Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Transfigurations"

2.5 stars

Air date: 6/4/1990
Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Tom Benko

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Until now, I'm pretty sure I hadn't seen this episode since it originally aired in 1990. As this is one of those middling episodes of TNG that few people seem to care about (myself included), I've had no reason to revisit it until now. So a funny thing happened to me while watching "Transfigurations." For the first 20 minutes, I couldn't remember what it was about or how it ended. Not at all. But as the episode continued, I remembered more and more, until finally I said to myself, "Here comes the part where Worf goes flying over the railing and breaks his neck." Funny how I remembered that. Probably because neck-breaking stunts are cool.

The weird thing was how my experience watching this episode mirrored the central character — an alien (Mark La Mura) who has no memory but recalls bits and pieces as the story moves forward and strange things happen to his body. The alien was found by the Enterprise crew, a hair's width from death after the crash of his escape pod. He does not remember his name or where he's from or why he crashed, so John Doe it is. Crusher cares for him over the course of a month, and his recovery is a miraculous one that can be attributed to his body's phenomenal ability to heal itself. He discovers that he also has the ability to heal others.

The episode seeks the answers to where this guy came from and what's now happening to him. He can't explain himself or his powers. Picard is concerned. Meanwhile, the Enterprise ventures into a territory of space where Doe might be from. Mark La Mura is earnest and projects a nice-guy persona, but the episode's problem is that it moves slowly and has a tendency to repeat itself. The episode amounts to Doe explaining that he can't explain himself, Picard expressing concern, Crusher defending Doe, and then Doe healing somebody. Repeat. I was more intrigued by Geordi's newfound confidence and girlfriend Christy Henshaw (Julie Warner); although I wondered what changed her mind about Geordi between "Booby Trap" and here.

The ending, in which the Enterprise finds Doe's people — who were responsible for attacking him and causing his crash — provides the usual TNG lesson about tolerance versus fear, seeking out new life, etc., etc. Doe (and his people) are on the verge of a wondrous evolution into a different kind of life form. Doe's people fear that possibility, and I can't say I blame them. Of course, I also can't say that killing everyone who has symptoms of this change is particularly bright, either.

I'd forgotten that this is where O'Brien's kayaking hobby and shoulder injury were first documented. For some reason I'd thought that was established much later, on DS9. I'd call this a nice touch of continuity, but since this is the first time, I guess the "continuity" part doesn't come until later.

Previous episode: Menage à Troi
Next episode: The Best of Both Worlds, Part I

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119 comments on this post

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William B
Thu, Jun 13, 2013, 6:32am (UTC -5)
It amuses me that there are no comments on this episode yet! It really is nondescript, as Jammer says -- I can't really think of any episodes this side of, say, "Lonely Among Us" from season one, that are this unmemorable. This is better than that episode, obviously, because "nondescript" for season 1 is bad and nondescript for season three is competent at least. Still....

John Doe represents a little bit about this series' take on evolution. Like the X-Men (which resonates with Patrick Stewart's career, though that's a decade away), John Doe is progressing beyond the norm of his society as a mutation. Society, it turns out, wants to stamp him out and kill him because they're afraid of change. Fortunately, John has superpowers to protect himself with. The Enterprise serves as somewhat of a midwife for his rebirth as a being of pure light, and along the way he heals the sick of body and mind; apparently Geordi's creepy awkwardness with women is as easily cured as O'Brien's shoulder injury. To continue the X-Men comparison, part of the reason the X-Men story (in some of its incarnations, anyway) has some resonance is that while the X-Men can code for whatever minority the writer wants them to at any given time, when they are depicted as "the next stage in human progress," there is some reason for ordinary humans to fear them. They have superpowers which can be used offensively, and some of them use them for ill. It doesn't make persecution of the mutants right -- but it makes it understandable, and the message that persecution is wrong carries more weight if the proviso that it's wrong even if the people being persecuted against are scary. John is a little worrying because he's Mysterious, and does hurt Worf when he's trying to escape, but he immediately undoes it and we never get any real sense of why he and his are feared besides generic fear-of-the-unknown.

The other obvious parallel is that John Doe is a messiah figure -- healing the sick and all, as well as offering something like spiritual transformation for Geordi and maybe for Crusher, who (we are told, by Wesley, more than shown, really) benefits from his presence. In that sense the episode could be taken as saying that spiritual leaders in human history are really people advancing to the next stage of 'evolution' in human/social consciousness more so than literally divine; there is no indication that Doe is a messenger from God, but merely that he's advanced in some way from his prospective peers in a way.

The episode never quite gels. Who Joe is is not revealed until the end of the story, and so the bulk of the episode is spent on the slowly unraveling mystery about him -- in which the main cast is fairly passive, and in which we are more told than shown about John Doe's influence. Beverly and John's bond feels a little real, but there is ultimately not enough to solidify their connection. The episode is perhaps most notable for taking place over such a long period of time -- it's over a month, in-universe time -- but part of the reason it takes so long, I feel, is that the crisis is so low-urgency that no one besides Beverly can actually devote any particular resources to figuring out what is going on with John. It's nice to have a low-key episode, but once it's over, there's the real sense that nothing much has happened. I think I'd give it 2 stars.
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William B
Wed, Jun 19, 2013, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
One thing that is noteworthy upon further reflection: John Doe's version of "evolution," in which humanoids might get to the point of being able to heal physical and psychological wounds but leaving behind their physical form and the history that surrounds it, is really interesting to see in the episode before BOBW. The Borg represent a different version of transhumanism, of "the future" writ large, in which the Borg are granted some of the same "powers" as John -- the ability to "repair" with ease, for example. While I doubt this was the intention, the presence of the Borg in the episode immediately following this one makes John Doe's species fear of him just a little bit more understandable, and underlines the creepiness of John removing the "weakness" of doubt in Geordi. It is seemingly "biological" rather than technological here.
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Marshal
Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 7:01pm (UTC -5)
This episode is about space Jesus. John is chased down as a social dissident. He heals and brings back the dead. He has an attitude of peace and humility, no anger or frustration related with his loss of identity. In the end he is reborn and departs to lead his people to a higher truth.
I love this episode along with almost any episode that hints at the limitless potential of life. Mainly I love it for prominently featuring my favorite doctor and I enjoy the development of John's relationship with her. It never feels romantic to me but the connection is very deep and spiritual. I think John was being portrayed as a very nonsexual being hinting at his future evolution.
I don't know how you call this a middling episode. The pacing is slower because its a thoughtful episode that is supposed to stimulate questions more than provide answers. I also remember watching this when it first aired and this one stuck with me. It's not the best episode but it exemplifies the philosophical attitude that I appreciate in TNG over other trek series. I don't watch for action and excitement but for a sense of wonder.
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Corey
Tue, Jul 9, 2013, 3:43pm (UTC -5)
I think the premise has potential (unknown alien with unexplained powers), but I think it's too much of a slow burn, so to speak. Throughout much of the episode, having so many people say "I don't know" or "I can't explain it", doesn't help it much. What does it all mean? While I realize that's a central question of the show, and gets answered in the end more or less, the journey to it just isn't interesting enough.

From a production point of view, the FX seemed decent, but I'm not sure the acting was all it could have been. For example, if my wife lost her memory, she would be agitated not being able remember her name, or her history. At the very least you would think John Doe would be a bit more passionate in his speech about wanting to remember, but it seems too much like he's reading lines. I think McFadden and Stewart did fine in their parts though.

So overall, would give a 2.5/4. Decent, but not stellar. Perhaps not enough emphasis on the human condition.
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Jay
Sat, Nov 16, 2013, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
Something about the Crushers' and being attracted to beings made of light. Back in "The Dauphin" , Wesley fell for a light being (though there, as here, only in the closing scene were they revealed as such - for most of the episode they masqueraded as humans or giant feral gerbils), and now Beverly and this guy.
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Tom
Fri, Apr 11, 2014, 4:36am (UTC -5)
I think that "boring" adequately sums up this episode. The John/Crusher connection is supposed to be a central pillar of the episode, but it never works. She doesn't seem to be even trying to pretend that she's infatuated or interested in him.

The theme of the episode is about the birth of a new species, as well as Space Jesus/Buddhist Illumination. The problem is that they pretty much start exploring the theme 10 minutes before the end of the episode. As others have pointed out, the action was slow and there was nothing happening, no tension. I'm just glad that they didn't write off René Echevarria after this...
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Jack
Wed, Aug 27, 2014, 5:01pm (UTC -5)
How convenient was it that when they figured out where John Doe came from, it was almost exactly in the direction they were already going. I had to roll my eyes at that one. And then Picard says that fortunately, becuase of that, they won't hav emuch of a delay in their mission. But...isn't finding John Does pretty much their primary mission? It's right out of the narration in the weekly opening credits....
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mark
Sun, Jan 4, 2015, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
This episode was a heaping helpings of technobabble. I can't even recall the last time a TNG episode inflicted this much technobabble on me. Ugh.

John Doe's energy form was a guy wearing a silly body stocking. The alien captain had a mullet. And why the hell does Gates McFadden *whisper* every single line of dialogue??? She's like a walking morphine drip. No wonder they let her go in season two.

I notice these things because my mind was flailing about for some kind of diversion. I'd rather mow the lawn than watch this again. The single minute devoted to O'Brien and his kayaking injury was the only tolerable minute. The rest? Ugh.

One star. No--make that half a star.
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Dusty
Sun, Jan 4, 2015, 10:45pm (UTC -5)
Glad I"m not the only one who thought "Alien Jesus." It was interesting, but not great. William B is right, it never comes together...there seemed to be a connection between the alien and Geordi's newfound confidence, but Geordi disappeared from the episode and they never came back to it. I don't get it.

Well, at least he was a better love interest for Crusher than the horny ghost.
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John
Sun, Jan 18, 2015, 3:00am (UTC -5)
Just watching this now. Does anyone wonder when the alien stops everyone from breathing on the ship, why was data affected too? He gets up like he was passed out too. Always bugged me. Otherwise a decent episode for me. Not great but not bad.
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CPUFP
Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 9:56am (UTC -5)
I wonder what happened to LaForge's newfound confidence with women after this episode. Next time the issue is addressed (in season 4's "Galaxy's Child"), he's back to fantasizing about Holo-Brahms and blaming her for calling him out on it. Would have been nice if the writers had started giving him some kind of real love life. Even Data (drunken sex with Tasha and that relationship in one of the later episodes) and Wesley (a kiss from the future leader of an entire planet - that's almost Riker caliber!) had more amorous contacts than him. The date with Christy Henshaw in this episode (after she stood him up on the last one) is the closest Geordie gets to love. And Barclay at least got to take Troi for a walk in the arboretum. Poor guy...
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Luke
Mon, Jun 15, 2015, 9:56am (UTC -5)
"I was more intrigued by Geordi's newfound confidence and girlfriend Christy Henshaw (Julie Warner); although I wondered what changed her mind about Geordi between "Booby Trap" and here."

That about sums up my perspective on this episode. "Transfigurations" is neither great nor horrible, neither good nor bad. It's just 'there,' existing.

What is there to say? I suppose I could complain about Crusher getting into a quasi-romantic relationship with her freaking patient. But John's too likable a guy for me to be bothered by that. I suppose I could applaud the Geordi/Christy scenes. But they're dragged down by the surrounding blandness. I suppose I could complain about the standard heavy-handed TNG preaching about tolerance. But it's certainly not as heavy-handed as in other episodes. I suppose I could applaud the attempted religious symbolism in John and his "transfiguration." But it isn't very well developed. You see the problem? For every good thing in this episode, there's a corresponding bad thing and vice versa.

