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science fiction

This tag is associated with 47 posts

Celebrating 50 Years of Star Trek: Top 25 Moments, Times Two #25-21

qpidReaders of this blog know that I’m a huge science fiction fan. Science fiction is a genre that has more worldview seeping into it and through it than almost any other one, in my opinion. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, I have teamed up with Mike Poteet of The Sci-Fi Christian (an excellent site and podcast you should follow in all forms) to share our top 25 moments each (50 total!) from all of Star Trek on screen. That’s right, from The Original Series all the way through Star Trek Beyond, we’re bringing you our favorite moments. Some of these are steeped with worldview, and some are just fun or interesting. Check them out, and let us know your favorites in the comments.

25.

J.W. – Trek is back to TV… kind of (Star Trek: Discovery Announced, 2016)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cxba2WjlN90

Finding out that Star Trek was returning in series form was massive news for Star Trek fans. It’s always been the format Trek has excelled in, and I know that the announcement of a new series was one of the best moments I’ve had with Star Trek.

Mike – “Is that classical music?” (Star Trek Beyond, 2016)

The perfect fusion of “nuTrek” and old: Instead of firing phasers or photon torpedoes, our heroes unexpectedly use music as a weapon against Krall’s “bees”—and the song of choice? The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” a callback to the 2009 film. (We all like the beats and the shouting, Jaylah!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CeGHr9l-o1E

24.

J.W. – Data is an A-Bomb (“Thine Own Self,” TNG, 1994)

Data shows up at in a village with no memory of who he is, or that he’s carrying a container full of radiation poisoning. When the camera pans onto that case with the radiation warnings on it, it is one of the more chilling moments in TNG.

Mike – The Tragedy of Red Squad (“Valiant,” DS9, 1998)

One of Trek’s most haunting examinations of war and its costs. Jake and Nog’s friendship is tested past the breaking point aboard a Starfleet vessel crewed by cadets who want to become (depending on who you ask) heroes or martyrs. A powerful, not preachy morality tale in Trek’s finest tradition.

23.

J.W. – Seven of Nine is Revealed (“Scorpion, Part 2,” VOY, 1997)

The Borg are perhaps the most feared of all Star Trek villains, and for good reason. Here, however, viewers are introduced to a character who would later become a seeming paradox: a sympathetic, rehabilitated (?) Borg.

Mike – Tribbles Keep Fallin’ On Kirk’s Head (“Trial and Tribble-ations,” DS9, 1996)

An overrated TOS episode is redeemed with witty scripting and ingenious, seamless editing just in time for Trek’s 30th birthday. We learn those fuzzballs kept raining down on Kirk because, off camera, time-traveling Sisko and Dax were tossing them aside in order to find a bomb!

22.

J.W. – Data is Impersonal (“In Theory,” TNG, 1991)

Data experiments with humanity, but it turns out that much of his work is just that—experimentation. When his girlfriend breaks up with him, his utterly bleak—and apparently inhuman—reaction is to delete the program routine he wrote to date her.

Mike –  Captain Proton to the Rescue!!! (“Bride of Chaotica,” VOY, 1999)

Buck Rogers and zap guns are an often overlooked part of Trek’s DNA, but not here! The pulp sci-fi tradition is on full, garish black-and-white display as Tom Paris’ B-movie holodeck program goes terribly—and hysterically—wrong. The “Voyager” cast always shone when set free to unleash their comedic chops.

21.

J.W. – I turned on the wrong channel (“Qpid,” TNG, 1991)

A rollicking good time in this episode of TNG, wherein Q attempts to give Picard a love interest by transporting him and select crew members to Sherwood Forest. If you start this episode in the middle, you’d be confused about what you’re watching.

Mike – “Why are they banging their heads?” (“Little Green Men,” DS9, 1995)
Arguably the funniest of Trek’s many trips to the past, wherein we learn that none other than Ferengi crashed in Roswell in 1947. “I’d always heard primitive hew-mons lacked intelligence,” Quark observes, “but I had no idea they were this stupid!” Out of the mouths of extraterrestrials.

Links

The Sci-Fi Christian– There is so much to discuss when it comes to the intersection of faith and culture, and science fiction is often at the forefront of ways to drive this discussion forward. Check out The Sci-Fi Christian’s website and podcast for tons of discussion of related topics.

Eclectic Theist– Follow my “other interests” blog for discussion of sci fi, fantasy, movies, sports, food, and much, much more.

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

SDG.

