July 3, 2009
I realize the Friendly Atheist has already posted this but I found this article by Nick Farrantello in The Humanist magazine so compelling I have to include it (especially so close to Independence Day since it’s about personal freedom). feel free to call me a copy-cat, FA fans.
Oddly but accurately titled “Star Trek Made Me an Atheist,” Farrantello shows how the original series (TOS to Trekkie Geeks) made him compare the worldview of the USS Enterprise crew with what he saw around him in religious institutions.
He writes: [A]s a boy I found it increasingly hard to understand why Christians weren’t acting the way Kirk and Spock were. If there was a God, some being causing earthquakes and hurling hurricanes, why wouldn’t Christians (or Jews or Muslims for that matter) fight against such a being? What I was learning on Star Trek seemed more moral to me than what I was learning in church.
I really have no other commentary to add. Well said.
For me, the pinnacle of the article is Farrantello’s inclusion of this classic Kirk monologue from the episode “Who Mourns for Adonis?”
[Remember] who and what you are: a bit of flesh and blood afloat in a universe without end. And the only thing that’s truly yours is the rest of humanity. That’s where our duty lies!
Such a profound statement from such an often-campy space opera reminds us all why the show was so far ahead of its time (and maybe our time).
Live long and prosper…
June 18, 2009
Frankly, however, the aspects of Russell’s thought that I consider most relevant still to people today concern his politics and his writings on morality. Unlike many progressives during his lifetime, Russell recognized early on that the communist regime of the Soviet Union was a disaster for its citizens and for humanity at large, and was accordingly publicly very critical of it. In a typical fashion, here is how he managed to attack the Soviet revolution and the Catholic Church in one paragraph:
“One who believes as I do, that free intellect is the chief engine of human progress, cannot but be fundamentally opposed to Bolshevism as much as to the Church of Rome. The hopes which inspire communism are, in the main, as admirable as those instilled by the Sermon on the Mount, but they are held as fanatically and are as likely to do as much harm.”
I have never had the chance to read much of Russell except for a multi-pound volume titled “History of Western Philosophy and Its Connection with Political and Social Circumstances from the Earliest Times to the Present Day,” which I still have not finished but hope to by year’s end (I think I’m up to the Renaissance). However, anyone with the philosophical gust to write a book titled “Why I Am Not a Christian,” in 1927, deserves to be saluted for his willingness to offer up an unpopular world-view when blasphemy was still a crime in some parts of the Western world (an unfortunately re-emerging trend).
Thanks to Dr. Pigliucci for pointing our Russell’s contributions.