Doctor Who, Atheism, and God, pt. 2…

In the first part, I focused on the themes of Doctor Who, and gave my thoughts on why I believe they, the themes (such as messiah-like heroes, the betterment of the human race, miraculous type powers, faith, etc…), not just the specific show, are so compelling to write, and to watch; I believe it shows that regardless of what we say, every human has an almost innate urge for these things, as well as for things like perfection.  The only true way to fulfill these types of urges is with the Truth that can only be found in Christ and an acknowledgment of God.  Now, in this installment, I use a line from Doctor Who as a jumping off point to talk about aspects of human nature I have observed.

In the episode “The Doctor Dances,” we come to the resolution of a storyline, and have a scene where the little boy Jamie is in his mother’s arms, and we still don’t know if they are going to make it, if they are going to survive and thrive…The Doctor (Nine), pleads, “Oh, come on. Give me a day like this. Give me this one.” Who is the Doctor pleading with?  Who is he asking that he assumes knows precisely what kind of day he wants without even having to utter it out loud?  Who has the power to give days or withhold them that would hearken to pleading? Was he pleading with sheer dumb luck?  The materialistic universe?  Who? The actual character, and beliefs of The Ninth Doctor aside, I was always struck by the irony; the writer of the episode, Moffat, is an atheist, the executive producer of the series, Russell T. Davies, is an atheist, and the actor playing Nine, Christopher Eccleston, is an atheist.

Again, I’m using this as an example…but I have observed precisely the same thing in the humans around me, many of which have no religious beliefs one way or another.  There is something going on and they are pleading from the depths of their being, “Come on, come on, please let them be OK,” “Just this once let me hit the jackpot,” “This has got to be it, come on, please…”  It’s a reaction that just seems to come out, why?

Anger, blame, and questioning…I don’t know how many times I’ve experienced this online while engaging in conversation, not anything like evangelization, just common discussion, with a mix of beliefs; atheists, agnostics, fellow Christians, pagans, etc… but an atheist will be explaining how they don’t believe in God, and ends their post with “F— God!” exclamation point and all, with a true underscore of vehemence.  The anger is most assuredly there…anger at whom?  A God that he claims doesn’t exist?  Somehow or another God gets the blame for everything bad in life, even though the blame is coming from those who say He doesn’t exist…quite an odd set up.  “Why are you doing this to me?” said in a groan while looking at the sky, or curled up in a fetal position, or just, “Why?” or the perennial favourite, “Why me?”  It is instinctual, something coming from a part of ourselves that most atheists would deny.  It runs deeper than thought, emotion, or physical reaction, it comes from our soul.

Thanksgiving, no not the holiday, but another observed reaction.  My atheist friend was so worried about getting a certain job, it was on his mind day and night, and he waited and waited and waited for a call.  I happened to be there when the call came.  He got the job.  He proceeds, with no conscious thought whatsoever, in a fit of exultation, to fall on the floor, on his back, hands toward Heaven, and exclaims, “Thank God! Yes!” with more fervency than I’ve observed in most Christians. I can “hear” people’s reactions now, “well, it’s just a phrase,” no, sorry, I was there.  There are times when people, even/especially believers who do not really mean, or feel what they say, “Thank God, praise God, praise the Lord,” rolls off the tongue with nothing behind it; this wasn’t in that vein.  I’ve heard others do similar things, offer up thanksgiving and praise “thank you thank you thank you”…to who?  Again, it is before thoughts get in the way, and it is from our beings.  Humans click into a praise and thanksgiving mode without even putting forth effort, it is something internal and fundamental.

The deep feelings of “otherness” or resonance, of something greater than ourselves, or nature.  I was dialoguing with an atheist online, and he was explaining his deep love of music.  I commented on how music seems to be something that can touch us on every level of our beings.  He agreed.  I asked if he had ever felt caught up in a piece of music in such a way that it resonated with him on a level that was beyond mere thought or emotion.  Yes, he had.  It was a fundamental resonance with awe and wonder, a pure feeling, again, something beyond and deeper than emotion.  Folks, we have a soul, and we’ve experienced things like what this person is describing.  I asked if that meant anything to him, or how could he just dismiss it out of hand, that feeling of purity and that there is something more, something bigger, something beyond the physical, and at the same time fundamental.  He couldn’t really answer, he just said he did dismiss it.  I urged him, and urge everyone reading this, don’t dismiss it, think about it.