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“Her Dangerous Visions” by Brandon Barr- Prophecy, Evil, and Hope

hdv-barrBrandon Barr’s Her Dangerous Visions is a science fiction/fantasy drama that will suck you in and not let go. Here, I’ll offer a brief review of the book alongside a few comments on themes found therein. The shortest possible review is: get the book, it’s great.

Review

Barr’s writing style is direct, but has depth. There is an enormous amount of political drama, tension around love, and action packed into each page of the book. Moreover, Barr seamlessly combines elements of science fiction and fantasy, such that it is difficult to categorize the book neatly. But that combination works remarkably well here, as Barr moves from farms to space with ease.

This first entry in the series offers glimpses of a broader universe, leaving readers wanting more from future installments. The focus is on the planets that are involved in a conflict, Loam and Hearth, that is apparently much more than any of their inhabitants realize.

Barr’s style is driven by characters. The characters are all remarkably deep. They have qualities that make readers get immediately invested, and faults that make readers want to scream at the pages as they watch favorite characters make foolish choices time and again. Meluscia was my favorite character–a woman whose ailing father is debating whom to appoint as his successor. She works to become that successor, but her desires in other areas could throw her off her apparently single-minded quest. Winter, another character, is said to be a seer, but the visions she sees continue to show sickening danger. Does she share the visions to try to prevent what they foretell, or keep them silent in the hopes that sharing them will not cause them to happen? Each character, as I said, is full of depth and develops of the course of the story. They feel very real–with motivations, aspirations, and faults that drive them.

The plot itself is complex, with layers peeled away through the course of the book and in interludes between sections. The pace never lets up, and once readers start, they won’t be able to put it down.

Overall, Her Dangerous Visions is a simply phenomenal read. I highly recommend it, just be ready to read for a while, because you’ll want to dive into the next book ASAP.

There will be SPOILERS in what follows.

Prophecy

Prophecy is clearly an important part of the book and the whole series. Winter’s gifting as a Seer means that she must try to understand what it means and come to comprehend it. There are portions where scenes with Winter remind me of biblical prophets and their own struggles. Think about it: how many prophets truly had it easy in the Bible? Nathan had to tell the King he’d committed great evil; Elijah was hunted for much of his career; John the Baptist ate bugs in the wilderness; etc. Similarly, Winter doesn’t have it easy, and finds herself questioning the wisdom of deity in this book. There is more to be explored in the coming books in the series, but at the end of Her Dangerous Visions, it is difficult to see where Winter may end up on her journey.

Evil

Evil is not often black-and-white in the real world, but there are some clear instances of it being such (i.e. Stalin/Hitler). Similarly, Barr’s book shows evil at times being black-and-white, but at other times it is much more subtle. Much of the evil in the book is from the characters themselves–finding themselves motivated wrongly by lust or vengeance rather than by virtues. It is a dimension that, as I said, makes the characters feel very real, and causes reflection in readers.

Hope

In our world, hope may be found in Christ, no matter how bad the darkness gets. Similarly, in Her Dangerous Visions, hope is found in trusting in others and the goodness of God. The spiritual realm in the novel is not fully revealed yet, so it will be interesting to see how it comes to be shaped over time.

Conclusion

I’d recommend readers pick up Brandon Barr’s book. He’s a man of faith who has written a phenomenal set of novels that are thought-provoking and thrilling.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Popular Books– Read through my other posts on popular books–science fiction, fantasy, and more! (Scroll down for more.)

 

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

The Expanse: Episodes 6-7 – A Christian perspective

the-expanseI’ve been enjoying watching SyFy’s TV series, “The Expanse,” quite a bit. Part of that is because I’m a huge science fiction fan, but another part of it is because there is plenty of worldview discussion to go around. I’ll be posting a series on worldview in episodes from the expanse biweekly as they come out. There will be SPOILERS for the episodes discussed here, as well as possibly any earlier episodes. Please don’t post spoilers for later episodes on this post.

Home, Family, and Self

Once more we have the OPA entangled in a struggle for a sense of home. I emphasized this last time for episodes 1-5, but here we have the need for home countered by the revelation that the OPA killed Chrisjen Avasarala’s son, and it has become personal for her. Family was emphasized on her side of the plot, as she tries to play that card to get more information about the OPA. It will be interesting to see whether dynamics of family, self-service, and home continue to drive some of the main characters in the series. One question I still have: how important is it to have a place we can call “home”? So far, “The Expanse” seems to emphasize that this is a great need, and this resonates with a Christian worldview when, throughout the Bible, we have continued pointers to a promised land and sense of place.

