Wednesday, April 30, 2008

25 Nisan 5768: Day 10 of the ‘Omer/Queen’s Day/Hairstylist Appreciation Day/Hairstyle Appreciation Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary:My brother Barry (a violinist) and I (a guitarist) have a long-standing discussion on what aspects of our chosen instruments are superior to each other’s. Today’s weird things deal with deviation on one aspect of string instrument design, the fingerboard: Unfretted - Fretless Guitar Resource and Fretted Violins and Violas. Enjoy and share the weirdness (or wonder if violinists and guitarists are wasting their time arguing about something that really does not matter).

Aaron

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

24 Nisan 5768: Day 9 of the ‘Omer/National Dance Day

Greetings.

Worthy causes of the day, some of which Barry is responsible for: “WORLD LEADERS: STOP THE FOOD CRISIS”, “Stop the Seal Hunt”, “Please Support the Global Online Freedom Act, H.R. 275”, “Help Protect Community Rights in Ghana”, and “Show the Candidates the Many Faces of Climate Change”.

Divine misconception of the day: “Symposium: A New Koran?” discusses an attempt going on at the moment by Muslims Against Sharia to rewrite the Qur’an with the intention of making it less violent. No matter what the intent, this is a gross violation of a major unwritten metarule of religion: YOU WILL NOT TAMPER WITH TRADITION. Correct belief and correct practice depends on correct information. Rewriting scripture falsifies the foundations of correct belief and correct practice. In this case, the rewriters are deliberately trying to ignore a part of Islam which is well-attested in the Qur’an, Ḥadith, and Sunnah. This is massively dishonest, and any Muslim following this dishonesty yet trying to copy the behavior of Muḥammad will ignore a large part of what Muḥammad actually stood for. Needless to say, other attempts along these lines, e.g., The Jefferson Bible and The Korana of Mother Goddess, have had practically no success. If Muslims Against Sharia are really against a core part of Islamic tradition, I recommend that instead of dishonesty that they apostatize instead.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is “STEAMPUNK STAR WARS”. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Monday, April 28, 2008

23 Nisan 5768: Day 8 of the ‘Omer/Great Poetry Reading Day/National Cubicle Day

Greetings.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions: “Is Barack Obama the Anti-Christ?”, which documents a rather pathetic urban legend. For the record, the answer given correctly therein is a solid “no”.

Relevant to one of today’s quasi-holidays: “The Hunting of the Snark” by Lewis Carroll, the perfect great poem to read in your cubicle while the boss isn’t looking.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is a very silly picture submitted by Barry. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Friday, April 25, 2008

Other worthy cause of the day: “Co-Sponsor Education For All Act”

Greetings.

Today’s other worthy cause is “Co-Sponsor Education For All Act”. (I have to get in these things today because for the next two days there will be no blog posts.) Please sign and let your Representatives know that universal education is important to you. Thank you.

Aaron

Worthy cause of the day: “Congress must support funding for Darfur”

Greetings.

Today’s worthy cause is “Congress must support funding for Darfur”. Please sign and send a message to your congressperson that doing something about this genocide is critical. Thank you.

Aaron

20 Nisan 5768: Ḥol hamMo‘edh Pesaḥ/Day 5 of the ‘Omer/World Malaria Day/ANZAC Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is “Victorian All-in-One PC”. Enjoy, share the weirdness, Shabbath shalom umevorakh, and ḥagh kasher wesameaḥ.

Aaron

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Another worthy cause of the day: “Senator McCain, reject Hagee”

Greetings.

Today’s third worthy cause is “Senator McCain, reject Hagee”.
Unless John Hagee is demonstrably a prophet, he cannot possibly know that Hurricane Katrina was punishment for real or alleged sins of New Orleans. (See the Book of Job, which establishes that even the innocent may suffer.) Politicians of any stripe ought not to court anyone making unjustified accusations. Please sign and let McCain know he is out of line. Thank you.

Aaron

19 Nisan 5768: Ḥol hamMo‘edh Pesaḥ/Day 4 of the ‘Omer/Plumber’s Day/24 Hour Comics Day/Astronomy Day/Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day

Greetings.

Worthy causes of the day, thanks to Barry: “RIGHTS, NOT GUNS FOR ZIMBABWE” and “Moratoria on Medicaid Regulations”.

Relevant to today’s actual holiday: Rhymes with Orange 2008-04-21 and Rhymes with Orange 2008-04-23.

