People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect. But actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey …stuff. -The Doctor
It is not exactly a statement that would make one’s heart melt, but it did for me. Actually, many of my friends are surprised that I haven’t found an excuse to blog about The Doctor yet. Running around on adventures through space and time, a dashing hero, and it continually making me contemplate how my Catholic faith would hold up in alien worlds is what has made “Doctor Who” my favorite TV show.
“Doctor Who” first aired in 1963 in Great Britain and is the longest running science fiction television show in the world according to Guinness World Records. The series follows the escapades of a Time Lord called The Doctor from the planet Gallifrey as he travels around the universe in his time machine, a TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space), that has an outward appearance of a blue, British police box circa 1960’s. He usually travels with a companion or two who help the viewer follow along by asking questions that serve to explain the scenarios and often complex technical situations. Every episode features a conflict of some kind, be it a bad guy, a life endangering situation, or even The Doctor himself. Shenanigans, moral dilemmas, and not-always-happy endings abound with this show. You would think that I would be tired of all their running — it’s in every episode. But the suspense, the adrenaline, and the action are never boring.
The show has a few philosophical issues that tend to recur, the primary being moral responsibility of the main character. The Doctor is over 900 (Gallifrean) years old, and even he admits on a regular basis how much he enjoys his dangerous jaunts. The character has a special characteristic (read: plot device) that enables him to recover from a mortal injury by regenerating. (It is possible for him to die, however.) His entire outward appearance (and the actor portraying him) is changed, along with his tastes, quirks, and decision-making skills.
But no matter which version you’re watching, in almost every episode the Doctor has to make a decision. Do I kill the bad guy? Do I sacrifice a few to save many? Is saving my best friend more important than saving an entire species?
While a majority of the time he ends up saving both the few and the many (Yay, happy endings!), often it’s at the expense of the bad guy’s life. As Catholics it’s okay to be okay with that. The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2309 outlines the moral legitimacy of talking life for the common good.
– the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
– all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
– there must be serious prospects of success;
– the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. the power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
Preventing extinction of the human species, I feel, qualifies, but luckily these are just fictional scenarios.
A second big issue for me is, in the future, what does the Church look like? In season five, head writer Stephen Moffat portrayed the Church of the 51st Century as soldiers in “The Time of the Angels”/”Flesh and Stone” double episode storyline. A squad of soldiers called clerics is overseen by a “bishop, second class” as they fight to neutralize a deadly enemy. I’m not even going to begin to fathom what the church will look like in the year 5000 and beyond, but I know what the church teaches about aliens currently.
In recent times the Vatican’s top scientists and astronomers have been very clear that believing there may be aliens is not against Christianity, and aliens would be welcomed into the Catholic Church. Both are great articles that explore whether souls are limited to humans, and if aliens, being separate species, would be subject to original sin (and thus the salvation of Jesus) or could still be in friendship with the Father.
I often find myself daydreaming as I watch the show about upholding my beliefs in impossible situations, such as the dignity of the human person and opposing false gods. Would I be plagued with doubts when faced with incomprehensible scenarios?
Will future generations
For now, I’m keeping close tabs on the Mars rover, Curiosity, in hopes that I will see a man on Mars in my lifetime, and DARPA’s 100 Year Starship initiative that is seeking to determine what it will take to make human travel to another star system a reality within the next century.
And I’ll keep watching Doctor Who and daydreaming.