Truth and Lies

One of the most common expressions regarding lies is that we “weave a web” of them. The more we engage in deception, the more we must tell more lies to keep up the facade. Detective Miller goes deeper and deeper into a web of lies. The question is: what does he have to ground himself? His job was terminated instantly once it was found out he was delving too close into territory that others wanted to keep quiet. What does it mean to continue to seek truth even in the face of such opposition–even threat to one’s own life?

Christianity was based upon the testimony of those who were willing to die for truth. This isn’t merely an appeal to sincerity of belief, but rather an argument that shows that some truths are worth dying for–something difficult to do if you know what you’re dying for is false. Miller–technically no longer Detective Miller–seems like he is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to discover the truth. I wonder where it will lead him.

Survival and the Secular Ethic

The conversation Burton has with the stowaway spy, Kenzo, in episode 7 is interesting, because it focuses on the notion that survival is the highest good for humanity. This reflects an understanding of reality that puts mere continued existence as “the good” as opposed to anything else. Frankly, this is the kind of grounding that secular ethics almost always end up appealing to, whether it is mere survival or some abstraction like “human flourishing.” Yet in this episode we see how hollow such an ethic is. It leads to Burton’s willingness to kill anyone–whether it is someone he just met (and has completely at his mercy) or to keep from getting captured.

Later in the same episode, Kenzo has a deep conversation, asking whether he is going to be dropped out an airlock because he is found to be “inconvenient.” Perhaps with the most moving line in the series so far, he asks to be told if they’re just going to kill him so he can make his peace, because “I am not an animal.” Yet, so far, many of the people have been acting just like animals, again, with Burton’s argument for mere survival as his motto for life.

The absurdity of this way of life was revealed by Kenzo, because his words resonate with us. Mere survival is not enough–we are not animals. Indeed, even the more popular appeals to ground ethics upon “human flourishing” is little more than putting forward prettier words for the same concept. Is mere survival, or even the move towards whatever hedonistic view of “flourishing” we’d like to put forward, the best we can do? I don’t believe so, and I have argued at length that the secular grounding for morality fails even on its own criteria. We are not merely animals, and we can do better than grounding a philosophy of life on an animalistic drive to survive.

Such an ethic makes the most sense on a theistic view of the world, and Christianity is the worldview that stands up under scrutiny. Those who wish to deny this and continue to affirm a secular ethic must embrace the very opposite of that which Kenzo states in this episode. That is, they must affirm “I am [merely] an animal” and then ground their moral action on that.

Conclusion

The Expanse continues to bring intriguing questions about worldview to the forefront, while couching it all in a pseudo-noir science fiction epic. I’m loving the series so far, and would like to know what you think as well. Let me know in the comments!

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Eclectic Theist– Check out my other blog for my writings on science fiction, history, fantasy movies, and more!

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

“The Expanse” Episodes 1-5- A Christian Perspective

the-expanseI’ve been enjoying watching SyFy’s TV series, “The Expanse,” quite a bit. Part of that is because I’m a huge science fiction fan, but another part of it is because there is plenty of worldview discussion to go around. I’ll be posting a series on worldview in episodes from the expanse biweekly as they come out. There will be SPOILERS for the episodes discussed here. Please don’t post spoilers for later episodes on this post.

Fear and Safety

A theme that resonates all too readily with the current state of our society is that of fear of the “other.” People on Earth are afraid of anyone not from Earth, people of the outer planets/belters are afraid of people of Mars and Earth. Fear is a driving motivation for many of the characters so far. Chrisjen Avasarala is a clear example of this so far. She submits a captured suspected OPA terrorist to torture in order to try to get information from him that should protect others. The apparent callousness with which she does this act seems to be unquestioned by those around her.

It is all too easy to dehumanize those who are not like us. It is made easier when we fear “them.” Safety is the proverbial carrot that is held out to justify wrongful acts against the perceived evil “other.” We are assured that if such measures are not taken, our lives may be forfeit. Yet what price is too high to pay for safety?

Christians should be working against injustice wherever it occurs. Injustice includes cruel punishments and torture of others. Although we need not be completely without defense, there is no place for an ethic of the ends justifying the means in Christianity.

Home and Place

Episode 5 had an interesting conversation between an OPA man and Detective Miller. In it, the OPA man was pointing out how people on earth have a home, a place to call their own, but elsewhere, people do not. Throughout the series so far, there has been a sense of displacement among the characters. No one does seem entirely comfortable where they are. This notion of place is one that should not be too easily passed over.