In God we find the key to these things.  We do have souls, we are geared to seek answers and ask major questions that can be phrased quite simply, “Why?”, we are geared towards thanksgiving and praise to something “other,” geared toward asking for things bigger and outside of ourselves, and we do experience deep resonance and the sense of something bigger even than nature itself…with an understanding of the spiritual nature of ourselves and an acknowledgment of God, these things start making sense, and makes our lives so much richer…many people that come to Him through Christ do have that “Aha” moment, akin to the realization that “Oh, so that’s Who The Doctor was pleading with after all…”

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18 Comments

Filed under Apologetics, Atheism, Of Interest, Sacred Secular, Theology

18 responses to “Doctor Who, Atheism, and God, pt. 2…

  1. --Fr. G.

    To whom does a Time Lord pray?

    One of the great questions of our time. And you weren’t the only one who asked it during that episode .

    –Fr. G.

  2. Kliska

    Precisely…it is a wonderful question…

  3. Jack

    It is a truly terrifying thought (in-universe) that a Time Lord actually has something to pray to. I think the original series once blatantly stated that most people pray to lesser beings than the Time Lords…:0

  4. Roger

    People’s last word (when dying) is reportedly very often “Momma”… God probably comes in second. (Just a guess). Does this prove anything about God …or Momma? Probably not. “Our Father, who art in Heaven…” Our Father? What is our earliest experiences as a human? Well, for most of us, it involves mom and dad – deeply. Is it any accident that we see and crave parental figures elsewhere in our lives? Doctor Who is deeply steeped in British culture… which includes many references to indomitable spirit against overwhelming odds (Battle of Britain, anyone?) as well as a love and pride of scientific traditions (Darwin is on their ten pound note, Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking, etc.) and a love/hate relationship with authority, coercive familial relationships, eccentrics, and religious tradition. You see God everywhere… I see imprinting of momma and dadda and inculturation. Are there things greater than us? Of course. The immensity, power and beauty of the cosmos are around us all the time to attest to that fact. Do I feel a constant craving and passion for life? I do. Do I believe that something supernatural (outside of nature) is needed to explain that? No. The enveloping power and grandeur of nature and the urgency of our nature-given desires and abilities is enough to explain it (to me). Indeed I sometimes find it odd that nature is not enough for some. Do they not see the incredible beauty that I see all around me? The idea of a “purpose” a “what for” supposes that the object/energy itself is not enough in itself. Is the universe not enough?

    We can certainly agree that Doctor Who is an enjoyable show. (Though I must admit that I haven’t gotten into recent incarnations). Cheers.

    • Kliska

      Roger, many times the idea being discussed by me and others is not if non-believers do or don’t see beauty or meaning in things, it is “is there a logical reason” behind it all. You feel a constant craving and passion for life, I believe you do…but is there logic behind that? You probably also stand against things like murder, rape, etc… you might also be for that indomitable spirit against overwhelming odds. That is good, but is it ultimately logical given the parameters you see in the universe? If everything, including you and every other human, is mere matter with no purpose, no meaning, nothing beyond you but more mere matter…then those things you describe as beautiful, or right, or hopeful, have no meaning whatsoever. “Beauty,” “fighting spirit,” etc… become meaningless. Yet, most people crave these things, they enjoy them, they wish to live life to the fullest, and they wish to do right, they wish for perfect relationship. There is a logical explanation behind all of this that gives everything deeper meaning, deeper beauty, that is the Truth…and that is God, and His signature is all around us…esp. in you.

      • Roger

        well stated. I think as inquisitive smart animals we are driven to constantly try to understand things… and to get the why of things… In the scale of our subjective reality until fairly recently (until the advent of civilized man I imagine), it was appropriate to simply ask “what can I use this stick for?” “why is that large animal approaching me?” and such similar questions. Where less cerebral animals depend more on reflex, we reflect – and plan – and act more intelligently and efficiently because of it. Other great apes (and a few other animals) take this step as well. This questioning has great utility being the kind of animals that we are. It allows us to create many tools and concepts and ways of cooperating that give us great power over our environment that is a great advantage to us. There is definitely evolutionary reason for us to be inquisitive and wonder why about things. I do not see our intelligence or our inquisitiveness at all as proof that there is a greater meaning (“to life and the universe and everything”)… it allows us to navigate and dominate our surroundings – and that is sufficient reason for it to exist.

