50 Years of Humanism in ‘Doctor Who’

Brandon Fibbs honors the 50th anniversary of “Doctor Who,” calling it a “consistent beacon of humanism,” with this fantastic clip compilation:

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • popeyoni

    Not quite Humanism, more like Timelordism.

    • Highlander

      Or Galifreyanism

  • Alan Bloor


  • Ginger

    I LOVE Dr Who!

  • Michael

    There’s a brilliant scene in the Daemons where the Doctor is arguing with a witch as to whether what is going on is science or magic. After finally convincing her to back down, he starts going on about psychic energies and crystals and the like. But it’s science, because he knows how it works.

    • rufus_t

      (Arthur C.) Clarke’s third law states “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”

      • The Other Weirdo

        I’ve never been happy with that because I’ve always felt that a sufficiently advanced culture, when face with technology more advanced than its own, should be able to tell the difference.

        • Michael

          Girl Genius argues that any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science.

          • Michael Harrison

            And Florence Ambrose (of Freefall) once graffitied that, regardless of how advanced a society is, science will look like magic to people who don’t understand how it works.

  • BeasKnees


  • beatonfam

    …because people can be so, so much more…

  • Miss_Beara

    I looooooove the Doctor! It makes me happy. Except for that awful Titanic episode as well as the Agatha Christie bee one as well. Those made me depressed.

    • pirate_froglet

      And Van Gogh. But that one I LOVED because of the feelings it inspired.

      • Chris ones

        The Van Gogh episode makes me cry EVERY time

        • Miss_Beara

          The Van Gogh episode was amazing. It makes me cry too.

          The Titanic and Christie ones were depressing because I hated them. :)

  • Scott McGreal

    A delightful video, thanks so much for sharing it :-)

  • Keulan

    Such a great TV show.

  • Tim

    Thanks for the clip.

    I love Dr Who. Just looking out of my office window across the harbour I can see the BBC Wales studio where it is made. Last week I saw the Prince of Wales and Camilla walking strolling along there with a Darlek.

    • PP

      What’s a “Darlek”? You love it so much you still can’t spell Dalek?

  • Art_Vandelay

    Am I the only atheist that’s never seen an episode of Dr. Who? I’ve also never seen an episode of Star Trek and I didn’t quite care for The Matrix. Do I get to keep my membership?

    • wabney

      Nope, sorry. Turn in your A card. ;)

    • The Other Weirdo

      We’re atheists, not religious people. We don’t excommunicate members for being different. That’s for religious people. We, on the other hand, sit those different from us down in a chair and force them watch the right shows, damn it!

      • Art_Vandelay

        Yeah, well after seeing this video…I had no idea he was like the British Carl Sagan. It’s officially on deck in my Netflix queue. I can get by without watching the old ones, right?

        • The Other Weirdo

          Am I the only one around here that doesn’t have a Netflix queue? I hate that.

          Yes, you can. Start with the 1st season in 2005, the Ninth Doctor, and go from there. Watch your brain, though. They like to throw curve balls into the plots that don’t hit you in the head until 3 years later.

          • Art_Vandelay

            It can be rectified with a measly 8 bucks a month.

            • The Other Weirdo

              No, I have Netflix. I meant that queue where you can mark shows for future watching. A couple of my friends have that, but I don’t.

              • frozen01

                The UK version of Netflix doesn’t include an instant queue. The US version does. Your friends might be either not British or using a proxy.

                • The Other Weirdo

                  Why would I be using the UK version of Netflix?

          • allein

            No I don’t have one of those, either (I don’t have Netflix).

    • allein

      Nope. I have friends who are huge fans and I have never seen an episode. (Though I’ve absorbed enough to at least recognize a lot of the references I come across.) The only Star Trek I’ve seen is a couple movies and a lot of the original series that my ex had (mostly on VHS). I saw the Matrix once and I remember very little of it. Maybe we should break off and start an A- movement.

