Oct 122017

Well, *THAT* was dark.

Once again it was very much a Star Trek sort of episode, but it had some very non-Star Trek moments. From the alien religious service that featured something they *never* showed on Trek, to the message at the end: you really probably aught to have killed the children. Yikes.

It was awesome.

It did present what I’ve always thought was just about the only motivator for interstellar war that makes any sort of sense: religion, or something like it. If interstellar travel is s difficult and expensive as we currently foresee it being, then interstellar warfare would be ludicrously unlikely. It would consume an entire solar systems economy for centuries, for no good purpose. If, on the other hand, interstellar travel becomes as easy as its shown in Star Trek/Wars, then most of the motives for war vanish… sure, the Klingons can get *here* relatively easily, but the universe is essentially infinite. The motives of power and resources pretty much vanish in a world of infinite area and stuff.

But if you throw in religion, then interstellar warfare becomes less ludicrous (from a certain point of view). If your god tells you to conquer the whole universe, why, you go and do it.

And f you throw religion into the mix, then reaching an understanding with the aliens could become *real* difficult. In TNG+ Trek, somehow or other humanity has become essentially entirely atheist… something I really doubt. But everybody *else* in the Trek universe? They’re all religious (and it seems that each species has a grand total of *one* religion). But all the Trek religions seem to play well with each other, with virtually nary an interaction. But the great thing about “The Orville:” the Krill religion does *not* play well with others. it started off looking bad, and by the end of the episode… it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better.

Originally it looked like the Krill were going to be the Klingons of The Orville. But the Klingon religion, what of it has been shown, seems to involve a lot of wrastlin’ around and drinkin’ and partyin’. The Klingon religion seems like it would accept non-Klingons. the Klingon *culture* seems like it would accept non-Klingons who adopt the Klingon culture. The Krill? Not so much.

So, yeah. I continue to like “The Orville.” Even in a jokey show, they cover some really pretty disturbin’ stuff, while still being optimistic.

 Posted by at 11:49 pm
  • Paul451

    If, on the other hand, interstellar travel becomes as easy as its shown in Star Trek/Wars, then most of the motives for war vanish… sure, the Klingons can get *here* relatively easily, but the universe is essentially infinite. The motives of power and resources pretty much vanish in a world of infinite area and stuff.

    Not necessarily, once you factor in the speed of exponential growth and selective reproduction.

    In reverse order:

    Suppose humans discover a relatively low cost way of travelling between stars (doesn’t have to be FTL, just has to require less effort than a super-power doing an Apollo project.) After a period of exploration, a bunch of colonies spring up on the most inhabitable worlds within a hundred light-years (say). Basically out to whatever distance is convenient for Earth-humans to consider practical.

    Which nations colonise those worlds? The more expansionist or territorial ones. And which people within those nations? The most outward looking and/or unsatisfied with the status quo.

    Each colony evolves along its own path, with slight differences in culture/values, just as colonies did on Earth. A century or two later, some seed their own child-colonies. Which colonies develop to become colonisers? The ones that develop the most rapidly, wastefully, aggressively. From the point of view of subsequent colonisation, any prior colonies that develop slowly or “live within their means/in harmony with nature/blah blah” are effectively the same as colonies that collapse and die out. They don’t get a chance to contribute to the subsequent colonies.

    Each subsequent generation of colonies is therefore going to be founded by the most expansionist and aggressive of the previous generation of colonies, and again, and again. It’s like you are seeding each new generation by selecting from the most aggressive of the previous generation. Have you seen the Arctic Fox breeding experiment? It took only a few generations to go from untameable wild animal to over-friendly puppy dog. The adaptability of human culture will only amplify the speed and degree of change.

    By just a few generations of colonies, you will have a rapidly expanding shell of colonisation becoming more and more hyperadapted to the process of colonising. Not because anyone intended it, just because of the statistics of selection.

    If that wavefront hits another wavefront of another species doing the same thing… Or hits any species that objects (for perfectly rational reasons) to the locust-like spread of humans… you have the recipe for interspecies interstellar war.