5/10
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Nic
Sun, Jul 26, 2015, 9:11pm (UTC -5)
There's a bit of comedy in this episode that I'd completely forgotten from my first viewing. When Geordi first walks up to Christy and asks her out, Worf turns to Data and says "I've been tutoring him." My girlfriend and I were laughing hard on that one.
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Jay
Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 8:28pm (UTC -5)
The suffocation attack at the end of the episode was rather absurd...it was pretty much Q-like - any technological explanation for that capability would almost certainly be ridiculous.. And the lunacy that he could fix it shipwide by touching the wall was Q-ish too. Is that what these people are supposed to be on the verge of becoming?
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Kiamau
Sun, Nov 1, 2015, 10:42am (UTC -5)
@Nic - in researching these, I'm finding Worf had some of the best lines and an incredible delivery. He's been the bright spot (sometimes the only bright spot) in a lot of episodes for me.
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Kiamau
Sun, Nov 1, 2015, 10:43am (UTC -5)
@Nic - whoops, that's "rewatching."
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grumpy_otter
Thu, Mar 31, 2016, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
I have a soft spot for this episode. For me, this is my favorite kind of Trek--slow mystery, with bits of crew minutiae, an interesting main character, and a good ending. This is the whole point of Trek, as Picard says at the end--they were honored to be present at the emergent of a new being.

I would give this 4 stars except for one thing, and it might sound trivial, but it is so distracting it makes me crazy. That damn white turtleneck penis-flaunting jumpsuit they put John in. Good lord. WHOEVER thought that was a good idea should be punished severely. Early in the episode, I am falling love with this sweet confused alien, and then when he starts to recover his health, they dress him in THAT. Ruins the mood and becomes a detriment to the rest of the episode.

Otherwise, this episode is thoughtful, intriguing, and thought-provoking, and I like it.
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Rikko
Tue, Jun 28, 2016, 6:35am (UTC -5)
For me it is like most people said: boring and nondescript.

"John Doe" comes and goes without changing anything in particular.

On the other hand, it is notable how O'Brien is becoming more and more relevant as the third season develops, until he becomes the center of attention in "The Wounded" (next season) and, eventually, a protagonist of Deep Space 9, if my childhood's memory is right.

O'Brien is the second character to stand out after starting from very small acting parts. And, of course, the first was Worf. Both guys spent most of their early episodes just saying one or two words like "Yes, Captain".

And then, they become protagonist, or at least supporting cast and the show is all the better for it.
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Aaron
Thu, Aug 4, 2016, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
@grumpy_otter: thank you for pointing out that hideous jumpsuit thing John is wearing -- what a truly terrible piece of costume design.

I really can't stand episodes where they cram a time-elapse story in a single 45-minute episode. The premise is certainly interesting but the pacing just seemed off.
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David
Wed, Oct 12, 2016, 2:30am (UTC -5)
Like Jammer, this is an episode I almost forgot about. I'm currently re-watching the show from the beginning, for the first time since 2002 (when I bought the DVDs). So far, this is the first episode that I really have almost no memory of. It's a shame the episode was so forgettable, but there are at least a handful of semi-interesting scenes. When I recently re-watched the episode, I was almost convinced that Geordi's new sense of confidence would soon turn to arrogance, but it never did, and that whole storyline really didn't end up anywhere, unfortunately. By the end of the episode, quite a few things still remained unexplained. From me this gets 2 stars only.
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Matsu
Thu, Nov 10, 2016, 1:56pm (UTC -5)
This is one of those special episodes that make this series so wonderful and prophetic. I'm not surprised most people don't see that. One day when people will become more spiritual this episode will become more appreciated.
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DutchStudent82
Thu, Dec 1, 2016, 3:38am (UTC -5)
I too had the memory lane experience.
-not remembering what episode this was as I rewatched it, but remembering parts of it as I watched it.
-However I did remember there was a TNG episode with such a being in it, just not remembered it was this one.

But I found this episode rather enjoyable, for different reasons.

After STE ended, I felt into cold vacuum, born in 82, I pretty much grew up with trek, never single year without new episodes, and such became the norm for me.
So when STE was pulled, for the first time in my life, (and that was in my early 20s) I was without anything to watch.. I was REALLY like "why it was good and well watched, how can there be no trek??"
After the first mourning, and a few years waiting and hoping they would come to their sences and launch a new star trek series, while visiting the star trek website dayly for news about this and reading "the trek life" I gave up.
I switched to star gate, that by than was in it's 6th season, untill it too got pulled with the same ununderstandable tricks, a few years later.
(it got replaced for the crap called SGU what logically never got a second season, but I did not expect the whole series to be ceased)

I save you the details, but rest to say star trek reboot for me is no trek at all, and don't get me even started on star gate reboot movies, true scifi is dead, sadly, corporate drones have assimilated all.

Well why this introducion, because this episode introduced the idea of "acended beings" BEFORE star gate, and that with hindsight thats very interesting.
It would make this race like both the altarans and the ori from star gate.
-> I hence would have loved a more detailed look at their tech, it must be advanced, very advanced, i they are so close to ascending, their space faring society must be much older and much more advanced than any of the main races in star trek. The chocking tech I hence buy, but I was waiting for a revelation : was it technological? in that case interesting very advanced indeed, or did even the conservatives have powers to enforce such things at range to other races? was there an "enhanced" aboard the attacking ship?
(could have made interesting drama play and put the danger of these ability's and the polarity they may cause even more into perspective)

I am a christian, and hence i not believe in evolution, but I do believe we were created originally as MUCH MUCH more than we are now, as beings living outside time, in infinite dimentions, litterly to the immage of God (and God is spirit) and that our vanity of wanting to be equal (the desire for control and power IS the core of all sin) caused us to be cast down much much deeper, to this pityfull 3d dimension linear timeloced beings, who like plato said "have an inhering yearning to heavens, aka like a memory of what they used to be, but are no longer"
(while I am good in science, and have a rational mind, I see many scientists are blind for these reasons, they only want to "know" what can be controlled, to gain more power to chance things, and are vain in wanting recognision of others. It does not even apear to them that that is not objective science at all, like Jesus said, none is as blind who cannot see, and only those who are prepared to loose themselves will keep themselves)
-> there is much more depth in what Jesus said than many christians often know, many are just as control freaky, with a book in their hand they use THEIR minds and THEIR ideas and THEIR institutes to control and be vain just the same as science does. Christ ment it when he said he left HIS spirit to guide us, why than are we using still our mortal brains to try to puzzle things out on our own, to obtain control?
-> and what I say is not the same as new age mumbo jumbo, witchcraft too often wants control and many of those people are just out there for vanity, power and money too. Those who are not are often hedonistic, just out their for their next endorphine shock, drug induced or otherwise, not how to find the truth either.

This episode hints to many of those features, control vs communion, a sence of things to come and that have been, but no hard memory, and for doing so I like it.

more down to earth, when picard confronts Q he does see mankind one day becoming like Gods and evolving beyond even Q's ability's, this shows one way of that to become true. (as I hinted before the Q may have simply evolved from biological beings, and my bet is Q has evolved from humans (thats why he is so interested in them, where the other Q, not so much as they must be of different races)

I give it 4/4 stars, for introducing many of such concepts.
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Walter E. Gough
Sun, Dec 18, 2016, 8:07pm (UTC -5)
I may have missed this episode in its initial airing, or simply forgotten about it, but having watched it last night I'm struck by its overt religious message.

Star Trek, historically, has avoided direct message shows and dealt with issues via anology or allegory. There was talk of the son of god near the end of Bread & Circuses, but overall the franchise has been overwhelmingly about science and only sometimes -- and then only impliedly -- about faith.

Here we have an episode, first aired in June 1990 according to the Memory Alpha wiki (so it wasn't a Christmas show), titled Transfigurations, a direct reference to an event described in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.

I found its vaguely proselytizing message strange, and -- with all due respect to DutchStudent82 above -- for somebody like me who seeks answers from science, not faith, a disconcerting departure from what I expect from Star Trek.
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Tara
Wed, Feb 15, 2017, 9:51pm (UTC -5)
I remembered this one fondly from my first viewing years ago. I originally enjoyed the mystery of John's identity and the quiet romance and the glowy ending. And Worf's death.

This time around, knowing where it was going, it was likable but bland. It's still one of the only tolerable Beverly-themed episodes... Probably because she spends only forty-five percent of the epiaode acting intensely concerned about stuff. Usually she only quits being intensely concerned when someone turns her into a dog.

I didn't notice any issues with the costuming until after I watched it and came here to the comments. Then, on Grumpy Otter's recommendation, I rewound twice.
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grumpy_otter
Mon, Apr 3, 2017, 8:01am (UTC -5)
LOL @ Aaron and Tara

It can't be unseen, can it? I am reminded of a time when a friend called me and told me to turn on Saturday Might Live because she wanted me to see the pants on that night's musician and she didn't know who it was. I recognized him but couldn't think of his name, but MAN, those PANTS! Quite revealing.

It turned out to be Joe. . . Cocker.
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Dark Kirk
Fri, May 12, 2017, 11:26pm (UTC -5)
The choke-weapon was an homage to the Sith choke hold.

I thought it was an awesome moment when Sunad orders his ship to fire on the Enterprise, and then John zaps him right onto the Enterprise bridge. Like 'OK, tell them to fire now.'

Even less-than-awesome episodes can have some pretty good moments.
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Jeff Jensen
Wed, Sep 6, 2017, 11:39pm (UTC -5)
Wow. Funny how we have all had similar experiences with this episode. I caught the beginning of this in a rerun tonight and thought to myself, "I remember this episode, it has the wrinkled face guy in that hideous white jumpsuit." Then, I realized, I remembered nothing else from this episode. Who was he? I had no clue. What happens? No idea. Well, I decided to watch it, so I popped in my blu ray set which I got recently and compared shots airing on TV to my blu ray. As a quick aside, I must say, the blu ray picture is amazing. The colors are vibrant, and the surface textures are so detailed. With that said, the texture details of the, um, "mid regions" of the alien's white jump suit seemed enhanced, too...definitely distracting, but I digress.

This episode must be the epitome of unmemorable, as I watched the whole thing and only had vague recollections of what I was seeing, not knowing how it would end until it finally did. I really did enjoy the brief scenes with Worf and Geordi talking about romancing women, and Worf's line "I've been tutoring him" is not one I will forget again. It was awesome.

All in all, I suppose this episode had enough intrigue to keep me watching, and had my interest piqued, but primarily because I knew I HAD seen it but I couldn't remember it. It kept my interest throughout, but in the end it was definitely an average episode. I did find myself asking if the writers were somehow thinking about the general population's response to the AIDS virus in the 1980s. It was something unknown, and many people were scared of it, like this species was to their new and unknown condition. Probably not, as I haven't seen that connection mentioned anywhere else. And the more I think about it, it seems less likely rather than more. Just a passing thought I had.
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Raphael Bloch
Fri, Sep 29, 2017, 6:51pm (UTC -5)
I liked this episode well enough up until the full spandex bodysuit. What the hell? They even had space Jesus turn into an energy orb in the end, so was the super awkward bodysuit step really necessary? You can even see all the wrinkles on it. I really can't take that supposedly deep part seriously.
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borusa
Wed, Dec 13, 2017, 4:07pm (UTC -5)
I am pretty sure I had given up on TNG when this was on the first time around as I could not remember it at all.
This was a tedious collection of overused Trek themes as has been remarked upon already.
God knows what the heck Geordi's new mojo has to do with anything at all and no , please,please Mr yawn fest-in-a-hilarious-full body condom-don't transform into a glowing superbeing.
Yep-series 3-hmm-at least the Borg are coming to kick the Federation's arse next week.
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Maq
Sat, Jan 27, 2018, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
Boring ? Yes a little bit. On the other side it gave some views of the life outside the Bridge. The ten forward scenes, sick bay. Even if it is easier to appreciate the more action filled episodes, these 'love peace and understanding' episodes is an important core essence of star trek.
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NoPoet
Wed, Apr 25, 2018, 5:56am (UTC -5)
An alien comes aboard who is NOT dodgy, untrustworthy, evil or dangerous. The only other Trek episode I can remember where this scenario happens is Voyager's "Bliss," with the awesome Captain Ahab type who helped Seven and Naomi to escape from the nebula-monster.
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Peter H
Sat, Apr 28, 2018, 2:33am (UTC -5)
I got about 15 minutes into this one, then realised Best Of Both Worlds was next and realised I'd had quite enough.
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Sarjenka's Little Brother
Thu, May 17, 2018, 10:37pm (UTC -5)
The actor playing the star alien is Mark La Mura. He was on "All My Children" back in the late '70s and the '80s playing Erica Kane's half-brother Mark Dalton, a musician who had a cocaine problem.

