Just entertainment or a reflection of culture?

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Are TV shows House and Bones a reflection of society or merely entertainment? Both leads are atheists, but their stories are quite illustrative.
Popular television programs “Bones” and “House” feature science-based characters who reject the concept of God or much that is metaphysical.

Like millions of other viewers, I enjoy Fox’s television programs “House, M.D.” and “Bones.” Each program is based around the lives of characters who place much value in the realm of science and reason. As a result, they reject the concept of a deity or higher power since it cannot be proven to exist. In fact, metaphysical things are often rejected or mocked by both Gregory House and Temperance “Bones” Brennan. Writers have included in each show characters with religious beliefs, or at least the willingness to acknowledge some form of a supernatural force.

It is interesting, though, that between the two, Dr. House is probably both the most antagonistic while also the most open to the idea of God. Fans may disagree, citing his constant mockery of God and often repeated metaphysical reasons for his denial (despite also rejecting metaphysics). However, when confronted with the unexplainable except for the work of a divine being, House often begins to ponder the idea. However, he ultimately settles on his preconceived rejection of God. In contrast, Brennan always returns to reason, logic, and scientific study for her agnosticism. She does not behave antagonistically, but calmly offers justification for her views. This does not make her views any more correct, just less hostile.

This afternoon I started thinking about these shows while watching syndicated episodes of House. As I thought of the character’s agnosticism/atheism and virtual religious dedication to science and reason, I wondered, are these shows pure entertainment, a reflection of society, or just the writers/producers presenting their theological views (or lack thereof)? Maybe it’s a mix of two or them or all three? Who knows. It is easy to just say they reflect culture, but that disregards the objective/goals of the show’s producers. Some may say this reveals that the show’s creators, producers, and/or writers are hostile toward God. But again, is this what they have in mind with the show? Or is it possible that they came up with characters they are familiar with (i.e., Bones is based on an actual anthropologist)? It’s also just as plausible that the creators/producers/writers are simply attempting to entertain, offering characters with hyperbolic (that’s fancy for “exaggerated”) antagonism toward religion surrounded by people who disagree with the lead characters.

Whatever the basis behind each show, especially Gregory House and Temperance Brennan, the programs are entertaining (especially the episodes where House is doing clinic duty). They also show that there are people who have reasoned away God despite the evidence around them. As believers, we must share the Gospel with such people, but this requires (1) we know what we believe, (2) we know why we believe it, and (3) we are prepared to make reasoned arguments for our beliefs.

About John L. Rothra
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