Science Fiction/Fantasy Atheists

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Science Fiction/Fantasy Atheists

Atheists enjoy speculative stories as they *should* be enjoyed: for entertainment purposes only, not to be confused with reality. Members here can have fun discussiung the literature, movies, TV, etc.

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Welcome science fiction & fantasy fans!

As a science fiction/fantasy writer myself, I enjoy taking voyages into the unknown. Looking at the universe as it isn't often helps us put the real world into perspective. It's also fun to take an occasional vacation from the often-harsh reality around us. Unlike the theists, the religionists, the god-groupies who feel compelled to live in fantasy realms, we visit them and then come back home--and then go voyaging again.

I hope you'll all feel free to congregate here and compare your experiences in other worlds and times.

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Comment by Seamonster on February 7, 2010 at 9:08pm
I'm with Glen. Screw Nick Cage. After seeing The Wickerman remake I had to scrub my brain with a toilet brush and I still feel dirty four years later.
Comment by Wonderist on February 7, 2010 at 11:08am
Minor spoilers, re: Pandorum, and Legion.
JBH and Glen, I'm with you. You may also want to be aware that Dennis Quaid, who I used to sorta like as an actor, has recently shown himself to be on a kind of anti-science, anti-atheist crusade, portraying two parodies of atheism. First, in Pandorum, he plays a Nietzsche-wannabe megalomaniacal atheist who proclaims, paraphrasing, "God is dead, I'm god now." In Legion (playing now), which is entirely a Christian propaganda movie, he plays such a shallow atheist -- the kind of atheist that Christians love to pity -- that, even after witnessing possessed humans crawling on the ceiling, meeting an angel, and shooting dozens of possessed humans himself, he proclaims stupidly, "I don't even believe in God!" I can forgive his latter role in Legion, but the whole anti-science, anti-atheist theme in a sci-fi movie like Pandorum made me want to puke. Point being, Quaid seems clearly to favour portraying parodies of atheists in anti-atheist films; seems like some sort of personal mission of his.
Comment by Susan Stanko on February 7, 2010 at 9:05am
I didn't see "Ghost Rider" but, I was tempted to.
Comment by John B Hodges on February 7, 2010 at 6:48am
Comment on "Knowing", a film starring Nicholas Cage.

WARNNG- SPOILERS BELOW, after the break and scroll-down.

(JBH) A brief comment on a current movie, "Knowing" starring Nicholas Cage. I have long known that many movies carry ideological messages. I am a science-fiction fan, and one particular type of movie that really annoys me is the "science-fiction" movie that is anti-science, thinly disguised religious propaganda.

Cage's movie is hardly the first of this type. Some fairly recent examples are the remake of "Solaris" featuring George Clooney, and "Signs" featuring Mel Gibson. But there have been examples going back decades. "Flatliners" is a milder example. I have found a few "science-fiction" books of this type also.

In "Knowing" Cage plays a professional Astrophysicist at MIT who has recently lost his wife in an auto accident of some type, evidently traumatic; he is depressed at the absence of purpose or meaning in the Universe, where tragedies happen randomly. In a classroom lecture he makes the dichotomy between a "deterministic" worldview where everything happens for a reason, and a "random, accidental" worldview, implying that the scientific worldview is the latter, that "shit happens for no reason."

He has a son in Elementary school, and fifty years ago this school buried a Time Capsule with drawings from each child in a big class showing what they think the future will be like. One child, a very sad little girl, instead of doing a drawing, fills her page with numbers. Fifty years later (present day) the Time capsule is retrieved, and the drawings passed out to the children of the present-day class; Cage's son gets the page of numbers.

Cage's character notices a few numbers that coincidentally give the date of 09/11/2001 and the death toll of that event, he looks further and finds more dates and death tolls that match other disasters, airplane crashes, floods, bombings, etc; later he finds that each date also has some numbers alongside that give the latitude and longitude of the event. The numbers on the page are a perfect record of newsworthy disasters of the last fifty years, and at the end there are three more sets with dates yet to come.

So much you can see from the Previews and ads for the movie. SPOILERS BEGIN HERE. Scroll down for more.

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The last set of numbers on the page turn out to be a prediction of Armageddon, the end of the world. It is dressed up in somewhat naturalistic terms; the Sun gives out a super-flare that delivers such fire to the Earth's surface that nothing living could survive. Some number of human children are saved by friendly aliens who take them to another nice Earthlike planet, where there is a big grassy field and a huge golden tree.