Place is something that everyone needs–somewhere to call their own. In the Bible, this is evident in the narratives of Israel and the Promised Land, but it continues into our time with the promise of the New Creation. The hope for a home is something that is ultimately forward-looking, because we will never be truly home until we have been united with Christ. The longing evident in characters in “The Expanse” points us towards our own longings.

Conclusion

I’d love to know what you think of the series thus far and what worldview level issues you have seen therein. Leave a comment and be sure to follow the blog as I will be writing more as the series progresses.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Eclectic Theist– Check out my other blog for my writings on science fiction, history, fantasy movies, and more!

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

“Childhood’s End” – Utopia, God, and Science

childhoods-end

SyFy, the channel once known as SciFi (it should still be!) recently aired a TV miniseries adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s book, Childhood’s End. Here, I will examine the miniseries from a Christian worldview perspective. There will be SPOILERS in what follows.

Utopia? A transhuman “hope”

In the first part, dimensions of religion are found in the wings. Why didn’t God fix everything if these aliens can come along and fix everything for us? Where was God during all those wars and atrocities? Yet as the story progresses, it is clear that not is all as it seems. Where is Karellen, the alien who seems so godlike in his powers, when people are scared, sad, and afraid? Why do the children start to change, and what does it all mean? Why is Karellen so unwilling to let humans know about him?

Karellen and the Overlords are working for the Overmind to “change the world…” They follow its bidding and do what it says in order to reshape reality in the image that the Overmind desires. The Overmind claims to be “the collective consciousness of this universe” and, more simply, “all.” The Overmind takes the children of humanity to transform them into part of the collective consciousness of itself. So where is God? In the world of “Childhood’s End,” the Overmind plays the part of God, but a pantheistic type of being which is itself clearly not all powerful. Indeed, to call the Overmind pantheistic is itself a bit of an overstatement, as it can only bring certain people to itself and do so in certain ways.

The message of Childhood’s End is one of transhumanism- it is the end of humanity and humankind’s evolution towards some higher state of existence. It seems at points that this is supposed to be presented as something that is a great good, though perhaps with some sorrow. Yet What does this mean for humans? Ultimately, this transhuman hope–really the only hope that a pervasively atheistic worldview could offer–is the death of humanity. Earth is destroyed, in the end. Humanity is gone. All that is left of us is a beautiful piece of music, that whoever passes by will be able to hear.

The utopia that seems to be described as the Overlords come is a fiction. Thankfully, it is not the real world. The hope that we have can be found in Christ and the resurrection.

God and Science

The second part of the miniseries starts with the song “Imagine” in the background as the utopic state of Earth is described. One of the lines that comes through in the song is the line “and no religion too!” Yet the voiceover is by the young scientist, who is bemoaning the death of the sciences–they are no longer needed. Initially, it seems the implication is that if we just get rid of all the silliness of religion and stop trying to pursue useless knowledge in science, we would find ourselves in a utopia.

Another scene juxtaposes a character effectively praying to Karellan, the alien, while another goes into a church. Churches have largely been abandoned, for what use is religion in a world in which there is no injustice? It is intriguing to see the connections made between religion and science made throughout here. It seems that both science and religion are cast aside as people find suffering no longer exists. There are a number of ways this suggestion could be taken.

First, it could be taken as an assertion that science and faith are seeking answers to the same questions, though with different approaches. Faith is asking “why is there suffering?” and looking to God for answers; science is attempting to fix various problems such as disease through a direct approach. Yet this brief sketch oversimplifies things. After all, people expect prayers to be effective, and often think of scientific discoveries as being answers to those prayers.

Second, it could be taken as a broader commentary on the futility of either religion or science. If we could just solve all our problems, why try to figure out how they work? Again, this answer is too simplistic.

Instead, it seems a third option is more likely: the value of faith and the value of scientific exploration in and of themselves as ways to provide answers for what we observe in the universe. These answers may often overlap–and they do–but that doesn’t make them useless or invalid.

Faith

“Faith is on its last legs, only we don’t see it, because they give us ice cream,” says a man who is keeping a church clean.

“There is no such thing as evil,” a character snaps to a religious individual.

“I’m not sure God every helped anyone… only the Overlords answered.” Sandwiched between these two statements is an accusation that God gave us diseases and then sent more once we discovered how to cure some.

“All the world’s religions cannot be right… you know that… Your faith, beautiful and poetic… has no place now.”