Relevant to one of today’s quasi-holidays: “Hubble Photographs Dozens of Colliding Galaxies ”.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing, suggested by Barry, is “The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Updated”. Though over 100 years old, Mark Twain’s lyrics are eerily relevant even today. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

18 Nisan 5768: Ḥol hamMo‘edh Pesaḥ/Day 3 of the ‘Omer/Laboratory Day/World Book and Copyright Day

Greetings.

Worthy cause of the day, courtesy of Barry: “Make 2008 a banner year for Wilderness!”

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing, courtesy of Barry, is “Me and the Big Guy”. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

17 Nisan 5768: Ḥol hamMo‘edh Pesaḥ/Day 2 of the ‘Omer/Earth Day

Greetings.

Worthy causes of the day, many of which Barry is responsible for: “Stop Florida Budget Cuts to Abused Children”, “Tell Congress: Investigate the Propaganda Pundits”, “Uphold New Orleans Residents' Right to Return Home”, “Start Early: Take a Stand on Pre-K”, “Endorse the Responsible Plan to End the Iraq War”, “Oppose the Path of Destruction”, and “Chill the Drills - Protect Alaska's Polar Bear Seas”.

Today’s news and commentary, much of which Barry is also responsible for:Today’s weird thing is “Dying 47-Year-Old Professor Gives Exuberant ‘Last Lecture’”.

I have been sitting on this one for a while since 1) it is 1 hour 44 minutes long, requiring a good-sized block of time just to watch it, and 2) I was not going to post anything that long the week before Pesaḥ, when people needed to be getting ready. Ḥol hamMo‘edh seemed a more appropriate time. Enjoy, share the weirdness, and ḥagh sameaḥ.

Aaron

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

11 Nisan 5768: International Moment of Laughter Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is “Steam Trek: The Moving Picture”.

Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Monday, April 14, 2008

9 Nisan 5768: Don Quixote Day

Greetings.

Worthy cause of the day, suggested by Barry: “Lift Women Out of Poverty with the GROWTH Act”.

Divne misconception of the day: “The Devil Went Down To Georgia”. This song is a variation on the Faust story, itself not far removed from actual human behavior. However, this song is vasty inferior to its ancestor, but instead of writing my own commentary on why, I hereby invoke “Thirty-Nine Questions for Charlie Daniels Upon Hearing "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" for the First Time in 25 Years.”

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is the Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division . The scary thing is that there are people out there who would not recognize this is a parody. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Sunday, April 13, 2008

8 Nisan 5768: International Plant Appreciation Day/Blame Somebody Else Day

Greetings.

Worthy causes of the day, suggested by Barry: “StopBigMedia.com: TV Stations Need Public Accounability” and “Show the Candidates the Many Faces of Climate Change”.

In observance of one of today’s quasi-holidays, I blame the Bush administration for strangling research funding, resulting in me—and most likely many other people—not having a job. George W. Bush may apologize by sending me a large check to compensate me for all that lost income or, at the very least, buy me a few very expensive things from my Divine Misconceptions sources wish-list.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is something silly from Emily’s collection, included below. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron


A Sunday school teacher asked her class, “What was Jesus’ mother’s name?”

One child answered, “Mary.”

The teacher then asked, “Who knows what Jesus’ father’s name was?”

A little kid said, “Verge.”

Confused, the teacher asked, “Where did you get that?”

The kid said, “Well, you know they are always talking about Verge ’n’ Mary.

Friday, April 11, 2008

6 Nisan 5768: International “Louie Louie” Day/Barbershop Quartet Day/National Cheese Fondue Day

Greetings.

Relevant to Divine Misconceptions: “The Study of Political Islam”. The perspective therein on logic in Islam is rather disturbing and deserves further examination. Nevertheless, that there are rational difficulties inherent in the Qur’an and other Islamic traditions, Muhammad’s message having changed from tolerance to violence when he fled from Mecca to Medina, is noted correctly.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is the Towers of Hanoi Robot.

Enjoy, share the weirdness, and Shabbath shalom.

Aaron

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

3 Nisan 5768: International Feng Shui Awareness Day

Greetings.

Late-breaking fake news: Sam-I-Am and a friend were hospitalized today due to food poisoning from eating green eggs and ham. “I should have known the stuff was spoiled,” said the friend.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is “Flint's Kettering student builds , drives own tank”.

Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Monday, April 7, 2008

2 Nisan 5768: No Housework Day/World Health Day

Greetings.

