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Christians as Star Trek Fans

fiction that undercuts Christian apologeticsChristians are modern people, no less intelligent than any other group of people, and yet they jump into a world of ancient mythology and act like it’s real. They’re like trekkers who dress up as Vulcans or Klingons at a Star Trek convention. Or as Imperial Storm Troopers or Wolverine at a Comicon or Dragon*con.

The difference, of course, is that faux Vulcans or Klingons know that it’s just for fun. They might spend lots of time and money on their costumes. They might learn to speak Vulcan or Klingon. But at the end of the conference, they put conventional clothes back on and reenter conventional society. They know it’s fiction.

In a similar way, Christians leave church and reenter conventional society. Some know (or suspect) that the mythology isn’t real, like a trekker who’s in it for the pageantry and camaraderie, but many Christians do live the mythology.

This reminds me of the M*A*S*H television episode where Radar O’Reilly tells Sidney the psychiatrist that he has a teddy bear and wonders if he’s crazy.

“Me and my teddy bear are very close,” Radar said. “I mean … sometimes I talk to it.”

“Does it ever talk back?” Sidney asked.

“No!”

“You know how many people write letters to Romeo and Juliet and think that ‘I Love Lucy’ is real?” Sidney said. “Those people are living nice, safe lives, with towels and sheets. They’re not up to their ankles in mud, blood, and death the way you are.”

Sidney predicts that Radar probably won’t need the teddy bear once he leaves Korea. In Radar’s last episode, this prophecy is fulfilled.

You can get through life thinking that “I Love Lucy” or some other sitcom is real, or that food is produced at the grocery store, or that electricity is made somewhere on the other side of the electric plug but with no idea of how. You can imagine that 9/11 was a conspiracy, that the Apollo moon landing was a hoax, that homeopathy works, or that we live in the end times.

Or that God exists.

During medieval times and before, people did know where food came from (and horseshoes and wagons and cathedrals and any other element of their lives) because if they didn’t participate in that industry personally, they’d at least have seen how it was done.

Though they had a thorough grasp of the simple technology of their world, they also believed lots of nutty stuff, religion included. But, of course, they didn’t have an alternative. They didn’t have modern science to explain away the superstition and poorly evidenced explanations.

Medieval society was harsh and unforgiving, but modern life coddles people. It’s society with air bags. Though they have little excuse, people can hold their unsupportable beliefs with little penalty. They can see science and technology deliver nine times but still doubt it the tenth time, and they can see religion fail nine times but still expect it to succeed the tenth time.

Society insulates Christians from reality as if they were Klingons at a convention. I just wish that, like the Klingons, they realized that it’s all just pretend.

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Related posts:

Related links:

  • Damon Young, “Believers share their dubious apologetics with Trekkers,” The Drum Opinion, 4/13/12.

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Rick Townsend

    I’d be curious to know how many of your readers think this silliness has any resemblance to “clear thinking about Christianity.” To compare a fictional work to thousands of years of documented history is not worthy of an informed response, in my book, so I won’t confuse the issue by composing one.

    Your well must be running dry to resort to this sort of blog post.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Age doesn’t mean credibility. Alchemy is also quite old.

    • Orbital Teapot

      To RT,

      Yeah, but it is the classical atheist trick: putting God (or your favorite religion) into the same bag as fantastic beings, aliens or other nonsense.

      • Bob Seidensticker

        Nope, not a trick. Just a device to make a point.

        We all see the difference between things that were written as fiction (Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.) and mythology. My point in juxtaposing two things from different bins (fiction and mythology) is to show the commonality.

        Aliens and UFOs (that is, life forms and technology) are far easier to imagine existing than Yahweh (a supernatural being). We have countless examples of life forms and technology, and their existence is universally accepted. Not so with supernatural beings. So, yeah, placing these two very different things in the same bin is jarring, but keep in mind that the supernatural claim is the truly startling one.

        You act like the existence of Yahweh is obvious. If you’re sitting on information that would show this, don’t hold out on us.

