicting organisation to test their beliefs."

should have read

"However, "spiritual" [unaligned] people have simply removed the urgency of a convicting organisation to test their beliefs."

I want to be able to edit comments!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Robert
Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 1:22pm (UTC -5)
""However, "spiritual" [unaligned] people have simply removed the urgency of a convicting organisation to test their beliefs.""

I think in my case I don't necessarily know that I have any concrete ones, I just think I believe in something stronger than agnostic and that whatever that thing is should be more personal.

I suppose it's an easy view for me to take because there are no contradictions in believing in a non-specified something. I even feel it's possible to experience something spiritual through science :P The universe/nature/whatever you want to call it is pretty awe inspiring.

I do share your issue with organized religion though, but I think so does DS9. The prophets are good aligned (I think) but we only have a handful of people on the show who are both very religious and (probably) good aligned. Bareil is one, Opaka is another, the vedek who hangs himself in S6 is one... but a great deal of religious zealots on DS9 are nuts. Like Winn, or Neela, or Dukat (later), or even the Vedek that kills someone for having an unclean D'Jarra because he thinks that's what the emissary who thinks he knows what the Prophets wants told him to do. CREEEPY!

For the Christian side of me (whatever part still believes any of that stuff) I guess I like to more see the bible as being stories that teach us how to live, not as history books. For me, if science contradicts the bible, science wins. I guess my point is that since I feel I believe in stuff but it holds no illogical power over me (that I know of), I can't believe that belief in stuff is an inherently bad thing.

That said, I respect atheists for their beliefs. I think it's sad in this country that a hate mongering religious pretender is more likely to get elected than an atheist. Heck a gay polygamist pedophile is probably more likely to get elected than an atheist >.< (not equating gay people or polygamists to pedophiles here, just trying to think of something that would make the religious rights heads explode). I also think that Sisko's "'My philosophy is that there is room for all philosophies on this station.'" probably wouldn't include hate speech. Personally I think free speech in this country goes too far when it comes to hate speech.
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Robert
Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 1:47pm (UTC -5)
Actually, I supposed what I really love about this episode is the way that it particularly paints the villain doing the darkest thing that organized religion does (and you touched upon it above).

"They do this precisely because the only way they can maintain their existence is in this hostage-taking."

"WINN: Let me be the one to make the first concession. I will no longer request that you teach anything about the Celestial Temple. Just don't teach anything about the wormhole at all.
KEIKO: Ignore it?
WINN: Find other ways, other things to teach the children.
KEIKO: And when we get to theories of evolution or creation of the universe, what then?
WINN: We'll face those issues when we come to them.
KEIKO: I'm a teacher. My responsibility is to expose my students to knowledge, not hide it from them. The answer is no.
WINN: I've tried to be reasonable. "

When religious people don't like certain knowledge the knee jerk reaction is to hide the knowledge from children. Hide knowledge. From children.

To me, that should be akin to child abuse. But I think the way that the episode so clearly paints Keiko as the hero is a condemnation of that type of thing.

The series itself is very good to the Prophets but it's very hard on organized religion. The Vedek assembly ends up being run by Kai Bitchwhore (as you lovingly refer to her), they switch emissaries at the drop of a hat (TASHA: "Any hat"), the Bajorans like Kai Bitchwhore so much they were nearly ready to become a theocracy and give her power over the state, one of Kira's friends joins the Pagh Wraith cult, the Vedek assembly doesn't slowly torture Kai Bitchwhore to death after she ASSAULTS A PROPHET with chroniton radiation, a Vedek murders another Vedek in "Accession", a Prylar collaborated with the Cardassians.... I mean, the Prophets come off as being good guys, but I never really felt the show was kind to the religion as a whole.

But hiding kids from knowledge, that's really not ok in my book, and is one of organized religions biggest sins.
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Peremensoe
Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
Elliott sez, "Jake an extremist? Okay, the day an atheist blows up a church or a temple, let me know. It doesn't happen! Does this then mean that every single religious person is going to blow up a building? No, of course not, but what is extremist atheism? Christopher Hitchens giving lectures? Bill Maher doing standup?"

More like the Soviets and the Chinese sending religious leaders to die in labor camps.
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Elliott
Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
"I do share your issue with organized religion though, but I think so does DS9. The prophets are good aligned (I think) but we only have a handful of people on the show who are both very religious and (probably) good aligned. "

Why exactly is it that it's okay to worship the Prophets, but not the Founders or the Pagh Wraiths? After all, as you said there are good and bad guys on all sides who hold religious convictions. So why are the Founders evil subjugators but the Prophets benevolent protectors? Why is adherence to the Pagh Wraith Cult's stupid customs (abstinence, isolation) worse than adherence to stupid Klingon customs (fasting, blood oaths)?

The show is very kind to the Bajorans and their spirituality. THIS episode is slightly more evenhanded than later ones, which is why it does not bear my disdain the way "Rapture," "Accession," and the general Pagh Wraith arc do, but it still skirts the issues in order to come across as some sort of PC salve to TNG's sensibility. Yes, DS9 showed *individual* members of Bajoran society who were evil or misguided, but the show never shone a critical light on their beliefs or customs the way it did on the Dominion.

Sisko's wonderful "Do you really want to give your life for the 'Order of Things?'" would have been a perfect response to any number of Bajoran foolishness (including Neela's here), but he never says that to them. The only people ever shown to be critical of Bajoran beliefs are those mean ol' Cardassians, whose racist undertones basically invalidate whatever real criticisms might be made. The humans aren't critical either, generally just alluding to the "not my cup of tea" school of avoidance. Don't get me wrong, I don't think O'Brien and Bashir need to be chastising their Bajoran colleagues every day for being religious, but when the issue is raised (like it is here), the human perspective is watered down to half-hearted silliness like Sisko's "all philosophies are okay" schlock.
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Elliott
Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
@ Peremensoe :

Did you not read the very next sentence?

"And don't dare bring up the USSR, because as has been explained many times by thinkers far greater than I, the USSR was a quasi-religious nation that deified the State (made it infallible, perfect, and the source of wisdom and truth). That's not atheism."

It applies to the Maoist Chinese as much as the Stalinist USSR.
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Peremensoe
Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 3:30pm (UTC -5)
By that argument all ideological persecution everywhere is committed by religionists, which is nonsense. People can be self-righteously assured and vindictive about a variety of dogmas.

But hey, you too can be infallible by just defining your terms into meaninglessness.
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Robert
Fri, Oct 3, 2014, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
Elliott - There are 2 different things at play here. There is the belief system and the organization. I will certainly agree the series is kind to the belief system, but I don't feel the actual organization itself

"BAREIL: You have been correctly informed. I'm sorry, Commander. The Vedek Assembly will not see you.
SISKO: Why not?
BAREIL: Some fear you as the symbol of a Federation they view as godless. Some fear you as the Emissary who has walked with the Prophets. And some fear you because Vedek Winn told them to. We're all very good conjuring up enough fear to justify whatever we want to do. Today, I am only a Vedek. If the Prophets will it, someday I may be Kai, and I can be a better friend to you then. "

That's not a particularly kind description of the Vedek assembly. Their belief system though, yes the show is kind to that.

"Why exactly is it that it's okay to worship the Prophets, but not the Founders or the Pagh Wraiths? After all, as you said there are good and bad guys on all sides who hold religious convictions. So why are the Founders evil subjugators but the Prophets benevolent protectors? Why is adherence to the Pagh Wraith Cult's stupid customs (abstinence, isolation) worse than adherence to stupid Klingon customs (fasting, blood oaths)?"

Here we go, time to make this debate more lively. I actually think the Founders might fit the bill of Gods better than the Prophets do, and I'm not certain that I have a problem with them being worshiped. Obviously I don't personally agree with the Founders motivations, but

"ODO: Has it ever occurred to you that the reason you believe the Founders are gods is because that's what they want you to believe? That they built that into your genetic code?
WEYOUN: Of course they did. That's what gods do. After all, why be a god if there's no one to worship you? "

He has a point.... the Founders created these races, programmed them to worship them and have a pretty amazing array of powers. And all they want to do is bring order to chaos. They certainly make interesting Gods!

And as to the Pagh Wraiths.... only one scene in the entire series makes me think it's bad to worship them.

"JAKE: You don't have to explain. When the Pah-wraith was inside me, I could feel its hatred and I knew that no matter what, it couldn't be allowed to win. Even if it meant I had to die. You did the right thing."

That's it. Beyond that we have no indication that the Pagh Wraiths want anything "bad" except the death of the Prophets... Prophets who didn't intervene during the occupation

"FALA: I was a member of this cult, as you call it, long before Dukat. I came to it toward the end of the occupation. It's helped me make sense of the suffering we all had to endure.
KIRA: In the camp, you kept us together. It was your faith in the Prophets that got us through. How could you of all people would turn your back on them?
FALA: They turned their backs on us long ago. "

In truth Jake's word is the only thing we have to indicate that the Pagh Wraiths are not worthy of worship.

At the very least, I assume that wasn't the answer you expected :P
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Yanks
Tue, Oct 7, 2014, 10:58am (UTC -5)
Wow guys...

Still going on the "Creation v Evolution" thing? :-)

Oh, and just because the wormhole aliens are real, doesn't mean the Bajorian's creation of religion around them any "smarter".
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Elliott
Thu, Oct 9, 2014, 2:29pm (UTC -5)
@Robert :

"I will certainly agree the series is kind to the belief system, but I don't feel the actual organization itself"

Well, that's like being kind to paying someone off to do murder, but wagging your finger at the notion of the Mafia. It's only bad when it's organised? That's rather strange.

The Founders made themselves "gods" to the Dominion races so that they wouldn't have to justify their actions or motivations, they had absolute moral authority in their society (just like the Prophets do). What if the Changelings had been more like Odo, kinder, gentler, but still making themselves into gods. Would that make it okay? Is it okay for entire races to follow false premises because those who lied to them in the first place are kind of nice instead of fascists?

Because of religious thinking, the only thing preventing the Bajorans from becoming like the Dominion (aside from available resources) is the happenstance that the Prophets are not expansionist beings. "Ascension" showed us that the Bajorans are willing to do whatever they think the Prophets want of them, including enslaving and killing their own, on a whim. That is fucking dangerous.
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Robert
Thu, Oct 9, 2014, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
"It's only bad when it's organised? That's rather strange."

Not necessarily. Isn't Lutheranism all about how one guy thought the church was doing it wrong but the bible was good? And then he did his own spin on the religion?

My point was just that belief in the prophets and their authority is a separate thing from the organization that is run by the Kai. Arguably Ben Sisko ends up believing in the Prophets but he is NOT part of Bajoran organized religion.

They can both be bad or good (the religion and the beliefs), but they are separate.

""Ascension" showed us that the Bajorans are willing to do whatever they think the Prophets want of them, including enslaving and killing their own, on a whim. That is fucking dangerous."

I think I've made it pretty clear that I think organized religion can be scary/dangerous but that doesn't mean I'm totally against religious belief in general.

As to the Founders.... if a man who thinks he speaks for God tells you all to do scary things (as in Ascension) that's pretty terrifying. But what if your Gods actually do tell you to do scary things (like the Dominion)?
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Del_Duio
Tue, Nov 4, 2014, 10:59am (UTC -5)
The first episode which really solidifies how terrible a person Kai Winn is. Blowing up a school? Brainwash and assassinations?

Sisko should have booted her and that pointy hat out the nearest airlock lol.
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MsV
Wed, Feb 18, 2015, 7:53am (UTC -5)
My opinion, the prophets are gods. I believe in organized religion and salvation.
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MsV
Mon, Apr 6, 2015, 5:19am (UTC -5)
@ Yanks, Even Vedic Berial understands that in order for him to make change, he needs to win the KIA election and he knows that if he comes off as extreme he has no chance to win. So he plays the game.

I took a different view of Bereil's actions, I saw Bereil putting down his politics for the greater good. Things had gotten so far out of hand, he had to make an appearance to get things back on track. Even though I can see your point in this, I leaned toward the other direction.

Kai Winn never seemed like a true believer, she wanted power and wanted to be noticed by others. Everything she did was over-the-top, except taking responsibility for her actions, she let Neela take all of the blame and when Neela started to waver, Winn encouraged her to go forward.
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Teejay
Sun, Jun 7, 2015, 2:15am (UTC -5)
Man you know it's a good episode when it can spawn such a great discussion.


This episode contains one of my favorite "throwaway" lines in the entire series. It's O'Brien's first line after the credits:

O'Brien, to Neela: "Sorry I couldn't get here sooner, the fusion reactor went down."

Eh, just the FUSION REACTOR, no biggie :)
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Nathan B.
Fri, Jul 10, 2015, 10:22am (UTC -5)
I hate Kai Winn. But I love watching her! I thought DS9 did a superb job with her character and all the issues that she represents, from denying evolution to denying food for gays in restaurants. At the same time, the spirituality of some Bajorans shows that religion need not necessarily be a force for evil. Great episode!
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William B
Fri, Jul 17, 2015, 8:47pm (UTC -5)
So: Winn enters stage left to decry Keiko's not name-dropping the Prophets when she talks about the wormhole, in what begins as an evolution v. ...not evolution? creationism?... debate analogue, with Keiko even making the connection explicit. (Do Bajorans of Winn's order not believe in evolution?) However, by the end of the episode it turns out that this was a ruse. Winn may or may not believe that teaching five Bajoran schoolchildren about the wormhole while calling it a wormhole rather than a Celestial Temple is a problem, but her bringing it up here is a false flag to seize political power by assassinating an enemy. Winn is more direct than many, but it maps onto real world figures who artificially create and inflate controversy specifically in order to seize power.

Louise Fletcher, as Winn Adami, is best known for her Oscar-winning performance as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest opposite Jack Nicholson, where she portrayed, yep, a sanctimonious, power-hungry monster who crushed opposition with her absolute certainty, or ability to *portray* absolute certainty, of being right. She brings some of the same elements to her performance here, and makes Winn one of the scariest of the show's villains. Winn is complex because, at least for some time, she actually *does* seem to be a True Believer, just a different type than the kind she presents herself as. Winn has bigger fish to fry than an amateur schoolteacher on a station in ambiguous jurisdiction, and her goal is to gain Kai-dom (and possibly all forms of secular power) in order, most likely, to implement sweeping changes to bring Bajor more closely in line with her religious views, specifically tailored to her own desires and her ego. Her piousness is at least partly an act designed to obfuscate her true intentions; certainly, Winn knows that she would not be so beloved if her plans to murder the opposition were publicly known, and she is willing to show different faces to different people at different times. What makes her dangerous is the sense that underlying all this, she does believe that she is what is best for Bajor; what makes her sanctimonious frightening is the way she chooses her words and actions so carefully as to avoid fully exposing herself. One of the moments I find most chilling and effective is when she tells Miles that she sees his anger, "And I forgive you for it"; it's a line calculated to establish Miles' wrongness, her own kindness, her obvious moral high ground, and it's also rather a brazen deception (if nothing else, she *wants* to cause anger like Miles', and she hardly "forgives" him for it because she is not the forgiving sort) that almost begs people to call her on it, which will make them fall into her trap.