        Do I enjoy things that go beyond simple manipulation of my environment? Sure – the stars, music… etc. But these could simply be pleasurable by-products of the more utilitarian aspects of our minds. The fact that sex (particularly sex coupled with commitment and love) is intensely enjoyable, for example, is easily explained by the utility of breeding and successful raising of happy offspring… the fact that we enjoy it is a tool toward our breeding – it is not the end product.

        Some have even suggested the idea that the incredible ability of our human minds acts like the excess of a peacocks feathers to it… that it attracts mates and intimidates rivals… that sort of thing… but that like those feathers, things like philosophy and religion, as interesting to us as they are, are a strange flourish to impress – and they may have no other evolutionary purpose. Mind you – that’s not going to stop me from enjoying my mind and other abilities. :-)

        Wondering why about music and the stars and mortality and such is endlessly fascinating… you and I share that passion. Are the answers important when we can do nothing about them? Perhaps not. (It doesn’t stop me from wondering, though). The stars are currently completely out of our reach… and, in my opinion, so is immortality. I do not believe that the existence of our desires is a proof that what we desire exists… I believe that our desires are attempts to deal with what is true. And sometimes, as we know, the desires are dysfunctional to some degree or another. I see desires as an adaptation not unlike thirst or fright. As a kid I desired to understand and hopefully meet Santa Claus… this was born obviously from a great wonder at the mystery of the gifts under the tree (and a wish to increase those gifts)… but my desire for Santa Clause did not turn out to be proof of his existence. There are “gifts” under our tree all the time (at least us who are not poverty and disease stricken)… there are clear concrete physical reasons for those gifts being there. Gifts are often, of course, from others that love us… but they are also from nature… accidents that we take advantage of… blooms of fruit and fish and whatever else that presents itself… what is a gift to us is in some cases a gift to the other living things (spreading seeds by eating fruit, for example) and sometimes it is simply taking advantage. Us fishing a salmon out of a river is certainly no gift for that salmon.

        Is there purpose? I think it depends on the scale you talk about. Purpose always relates to something else external. At some point you include the whole universe and then what do you have? Well, you point to God (an external) and that is good enough for you… I suggest that once you include God, the next question would be why is there a God? Or why does God desire what God desires? That would beg yet another level of externality. ad infinitum. The same sort of endless loop of logic dogs the creation of the universe… if there was a beginning it begs the question of what created it, which in turn begs the question of what created that creator, etc.

        I think at some point we simply must say it is what it is. The Jewish religion handles this by God saying “I am that I am”. One must get to that point at some level… I choose to apply it to the Universe (“it is what it is”), you take it out one additional step and feel that there must be an external God. To me, however, once you include something external, it is no longer external, and then you’re back where you started. …at least that’s how I see it.

      • Kliska

        If we were animals we would not be seeking the “why” of things. And, of course these things, such as consciousness itself, are far to complex to have arisen through mere chance alone. “Thinking meat” makes no sense…nor would our ramblings ever be logical if there is not reason, logic, purpose, meaning, and order to creation. As we do have consciousness, and there is obvious laws and order to creation, as we can see design present all around us, it is supremely logical to conclude a designer. And if there is a designer, He designed us. That should be seen to have an effect on us, being designed, and so it does. The Darwinian evolutionary positing tries to dance around the logical conclusions. If all we are is matter, and all we do, act, think, and feel is reducible to matter…then there is no such thing as the basis for morals.

        Did that sense of morality evolve? Then it is fundamentally an illogical position to hold. The thing with trying to use a rhetorical analogy like comparing the belief in God to a belief in Santa Claus is that it false flat in the area of proof. There is proof of God’s existence, whilst there is not actual proof of the mythological figure of Santa.

        The existence of God does not keep begging some level of “externality.” That denotes something bound to space/time, or something made up of space/time, and therefore defined and bound to it. As God, by definition, would be transcendent, He would have no need of anything external to define Him. You take the name of God, “I am that I am” and don’t apply it in its full meaning. God exists there is nothing needed to define Him, He IS. It isn’t a question of “why” in this case; it is just a mere statement of fact; I AM. I do hope you come to that realization that He indeed is self-existent…and that for whatever reason, is really interested in us as individuals. The universe is dependent, He is not.

  5. Sue

    Wow. This was so well-written. I’ve been thinking about this myself lately (the observation that humans display a craving for the attributes of God). Another example I can think of is justice. Our need for justice and fairness leads to all kinds of things, from vigilante groups to socialism. We’re told from childhood that life isn’t fair, and yet we keep expecting it to be in the same way we expect heroes to be perfect. We can’t help it. It’s like a basic need.