        • Orbital Teapot

          To Bob S,

          Whether the supernatural is obvious or not depends on one’s worldview and its postulates. In Africa, it is “obvious” that a spirit world and that wizards exist. Some centuries ago, it was “obvious” to Westerners that witches existed.

          To many well-adjusted people, it is not hard to believe in God. It is in agreement with their spiritual experiences. It is in agreement with the information they have (which in turns depends on who they think is trustworthy). To many well-adjusted Buddhists, it is not hard to believe in the truth of Buddhism, because they “experience” it in their lives.

          So Reality is more ambiguous than you claim.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          In Africa, it is “obvious” that a spirit world and that wizards exist.

          For much of Africa, yes, I see your point. And when we move to the West, how do things change? With the mass of evidence for natural explanations of reality that science has given us, how should we treat claims of the supernatural?

          To many well-adjusted people, it is not hard to believe in God.

          Which ties in with this post. They can believe in God, even if he doesn’t exist, and there aren’t much in the way of consequences. Modern society has air bags.

          When everyone’s doing it, I agree: it’s not hard to believe.

          It is in agreement with their spiritual experiences.

          And in India, their experiences similarly support their Hindu beliefs.

          So Reality is more ambiguous than you claim.

          You may well be right, but I’m not sure what this line is in response to.

  • Bob Calvan

    Amen Rick. Bob’s worldview is reduced to absurdity.

  • Bob Calvan

    Problem is as the Bible ( the absolute standard of truth) says Bob S. knows this God in his heart. The proof is Bob himself. He is spending his life trying to refute this God he does not believ in. And Bob does not even see this.
    Bob is the evidence that this God does exist.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      He is spending his life trying to refute this God he does not believ in.

      Wrong again.

      My focus isn’t on Yahweh. I don’t care about a god that doesn’t exist. Rather, I care about the consequences within society of god belief. That is not imaginary!

  • Bob Calvan

    ” My focus isn’t on Yahweh. I don’t care about a god that doesn’t exist. Rather, I care about the consequences within society of god belief. That is not imaginary!”

    Sorry Bob I do not believe you. Our society is plagued with serious problems. And you expect me to believe that the harmless ripple a few Christians hold is ruining our society? The Christian message is love one another, love your enemies, feed the poor. Give me a break! And the proof of your bogus statement is the majority of your blogs is about you attacks on Jehovah. About His immorality, slavery, genocide, etc. Your statement above is a bold face lie. You do know this God and you do hate Him. And it shows you can not get around it. You have devoted your life to refute this God you hate and say you do not believe in.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      We clearly have a different view of Christianity’s impact in American society.

      you expect me to believe that the harmless ripple a few Christians hold is ruining our society?

      I don’t know if you get it but are just distorting (that is, minimizing) Christianity’s impact for effect, or if you just don’t get it. I’m guessing the latter.

      If you care about understanding atheists’ anger and are honestly perplexed, here’s a post by Greta Christina that gives a good summary.

      I doubt you care to understand. Show me wrong.

      The Christian message is love one another, love your enemies, feed the poor.

      And if that was the extent of the impact of Christianity in America, I’d find another hobby. Duh.

      About His immorality, slavery, genocide, etc.

      Heck, yeah. Poor ol’ Jehovah looks pretty bad in these departments.

      You do know this God and you do hate Him.

      Wrong again.

  • Bob Calvan

    If you care about understanding atheists’ anger and are honestly perplexed, here’s a post by Greta Christina that gives a good summary.

    So I read Greta’s angry list. What a joke. Boy theres a reason to devote your life to stop these Chrsitian atrocities. LOL. Also Greta is angry at a lot of “ought” and “ought nots” How do you account for ought and ought nots in Greta’s worldview of piityless indiference? Seems Greta best read from her Pope Dawkins.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Good for you for giving it a read.

      What a joke. Boy theres a reason to devote your life to stop these Chrsitian atrocities.

      If you had found specific errors in her logic, here would’ve been the place to put them. Not seeing any, I’m assuming this spluttering is you not having any cogent response.

      How do you account for ought and ought nots in Greta’s worldview of piityless indiference?

      How many times have we been over this?