Winn sort of comes across as Just Evil here, but there is a moment of honesty that sets in motion much of the rest of her story: she tells Sisko how she asked Kai Opaka why it was that an outsider found their Celestial Temple. And that's sort of the issue with Sisko's role in Bajoran spiritual matters, isn't it? If the Prophets are really Of Bajor in some way (which, more on that in a bit), why take an outsider? Because people shouldn't look on their own gods? What makes an unbeliever like Sisko, who stepped on the station with a tiny bit of contempt for the mission, more deserving of the Prophets' wisdom than someone like Winn who devoted her life to them? Winn's admission of this difficulty to Sisko is probably calculated, even here -- she wants Sisko to believe that she is the kind of fundamentalist she claims to be, rather than the kind of fundamentalist she is -- and yet it also reveals a hint of vulnerability and a hint of what drives her, as well as demonstrating a crack of honesty and self-doubt that (maybe) is what allows her to be something other than just a villain. (FINALE SPOILER: I dislike the Sisko/Dukat ending in "What You Leave Behind," but Winn's role allows her a tiny redemptive moment that also pays off an arc of her own jealousies with Sisko, and her willingness to admit to it here in her first appearance suggests that there might be some reachable part of her.) And (FINALE SPOILER) Winn's eventual open opposition to the Prophets is kind of justified (if not via teaming up with Dukat to devil-worship) because she's kind of got a point. If the Prophets are her Gods, why do they forsake Bajor so? She is too self-absorbed to see it in any terms but how it directly affects her, but the question of why the Prophets, who eventually are given more and more direct desire to participate in Bajoran affairs indirectly, have so little interest in the Bajoran people who worship them.

Anyway, the episode's structure suggests that very often, theological or political debates are only superficially about the issues themselves, and more largely about emotional tensions. Bareil states that people have all kinds of rationalizations for their actions, all kinds of fears (reasonable or not) that they use, and here there are implications that Winn builds on already-existing tensions to create the spectacle she needs in order to get Bareil to a place where she can assassinate him*. Neela's role is important in that she states openly that Bajoran/Federation tensions continue, but she herself doesn't actually feel them -- indicating that the kind of manipulation that Winn and other opportunistic religious and political figures use can also just hit any vulnerable people; convince someone that they are doing the only right thing, and isolate them sufficiently, and their fears and their desire for certainty can be used against them.

*Aside: is that actually a good plan? If Neela assassinates Bareil, it seems odd that Winn would not be immediately suspected, unless Neela left some kind of manifesto. Maybe the point was to have it seem as if it was a Federation lunatic to drive Bajor further into Winn's politics as well as eliminate her competition.

This strength/weakness, then, means that mostly the school debate becomes completely irrelevant once Winn's plan is revealed. This is actually kind of cool, EXCEPT that there are a lot of issues left dangling because the debate seems frankly unfinished, and not fully thought out. Rewatching season one, I realized how little the Wormhole Aliens were actually set up as the Prophets. In addition to the Bajoran/Federation tensions which we are told about but didn't see (because we had no significant Bajorans besides Kira), we have Sisko indicating that a confrontation over Keiko's secular instruction would be inevitable, and we have Winn articulating the, what, undisputed Bajoran position on the Wormhole Aliens? The problem is that while Opaka told Sisko to find the Celestial Temple, in the entire run from "Past Prologue" to "Duet" there were no explicit instances of Opaka or Kira or anyone talking through the implications of its discovery (indeed, in "Past Prologue" Kira argues with Tahna about sealing off the wormhole because of what it could mean for Bajor's place in the quadrant etc. rather than because it's sealing them off from their gods). The Wormhole Aliens Sisko encountered indicated that they did not particularly view humanoids even as life forms up until Sisko's talk with them, which should do at least some significant damage to the idea of a widespread, universal theological interpretation that the Wormhole Aliens made the wormhole for the Bajorans etc. etc. The things Winn demands Keiko teach are not only speculative, they run counter to what little information we have within the series; and we only have Winn's word (and Kira's, in her support of Winn's position) that Winn's version of the wormhole's purpose is even what most Prophet-worshipers believe. Relatedly, the question of what it means that Sisko is THE EMISSARY changes radically through the series, and I don't quite know how the Kira of "Accession" who follows what the Emissary commands no matter what squares with the Kira who immediately goes over his head the week after he discovers their wormhole. I don't think it's "Accession's" fault; rather, I think that the series does keep retconning exactly what the Bajoran religious position is. Now, it would be one thing if it were a matter of conflict between disparate sects (ala Bareil vs. Winn), but at times it seems as if characters express beliefs that we now have to believe retroactively have always been true.

Now, yes, if Sisko came back and told people that the Wormhole Aliens didn't like humanoid life, and that it took persuasion and ancient Earth sport metaphors to convince them not to unilaterally destroy ships driven by organic bipeds going through the wormhole, I could definitely see accusations that Sisko is lying, that the Prophets are testing them, that he doesn't *understand* what they said, etc., as well as, as some fans have suggested, that the Wormhole Aliens are nonlinear and so they *do* care about Bajor but didn't learn about them until Sisko came in, but then retroactively were Gods to Bajor before this point, or some such. But there is no discussion even for us to understand what the basis is. I guess I feel pretty strongly like the Wormhole Aliens as presented in "Emissary" are *not* interested in Bajor at all, and the failure for anyone to talk about this, including Sisko when acting as apologist in his scenes with Jake, underlines the problems with how this was thought out and presented.

Anyway, Keiko is awesome here -- I like that she is given an opportunity to function, for a time, as something of an episode lead, and stand by her opinion. I also like the cheekiness of the idea that Keiko starts giving lessons on Galileo once Winn starts going after her. I like the way O'Brien's investigation proceeds and the gentle tone of the connection between him and Neela (along with the implication that the intimacy between them might be genuine attraction, and his uncertainty at knowing how to deal with that). The episode's pacing is impressive and as a political thriller with the school debate as a mislead, it is a very strong showing. As a whole, it is hurt by the ways in which that aspect of the story doesn't quite hold together, especially since everybody except Winn (and I guess Neela) genuinely believed that the episode actually *was* about secular vs. religious education and so the difficult-to-pin-down positions for Sisko, Kira, and the Bajorans as a whole do cause lots of problems. Overall, I like this episode a fair bit but with major caveats, and I'd give it 3 stars -- a good end to a rocky but interesting season.
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William B
Fri, Jul 17, 2015, 9:16pm (UTC -5)
Season ratings (brackets: difference from Jammer's rating).

Emissary: 2.5 (-1)
Babel: 1.5 (-1)
Q-Less: 1 (-1.5)
The Passenger: 1.5 (-1)
Move Along Home: .5 (-2)
The Nagus: 3.5 (+.5)
Vortex: 3 (-.5)
Battle Lines: 2.5 (-.5)
The Storyteller: 2 (-1)
Progress: 3.5 (+.5)
If Wishes Were Horses: 1 (-1)
Dramatis Personae: 2 (-.5)
In the Hands of the Prophets: 3 (-.5)

Best episode: obviously Duet (****), which I hopefully will write something about. Runners-up: Progress, The Nagus, Dax. Worst episode: Move Along Home (1/2 stars), runners-up If Wishes Were Horses, Q-Less.

Overall, lots of promise, but the season is more scattershot not just in quality but also in continuity than I had remembered it being. The lack of major (pun intended) Bajoran characters besides Kira is a significant problem, I think, for some of the Bajoran episodes to pay off, and in particular it makes it hard to know what exactly the Federation/Bajoran situation even *is* much of the time. Meanwhile, the tech plots in this show are almost universally terrible. I'll grant that tech plots aren't the best part of Trek generally, but TNG managed to hone tech plots pretty well so that episodes usually were revealing in some way, and entertaining if they were not revealing.

I also have to say that I feel some difficulty getting into Sisko this season. While having a significant role in nearly every episode, the only episode that I felt gave a lot of insight into what Sisko *wants* in a larger sense is "Emissary," which somewhat failed to convince me of Sisko's choice to stay on DS9. For the most part, his relationships with the other main characters are fairly clearly realized, especially Jake. But I don't really feel I know what Sisko's overriding purpose is for being on the station, besides doing his duty. It may be that Sisko actually *is* a "nonbeliever," as Winn refers to him, except that what he fails to believe in is not quite the Prophets but in a full value system generally; he is not quite a Federation idealist, and seems to believe he can find something on DS9, or at least help there, but what? I feel like there's something about his character that I am missing, and I'm having a hard time putting my finger on what.

Best character: Odo. I have talked a lot about him in the appropriate episodes; it seems as if he is the new character who the writing staff and actor have the best understanding of, partly because the "outsider commenting on humanity" trope is a SF and particularly Trek staple. O'Brien also fares very well and lightens most episodes. Kira has the best character-centric episodes of any character -- "Progress" and ESPECIALLY "Duet" -- but is handled inconsistently in other shows. I think that Shimmerman has a great handle on Quark, and the writers largely seem to have his voice down, though I feel like there's some uncertainty in how to handle exactly *how* criminal to make him. Bashir and Jake in some ways have the unenviable Wesley Crusher role, split into two characters to make the role more palatable -- Bashir is the wide-eyed idealist and slightly smug genius, and Jake the somewhat orphaned kid starting the growing up process. Neither is handled exceptionally but I have a fair feel for both; I think Bashir will eventually be a particularly good character, but right now he's reduced somewhat to hormones, smugness and the occasional statement about ADVENTURE. Dax fares worst -- Terry Farrell just does not sell the stoic quiet Zen thing, though to be fair I don't think that her dialogue is particularly good either. Season two more or less reboots the character, so we'll see how that goes. Of DS9's vast supporting cast, only Nog appears often enough to be worth talking about too much; while Nog's illiteracy is a bit weird and hard to swallow, overall I thought his friendship with Jake was mostly effective and the possibility of him combining his uncle's business sense with Jake's open-heartedness and thus connecting Ferengi and Federation worlds mostly played well.

Overall, delete "A Man Alone," "Babel," "Q-Less," "The Passenger," "Move Along Home," "The Storyteller," "If Wishes Were Horses" and "Dramatis Personae" and you have a solid season, albeit with a few problems still. It's true that some of these episodes do end up having important aspects -- "A Man Alone" tells us a bit about Odo's backstory, "The Storyteller" signals the beginning of the O'Brien/Bashir dynamic and I like the Jake-Nog-princess subplot okay -- but for the most part these episodes feel like dead weight, with elements that could be incorporated into other shows; "Battle Lines" and "Vortex," for example, are okay to good, but are padded enough that one could imagine a Bashir/O'Brien subplot or a Jake/Nog plot to counterpoint. Still, there's a lot to like here. Looking forward to season 2.
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William B
Fri, Jul 17, 2015, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
Also LOL, I forgot to add: I love Bareil picking up a child the moment he gets onto the Promenade. The man knows a photo op when he sees it. I do tend to think that Bareil entered when he did for a few reasons, one of which is that, yes, things were getting out of hand and he genuinely wanted to try to calm his people, but also, he (successfully) waited out Winn's tantrum until something so extreme happened that public opinion was sure to swing back to moderation and peace; he arrives just after a crisis and makes it appear as if he's the one solving it. I suspect that Winn would count on Bareil operating on that kind of political calculation.

It's also kind of neat that Bareil's gardening puts him in parallel with Keiko, retired botanist.
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John Doe
Tue, Sep 1, 2015, 6:28pm (UTC -5)
It's a great episode for criticism of religious fundamentalism, but the comparison between Bajoran religion and our religions doesn't really hold up well. Bajoran faith actually has observable ground truth compare to ours. The wormhole and aliens are observable facts, they are not non-existent make-beliefs that Bajorans made up. Because Bajorans would like to call the entities Prophets and the wormhole Celestial Temple doesn't mean Keiko should dismiss their labeling. Bajorans just observed the aliens earlier than Federation scientists did, so they got to name the aliens 1st.

When we talk about a landmark, we describe the structure of the landmark and then we address it by its names. So in this case, the space landmark is a wormhole called Celestial Temple. Since Bajoran faith has some ground truth, I don't think it's difficult to compromise a little and incorporate their jargon when teaching about the phenomenon. Keiko's firm stance seemed rather unreasonable in this case. She could have easily dodged the bullet by saying "the worm hole is built by entities called prophets according to Bajorans" case closed. I find the premise of this episode hard to sell for such a dramatic conflict.
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JMT
Sun, Oct 11, 2015, 10:34pm (UTC -5)
When TNG started, I was too young to really appreciate it, but I did find myself watching it very occasionally as I got older. The key word being occasionally, if it was on I would watch it, but I wouldn't tape it or plan my night around watching it. At about the time I was in sixth grade DS9 began, and I thought it would be an enjoyable scifi show to watch just like how I had TNG. Obviously, I was very mistaken.

DS9s story and characters are almost impenetrable to anybody without a substantial background watching TNG and the dedication to tune in week after week. When I was just watching it intermittently, I didn't have a clue what a trill, cardassian or bajoran were. All three of these races, centerpieces of DS9, were just a few episodes in TNG. Don't forget the mystic mumbo jumbo that shows up in the series is beyond perplexing.

Now, I'm watching the series again and I just got through season 1. It's not nearly as painful since I have seen most of, and soon all of, TNG. There's something about the sheer blandness of those bad DS9 episodes which makes me actually kind of prefer season 1 of TNG to DS9. Code of Honor was amazingly entertaining in how horrible it was. DS9s season 1 clunkers, Q-Less or Move Along Home, are just plain boring.

One last thing that bothered me about DS9 is Avery Brooks. His bizarre performance in the pilot was a turnoff. As the season has gone on I feel he got better, and it must be hard being in the shadow of Patrick Stewart, but I still can't accept him as a Starfleet commander.

