Doctor Who and Immortality

Influence of Christian and Buddhist Ethics

Authors

  • Leena Vuolteenaho University of Oulu

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/imre.v18i4.29090

Keywords:

Implicit Religion, Doctor Who, immortality, Christianity, Buddhism, ethics

Abstract

This article serves as an introduction to an examination of how Christian and Buddhist ethics have influenced the depiction of immortality in Doctor Who. Both Christianity and Buddhism could be said to have clearly defined stances regarding immortality—simply put, both generally regard the human pursuit of eternal life as reprehensible, albeit for somewhat different reasons. During its run, Doctor Who has tackled a variety of ethical issues, the problematic aspects of immortality being a recurring theme. As an overview of selected Doctor Who episodes illustrates, the series tends to agree on viewing immortality as ethically questionable, and furthermore, to reflect the views of both Christianity and Buddhism in how it communicates its own approach. Whether the emphasis is on Christian or Buddhist ideas (such as an authoritative concept of law or the essential nature of life as suffering, respectively) varies from one story to another, but it appears that both have played, and continue to play, an integral part in how narratives regarding immortality are shaped and dealt with in the series. The findings from Doctor Who suggest that the series is a fruitful source in terms of examining the role of religious influences in the discussion regarding ethical dilemmas.

References

Harvey, Peter. 2000. An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511800801

Jacobson, Nolan P. 2010. Understanding Buddhism. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.

Lewis, Courtland. 2013. “Why Time Lords Do Not Live Forever.” In Time and Relative Dimensions in Faith: Religion and Doctor Who, edited by Andrew Crome and James McGrath. 1–15.London: Darton, Longman and Todd.

Steiner, Arpad. 1939. “The Faust Legend and the Christian Tradition.” Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 54(2): 391–404. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/458562

Vuolteenaho, Leena. 2013. “‘Spare me the endurance of endless time’: the Influence of Christian and Buddhist Ethics on the View of Immortality in the TV Series Doctor Who.” Master’s thesis, University of Oulu, Finland.

Wolverson, E.G. 2008. “Doctor Who—Planet of the Spiders.” Doctor Who Reviews. http://www.doctorwhoreviews.altervista.org/ZZZ.htm Last accessed 17 June 2015.

Wynne-Jones, Jonathan. 2008. “The Church is Ailing—Send for Dr Who.” Daily Telegraph Online, 4 April. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/1925338/The-church-is-ailing-send-for-Dr-Who.html. Last accessed 3 April 2015.

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Published

2015-12-22

How to Cite

Vuolteenaho, L. (2015). Doctor Who and Immortality: Influence of Christian and Buddhist Ethics. Implicit Religion, 18(4), 507–516. https://doi.org/10.1558/imre.v18i4.29090

Section

Articles