As to his wardrobe, I recall a bathing suit scene from AMC. He was blessedly endowed.
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Rahul
Tue, May 29, 2018, 7:29pm (UTC -5)
Kind of a lame episode before the epic BoBW -- one with a slow, repetitive buildup and a payoff that isn't really worth it. I think the episode intended for a cool sci-fi ending as we witness the "evolution" of a species into something god-like but it didn't have the desired effect for me. And then there's these new humanoid aliens that are on par with or stronger than the Enterprise -- but they're 1-dimensional stiffs.

I don't quite get why the rescued alien could not remember anything prior to the crash. Perhaps the writers wanted an excuse for a big reveal at the end. In a way the changes the alien is going through remind me of "Too Short A Season" with Jameson's changes being somewhat of a mystery and then a payoff that falls flatter than this one here. But again, it's hard to care about some unknown race where 4 of them tried to undergo this metamorphosis and just 1 survived the attack.

We have our wooden 1-dimensional aliens at the end who want to kill the alien, but the alien has gotten too powerful by then.

I take it Geordi is the big winner here -- having his nervous system hooked up with the alien gave him confidence to get the girl, finally. One other cool scene involving Geordi was when they determined the home world of the alien -- seemed like good logical deductive problem solving.

2 stars for "Transfigurations" -- hard to care much about this one with its recycled ideas, inexplicable medi-techno-babble. I guess the Enterprise crew, and Crusher specifically, are supposed to marvel at saving an alien and allowing him to transform into some kind of higher being. Kind of boring, slow-paced but not awful in any respect.
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mephyve
Fri, Jun 29, 2018, 7:20pm (UTC -5)
A run of the mill mystery that the audience has no chance of solving. Not bad, not great.
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JerJer
Mon, Jul 2, 2018, 3:32am (UTC -5)
This episode was like melba toast. It's there, it's not bad, but it has zero exciting about it. It's not even fluff filler. It's just there, not hurting anyone but not doing anything exciting.
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Prince of Space
Thu, Aug 2, 2018, 4:18am (UTC -5)
“This is one of those special episodes that make this series so wonderful and prophetic. I'm not surprised most people don't see that. One day when people will become more spiritual this episode will become more appreciated.”

Oooo... Matsu, you are so wise. I am not worthy.

I shall immediately give up gluten and only drink non-GMO free-range water! Please, accept my contrition and offer me your guidance, oh Matsu!!
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Dash Rendar
Wed, Aug 8, 2018, 7:34pm (UTC -5)
Nearly dead alien becomes Captain Marigold and flies off into the night. I think I've seen funnier looking supersuits, but not many. Bananaman perhaps..
John Doe is less funny, unfortunately. He's almost as offensively benign as Vedek Bareil from DS9.
Apart from the (unintentional?) comedy, there isn't much going for this one. The dialogue in the end scene made me chuckle because the spandex suit made him sound gagged. I don't know why they didn't record the actor saying the lines without the rubber over his face. It's not like lip syncing was going to be a problem with the overdubbing.
Underneath the nasty production techniques is the idea of species evolution and transcendence, which is captured best by Arthur C. Clarke in his book 'Childhood's End'. All of the ideas that make that book iconic are missing from 'Transfigurations'.
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Bobbington Mc Bob
Sun, Feb 24, 2019, 5:37pm (UTC -5)
Spaaaaace Jeeeeeesuuuuuuus
Re: the baddies, we already have the space Rom(ul)ans so I dunno who these guys are. Surprised they didn't call them "The Herodians"
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Jackson
Fri, Apr 12, 2019, 7:16pm (UTC -5)
Why in the world would Geordi be needed on the away mission in the opening scene?

The plot needed him to get "linked" to Light-Guy, but that was pretty contrived.
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Jackson
Fri, Apr 12, 2019, 7:40pm (UTC -5)
The guys home planet in less than three parsecs away and it takes three weeks to get him home?

Haven't seen that since the pre-Warp 5 days before Enterprise/.
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Jackson
Fri, Apr 12, 2019, 7:59pm (UTC -5)
Beverly should have called up Light-Guy when Worf broke his back...again...two years later...

He did owe her a favor.
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Springy
Sun, Nov 3, 2019, 9:24pm (UTC -5)
I didn't really like it.

I can't think of the right word for this ep. It bordered on silly and cliche, but was well done.

I enjoyed Worf''s frustration with Geordi's way with women. Wes and Beverly had an awkward dinner. Will and Geordi had an awkward time in the elevator. Lots of references to indentity knowing others and knowing ourselves. Letting ourselves be our best selves.

The laying on of hands (healing the sick, raising the dead) and the title, Transfiguration, gives the ep heavy handed religious imagery.

The science/technobabble was super weak.

Average. Very average.
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Mads Leonard Holvik
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 11:54pm (UTC -5)
I agree with what Marshal wrote. This is about Jesus, transdescending and being reborn. The episode has humor also and a story of connection between the doctor and the humanoid transdescending.
A thoughtful and nice episode. Me and my brother watched it yesterday and he made the remark: why can't they make Star Trek like this today?
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James G
Sun, Mar 8, 2020, 4:42pm (UTC -5)
I was mildly entertained, but it's a poor episode really. It hinges on a notion of a species who are fairly ordinary humanoid transforming into god-like creatures capable of faith healing, transporting people and illuminating themselves like a Christmas Tree, apparently by power of thought.

It's just too far-fetched, even for sci-fi. The crew of the Enterprise quite often encounter these aliens with improbable mystical powers, of course. Most memorably Q, but also Kevin in 'The Survivors', who wipes out a species of billions in a moment of rage. How could the Federation, dominated by ordinary beings like Humans and Vulcans with no superpowers (I'm not counting the neck pinch) be so successful and powerful in a galaxy where powers like this exist?

I don't like any of the mystic voodoo nonsense in any incarnation of Star Trek, really. Even Deanna's empathic powers annoy me.
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P'kard
Thu, Oct 8, 2020, 11:22pm (UTC -5)
A month? I hate when time passes without any visual or script cues to the audience. We just have to take their word for it and it feels cheap. Riker does comment to Geordi he has improved in the last month, so it's not completely ignored but they could have at least changed Bevs hair or given the alien a cool beard. Something to indicate passage of time!!!! This is not a temporal rift!!
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Crobert
Thu, Mar 25, 2021, 5:16pm (UTC -5)
This episode was pretty good, as far as Bev eps go but it was waaaaaay too spiritual for a Next Generation episode. I love me a good dose of hippie shit, but it was really really out of place for this show but primarily in how it was all presented.

I appreciate the idea of a race being so far advanced that they seem like magic even to our future Federation friends, but it needed to be handled differently. Having the guy snap his fingers and turn into his glowy, ultra-peaceful final form was too abrupt.

No major complaints, otherwise, but the main plot just didn't feel ike a TNG episode.
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Frake's Nightmare
Fri, Jun 11, 2021, 6:16pm (UTC -5)
Isn't that the jumpsuit that T'pol wears when she goes to deserty places ? And how many major spinal injuries does Worf suffer in Next Gen....bit more dignified than being hit by some poorly secured barrels I suppose. More injury related to continuity?
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Tidd
Sun, Aug 15, 2021, 2:13am (UTC -5)
An episode that only even remotely became interesting in the last 10 minutes or so. Until then, I was just so BORED!

1.5 stars
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Tidd
Sun, Aug 15, 2021, 2:35am (UTC -5)
@DutchStudent82

“ I am a christian, and hence i not believe in evolution”

“Hence…”?? Do you really believe that all Christians do not believe in evolution? In the Southern states of the USA perhaps, IF they are the Bible-bashing fundamentalist nut jobs that give the religion such a bad name. But I think you’ll find that most Catholics, worldwide Anglicans, Methodists, Quakers, Universalists, many Baptists, even many evangelicals, have no problem with science in general or evolution in particular. Wake up. Open your eyes. The Old Testament creation story is just that: a poetic story dreamed up by the primitive Israelites to explain what they didn’t yet have the science to understand.
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Jason R.
Sun, Aug 15, 2021, 7:02am (UTC -5)
@Tidd there is a distinction to be made between what an individual believes and what is doctrinally correct for one's religion.

Lots of Catholics no doubt think that homosexuality is perfectly ordered, natural and fine. Yet that is not what they would believe if they were practicing their professes religion correctly.

Any Christian denomination that takes the bible literally would find it impossible to accept evolution, that is just a fact.
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Rahul
Sun, Aug 15, 2021, 7:47am (UTC -5)
@Tidd

"Wake up. Open your eyes. The Old Testament creation story is just that: a poetic story dreamed up by the primitive Israelites to explain what they didn’t yet have the science to understand."

OK I guess you must be some kind of hardcore atheist but this is just such a ridiculous, ignorant, and idiotic statement to make. Do you not understand that some people whether they be ancient or modern can have faith in some kind of divine being or God? Maybe it is you who should wake up and open your eyes.

It's perfectly normal and quite widespread for people to not believe in evolution whether they are following religious teachings to the letter or not. For me, I don't believe in evolution and *one* of the reasons for that is the science behind it is so full of holes that the theory comes across as total bullshit.

If you want to believe in atheism and evolution, go ahead. That's your choice but I see no issues with the choice of @DutchStudent82.
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Peter G.
Sun, Aug 15, 2021, 8:33am (UTC -5)
@ Rahul,

I think the issue Tidd raised isn't so much that someone doesn't like the theory of evolution, rather specifically the "hence" that implies that because they believe in the religion this automatically implies they do not believe in evolution. This is not *quite* the same as suggesting that everyone should believe in evolution. Anyhow, if the person in question is a fundamentalist then it might well directly imply that their faith teaches that anything like evolution is wrong.

@ Jason R.,

"Any Christian denomination that takes the bible literally would find it impossible to accept evolution, that is just a fact."

Agreed. Or perhaps a slight modification, any person perfectly obedient to such a sect would find it impossible to entertain theories that violate the teachings of the sect.

However if I'm going to agree with Tidd about one point - and this is one I would not out of the blue levy at some random poster - it's that there's a difference between logical consistency and correctness. One can remain consistent with a premise or axiom and yet still be objectively flat wrong. So to the extent that in order to remain in line with some set of beliefs, it may be vexing to see someone reject empirical data out of hand purely on principle. Why Tidd chose to focus on some poster in that manner I couldn't be sure of.
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Peter G.
Sun, Aug 15, 2021, 8:46am (UTC -5)
@ Tidd,

"The Old Testament creation story is just that: a poetic story dreamed up by the primitive Israelites to explain what they didn’t yet have the science to understand."

For what it's worth, it is *not* the case that the Jewish religion teaches that the Old Testament is a scientific document describing the *how* of scientific fact. The argument made is that the book is divinely inspired, and tells truths about the world and about us, but not specifically about the mechanics of how natural phenomena work (i.e. science). It wasn't intended to be primitive science; it isn't science at all, good or bad.
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Rahul
Sun, Aug 15, 2021, 9:18am (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

Think you're missing the point of Todd's comment that I focused on -- that he doesn't seem to believe that there could actually be people out there who have faith in some kind of diving being and whether it is driven by stringent religious beliefs or not that people can rubbish the theory of evolution. Not to mention the dumb notion that those ancient people didn't have science yet to explain something. And also, what's with the "Wake up. Open your eyes." crap??

Todd's comment to DutchStudent (from 2016) came out of nowhere as if he has some kind of agenda against those who don't believe in evolution and the tone of his post reflected some kind of denigration of religious beliefs / faith as well. It's just another bush league comment similar to the time EventualZen dreamed about living in a world of just 500M people in a single-family home powered by green energy -- though nowhere near as awful.