The aliens (Humanlike, white hair, no beards) have been visiting Earth for a long time; the Prophet Ezekiel got a visit from them, and wrote of their spaceship, "a wheel in a wheel, way in the middle of the air." The Biblical prophets interpreted them as Angels. The aliens are telepathic, and only a few humans can hear them, mostly children (including Cage's son). They sound like voices whispering inside your head.

In the process of getting from the beginning of the movie to the end, the message, theme, and plot of the movie is: listening to voices whispering inside your head is a more reliable source of knowledge than Science. (Imagine the word "science" said in a contemptuous and derisive tone of voice.) Our professional Astrophysicist starts out believing in the "scientific worldview", that there is no purpose or meaning in the Universe, and in the course of the story is converted to the Deterministic worldview, that everything happens for a reason, and the way to know what's really going on is to listen to Prophets, in particular from the Bible.

(Just today I heard on the radio a country/bluegrass song "If you see them flying saucers, you better pray to God, it may be a sign of Judgement Day.")

It must be frustrating to religious folk that in real life, prophecies are not nearly as reliable as the page of numbers in this movie. In real life, prophecies are more like "There will be turmoil in the Middle East; there may be sand involved." By contrast, astronomers can predict eclipses to the minute, thousands of years in advance.

In real life, if you hear voices whispering inside your head, it's a good bet you are suffering from schizophrenia and need medication.

I'm also a bit surprised at the theology that Cage's movie is pushing. One of the classic problems of theology is the "Problem of Evil": if God is omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent, why do bad things happen to good people? One classic reply is "because humans and lesser Supernatural beings have Free Will, and they do bad things to each other; floods and frosts and earthquakes and cancer are all the results of freewill actions by humans and evil spirits. So you should blame everybody EXCEPT God." If you are going to argue for Determinism, to the degree that train wrecks can be predicted in complete detail fifty years in advance, and that this is all part of God's Plan, then you have to explain why God seems so cruel and capricious. "Hey, here we have a Barbie Doll; lets tear her legs off, just for fun."

So, overall, I would not recommend this movie for science-fiction fans. Or anyone else, for that matter.
Comment by Eric Harris on February 6, 2010 at 4:45pm
One of the things about religion which irks me the most. Doing all the work and giving all the credit/blame to your invisible friend.
Comment by Jo Jerome on February 6, 2010 at 4:14pm
Eric - and yet if such a world existed, God would have gotten all the credit for saving them.

*Eyeroll*
Comment by Eric Harris on February 4, 2010 at 6:22pm
@ Jo & John
Yes, the church and state survived in "I am Legend". But only thru the diligence and sacrifice of the non-believer. Who survive on his own w/o the need or weakness to call out to a "god" for help/love even thru his loneliness. And he stayed a non-believe to the end.
Comment by Mike Hein on February 4, 2010 at 12:40pm
You folks should start a whole discussion topic on this
Comment by John B Hodges on February 3, 2010 at 10:50pm
Reply to Jo Jerome and Dan DuPree - "I Am Legend" with Will Smith was less overtly proselytizing than the others I listed, but note that the believer lives and the atheist dies, the believer is successfully guided by her feelings and intuitions, and the sanctuary she reaches at the end has two big obvious features, the military and the church. As in medieval cities, the two buildings that show are the castle and the cathedral.

When seeking the underlying message of a movie, look at (1) who the characters are, what types of people they represent, and (2) what happens to each of them in the course of the story- who wins and who loses, who lives and who dies, who is shown to be right and who wrong, who changes and who stays the same. Some examples: in "Chocolat" the protagonist is rumored to be an atheist at the beginning, but is attending church at the end. In "Flatliners" (as in many other movies) the atheist character gets religion by the end. In "The Day After Tomorrow" the (nerdy, obnoxious) atheist saves one book out of the frozen and flooded NY Library, guess which book.

Lots of movies are anti-feminist propaganda. One really egregious example not too long ago was "13 Going On 30". Summary of the plot: shouting "Don't be a career woman, be a WIFE!"
Comment by Jo Jerome on February 3, 2010 at 4:48pm
I assume you're talking about "I am Legend?" While the film overall left me wanting, I liked that there was the little conflict between the god-believer and Will Smith's character. When he said something like, "God had nothing to do with this. There is no God." A couple of people in the theater audibly pooh-poohed the line. I audibly applauded and said, "Go Will Smith!"

Overall though, I would have liked it better if there were no religion reference at all.
 

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