In any event, my childhood self is in the wrong. From what I've seen, when the show is good it's really good, in part thanks to the intricate scenario work. Duet was the standout episode of the season, and I'd put it up there with Measure of a Man for dialogue heavy Star Trek episodes. Knowing that it's only going to improve, I'm looking forward to seeing more of the series.
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Diamond Dave
Fri, Oct 23, 2015, 10:52am (UTC -5)
A good inclusion to the series, as we dive into the murky world of Bajoran religion. To me the bottom line here about the science vs religion debate is Sisko's comment that on this station there is room for all views. That the dividing lines are drawn up so quickly reflects a closed-minded mentality that can affect all sides of the debate - precisely what Sisko is trying to avoid.

Introducing two strong new characters in Winn and Bareil is also a success. Both are profoundly political animals, which in Winn shows up in her deviousness and in Bareil as his 'rock-star' man-of-the-people act. Both ultimately want to be Kai, but are taking different routes to get there.

The assassination sub-plot is a bit hit and miss though, and Sisko's final slow motion "Noooooooooooo" very much enters the realm of parody. Good stuff overall though. 3 stars.

=======================

Overall this season averaged 2.55 on my scores, higher than both seasons 1 and 2 of TNG. It was also remarkably consistent, with only 2 episodes scoring below 2. What it did do is establish a noticeably different tone to TNG, and run with it, even though many of the individual episodes had a TNG-type feel. The world-building this time looks set to be built on in the future, and the potential scope offered is fascinating. It's the continuing story elements that hold the most interest.

Of the characters, I think it's fair to say that it's Kira, Odo, and to a lesser extent O'Brien and Quark that have started to shine through. Sisko, despite flashes here and there, seems not quite to have stepped up to the central role. Dax and Bashir remain relatively underdeveloped - Bashir in particular never really getting beyond irritating. And it's interesting that Garak, as memorable as he is, only made a single appearance...
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Robert
Fri, Oct 23, 2015, 11:41am (UTC -5)
"Sisko, despite flashes here and there, seems not quite to have stepped up to the central role. Dax and Bashir remain relatively underdeveloped - Bashir in particular never really getting beyond irritating."

You know it's interesting. The only captain other than Kirk that I think really "got it" in S1 was Janeway. She felt like the Captain out of the gate. Sisko and Archer didn't feel comfortable in the role. S1 and Picard was too stiff (although I have to believe that the blame there lies with the writers and directors).

If you watch Sisko in the 2 hour S4 premier... that's a totally different character than this guy in a lot of ways.
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MsV
Thu, Dec 17, 2015, 6:29am (UTC -5)
This is my second favorite episode in season 1, the first is Emmisary and then Hands of the Prophets. I don't think either was the best written nor the best acted, but I enjoyed the subject matter much better.

To William B, I really, truly enjoyed your comments and I actually agreed with every point you made. You seem to write the way I think, I don't write as well as I speak.
You were "Spot on" in your commentary of Vedek Winn, when you said 'Winn sort of comes across as Just Evil here," You were so right here. She planned every aspect of this whole scenario. She came on the station just to pick on Keiko, even going behind her back stirring up trouble about the school. The bombing of the school was her last evil attempt to get Bereil on the station. She brainwashed Neela into attempted premeditated murder and I believe Winn is responsible for Aquino' death too. She convince Neela to kill Bereil and Neela was just planning her escape when Aquino found something in the sensors.

I have noticed that Kira always thought Bajorans would not do anything wrong When Ben asked if Aquino's death had anything to do with the school incident, Kira immediately started to defend bajorans,Bashir's weak attempt to calm a hyper Kira, when he said there was no school incident the day Aquino was killed was not good. The school incident was planned before Winn came on the station.

Did you ever wonder who the Bajorans were praying to since the wormhole had not been discovered? Sisko was the only person to ever talk to them. I know the poet was with the prophets for centuries. but he never talked to them nor did they talk to him.

I really liked the pilot Emmisary. I got a chance to see how much pain Sisko lived with, his inability to go forward with his life, and his anger toward Picard. Although we don't see it on screen, I believe he was able to forgive Picard and start letting go of the pain, slowly. I don,t think Picard had done anything wrong but was the biggest victim of them all. Sisko still needed to forgive Picard so that he could start living in peace.
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JD
Mon, Jan 4, 2016, 12:52pm (UTC -5)
Winn is such a craftily done villain and this as perfect an execution of her awfulness as it gets. I hated her immediately when I first watched the show as a much younger man who hadn't seen nearly everything on television done already, and now I see her again binge-watching the episodes, and I hate her every bit as completely. There are thousands of characters doing more direct, more obviously evil things that I didn't come close to disliking this much. I mean, I watch SVU marathons sometimes and I didn't even dislike any of their villains that much.

All my life experience since this show first aired has made absolutely no change on hating this woman or feeling even the vaguest human sympathy for her motives. I can better appreciate how loathsome she really is now. I despise everything about her. I don't love to hate her like a fun evil villain. She reminds me too much of real people with no real excuse. Because she's a sane, sober, calculating kind of horrible person. And everything in her demeanor, not just her actions, every subtle way she says and does anything makes me want to strangle her! I feel Kira's guts twisting and her skin crawling whenever they interact. And I just want her to use the redundant Trek combat multi-elbow combination all over her!


!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Luke
Sat, Feb 13, 2016, 4:13am (UTC -5)
"Methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God." ~~ The Catechism of the Catholic Church

"One does not read in the Gospel that the Lord said: ‘I will send you the Paraclete who will teach you about the course of the sun and moon.’ For he willed to make them Christians, not mathematicians." ~~ St. Augustine

"Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes." ~~ St. Pope John Paul II

“Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who sets the planets in motion.” ~~ Sir Isaac Newton

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"In the Hands of the Prophets" is perhaps the best treatment of the supposed science vs. religion conflict that Trek (most of which is very much in the pro-science, anti-religion camp) could give us. And it does so absolutely wonderfully! While at times it felt like the Bajoran religious opposition was a little overdone (if Winn's order is extremely tiny, how was she able to arouse so much support in such a little time for such a small issue?), I give the writers one hell of a lot of credit for giving the reasonable faithful (in the personages of Kira and Bareil) an actual fair hearing - something Trek almost never does. This is exactly how I always wished TNG would treat religion - as a multi-faceted aspect of the human condition, not something to be easily brushed off as stupid or illegitimate. Here we are shown religion being used by people who only care about themselves (Winn) and their quest for power. We also have people who use religion for good but aren't above playing politics with it (Bareil). We have people who see religion as a positive aspect in their lives (Kira) who aren't afraid to call out those who misuse it. We have people who are willing to let religion mislead them (Neela). We, of course, have rather hard-line atheists (Keiko). Finally, we have people who aren't believers but respect the choices of others to believe (Sisko). This is beautiful!

The acting is also rather top notch from everyone, with the possible exception of Philip Anglim (he seems awful stiff and unemotional as Bareil) but I'm willing to give him a pass and chalk it up to the direction since I've seen him do better work elsewhere. And, of course, we get our first taste of Vedek (soon to be Kai) Winn. They couldn't have gotten a better actor to play this part than Louise Fletcher, who is the reigning champion of playing evil hidden under a nice mask. Even Robin Christopher as Neela did a wonderful job. I especially loved her moment of doubt on the Promenade when her and Winn exchange glances.

Do I even need to mention the massive dose of world-building this episode dishes up for us? Going into the three-part Season Two opener (which itself is heavy with world-building) this sets the stage wonderfully.

It was also really nice how the episode keeps you off balance. For instance, it starts out like it's going to be a standard Trek science vs. religion message show but then pulls the rug out from under you with the scene between Sisko and Jake. Jake comes in and offers the standard Trekian line on religion - "The same thing is happening now with all this stuff about the Celestial Temple in the wormhole. It's dumb." Then Sisko offers an argument that basically summarizes those quotes I started out with (which is why I included them). Not only does he say that both religion and science have a part to play in life, he even goes so far as to say that religion might even be a rational choice! I was almost stunned by that, especially since it's Sisko's (not Jake's) stance the episode clearly wants us to take! That's a jaw-dropping rupture from Trek tradition. Another example is the relationship between O'Brien and Neela. In an episode that makes such a huge issue of Starfleet/Federation and Bajoran relations becoming frayed, we have a personal relationship between a member of Starfleet and a Bajoran that is not only solid but founded on trust, understanding and friendship (though I could have done without the sexual tension between them - yeah, Christopher is extremely attractive but I doubt O'Brien would be that quick to go there). You're left thinking that this friendship will be the highlight that ultimately helps resolves the crisis. But then the rug is pulled out from under us again when Neela turns out to be the potential assassin. Bravo.

But, more about how "In the Hands of the Prophets" really shines - its complete subversion of Trek convention. Usually when science and religion conflict on Trek, the scientists are portrayed as heroic and beleaguered defenders of truth while the religious are portrayed either as superstitious idiots (TNG: "Who Watches the Watchers"), extremely susceptible to demagoguery (TNG: "Devil's Due") or just outright villains (VOY: "False Profits", ENT: "Chosen Realm"). There are still some elements of that (Winn's followers such seem susceptible to demagoguery) but DS9 managed to actually insert some nuance. I cannot stress enough how much this pleases me. This is what made TNG: "Rightful Heir" so good. It's what will later make VOY: "Mortal Coil" so good. They took religion and showed it for what it truly is - the good and the bad, warts and all. They didn't focus only on the warts. BRAVO!!!!

This might upset some people, but I personally think this is the best episode of Season One - just barely beating out "Duet".

10/10
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RandomThoughts
Wed, Mar 2, 2016, 7:29am (UTC -5)
Louise Fletcher played Winn perfectly. Some characters I can imagine being played by others, but not this one. Her syrupy sweet condescension, along with perfectly timed mannerisms, made her a character I loved to hate. Nothing made me happier than seeing her get outdone by someone, pout, then shuffle off.

I saw Bareil as just being pragmatic. He wanted to block Winn from getting the position (and sure, advance his own beliefs), so he played the political game for the good of Bajor. That was my take on it, anyway.

Weird how some comment sections get pulled way, way off course. The only thing this one didn't have was what the definition of "is", is. I think sometimes folks just need to agree to disagree, and do so very early on...

Enjoy the day... RT

This page made from 100% recycled electrons.
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MsV
Thu, May 26, 2016, 11:59pm (UTC -5)
@RandomThoughs I agree with you totally, I did state this above. Bereil knew how to play the game, but the game went out the window when he believed someone would surely get hurt by Winn. I also agree that I love to hate Winn. But. there are some characters that I never cared for and some I totally disliked. Kira became a favorite of mine when she started to make sense. When she stopped fighting Sisko and the Federation and realized they were actually on the same side. I never liked Quark and after he nearly got Jadzia killed He couldn't even be redeemed. Although Odo was not always likeable, he was always one of my favorites. I remember when this show originally aired, it was must see TV, I was very young and had just became an RN. I thought, one day I would grow up and forget about DS9 and Star Trek, but No. I love it today as much as I did years ago.
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Daniel B
Fri, Jul 7, 2017, 8:59pm (UTC -5)
{ Sisko's conversation with Jake was the typical type of appeasement that has been given to the irrationality of religion for far too long.

I did enjoy it all right--just not as much as I thought I would. Keiko rocked in her refusal to compromise }

Gotta disagree there. The Prophets are scientifically known to exist and have several qualities that are nigh-godlike (being outside of time, being able to alter certain aspects of reality with thought) and have sent out devices that give people experiences that even advance science cannot duplicate. Keiko is just being pig-headed by not being willing to even comprehend that, given all this, it makes sense that many would admire them and look to them for guidance.

{ I also agree that I love to hate Winn. }

Louise Fletcher does an AMAZING job of Winn. Every had to deal with anyone in real life who was passive aggressive and always cloaked their deviousness in a veil of selflessness and politeness (to the point where it would fool most people) and always found a way to guilt-trip others? She played Winn exactly like that.
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NoPoet
Thu, Sep 21, 2017, 4:46pm (UTC -5)
Anyone else think Keiko is a huge bitch? I've never liked her. She is cold, stubborn, angry, always has a scowl on her face and her eyes are those of a terrifying murderer. She came across as ignorant and rude here, actually coming off worse than Wynn here in the first part of the episode.

This episode also represents what I, as a non-American, think is a very prevalent attitude in America's dealings with other faiths and cultures: that obstinate sense that their way is somehow innately superior, and that doing away with God represents some form of progress which everyone else must follow. Does this episode mark the beginning of American television turning against God?

All US films and TV shows (and by extension, the internet) these days mock Christian beliefs as absurd, baseless and primitive. Look at the absolute disaster that Supernatural has made of Heaven, God and the Angels. Most shows wisely avoid showing these things, ignoring the "where are the good guys?" question. It seems that this same spirit of religion-bashing does not extend to most other modern faiths. Why is that, I wonder? Guess God doesn't pay the bills any more?
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DLPB
Sun, Dec 31, 2017, 9:47pm (UTC -5)
Opening scene: Keiko is mean to Miles, as usual. I would have taken that Jumjum stick and dropped it on the floor and walked away.
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I'd have shoved it somewhere. There are actually a lot of people who make apologies for Keiko and claim that the hatred to her is based on hatred of women in general. But there's no getting away from the fact that she is nothing but every man's worst nightmare for a future wife.
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Rahul
Sat, Feb 17, 2018, 10:49pm (UTC -5)
Great episode that shows how good DS9 can be by working in undercurrents of the main arc with an immediate plot -- it just gives much more depth to the situation instead of concocting something on the spot in some random episode. We get Vedek Winn as an important character going forward + Vedek Bareil who both put in good performances combined with a murder mystery that dovetails nicely into the main plot. Really well done for just 1 hour.

There were some pretty compelling interactions and Sisko's part was well written here (Brooks' acting didn't really irk me either). I liked Bareil's performance in meeting Sisko on Bajor -- he comes across as priest-like enough but with his political ambitions. Sisko's line to him about the prophets teaching politics was superb. And then there's Sisko discussing the situation with Jake -- it's the father/son thing at its best here explaining the faith/science situation.

The "battle" to be the next Kai is also initiated and Winn as a character is one that creates instant dislike for me -- but this is well-done by the writers and Fletcher plays the part well -- acting priestly but treacherous deep down inside. She convinces Neela to carry out her terrible order and has her believing the Prophets would want her to murder Bareil -- Neela is the suicide bomber in essence.