I will say that I know Todd posts a lot of reviews but I haven't paid any attention to them so you probably know his tendencies better than me.
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Tom
Sun, Aug 15, 2021, 9:20am (UTC -5)
I'd say Peter G has it right; the way evolution appears to work could easily be taken by a Christian as part of creation (which none of the holy books ever said was complete following their descriptions). For what it's worth though, as Rahul said, evolution is really just another poetic story, and how it all really works is likely well beyond our understanding.
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Booming
Sun, Aug 15, 2021, 9:46am (UTC -5)
There is a direct correlation between level of education and believe in evolution. The better your education the less likely you are to not believe in evolution.

There is one study that checked for support of the theory of evolution in 34 countries:
Last places (from last to fifth last): Turkey, USA, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania
First places (from fifth to first): Japan, France, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland

From an Ipsos poll of 24 countries:
"The "evolutionist" view was most popular in Sweden (68%), Germany (65%), and China (64%), with the United States ranking 18th (28%), between Mexico (34%) and Russia (26%); the "creationist" view was most popular in Saudi Arabia (75%), Turkey (60%), and Indonesia (57%).
Consistently with previous polls, in the United States, acceptance of evolution was higher among respondents who were younger, with a higher level of household income, and with a higher level of education."
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Peter G.
Sun, Aug 15, 2021, 10:57am (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

I haven't studied that precise issue personally, but one thing I do read a lot of is objections to abstracts and data sampling vs interpretation. And it's immediately apparent in that type of study that I don't believe they could possibly be isolating properly for "level of education" in a vacuum. For instance it's clear at first glance that the top "level of education" countries are also essentially non-religious countries. They're also countries (not sure about Iceland) with a strong belief in centralized government, and in following the edicts of the 'popular' consensus. I'm sure they have other things in common as well. And there's no way such studies can define 'level of education' other than as a reflection of what those particular countries teach. So if the norms of the educational institutions are that they're low on the religion scale, naturally it would be less likely in such places for a person to *come toward* a religious conviction, having gone through them. So you could even suppose that the lack of certain religious beliefs is not merely correlative, but actually a direct result of how they educate over there. So no coincidence.

But as Rahul mentioned, there are non-religious reasons why a person might reject a prominent scientific theory as well.

@ Rahul,

I understand your point, but Tidd (a female as I recall) did specifically in her OP that the objection was about the direct statement Christian = no evolution, which indeed is inaccurate as regards probably most Christians in the world. But I suppose what I was trying to say is that this was probably just a sloppy wording on the part of that person. If they had wrote, "I'm a Jehovah's Witness so I don't believe in evolution" that would have cleared up that aspect of it. I actually agree with objecting to someone saying something that's basically equivalent to "Christians don't believe in science." That would be a false statement.
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Booming
Sun, Aug 15, 2021, 11:38am (UTC -5)
@Peter
Level of education may differ from country to country even though from university level and onward there are many similarities, especially since the Bologna process but in any of the surveyed countries there are certain levels and the higher you are on those levels, the less likely you are to believe in unscientific things like creationism. I'm not sure what you mean with strong believe in centralized government. But if you are hinting at federalism vs centralism then I might add that 8th is Belgium, 9th is Spain and 10th is Germany who all have strong regional governments.

" So if the norms of the educational institutions are that they're low on the religion scale"
Could you explain that sentence, please? Like division of state and church, or that universities are generally secular institutions?

"naturally it would be less likely in such places for a person to *come toward* a religious conviction, having gone through them."
Most people who have religious parents undergo some form of religious education before they go to university.

I don't have the willpower to look this up so you have to take this on my shaky expertise when it comes to the history of education but I'm fairly sure that a (longitudinal) trend study for whatever country would show that the more people get a higher education the more they stop believing in non scientific things.

"But as Rahul mentioned, there are non-religious reasons why a person might reject a prominent scientific theory as well."
It has been my impression that the general impulse behind these reasons are still often fueled by religious convictions hiding behind pseudo scientific arguments. How can you believe that natural selection and spontaneous beneficial mutations do not exist or are meaningless for the ongoing development of life?
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Tidd
Sun, Aug 15, 2021, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
@Jason R

"Any Christian denomination that takes the bible literally would find it impossible to accept evolution, that is just a fact. "

I think that was my point. I would claim that a majority of Christians do NOT take the Bible literally. Not all of it, anyway.

@Rahul

"OK I guess you must be some kind of hardcore atheist but this is just such a ridiculous, ignorant, and idiotic statement to make. Do you not understand that some people whether they be ancient or modern can have faith in some kind of divine being or God?"

I'm not sure that ANYTHING I said denied the right of belief in religions ? If you can point to it, that I'll be happy to debate it with you, but I never said that.

@Peter G

"I think the issue Tidd raised isn't so much that someone doesn't like the theory of evolution, rather specifically the "hence" that implies that because they believe in the religion this automatically implies they do not believe in evolution."

Thank you. That's exactly the point I was making. It was a statement that took it as fact that being a Christian means you don't believe in evolution. That isn't a fact.

@Tom

"I'd say Peter G has it right; the way evolution appears to work could easily be taken by a Christian as part of creation (which none of the holy books ever said was complete following their descriptions). For what it's worth though, as Rahul said, evolution is really just another poetic story, and how it all really works is likely well beyond our understanding."