    Exponential growth inherent in that expansion also works inside the colonisation shell, as the mature colonies, descended from aggressive predecessors, continue to consume and grow as quickly as possible. Consuming everything in their systems until they collapse. Perhaps some colonies, in addition to seeding new colonies, will also turn back inwards, preying on those collapsed prior colonies to prolong their own growth. The most successful will be the most war-like. (Some will see their own collapse coming and deliberately change their culture to be less wasteful, without losing their ability to defend themselves from their raiding neighbours, but they’ll always be defending their territory, fighting in their own backyard. Aggressive colonies will be “blue water”, fighting wars in someone else’s backyard. That favours the aggressors.) More interstellar wars, this time within the same species.

    • Scottlowther

      Your argument has merit, but I have doubts about humanity necessarily evolving as you suggest. If the frontier is forever populated solely by the Boldest Badasses, leaving the weaker ones back home… then Africa today would be populated solely by Woody Allens, while Asia and Europe would be filled with office drones, America with cowboys and Australia by roid-raging Space Marines (blood for the blood god, mate!). If space travel is as easy as you suggest, then, yes, I’d buy that the frontier would be settled by the Bold Badasses, but the moment they’ve set up a trading post, the weenies from back home would move in an gentrify the joint.

      To get the sort of divergence you suggest, something would need to happen that would preclude easy second-generation colonization.

      • Paul451

        then Africa today would be populated solely by Woody Allens, while Asia and Europe would be filled with office drones, America with cowboys and Australia by roid-raging Space Marines

        Sounds about right.

        But seriously, you can actually see this in early human colonisation. Africa and southern Asia are the few places in the world where megafauna exists alongside humans. By the time humans got to the Americas, they went through the megafauna like a wildfire. The Clovis culture spread through North America without pausing, only when the megafauna populations collapsed and presumably so did many of the specialised “exploit the abundance of new lands” tribes, that you see regional adaptation. Had North America been effectively infinite, what would the humans at the leading edge of the expanding wave look like after a million years?

  • James

    See your still trying to look at it from a simpler logical pov.

    Humans are not logical nothing is minus maybe AI one day. And really “logic” simply means that something is doing what is best given a certain set of problems, outcomes, and resources.

    So to you or I say traveling a 129ly to a backward planet to attack and take its resources seems stupid…..well so would coming in peace to a easily conquerable planet, killing or enslaving its inhabitants and taking their resources to another species.

    Hell look at the mongol hordes and others off the steppe. Time after time they became so powerful they had more land and grass and horses than they could ever use….but they still kept conquering. They had to it had become a cultural and socially driven way of existing.

    Or hell think about it this way. Nothing says that another alien species won’t view anything not THEM as some form of competition to be beaten and either wiped out or to be used in some other form.

    What if we got FTL and found another race that uses intelligent species as food?

    We don’t know. Why? Their alien. Hell I can show you many cultures that are human that if they had the technology to do so they would enslave and dominate in the same way if they had the tech and the means.

    See this has always been one of my things about many atheist or at least atheist “culture” if you want to call it that. Religion becomes the default ‘evil’ and scape goat. As with communism and others it seems to be money religion becomes the thing you can blame all the problems on and not have to examine yourself.

    Honestly the problem is our IDEA of religion. Region is really nothing more than a organized way of explaining the world and people and things in it. Its a thought structure. People HAVE to have them. And our brains HATE to have those structures doubted. So we hate those things or try and ignore them.

    For instance why do communist need to make EVERYTHING communist? Same for everything. Hell look at Atheism. As it has become more mainstream you see more and more people claiming atheism as their…belief?….so confusing…reacting violently when people don’t share the same values system or disagree with them.

    Hell why do you think Leftist can’t stand people who think differently from them? Because your not supposed to. It makes them question, it means others don’t agree, and it means YOU think differently from them.

    • Paul451

      Hell look at Atheism. As it has become more mainstream you see more and more people claiming atheism as their…belief?.