One gripe is the scene where Neela tries to kill Bareil -- would no other Bajorans try to stop her when/if they see the phaser? And it's a bit cliche for the slow motion "Noooooo!" from Ben Sisko to stop her. But this is a very minor gripe (it strikes me as implausible that the computer/O'Brien can decrypt the password to solve Neela's plan).

As for Keiko's school and Winn's issues with it -- this is very much symptomatic, I think, of the faith vs. science debate. Science is fundamentally atheist and Winn is justified in feeling it's blasphemy. Now, going about murder is obviously not justified but it happens in real life. Near the start of the show, getting Kira vs. Keiko representing both sides of the debate was also a very well-written interaction.

Good enough for 3.5 stars. The DS9 S1 finale gets us back to the main issues of the difficulty of getting Bajor into the Federation and sets up some political wranglings within Bajor for S2. Definitely thought-provoking, suspenseful and shows how good DS9 can be in an up and down S1. Ben Sisko is not comfortable being Emissary, but the character is even-handed in dealing with conflicting views and guiding Jake through the chaos -- good performances all around, good writing, well-conceived. Coming after the outstanding "Duet" -- this episode probably generated a ton of interest in DS9.
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Peter G.
Sat, Feb 17, 2018, 11:07pm (UTC -5)
@ Rahul,

"Science is fundamentally atheist and Winn is justified in feeling it's blasphemy"

No it isn't, and no she isn't. That's actually sort of the point of the episode, which is that Winn makes false accusations about a class that teaches science. It's her backward attitude about it that makes her an extremist, not any correct interpretation of science being either anti or pro religion. The one is on a completely different axis from the other and the 'dilemma' between faith and science is a shibboleth. The series luckily doesn't buy into this false dilemma and takes some pains throughout the series to show that people of science and those of faith need not considered themselves antagonist to each other. That's about as Trek a message as you can get. The reason Winn is villainous in this episode is that she creates a wedge that doesn't need to exist but that serves her political interests. Her wrongness is exactly the point of the episode, and in fact the effect she produces is so polarizing - intentionally - that it causes Keiko to be goaded into taking sides 'against' her even though she didn't have an anti-faith motive in her classroom. We may suspect she was anti-faith, and perhaps not without reason, but she wasn't overtly telling the Bajoran children that their religion is bunk, which I fear is the approach being taken in some quarters in our present time. Agree or not, the better approach is mutual respect and learning from each other, and let each person come to their own conclusion.
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Rahul
Sun, Feb 18, 2018, 10:17am (UTC -5)
@ Peter G.,

Science's purpose is not outwardly to be atheist but it tries to explain every phenomena with laws, formulas, theorems etc. What science can't explain is chalked up as something to perhaps be explained when future developments are made or just plain superstition. So science takes a very different path from faith / belief in the divine and that's why i think it is fundamentally atheist.

As for Winn, as a religious extremists, she feels Keiko's wormhole teachings are blasphemous -- and she's not wrong if it makes Bajoran kids not believe in the Prophets. Of course, she's a villain and has her political motivations but she is a firm believer in the Prophets perhaps first and foremost over her political motivations (at this stage of DS9).

What's wrong about Winn is what she does about her political motivations fuelled by her strong faith (criminal activities). I could see Bareil also opposing Keiko's wormhole teachings, but he'd express his disagreement differently.

Keiko's teachings aren't wrong either but the wormhole turns out to be one of those sensitive subjects to Bajorans. Think about why our school system doesn't teach about Jesus Christ when there could be Muslim kids in the class. Schools teach science while faith/spirituality is taught elsewhere.

I do agree with you that the series makes efforts to show people who believe in science primarily and those that believe in faith primarily can co-exist and that's definitely a Trekkian message -- which is great. To preach mutual respect etc. is what it's all about.
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Peter G.
Sun, Feb 18, 2018, 10:38am (UTC -5)
@ Rahul,

"Science's purpose is not outwardly to be atheist but it tries to explain every phenomena with laws, formulas, theorems etc. What science can't explain is chalked up as something to perhaps be explained when future developments are made or just plain superstition."

To clarify, atheism means a definitive statement that there is no God, and this is not remotely in the purview of science. Its business is to explain the mechanics of how things operate in the physical world, not to even address - one way or the other - metaphysical issues. Science simply avoids the issue of God and deals with other things, and therefore by definition cannot be atheistic. People are now pretending that science has always been at odds with religion, which is an anti-historical feel-good notion to support modern anti-religious views. The problem now is that people with political agendas want to co-opt anything and everything in order to justify their position, but the beauty of science is that at its heart it is not for or against anything. It is just a search for truth.

I'm not so sure that Bareil would have tried pulling students out of a Federation school, but perhaps it depends on how Keiko approached her studies. We only got a small sample, where she called the Prophets "wormhole aliens", which was perhaps edgy but not really anti-religion. I hesitate to accept that her class would have turned any children against their own religion. But it that was her intent (which I can't be sure of) then I would agree with pulling kids out of a class where the teacher has an agenda - especially one she can't support with facts. One of the weird things about the show is that the wormhole aliens are a stone-cold reality, and I'd say one of the weaknesses of the series is that Starfleet seemed to be totally uninterested in them, when I would have thought that they'd be the most totally cool First Contact in a long time - probably since meeting the Q.
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Rahul
Sun, Feb 18, 2018, 12:11pm (UTC -5)
@ Peter G.,

Believe me, I understand what atheism is (it is a communist notion). Like I said "Science's purpose is not outwardly to be atheist" but by trying to provide a logical explanation for everything, people can tend to believe that almost everything can/should be explained by science and therefore, involuntarily in some cases, people become less willing to believe in the divine. So bottom line, whether science wants to or not, it provides an alternative framework to faith. This becomes clearer if the topic of discussion is the universe's creation and the appearance of life on Earth.

I'm not suggesting that Keiko is atheist and intends to ram her beliefs down the throats of the Bajoran kids -- we don't have a large enough sample size of her teaching (thank goodness).

And how the Prophets operate is hard to assess, being metaphysical and just doing things that are outside of the Trek paradigm (things that divine beings would presumably do). I've been critical of their role in the series as I see Trek as more of a science-based paradigm but it is commendable that faith is juxtaposed prominently in DS9. It just takes some getting used to.
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Trent
Sun, Feb 18, 2018, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
Rahul said: "Believe me, I understand what atheism is (it is a communist notion). "

Atheism is not a "communist notion". This sounds like something a 1950s era Mccarthyite would say.
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Rahul
Sun, Feb 18, 2018, 1:37pm (UTC -5)
@ Trent,

I should clarify that atheism is more than just a communist notion as it arises in many ways but if you really understand communism you’ll know atheism is something they advocate and promote.
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Peter G.
Sun, Feb 18, 2018, 8:13pm (UTC -5)
@ Trent,

I think I understand what Rahul is saying, which is that atheism as an enforced dogma is something we've only seen come out of communist (i.e. totalitarian) countries like the USSR.

That being said, I don't see how that accurate observation is relevant to the issue of whether science promotes atheism. Historically most scientists were not atheists, and even now many aren't, but of course some are as well. I don't see any implication in science as being an alternative to religion, although the point is certainly well taken that many people *feel* that's what science does. But some of the most famous 20th century scientists would beg to differ.
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Rahul
Mon, Feb 19, 2018, 7:20pm (UTC -5)
@ Peter G.,

You said: "One of the weird things about the show is that the wormhole aliens are a stone-cold reality, and I'd say one of the weaknesses of the series is that Starfleet seemed to be totally uninterested in them, when I would have thought that they'd be the most totally cool First Contact in a long time - probably since meeting the Q."

I'm actually glad StarFleet (and its science) didn't try to get a better understanding of the Prophets. I think DS9 did the right thing in leaving them as mysterious/weird, which should help perpetuate the idea that they are some kind of metaphysical/divine beings.

Had StarFleet tried to pursue them, I believe they wouldn't find anything as it is up to the Prophets to reveal themselves. Even if StarFleet's purposes in pursuing the Prophets would be more benevolent/altruistic than, say, Winn's, I don't think they'd get anywhere. And what's great is that this doesn't diminish the value of StarFleet's science or the Prophets themselves.
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Marco
Tue, Mar 13, 2018, 5:02pm (UTC -5)
I watched DS9 when it first run, starting 25 years ago almost to the end in 1999. I think back then I missed a good chunk of last season.
The entire show was a blur in a my memory, as during its run I got Married, got my degrees, had two sons, 3 postdocs and finally a permanent job.

It was not my favorite then, and I have just started re-watching the entire series for the first time. Things may have changed since then and we'll see how I like it now.

I only know that watching Duet I lost it...

And the seething rage that "In the hands of the Prophets" caused in me, a scientist in the age of the Dumb, did not happen 25 years ago.

Marco
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Iceman
Tue, Jul 24, 2018, 9:37pm (UTC -5)
"In the Hands of the Prophets" caps off the first season in a genuinely compelling and interesting way. The issues presented here are even more relevant than they were back in 1993, and they're honestly very well handled. It also introduces one of the show's best villains, Kai Winn. A decade before the conception of Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter series, we have a power-hungry lunatic who cloaks her evilness in religious righteousness. This episode also gives religious people a fair shake, unlike "Who Watches the Watchers". I'm not religious myself, but I totally agree with Sisko-there should be room for all beliefs to be respected. Well done, DS9!

3.5 stars
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Cinnamon
Thu, Aug 30, 2018, 7:59am (UTC -5)
I HATE THIS EPISODE AND I WANT TO SEE WINN DEAD BEFORE DUKAT HELPS HER INTO THE PAGH WRAITHS FIRES. She is as religious a t__d! Excuse me!!

The Prophets know she is insincere, that is why they never speak to her. She offers nothing to or for Bajor's growth in freedom of the snake people. Yeah, the Cardies look like snakes.

Keiko is teaching children facts that they can live by when they grow up only I fail see the Bajoran ever being anything but idiots believing only what people like Winn tell them. Only fools would try to teach about the Prophets [who are liars and don't really care about the Bajorans. They don't know who the Bajorans are anyway. These people just gained freedom from the Cardies and they can't have much of direction just like the Germans after WW2. Our people went over there and helped rebuild Germany. When I was in the third grade a family who had spent time in Germany because they were military moved to the town and the girl was in my class had pix of bombed Germany. Remember I was in the third grade, I thought to myself why would our Americans go help people who wanted us all dead. I had to find answers as I grew up. They had a tough time but remember for always, they believed the words of Hitler that was not even German but Austrian. They paid. Anyway, Bajorans are just ignorant. God does not help those who can't understand but blindly follow the Winn's of this world because the followers can't help themselves.

I don't understand why the Federation did not interfere in this fiasco because they claim to have an interest in Bajor and its people. This damn bitch Winn got away with murder and forcing stupid little girls to kill people on both side and the ninny says she is doing it for the Prophets. That is a bald faced lie because they never command anyone to kill.

I LOVED IT AND LAUGHED AND LAUGHED WHEN DUKAT GOT UNDER HER KAFTAN. I CHEERED WHEN DUKAT THREW HE INTO THE FIRE. HALLELUJAH! BUT, the murdering of Sisko was really uncalled for. He was burned to death. The writers should have been killed visciously!!
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Robert
Thu, Aug 30, 2018, 12:02pm (UTC -5)
You ok over there dude?
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Chrome
Thu, Aug 30, 2018, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
It’s like the napalm approach to trolling. Make sure you insult every single viewpoint, and then lace that with tons of typographical/grammatical errors along the way.
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Iceman
Mon, Sep 3, 2018, 2:17pm (UTC -5)
I don't think he is, Robert.
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Smith
Thu, Nov 15, 2018, 6:07pm (UTC -5)
The school storyline was good and Winn was a great character who was well acted. Everything outside of that was pretty boring though.

There is too much of an emphasis on bajorans in this episode. Everything about them from their religion, to their politics, to their obsessions over victimhood and the past was boring and uninteresting.
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Springy
Tue, Nov 27, 2018, 8:55pm (UTC -5)
Nice start, with the Bajoran clergy confronting Keiko.

Yowza, where are we going with this?

The premise of this show is so different from regular Trek, i.e., it's not really about exploration. I really, really miss that.

Maybe the show's related ability to have more of a cohesive arc and build richer, consistent surroundings will make up for the lack of excitement.

I'm suspicious of this young assistant engineer, Neela, for no real reason.

Wow! An explosion! Slow start, but we're moving along, now.

Nice performances from all, here. Brooks coming through. He's great in heavily dramatic moments; he's made for them.

An assassination attempt, nicely done.

A good episode.
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Tomalak
Wed, Aug 19, 2020, 9:14am (UTC -5)
Some fascinating discussion above back in 2014. I think Star Trek clearly has taken a pretty sceptical line towards religious beliefs for a long time, and this episode is an example of it. But that sceptical take is usually nuanced and thoughtful, and Sisko and Kira make some valid points in defence of the Bajoran faith (Winn less so!). We also see a much more positive example of a religious leader in Bareil.

What's curious is that some above seem to take any nuance, any departure from a strict "religion poisons everything" Richard Dawkins narrative, as some kind of sloppy error by the writers. They think the only way Star Trek would not be a militant atheist show is by accident.

Personally I am glad that this and other episodes don't make out that every Bajoran is a gullible moron, unable to make any arguments in their faith's defence. It's a particularly odd demand when the Prophets definitely do exist and send orbs and so on.
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Elliott
Wed, Aug 19, 2020, 2:42pm (UTC -5)
@Tomalak

The issue is whether or not the Prophets deserve religious authority over the Bajorans, not whether they exist. There's a missing step that was never explored in the show, or rather was just sort of assumed to have been resolved. For me, that's the glaring misstep in the way DS9 handled the topic of religion.
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Jason R.
Wed, Aug 19, 2020, 6:11pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott I say this as a fellow atheist but I always found your criticism of DS9 on the religion front is less about whether what is portrayed on screen is true to life and more that it fails to meet you on your own atheist terms.

Which is another way of saying that you'd probably raise the same objections and call ridiculous the beliefs of any real life religions.

Which doesn't make you wrong, but does render your criticism slightly disingenuous because what you are really after is for the show to just dismiss religion as stupid full stop, which of course it doesn't do.