Yes, and yes. Actually I wouldn't say that evolution is "a poetic story" but I would say that we're a long way from understanding it in full. It is still classed as a theory after all. But there is a whole lot of Darwinian evidence to support it.

~~~~~

To summarise my original objection: it was the claim that being a Christian means that necessarily you don't believe in evolution. Factually, that's a serious error, and I speak as someone who's been an Anglican and then a Quaker, and now a 'spiritual atheist' (no, I don't have the space or time to unpack that right now!), and have always believed in evolution. I've met very few Christians who don't.
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Rahul
Sun, Aug 15, 2021, 6:54pm (UTC -5)
@Tidd,

Not looking to debate but just to clarify why I said that you seem to be denying the belief in God that someone may have is that you said this:

"The Old Testament creation story is just that: a poetic story dreamed up by the primitive Israelites to explain what they didn’t yet have the science to understand."

My point is that the primitive Israelites are not looking for some "science" to "understand" creation -- they believe in God and that is the end of it. So by you saying they just dreamed up something and didn't have the science is completely overlooking / denying their belief in God, which is paramount to how they'd think about things as ancient people.

And what Tom said makes perfect sense: "as Rahul said, evolution is really just another poetic story, and how it all really works is likely well beyond our understanding."

If you think the OT creation story is a poetic story, then I'd say evolution is also one. More sensibly, both are beyond our understanding.

And what's with going back to some dude's comment from 2016 and responding with "Wake up. Open your eyes"?? I don't really care for your answer on that one, but just pointing out your strange behavior. Sorry to hear you're a "spiritual atheist" (whatever that is -- thanks for not unpacking it here, as I couldn't care less).
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Tidd
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 2:32am (UTC -5)
@Rahul

I admit that I may have been a little harsh in my language to the original poster, but this whole “Christianity versus science” stance adopted by a fundamentalist minority of Christians has become a personal bugbear of mine. If DutchStudent82 has read my post and been offended by the language used then I apologise to him/her. But not to you, who have taken up arms uninvited.

“So by you saying they just dreamed up something and didn't have the science is completely overlooking / denying their belief in God”

Once again, you don’t seem to have understood what I was saying. The ancient Israelites did not have a scientific knowledge of the world but there is nothing wrong with their writing a poetic story to account for the creation of the universe. I don’t see where you find a link between that and denying their belief in a God. Cultures across the planet have believed in God(s) all along, and still do. Meanwhile, scientific knowledge has advanced. I invite you to challenge Jim Al-Khalili, a leading physicist and a Muslim, that he is a walking, living, breathing, contradiction, which by your argument he seems to be. Or am I now wilfully misunderstanding YOUR words, hm?

“(…as I couldn't care less).“

Well, that tells me all I need to know. You are inviting me not to waste time and energy on your words.
I accept.
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Ben D.
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 1:35pm (UTC -5)
@Tidd

"The ancient Israelites did not have a scientific knowledge of the world but there is nothing wrong with their writing a poetic story to account for the creation of the universe."

This is a strange comment. First, there is the parternalistic/ colonialistic mentality inherent in saying, "there is nothing wrong" with the Israelites of 3000 years ago (or so) developing a particular creation story. I don't think they require your approval, nor do the ancient Sumerians need your approval for Gilgamesh, the ancient Greeks for Zeus, or the ancient Ashanti for Anansi.

Second, on the concept of "scientific knowledge," your point is only true if you define scientific knowledge as that which can only be obtained through a microscope or a telescope. But these societies that you debase as "primitive" (or is it only the ancient Israelites that you debase?) would have a far greater WORKING knowledge of science than any one of us, through their constant interaction with the natural world. The survival of their crops, livestock, and themselves depended on that knowledge.

Take a look at Genesis 30, the detailed account Jacob's cross-breeding of sheep and goats to build a larger flock. Can anyone say that the "ancient Israelites" did not believe in evolution, or at least the ability to intentionally produce desired physical characteristics through breeding?

Now take the creation story. The ancient Israelites naturally UNDERSTOOD that light comes from the sun, and that flowers/trees require the sun for growth. For that reason many ancient peoples had sun gods, including the Ancient Egyptians, who exerted a heavy influence on the Israelites.

The creation story is a polemic against these idolatrous tendencies. It therefore INTENTIONALLY makes everything backwards, so that in that first day, there is no sun yet there is still light, and on the third day there is still no sun but there are trees and plants. Finally on the fourth day we get the sun and moon, which are purposefully "demoted" to merely being "signs for sets times, the days and the years," i.e., for us to know when days and years (and implicitly months) begin and end, in order to worship God at His appointed times.

That's not a reflection of lack of scientific knowledge -- it's the whole point, to assume the reader's/listener's knowledge and then challenge it with an anti-science litmus test requiring faith and the suspension of disbelief. Those hearing this account for the first time may have had the same problems that modern readers do, as it required them to believe something that conflicted with their observations of and interactions with natural phenomena.

Incidentally, for that same reason I have a problem with fundamentalists who twist themselves into knots to "reconcile" the creation story with science. It cannot be reconciled. It was designed not to be reconciled.

There was also a second goal in mind -- to create a precedent in God Himself resting on the seventh day, so that people would do the same. We can thank the ancient Israelites for the universally accepted seven-day week, and the concept of a "weekend." Not too bad for a primitive hill-people.
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Booming
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
@Ben
"or is it only the ancient Israelites that you debase?"
Jesus Tidd, you are really taking a beating here!

" But these societies that you debase as "primitive" (or is it only the ancient Israelites that you debase?) would have a far greater WORKING knowledge of science than any one of us, through their constant interaction with the natural world. The survival of their crops, livestock, and themselves depended on that knowledge."
That is not true.
1. Cambridge dictionary definition of science: "the careful study of the structure and behaviour of the physical world, especially by watching, measuring, and doing experiments, and the development of theories to describe the results of these activities."
So one of those very VERY primitive Israelites wasn't doing science or had a working knowledge of science when he thought:" Seed goes in, plant comes out." and before Ben calls me an antisemite, too let me tell you that Jason is Jewish and he loves me and don't believe him if he denies it. Scientifically proven prosemite... Semiteophile?

2. Even if you mean having a working knowledge of natural processes, a person with a western education today would know soooo much more about that than some young shepherd in the hills near Jerusalem 3000 years ago.
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Ben D.
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 2:46pm (UTC -5)
@ Booming

Um, okay. It's been a while since I heard someone actually say -- joking or not -- "I have friends who are [X] so that means I'm not anti-[X]." Hopefully it'll be another decade before I hear it again. Cheers to old times, I guess.

You're entitled to your opinions, whatever they might be. My opinion is that whatever you define as "Western education" sure as hell sure wouldn't help you, or me, fend for ourselves in a pastoral/agricultural society. I've had some of the best education out there, and the fancy degrees hanging on my wall wouldn't give me a clue.

I'll stick with the plain-Jane definition of "science" in Merriam-Webster: "the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding." Although your fancy Cambridge definition makes my point even better: Genesis 1 was never intended to be scientific, and deriding it for NOT being scientific is the ultimate strawman argument.
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Rahul
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 3:39pm (UTC -5)
@Tidd

Glad you're realizing the error of your ways in how you responded to that dude who posted something in 2016 but WTF is this:

"But not to you, who have taken up arms uninvited."

I was never seeking an apology from you. I was just taking you to task for the nonsense you posted. This is a fully open public forum so if you shit post, you might get called out on it by any random person.

Not that I want to get into a tit-for-tat, but it seems to me you have been getting your head handed to you on this forum a number of times for questionable remarks. If anything it is your words that energy should not be spent on. Hope you check out what Ben D. posted -- you might learn something as I think he actually does know what he's talking about and makes a good deal of sense.
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Tidd
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 3:48pm (UTC -5)
@Ben D

Wow, so much to unpack here! I hope my energy lasts out...

"the parternalistic/ colonialistic mentality inherent in saying, "there is nothing wrong" with the Israelites of 3000 years ago (or so) developing a particular creation story. I don't think they require your approval, nor do the ancient Sumerians need your approval for Gilgamesh, the ancient Greeks for Zeus, or the ancient Ashanti for Anansi."

Not sure why you brought those last into the argument? As for the Israelites, it was probably my poor choice of words again. When I said "...nothing wrong" it wasn't meant as 'approval' of them, more a rebuttal to those here who thought my remark about the poetic story was some kind of criticism - it wasn't.

"your point is only true if you define scientific knowledge as that which can only be obtained through a microscope or a telescope."

Plucking some obvious names from a hat, and working through from Aristotle, via Ptolemy, the Islamic mathematicians, Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein, Heisenberg, Hawking - many of those formed theories which were decried at the time through lack of empirical evidence, only being proved later. For example black holes. Even now, no-one has ever seen dark matter, dark enerrgy, or strings, but their existence is theorised to explain anomalies in scientific knowledge. Microscopes and telescopes often don't come into it.

"But these societies that you debase as "primitive" ... would have a far greater WORKING knowledge of science than any one of us, through their constant interaction with the natural world. The survival of their crops, livestock, and themselves depended on that knowledge."

Yes, true, but that depended upon their limited knowledge - but what practical experience they did have often surpasses our own in modern times because we rely on others to produce all that "stuff" for us.

"That's [ the creation story] not a reflection of lack of scientific knowledge -- it's the whole point, to assume the reader's/listener's knowledge and then challenge it with an anti-science litmus test requiring faith and the suspension of disbelief."

I'm not sure where your evidence is for this being the basis for the creation story? I'm not saying I don't believe you, but I don't have the academic background to agree or disagree.

"There was also a second goal in mind -- to create a precedent in God Himself resting on the seventh day, so that people would do the same. We can thank the ancient Israelites for the universally accepted seven-day week, and the concept of a "weekend." Not too bad for a primitive hill-people."

However, contrast that with the Eastern philosophies (for example Tai Chi or Advaita yoga) which say that the whole of life can be 'action in rest', i.e. by living in the present moment and letting our attention rest only on whatever is the matter in hand. With that, the need for a weekend is redundant.
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Jeffrey Jakucyk
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 4:10pm (UTC -5)
"It is still classed as a theory after all."

A theory is the highest form of scientific understanding. It is an explanation of an aspect of the natural world that has been repeatedly tested and verified, having withstood rigorous scrutiny. The vernacular use of the word, which more often means "guess" or "unsubstantiated hypothesis", pollutes the discussion because of its different meaning.

Evolution itself is an observed proven fact. We've seen it happen in the short-ish term from selective breeding (artificial selection), drug and pesticide resistant bugs, moths that changed color due to pollution, etc. The theory of evolution by natural selection is the best explanation we have of how it works the way it does. The fossil record, even if it's not complete, corroborates the history of speciation, as does the continuing work on genetic sequencing.

So the "it's just a theory" statement belies a complete misunderstanding of the term, and is no different than saying "well gravity is just a theory."
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Rahul
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
I think a distinction needs to be made between what "evolution" encompasses and what "natural selection / adaptation" encompasses. And maybe even what "creation" encompasses.

"Evolution itself is an observed proven fact."

Absolutely not. Could not disagree more with this.

Even natural selection / adaptation takes a very long period of time and there are a ton of variables outside the control of an experiment at play. Who can actually live long enough to observe natural selection / adaptation? It is only theorized after the fact. Sure, science can point to the changing of a species due to an external stimuli and call it "evolution" but that is a sloppy use of terminology, especially from a rigorous scientific perspective.

How did homo sapiens appear on Earth? Are you expecting me to believe that it developed from a lengthy sequence of natural selection / adaptation from the ape? If so how did the ape come about? We say something evolved from X to Y and call it an "evolution" but to just say homo sapiens came about due to the theory of evolution is beyond nonsensical.

I think we humans need to realize we can't explain everything in the natural world with scientific theories and there will be some things we won't understand even for another 10,000 years.
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Booming
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 4:45pm (UTC -5)
Oh Jeffrey, poor Jeffrey. Tidd may say that we have never seen dark energy but you just wait until Rahul answers you...
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Booming
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 5:01pm (UTC -5)
@Ben
Sorry forgot about you. I also got some of the best education and at my alma mater we would certainly not use the first definition of science merriam webster provides. Maybe one of the others, though.

"Genesis 1 was never intended to be scientific, and deriding it for NOT being scientific is the ultimate strawman argument."
I guess that was aimed at Tidd?

" Hopefully it'll be another decade before I hear it again."
Fingers crossed, Sweety.
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Jason R.
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 5:14pm (UTC -5)
"I think we humans need to realize we can't explain everything in the natural world with scientific theories and there will be some things we won't understand even for another 10,000 years."

Well it is possible that we can't explain certain things with scientific theories due to lack of information - so there simply may not be available evidence in the fossil record or whatnot to give us a complete picture of every stage of evolution since the beginning of life. Science can't conjure data where none exists.

But evolution is the best scientific explanation we have. And what's the alternative? God did it? Creationism is, from a scientific perspective, worthless. It's equivalent to just saying a wizard did it. There are no better competing theories with evolution and creationism is no theory or explanation at all.

And I might add that saying something called "God" did it is as far from Jesus or any current religion as the roof of my house is from the moon. It may give comfort to the religious Christian that science cannot explain everything because they imagine that opens the door a crack for Jesus to walk through, but that's a fool's hope based on a false assumption.

I agree with Jeffrey that there seems to be ample evidence of evolution including the existence of "human" species related to or predating our own.
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Rahul
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 5:36pm (UTC -5)
"Creationism is, from a scientific perspective, worthless. It's equivalent to just saying a wizard did it. There are no better competing theories with evolution and creationism is no theory or explanation at all."

Why does creationism have to be looked at from a scientific perspective? Of course it would be worthless from a scientific perspective. That's a fool's argument / criticism.