      Most Christian apologists have no problem acknowledging that atheists can be moral (but perhaps you’re not among them). What these apologists say, however, is that atheists have no way to account for objective (transcendental, absolute) morality. And I agree! I see no such morality.

      And when you look up the relevant words in the dictionary–ought, right, wrong, good, evil, etc.–you see no reference to objective anything. Atheists are quite happy to be moral and to feel constrained (and to constrain others) by oughtness.

  • Bob Calvan

    Let us look at the inconsistency of Bob S.

    He says:

    ” My focus isn’t on Yahweh. I don’t care about a god that doesn’t exist…”

    Then a few lines later says:

    ” Heck, yeah. Poor ol’ Jehovah looks pretty bad in these departments….”

    Bob can not get around it , He knows this God and rejects Him in Bob’s unrighteousness. (Romans 1)

    The fool in his heart says there is no God. ( Prov) The Bible is not calling Bob a name .But saying Bob is dull minded.

    Bob has devoted his life hating a God that he says does not exist? The atheist worldview is reduced to absurdity.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Let us look at the inconsistency of Bob S.

      Why talk about me in the third person? Just confront me directly.

      He knows this God and rejects Him

      Well, golly–if the Bible says it, it must be so!

      Bob has devoted his life hating a God that he says does not exist? The atheist worldview is reduced to absurdity.

      That is indeed absurd. So why even propose such a view?

      God doesn’t exist, but God belief does. And this god belief is what is the problem.

    • Orbital Teapot

      To Bob C,

      Please stop saying that Bob S hates a God he does not believe in. Bob S hates God belief, period. To say that Bob hates God as if he hated a real person is not charitable and does not further your cause.

      • Bob Seidensticker

        Thanks! Maybe Bob C will listen to someone else.

        He seems to detest me.

  • Bob Calvan

    Most Christian apologists have no problem acknowledging that atheists can be moral (but perhaps you’re not among them). What these apologists say, however, is that atheists have no way to account for objective (transcendental, absolute) morality. And I agree! I see no such morality.

    Yup, I agree. The atheist can not account for morality, human ethics, science, or logic. The atheist worldview is bankrupped.

    • Bob Seidensticker

      It’s hard to understand how you can not get this after we’ve been over this many times. Or maybe you’re just being deliberately stupid.

      The atheist can’t account for objective morality. He has no problem accounting for morality. And he fails to see any evidence for objective morality (you, of course, haven’t helped since you’ve provided none).

  • Bob Calvan

    “…God doesn’t exist, but God belief does. And this god belief is what is the problem….”

    How do you know God doesn’t exist? … To know that means you would have to know all things.

    • Orbital Teapot

      To Bob C,

      How do you know unicorns or fairies don’t exist? To know that means you would have to know everything.

  • Bob Calvan

    Dear Orbital Teapopt:

    “Please stop saying that Bob S hates a God he does not believe in. Bob S hates God belief, period. To say that Bob hates God as if he hated a real person is not charitable and does not further your cause.”

    I am just qouting Romans 1. Which tells us all men know God in there hearts but reject Him in unrighteousness. The point is allmen know the God of scripture but twist the evidence of God and believe a lie. Bob S knows God but rejects Him..That is why Bob devotes his life hating something he says does not exist. Do you see the contradiction and the inconsistency?

    • Bob Seidensticker

      allmen know the God of scripture but twist the evidence of God and believe a lie

      Yeah, that’s convincing! As an atheist, I always find Bible quotes to provide unfailingly accurate wisdom.

      Or not.

      That is why Bob devotes his life hating something he says does not exist.

      How many times have I corrected you on this? Is it Christlike to ignore inconvenient evidence or to dismiss the other side of the story?

      I would’ve thought that, from your perspective, God gave you that big hominid brain to use.

    • Orbital Teapot

      To Bob C,

      Then I must say that the Bible is wrong on this. It does not understand atheists as they really are.

