The New Doctor?

All of us Whovians are eagerly awaiting official news concerning the announcement of the next Doctor.

According to The Telegraph, the role has been offered to Rory Kinnear.

The Mirror, however, reports that no decision has been made.

Matt Smith, the current Doctor, is leaving the show in the Christmas special.

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What I’m Reading: Sci-Fi Edition

For those who enjoy sci-fi, you may want to check out John Scalzi‘s serial novel, entitled The Human Division. So far, nine installments out of thirteen have been released. I’ve been picking them up as they’ve been released usually read them in the next day of so. Serial novels are a neat idea. It’s basically like reading a chapter a week. After all the serials have been released, they will be collected and released in one volume. Have enjoyed the series, I’m picking them up in serial form…and will probably pick up the final collected book as well.

If you aren’t familiar with Scalzi’s Old Man’s War universe, I would suggest that you start with the other books in the series as they give you the essential background necessary for understanding what’s going on in The Human Division:

Old Man's War The Ghost Brigades The Last Colony

Technically, The Human Division is the 5th work in the series. However, Zoe’s Tale is a retelling of The Last Colony told from the perspective of a different character. I haven’t read it…and really don’t plan to…

Anyways, here are the episodes of The Human Division that have been released so far.

The B-Team (The Human Division, #1) Walk the Plank (The Human Division, #2) We Only Need the Heads (The Human Division, #3) A Voice in the Wilderness (The Human Division, #4) Tales From the Clarke (The Human Division, #5) The Back Channel (The Human Division, #6) The Dog King (The Human Division, #7)

The Sound of Rebellion (The Human Division, #8) The Observers (The Human Division, #9)

Here are the final four episodes:

This Must Be the Place (The Human Division, #10) A Problem of Proportion (The Human Division, #11) The Gentle Art of Cracking Heads (The Human Division, #12) Earth Below, Sky Above (The Human Division, #13)

So far, I think The Human Division is excellent. I love the idea of the serial and I absolutely love what I’ve read so far. I’m really interested to see where Scalzi will end up.

Another series I have greatly enjoyed is The Expanse by James S.A. Corey.

The Butcher of Anderson Station (Expanse 0.5) Leviathan Wakes (Expanse, #1) Caliban's War (Expanse, #2) Gods of Risk

The third novel of the series is set to release on June 4th. I would also expect a novella to be released some time after…but that’s just a guess.

Abaddon's Gate (Expanse, #3)

Again, this is an excellent series. I just finished up Caliban’s War and can’t wait for Abaddon’s Gate to come out.

What does this any my last post on the comics I’m reading have to do with theology…absolutely nothing! I just felt like sharing what I’m  currently reading. Expect to see more of these posts.

(Note: If you’re interested in purchasing any of the books, click on the cover art and you’ll be redirected to the Kindle ebook page.)

Review: Scientific Mythologies

Scientific Mythologies: How Science and Science Fiction Forge New Religious Beliefs

Author: James A. Herrick

Paperback: 288 pages

Publisher: Intervarsity Press

ISBN: 978-0-8308-2588-2

Intervarsity Press

Amazon

Recently, I have begun to explore theological and religious themes present in science fiction. I have always been a fan of sci fi.  As I have gotten older and read more sci fi, I see an abundance of religious imagery and theological themes in the genre. Which leads me to the book Scientific Mythologies by James A. Herrick.

In the introduction, Herrick writes,

My purpose in this book is to explore the various ways in which the Western world’s present spiritual needs are being addressed by new mythologies, an emerging canon of transcendent stories that provides meaning to our lives and that organizes and directs our individual and social decisions. And as we shall see, today’s myths often arise from rather unexpected sources. In particular, I will focus attention on the mythmaking work of two powerful engines of cultural influence-speculative science on the one had, and the works of science fiction on the other. (13)

Two chapters stuck with me while reading the book. They are: New Myths for a New Age (Chapter 2) and The Myth of the Extraterrestrial (Chapter 3).

In chapter 2, Herrick discusses how within the past 100 years, the old creeds are being replaced by new myths.