Why does creationism even have to be a theory? Is that the only way to look at something difficult to explain -- from a scientific perspective? Well what other perspective is there, one might ask? Why not faith in something we can't explain but believe is at work? That won't hinder us in making scientific advances and creating greater prosperity -- there's plenty of room for that. But at least it should help keep our morals in check and guide humanity into bettering itself morally, which won't happen under atheistic beliefs.
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Jason R.
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 5:57pm (UTC -5)
@Rahul the reason I addressed creationism from a scientific perspective is because that is generally how it is framed by its proponents. If religious people want to thump the bible or the Koran they can always do that. But when they want to poke holes in the theory of evolution in terms of *science* inevitably creationism gets trotted out as the alternative "theory". It's not actually a religious idea so much as an outright pseudoscience.
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Ben D.
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 7:17pm (UTC -5)
@ Rahul

Couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, you're dealing with someone who has a predetermined agenda, as you correctly pointed out at the outset.

@ Tidd

You've tried to pretty it up, but at heart you seem not so much an atheist as an anti-theist. Your animus toward of religion and its adherents, specifically of the Judeo-Christian variety, bleeds through everything you say, and is sometimes quite explicit. You couldn't even let it go that today is Monday because, many thousands of weeks ago, it was also Monday in ancient Israel (the horror!!!) You needed to quote Eastern philosophy to "do me one better."

The irony is that even the philosophy you quote -- "living in the present moment" -- which you say originates from Tai Chi and Advaita Yoga (dating back to the 12th and 4th centuries respectively), is right there in the Hebrew Bible, in Ecclesiastes. For example: "I saw that there is nothing better for man than to enjoy his possessions, since that is his portion. For who can enable him to see what will happen afterward?" or the famous "There is nothing worthwhile for a man but to eat and drink and afford himself enjoyment with his means." In other words, "Live in the present moment."

Perhaps you can (and will) come across an example of even older Eastern philosophy. Fair play if you do. But it's not a question of one system being superior to the other, but rather that, at every opportunity, you either ignore or cast aspersions at anything that smacks of Western religion, or its foundations. That is apparently your cross to bear, but I mean, your politico-religious diatribes do feel out-of-step with Star Trek's ethos of tolerance. On the other hand, you've got a damned good eye for Trek, and your Trek-centric posts are a joy to read. (That's an olive branch.)

As for the source of my argument about the polemical objective behind Genesis 1, it's a pretty mainstream theory in biblical studies, so it's ingrained in my neurons having spent quite a bit of time on that topic. But just for you, I pulled this from http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1010-99192015000300021:

"[T]he Genesis references to the creation of 'large sea creatures' as well as the heavenly 'luminaries' may be construed as a polemic against ANE [Ancient Near Eastern] beliefs about their deities (p. 45). Finally, 'the biblical account has as its chief purpose to glorify the one Creator God who is the sole God of all reality' (p. 46)."

It's no different than Jesus walking on water. You might argue, "It's scientifically impossible for a person to walk on water! What kind of idiot dreamt up this nonsense?" But that's precisely the point. The writers of the Gospels knew that "scientifically" it was impossible. Sure, they may not have understood buoyancy at a molecular level, but through empirical evidence they knew that people, sadly, cannot walk on water. That's precisely why Jesus doing it was significant -- it was a miracle, the subjugation of nature by divine forces. You can believe it happened, or not, but for the believers, there is no disjuncture between believing in the laws of nature and simultaneously believing that a super-natural power can suspend or transcend those laws.

I remember a pictogram in a psychology textbook that had all the emotions laid out on a grid and connected to each other by various lines. Then, way outside the grid was the final emotion -- "awe," with no lines connecting it to anything. Awe is what you feel when you lay on your back and stare up at a starry sky on a pitch-black night. It is a uniquely human emotion, primordial and very powerful. Tapping into that drives the impulse toward religion (or other forms of exploring the unknown). It may also drive us to explore the cosmos, and even here to this website. We all can, indeed, coexist.

@ Booming

I forgive you.
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Peter G.
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 7:38pm (UTC -5)
@ Ben D.,

"You've tried to pretty it up, but at heart you seem not so much an atheist as an anti-theist."

You're barking up the wrong tree, friend. That's not the position Tidd is taking. Tidd may be guilty of a little snark, but not of advocating against anyone's religious beliefs.

@ Jason R,

"But when they want to poke holes in the theory of evolution in terms of *science* inevitably creationism gets trotted out as the alternative "theory". It's not actually a religious idea so much as an outright pseudoscience."

That definitely does happen. I think the point of Tidd's original polemic was to point out that this is not the norm, but the minority, among Christians worldwide. Most sects don't believe such things dogmatically, and fewer individuals care enough to start arguing the science of it. I've met some who do, for sure, but I think it may be a similar phenomenon to social media, where there's a megaphone making it sound like all kinds of people are fighting against science. It's probably mostly American evangelicals, which may well be a thorn in the side of certain parts of America, but also end up casting shade on intelligent people everywhere.
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Ben D.
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 8:36pm (UTC -5)
@ Peter G.

I've got nothing but respect for you (for what it's worth), but I do disagree here.
Describing certain sects of Christianity as "Bible-bashing fundamentalist nut jobs" and the foundational text of monotheism as "dreamed up by the primitive Israelites to explain what they didn’t yet have the science to understand" comes pretty close to advocating against the religious beliefs of quite a few people. It's fine to disagree with the tenets of religion (and organized religion has always been an easy target, often justifiably so), but to deliberately choose degrading language to do so, in the context of dredging up a single line from a five-year old post clearly written by a non-native English speaker, is what I find crosses the line into something more vindictive and agenda-driven.

But I think I've said my piece.
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Peter G.
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 9:20pm (UTC -5)
@ Tidd,

I know some of Tidd's OP was inflammatory, but she also went out of her way to mention having respect for religions, and having been a person of faith in various capacities over time. I'm not saying you can't object to that post, but I was trying to narrow down exactly what Tidd was trying to communicate so that we can try to keep posts focused on the real beliefs of the poster, rather than dogpiling on one or two quotes and turning them into strawmen. I know they bothered you, and actually they bothered me too. But Tidd's point didn't seem to me to be anti-theism, but rather to object to a certain mindset that makes it sound like all Christians are nuts. It seems to me that part of the objective of Tidd post was, ironically, to defend the reputation of Christians, rather than to throw religion under the bus.
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Peter G.
Mon, Aug 16, 2021, 9:38pm (UTC -5)
Whoops, sorry, last post was directed at @ Ben D., not Tidd.
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Tidd
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 2:30am (UTC -5)
@Jeffrey Jakucyk

My understanding is that evolution is still officially classed as a theory? However in no way do I consider it “unproven” and I wish you hadn’t used the word “polluted” as it doesn’t reflect my own views. I can only assume that you had a trigger reaction to one phrase and did not read the whole thing?

@Jason R

“But evolution is the best scientific explanation we have. And what's the alternative? God did it? Creationism is, from a scientific perspective, worthless. It's equivalent to just saying a wizard did it. There are no better competing theories with evolution and creationism is no theory or explanation at all.”

Well, hear hear! I would only add that religion has an entirely different purpose than science, and the attempt by fundamentalists to play one off against the other - as if it’s ‘either / or’ - lacks any real understanding of either.

@Rahul

“Why not faith in something we can't explain but believe is at work? That won't hinder us in making scientific advances“

Indeed. Is that your answer to the “challenge” (above) about Jim Al-Khalili?

@Peter G

“You're barking up the wrong tree, friend. That's not the position Tidd is taking. Tidd may be guilty of a little snark, but not of advocating against anyone's religious beliefs.”

Thank you. I’m not sure why Ben has become so polemical when all I was trying to do was debate the points he had made. I wonder if he is smarting over my original phrase “the primitive Israelites”? That phrase can be interpreted two ways:
1. “All Israelites are primitive” (he thinks that is what I meant?)
or
2. “The early Israelites were primitive, compared to the later Israelites” - which is how I meant it.

“ It seems to me that part of the objective of Tidd post was, ironically, to defend the reputation of Christians, rather than to throw religion under the bus.”

Once again - thank you! I’m not being anti-Christian, but against the minority who throw science “under the bus”.

———

Just two more points:

Somewhere way up there, someone accused me of being ‘anti-theist’ rather than atheist? Almost: I would describe my beliefs as ‘non theist’, not ‘anti…’

Also, though I am unsure of when precisely Advaita yoga dates from, it’s based on the Vedas whose origins go back 000’s of years. Finally, Monday is “Moon day” and has nothing to do with the Israelites (oh, do please calm down, Ben!). The names of our days of the week are mostly Norse in origin, and our months are Roman.
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Booming
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 2:31am (UTC -5)
@Ben
"I forgive you"
I did not ask for your forgiveness nor do I want it. Let me answer your "forgiveness" with a quote:" I like your Christ, but I don't like your Christians because they are so unlike Christ."
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Booming
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 2:38am (UTC -5)
@Tidd
What Jeffrey was pointing out is that many people misunderstand what a scientific theory is.
https://www.masterclass.com/articles/theory-vs-law-basics-of-the-scientific-method
"A scientific theory is a description of the natural world that scientists have proven through rigorous testing. As understood within the scientific community, a theory explains how nature behaves under specific conditions. Theories tend to be as broad as their supporting scientific evidence will permit. They seek to serve as a definitive explanation of some aspect of the natural world."
In other word the fact the it is called the "theory of evolution" means that it has been proven to be correct.
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Tidd
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 3:41am (UTC -5)
@Booming

Thanks for that. I’ve never quite understood the difference between ‘law’ and ‘theory’ - that link helps.
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Jason R.
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 7:29am (UTC -5)
"Well, hear hear! I would only add that religion has an entirely different purpose than science,"

Haha not to be pedantic but I actually don't think their purpose is different really.

This claim that science and religion answer different but equally valid questions is the desperate rearguard position of the religious as humanism powered by science has supplanted and swalliwed up most of its former territories banishing it to tiny reservations of human thought.

500 years ago no one would have accepted this measly domain for religion.
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Rahul
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 8:13am (UTC -5)
I can understand why Peter G. would hope a few lines somebody wrote doesn't end up a straw man but I find it puzzling how he is repeatedly trying to get inside Tidd's head and try and understand his/her motivations. I also respect Peter G. but find it odd his making light of Tidd's ugly comments. I think Ben D. laid it out pretty well -- it's not a "little snark" as Peter G. put it to rip into some dude's post from 5 years ago with an idiotic remark. It's shameful in the way it was done.

From what I've observed over the past couple of days on this thread, I think I can help with his understanding of Todd. Think of him as Discount Booming. Not quite a troll but a shit disturber. He'll post his reviews but every once in a while he'll write something offensive and try and stir shit up. Then somebody will call him out on it, he'll respond by acting all scholarly and dropping some names and then get his head handed to him by someone who actually knows what they're talking about. I'm not saying to completely ignore him like I suggest with Booming for a better experience on this forum, but I just would hardly pay any attention to him. One would certainly have to question his agenda through all this.
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Booming
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 9:34am (UTC -5)
Sorry Tidd, Rahul harasses all women who come here. Don't expect the men to call him out on his behavior. I mostly stay because I know it bugs him a little that he can not get rid of me. He will misgender you, write your nick wrong, often insult you indirectly, try to get the other men on his side.

Welcome to the shit disturber club.
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Peter G.
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 10:09am (UTC -5)
@ Rahul,

I'm mostly not thrilled about flaming someone, even if it's in response to a post that also seems like flaming someone else. In Tidd's case there's the additional fact that she has outright stated things about herself that are being dismissed while the critiques of her OP continue tangentially. Trying to get inside someone's head is IMO the literal only reason why you should engage with them. You want to know what they think. Picking apart a text, if the critique doesn't touch on what they think, is a waste of time. If the post is imperfect and the poster wants to add more, they can, and Tidd did. If you don't agree with the answers, then cool, but I'm not sure why you dislike that I'm trying to verify what Tidd is and isn't saying. If your issue was Tidd's tone (and fair enough) I would remind you that your tone has not been entirely generous either on this matter. So if it's the tone alone, I'll agree with you, but also suggest that escalating the hostilities maybe doesn't help?
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Rahul
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 10:45am (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

You know I don't come on this site just to flame people. But when I think about it, Tidd is sort of like what I recall Booming doing (years ago when I first started to get a sense of how he acts here) -- hence "Discount Booming". I know it is not very nice to associate somebody with Booming, but if you think about Tidd that way, I think it will help you get in his/her head. Pretty sure both lean pretty hard to the left. I think you'll better understand now why Tidd would make a comment to denigrate some ancient religious believers and say they didn't have science to understand.

Yes my tone has been harsh, as has Tidd's -- so you agree with me on that. That is also an inevitable consequence of these types of fora. You know it happens all the time on here. It is what it is. But I stand by everything I said.

"Picking apart a text, if the critique doesn't touch on what they think, is a waste of time."

Maybe Tidd has problems expressing himself/herself in writing but I just go by what somebody writes and take it at face value. Why would somebody write something and think something completely different?
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Tidd
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 11:09am (UTC -5)
@Jason R

"This claim that science and religion answer different but equally valid questions is the desperate rearguard position of the religious as humanism powered by science has supplanted and swalliwed up most of its former territories banishing it to tiny reservations of human thought."

I'm no great defender of religion, well especially organised religion, and more especially the Western Abrahamic religions. The point I was trying to make is that many Christian fundamentalists try to place science and religion as opposing factions answering the same questions. (In the East, many of what are regarded as religions are really more philosophies, and if - *IF* - there is any meeting place between the two, then philosophy could be that place.)

I really wanted to say that religion's speciality has generally been more about *how* to live, rather than answering objective questions about the universe (though it has tried to encompass those too). Beyond that issue of morality, religion is a question of faith, which is an entirely different approach to life than science takes. In any case, I think most of the moral considerations that have traditionally been the province of religion are now more than adequately met by humanism. Or, if you will allow its more practical and philosophical side rather than "how many boddhisattvas dance on the head of a pin" - Buddhism, especially Zen.

Which leaves science to deal with the more mundane aspects of the physical world on the one hand, and the mind boggling mysteries endemic within particle physics, gravity, time, string theory, entropy, singularities, and the multiverse, on the other.

