Monthly Archives: April 2010

Doctor Who review; The Eleventh Hour…

This is the latest eppy of Doctor Who to air (in the US, that is), and also the first to feature the new Doctor.  This is the Eleventh Doctor (and we won’t mention Ten… *sob*), and he is played by Matt Smith.  Other “firsts” in this eppy?  The unveiling of the new TARDIS, both the outside and inside got a bit of renovation, a new companion (Amy Pond), a new sonic screwdriver, and this ep is also the first with Steven Moffat at the helm instead of RTD.

As always on the Christian Scribbler, I look into any religious implications, or discussions that arise from the actors, the writers, the script, the directors, etc… This new incarnation of Doctor Who seems it will also set up nicely for me to comment upon from time to time.  With Moffat as the showrunner, will we see as much of the Doctor’s Messiah complex?  I dunno, but we already have religious/spiritual implications creeping into the show.

A quick summary of the ep follows, with mild spoilers, and then I’d touch upon the religious bit.  Ok, Eleventh Hour sets up a plot line to introduce us to all the new stuff in Doctor Who, so we have a basic episode with a basic alien baddie.  We meet Amy Pond as a young girl who has a suspicious crack in her bedroom wall.  It is a creepy crack to be sure, and we are left to no other conclusion than the Doctor is directly involved.  Said Doctor, in his newly regenerated body, crashes the TARDIS in Amy’s back yard.

One of the funniest moments in the show ensues as Eleven tries to figure out his favorite food…MAJOR SPOILER…fish fingers and custard. hahaha…Anywho, we also find out the alien baddie of the week is; “prisoner zero.”  The Doc has to take off for a bit and promises to return in five minutes in the TARDIS…twelve years later he does manage a return and we get to meet Amy again.  Teaming up with various extras results in Eleven and his human helpers saving the day in a basic Who plot carried out very well.  Another standout scene was a montage of all the previous Doctors (including Ten…*sob*) leading up to Eleven.

So, my opinion?  Matt Smith did the role proud and I will happily tune in every week.  I really enjoyed Amy’s character  as well (played by Karen Gillan), and she seems like the perfect companion for The Doctor.  The new control room for the TARDIS is going to take some getting used to; I liked the organic feel to Nine and Ten’s TARDIS a bit better.  I also realized after watching all the Tennant specials and this episode, that the changes to the show were needed to advance the storyline past the Rose/Nine&Ten romance subplot.  I’m a fan who really enjoyed the romance aspect, and am also glad they found a way to move the story on now.

Anything really negative?  No, I just hope that Smith relaxes into the role and makes it his own…I don’t know his acting well enough to tell if the manic edge to Eleven was a deliberate overlap in the transition from Ten to Eleven, or he’s trying too hard to match Tennant, or that’s simply his acting style.  I hope that there is unifying storyline through the season, as in seasons past, and that all the writers are on the same page as to where to take the Doctor as far as character goes.  And I would absolutely love a TARDIS centered episode or two…or three..or…

As to the religious aspect, once more, it can’t be helped: the theme of the Doctor arriving in the nick of time, as if it was arranged and orchestrated by a higher power was definitely there.  In fact, attention was drawn to it by having the child-version of Amy Pond praying at the very beginning of the show for help with the crack in her wall; and what a blatant prayer it was with kneeling and prayerful hands and everything ;).  The perhaps (atheist) dig of having her pray to Santa instead of God is easily overlooked by the underlying point; her prayer was answered regardless (she was a little kid too, and these misunderstandings do happen)…perhaps she’s Roman Catholic and was indeed seeking Saint Nick’s aid?

For readers just joining in on my Doctor Who discussions, I’ve blogged about the interesting themes I see in Doctor Who, esp. when those themes that are religious in nature are coming from atheist writers; for those blogs that will help explain my interest and where I’m coming from in my reviews go here:  Doctor Who, Atheism and God pt. 1 and Doctor Who, Atheism and God pt. 2

Overall?  Two thumbs up; like the new Doc and companion and am looking forward to all the new episodes!