      In the US, I think that’s a reaction to how aggressive (and passive-aggressive) the evangelicals have been at cowing everyone else to go along with them. If you object to having an assumption of Christianity forced on to you, the in the US you will be constantly objecting. It makes you sound obsessed.

      Hence the only people who do that, who are willing to be looked at that way, are people with that kind of obsessive nature. Which then creates the image of “an atheist”, which reinforces itself by excluding anyone who isn’t religious but doesn’t see themselves in that mould of obsessive weirdo.

      In this country, religious people make up a bare majority, and most of those are lapsed Catholics where it’s a cultural identifier of Irish or Italian migrants more than it is a religion. Apparently the percentage of people who regularly attend church services is about 18%. And maybe 60% wouldn’t even have a nominal church for weddings/funerals. Hence, while there are odd exceptions, religion just doesn’t factor into most people’s lives. And while we have the same kind of angry-atheists (especially because we’ve seen an upsurge in US-sponsored evangelicals causing issues), most atheists don’t make a fuss about it. I don’t know the religion of any of my co-workers, and they wouldn’t know mine. It just isn’t a thing that comes up. For eg, it wouldn’t occur to a football coach, unless he was a modern evangelical, to ask the team to pray before a match. It seems like in the US, it doesn’t occur to him to not.

      Over the last decade, there’s been a huge increase in the number of Americans reporting “no religion” on surveys, I doubt that so many people have lost their faiths in such a short time, it’s just that they are more comfortable saying it out loud. However, even though “no religion” is by definition a-theist, the number of people who identify as atheist has barely shifted. And you still have that wide belief that there’s a spectrum that goes from religious to agnostic to atheist, with the two extremes being equally certain and absolute. In reality, (small-g) gnosticism and theism are two different aspects of religion. Hence not-theistic and not-knowing are not on the same spectrum, but also are not exclusive (you can be an agnostic-atheist. Not personally religious, but not claiming any special knowledge of the divine or supernatural. Or you can be gnostic-atheist, also called anti-theist, in that you have a strong certainty in your knowledge that there are no gods/etc. Or you can be an extremely agnostic, mildly theist, you strongly believe there’s “something out there, something guiding all this”, but don’t know its nature.)

      • James

        Yea but the thing is it’s not religion they are forcing on you. They are trying to force you to BE just like them.

        That’s the thing I am beginning to figure out. The majority of people follow religion for the social benefits it brings. Those are mostly women. If your wife wants the kids to go to church…they go. This gives them a social net that helps them in life. Women understand this and seek it because unlike a man in evolutionary stand point women are dependent upon the group.

        The problem is that people survive by being part of the group. So humans by and large have a herd sense. This means simply, What is popular. Do that. If others don’t they are dangerous.

        Think about it. While Racism was “normal” the majority were racist without being truly racist. Meaning they didn’t really HATE them it was just “unseemly” or “not done in polite company”,

        That which keeps you in the good graces of the community is what is important. So when churches became the social places (largely because of the American car and suburb obsession leading to the death of local meeting places) what happened?

        The Church became THE thing to be in. If you weren’t in church you didn’t have a foot in society. You were odd.

        Its always been this way.

        Or to put it another way look at what has happened in Europe and the US as the Church and Religion has died,

        Increases in political extremism,
        Increases in social movements,
        Increases in communist and socialist groups etc,
        And others are turning to other religions or beliefs.

        Take a look at wear social justice and other things are at their greatest,,,now take a look at where they are weakest. Pretty much everywhere that there is a atheist majority there is more social justice and that crap,

        People aren’t losing religion just changing it to the new one. Human beings Need a list of does and don’ts.

  • Phil

    From some angles, the Krill ships resemble an X-20.

    For me, the gags and jokes felt out of place with the more serious elements of the episode.

    • Scottlowther

      Marrying gags with a story about what turns out to be Space ISIS is going to be easy to screw up. But I liked Mercers line about “I’m trying to lighten the mood, I’m scared off my ass.” Things going bad doesn’t mean people stop trying to be funny.