Religion in B5

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Ann M. Williams

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Sep 9, 1993, 7:01:50 AM9/9/93
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How is religion going to be handled in B5 (as compared to TREK,
for example). TREK went from casual non-sectarian references, to
putdowns of religion as something an intelligent culture outgrows.
Will B5 be as negative? Will it explore religions in regard to
their impact on cultures (not necessarily from simplistic negative
or positive outcomes), will it explore spirituality?

Most viewers are mature enough to handle the fact that religions
as presented in science fiction will deviate from their own beliefs.
Those who are agnostic, atheistic, antagonistic (?) can probably
deal with religion as a part of a society's culture.

Didn't the Earth Babylon have fertility based cults (ISHTAR and
temple prostitution). I assume it had male warrior god cults as
well. Having a non-monotheistic religion might make for an
interesting change as long as believers weren't portrayed as boobs
or conniving all the time. I assume the science and military staff
would be less likely to be religious, but the ambassadors may have
interesting beliefs. I assume from the soul stealer episode that
you will leave open endings so the viewer can decide.
--
Ann M. Williams
Saint Joseph College, Conn.
will...@ganesha.sjc.edu

Matthew A Kagle

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Sep 9, 1993, 2:25:16 PM9/9/93
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I realize that this is off the topic of the newsgroup, but I don't see
how Star Trek has said that intelligent species don't have religion. I
think they have just been avoiding religion altogether.


Respectfully Yours,

-- Matt2

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
|
"Violence is the last | Matthew Kagle
refuge of the incompetent." | Pittsburgh, PA
|
-- Isaac Asimov | mk...@andrew.cmu.edu
|
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Mark Sulkowski

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Sep 9, 1993, 3:41:00 PM9/9/93
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In article <IgXrIAy00...@andrew.cmu.edu>, Matthew A Kagle <mk...@andrew.cmu.edu> writes...

>I realize that this is off the topic of the newsgroup, but I don't see
>how Star Trek has said that intelligent species don't have religion. I
>think they have just been avoiding religion altogether.

That's not true.

Specifically, there was one ST:TNG episode that was strongly
humanist (i.e. anti-religion) and one that was strongly pro-religion.

The humanist episode was the one with the "proto-vulcans".
Picard brought a female one back to the ship and she thought that
Picard was God. Picard could have used religion as a tool to save
the lives of Troi and Riker who had been captured on the planet.
He refused, because, in his words, he did not want to bring superstition
back to this culture (which had left it behind) and all that goes with
it like religious wars. The show was profoundly anti-religion.

The pro-religion ST:TNG was the recent one where Worf meets
a Messianic figure from Klingon history. Worf, who had lost his 'faith',
was now learning to regain it. Worf then finds out the the Messiah is
really a clone of the original, but then decides that the words of the
original Messiah are more important than the Man (er, Klingon). I'd
say that this episode is clearly pro-religion.

The original Star Trek also has a strong pro- and anti- religion
episode each.

The pro- was the one where there is a planet in its
"20th century" with the Roman Empire ruling the world. The slaves who
worshiped the "Sun" were really Christians. The episode ended with the
cast marvelling at how Christianity would topple _this_ Roman Empire in
its "20th century".

The anti- was the one with "Landru". In this case, the word
of Landru becomes like a computer program that everyone had to follow.
Note the argument that Kirk used to kill the Landru computer. He accused
it of achieving peace by destroying creativity and progress (things vital
for _human_ life). This was clearly an anti-Bible/anti-dogma piece by
Roddenbery. Watch the episode again in case you missed what I am saying.

So, no, Star Trek does not dodge religion. But it does ignore
the issue in most episodes.


Mark Sulkowski

Mike Van Pelt

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Sep 9, 1993, 6:00:04 PM9/9/93
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In article <26n2eu$l...@news.ysu.edu> am...@yfn.ysu.edu (Ann M. Williams) writes:
>How is religion going to be handled in B5 (as compared to TREK,
>for example). TREK went from casual non-sectarian references, to
>putdowns of religion as something an intelligent culture outgrows.
>Will B5 be as negative?

Well, for a hint, there's a strong religious group in the Minbari.
In fact, I believe I remember JMS saying that the religious caste
now rules the Minbari (the warrior caste lost power after the
Earth-Minbari war) and Ambassador Delenn is very high up in the
religious caste.

--
Mike Van Pelt | What happens if a big asteroid hits Earth?
m...@netcom.com | Judging from realistic simulations involving a
| sledge hammer and a common laboratory frog, we
| can assume it will be pretty bad. -- Dave Barry

strac...@genie.geis.com

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Sep 10, 1993, 12:45:11 AM9/10/93
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Let me just lay the foundation here for a moment in the area of
religion and Babylon 5. I'm an atheist, that simple. But that's me. If
you look at the long history of human society, religion -- whether you
describe that as organized, disorganized, or the various degrees of
accepted superstition -- has always been present. And it will be present
200 years from now. That may not thrill me, but when one is a writer, one
must deal with realities, and that's one of them. To totally ignore that
part of the human equation would be as false and wrong-headed as ignoring
the fact that people get mad, or passionate, or strive for better lives.

So we do deal with the questions of religion, and spirituality, and
their definitions, without being abusive. A couple of stories on this
area, like David Gerrold's "Believers" may be very controversial. On the
other hand, my script for "The Parliament of Dreams" is a straight-ahead
showcase, in which every species on B5 is encouraged to demonstrate his
or her dominant belief system, as practiced back home. So we learn more
about Minbari religion, more about the Centauri's rather Bacchanallian
form of religion, along with others. And Sinclair is put in the difficult
position of being asked to show what Earth's dominant belief system is.
The solution to which is, I think, kinda cool.