Personally, I find nothing ridiculous about how the Bajorans are portrayed.
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Elliott
Wed, Aug 19, 2020, 8:59pm (UTC -5)
@Jason R

That’a simply not true. In BSG, for example, I think the topic was mostly handled well, because the way that universe was constructed allowed the divine to be unprovable. There could have been some deistic force, or it could have been coincidence. The characters’ responses to those circumstances made for an engaging exploration of faith.

There are a few episodes of Star Trek that actually deal with religious faith in a positive and nuanced way. The way the Prophets manifest as the Benny Russel story is an excellent example from DS9. But DS9, despite pretences, treated real theology with about as much respect as “Threshold” treated evolutionary biology.
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Joe
Wed, Aug 19, 2020, 9:17pm (UTC -5)
The divine is always unprovable, sorry to say. You can't prove a higher dimension from the point of view of one below it. If we lived in a 2D world we couldn't prove there was a third.
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Elliott
Wed, Aug 19, 2020, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
@Joe

Yes, I agree. That is why the Prophets (and the Founders) do not work as analogues for post-pagan religions.
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Dick
Wed, Sep 23, 2020, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
This is a fantastic episode and a rejoinder to those who say that DS9's first season was weak. I love how Neela flirts with O'Brien to keep him distracted (poor Miles), and the whole mystery plot unfolds in a satisfying and logical progression.

Two things I would change about this episode:
1) Eliminate Sisko's cheesy slo-mo "Noooooooooo".
2) I wish they had kept Winn's involvement in the plot more ambiguous. That scene where she meets with Neela right before the assassination attempt is a little too on the nose. In light of Winn's arc over the next six seasons, her motives and intrigues should have been more opaque at this point.

Regardless, this episode set the standard for all of DS9's great season finales, which always shook up the status quo.
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Tomalak
Thu, Oct 8, 2020, 2:49am (UTC -5)
"your criticism of DS9 on the religion front is less about whether what is portrayed on screen is true to life and more that it fails to meet you on your own atheist terms... what you are really after is for the show to just dismiss religion as stupid full stop, which of course it doesn't do"

Yes, exactly. He's watching for a crushing hammer blow against all religion, not getting it, then blaming the writers for failing to meet a standard that exists mainly in his own head and expectations. Presumably if Bareil and Winn had been written without nuance, and if the Bajorans had been written as gullible fools for worshipping the prophets, he'd say the writers did a great job. But I think it would have made for a worse show.

Joe, wouldn't God or some other divine entity appearing be sufficient proof? Obviously they may not do so, but I think it should be possible to come up with a test for a divine being.
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Joe
Thu, Oct 8, 2020, 3:23am (UTC -5)
@Tomalak
"Joe, wouldn't God or some other divine entity appearing be sufficient proof? Obviously they may not do so, but I think it should be possible to come up with a test for a divine being. "

What makes an entity divine? Let's say it can move back and forward in time, create different material forms, and all sorts of supernatural powers. Are those the criteria on our test? Fine. Yet it still must be limited by virtue of the fact that it is limited to a specific form. Divinity, by my own understanding, does not have that limitation. And perception, being limited to form as its object, is incapable of perceiving the limitless. So if there is any room for proof of a divine being in any kind of test devised for humans to undertake, then I do not see it.
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 8, 2020, 5:59am (UTC -5)
"So if there is any room for proof of a divine being in any kind of test devised for humans to undertake, then I do not see it."

True but this is almost tautological in terms of a 21st century materialist framework.

A caveman didn't need proof beyond what his eyes could see. Lightning, the Sun, the Moon, even fire, would have been self-evidently awesome cosmic forces and maybe he thought they were manifestations of a God or Gods but either way he wouldn't care if they were omnipotent or merely powerful - that they were beyond his understanding was likely good enough reason to bow his head to them.

Now we consider everything to be within our understanding or potentially so.

Even the inside of a black hole, which we have no understanding of and almost certainly, can *never* have understanding of (due to the innate laws of the universe!) we do not consider divine.

So no, a modern materialist will never find "proof" of the divine because his own worldview excludes the possibility of such a priori.

But getting back to DS9 the Bajorans are not bound by a materialist viewpoint.

I don't understand how Elliott et al. can't understand that not everyone is bound by it. I guess you could say the Bajorans are stupid if you wanted to, but even if that was true, so what? In that case, there are "stupid" people by the billion today in our technological 21st century civilization so why not in the 24th, especially among an alien culture?

I agree with Peter that some just can't accept a portrayal of religion that doesn't cowtow to either an overtly atheist perspective or to a materialist one, which might as well be atheist in this context.
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Joe
Thu, Oct 8, 2020, 6:38am (UTC -5)
"So no, a modern materialist will never find "proof" of the divine because his own worldview excludes the possibility of such a priori."

I'm not sure about that. Let's say a materialist was standing before Jesus. And let's say, notwithstanding historical accuracy, that this materialist witnessed numerous miracles performed, systematically breaking each of the laws she thought governed her reality. Matter created from nothing, bodies resurrected, illnesses cured instantaneously. Wouldn't that be enough to say, okay, maybe my worldview wasn't correct after all? Because if not, if there is really no miracle or law of the universe that could be broken to convince the materialist, what are they left with?
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Tomalak
Thu, Oct 8, 2020, 8:08am (UTC -5)
Joe, I agree with your last post - but I thought you were saying it would be impossible to prove the existence of the divine? Now you're agreeing that there are ways to do it?
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Joe
Thu, Oct 8, 2020, 8:20am (UTC -5)
"Divine" versus "divine being" - very different things, to my mind.
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Jason R.
Thu, Oct 8, 2020, 8:24am (UTC -5)
"I'm not sure about that. Let's say a materialist was standing before Jesus. And let's say, notwithstanding historical accuracy, that this materialist witnessed numerous miracles performed, systematically breaking each of the laws she thought governed her reality. Matter created from nothing, bodies resurrected, illnesses cured instantaneously. Wouldn't that be enough to say, okay, maybe my worldview wasn't correct after all? Because if not, if there is really no miracle or law of the universe that could be broken to convince the materialist, what are they left with?"

How do you know he created something from nothing? Maybe he's an alien with a replicator or he's just some genius who invented it? Any sufficiently advanced tech seems magical.

Heck, even if you knew he was pulling something from something from nothing, you might just revise your understanding and just call it a new discovery in physics.

I mean the inside of a black hole is as close to breaking physical law as anything. What the hell is a "singularity" but our science throwing up its hands and saying "fuck it". It might as well be matter emerging from nothingness and we have barely any understanding of it (and arguably, it is physically impossible that we ever will!) yet you don't see astrophysicists declaring black holes proof of divinity. Whatever happens in them, they are assumed to be products of natural law as would Jesus be even if he did resurrect the dead!
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Tomalak
Thu, Oct 8, 2020, 8:35am (UTC -5)
If atheists reject conventional religious explanations and demand proof in terms of evidence and proof, how can they then turn around and say they won't accept evidence for the divine even if God himself shows up and submits himself to experiment? That is to make atheism a completely unfalsifiable position - any counter argument or contrary evidence is being excluded from the picture.

Joe, you're going to have to explain that divine v divine being distinction you're making to me - it doesn't seem at all relevant to the discussion we are having but I could be wrong.
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Booming
Thu, Oct 8, 2020, 8:57am (UTC -5)
Can we not mix science and religion please.
One could call religion a way to deal with the unknown in an unscientific manner.
Science is about finding answers through questions and (monotheistic) religion is about answers. "Here is a book, believe what is written and you will be fine."

I'm not even sure if the Bajorans are actually religious. They know their superBajoran overlords exist and that these overlords can be manipulated. How is this any different from any relationship where one side is much more powerful.

For example prayer for the Bajorans makes sense. For the monotheistic followers praying is somewhat nonsensical. Can you convince god through prayer? If god is all-knowing then prayer shouldn't change gods intention. God already knows what it wants to do, prayer wouldn't change that. Or does god need prayerMana as a power source? These questions are never discussed because the Bajoran gods are definitely real and can be manipulated.
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Joe
Thu, Oct 8, 2020, 8:37pm (UTC -5)
*claps* Yes, Boomer! Can we finally get over the crazy idea that DS9 somehow represents actual religious or spiritual ideas? At best, the Bajorans are a superpowered-being worship cult. Comparing it and using it to discredit monotheism would be like bringing in Ptolmaic geocentrism to discredit astronomical science.
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Elliott
Sun, Oct 11, 2020, 3:34pm (UTC -5)
@Jason R

The Bajorans (or rather the writers) feel the need to justify their religion in material terms. This forces the stories to contrive ways around ever examining the Prophets in material terms. My personal stance is that the Bajorans absolutely should and could have a genuine religion which would create interesting, compelling stories for the series, but the show pre-occupies itself with "proving" the Prophets are divine creatures because they have magic powers, as opposed to examining the nature of divinity and belief in the context of a post-occupation society.
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OfBalance
Thu, Feb 11, 2021, 6:25pm (UTC -5)
It's interesting that people like to pretend that the subservience of nonbelievers to believers is a neutral middle ground between extremes, and secularism (the true neutral ground) is "militant atheism".

That's this episode's failing, presenting Keiko and Winn as opposite extremes, when Keiko's position is actually the reasonable compromise.
It's about secularism, not "militant atheism": Keiko respects Bajoran beliefs, but refuses to pretend to share them, or to teach them as absolute proof. Her starting position should've been the resolution.

Jake's conversation with his father is more evidence of the same: is Jake wrong to be so dismissive of religious beliefs? Maybe. Is he "the same as Winn, but from the other side"? Far from it. Winn (and Kira, to a lesser extent) is trying to force her beliefs on others and to make them act in accordance to her beliefs, Jake isn't.
The opposite extreme to Winn would be to assert that Bajorans shouldn't have the right to practice their religion, and to take steps towards it.
Jake isn't doing that, he just thinks religion is stupid. A bit rude, maybe, but he's just stating his own belief. And not even in public.

I don't see evidence of "militant atheism". If any side is militant, both in the episode's framing and this discussion, it's the theistic side.
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OfBalance
Thu, Feb 11, 2021, 6:32pm (UTC -5)
As an aside, I always thought it was rather weak of the showrunners to have ALL Bajorans share in the same religion.
It stands to reason that some Bajorans would have a completely different religion, or none at all. And those Bajorans are oppressed through the fact that the church of the prophets holds some political power (how it's delimited between the provisional government and vedek assembly+kai is unclear, but the fact that Winn and Bareil are the ones negociating the peace agreement with the Cardassian in a later episode show that they do).

Would've been a great episode to explore this issue. A movement of secularists on Bajor, seeking to separate church and state would've been a tremendous episode.
They even could've introduced religious moderates! People who believe in their religion while still understanding that political power should not be the domain of a religion.


Towards the end, some start worshipping the devil-entities rather than the god-entities, but it's still the same religion.
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Peter G.
Thu, Feb 11, 2021, 7:16pm (UTC -5)
@ OfBalance,

I think this issue has more importance than whether in this one episode the two sides were presently fairly. The issue of 'militant atheism' (which to be fair the episode doesn't really bring up anyhow) is not just that religion is rejected, but that the people who are religious are not respected. It would be fine if Jake or Keiko didn't believe in the Prophets, but respected the Bajoran beliefs and culture in the Picardian fashion. But I think the episode is hinting a bit at the fact that when you think their religion is frankly stupid and that they are ignorant to use any term other than "wormhole aliens" that is going to trickle into your relations with them no matter how you cut it. And this kind of becomes apparently in the few episodes we do get involving Starfleet brass at DS9, where they are basically rolling their eyes anytime the Bajoran religion or culture is brought up. It's really not the best approach to learning about strange new worlds, to judge them by your standards and dismiss their beliefs.

The funny thing is although it's objectionable to some people that the show went down the Sisko-as-prophet route, even if they hadn't done that so directly it was definitely necessary for him to come to respect the Bajorans.

SPOILERS

Sisko deciding he feels such kindship with Bajor that he wants to build his house there is note-perfect in terms of the closeness it would take for the Federation liaison to them to really understand and respect them. It doesn't take him being their chosen one to feel that they have a beautiful people and culture and endorse it wholeheartedly. It wouldn't have even required him converting or believing in it per se to find it very attractive and in a manner of speaking a unique piece of anthropological art.

So to me it's not really enough to say that Jake is entitled to his opinion and that he doesn't force his beliefs on them. That is true, but if the attitude of the Federation were akin to that then that would not be a great basis for establishing respect and membership. "Hey you're entitled to your stupid beliefs" is not a good place to start, whether or not you disagree with them. Sisko's middle-series approach seems like a sound one, where he's not going to go to bat for their religion, but at the same time he would say there are nice things about how their pursue their beliefs, and that he definitely respects them as a people. That's a much better approach.

Just as an analogy, imagine on Earth a secularist going into a religion community to teach science. Would it really be appropriate for the teacher to start saying things like "and now let's talk about the religion-myths you believe". Sure, you're not forcing atheism on them, but you're also being pretty dismissive of them right to their face. At best that is rude. It's not militant, maybe, but it's abrasive and antagonistic. You might see how ridiculous it would be to reverse the case and imagine a religious proctor going to teach in a fairly non-religious community, and referring to their life choices as "sins" or to call their secularism as "the silly beliefs that pretend god doesn't exist." You are not gonna get along with the locals talking like that, and then saying "oh but I wasn't forcing anyhow" as if that makes it all ok.

I'm not at all surprised that Winn was up in arms at a Federation school teaching Bajorans when the teacher doesn't even really know anything about or respect their culture. There are shades of colonial North America in there, of trying to educate the native Americans without really caring much about their own culture yourself, believing that your superior knowledge is what they need to learn. I'm not saying Keiko is some kind of imperialist, but it does strike a concerning chord to go to someone else's homeland and start teaching them your beliefs without respecting theirs.
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Jeffrey Jakucyk
Fri, Feb 12, 2021, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
"...imagine on Earth a secularist going into a religion community to teach science."

Well how WOULD you approach that, especially when you start teaching about evolution or plate tectonics and the students/administrators insist that god created all life and Earth is only 6,000 years old? I don't see a way to do that without stepping on their beliefs at some point. "Just don't teach those things" isn't an option either.

Also, be careful equating culture and religion. There's much less nuance to that in Star Trek because we just don't have the time for it, but the real world isn't so simple, and in most cases the two are very different. Regardless, the Picardian respect of all cultures is a somewhat naive position that can very quickly lead to dangerous relativism. Some ideas/beliefs/cultures do not deserve respect, no matter how they internally justify themselves.