What is particularly interesting about “Childhood’s End” is that all the people who are taken to be quacks–they are ridiculous, silly, superstitious, paranoid–turn out to be right, at least in part. The Overlords did come to change everything, but not in the positive, benign way they presented themselves. Instead, they came to reshape humanity in the image they desired. It led to the destruction of all humanity. One character may assert there is no such thing as evil, but that flies in the face of the injustice that the Overlords allegedly came to destroy.

The miniseries, whether intentionally or not, offers a view of the world which is both bleak and profound. It is bleak because it takes away all our hope. Even that which seems to offer hope ultimately destroys us. But it is profound in that it presents that world as fiction. It is not the world in which we live, which has hope, and in which we do not need to destroy ourselves. The price that humanity was asked to pay in “Childhood’s End” was paid in reality by God.

Conclusion

Ultimately, “Childhood’s End” is a story of humanity. It is a story of humanity giving in to deceiving itself. Humans sought an easy way to peace, freedom, and justice, and what they received instead was the death of humanity. The story itself does not have any final hope, apart from the hope that some transcendent humanity would live on. In reality, humanity does have the hope provided in Jesus Christ, our savior. It is interesting that the hope humans trusted in in Childhood’s End was something outside of themselves, and indeed the true hope for humanity is not found in ourselves, but in the Incarnate God, Christ.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Eclectic Theist– My other interests site is full of science fiction, fantasy, food, sports, and more random thoughts. Come on by and take a look!

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

 

Star Wars: The Force Awakens- a Christian perspective 

sw-faI have read over 100 Star Wars books and watched all the movies dozens of times (probably well over 100 for each of the original trilogy). In other words, I’m a Star Wars fan. I absolutely loved The Force Awakens. It was fantastic. It was wonderful. It was Star Wars. I’m also a devout Christian. Here, I will evaluate the movie from a Christian perspective.

SPOILER WARNING: There will be SPOILERS in what follows. I want to make that as clear as possible. Read no further if you don’t want to read SPOILERS. I’m serious. Big ones. Are we clear? Read on if you have seen the movie, or don’t care about spoilers. I’m sure the comments will also have spoilers.

The Force

One of the most pervasive images of the Star Wars universe is that of the Force. Wait, imagery? Of the Force? Well, you can’t see the Force!

Yep, that’s right. We can see Jedi or Sith using the Force. We can see the effects it has on people, and its power. But we cannot see the Force. One might say it’s just a bunch of hokey religions (thanks, Han). But in The Force Awakens, Han Solo admits what he has known for a while: the Force is real.

What is interesting about this admission is how much people of all varieties have been attracted to the notion of the Force and the Star Wars universe in general. In reality, the Force is a metaphysical concept. It goes beyond the mundane, physical universe and reaches for something more. The drive for that “something more” is pervasive in humanity, I think. Inwardly, we know that the world is not limited to those things we can see through direct observation. Thus, we are drawn to even fictional portrayals of a deeper reality such as the Force. Like Han, we may talk the talk, but when push comes to shove, there is more to our world than meets the eye.

Family, Darkness, and Natural Consequences

Exodus 34:7 reads, in part, “[God] does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation” (NIV).

Many see this as a kind of vindictive verse. In fact, it is an example of human choices bringing about consequences. One of the things I have learned since becoming a parent (and I’m still learning) is that natural consequences are the most effective way to teach my son. If he stands on a chair, he gets removed from the chair until he is willing to sit instead of stand. The verse above shows how our actions and choices have natural consequences.

Anakin Skywalker’s choices have impacted his family in profound, terrible ways. Sure, he saved Luke at the end of Return of the Jedi, and he was reunited with the Force. But think about what his choices visited upon his children: they had to be separated at birth and whisked into hiding. Vader even cut off his son’s hand!

In The Force Awakens, we see those consequences being visited upon the next generation as well. Kylo Ren, Han and Leia’s son, appears to be trying to follow his grandfather’s footsteps. But instead of trying to follow them back towards the Light side of the Force, he is attempting to complete the Dark work of his grandfather’s alter ego, Darth Vader. Can a more poignant reminder of the punishment that can be carried on from generation to generation be given?

In the world we live in, we can see these same systems of injustice bringing punishment on one generation after another. World War II was, in part, brought about by crippling economic hardships imposed after World War I. Systemic racism continues in the United States, demeaning not just those against whom racism is directed, but also bringing darkness onto those who engage in it.