As the Western world has turned away from traditional religion, science fiction and speculative science have been quick to fill the resulting spiritual vacuum with ideas bearing little resemblance to those that were jettisoned. (36)

In essence as we leave the creeds from traditional religion, ideas from science and science fiction that do not resemble those creed fill in those holes. But what does Herrick mean by the term “traditional religion?” Is it one that supports creationism and dismissed evolution? Is it one that supports patriarchy? Is it one that supports a complementary view of women? Or is it one that merely professes Christ crucified and risen? These were just some of the questions that I had after reading the above sentence.

In chapter 3, Herrick discusses the myth of the extraterrestrial and how this myth has influenced popular culture. Specifically Herrick discusses the perception that an encounter with an alien race will “lead to remarkable technological advances for humanity and inaugurate a destined human-alien future.”” (43) Several obvious questions stem from this perception: Why is this perception so prevalent? In other words, why do we think that an encounter with an alien race will inaugurate this period? Especially when the other reference to alien encounters leads to war.

This book was not what I was looking for as I further examine the intersection of religion and science fiction; however, that doesn’t mean this was a bad book. In fact, I enjoyed this book, despite not being immediately relevant to current projects that I have undertaken. It is intriguing to see if and how culture affects religion.

Disclaimer:
I received this book free from Intervarsity Press. Providing me a free copy in no way guarantees a favorable review. The opinions expresses in this review are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

#SciFi and #Religion

So I’m working on something for my church, a small group looking at science fiction and religion. The goal is to bring a people together to watch some sci-fi and discuss the religious themes in the movie.

Here is a list of movies I have already picked out:

I’m open to any other suggestions.

#BSG and #Religion: Flesh and Bone

“Flesh and Bone”

The episode opens with President Roslin having a chamalla induced dream in which a copy of Leoben (Number Two) appears. Roslin wakes up and is informed by Billy that a Cylon agent has been captured onboard one of the ships in the fleet. This Cylon agent turns out to be none other than a Leoben copy. At the end of the dream, Leoben is pulled away, as if grabbed by some unknown force. Starbuck is sent over to interrogate the Cylon.

According to Adama, Leonben is a “very cunning maching. Manipulative, cunning. The only problem with Leoben isn’t that he lies. That would be too easy. It’s that he mixes lies with truth.” Sounds familiar. In some ways, Adama is painting Leoben as the Devil himself.

After a brief remark about the gods not answering the prayers of toasters, Starbuck gets down to business interrogating Leoben. It’s not until Leoben guesses who Starbuck is that he opens up a little more about Leoben’s mission in the fleet. According to Leoben, there’s a nuclear warhead somewhere in the fleet.

In a conversation that follows, Leoben and Starbuck have this exchange:

Leoben: You believe in the gods, don’t you? Lords of Kobol, and all that?

Starbuck: Why should I tell you?

Leoben: It’s not a trick question. I just what to see how much I got right. So you pray to Artemis and Aphrodite?

Starbuck: Where is the warhead?

Leoben: I was right. See, our faiths are similar, but I look to one god, not to many.

Starbuck: I don’t geie a damn what you believe.

Leoben: To know the ace of God is to know madness. I see the universe. I see the patterns. I see the foreshadowing that precedes every moment of every day. It’s all there. I see it. And you don’t. And I have a surprise for you. I have something to tell you about the future.

Starbuck: Is that so?

Leoben: It is. But we have to see this through to the end.

[There’s a brief pause in the conversation while some food is brought in to Starbuck]

Leoben: What is the most basic article of faith? This is not all that we are. The difference between you and me is, I know what that means and you don’t. I know that I’m more than this body, more than this consciousness. A part of me swims in the stream. But in truth, I’m standing on the shore. The current never takes me downstream.

Right about here, Starbuck shows that she’s not falling for Leoben’s philosophical and theological double talk. After pushing the food aside because it’s worse than the Galactica’s, Leoben is given the opportunity to eat. But, we also get a glimpse of Starbuck’s darker side.

Leoben: Starving. Haven’t eaten in days.

Starbuck: Kind of bad programming, isn’t it? I mean why bother with hunger?

Leoben: Part of being human.

Starbuck: You’re not human. [Pause] How’s your lunch?

Leoben: You know how it is. When you’re starving, anything tastes good.

[Starbuck give a nod and the guard punches Leoben in the head, drawing blood.]

