To start off, I'm on a Sci-fi kick as of late. I've already posted a little bit about TZ and Atheism, but now I want to move on to my greatest sci-fi love: Doctor Who.
For those of you out of the loop, Doctor Who is one of the longest running television shows in history, and is personally my favourite import from the British Isles. The first season aired all the way back in 1963, and nearly 50 years later (save for a hiccup in the 90s) the show is still running to a massive viewerbase.
The show follows the adventures and exploits of a hyper-intelligent humanoid alien "timelord" known as The Doctor, who travels the universe in his personal (stolen) time travel machine, the TARDIS. The highly eccentric Doctor frequently travels with a (usually) human companion on hiis many journeys through time and space, as he visits figures like Winston Churchill and Charles Dickens to exploring foreign planets inhabited by titanic squids and plastic people. The Doctor can also, when in dire need, regenerate his body into an entirely new person; complete with a new appearance and personality.
So, how does this show relate to Atheism? Fantastic question!
The plots to DW episodes often center around events and actions that (at first) appear to be supernatural. Then the Doctor, using his vast knowledge and detective skills, will progressively learn the truth of the matter; which is almost always scientifically explainable within the realm of reality. This relates perfectly to a common case brought up in religious/areligious debates: the "God of the Gaps".
The God of the Gaps argument is the argument that people only see God's existence in the gaps of the scientific knowledge of the time. Ex: in ancient Greece, lightning was the doing of God. Now that science has shown what it actually is, it is no longer attributed to God, and the "gap" has narrowed.
Doctor Who episodes based on the aformentioned formula all focus on narrowing and resolving the "gap" of what is unknown and assumed to be supernatural into clear, scientific fact.
Ex of episodes with GOTG formula:
"Vampires of Venice"
Venice is being ruled by a mysterious and vicious foreign Queen, whom the Doctor is unfamiliar with from history. Many Venetians believe the cruel ruler to be a vampire. The Doctor, through scientific investigation, discovers that she is not in fact a vampire; but rather an exiled alien from another planet (a Fish from Space). She is forced from her throne, and her sinister plot is foiled by good, rational thinking. Additionally, supernatural assumption is once again dismissed by the scientific truth.
"The Unquiet Dead"
It is Christmas in 1869 Cardiff, and dead bodies have inexplicably begun to stand up and walk. Charles Dickens, who is in town, witnesses such an event to his great disbelief. The assumption of townspeople is that the bodies are possessed by demons. The Doctor appears, befriends Dickens, and goes about trying to discover what is behind the events. Eventually, The Doctor finds that an gaseous Alien race is controlling the bodies. Ultimately, an invasion is avoided at great cost. The lesson of the story is that there is always more to be learned, and Dickens is inspired by the events of the ordeal. The Doctor once again dispells unfounded superstitious thought.
These are of course only two of *dozens* of examples that I could give from the Doctor Who canon.
If you are a free-thinker looking for a new show to watch that shares your rational values, check out Doctor Who. All of my heathen-buddies love it, and I promise it is more than worth the time.
Seasons 1-4 are available instant streaming on Netflix, and the original run (1964-1989) is available to stream at dailymotion.com on the TARDISmedia channel. Season 5 has recently released been released on DVD and Blu-Ray, and the stellar 2010 Christmas Special is available Feb. 15 on DVD and Blu-ray in the states
New episodes are due sometime around Easter on BBC and BBC America.