  • Bob Calvan

    Orbital Teapot

    ” Then I must say that the Bible is wrong on this. It does not understand atheists as they really are…”

    1. By what standard are you saying the Bble is wrong?
    2. How “are” atheists? In your worldview?

    • Orbital Teapot

      To Bob C,

      The Bible is wrong, because it is contrary to the empirical fact that atheists don’t hate God. Now you may say that they unconsciously hate God, but this claim is untestable, and cannot be proven, and therefore it is worthless.

      There are many kinds of atheists: buddhist philosophers, marxists, existentialists, freudians, rationalists, postmodernists, and so on. It’s impossible to make generalizations beyond their common denial of God’s existence.

      • Rick Townsend

        To OT:

        I would have to agree that some comments on this blog are uncharitable and probably unhelpful. I find it interesting that Bob finds it completely within bounds to compare Christians to Trekkies and other mindless fiction-believing and intellectually challenged types, but when someone suggests that atheists are off base or less than consistent with the facts, they are accused of uncharitable behavior. Still, there are some limits of civility that we all ought to observe.

        You seem to use a very even tempered manner, which is appreciated. We should all strive for that. The old catching more flies with honey than vinegar thing? We’d all do well to focus on the facts and not innuendo and ridicule. But that goes for both sides, don’t you think? If so, it would be good for responders to point it out when it occurs on both sides.

        • Orbital Teapot

          To RT,

          I do think that Christians deserve better than to be put together with Trekkies, fairies, unicorns, bigfoot and so on…

          But the point that atheists are trying to make, is that all those entities are to them like God: they see no evidence for the existence of any.

          And I do think that faith is impossible without reliance on someone else’s (prophetic) word. But then I am told that I would be logically led to believe in ufos!

          So it boils down to this: faith is not the result of proof. Faith is reliance on a prophetic word. But this word needs credentials, something ufologists don’t have.

          There are only a few “prophets” that I find convincing: Jesus, Socrates, Buddha and Confucius (I may be tempted to add Zarathoustra, but I don’t know him enough). But there are flaws in each of them. Still, I respect their insights. And they lived up to them, thus proving their good faith.

        • Orbital Teapot

          To RT,

          Another thing that Bob lacks is a decent theological knowledge. He knows some Christian apologetics, but it would do him good to be acquainted with the greatest Christian theologians, who tried to creatively respond to the challenges of the world. People like Bultmann, Bonhoeffer and Tilich, and so on. He won’t get a clear picture of Christianity by sticking to apologetics, especially apologetics produced by conservative theologians of the latest few decades. He needs to broaden his horizon.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          Rick:

          compare Christians to Trekkies and other mindless fiction-believing and intellectually challenged types

          Is the comparison invalid? Then show me. Simply restating what I’ve said in an incredulous tone doesn’t do much to advance your argument.

        • Bob Seidensticker

          OT:

          “Broaden my horizon”? Why–because I’ve been so successful at shutting down nutty conservatives??

          I think there’s still a bit more work to be done there.

          If what I’m saying is applicable against a conservative position but not against a liberal one, instead of saying, “What good is this since it doesn’t address liberal scholars?” I suggest you say instead, “Bravo for shutting down Christian extremists!”

  • Rick Townsend

    To OT:

    Well said.

    As for faith, the Bible defines it as the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. That does not mean that these “things” are things for which there is no rational basis whatsoever. It means that what is revealed is consistent with what is not revealed but is promised. The faith of the Christian is an extension of what we see into the future, on the basis of faithfulness of the fulfilled prophecies and promises of the past. Only Jesus can deliver on that level. Buddha and the other pretenders don’t even come close from my study of world religions.

  • Bob Calvan

    ” I suggest you say instead, “Bravo for shutting down Christian extremists!”

    LOL! Bob you have not shut anything down. All we get is your own subjective opinion. Wow! Relitivism.

  • Arkenaten

    Christians such as Bob C are ignorant and incredibly arrogant. Atheists do not hate ‘God’. His ilk cannot seem to understand, to even grasp the concept that an atheist’s unbelief is not god-specific.
    So, Bob C, let me spell it out for you. Christians are NOT special, do you hear? Atheists do not believe in gods – plural.
    I realise this is harsh for you to to come to terms with, but facing up to such things is part and parcel of growth.

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