      • Art_Vandelay

        Sure! I like to throw horseshoes, play ping-pong, and teach myself retro-80′s and Tim Minchin songs on the piano. There’s usually gin involved. Can that be a thing?

        • allein

          Cool! I’m a huge Tim Minchin fan! (Though I was never very good on the piano.) My family has a ping-pong tournament every year at Christmas (though I suck at it). But as long as there is an option for an vodka alternative, I’m cool with that.

          • Art_Vandelay

            There’s always a vodka alternative. Make no mistake about it…I’m not implying that I’m good on the piano either. On the contrary, I’m a talentless hack. Fortunately though, I’m completely shameless.

            • allein

              I will have to watch that later. My work blocks the ‘tube :(

            • allein

              Your daugher (I’m assuming) is cute :)

    • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

      You get to keep your membership, but you should do yourself a favor and watch both “Doctor Who” and “Star Trek.” They’re both very worthwhile.

  • BrianO

    … I love Dr. Who, but I think that calling it out as a beacon of humanism is a little naive. A large portion of the character is a thinly veiled metaphor for Christ. The more-than-human that comes to save mankind, looking and acting like a man, complete with resurrection. A Christmas special every year, which could be chalked up to secular celebration, but they even start each new season on Easter! They’re not trying real hard to disguise the connection.

    • Gordon Duffy

      Please, Christ wishes he was the Doctor.

      • Ida Know

        And the Doctor doesn’t demand to be worshipped in return for saving the cosmos. In fact he doesn’t even like being saluted.

    • Spuddie

      Nu-who made it pretty explicit, but also showed the drawbacks to such associations. If they did it in the classic version, I bet it was purely accidental. =)

    • Cafeeine

      The interesting thing is that they do address that in the show. The Waters of Mars episode is one where they examine the Doctor’s hubris.

    • frozen01

      That’s a bit of a stretch.

      When Doctor Who was created, the Doctor didn’t regenerate. This was added later to explain why there was a new actor for the role.

      I’ll admit, some of the David Tennant episodes did get a little too close to Jesus for me towards , but that was very brief.

      • RobMcCune

        The first episode I remember that explicitly says the Doctor is traveling all of time and space in order to save people was “Love and Monsters”. Take that for what it’s worth.

    • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

      Using religious metaphors doesn’t make a show religious. It’s a metaphor that most Westerners understand, but that doesn’t mean we have to buy into it as real. Anyway, in my opinion the Christ imagery was mostly a Russell T. Davies thing, and is not an integral part of the series as a whole.

      • RobMcCune

        Also I don’t think the RTD stuff was about the christian religion, it was just another way that the second half of the Tennant era could constantly heap an insufferable amount of praise on the Doctor.

  • danferguson

    The video was taken down. Does anyone have a mirror?

  • Bobbie

    To be honest, I grew up with the original Doctor Who and the new stuff has never really settled with me… Ecclestone was a good Doctor, Smith is doing well, but Tennant… Kill it with fire, DAMN he was almost as bad as Sylvester McCoy…

    Can’t see the video, though, echo the calls for a Mirror

  • Jennie Erwin

    Awww.. video is gone… stoopid copyrights

  • AskAnAtheistBecky

    Is this video mirrored anywhere? the original has been taken down due to copyright claim

    • Brandon Fibbs

      Search the title. It’s been put up a half dozen other places but may not stay there for long. I am fighting a copyright issue with a particularly dislikable user.

  • Cincinatheist

    Since YouTube has pulled the vid due to copyright claim, I saw a couple o’ folks looking for an alternative. Looks like LiveLeak has it available for the moment: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=79d_1374040894

    • Cincinatheist

      And now it’s gone. Oh well. I tried.

      • Brandon Fibbs

        Search the title on YouTube. It’s been put up a half dozen other places but may not stay there for long. Changes will be made and it will be reuploaded soon.