    It’s a bit illogical that we’d be going through life looking for perfection and fairness in a world that is supposed to be a random accident.

    • Kliska

      Yes, and the very fact that we can have an idea of perfection in a completely imperfect world lends itself to there being a God. In fact, several philosophers argue this point quite strongly.

  6. Pingback: Doctor Who review; The Eleventh Hour… « The Christian Scribbler

  7. Tom Jennings

    Is Steven Moffat an atheist? cos I’m confused…His stories contain evil angels that look innocent but then kill people, clerics with guns and a white light that if you follow destroys your existence. But then theMoff also deals with ressurection, miracles, faith, love bringing us back the dead etc….I’d love to know but can’t find any info on the matter anywhere. I’m a bit of a confused agnostic myself…I’d love there to be a God and an afterlife as I seek perfection and rhyme and reason. Yet I also believe the Universe is subject to random chaos and stuff just happening by accident (I don’t believe in fate). I would really like to know what my heroes personally think…And, as a massive (obsessional lol!) Who fan, i’d love to know the Head writer’s personal thoughts on said subject.

    • Kliska

      You are touching upon some of the points I’m making in my articles on this subject; even those proclaiming to be atheists cannot escape the inherent spirituality of being human. We are triune-style beings made in the image of God. We are indeed spiritual creatures, and that aspect of who we are will find an outlet somehow. Ultimate fulfillment of that aspect of ourselves is found in Christ. I hope you take some time to check out the rest of my blog articles, esp. the ones in Apologetics.

      Here is a reply to another who was asking about Moffat: …here is a link to another person’s blog post that touches on this: http://calebwoodbridge.blogspot.com/2009/01/ask-sci-fi-question-get-theological.html And I also came across some info that jogged my memory on where I originally heard Moffat’s stance; it was around the episode about River being downloaded into the Library’s database. If you can find the “Confidential” eppy that went along with that story, I believe there were comments made in there about the human soul.

      • Tom Jennings

        Thanks for replying. I clicked through on your link and it does seem Steven is an atheist. But I’m slightly puzzled. By “there is no god” does he mean there literally is no God in his opinion or that, when it comes to writing there is no ultimate God’s viewpoint and thereby the writer dictates his own sequences of events without worrying about formula or a prearanged order and layout? Hrrrmmm…I might just be being thick here. But it’s a thought. i guess, when it comes down to it, I like the idea of moffat believing in a God because it would encourage me to do the same lol! Typical human behavior compying those we idolise in there viewpoints. Silly as that is.

      • Kliska

        If you can find the behind the scenes interviews I mentioned, I do believe he is clear that he doesn’t believe in a soul. But, from reading your posts here, I would caution you to make sure you are deciding on the important matters of faith on your own, as you say, we shouldn’t just follow someone else’s belief because we like them. You need to weigh the evidence and pay attention to what you feel lead towards; it seems you can pick up a little of what I’m saying; Moffat seems to be denying the soul, yet his stories are full of spiritual imagery…perhaps he is searching too, or knows the truth of God, and is denying it. Please, for your own sake, take an interest in religious matters and take your interest in some of the themes in Doctor Who (salvation, messianic figures, spirituality, the universe, etc…) and really go research Jesus, He’s the true Lord of Time, and it is very fulfilling, spiritually, to know Him!

  8. Tom Jennings

    Here’s an interesting thing I just remembered this morning, when the Doctor gives the cybermen their emotions back in The age Of Steel (A personal favourite episode of mine), he tells Lumic, “I gave them back their souls”. In the press release for the next Dr Who episode (A Christmas Carol) it says the doctor has to rescue an old man’s soul. I think that even non religious people often use the term soul to describe people at their most human and their most moral. Maybe you should write an articale on the latest series? And maybe the cybermen and how they might be linked to religion (I’m sure they could in many ways)….because they’re my favourite Dr Who monsters lol. I know the usual choice are the daleks but you’ve got to love that shiny steel look the cybermen have!

  9. Amanda

    So who is this God you speak of?

    • Kliska

      WHO isn’t this God of speak of. ;) There’s only one true God; The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The great I AM. He’s triune in nature; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You can read about Him in the Bible, or start perusing my other articles if you’d like.

  10. Amanda

    Has anyone else noticed the odd amount of Christmas in Doctor Who?

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