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Atheist TV characters

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
So I was watching "House" which is actually a pretty good show and it would appear that they are playing the main character, Dr. House, as an atheist.

Seeing as how the character is a bitter misanthropic medical genius it would seem the show is employing one of the most tired and acceptable stereotypes still tolerated today. It is usually followed with the inevitable plot device in which the atheist is "saved" somehow, usually by witnessing some cheezy miracle.

In fact, the teaser for the next episode of House suggests that this very thing will happen. Previous teasers have usually been misleading, so I hope they don't go this route.

I'm hoping that House might be the first show ever to have a strong atheist character that doesn't need saving (at least religious saving). Sure House fits the bitter and unhappy stereotype, but the writers have, at times, had him provide rational reasons for his apparent atheism. One of the better comments was when he said he didn't believe in god because he thought life is more than a test.

Can anyone think of strong, positive atheist TV characters that I might be missing?

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post #2 of 24
Lisa Simpson.
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post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Aquatic
Lisa Simpson.

She's a Buhdist, but early on they played her as a skeptic which isn't necessarily an atheist.

--
"Evolution is not random. Mutation is random, but natural selection is entirely non-random. Evolution doesn't predict that all the complexity of life just came together randomly. "

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"Evolution is not random. Mutation is random, but natural selection is entirely non-random. Evolution doesn't predict that all the complexity of life just came together randomly. "

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post #4 of 24
Is it bad the first person I think of is Mal Reynolds from Firefly?
"... You're welcome on my boat, God ain't."

Don't know if he was in need of "Saving" since he did have morals. At least compared to his foes.

EDIT: Well, come to think of he is going to the "Special" Hell.
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post #5 of 24
Most Star Trek characters were presumably athiests... at least until Deep Space Nine came along.

Of course, having such characters in sci-fi is very different from having here-and-now atheist characters in typical TV dramas and sitcoms.
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post #6 of 24
Funny, when I saw the thread title the first thing I thought was "um, well, there's that guy on House, and, um...."

I do think that it's unfortunate that a strongly rational, analytical character is portrayed as having an appalling lack of compassion and empathy, as if those domains were mutually exclusive.

OTOH, there is a fad right now for TV characters that are scary dispassionate and results driven (CSI et al). I think it has something to do with people wanting to see machine like technocrats without baggage toiling away in nicely equipped lairs, as an antidote to the insecurity and chaos at large in the land. They get the job done. Don't ask questions.
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post #7 of 24
Well, The doctor from babylon 5 is a foundationalist. Which, isn't quite atheistic, but it's pretty similar to where I (an admitted atheist) stand.

Essentially, his religion was created once we discovered extra terrestrial sentient life. The idea behind it is to look at all alien religions and find common threads and ideas so as to better understand where all religion comes from. It's very unbiased and irreligious in nature, and while they don't outwardly dismiss the idea of a god, they don't actively endorse it either.

But, as popular as babylon 5 was, it's not really popular anymore. Additionally, it's all sci-fi hooey anyway.

But that's the only example I can think of.


I think fred flintstone was an atheist
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post #8 of 24
Thats a quite funny thing. Movie made with the american public in mind often come across rather peculiar with a lot of people here. Two examples:

Bruce Almighty: Yes I knew what the plot was before I saw the movie but still. A young rather liberal news presenter and his teacher girlfriend. And they talk about god like there is no question about his existence (Bruce is taking the role of the critic rather than that of an sceptic when everything goes wrong for him)? Rather hard to accept.

Contact: We have this rational but vulnerable science girl who come across someone who comes across as nothing but an opportunist, sleek talking religious power hungry buff. Its rather hard to accept him as someone who can join forces with Foster and not just take advantage of her.
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post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by Anders
Contact: ...

I like that movie a lot, but in the beginning of the movie I got the sense she was religious as a girl. It wasn't until her father died that she questioned and dropped religion to focus on science. Although I really like the twist at the end when she discovered she didn't abandon religion after all, despite her best efforts.

Plus there are all kinds of little things in the movie that make it neat to watch over and over. (I didn't get the popcorn scene until the 3rd time I saw it.)
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post #10 of 24
I doubt there are too many positive portrayals of atheists on TV, but then again, people rarely go to church or act in an otherwise religious manner on TV either. I'm sure there are some examples, but given that the majority of Americans are religious, it's surprising that there's so little religion on American TV.
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by Ebby
Plus there are all kinds of little things in the movie that make it neat to watch over and over. (I didn't get the popcorn scene until the 3rd time I saw it.)

Popcorn scene? Please elucidate, I haven't seen Contact in quite some time, and like movies with 'scenes within scenes' and 'plots within plots'...
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post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by iPoster
Popcorn scene? Please elucidate, I haven't seen Contact in quite some time, and like movies with 'scenes within scenes' and 'plots within plots'...

when her dad passes out when he needs the medicine you can see the dropped bowl of popcorn that her dad was carrying but u cant see him yet..
post #13 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Ferali
when her dad passes out when he needs the medicine you can see the dropped bowl of popcorn that her dad was carrying but u cant see him yet..