Worthy cause of the day: “Help Protect America's Wetlands”.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing, submitted by Barry, is “Grocery Store Wars”.

A bit too paranoid of genetic engineering and irradiation, but still very funny. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron

Material related to Divine Misconceptions

This page is an introduction to and an aid to access of material on this blog related to my book-in-progress, tentatively titled Divine Misconceptions:  An Orange Catholic Necronomicon of Religious Fallacies and Misinformation.  Throughout human history, people have frequently shown poor religious thinking and ignorance of religion.  Unfortunately, the situation does not seem to be any better today.  Rather than tolerate the situation, I have decided to write the authoritative book on the subject in the hope of stimulating at least a few people to think about what they believe and why they believe it.

This project is bigger than any one person.  Feel free to notify me of any religiously fallacious or incorrect material you find, suggest matters for me to discuss, or ask questions. I also welcome donations of materials related to the project that you have and are doing nothing but taking up space right now.  Those who are unusually generous can buy me something from the official Divine Misconceptions wish list on Amazon.com. Actual money would also be nice.

Note:  To make things easier on me, I am switching to a searching- and tag-based system. I have not yet gone through the blog to tag all the relevant material yet.

Everything relevant:  the query Divine Misconceptions

Reviews:  the query  
Divine Misconceptions reviews


Everything below was inserted into this page manually.  There are no plans to either remove it or augment it at this point.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

1 Nisan 5768: Old Jewish New Year/Tartan Day/Tangible Karma Day

Greetings.

Note: This is the new year used in the Hebrew Bible; whenever any date is given according to the reign of any king, the months are numbered with Nisan being the first month. At that time they were much more rational about the calendar. All the names of months had dropped away (we do not even know all the original month names), leaving only numbers. No one had to memorize a list of arbitrary month names, and the leap month fell at the end of the year. Then the months gained new names during the Babylonian Exile, as demonstrated by their use in the Book of Esther. I have yet to track down when the new year was moved to its current location, 1 Tishri, the first day of the seventh month, AKA Yom Teru‘oth (“the Day of [Shofar] Blasts”) or Ro’sh hashShanah (“the new year”); this has to have been before the compilation of the Mishnah. The current setup makes the month numberings all wrong, puts the leap month awkwardly in the middle of the year, and forces us to memorize a bunch of names of questionable origin. (Anyone want to argue with me what “Tammuz” means?) There is also a serious question about whether we got the year numbering right. May the next Sanhedhrin please do something to unbungle the situation.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is “The Procrastination Flowchart”. Enjoy, share the weirdness, and happy new year (year 61 of the State of Israel Era, year 4 of the reign of the foolish prime minister ’Ehudh ’Olmerṭ (may YHWH end his reign soon)).

Aaron

Friday, April 4, 2008

28 ’Adhar Sheni 5768: National Repot your Plant Day/National Reading a Roadmap Day/Victims of Violence Holy Day

Greetings.

Worthy cause of the day: “STAND WITH TIBET - SUPPORT THE DALAI LAMA”. Please sign and tell the Chinese government to stop acting like a paranoid brat.

Today’s news and commentary:Today’s weird thing is The Killer Shrews , a classic B-movie. Enjoy (or be scared of giant shrews or something), share the weirdness, and Shabbath shalom.

Aaron

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

26 ’Adhar Sheni 5768: National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day

Greetings.

Today’s news and commentary:In lieu of a weird thing, today I present towards my book Divine Misconceptions a review of The Dark Crystal and various related material. Enjoy and share the weirdness.

Aaron



False symmetry: a theological review of “The Enemy Within” and The Dark Crystal
by Aaron Solomon Adelman

One of the most popular religious themes since ancient times has been that of the struggle between good and evil. The subject has been dealt with so many times to the point of being practically ubiquitous. Whenever anyone tells a story, one naturally expects there to be a side of good opposed by a side of evil. These two sides need not be different people; humans are often depicted as having good and evil parts which can be in conflict. A classic variation on the theme of internal conflict is Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, published in 1885 and popular ever since. It is a story where a man lets his baser drives express themselves without interference in the physical world, only to realize too late that he made a moral blunder. The story is not far removed from what people really do undergo, only that not everyone uses chemicals to produce Hyde.