@Booming

Thanks. I think I've now got the measure of rahul but your warning is useful. I've met too many misogynists to let them drain my energy.

@Peter G

I do hope I've apologised for the tone of my original post? If not adequately, then I want to try once again. I'm not sorry for the essence of what I said, but I am for the particular words used.
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EventualZen
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 11:20am (UTC -5)
@Rahul
"For me, I don't believe in evolution and *one* of the reasons for that is the science behind it is so full of holes..."

Anyone who doesn't believe in evolution and/or believes in creationism should check out Aron Ra at https://www.youtube.com/c/AronRa . He discusses the evidence for evolution and debunks creationism.

I personally believe in evolution even if we were created or given a helping hand (genetically engineered by aliens) whoever created or altered us must have evolved themselves.
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Peter G.
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 11:27am (UTC -5)
@ Tidd,

"I do hope I've apologised for the tone of my original post?"

I wasn't asking for one :)
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Tom
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 11:47am (UTC -5)
@Jason R.

"Haha not to be pedantic but I actually don't think their purpose is different really.

This claim that science and religion answer different but equally valid questions is the desperate rearguard position of the religious as humanism powered by science has supplanted and swalliwed up most of its former territories banishing it to tiny reservations of human thought.

500 years ago no one would have accepted this measly domain for religion."

It's hard to disagree with any critique of "the religious" (an easy target in any debate) but if the shared purpose you refer to is to seek objective knowledge, that would have only been true post-Age of Enlightenment and not surprisingly, science was always going to win that battle.

Seeking proof or objective knowledge of God (whatever that word might mean to you) is simply misguided. As an historical or sociological field maybe religion has a place in academia, but religious studies has no place alongside the sciences.
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Tom
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 12:02pm (UTC -5)
@EventualZen

"Anyone who doesn't believe in evolution and/or believes in creationism should check out Aron Ra at https://www.youtube.com/c/AronRa . He discusses the evidence for evolution and debunks creationism.

I personally believe in evolution even if we were created or given a helping hand (genetically engineered by aliens) whoever created or altered us must have evolved themselves. "

I watched some of these and I'm confused why "creationism" is always pitted against evolution when the advocates for "creation" frame it as a one-time event - God creates everything then departs. While evolution is a process in constant effect. Wouldn't it make more sense to also view creation as a continuous, ongoing process still in operation? I suppose that would interfere with the common view of sin and having to blame God (as God is defined for most believers) for bad stuff. Still, it makes no sense to me.
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Jason R.
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 12:18pm (UTC -5)
"I really wanted to say that religion's speciality has generally been more about *how* to live, rather than answering objective questions about the universe (though it has tried to encompass those too). "

Well my point was that until very recently in history, I don't think the religious would have even made such a distinction or even considered it a coherent point in the first place.

While religion may not have had a scientific methodology, the purpose of religion was always to explain objective questions about the universe that science now explains, which was not some incidental or secondary purpose but absolutely essential.

It is only now that religion has been ejected and supplanted from those realms by science that somehow the fallback has become that religion never sought to even answer those questions, which is revisionist nonsense.
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Peter G.
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
@ Jason R,

"While religion may not have had a scientific methodology, the purpose of religion was always to explain objective questions about the universe that science now explains, which was not some incidental or secondary purpose but absolutely essential."

I can't speak about the history of religions such as Hinduism or other Eastern religions, but in regard to Christian history it's really just inaccurate that there was ever any animus against science. This is a common modern statement that is only reinforced by its repetition. What was the case, on some occasions, was conflict when a new idea directly contradicted a theological point and was taught 'without permission'. This may sound pedantic, but it was a society where there was a hierarchy of teaching that strictly kept within bounds what was accepted. If you want to think in terms of scientific revolutions, it would have slowed, but not stopped, the turning over of established ideas in favor of updates. Most of the cases of persecution that are famous, for instance Galileo and Bruno, were not so much that the ideas were banned, but that they were being written about and taught prior to the establishment having agreed that it made sense.

You won't get any disagreement from me that this type of top-down control over information had negative repercussions, and that in the Western world we frown on government controlling narrative, but you have to remember it was a different world. But this issue about controlling narrative was, again, strictly in matters that directly impacted theology. So Copernicus was a sticking point because it threw into question the Aristotelian model, but it's not like the Church was stopping research into gunpowder, masonry, and agricultural techniques. This idea that religion was supposed to explain how natural phenomena work was never true in any real sense. But what did evolve was that certain areas, of natural philosophy such as astronomy and cosmology had to be re-understood as being natural areas one could study like rocks, rather than being placed in the divine sphere.

Honestly the only place you'll see an actual opposition to science in and of itself would be in fundamentalist groups. And I think you'll find this is true in the extremes of any set of belief systems. You can find groups of any strain of human thought that are so married to their concepts that they don't want to hear from anyone else or be contradicted. This is not strictly a religious thing; it's a human thing. Like in the rest of the world, these groups of people exist among the religious, but not really IMO in any different capacity than non-religious people who likewise are impervious to alternative concepts.
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Jason R.
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
"it's really just inaccurate that there was ever any animus against science."

Did I say there was??
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Peter G.
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 1:56pm (UTC -5)
@ Jason R,

"Did I say there was??"

Fair, that is not precisely what you said, although it's generally the topic on the table when this issue comes up. So you can consider that this individual clause was addressed 'to the room' rather than to you personally.

But your broader point, that the "purpose" of religion was to explain natural phenomena, is what I was chiefly addressing, and it's simply not the case. The Bible, or the Koran, or the vedas, do not purport to explain the viscosity of water, light spectra, or mineral content in soil. They were never meant to, and *almost* no one thinks they are even about that. But maybe you're thinking more of teleological stories like in the Ancient Greek myths, where for instance the story of Ixion is meant to explain the origin of clouds, and stuff like that? The only thing even comparable to that in the Judeo-Christian canon is Genesis 1, essentially, and it's really not about mechanics either, even though it does outline a chronological sequence. It says it happened, but how how the things in it work; like is says "let there be light", but it doesn't try to describe the measurable speed of that light, or how interference patterns work. Those would be scientific objects of study, and it would be bizarre to suggest that the "purpose" of the Hebrew religion was to explain these things. It's actually a bit far-reaching to even speak of the purpose of a religion at all, given that (from a materialist standpoint) religions emerge organically, and not by design. So they don't have a purpose; purposes are for created things, not emergent things. You might say religion had niches, within society, psychologically, etc, but not a purpose. Anyhow, if it did have a purpose, surely it would have been as a means to order their society and assign priorities to personal comportment, no?
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Tom
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
@Jason R.

"While religion may not have had a scientific methodology, the purpose of religion was always to explain objective questions about the universe that science now explains, which was not some incidental or secondary purpose but absolutely essential."

My question would be: essential to what?

In the Vedas there are descriptions of the nature of prakriti (matter), which is said to be made up of three qualities - rajas (activity), tamas (inertia, darkness) and sattva (purity). Obviously that's a big departure from the molecular model, and if anyone tried to use it to synthesize new drugs or build a nuclear reactor it would be a failure. That's not what the Vedas are for, nor are their descriptions there to tell us "how it is" - they state very clearly their purpose is to describe how to achieve what they say is the ultimate purpose of life - liberation/enlightenment/salvation.

That's one example but is common to all or most religions. They're not objective in how they describe the universe and they don't need to be for the aims they set out. The descriptions of how the universe is found in religious texts are absolutely incidental or secondary to their larger purpose.
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Jason R.
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 8:00pm (UTC -5)
"But your broader point, that the "purpose" of religion was to explain natural phenomena, is what I was chiefly addressing, and it's simply not the case."

I can't speak to what religion's true "purpose" may be - according to who? Evolutionary biologists? High priests? And something as complex as religion might have more than one purpose.

All I can say is what every religion has actually done, and that always included the explanation of natural phenomena, from Zeus's thunderbolts to the stars to death itself. This explanation may have come in terms very different from a scientific textbook but the ultimate fact that the religion was seeking to explain the natural world isn't in doubt.

I mean even taking a religion like Judaism there is an explanation of who created the universe, in what order various things came to be, even down to the substance of how men and women were created from Earth and a rib, respectively.

This is all a necessary precondition to any understanding of what Jews or Christian's believe and why. The natural world and and how and why it came to be including God's role in it are hardly trivialities just as they aren't in any religious belief system. It makes no sense to worship God unless you accept that he created the universe and did all the the other aspects of the natural world, such as man!

It is only in the modern world that we have apparently decided that science explains these things far better than any religion, to the point where even fundamentalists often revert to scientific (or pseudoscientific) explanations of things like evolution when they engage the public square - even the bible thumpers have all but surrendered this territory when they seek to influence public policy.

Yet 500 years ago nobody needed to artificially curtail or cordon off religion's domain - of course religion explained the how and the why of the natural world, even if in terms we would consider crude or fanciful. Every religion did. This idea of religion being purely devoted to pie in the sky notions of morality and purpose is a modern contrivance, as I said, a desperate rearguard to carve off a tiny domain for religion that it can't be ejected from by science.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Tue, Aug 17, 2021, 8:57pm (UTC -5)
@Jason R.
"This claim that science and religion answer different but equally valid questions is the desperate rearguard position of the religious as humanism powered by science has supplanted and swallowed up most of its former territories banishing it to tiny reservations of human thought."

Science and religion don't answer "different" questions. But they do answer the same questions from very different perspectives.

Religion views the Universe as a conscious being, and tries to shed light on our relationship with that being.

Science views the Universe as a clockwork of physical laws, and tries to decipher how this mechanism works.

The two disciplines, of-course, speak about the same universe. The scope of one does not - in any way - come at the expanse of the scope of the other. There may be occasional conflicts, of-course, which means that our understanding of either the spiritual realm or the physical realm is faulty. But there shouldn't be any rivalry between the two approaches. On the contrary: When done right, science and religion should inspire and enrich one another.

"Any Christian denomination that takes the bible literally would find it impossible to accept evolution, that is just a fact."

Any Christian denomination that takes the bible 100% literally would also find it impossible to accept that the earth goes around the sun. Remember the story where Joshua stopped the sun? You can't stop something unless it was originally moving, right?

Of-course, we could argue that Joshua stopped the earth and the story is told from the point of view of a person on the ground. But that's not what the Bible literally says, is it? See, even the majority of the creationists don't take their Bibles 100% literally.

@Tidd
"Wake up. Open your eyes. The Old Testament creation story is just that: a poetic story dreamed up by the primitive Israelites to explain what they didn’t yet have the science to understand."

I agree that it is a poetic story.

But is it *only* a poetic story? I don't think so. Because the parallels between the events of Genesis 1 and the modern scientific account are too striking (in my view) to be a coincidence.

This goes nicely with what I said to Jason:

Religion and science have different goals in their explanation. Genesis 1 does not make sense as a scientific text, nor does it read like one. But it does makes perfect sense as a mythical telling of actual events: The events that happened from the Big Bang to the dawn of man.
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Booming
Wed, Aug 18, 2021, 2:16am (UTC -5)
@Omicron
" There may be occasional conflicts, of-course, which means that our understanding of either the spiritual realm or the physical realm is faulty. But there shouldn't be any rivalry between the two approaches. On the contrary: When done right, science and religion should inspire and enrich one another."
Religion doesn't have an occasional conflict with science but with reality. Science tries to find out how reality is, most religions, including the abrahamic ones, already know how reality is because they have a book for that and every time science makes a discovery that is not in line with religious doctrine, religious people are up in arms. That is why born again Christians/Evangelicals are actively undermining public trust in science. While Peter is right, that the Catholic church had a far more supportive relationship with science then it is often perceived. Jason is also right. People over time so overwhelmingly accepted certain scientific facts that going against them would have been more damaging for religions than accepting them and losing some influence over human thought.
Religion and science can only have a harmonious relationship if religions give up on their holy texts because those were written at times so far removed from modern times that they will constantly come into conflict with reality.
For example the Christian religion should only be: Jesus loved all no matter what religion, pacifistic, humble, cared for the poor and probably a few other things. Behave like that and you are Christian. No book needed and no conflicts with science/reality as a bonus.
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Tidd
Wed, Aug 18, 2021, 2:32am (UTC -5)
@Tom

“In the Vedas there are descriptions of the nature of prakriti (matter), which is said to be made up of three qualities - rajas (activity), tamas (inertia, darkness) and sattva (purity). Obviously that's a big departure from the molecular model, and if anyone tried to use it to synthesize new drugs or build a nuclear reactor it would be a failure”

The Vedas are 000’s of years old - among the oldest writings, let alone the oldest religious writings. They are an extraordinary body of work, explaining what the universe is and by understanding that, also understanding the right way to live. However, as a religious work, their foundation is really quite simple: there is no God, simply pure consciousness that exists always and everywhere, and which they call Brahman. Within that concept, everything conceivable can exist.

I find that Advaita yoga has a fascinating simplicity at its heart quite unlike other religions most of which (Taoism being one of the honourable exceptions) require belief in an external super-being who not only created the world but is an ‘active interference’ in it.

Sorry, I’ve gone on long enough. I just find it interesting that the oldest recorded religion is also the simplest, and has no external god. It could teach later religions a thing or two!
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Tom