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Filed under Atheism, Christianity, Doctor Who, Reviews, Sacred Secular

Wishful Thinking…

There is an actual fallacy in formal logic usually labeled something like “wishful thinking.”  This is when someone either accepts a claim, or urges acceptance of a claim based solely on the fact that it would be great if it were true.  Now, most times this is a lot more subtle in nature than stating the phrase outright (“wouldn’t it be great if…”), and is used by some of the best public speakers.  There is a subtle manipulation of emotion involved and it is more of an appeal to that emotion than to any type of actual logic or reality.

Now, why is this a topic for the Christian Scribbler?  I actually see this in a lot of apologetics for non-scripturally backed “Christian” religion.  What I mean by this is that a true Christian that studies the scriptures, and believes them, are a lot less likely to fall pray to this particular fallacy.  As an example there are some people who profess Christ that believe that God is like a cosmic Genie who is bound to answer every request…wouldn’t that be nice?  Wouldn’t that be the way God would operate in an ideal world?

At best, this approach is a misapplication of scripture, at worst it is idolatry; forming God into an image instead of learning of God Himself, how He really is, NOT how we would “like” Him to be or “wish” Him to be.  I see this amongst most non-believers as well.  They paint pictures of God as they wish to see Him, and then reject those pictures; you see “wishful thinking” can work the other way as well….”Wouldn’t it be great if this wasn’t true!?”  So it can apply to the rejection of claims too (again, it is a lot more subtle than this, but you get the point).  This can go hand-in-hand with the straw man fallacy.

One of the other areas I see this in is the idea of Christ alone as the approach to God.  Meaning there is this undercurrent of  “wouldn’t it be great if Christ wasn’t the only way to God, and all religions actually wind up taking people to God?”  The sad thing is, is that I see this amongst people that claim to be Christian.  The fallacy is that wishing it does not make it true.  Truth is all about reality.  With God, the fallacy of wishful thinking is even more dangerous; it elevates what we think would be best over God’s plan that is absolutely the best, since it springs from a perfect mind that has perfect power, including perfect love.  We should trust what God reveals over our own opinion about what would be “best,” for the evidence abounds that He can indeed be trusted in every circumstance to work it out to His perfect plan in His perfect timing, which winds up being best for humanity.

The reminder is this; don’t let sentimentality or wishful thinking blur truth, and just because we want something to be true doesn’t mean it is.  What we find in objective Truth is actually more wonderful, more “freeing” than anything we could ever come up with on our own.  One last thing, this fallacy is not the same thing as hope.  Hope is not a logical fallacy, hope accepts the truth, accepts reality,  and it also trusts, and expects good.  Hope makes us stronger, whereas the logical fallacy of wishful thinking actually weakens us, and our positions, because it is not based in truth.

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Filed under Christianity, Logic

Feedback; The Bible…

I had a recent question on my stance on the Bible; here is the link to a previous article on my blog: The Reliability of The Bible.  I encourage all the new readers to my blog (hello, BTW!) to utilize the “search” function on the side of the page when looking for certain topics.  As always, comments welcome…

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Christians and Alcohol…

Oh, boy.  Yes, I’m tackling this totally non-controversial issue.  This is one of those issues that I urge my readers to research for themselves directly from scripture and to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  With this issue there are actually multiple things to consider when trying to answer the question, ” is it permissible for Christians to drink alcohol?”

The first thing to consider is, what does scripture teach?  Is ingesting alcohol inherently sinful?  The plain, straightforward answer is, no.  If a person approaches scripture with an open mind and not some dead set agenda to prove that alcohol is from the pit, it is quite straightforward that alcohol is not sinful, and neither is drinking it in moderation.  Jesus Himself drank alcohol, and He also turned water into wine, and no, it wasn’t grape juice.