In 1966 the basic premise of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde seems to have interbred with the “evil twin” idea of the 1930s and 1940s, producing the Star Trek (the original series) episode “The Enemy Within”. In that story, a transporter accident splits Captain James T. Kirk in two physically identical individuals. One Kirk is good, the other evil. At least four variations on this theme have appeared since then:

  • The Dark Crystal (1982): One thousand years previously, the Crystal was broken, resulting in the urSkeks being split into the evil Skeksis and the good Mystics (also known as “urRu”). The plot revolves around the quest of the gelfling Jen to fulfill a prophecy that a gelfling will repair the Crystal.
  • The Doctor Who (classic series) serial “The Trial of a Time Lord” (1986): One of the two major villains is the Valeyard, who is some sort of distillation of all the evil in the Doctor from between his 12th and 13th incarnations.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Skin of Evil” (1988): The crew of the Enterprise encounters Armus, a tar-like being who is the evil of an entire race, split off and marooned on an uninhabited planet. This is most likely a derivative of “The Trial of a Time Lord”.
  • The Red Dwarf episode “Demons and Angels” (1992): Kryten invents the triplicator, a device which creates good and evil copies of anyone or anything. The Red Dwarf and its crew are accidentally triplicated.

Wherever we see both halves of the original, there is always an attempt at symmetry between the two.

  • “The Enemy Within”: The good Kirk grows increasingly passive, while the evil Kirk is very active. The good Kirk is selfless and gentle, while the evil Kirk is selfish and cruel. These symmetries are also found in a doglike creature which is also accidentally split. Neither half-Kirk is able to function properly alone, and eventually they are merged back together into a single Kirk.
  • The Dark Crystal: The Mystics and the Skeksis largely recapitulate the symmetries of the good and evil Kirks, only in ten distinct pairs, the big difference being that each race is functional. The symmetry is taken even further than in “The Enemy Within”. There are always exactly the same number of Mystics and Skeksis. If one of one group dies, then at the same time one of the other group dies. If one of one group is injured, then one of the other group is injured. The individual correspondence is conclusively confirmed when the gelfling Jen repairs the Crystal: each Mystic merges with his/her corresponding Skeksis into perfected beings, the urSkeks. Undeniably, the two races are each part of a greater whole.
  • “Demons and Angels”: Both the “high” and “low” halves are respectively good and evil taken to an absurd, over-the-top extreme—but considering that most things in the show are absurd or over-the-top, this is unsurprising; the “high” forms are impossibly naïve, gentle saints, and the “low” forms are unhygienic, depraved, and cruel beyond redemption. While The Dark Crystal expresses the brokenness of the Crystal in the splitting of the urSkeks, “Demons and Angels” extends the split to the physical qualities of the half-ships; on the “high” ship everything is in great shape and perfect—even much-despised Pot Noodles tasting wonderful—while everything on the “low” ship everything is practically falling apart.

The whole point of the moral split is drama, which it accomplishes very well. But drama is not the same thing as truth, and thus begin the theological difficulties.

That anything could be split into good and evil parts, whether it be done by malfunctioning advanced technology or a magic crystal, presupposes that good and evil are physical properties themselves. Physical properties are ones which have objective existence in the physical universe, e.g., mass, electric charge, color, location, size, weight, temperature, and density. But good and evil are not physical properties; they belong to a different class altogether: social constructs.

While social constructs normally reference the physical universe, social construct properties are ones that only exist because people recognize they exist. For example, ownership is purely a social construct; a rubber duck owned by Ernie belongs to Ernie because people recognize that Ernie is the owner. No physical examination can prove or disprove that Ernie is the owner. Even if the rubber duck is marked as belonging to Ernie, it is possible that, say, Bert bought the rubber duck from Ernie and simply failed to change the markings. Also, whether Ernie owns said rubber duck is dependent on the societal rules—be they explicit or implicit—being used; one society may consider Ernie the legitimate owner of the rubber duck while another denies he is the owner. Note this is not a denial of the phenomenon of ownership; rather this is a denial that ownership can be treated in the same unambiguous, purely objective manner that physical properties can. Other famous social construct properties include marital status, monetary value, legality, beauty and ugliness, and—relevant to this review—good and evil.