People deserve respect, at least until they prove otherwise, and one can respect another person even if they don't respect that other person's beliefs. That's why Keiko's response to the question of whether the celestial temple exists in the wormhole "I respect that the Bajoran people believe that it does" is spot on. Jake is being a bit undiplomatic, sure, but he's also just a kid.

The complicating factor of course is that in-universe we know the prophets exist, they are powerful, and they interact with the corporeal world. There's also Q and other god-like beings kicking around, not to mention all manner of crazy space phenomenon. Arguably that makes them all part of the natural world, not supernatural. That doesn't mean people won't worship them. Heck, people worship Donald Trump, literally praying to him. Does that deserve respect?
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Peter G.
Fri, Feb 12, 2021, 5:04pm (UTC -5)
@ Jeffrey Jakucyk,

"Well how WOULD you approach that, especially when you start teaching about evolution or plate tectonics and the students/administrators insist that god created all life and Earth is only 6,000 years old?"

Well I didn't specify that it had to be a fundamentalist or anti-science religious community. I think it's probable that an anti-science community wouldn't have a secular science teacher go in to teach anyhow. For most 'normal' communities that are religious, it would be important enough to know what their beliefs are in order to frame things without being insulting. "The three alien entities you call the trinity" wouldn't be particularly diplomatic, no matter whether it was meant to be objective or not. I would suggest that one of the key issues is especially the use of the term "wormhole alien" to talk about their gods. It pretty clearly lays out that they are just regular aliens living in a hole in space, which has a particular implication in terms of whether they ought to be worshipped. In fact, the question of how to teach Bajorans so that they learn their science without your stumbling into terms that have built-in prejudices from your own culture is precisely *what* the learning curve would have to be for a teacher going in there. I don't know how to tell you what the best answer is; maybe it's different for each community. In Keiko's case her "I respect that they believe it" comes off as little more than a thinly veiled scoff. I think Patrick Stewart could have made that line believable, so maybe this is about the actress? I never since the first day I saw the episode thought it was anything else other than she was saying between the lines that their beliefs were dumb (or at minimum ignorant) but she couldn't say so in those words.
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EventualZen
Mon, Apr 26, 2021, 6:28pm (UTC -5)
In act 2 a jumja stick vendor refuses to serve O'Brien because of the current controversy involving Keiko. Watching this in 2021 makes me think of Christian cake shop owners refusing to serve gay couples for gay weddings. I wonder what the federation stance on that is?
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b1gdon
Tue, Aug 24, 2021, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
I'm watching ds9 again and this episode starts with Keiko teaching a lesson when a mysterious figure appears in the doorway. Then she starts speaking and...OH SHIT, ITS KAI WINN!!!

Aspiring script writers, this is what a bad guy should be. First of all, teenage me never appreciated how pretty Louise Fletcher is. Evil should always be good looking. What I love about her character is that she projects what tvtropes calls pure uncut "sugary malice" as Louise Fletcher luxuriates in a bath of pure hamminess. Tvtropes goes on to say "Near every thing Kai Winn says is in the gentlest way, but wrapped up in such smug, contemptuous and holier-than-thou attitude it's clear just how little she thinks of everyone around her. And sometimes even the "sugar" gets left out."

In the pantheon of Star Trek villains, it's Khan, Gul Ducat, and Kai Winn.
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Michael Z Freeman
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 4:07am (UTC -5)
@Robert Thu, Oct 2, 2014, 8:49am (UTC -5)

You quoted ...

"KEIKO: I'm not teaching any philosophy. What I'm trying to teach is pure science.
KIRA: Some might say pure science, taught without a spiritual context, is a philosophy, Mrs O'Brien.
SISKO: My philosophy is that there is room for all philosophies on this station. Now, how do you suggest we deal with this? "

I guess there was a debate about this back then but not as prominent as today. Kira's statement directly echoes The Galileo Report - galileocommission.org - and Sisko's discussion about Galileo with his son made me realise something I'd never realised up until now. I'd always been taught about the "silly" people who would not look through Galileo's telescope. Yet, just like Sisko's description of the Bajoran people being helped to survive by their faith, those who refused to look back in Galileo's time were undoubtedly being helped to survive by their faith in a difficult world. So their standpoint becomes easier to understand.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 7:56am (UTC -5)
@ Michael Z Freeman,

Galileo wasn't ever a good analogy in the first place. There was zero trouble in Galileo's time of people developing new technology, just as there *never* had been trouble with it prior to that. The trouble he got into was in regard to writing a book making fun of the Pope, rather than doing private experiments. It still not good, but the analogy to DS9 is only valid as regards the right to teach the local people anything you want without authority. And from that particular standpoint I think Kira's statement is the stronger, insofar as teaching the Bajoran children 'science' with an anti-religious slant is something their parents need to know they're signing up for. In their particular circumstance they are definitely not up for that, so it's inappropriate to be effectively teaching an opposing point of view in school for children of a massacre. Can you imagine giving atheist lectures to young Jewish children who survived the holocaust?
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Booming
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 8:45am (UTC -5)
"There was zero trouble in Galileo's time of people developing new technology, just as there *never* had been trouble with it prior to that. The trouble he got into was in regard to writing a book making fun of the Pope, rather than doing private experiments."
That is at best imprecise. Galileo wasn't put on life long house arrest for making fun of the pope. The Catholic Church stifled technology sometimes. Medicine or astronomy especially. For example it was forbidden to dissect a Human body which made advances in medicine a lot more difficult. Scientific progress, any progress really, could be achieved in protestant countries far more easily because of Luther's two kingdom doctrine which essentially boiled down to saying that within reason a state could do what it deemed right while religion was a private matter. It laid the foundation for the secular state. Predominantly catholic countries struggled with that concept, one could argue to this very day and therefore often lost out on many developments that made countries like England so successful.
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Booming
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 8:51am (UTC -5)
PS: Peter
" Can you imagine giving atheist lectures to young Jewish children who survived the holocaust?"
Americans might not know this but Israel very much started as a very leftist country and remained that until the end of the Soviet Union when many orthodox Jews immigrated to Israel.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 9:59am (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

"That is at best imprecise. Galileo wasn't put on life long house arrest for making fun of the pope."

They gave him full authorization to write his book, with the proviso that they wanted him to present both sides fairly and let the reader decide. His answer to that was to make the Pope a character in the book and name him Simplicio (i.e. "idiot"), and likewise for all of his objections to be ridiculous. Yeah, that's why he got in trouble, for snark basically.

"The Catholic Church stifled technology sometimes. Medicine or astronomy especially. For example it was forbidden to dissect a Human body which made advances in medicine a lot more difficult."

Yes, and in Europe right now it's illegal to do many types of experiments that violate human rights standards. So what? You're complaining that the human rights standard at the time was to not desecrate bodies? This is hardly an anti-medicine position. And I can't think of an example of astronomy *technology* that the Church stifled. But in any case what I specifically said was that Galileo wasn't a great analogy. The Church did go to town on people trying to openly teach the Copernican system, but again that speaks to teaching authority more so than any bias against technology and science per se. I've never heard of people being hassled for doing private experiments.

"Americans might not know this but Israel very much started as a very leftist country and remained that until the end of the Soviet Union when many orthodox Jews immigrated to Israel."

Seems like a non-sequitur to what I said.
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Booming
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 10:35am (UTC -5)
@ Peter ( do me a favor and listen to this while reading from 2:25 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIgIf8dRSDM&ab_channel=JohnWilliams-Topic ; to get you in the mood)

"His answer to that was to make the Pope a character in the book and name him Simplicio (i.e. "idiot"), and likewise for all of his objections to be ridiculous. Yeah, that's why he got in trouble, for snark basically."
Read up on the subject. The fact that Galileo had to get the approval of the INQUISITION to write his book should be a hint. You are not really free if the INQUISITION has to green light your book.

"Yes, and in Europe right now it's illegal to do many types of experiments that violate human rights standards."
Apples and oranges. The religious ban on studying Human bodies is not comparable to modern notions that playing around with the Human genome could doom us all. You know that.

"The Church did go to town on people trying to openly teach the Copernican system, but again that speaks to teaching authority more so than any bias against technology and science per se."
The catholic church encouraged scientific progress and preserved knowledge in many areas, no doubt. They are not anti science per se. They are against science that threatens their claim to being the arbiters of truth and saying that we ape like creatures are flying around on a dust-metal ball in some side arm of the galaxy does that. So yeah I prefer an authority that is not build around a book written 2000 year ago + a bunch of rules made up by a geriatric boys club.

"Seems like a non-sequitur to what I said."
You brought up the holocaust. The Jewish people are not defined by religion but, one could argue, by a shared history and culture. Israel was a veeeeery secular country for a long time. So yeah quite a few Jewish people directly after the holocaust were not educated in religious way. DS9 is an American perspective on the holocaust, infused with American believes and values.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 10:41am (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

I won't really answer all of those points, because it looks more like you're trying to find excuses to nitpick rather than argue substantively. I know what I'm talking about re: Galileo to a pretty decent extent, have studied the Copernican situation circa 1550-1600 to a good extent as well, and in any case, overall it looks like you're doing that thing (I can't remember the technical history term) where you assess historical actions based on a present-day standard of values. It's generally considered to be bad history to read any situation that way. Most of your comments read as "I don't like what the Church did" rather than inspecting why things were the way they were. I'm no history buff, but history of science does interest me.
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Booming
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 11:59am (UTC -5)
@Peter
"I'm no history buff, but history of science does interest me."
Considering that you perceive yourself as a self taught expert on the matter, what are your sources? What is your field of expertise if I might ask? Do you think that it is a coincidence that scientific progress fastened significantly when the religious power in western societies weakened?
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Booming
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
ps: Do you think it is a coincidence that the vast majority of famous astronomers worked in non-catholic Europe?
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Booming
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 12:17pm (UTC -5)
pps: Ugh sorry for the endless addendum
I feel the need to point out that it is customary in Germany to talk very directly and very openly (and if that isn't possible to not say anything at all and only speak in platitudes). I have no hidden agenda.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 12:20pm (UTC -5)
I'll choose not to get into any of that, to preserve the integrity of the thread. I'll revert to my original point, backing up (to an extent) Michael Z Freeman, in that while I think DS9 was trying to be high-minded about respecting the Bajorans, it was coming from *such* a secular Hollywood background that even its attempt at conciliation with the Bajoran perspective still ends up unfortunately making Keiko look right and the Bajorans backward. Kira's POV goes a lot further than what the show perhaps had in the back of its mind, with Southern evangelical Christians wanting to shelter their children from facts about the world. In the case of the Bajorans the analogy is really a failure, but the show doesn't give them enough credit for having their own unique position (in a few different ways). Just the fact that they were coming out of a massacre alone should be enough to give them a wide berth about 'educating them'.
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Booming
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
Fair enough.

I guess one should keep in mind that nobody is forced to go to this school and the religious Bajorans could just open their own. Forcing Keiko to changer her curriculum because some random and at that point fairly unimportant vedek demands it is a good way to highlight why religion can become problematic in this context. Winn is in effect demanding that all child education should be sanctioned by her. It's a political power play.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
As it turns out it was a power play, yes. But at this juncture in the series Winn had just enough credibility that her argument could play both sides of the fence: securing her anti-Federation position, while also making true statements about what's best for Bajoran children. And to be frank, if I was invited to teach in a situation like Keiko's I'd be a lot more inquisitive about local beliefs before going all cavalier into my western education stance. As far as I'm concerned she's sort of a dunce in this respect, and it's totally legitimate to call her out on basically not respecting local beliefs. As Sisko says (and I agree with him most above all) there is room on the station to have science taught, alongside a respect for the local values, without the one having to be at the expense of the others. If I went into a mission school right now in Catholic Africa to teach children, and I opened with "and so when we read the stories in the Bible about the charlatan Jesus" the game is over, and I'm at fault. I can believe what I like, but taking the local deity and referring to it in my choice atheistic terms would just be asinine, and also strategically stupid if my goal is to get through to them. If a community leader comes to you and says "hey we believe this, it means a lot to us, can you please be more respectful about how you call the Prophets", I think it's a no-brainer to listen (and by the this logic accords with the current stream of left-wing claims about respect about terms). They wrote Keiko as a jerk here, I suspect, because they were alluding to the fundamentalists in the U.S. and the encroachment on science education. But as I mentioned before, it's a bad analogy and should never have been in their minds unless they wanted to undercut any credibility the Bajorans had.
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Booming
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 3:07pm (UTC -5)
I may misremember it but Keiko #freeWilly does not present the prophets in an inaccurate way. She just lays out the science. Before Winn appointed herself word police nobody complained, I think.

To quote Wolfe, the writer of the episode:"Sisko does everything not to impose his values on the Bajorans, but Vedek Winn is determined to impose her values on everyone." Wolfe also commented, "Although I was raised Catholic and educated in Catholic schools, that was a choice my parents and I made. I did get a religious education, but I think that's where it belongs: in a religious school. It doesn't belong in all schools."

The biggest shortcoming of the episode is the lack of nuance. It would have been nice to see some Bajorans arguing. I guess it is a general problem of Star Trek to portray factions or entire people as monolithic.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 3:44pm (UTC -5)
I guess I'd have to watch it again, but I thought the line Keiko crossed was calling them the wormhole aliens. If I'm remembering right then I do think that's pretty disrespectful, regardless of the writers' intent.
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Booming
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 4:10pm (UTC -5)
What's wrong with calling them that? They are alien beings that live in the wormhole.
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 4:27pm (UTC -5)
Well for one thing it pretty well clearly implies they're not gods. And besides that, it's not what the local people prayerfully call them. Calling them some other secular name is just not respectful, is it. Try to distance yourself from your particular background and inspect how life is for someone who not only has religion but needs it. Not imagine someone calling the most beloved, revered part of that as some secular term implying it's just the Wizard of Oz. It's really not complicated.
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Jason R.
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 4:58pm (UTC -5)
" Try to distance yourself from your particular background and inspect how life is for someone who not only has religion but needs it. Not imagine someone calling the most beloved, revered part of that as some secular term implying it's just the Wizard of Oz. It's really not complicated."

I see it less as the Bajorans feeling the term is disrespectful and more that they fear the secularization of their children and therefore the destruction of their religion. So they see the term "wormhole alien" as an existential threat to their way of life.