The passage from Exodus above can be read simplistically, but when taken in perspective like this, it is immensely profound. The poignancy of that statement: that the actions we take now can bring about punishment on our children, and their children… should lead us to consider what it is we are doing. Kylo Ren wasn’t created in a vacuum.

Redemption

The Force Awakens also points ahead to a hopeful reality, one which resonates with the Christian worldview. Han and Leia each believe that there remains good in Kylo Ren–Ben–still. Han risks his life on that evaluation and even sacrifices himself for it. Though we don’t see this coming to fruition, the seeds of hope are there. Will Ren follow his grandfather’s Dark choices to a logical end, or will he be brought back to the Light?

The movie ends with Luke Skywalker and Rey on a remote planet. This guru-like setting is also reminiscent of the Desert Fathers of the ancient Christian church (though ironically in a very watery setting!). Will redemption and hope be brought forth once more through Rey? That remains to be seen, but the seeds have been planted. Han’s willingness to believe in goodness in his son is the same kind of willingness we need to have when we confront evil. Yes, we need to be prepared to stand up against evil, but we also need to realize that we were yet sinners when Christ saved us. The “other” is like we were, lost to sin and in need of redemption.

Conclusion

Go see The Force Awakens. Be prepared to celebrate the joys of Star Wars again, but also to think. It’s a fun, delightful movie that is overlaid with much darkness. Yet, in the midst of all that darkness there is hope.

Let me know your own thoughts on the movie in the comments. I’d love to hear what you thought of the film.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Read more movie reflections (scroll down for more).

Eclectic Theist– Follow my “other interests” blog for discussion of sci fi, fantasy, movies, sports, food, and much, much more.

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

“The Masterpiece Society”- Star Trek: The Next Generation and Genetics, Eugenics, and Ethical Quandaries

the-masterpiece-society

Star Trek: The Next Generation is one of my all-time favorite shows. I have been watching through the series with my wife from the beginning and recently watched “The Mastepiece Society” from Season 5. The episode is a fascinating look into the moral issues of a society that wishes to control breeding. Here, we will examine some of these questions. For a plot summary, see here. There will be SPOILERS in what follows.

Eugenics/Genetics

The “Masterpiece” society is one in which they have actively worked to use genetic enhancement and therapy [see my post on genetic enhancement and therapy to get some background into this debate; see a differing opinion here] to try to create a perfect society. Diseases are genetically selected against; other alleged defects are also screened before birth (euphemistically referencing the termination of pregnancy); and other methods are hinted at.

One of the most poignant scenes is when Geordi La Forge, the Chief Engineer, is sitting down with Hannah Bates and they talk about his blindness. He challenges her on the notion that he would have been terminated before birth:

“It was the wish of our founders that no one have to suffer a life of disabilities.” – Bates
“Who gave them the right to decide whether or not I might have something to contribute?” – La Forge

After this brief discussion, it turns out in an ironic twist that Geordi’s visor that helps him see actually is the solution to saving the colony. This emphasizes his point: he does have much to contribute.

One can’t help but wonder about the echo that those unborn who are killed each and every day through abortion would raise. What contributions have we stolen from our society through the desire for convenience or other reasons for abortions?

Free Will

Suppose we were able to create a society in which we could select genetically the features we deemed best-suited for specific roles. What would this due to free will and the right to choose one’s own destiny? Jean-Luc Picard, the captain of the Enterprise, asks this very question.

It sounds like something wonderful: we can have sure and certain knowledge of what we’re going to do. There is no uncertainty; no worrying about a job. The society has been built around having you in the exact place you are to occupy based on your genetics.

Is there, in any sense, a right for children to not have their genetic qualities selected for them? I’ve discussed this very issue elsewhere, but I think this episode raises it fairly poignantly. Suppose someone was bred to be a leader in the society, but they felt they would rather be a construction worker? The society, it seems, would suffer in the sense that they now lack a leader; but perhaps someone else who would want to be a leader could step up to the task. Of course, as in the episode, one fears a kind of cascade effect in which people who would be perfect, allegedly, for the tasks they are destined to be assigned instead opt for tasks they can only “imperfectly” perform.

This, then, leads to questions of what it means to be “perfect” for a task. Are we merely genetically determined creatures, or does our freedom to choose transcend the genetic history we have been dealt? What benefits or costs might there be to a society in which you are trained from birth to occupy a specific role?

Conclusion

Star Trek frequently raises ethical issues, and “The Masterpiece Society” was particularly thoughtful. I’d recommend watching it and then reflecting on the worldview-level issues it raises. How much are we currently missing out on because of the system we have in place? What might we do ethically to improve our society without restricting the freedom of the individual? Is this latter question even important?