Starbuck: Did that hurt?

Leoben: Yeah, that hurt.

Starbuck: Machines shouldn’t feel pain…shouldn’t bleed…shouldn’t sweat.

Leoben: Sweat. That’s funny. That’s good.

Starbuck: See, a smart Cylon would turn off the old pain software right about now. But I don’t think you’re so smart.

Leoben: Maybe I’ll turn it off and you won’t even know.

[Leoben get’s punched by the guard again]

Starbuck: Here’s your dilemma. Turn off the pain, you feel better, but that makes you a machine, not a person. You see, human beings can’t turn off their pain. Human beings have to suffer, and cry, and scream, and endure because they have no choice. So the only way you can avoid the pain you’re about to receive is by telling me exactly what I wanna know. Just like a human would.

Leoben: I knew this about you. You’re everything I thought you would be. But it won’t work. I won’t tell you anything.

Starbuck: Maybe not. But then, you’ll know deep down that I beat you…that a human being beat you…and that you are truly no greater than we are. You’re just a bunch of machines after all.

Leoben: Let the games begin.

[Leoben is punched again by the guard.]

Starbuck’s interrogation continues, only Starbuck ramps up the interrogation method, dunking Leoben’s head into a container of water. Leoben talks about destiny and fate, even eluding to the eventual discovery of Kobol, before Roslin shows up. There’s a brief exchange between Roslin and Leoben in which Leoben tells Roslin that Adama is a Cylon. After this, Roslin has Leoben executed by being vented out of an airlock.

Back on the Galactica, Starbuck pulls out figures of Artemis and Aphroditie and prays to them.

This episode highlights the role of prophecy. Leoben quotes the scripture, “All this has happened before and all this will happen again.” He even points out that Starbuck has a role to play, although, at this point, her role is still ambiguous. Prophecy is theme that plays an important part in the series and this is the first episode to highlight that theme.

This episode also serves as social commentary regarding the use of torture. Starbuck goes to great lengths to torture Leoben, but gets nowhere. There’s so much more that can be said about this topic alone…but I’ll save that for another time.

This episode goes down as another one of my all time favorites of the series.

#BSG and #Religion: Six Degrees of Separation

“Six Degrees of Separation”

This episode open with an interesting dialogue between Gaius Baltar and Six. Baltar is looking through a microscope at some cells.

Baltar: I don’t see the hand of God here. Could I be looking in the wrong place? Let me see. Proteins? Yes. Hemoglobin? Yes. Divine digits? No. Sorry. I’m sure I can find evidence of his divine hand in some of these delightful little samples.  After all, there are so fracking many I’m sure even I can be relied upon to find God in one of them.

Six: What is it that drives to to blasphemy, Gaius? A need to tempt fate?

Baltar: Boredom, actually. Indeed, every waking hour is spent in what some might say, has become my own personal religion. The Church of the Mystic Cylon Detector.

Six: Well…are you finished? (The scene shifts from Baltar’s lab to the bedroom inside of his head.) If you would give yourself over to God’s will you’d find peace in his love like I have.

Baltar: Could you help me with this zipper. I’m having a bit of trouble.

Six: He has a plan for us.

Baltar: How do you know it’s a he?

Six: There is only one true God.

Baltar: Really? You running a glitch in the program or something? ‘Cause you say the same thing over and over again. Now, I’ve accepted your God and all that. Can’t we reboot the hard drive?

Six: He’s not my God. He is God.

Baltar: Yeah, your God, my God, everyone’s God. He’s big enough for all of us, isn’t he. Now please. Please, honey. Can’t we do something a little more elevating?

Six: It’s important you form a personal relationship with God. Only you can give yourself over to his eternal love.

Baltar: For God’s sake! I can’t take this anymore.

Six: I’m trying to save your immortal soul.

Baltar: What you are doing, darling, is boring me to death with your superstitious drivel. Your metaphysical nonsense which, to be fair, actually appeals to the half-educated dullards that make up most of human society, but which, I hasten to add, no rational, intelligent, free-thinking human being truly believes. (Six leaves while Baltar’s back is too her.) Which leads me to the inescapable conclusion that Cylons, are, in the final…. That Cylons are, in the final analysis, little more than toasters…with great-looking legs.