What is good and evil is only defined in the framework of a moral system, itself a social construct, which are themselves often parts of greater ideologies, such as religions and philosophical systems. In some religions, what is considered good and evil is dictated by a deity or saintly person. Other ideologies define them in philosophical terms. Some people eschew intellectual approaches and define them in terms of their emotional response or even construct a moral system arbitrarily. To be sure, some actions have widely agreed-upon moral statuses, but the moral status of many actions varies wildly from system to system. Is killing unbelievers permitted? Is animal sacrifice permitted? Is premarital sex permitted? Is abortion permitted? Is violence permitted? Is eating meat permitted? Ask followers of a dozen different moral systems these questions, and one will get a dozen different answers, many of which will include details on when and if these are permitted or forbidden. The fact that there is widespread diversity of moral systems needs to be kept in mind when discussing any moral question; moral systems with different axioms will, quite naturally, frequently return different answers. The upshot of all this, in the context of this review, is that splitting a being along moral lines is impossible. Since good and evil are not physical properties, there is no good side or evil side for a transporter to latch onto separately—and that is ignoring the serious question of whether a Star Trek-type transporter is possible at all. (Magic, of course, has never been demonstrated to exist, and there is no a priori reason to believe it is possible except in metaphorical senses of the term.) There is also the rather unpleasant question of what a person divided in half would physically look like which is universally ignored by providing each half with a whole body, probably in violation of the law of conservation of mass and energy.

One also may not take the path of claiming that the “good” and “evil” halves of the split beings are not really good and evil. In “Demons and Angels”, the “low” and “high” halves affirm themselves that the split is moral. The pure evil status of Armus and the Valeyard are also stated explicitly. Interpreting these statuses as not being actually moral would be in violation of the works’ simple meaning. And while the good Kirk and the Mystics are too passive to be very effective at doing good—though they do have “good” feelings—the evil Kirk, the Skeksis, Armus, and the Valeyard do nothing but evil (according to common Western moral convention, anyway). No one tries to make any case made that any of these “evil” beings are in some aspect good, period, only “necessary”—in contrast with the 1997 Star Trek: Voyager episode “Darkling”, in which Kes argues that a Hyde-like “dark” Doctor hologram composed of the “dark” sides of many simulated historical figures, despite having done much evil, still contains elements of good.

But so what if splitting a being in two among moral lines is impossible? These stories are all fiction, and that which is impossible in reality can appear in fiction with impunity! True enough, but the views of good and evil presented are also problematic.

  • Good and evil are not an intrinsic parts of the human psyche. Intrinsic evil would require that something in the human brain is only applicable towards good or evil. But evolution is a morally neutral process, shaping life according to what works, not according to what is good or evil. Nowhere in the human brain is there a “good center” or an “evil center”. Everything in the basic human mental repertoire can be used for good as well as evil. To illustrate this, let us review as examples the seven deadly sins of Christianity and examine their original purpose and virtuous application.

    • Lust: The primary purpose of the sex drive is procreation, the secondary purpose being social cohesion. Although some religions hold celibacy is an ideal, few make it obligatory for everybody. Those that prohibit sexual intercourse altogether have limited life spans, since without sex no children are born (except with technological assistance), and groups that do not produce children must have high levels of converts to sustain their numbers enough to survive. Like it or not, sex is part of the Divinely sanctioned natural order (in most religions, anyway) and has its place in reproduction and frequently as part of a pair bond.
    • Gluttony: Eating is required for survival. When food is scarce, eating as much as possible is sensible. It is the overdoing eating in which people get into trouble.
    • Greed: People need resources to survive. It makes sense to have a drive to get what is necessary. It also makes sense to acquire that what one can make good use of. Problems arise when people acquire more than they can use or do not make good use of what they have.
    • Sloth: Working too hard is bad for us. Thus having a drive to minimize work is sensible. It also helps us work more efficiently, so we can do more with the same or less effort. Slacking off and not doing what needs to be done is what causes trouble.
    • Wrath: Anger is a strong motivator. It is most useful when one or one’s loved ones are under attack, a time when immediate, decisive action is required. It can also drive one to right wrongs. Its misuse is when it drives people to do wrong. The idea that anger can be used for good is, notably, a central premise of the comic book character the Incredible Hulk. The Hulk is an embodiment of Dr. Bruce (or David) Banner’s anger, anger which he applies towards fighting evil rather than committing it.
    • Envy: Wanting something someone else has, whether achievements or property, is not a problem. Envy can drive people to better themselves. Problems come one when one is driven to act against another.
    • Pride: Feeling good about what one has done right motivates one to continue doing what is right. Pride becomes a troublemaker when it has not been earned.