Wed, Aug 18, 2021, 3:21am (UTC -5)
@Tidd

I welcome your comments. Don't feel the need to stop.

I have different views on the Vedanta. I certainly wouldn't say it's simple, it's very complex in its metaphysics at times. And I also wouldn't say it doesn't have a God - there is the concept of Isvara which depending on the context substitutes for either supreme personal God or universal common denominator of oneness. And there are also a range of deities that are worshiped.

But again, my point was that these are symbolic concepts. They're not in these texts to describe how things are objectively, but for the purpose of attaining moksha - liberation. That is what sets them apart from science, which apparently goes over the head of those who like to pit religion against science.
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OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, Aug 18, 2021, 6:05am (UTC -5)
@Booming

"Most religions, including the abrahamic ones, already know how reality is because they have a book..."

That's downright false. The vast majority of religious denominations don't work that way. Doctrine evolves and adapts, and the place of scriptures in it has changed throughout history (as well as from one denomination to another).

This has always been so.

"every time science makes a discovery that is not in line with religious doctrine, religious people are up in arms."

Yes, because change is difficult. This is human nature, and religious people don't have a monopoly on resisting change or attacking ideas that threaten their worldview.

Followers of secular philosophies also do this.

Even scientists do this, despite the fact that modern science has a gazillion safeguards in place in order to prevent such bias. We human beings are notorious for this.

Speaking of which: 15th century science was just as bad in correcting itself as 15th century Christianity. Thankfully, today, both mainstream religion and mainstream science are doing better on this front.

"Religion and science can only have a harmonious relationship if religions give up on their holy texts because those were written at times so far removed from modern times that they will constantly come into conflict with reality."

That's like saying that Trekkies must give up on the message of Star Trek, just because the science on the show often makes no sense. Or because the show sometimes betrayed it's own ideals.

"For example the Christian religion should only be: Jesus loved all no matter what religion, pacifistic, humble, cared for the poor and probably a few other things. Behave like that and you are Christian. No book needed and no conflicts with science/reality as a bonus."

Again taking the Trek analogy:

There is a huge advantage in having a canon that everybody can refer to. Even if it means pointing out a certain passage/scene and saying "this is morally wrong", the whole point of such canon is to give us something concrete to discuss and learn from.

Of-course there are always those who nitpick the details while also completely missing the big picture. :-)
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Jason R.
Wed, Aug 18, 2021, 7:07am (UTC -5)
"For example the Christian religion should only be: Jesus loved all no matter what religion, pacifistic, humble, cared for the poor and probably a few other things. Behave like that and you are Christian. No book needed and no conflicts with science/reality as a bonus."

I agree wholly with Booming though perhaps for a different reason than what she had in mind.

Yes, she is correct in her implication that when you strip away all the baggage from Christianity about creation and natural order etc... you end up with some variation of the golden rule. The hippie love everyone and be super nice laid back woke Jesus.

Of course, that renders Christianity pointless, since virtually everyone everywhere from die hard Taliban fighters to Buddhist Monks to stone cold atheists agree with the golden rule (in principle, if not always in actuality) which means Christianity is left with nothing unique or useful to say and becomes little more than a hollowed out shell of trite platitudes. It becomes culturally irrelevent, except as a collection of old rituals and symbols like an ethnic dance demonstration put on for tourists.

But that goes to my original point, which is that if you expel religion from explaining the natural world, if you divorce it from its traditional domains in favour of some pie in the sky philosophy gimmick, then whether you know it or not, you've rendered it irrelevent and pointless and anyone who goes down this path will inevitably stop believing - which is exactly what has been happening everywhere this ideological shift has taken place, with the most progressive churches shuttering most rapidly.
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Booming
Wed, Aug 18, 2021, 7:29am (UTC -5)
Hopefully Omicron you are not insulted if I don't respond point by point. We could both make out arguments and to be honest discussing religion often bores me a little. No offense. :)
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Tom
Wed, Aug 18, 2021, 8:16am (UTC -5)
The problem with the "Jesus as hippie" ethos is that he also performed miracles and transcended death. That was as much a part of his life (as the stories tell us) as his loving kindness. So there's an inherent conflict between his life and science which says there are certain natural laws which can't be superceded. Churches might tend to downplay that part of his life in order to attract followers (and being told you're sinful is much more attractive than being told you can perform miracles) but it's still an essential part. So we can forget the idea that Christianity is just the golden rule.
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Peter G.
Wed, Aug 18, 2021, 8:29am (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

"For example the Christian religion should only be: Jesus loved all no matter what religion, pacifistic, humble, cared for the poor and probably a few other things. Behave like that and you are Christian. No book needed and no conflicts with science/reality as a bonus."

I know you're just saying what you would prefer things to be, but as Jason R correctly mentions, this would not be Christianity. Not because Christianity needs to have the last word on science in order to survive, but because it covers a domain of reality in which it does state objective facts as it sees them. It's not a philosophy, and if that's all it was I would agree with Jason R that it becomes at that point a self-help book. So you would probably want to reformulate your statement to read "behave like that and you're a decent bloke."

And @ Jason R,

"But that goes to my original point, which is that if you expel religion from explaining the natural world, if you divorce it from its traditional domains in favour of some pie in the sky philosophy gimmick, then whether you know it or not, you've rendered it irrelevent and pointless and anyone who goes down this path will inevitably stop believing - which is exactly what has been happening everywhere this ideological shift has taken place, with the most progressive churches shuttering most rapidly."

This is an interesting idea, but afaik it's by no means clear to the people in positions of authority in churches that this is the reason for the dwindling religious numbers (such as church or synagogue attendance). In fact there is a lot of debate whether it's about any number of causes, which could include being to lenient and asking too little of people, or maybe too much material comfort (you may notice religion still does very well in poorer countries), or maybe too little innovation in how the faith is presented and lived. I personally don't think that "losing domain to science" would be on the list, because actually I suspect that there was an enormous conflict of interest historically between the supposed message of (for example) the Catholic religion, and the need for strong governance, squashing rebellion/dissent, and controlling narrative. The very things demanded of the faith seemed to be impossible to make concordant with the use of political force and empire-building. I think things are in much better shape now that all of this extraneous stuff has been ejected. Now it's actually religion we're talking about, as opposed to the historic thing, which was religion-fiefdom-military-governor all baked into one. That was a hot mess.

So it's perhaps even likely that another reason for the falling off of religious numbers is simply the fact that it has become increasingly over time entirely voluntary to join, and not even encouraged from all quarters. But I personally suspect the rich/poor thing is a huge component of why some people feel they don't need religion.

Just a small comment about the "pie in the sky" thing that's left when you remove empirical matters: you need to distinguish between empirical in the sense of calculable in a lab, versus empirical in the human experiential qualitative way. The lab stuff has nothing to do with the Christian religions at this point, but the other sort of empirical stuff, i.e. what people experience and attach meaning to, is obviously very much a part of religion. It's not just airy-fairy realm of idea stuff that you play around with in your imagination. If that's all it was then it would indeed be irrelevant. The argument made is that they do address real stuff, just a different domain of stuff from that studied by science. Like, how is one supposed to address the question of meaning without an axiomatic system? It is well understood that you cannot derive an ought from an is, and science only comments on what is. But humans *cannot* live without an ought; so right away probably the most critical human domain is well within the daily life of religious people.
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Booming
Wed, Aug 18, 2021, 8:44am (UTC -5)
@Peter
That may sound insulting to religious people but to me religion is just a very peculiar self help creed? that is of based on a 2000 year old version of the Simarillion.
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Peter G.
Wed, Aug 18, 2021, 9:25am (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

You can say that, but like anything else if your statement is a misrepresentation of the actual stated beliefs of the religion then you're just inventing something of your own (Booming's religion) and then declaring that to be a very peculiar self-help creed. Just for instance, Flannery O'Connor once said something along these lines:

"Someone once told the Catholic writer Flannery O'Connor that it is more open-minded to think that the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar is a great, wonderful, powerful symbol. Her response was, “If it's only a symbol, to hell with it.""

It's really supposed to be the opposite of a pie in the sky philosophy system. Of course you may disagree with the concepts, the beliefs, the reality of it, etc etc, but a statement of the form "religion IS this" would be objectively false if you aren't keenly and specifically aware of the details. The broad strokes version you get from the media will give you nothing; not about Christianity, not about Judaism, etc.
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Booming
Wed, Aug 18, 2021, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
@Peter
Just my opinion. I have read a little about it, so I'm not a complete neophyte. Two books I remember, one was about the Popes. Raunchy stuff. There was, for example, a period called the "Pornocracy" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saeculum_obscurum
https://www.amazon.com/Popes-History-John-Julius-Norwich/dp/0701182903

Then there was Gibbon and with his 6 books about the Roman Empire I kind of started to dislike church history. He wrote quite extensively about the conflicts of the nicean and the orthodox church. These conflicts about Jesus having a human body or not, did he own money and other things like iconoclasm sounded like hardcore fans discussing Harry Potter to me, with the twist that at the end of discussion one side often murdered the other. I had that with other books, too. When church doctrine is discussed I fall asleep. Besides that I have skimmed a few encyclicals.
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Peter G.
Wed, Aug 18, 2021, 1:38pm (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

"Just my opinion. I have read a little about it, so I'm not a complete neophyte."

Sure, not everyone can steep themselves in something just to be informed, especially if they're disinclined in the first place to like the topic. But just FYI, a lot of these superficial descriptions of religions are really not 'opinions', they're statements of fact that can be true/false. Like, if I say "in my opinion the United States has 57 states" that's not an opinion, it's just bad information. It's basically a misuse of the word opinion. So I mean you can make statements about any religion from a limited POV, like "in my opinion Judaism is supposed to be about wearing funny hats and talking to a man in the sky." You can say that, but it's not an opinion so much as factual nonsense. Likewise, in this instance, about Christianity being essentially a "self help creed." I mean, you can say that you think that's all that's functional about it (i.e. that it can get you to help yourself), but it's factually wrong that that's what it actually is, or is supposed to be.

"Then there was Gibbon and with his 6 books about the Roman Empire I kind of started to dislike church history."

The problem with history is that no one had a monopoly on terrible behavior (by our standard). It's easy to underestimate how much the world has changed, even in very mundane ways.

"These conflicts about Jesus having a human body or not, did he own money and other things like iconoclasm sounded like hardcore fans discussing Harry Potter to me, with the twist that at the end of discussion one side often murdered the other."

Haha! Well, maybe it's not so different from trying to argue about whether a theoretical particle has integer or fractional spin; or whether it has weak interactions. Depending on how you look at it, that is. At a certain point *anything* becomes ridiculously esoteric and fantastical, even true things.
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Booming
Wed, Aug 18, 2021, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
@Peter
"The problem with history is that no one had a monopoly on terrible behavior (by our standard). It's easy to underestimate how much the world has changed, even in very mundane ways."
I dislike church history not because I think the church was horrible back then. It was pretty much in line with the times. I just find church history itself very boring, that's were the dislike comes from. I never finished decline and fall because of it.

About the self help creed. I wasn't really sure if that was the right phrasing, therefore the question mark behind it. ;)
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Tidd
Fri, Aug 20, 2021, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
@Tom

"I have different views on the Vedanta. I certainly wouldn't say it's simple, it's very complex in its metaphysics at times. And I also wouldn't say it doesn't have a God - there is the concept of Isvara which depending on the context substitutes for either supreme personal God or universal common denominator of oneness. And there are also a range of deities that are worshiped."

Hinduism is basically a corruption (of devolution?) of the original Vedanta - it makes those deities into actual gods instead of seeing them as metaphors (or symbols, perhaps) for what they represent as universal forces rather than gods. And Hindus do worship those "gods" indeed. But Sankara the medieval commentator on the Vedas, re-established Advaita as the original 'pure' form, though in truth his commentaries are far from simple!
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ladderff
Mon, Nov 29, 2021, 10:08am (UTC -5)
In my broadcast area reruns of TNG air nightly followed by DS9. How sad it is what happened to Worf. Worf was one of the lights of early TNG, funny and genuine with no trouble being himself. Then he was made all about his neverending identity crisis, and by the time DS9 was done with him he was wooden, flat, and boring, and worse, a miserable foil for the unwatchable Dax.

Watching _Transfigurations_ followed by a random DS9 Word episode made this depressingly stark.
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Silly
Sat, Feb 5, 2022, 6:09pm (UTC -5)
I rather liked this one because it has a day in the life type vibe with what appears to the crew to be a minor background plot/mystery of John Doe and the data capsule. This explicitly takes place over more than a month.

That's nice sometimes because it feels more like a real life ship. Also nice things like Beverly and Wesley casually discussing John over dinner.

It's funny above a commenter noted how convenient it was John's origin was in the planned path of the Enterprise. True, but in most episodes they drop everything to fly off wherever the plot needs.

The data capsule thing was almost like a red herring though because of the prop's interesting appearance (nice job) and they kept carrying it around. On first viewing I expected it to be a bomb or shapeshifter or whatever.
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Silly
Sat, Feb 5, 2022, 6:14pm (UTC -5)
@ladderff:

I agree completely about Worf on DS9. It nearly ruined the character for me. They removed most of his fun attributes and ramped up the negatives.

Constantly mopey, self righteous, etc. bleh. I wish they had never added him there.

On DS9, I like Martok infinitely more than Worf.
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Silly
Sat, Feb 5, 2022, 7:04pm (UTC -5)
@John back in 2015:

Data wasn't affected by the breathing weapon. He's actually crouched beside Picard, presumably trying to help him.
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Michael
Sat, Apr 23, 2022, 12:32pm (UTC -5)
SNOOZERS!!!!!

Man, that "alien" has all the charisma of a moldy dishrag. Jesus Christmas Christ, tell you something else!

Then his writhing as he enters some metaphysical trance, all the while wearing longjohn-onesie... - yeah, THAT's never been done before!

The resolution was kinda cool. I don't mean the metamorphosis and silly SFX but how this particular bad guy was seen off. It didn't save the episode, which is eminently forgettable, but it made it not a total flop.

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