This conversation comes on the heels of Baltar being threatened by Six to not make her mad. Of course, Baltar didn’t pay this any heed, and so begins his problems in this episode. After being summoned to the CIC, Baltar runs into a Six model who goes by the name Shelly Godfrey. At first Baltar assumes that only he can see her, and is shocked, at best, when he realizes that everyone can see the Six standing in the CIC. It is at this point that Godfrey accuses Baltar of being the traitor. Godfrey claims to be a assistant to Dr. Amarak, the doctor onboard the Olympic Carrier that was destroyed in the episode “33“.

The “evidence” that Godfrey brings forward, does implicate Baltar as the traitor and he’s thrown in the brig. After a visit from Pres. Roslin in the brig, Baltar has this monologue:

I know that we haven’t spoken before. And I don’t wish to offend. Please. Dear God, and I now acknowledge that you are the one true God. Deliver me from this evil and I will devote the rest of what is left of my wretched life to doing good. I don’t know what to… To carry out your divine will, is what I want to do. To carry out your divine will. Grant me grace and forgiveness.

And then, of course, the Six inside of Baltar’s head come back. She informs Baltar that, “All will be well. It will be as God wants it to be.”

Lt. Gaeta comes in and announces that the evidence is fake and Baltar is free and Godfrey is nowhere to be seen.

The more I think about it, the more the Cylon God sounds like the Evangelical God. We hear the catch words: personal relationship, God’s will, etc. But, there are some diferences as well. The Cylon God comes off a being petty and manipulative. Baltar questions the Cylon God and his problems begin. He acknowledges the Cylon God and everything goes away. Sound familiar? This was the God that I believed in for a long time…a God of punishment and wrath. One false step meant eternal damnation. Of course, I no longer buy into that belief. I see a God of love and peace. Don’t get me wrong, things aren’t always better on the other side. Bad things still happen. However I don’t blame those on God’s will.

#BSG and #Religion: Litmus

“Litmus”

A Doral Model (Number Five) Cylon shows up on the Galactica on a suicide mission. After being spotted by Tigh and Adama, he blows himself up with a bomb that is strapped to his chest. The resulting blast kills three and injures thirteen. Commander Adama charges Sergeant Hadrian, the master-at-arms, to open an investigation into how anyone could get back Galactica security. During the conversation, she asks for an independent tribunal, free of command influence. That request is approved by Adama.

While Pres. Roslin does not want a witch hunt on her hands, we all know where this is heading. Things aren’t helped much when Roslin announces to the fleet that Cylons have a human form.

Sergeant Hadrian’s investigation startes with some general questions to some of the deck crew, mainly about the whereabouts of Chief Tyrol. Hadrian gets different answers regarding the Chief’s whereabouts during the bombing and the investigation is ramped up. Both Boomer and Tyrol are pulled in for questioning.

Questioning in the tribunal is tense to say the least. What is interesting is when Tyrol is being questioned, Hadrian asks the following: “Do you consent to give your testimony freely without invoking your right to remain silent as provided for under the 23rd Article of Colonization?” The Chief responds in the affirmative. But when Hadrian hits too close to home, the Chief invokes his rights.

Next up is Socinus, and here we have a shocking revelation; he abandoned his post and left the hatch combing open that allowed the Cylon agent easy access to the small weapons locker.

Things get real interesting when Commander Adama is called before the tribunal. It is here that Hadrian let’s the power of the independent tribunal go to her head. The tribunal turned into what it wasn’t supposed to be, a witch hunt.

To me, there are many theological layers to this episode.

The first theological layer revolves around our sinful nature.  Hadrian and the tribunal are a perfect example of this. There’s no doubt that Sergeant Hadrian’s intentions were good in the beginning, but something happened along the way in the quest for “truth”. Hadrian lost sight of the purpose of the tribunal and let the power get to her. In essence, she was corrupted by the quest for truth. Taking that one step further, we get a glimpse of what living in sin is like. Sometimes it is pretty difficult to know when we have strayed from the truth and when we are living in sin.

I think this episode also touches on the theme of security. For Christians, we look at questions of security a little differently. Security for Christians should rest in fact that death is not the final answer, that the final enemy has already been defeated. That doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen…they still will.