I thought you were going for some big hidden meaning with the popcorn, like maybe it spilled out in the shape of a galaxy or something. Or possibly the thing about how Zemeckis does that funky thing with the mirror.

Contact is a great movie, one that appears to appeal to atheists and theists, where both walk out feeling vindicated. I can see how theists feel that in the end faith wins out, but I don't see it that way.

The movie does take liberties with Sagan's book, succumbing to the popular pressure to always make an atheist character find faith somehow. Even in the direction that Zemeckis takes it Ellie would have simply said, "Hey, don't believe me? Fire up the machine and send someone else."

They only hint at the triumph of rationalism in the end by pointing out that the only reason they decide to study the machine further is because the head mounted recorder showed a recording time that confirmed Ellie's account.

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"Evolution is not random. Mutation is random, but natural selection is entirely non-random. Evolution doesn't predict that all the complexity of life just came together randomly. "

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"Evolution is not random. Mutation is random, but natural selection is entirely non-random. Evolution doesn't predict that all the complexity of life just came together randomly. "

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post #14 of 24
Any of the MASH characters except that token father they had.
post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by Anders
Contact: We have this rational but vulnerable science girl who come across someone who comes across as nothing but an opportunist, sleek talking religious power hungry buff. Its rather hard to accept him as someone who can join forces with Foster and not just take advantage of her.

The movie, although I enjoyed it, changed the way the story was told to make science appear more like a matter of faith than one of evidence, unlike the book on which the movie is based. The book had multiple travelers who were able to corroborate each other's stories, for one thing. I can't remember now how much evidence the travelers were or were not able to bring back, but they certainly had more than 18 minutes of static from one individual's data recorder. Even that static -- pretty damn amazing, actually, showing a passage of 18 minutes of time for what was the blink of an eye for everyone else -- didn't even get mentioned during Arroway's testimony in the hearing at the end of the movie, but only as a teasing aside afterwards.

In any real-life version of such a series of events, without a script writer forcing his version of "balance" on the story, that fact and many others would have come out loud and clear during any hearing. Arroway's stammering inability to explain herself and these events was also very forced.

All in all, I can't help but feeling that the movie version of the story was declawed a bit, just to make it more palatable to a faith-lovin' American public.
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Peter came out and gave us medals
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We were once so close to heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned -- They Might Be Giants          See the stars at skyviewcafe.com
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post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by Nordstrodamus
I thought you were going for some big hidden meaning with the popcorn, like maybe it spilled out in the shape of a galaxy or something. Or possibly the thing about how Zemeckis does that funky thing with the mirror.

Sorry I forgot about this thread...

Um, your are totally right. The order of the popcorn is the same as the sparkles in the sand later in the movie and the vega star system. (BTW, the "beach" is the same one she drew when she was a kid playing on the radio.) They are all linked. There are TONS of these little things if you look for them.

Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
... they certainly had more than 18 minutes of static from one individual's data recorder.

You mean 18 hours.
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post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
The movie, although I enjoyed it, changed the way the story was told to make science appear more like a matter of faith than one of evidence, unlike the book on which the movie is based. The book had multiple travelers who were able to corroborate each other's stories, for one thing. I can't remember now how much evidence the travelers were or were not able to bring back, but they certainly had more than 18 minutes of static from one individual's data recorder. Even that static -- pretty damn amazing, actually, showing a passage of 18 minutes of time for what was the blink of an eye for everyone else -- didn't even get mentioned during Arroway's testimony in the hearing at the end of the movie, but only as a teasing aside afterwards.

In any real-life version of such a series of events, without a script writer forcing his version of "balance" on the story, that fact and many others would have come out loud and clear during any hearing. Arroway's stammering inability to explain herself and these events was also very forced.

All in all, I can't help but feeling that the movie version of the story was declawed a bit, just to make it more palatable to a faith-lovin' American public.

I didn't really feel that. In the book the machine was said to have simply not worked because all the tapes were erased and they weren't gone for as long as it seemed to the passengers. They might have played up that tension in the movie a bit, but that issue was definitely in the book too.

Also, at the end of the book, they discovered that pi had messages in it from the Creator, which they didn't do in the movie. Sounds like intelligent design to me.
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by shetline
All in all, I can't help but feeling that the movie version of the story was declawed a bit, just to make it more palatable to a faith-lovin' American public.

I wouldn't say the general public, American or not, is "faith-lovin'." It's mostly ignorance-loving and edge-phobic. Any controversial view, edgy because it's new, rebellious, or whatnot is going to be received with the same palpitation if only because it's not commonly held. The easiest pill to swallow for the public -- and it has been this way for 100 years -- is a feel-good universalist message.
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post #19 of 24
Brain [Family Guy]

Otters [South Park]
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed90 View Post

Brain [Family Guy]...

It's funny, I find the character of 'Brian', a talking dog, more beliveable than the Christian's 'God'.
post #21 of 24
wow... a 4 year old thread resurrected !
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post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by KingOfSomewhereHot View Post

wow... a 4 year old thread resurrected !

And they say miracles don't happen!
post #23 of 24
Pretty much all the scientists, and roommates on Big Bang Theory...
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post #24 of 24
Interesting.
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