And where I for one part company with the writers is that I agree 100% with Kai Win that calling them that is absolutely a dire threat to their religion. I won't rehash my reasons for this which I stated ad nauseam on the other thread.

Suffice it to say the writers feel a happy median is possible but I don't agree.
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Booming
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 5:09pm (UTC -5)
God is not a scientific category but disregarding that it does not imply that. It just states a fact. The beings are alien (because we know barely anything about them) and they live in the wormhole.

"And besides that, it's not what the local people prayerfully call them. Calling them some other secular name is just not respectful, is it."
But that really opens the floodgates. From now on religious people (and not all Bajorans are religious) can demand that the wormhole aliens are called prophets, the wormhole is the celestial temple, the orbs are the tears of the prophets and so on and so on. Where does it end?

"Not imagine someone calling the most beloved, revered part of that as some secular term implying it's just the Wizard of Oz."

The exact dialog goes like this:
KEIKO: Now, as we discussed in yesterday's lesson, the wormhole was discovered by Commander Sisko and Lieutenant Dax earlier this year. Does anyone know what makes this wormhole so unusual? Jake?
JAKE: It's stable?
KEIKO: It's stable. That's right, Jake. It's the first stable wormhole known to exist.
(A Bajoran religious woman enters)
WINN: Please, continue.
KEIKO: A stable wormhole is very important because it allows us to travel secure in the knowledge that neither end will shift locations. Who knows why the wormhole is stable? Because it was artificially constructed. Commander Sisko encountered the entities who created the wormhole when he
WINN: Excuse me. By entities, do you not mean the Prophets?
KEIKO: Yes, on Bajor the entities are worshipped as prophets. Our studies of the wormhole have shown that it was formed by unique particles we call verterons that are apparently self-sustaining in nature. This begins to explain how a ship at impulse can safely pass through
WINN: Ships are safely guided through the passage by the hands of the Prophets.
KEIKO: In a manner of speaking.
WINN: Not apparently in your manner of speaking.
KEIKO: Perhaps we should discuss this after class.
WINN: Do you believe the Celestial Temple of the Prophets exists within the passage?
KEIKO: I respect that the Bajoran people believe that it does.
WINN: But that's not what you teach.
KEIKO: No, I don't teach Bajoran spiritual beliefs. That's your job. Mine is to open the children's minds to history, to literature, to mathematics, to science.
WINN: You are opening the children's minds to blasphemy, and I cannot permit it to continue.

I really see no problem with what Keiko says.
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Jason R.
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 7:18pm (UTC -5)
"I really see no problem with what Keiko says."

Of course you don't, because you see the Bajoran faith as made up superstitious nonsense (or you would if it was a real religion) - as does Keiko, as would I if I were living in that reality.

But she sees it as an integral part of her life, which she wants to perpetuate. For her a world where her religion disappears in the next generation is a horrible thing.

And she is doing a perfectly logical thing in challenging an existential threat to that belief system (whether the person perpetuating the threat sees itself that way or not).
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Peter G.
Mon, Sep 13, 2021, 8:02pm (UTC -5)
The real joke is that based on what we come to know over the series, Winn's statements are not mystical mumbo-jumbo sitting in the place of scientific fact, but in fact turn out to be literally accurate descriptions of how the wormhole in fact works. Ships don't go across the wormhole safely just like that, as Keiko claims ("it allows us to travel secure"). No, it's actual the 'hands of the Prophets' literally causing ships to pass through or not pass through safely as they desire. It operates according to their design at all times. It's not a natural phenomenon, and only is "stable" insofar as they desired and designed it to be. So Keiko's built-in assumptions about it being a 'stable' wormhole are scientifically invalid. Stable for how long? Under what conditions? For what reason? The Barzan wormhole looked stabled too, until it wasn't. And the Bajoran wormhole looked stable as well...until it also wasn't. So Keiko's claims are completely unscientific in the sense that neither she personally, nor anyone else in Starfleet, knows anything substantive about it other than it appears to be stable so far. That she's teaching thing in a class to Bajorans - you know, educating them about their own resource using her own inadequate understanding of it - and Kai Winn thinks it's heresy doesn't only happen to be valid on a narrative basis like Jason R points out, but it's in fact more *scientifically* valid than what Keiko is saying too. Not that Winn did experiments to come to her conclusion, so it didn't follow a scientific method per se, but it's scientific in the sense of being borne of experience and repetition. It's easy to forget that these are people who received not only mortal-made manuscripts claiming things about the gods, but artifacts *from the gods* backing it up. So if Winn says Keiko is stepping on their religion, Keiko is really foolish to ignore her. At worst it would be good to establish good ambassadorial protocols, since this wife of a noncom is risking scuttling a major Federation initiative; at best there might actually be something to learn from consulting with the locals. All of this is notwithstanding the fact that Winn was obviously grandstanding, but another more honest Vedek might well have made the same objection in this scenario.
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Booming
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 2:45am (UTC -5)
@Peter
Ok, there are some misunderstandings here. That is why I asked if you have a scientific background. How do I explain this? No scientists will tell you that a scientific law will be true forever. We only know that a scientific law is accurate now but tomorrow it could change, that may be extremely unlikely in some cases but we just don't know because we don't know the future. Maybe the apple will not fall in a trillion years or even tomorrow, so to speak. So when Keiko says that the wormhole is stable then that doesn't mean that she argues that it will be stable forever. Just that it is stable from the moment they started to study it.

"No, it's actual the 'hands of the Prophets' literally causing ships to pass through or not pass through safely as they desire. It operates according to their design at all times. It's not a natural phenomenon,"
Keiko clearly says that it was artificially constructed by the entities that live in there. She even agrees that "in a manner of speaking" yes the prophets are guiding ships through the wormhole. She never says that the religious interpretation is wrong.

"and Kai Winn thinks it's heresy doesn't only happen to be valid on a narrative basis"
She doesn't call it heresy aka an internal conflict in a religion, she calls it blasphemy. Which according to wikipedia means:"Blasphemy,..., is an insult that shows contempt, disrespect or lack of reverence concerning a deity, a sacred object or something considered inviolable." Winn is effectively demanding that everybody who teaches should revere the Bajoran religion. In a later scene Keiko rightly points out that she could not teach evolution or history and many other things that go against Bajoran religion.

"but it's in fact more *scientifically* valid than what Keiko is saying too. Not that Winn did experiments to come to her conclusion, so it didn't follow a scientific method per se, but it's scientific in the sense of being borne of experience and repetition."
Ok, the issue here is not facts but framing. Keiko is presenting it based on the facts that they have. Winn just wants her to present these facts in a way that she deems appropriate. This would give a fundamentalist the power to demand more or less anything she wants.

"but another more honest Vedek might well have made the same objection in this scenario."
But none did. It is a weak point of the episode that Bareill does not give any actual opinion on the matter, considering that Winn is the fundamentalist while he is presented as the opposite.

@Jason
"Of course you don't, because you see the Bajoran faith as made up superstitious nonsense"
No, I don't. The prophets exist. As I wrote a little above, the whole disagreement in the episode is so far about framing, not about facts which is another shortcoming of the episode because in relations to, well I guess, the US situation it would have been more fitting if Winn would have walked in there and said:"Are you teaching that the universe was created 10000 years ago when two prophets kissed?" or something like that, in other words something that is irreconcilable with scientific facts.

"But she sees it as an integral part of her life, which she wants to perpetuate."
I understand what you are saying. You cannot compromise with fanatics. Again Vedek Bareill not giving his opinion is a missed opportunity. Furthermore that, apart from Ajatollah Kira, we hear no other Bajorans voicing their opinions. When I rewatched the episode yesterday I was giggling because the Bajorans always sheepishly follow the last person that talked.

Still, it's a good episode.
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Jason R.
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 7:09am (UTC -5)
"No, I don't. The prophets exist. "

At this point in the series, the wormhole aliens exist. Believing they are "prophets" I.e. Gods is not something you would accept if you were a Federation citizen any more than you accept that the groundhog in your backyard has a "spirit" or your neighbour's cat is a witch's familiar. Yes groundhogs and cats exist - but that is hardly the point.

I think part of the problem here is that I am looking at this episode in its allegorical context, in other words, what the episode is trying to convey to us the viewers. Of course Peter is correct that the big joke is that Winn ends up being 100% vindicated by the end of the series because the wormhole aliens are literally "Prophets" in a Celestial Temple and all of Winn's hocus pocus is factually correct!

But in my defence, even the writers didn't know all that at this point in the series.

"I understand what you are saying. You cannot compromise with fanatics."

All people become fanatical when they perceive a threat to their way of life.

Secularism is a mortal threat to religion. That much has been obvious even in my lifetime. I was an atheist by the time I was 10 but I distinctly remember feeling like this was still a relatively uncommon thing back then in the early 90s. I remember when "cancel culture" was pearl clutching evangelicals getting upset about violence in video games or pornography.

They were already impotent politically and culturally by that point of course (as the last 30 years has proven in spades) but they were still a force! (albeit a spent one) Now they can't seem to muster the impotent outrage they got back then.

I am shocked at how rapidly religion has been hollowed out in the past 30 years. The more secular the institutions and societies the more rapidly it has occurred. By the time my kids are my age I think most religions in the first world will be little more than rumps and the developing world will be well on the path.

The only reason the religious didn't fight harder against this is because back then they didn't understand the threat secularism posed. Perhaps they accepted the liberal promise that religion could co-exist with secular humanism and science (I don't think it can).

The Taliban and other groups like them seem to know the score. Them I don't have trouble understanding. They are also behaving logically within their framework. They are merely doing what any religious person from 500 years ago would have done if someone time travelled to them with a copy of the New York Times from 2021. They are doing what you would do if you discovered that Germany in 2100 would return to Naziism and usher in a 1,000 year reich. You'd be a fanatic too if you saw the writing was on the wall for your way of life.
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Booming
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 10:37am (UTC -5)
@Jason
hmmm So what you are saying is that religion will more or less implode once state and church are separated/religion cannot control all aspects of life? Winn, in your reading, tries to block any attempt at establishing institutions that are not controlled by religious authorities because this would eventually lead to an atheist society (apart from here ulterior motive)?

It sounds a little too mono-causal and deterministic for my taste and I could point out that the USA, which was the first country to separate state and church, is still the most religious in the western hemisphere.
Thinking about what you said I stumbled over this channel
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HbO7yf9sahg&ab_channel=ReligionForBreakfast
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Jason R.
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 11:16am (UTC -5)
"It sounds a little too mono-causal and deterministic for my taste and I could point out that the USA, which was the first country to separate state and church, is still the most religious in the western hemisphere."

First of all I didn't say "separation of church and state" was the key factor, although I am sure it plays part. My thesis is that the rise of secular humanism fuelled by science / technology is what is killing religion.

Second, like every first world country, the USA's level of religiosity has nosedived in the 21st century continuing and accelerating an already rapid decline from the 20th century. It's hard for me to post links on my phone (apologies) but a casual glance at stats on Wikipedia confirms that almost all the mainline churches in the USA (including evangelical groups) are closing churches left and right. You would have to be living under a rock to claim that church attendance isn't down precipitously since, say, the 50s.

And by the way, wouldn't South America, Mexico and the Carribbean count as part of the Western hemisphere? If so, I want you to explain how countries like Jamaica, Mexico or Brazil are less "religious" than the USA. That is impossible to believe. Even a casual glance at church attendance stats confirms that can't be true. So I don't accept at all your claim that the USA is the "most religious" in the western hemisphere without major evidence.
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Booming
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 11:25am (UTC -5)
Ok so you mean secularism the philosophy, not secularism the political practice. I wasn't sure about that. Secularism can mean both and I understood it as the political practice.

Western hemisphere was my mistake I meant what is called "West" since the 1950.
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Peter G.
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 11:29am (UTC -5)
"Of course Peter is correct that the big joke is that Winn ends up being 100% vindicated by the end of the series because the wormhole aliens are literally "Prophets" in a Celestial Temple and all of Winn's hocus pocus is factually correct!"

It's true that this can be retroactively galling for a writer who most likely intended to use the Bajorans as a placeholder for backward Christians on Earth (more specifically, in the USA). But at this point in the series they did make at least a few attempts to burst the bubble of the Federation having all the answers. In the pilot itself Opaka makes it very clear to Sisko she knows some stuff, and shows him the artifact as proof. That may not be proof for Keiko, but it's proof for the audience that it can't *just* be hocus pocus. By the end of S1 it's a bit one-sided to turn things into a science vs religion standoff and expect the audience to dismiss the Bajorans on principle. I mean, because of how it's written I expect it's actually quite natural for the audience to side with Keiko (as I did), but objectively speaking Keiko is not standing on firm ground. We're talking about a universe - unlike our own - where Kirk and Picard met their fair share of godlike beings, non-corporeal entities, old gods moving on, and so forth. At that point the issue of whether they're 'gods' or 'entities in the wormhole' becomes a semantics game, and yeah, why call them in a way that's antagonistic to the beliefs of the locals? Kirk wouldn't have done that, I can tell you.

Regarding science taking the place of religion in daily life, we should note also that the Bajorans at this point in the series are centuries ahead technologically of where we are IRL right now. They have science, and in fact it later becomes a plot point that they were more advanced than the Cardassians or Humans at the equivalent point in history and simply weren't expansionist technologists, so they didn't go full-throttle into weapons tech and stuff like that. But they are not by any means anti-science as one might be tempted to conclude from this episode. What Winn seems to be taking exception to is the science *about their gods* being taught with a materialist backdrop rather than a reverent or theological one. I doubt Winn would have cared how Keiko taught botany or geology.
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William B
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
"Kirk wouldn't have done that, I can tell you."

Hm. One thing is, Kirk is constantly knocking down gods that are worshipped though, when he decides that the people shouldn't be worshipping them. This includes cases in which the "gods" are real, and actually do provide positive services for the people who worship them, but Kirk believes that it'd be better for the people to stop worshiping them. Kirk is the guy who single-handedly upends the Mirror Universe, destroys Vaal and Landru, believes that humans have necessarily grown out of Apollo, asks what God needs with a space ship, and so on. Now of course all those are *bad gods*, false gods, etc., according to the individual episodes' cosmos, but does Kirk really do his due diligence that the various false gods or evil structures are actually preferable to the alternative? He does sometimes leave alien belief systems in place (such as Vulcan). But it seems to me that Kirk makes snap decisions, often in favour of dismantling a belief *he thinks*, based on the limited evidence given in the episode, as being wrong. If anything, Kirk seems to me to be the captain most likely to want to kick a complacent people out of a stultifying belief, whereas Picard would emphasize the Prime Directive and Sisko would try to sympathize with their reasons.