From a Christian perspective, it seems clear that it is impermissible to terminate humans simply because they are blind or have some genetic impairment. Here, it seems, the Christian perspective can also demonstrate its practical utility, for as Geordi demonstrated, we may miss out on quite a bit if we decide to allow such things to occur.

Regarding genetic enhancement, however, the issue is much more difficult. My perspective has shifted a bit, but I am still fairly wary of the notion. I admit this might purely be some kind of bias on my part that doesn’t have as much a rational foundation as I’d like to think. The post I shared earlier from a friend has some pretty strong arguments in the direction of genetic enhancement even from a Christian perspective. I recommend reading his post, and checking out my older post (about 2 years old) that I edited as I wrote this one.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Genetics and Bioethics: Enhancement or Therapy?– I go over a number of key ethical issues related to genetic enhancement and therapy.

“The Measure of a Man”- Star Trek: The Next Generation and Personhood– I discuss matters of “personhood,” using the character Data from Star Trek as a foil.

Why You Should Genetically Engineer Your Children– An argument that differs from my perspective on genetic enhancement. What are your thoughts on this post in favor of it?

The photo in this episode was a screenshot capture of the episode. I claim no rights to it and use it under fair use.

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Really Recommended Posts 11/06/15- Star Trek theology, egalitarianism, and more!

postI hope you’ll enjoy this week’s roundup of posts from around the web. You can watch a video explaining egalitarian theology from Genesis, survey challenges your kids might encounter for their faith, learn about pro-life dialogue, discover theology in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and explore a cold time before a young earth could have existed. Let me know what you think of the posts, and be sure to let the authors know as well.

Egalitarian from the Start (Vide0)– this sermon is from Richard Davidson, author of the monumentally important study on sexuality in the Old Testament, Flame of Yahweh. He argues that, from the beginning of creation, egalitarianism is the ideal perspective.

17 Ways Your Kids Will Encounter Challenges to their Faith– Children will encounter a great number of challenges to their faith as they grow up. Simply being aware of the way children can be confronted by these challenges will help parents prepare to answer them and help their kids find answers.

Four Practical [Pro-Life] Dialogue Tips from My Conversation with Brent– Josh Brahm, an excellent pro-life speaker, offers some dialogue tips alongside a case study of an actual conversation he had with a pro-choice advocate.

Star Trek Theology- “Remember Me”– The Sci-Fi Christian, an excellent website and podcast, offers up this heaping helping of theological analysis of The Next Generation episode, “Remember Me.” It’s an episode I enjoy immensely, and I also enjoyed reading this post. Check it out.

A Holocene Cold Snap In the Year 2,200 B.C. (Before Creation)– Here is an analysis which challenges the Young Earth timeline, because it demonstrates that we can observe weather patterns from before dates set by groups like Answers in Genesis.

 

“The Martian” – Hope, Humanity, and God- a Christian look at the film

the-martian-movieThe Martian is receiving some excellent reviews from critics, and for good reason. It is a stirring story about humanity and our capacities and drive to survive. Here we will look at the worldview htemes found in the film. There will be SPOILERS in what follows. I will not be summarizing the plot, but a summary can be found here.

Hope and Humanity 

A major theme of the movie is that of hope. Mark Watney, the astronaut left behind on Mars, becomes the center of hope of the entire world. All eyes were following as he continued to fight against the unforgiving Red Planet. When the mission to rescue him finally comes to a climax, there is a scene of people around the globe watching in anticipation and hope. They celebrate merely hearing his voice.

I can’t help but think about the hope of the shepherd in a certain story told be a Jew in Galilee, in which the celebration over but one lost sheep was immense. There is an inter-connectedness that humans experience as we seek to help others and exult in the triumphs even of strangers in need.

Perhaps the central theme in the movie is that of the very, well, human-ness of humanity. We need companionship, and the poignancy of that is found throughout the film. Mark fights against the loneliness he feels by fighting one problem after another. But simply hearing someone’s voice is enough to send him celebrating, and when the rest of his mission team come to rescue him–and he can hear his commander’s voice for the first time, the overwhelming sensation of emotion he feels leads him to tears.

Humanity was not made to be alone.

 

God?

By no means does this film offer much related to worldview issues about God, but there are a few moments worth mentioning. The first is when Mark has to whittle a crucifix in order to get some material to burn for making water. He looks at the figure of Christ on it and says that he thinks that Jesus wouldn’t mind him using it to save his life. Though this never develops beyond a joke, it is interesting to see how it ultimately is a kind of salvation through the cross–this time in a very literal sense.