  • Good and evil are not symmetrical. If they were, one could simply replace each with the other or a transformation of the other and everything would look the same—a situation which, so far as I know, occurs in no religion. Some religions, such as Zurvanism and Manichaeism, approach moral symmetry, but they do not reach it. In any religious system I am aware of where the unique, uncreated deity has a moral attribute, that deity is always good. Evil deities are almost always ultimately outranked by a good deity—assuming any evil deity actually exists. As such, the norm for religions is for good to be ultimately more powerful than evil. Because good is what one is supposed to do and evil what one is supposed to not do, we are supposed to recreate this lack of symmetry within ourselves. E.g., since Captain Kirk is a good character, the good half-Kirk should be more powerful than the evil half-Kirk, perhaps a lot larger, too. Two equal and opposite halves make no sense—or at least implies that Kirk is a more evil character than we think he is.
  • Evil is not necessary or good. “The Enemy Within” and The Dark Crystal both end with the reunion of good and evil halves, giving the message that evil has to exist. As stated before, good and evil are social constructs, not physical properties. Good is what, according to some moral system, we should do, and evil is what we should not do. That evil should be necessary or good implies a contradiction. E.g., murder is defined as the prohibited killing of any sentient being, by virtue of the prohibition being evil. If evil is necessary or good, murder can become permissible or obligatory. Since “prohibited” excludes both “permissible” and “obligatory”, murder cannot by definition ever be permitted or obligatory by virtue of the logical prohibition on contradiction. “Skin of Evil” comes closest to getting it right; would it be that we in reality could simply remove all evil from ourselves and abandon it on another planet!
  • Evil is not supposed to be ultimately successful. Since the norm for religions is for good to be ultimately more powerful than evil, the norm is that good must eventually prevail against evil. As such, that the Skeksis even have a chance at ruling forever is highly irregular, if not unprecedented.
  • Good is not the same thing as passivity, and evil is not the same thing as activity. Making the erroneous equations appears in both “The Enemy Within” and The Dark Crystal. Unless passivity is specifically listed by a religion as a virtue, being passive accomplishes evil by failing to do actual good and doing nothing to stop the commission of evil. The passivity makes the good Kirk and the Mystics somewhat less than truly saintly. Oddly, “Demons and Angels”, despite being over-the-top goofy parody—a genre in which one expects bad ideas to be lampooned—makes the “high” Red Dwarf crew-members just as active doing good as the “low” Red Dwarf crew-members are at doing evil.
  • Good is not the same thing as stupidity. Equating good with stupidity is a cheap dramatic device. Making the bad guys smarter than the good guys makes it harder for good to triumph, thus making the triumph of good so much sweeter. But intelligence is no more intrinsically evil than it is good; what truly makes it good or evil is how it is applied. One could even argue that stupidity lends itself more readily to evil than good. Making moral decisions properly requires objective examination of the current situation. Failure to correctly assess, say, who is guilty and who is innocent in a conflict can cause a tragedy, hence a good reason not to be stupid. Here is where “Demons and Angels” goes horribly wrong, making the “high” characters unable to understand that they are being slaughtered by the “low” characters.
  • Good and evil are not necessarily unitary. Why are characters only being split into just one good and one evil side? Is it not possible for one to be extremely moral in one aspect yet morally neutral or immoral in another? Why is no character ever split into more than just two fragments, each embodying different aspects of morality? E.g., why not a character split into not two, but fourteen fragmentary characters, each exemplifying one of the seven deadly sins or the seven holy virtues of Christianity?

Conclusion: All of these works are based on something physically impossible, and ignoring this, the views of good and evil presented are all faulty. Enjoy them for the drama, but forget about learning anything about morality from “The Enemy Within” and The Dark Crystal.

Overall classification of “The Enemy Within”: Space opera that now looks retro-futuristic.

Theological rating of “The Enemy Within”: D.

Overall classification of “Trial of a Time Lord”: Science-fiction hampered by bad choices in writing and production during this season.

Theological rating of “Trial of a Time Lord”: I (due to insufficient reference material on the Valeyard at the moment).

Overall classification of “Skin of Evil”: Space opera used as a convenient vehicle to let an actress leave the show without a good dramatic reason.

Theological rating of “Skin of Evil”: D+ (I appreciate Armus being abandoned on a distant planet, but the division is intrinsically impossible).

Overall classification of The Dark Crystal: Then cutting-edge pre-Jurassic Park fantasy with Muppets.

Theological rating of The Dark Crystal: D.

Overall classification of “Demons and Angels”: Over-the-top goofy science-fiction.

Theological rating of “Demons and Angels”: D+ (not as bad as “The Enemy Within” or The Dark Crystal).