I think that you are assuming that Kirk would immediately recognize that the Bajorans are not wrong to worship the Prophets/Wormhole Aliens, rather than believing that the Bajorans are being held back by their primitive beliefs when they should be standing on their own two feet. It is true that the Prophets/WA are given more positive weight by the text than some of the tinpot gods Kirk knocks down. I am not myself arguing that the Prophets are equivalent to Landru. But -- and you probably know TOS better than I do! -- I can't think of any times when Kirk did see there being beings worshiped as gods where Kirk accepted that belief. There are times like "A Piece of the Action" where Kirk was willing to play the long game and let people come out of their belief system on a longer time scale. But I don't know what your basis is for certainty that Kirk would view the Prophets as legitimate subjects of worship, as opposed to all the illegitimate ones he reflexively, quickly knocks down.
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William B
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 12:04pm (UTC -5)
I will say that my comment is more just trying to parse out how Kirk would behave.

One thing to note is that I can't think of situations equivalent to Kirk being in a DS9-type situation. The one-episode planet false gods Kirk knocks down are meant to be knocked down, because those episodes are constructed around those gods being false. The Prophets are not the same case, and are part of a different storytelling tradition, and fulfill different narrative functions, so I don't know how Kirk would react to them, or even how Kirk would behave in this kind of longer form serialized interaction with a planet narrative.
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William B
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 12:11pm (UTC -5)
The reason I brought up the Mirror Universe is that Kirk sees the militaristic ruthlessness as a kind of worship that needs to be destroyed, not that there is any literal god there. Probably not a great example of what I mean, but I guess the point is that Kirk seems to me to reflexively view other societies with beliefs he believes to be toxic as fair game to shake up.
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Peter G.
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 12:14pm (UTC -5)
@ William B,

About the Kirk comment, I meant more to say that his default was to call things by the name the locals used. We don't get his inner monologue about why, and sometimes we might get the idea he's playing along to get more information or to keep the peace. But one thing Kirk doesn't do is speak to strangers from another planet and start calling their object of worship by a name of his choosing. Now that I think of it in these terms, it has a vaguely imperialist tinge to it, and there has been a strong movement of late in North America to repudiate the colonialist practice of coming to an already populated place and re-naming their stuff. As I mentioned before, I think Kirk had a lot more diplomatic tact than what Keiko is showing here. Her moral superiority seems more important to her than being respectful, or keeping the peace; take your pick.
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William B
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 12:21pm (UTC -5)
@Peter,

That's a good point, and that makes sense to me.

One of the issues of this episode is that Keiko is totally unprepared for being part of this maelstrom. She basically started a school as a way to feel useful, and is a botanist. I don't think being on the Enterprise is going to make her *sheltered* exactly, but still, she doesn't have the requisite skills or training for this situation. I think you're correct that she hasn't anywhere near the tact requisite for this thing. Which I don't think is her fault exactly, though I think you're right that she could do to be more curious about the locals.

Early eps like this one do pretty well at capturing the paradoxical role the station has -- that it's simultaneously a tiny little community with jerry-rigged institutions and the nexus point of major, galactic importance. Normally a botanist would not be in this situation, but a series of unexpected developments have propelled unlikely people into the centre of big political movements.
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Peter G.
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 12:23pm (UTC -5)
@ William B,

I guess I could address one or two other points of yours. I think Kirk tends to knock down the false gods not on principle but specifically when he encounters an oppressive force literally controlling people that they cannot get out of on their own. And of course it doesn't help that he frequently ends up trapped by this false god as well, so freeing himself goes in lockstep with freeing everyone else. Maybe it's good to think of it like a war of liberation; Kirk doesn't believe in killing, but he'll do it under certain circumstances. But you're right that we don't see Kirk interacting with people on a planet and just having conversations about their religion with them.

About the mirror universe, I personally feel that he was reaching out to Spock specifically, rather than trying to change that world. He saw in that Spock something of his own, and wanted to be a friend to him, to help him be the Spock he could be.
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William B
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
@Peter,

That makes sense. I might think about whether there are any cases where I think he shuts down a belief where people nominally had the choice, and just not the will, if that makes sense. I think there are maybe a few cases like that, or at least borderline, but I'll have to think about it. And obviously there are times where Kirk just is looking to get himself and his crew out of trouble rather than upending anything.

Now that you say it I think you're right about Spock.
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Booming
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 12:39pm (UTC -5)
Keiko is not coming up with names, she is using scientific terminology. That is not imperialistic.

Again, nobody is forced to go to this school. And what about the rights of non-Bajoran kids to not listen to religious sermons during astronomy class?

I agree with William that Kirk would probably the biggest iconoclast. Considering that at the time Roddenberry was still running things and his view on religion.

"Of course Peter is correct that the big joke is that Winn ends up being 100% vindicated by the end of the series because the wormhole aliens are literally "Prophets" in a Celestial Temple and all of Winn's hocus pocus is factually correct!"
I disagree with that. Nobody ever denied that the wormhole aliens are probably omnipotent and can see the future. Everybody knew that from the start. Keiko mentions that they created the only stable wormhole in the galaxy, for example.
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Peter G.
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 12:54pm (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

"Keiko is not coming up with names, she is using scientific terminology. That is not imperialistic."

Sorry, but "entities" is not a scientific term for a being you're not familiar with. Trek sometimes uses it, so maybe Keiko picked it up on the Enterprise or something (Crystalline Entity, etc). But it is not some kind of standard term of use for which there is a natural confusion here. She knows full well the Bajorans think of them as gods, and is calling them entities anyhow. Are they entities? I guess. That might make it accurate in a sort of non-descript way. That's orthogonal to whether it's disrespectful or not. I can call your mother a "water-filled meat sack" and argue that I'm being "scientific", when it's plainly obvious that my choice of terms has removed any sort of respect for her right out of the equation.
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William B
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 1:16pm (UTC -5)
Keiko does have non-Bajoran students, though, and the station is administered by the secular (or at least pluralistic) Federation. Must Jake and Nog be instructed that the Prophets are gods? Is there a term to describe the Prophets/Wormhole Aliens that captures that they are extant beings which seem to be different from humanoids, but which not everyone in the class worships?
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William B
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
I guess calling them the Prophets might be fine, if you just think of it as a name for their species. You don't really have to worship them to use the term, maybe, but I also get Keiko's resistance to it. (SPOILERS) IIRC people (Federation etc.) do end up using "Founders," at least sometimes, to describe the changelings, even though it's a name with religious connotations and they are enemies.
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Peter G.
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 1:30pm (UTC -5)
Good question, William. In fact this is the discussion that should have been had if both Keiko and Winn were being reasonable. And as you mentioned above, part of what this very good episode captures is that this discussion was needed and hadn't happened yet. I'm not going to pretend I know the correct approach to how to run a human/Bajoran school on a Bajoran station, but it does do to remember that it's a Bajoran station. The non-Bajorans (presumably the families of station staff) there are in effect present in order to help the Bajorans, which would I suppose be up to the Bajorans to decide whether that includes de-religioning the wormhole.

But yeah, it might not work to expect Jake and Nog to call them the Prophets...or maybe it would? I'm not sure if calling them by that name implies any kind of agreement with the worship of them. Even if that line could be straddled, it's hard to say how far down that road one could go before "chronaton particles" and stuff like that ended up being blasphemy too.
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Peter G.
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 1:30pm (UTC -5)
Haha, we sort of wrote the same thing at the same time.
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Booming
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
@Peter
"Sorry, but "entities" is not a scientific term for a being you're not familiar with."
It could be.

The problem here is that Winn comes in and within 5 sentences accuses Keiko of blasphemy. She could have just asked if Keiko was willing to call them prophets but she never did. Later she asks Keiko, as a "gracious" compromise offer, if she would just not talk about the wormhole at all and when Keiko states that she will continue to teach scientific facts about the wormhole, Winn declares her unwilling to compromise. That is the point because in essence giving into the demands of Winn means giving her free reign to demand anything she sees fit. It was this reasoning that religious hardliners used to force creationism into classrooms in the USA. Because not teaching something like religious people demand is automatically an insult. They already have religious schools and temples but that is not enough. What they deem right has to be taught everywhere to everyone.

But I guess this discussion has started to circle.
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Peter G.
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 2:19pm (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

Obviously Winn was trying to undermine the Federation and get Bajor under her thumb, so there's nothing mysterious about the absence of her being reasonable. But Keiko gave her all the rope needed to hang her school with. Winn had no doubt already got wind of the tenor of these lessons prior to coming, so it's not like she needed to sit in on a whole class just to find out.
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EventualZen
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 7:47pm (UTC -5)
Does anyone else think that education would be mostly done by robots, holograms, and other AI by the 24th century? We already have educational websites & Apps, and a lot of videos, surely biological teachers would be mostly redundant by then?
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Trish
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 8:16pm (UTC -5)
@William B

You mentioned, "I can't think of any times when Kirk did see there being beings worshiped as gods where Kirk accepted that belief."

In Bread and Circuses, Kirk and the writers are very friendly to religion, even if only on Prime Directive grounds, with more than an implication by the end of the episode that the specific religion in question was Christianity. When Kirk was tentatively asking if there had been stories of "men from the stars," he was told that the stars are the light of the Sun (SPOILER TO COME) shining from the heavens, so he backed off that line of questioning, I believe with a deferential, "Of course." Even though Kirk knows very well what stars are in a physical sense, he feels no need to contradict the natives' theological interpretation of their significance. More than that, when Flavius expresses doubts about all men being brothers, as taught by the religious group he has joined, Kirk tells him to "go on believing it."

Back aboard ship, when Uhura points out that the "sun" Flavius' group was worshipping was "not the sun in the sky, but the Son of God," Kirk refers not to Jesus (an ordinary name), but to the religious title "Christ."

Whether he himself is supposed to be a believer or not, he is portrayed as someone willing to use the religious terms of believers when talking to or even about them and to refrain from contradicting their beliefs, in some circumstances. I suspect he might well have been willing, if encountered with the Bajoran situation, to refer to the wormhole aliens as "the Prophets" when speaking with or even just in the presence of Bajorans.

I think it would have been very interesting (and was a missed opportunity) for this episode to show Keiko struggling with whether to accommodate children whose parents had taught them to call Sisko not "Commander," or "sir," but "Emissary" (and perhaps when he enters a room to stand up and bow in his direction!). I think Kirk would have been willing to do so, though perhaps with the exaggerated politeness reserved for a term he did not personally believe but was just choosing not to make an issue of.
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William B
Tue, Sep 14, 2021, 9:56pm (UTC -5)
@Trish,

Thanks for bringing up "Bread and Circuses." It's an interesting case too because they all were very dismissive of Sun worship as a primitive thing that people should have outgrown by the Roman era, but they were still respectful of it, so that it's evidence Kirk would accept religious belief even if he thought it was backward, if he didn't see it as actively harmful, or imposed on externally. (And then of course they did feel differently about it being the Son.)
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Booming
Wed, Sep 15, 2021, 2:46am (UTC -5)
@Eventual Zen
The more I think about it the more likely that seems. But only at the more basic levels. On university level we probably would still need human professor because if a robot could do that better then why even have students anymore? At that point humans would probably live WALL E-style.
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Jeffrey Jakucyk
Wed, Sep 15, 2021, 10:07am (UTC -5)
Do the Prophets ever call themselves Prophets, or anything at all? I know they're always saying "we are of Bajor" and other vague claptrap, but do they ever say their own pronouns? The whole Founders vs Changelings thing is a little different I think, because they refer to themselves with those terms. At least I know they call themselves Changelings (as a species). Do they call themselves Founders ever, or is it only the Vorta and other Dominion subjects who do that?

Anyway, if "Wormhole Aliens" or "Wormhole Entities" is too offensive then maybe "The Bajoran Prophets" would be an appropriate term, but not simply "The Prophets" which presumes universality just like saying "God" (capital G) without any further clarification. Prophets is a vague enough term, like the term god, that using it singularly is really only appropriate within the particular religion itself. Bajorans would refer to Fek'lhr as "The Klingon Devil", not just "The Devil" (assuming they believed in a devil at all). That at least has a distinction between a proper noun and an improper noun, whereas prophet and god could be either. So requiring Keiko to refer to the Wormhole Aliens as "The Prophets" is a bridge too far.
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Peter G.
Wed, Sep 15, 2021, 10:39am (UTC -5)
@ Jeffrey Jakucyk,

SPOILERS

In regard to the Dominion, "Changelings" is what the shapeshifters call themselves, although it's probably an ironic term rather than a name originally of their choice. "Founders" is their role in the hierarchy of the Dominion. The Vorta seem to call them "Founder" as both a term of rank and also of godlike stature (since the Vorta were 'made' by the Changelings).

But regarding the Prophets, it doesn't really matter what the Prophets call themselves, since the issue at hand is respect to the Bajorans, not to the Prophets.



"if "Wormhole Aliens" or "Wormhole Entities" is too offensive then maybe "The Bajoran Prophets" would be an appropriate term
[...]
So requiring Keiko to refer to the Wormhole Aliens as "The Prophets" is a bridge too far."

Maybe that would have been enough to be respectful. It wouldn't have been enough for Winn, but we can put that aside. The issue of making it clear it's the "Bajoran" Prophets seems to me that a bit overdone in terms of specifying "I just want to make it clear I don't believe in this". I think it would be pretty clear either way that Keiko is not a believer.

If you were doing Old Testament bible study, for instance, even as an atheist, I think it would be pretty normal when discussing what part you're reading to say, for instance, "I'm reading about the prophets." There would be no need to insert a disclaimer in the form of "I'm reading about the Jewish prophets", or "I'm reading about the dudes the Jews believe are prophets." That kind of disclaimer is simply not necessary when simply referencing them, and to say "I'm studying the prophets" is not any kind of profession of belief. But just as a point of nitpicking, if someone didn't know you were doing Old Testament study, then it would make sense to say you're reading the "Jewish prophets" since it tells them what book and what part of the book at the same time. But if they already know you're reading the Jewish scriptures then calling the the "Jewish prophets" is not technically inaccurate but it's really redundant and doesn't do anything to disclaim your opinion about it.

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