Quite simply it is bordering on silly to think that the wine drunk at all the various Jewish festivals, including Passover, was really grape juice.  The Bible, cultural tradition/history, and the state of agriculture and storage at the time all contradict the grape juice idea.  We are also told in the Psalms;

Psalm 104:14 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; 15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.

Who is ultimately to be thanked for the things in these passages?  The Lord.  What you will notice as you study these things for yourself, is that when you are reading an author that disavows drinking any alcohol that the passages that clearly support yayin (a Hebrew word for wine), or hold it up in a permissible or even a good way, are said to refer to juice and mysteriously yayin changes meaning when it causes trouble in scripture, then it is suddenly alcoholic.  I would point out that another form of alcohol is indeed usually warned against; strong drink or shekar.

Obviously what this is building up to is a warning against addiction and drunkenness.  But to try to force scripture to be against alcohol in any strength or form doesn’t line up.  Here is another reference to both yayin and shekar;

Deut. 14:26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,

There is clear permission to buy both, and ingest it at the God-prescribed festival, though notice that it does not permit drunkenness.  Wine is clearly held up as being something that can be a part of being merry and rejoicing, and it is given by God.  Too much, however, and it leads to sin and trouble.  This is where a very important analogy can be made; and it is with food.  Food is a good thing, it is a blessing, and a gift from God.  If we partake in moderation there is nothing sinful about liking the food we eat.  However, if we eat too much or become addicted to food that is a sin…it is gluttony.  Gluttony does not make all food evil, or wrong, just as drunkenness and addiction to alcohol does not make every drop of alcohol evil.

The scriptures are indeed equally clear that misusing alcohol is a big no-no, and that drunkenness and addiction can lead to bad situations and bad choices.  I will add here that it is fully possible that the wine consumed during OT and NT times was mixed with water to cut the alcoholic effects, and I’d also point out that that means more could be consumed without feeling its effects; for example there are several cups of wine to be ingested at a Passover meal, not just one.

Next, another scriptural truth; we are not to eat or drink anything in front of another that would cause a brother or sister in Christ to stumble.  If your friend is an alcoholic who does not drink, and you drink in front of them, how is that loving and respecting your sibling in Christ?  We are to make sure that we don’t offend someone in our freedom, while at the same time, we are to teach the truth; that we are indeed free in Christ, and truth as presented in scripture.

1 Cor. 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

There is also another important matter to consider here; the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  As we walk and live by faith, each of us, as individuals, should be paying attention to the leading of the Spirit for each of our own lives. It is quite possible, and I do believe this happens, that the Spirit will convict certain believers not to drink at all.  For example, for the alcoholic fighting their addiction, total abstinence from alcohol is sometimes the only possible way to go.  It is  very very important to seek His guidance in such matters where scripture neither prescribes nor prohibits certain things; in this case imbibing in alcohol.  Perhaps the Spirit guides certain people to abstinence from alcohol, not for the person themselves, but for someone around them, or one of their children, or for health reasons.  For others, the Holy Spirit may not guide into total abstinence from alcohol.

It is also important to note that the Bible mentions wine in a manner that touches upon health issues.  Many people that preach against any alcohol claim that it is bad for the one’s health; however, modern science has modified its tune and now recognizes some health benefits from very moderate intake of things like red wine, which actually seems backed up by scripture.  The wide access to alcohol in our culture simply means we need to monitor the amount, our health, and our motives when it comes to purchasing and consuming alcohol.

My opinion, that I obviously feel is backed by scripture, can be summed up like this; alcohol in and of itself is not evil.  The simple ingesting of alcohol is not a sin either; however, drunkenness and addiction is clearly taught against in scripture.  We need to study this and let the Holy Spirit guide each of us in our own personal actions.  We should each do as He guides; for some that means imbibing alcohol in a responsible and respectful manner in moderation will be ok, for some, He’ll guide away from it for their own good.  Emotions run high over this issue because we each know someone who has been adversely affected by alcohol…but we also have to make sure our stances on it are scriptural and that we are seeking guidance for ourselves from God.

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