Prayer is hinted at when the head of NASA asks the head of the Mars projects whether he believes in God. The answer that came was unexpected: with a Baptist mother and Hindu father, “I believe in several.” The response? “We need all the help we can get.”  Again, this joking moment does reveal a hint of truth: that God is the one who provides help. Of course, not the many gods of Hinduism, but the true God is the one who saves.

Conclusion

“The Martian” is a great film. It explores the human need more than most films ever even touch on. These needs reflect deeply ingrained desires that mesh well with the Christian worldview. Only in Christ can we ultimately find the consummation of hope.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Andy Weir’s “The Martian” A Christian Look at the Book: Humanity, Community, and Hope– I look at the the worldview themes found throughout the book on which the film was based.

Also see my other looks into movies (scroll down for more).

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Andy Weir’s “The Martian”- A Christian Look at the Book: Humanity, Community, and Hope

the-martianThere is a lot of buzz surrounding Andy Weir’s novel, The Martian. It’s being made into a movie staring Matt Damon. Here, we will look at the book from a worldview perspective. There will be major SPOILERS in what follows.

The Value of a Human

One of the objections raised in the novel to moving missions around to try to save Mark is the sheer cost of the expedition. Why spend millions or even billions of dollars trying to save just one person, particularly when there are so many others who could be saved?

Towards the end, Mark himself is reflecting on this and he writes “The cost of my survival must have been hundreds of millions of dollars. All to save one dorky botanist. Why bother? …[T]hey did it because every human being has a basic instinct to help each other out. It might not seem that way sometimes, but it’s true… Yes, there are [expletive]s who just don’t care, but they’re massively outnumbered by the people who do. And because of that, I had billions of people on my side.”

The appeal to basic goodness of humanity is not without a number of assumptions. For example, how is it that the basic goodness of humanity is established? It isn’t just assumed–the evidence cited is that the overwhelming majority of people have basic instinct built into them to help others. But I wonder whether that evidence is drawn more from the extraordinary circumstances Mark found himself in than from the reality of human nature. It is a fact that women are taught in this country (the United States) to shout “fire” rather than “rape” if they are under assault, because people will answer more readily to cries to help fight a fire than they will try to intervene in an assault. The circumstances often determine how willing we are to go the extra mile to help others.

Thus, the conclusion seems a bit naive. Yes, the world pulled together in this work of fiction to help a man stranded on Mars–and I suspect that all kinds of red tape would, in fact, be cut if this ever happened–but that cannot be applied universally to every situation. The fact that there is so much human suffering happening right now–visible human suffering that can be seen in places that are, for example, attacked by IS, or wracked by storms, and the like–without humanity pulling together to stop it suggests that this notion of universal good will towards all is not as powerful as was suggested.

On the other hand, from a Christian perspective, each and every human life is precious, not because we have some inherent need to help others (though that could arguably be there), but because we share human nature, a nature given to us by God to be the image of God in this universe. Humans are valuable simply because they are humans, and we have an obligation to help those in need.

Humans and Others

It is not explored very deeply, but there is a sense throughout the book that humans are made to be with others. Mark feels a profound sense of loneliness when he realizes he is stuck on Mars, but he ultimately gets to work on trying to survive as quickly as possible. This work helps to distract him from his sense of loss, but at times throughout the book it crops up again. The sense of loneliness is at times crushing for him, but he is always able to get himself moving again, perhaps because he continually has hope that the loneliness will be squashed by being rescued or at least getting contact with Earth.

Humans are made to be people in community. I think this again reflects the Christian concept of the image of God. As God is Triune and in community (speaking here rather metaphorically, of course), we are made to be in community as well. Moreover, God created man but then realized “it is not good for man to be alone” and created a woman. These profound words are often explored from various angles, but I wonder whether they don’t also speak to us from a sense of loneliness. We are not meant to be alone but rather to exist in community. Our existential longing and loneliness ultimately points beyond ourselves to a higher reality–in which we may experience communion with God.

Conclusion

The Martian is an entertaining read. It doesn’t raise as many worldview questions as some other science fiction works do, but it does ask us to consider the value of humanity and shared experience. I’d recommend reading it, but be aware of a large amount of swearing.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Popular Books– Read through my other posts on popular books–science fiction, fantasy, and more! (Scroll down for more.)

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

 

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