In the Babylon 5 universe, all the things that make us human -- our
obsessions, our interests, our language, our culture, our flaws and our
wonderfulnesses -- are all still intact.

jms

Todd Horowitz

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Sep 10, 1993, 3:16:58 PM9/10/93
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In article <930910044...@relay2.geis.com>,

<strac...@genie.geis.com> wrote:
>or her dominant belief system, as practiced back home. So we learn more
>about Minbari religion, more about the Centauri's rather Bacchanallian
>form of religion, along with others. And Sinclair is put in the difficult
>position of being asked to show what Earth's dominant belief system is.
>The solution to which is, I think, kinda cool.
> jms
So, does this imply that Earth is the only planet with a diversity
of religious systems? There is only one Minbari religion, one Centauri
religion, one Narn religion, etc?


Ed Oliveri

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Sep 10, 1993, 12:13:12 PM9/10/93
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In article <930910044...@relay2.geis.com> strac...@genie.geis.com writes:
>
> On the
>other hand, my script for "The Parliament of Dreams" is a straight-ahead
>showcase, in which every species on B5 is encouraged to demonstrate his
>or her dominant belief system, as practiced back home. So we learn more
>about Minbari religion, more about the Centauri's rather Bacchanallian
>form of religion, along with others. And Sinclair is put in the difficult
>position of being asked to show what Earth's dominant belief system is.
>The solution to which is, I think, kinda cool.
>

So what does he do, pull out his wallet? ;-)

(Oops! I hereby place the above idea in the public domain.
However, I DO demand a screen credit.)

--
Ed Oliveri, e...@cbnewsb.att.com

A Adams

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Sep 10, 1993, 8:00:36 PM9/10/93
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I quite agree. In fact, I have already agreed in print (the editorial
of a magazine I edited last year was on this very point). The main
SF author I know who does this well is Sheri Tepper. In fact, I
would like to see an episode written by Tepper if she has any interest.
--
TTFN, Zaphod (Two Heads, No Brain)*E-mail*csc...@gps.leeds.ac.uk****
************************************snail*Flat 18,26 Brudenell Road**
**Happiness is a cigar ...*********mail*Leeds,LS6 1BD,UK***********
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Michael A. Burstein

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Sep 13, 1993, 9:15:55 PM9/13/93
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Joe (can we call you Joe?), after reading a bit of what you said about religion
and B5, I'd just like to make a few grateful comments.

One of the things you mentioned once (I believe on GEnie) was that you wanted
at some point to put a religious Jew and a religious Moslem on the station.
I'd just like to say that I applaud this idea. One of the problems a
certain other show has is that it rarely acknowledges the diversity of
religions on this planet, and just seems to assume that in the future, one
size fits all. Being semi-observant Jewish myself, I've always been quite
conscious of this.

Another problem the other series has had is assuming that this "one size fits
all" concept of religion applies to alien races as well. One recent episode
dealt with the return of a religious leader for one alien race, *all* of whom
would either acknowledge his return or fight it because of atheistic
leanings. No one ever said "Hey, I don't believe this because I subscribe to
religion <x>, not religion <y>." It was just sort of assumed that a [insert
alien race name here] would be devout or not, but always within the context
of that one all-encompassing religion.

Frankly, this is not only short-sighted, but possibly insulting as well, since
it seems to imply that humanity is the only race with rich diversity in
religion. I am looking forward to seeing how you handle this issue on B5.


--
Michael A. Burstein
The Blue Wizard
m...@panix.com

Allen J. Newton

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Sep 20, 1993, 11:41:10 AM9/20/93
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In article <CD3qM...@acsu.buffalo.edu>, Mark Sulkowski writes:

> In article <IgXrIAy00...@andrew.cmu.edu>, Matthew A Kagle <mk...@andrew.cmu.edu> writes...
> >I realize that this is off the topic of the newsgroup, but I don't see
> >how Star Trek has said that intelligent species don't have religion. I
> >think they have just been avoiding religion altogether.
>
> That's not true.
>
> Specifically, there was one ST:TNG episode that was strongly
> humanist (i.e. anti-religion) and one that was strongly pro-religion.
>
> The humanist episode was the one with the "proto-vulcans".
> Picard brought a female one back to the ship and she thought that
> Picard was God. Picard could have used religion as a tool to save
> the lives of Troi and Riker who had been captured on the planet.
> He refused, because, in his words, he did not want to bring superstition
> back to this culture (which had left it behind) and all that goes with
> it like religious wars. The show was profoundly anti-religion.
>
> The pro-religion ST:TNG was the recent one where Worf meets
> a Messianic figure from Klingon history. Worf, who had lost his 'faith',
> was now learning to regain it. Worf then finds out the the Messiah is
> really a clone of the original, but then decides that the words of the
> original Messiah are more important than the Man (er, Klingon). I'd
> say that this episode is clearly pro-religion.

Not exactly. Even this episode hinted that in religious circles,
hypocrisy (i.e. lying) was acceptable so long as the end result was desirable.
I found this episode extremely distasteful, almost as much as "Sins of the
Father" where the entire Klingon council openly embraced a lie to maintain
"peace". Very un-Klingon by the ST definition (placing honor above life,
etc).


>
> The original Star Trek also has a strong pro- and anti- religion
> episode each.

> [ ... ]

I agreed with your statements here. Very astute!

> Mark Sulkowski

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Allen J. Newton, AlTurian High Command | Never bite off
ane...@alturia.abq.nm.us | more than you can chew...

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