Doctor Who has always contained a rich current of religious themes and ideas. In its very first episode it asked how humans rationalise the seemingly supernatural, as two snooping school teachers refused to accept that the TARDIS was real. More recently it has toyed with the mystery of Doctor’s real name, perhaps an echo of ancient religions and rituals in which knowledge of the secret name of a god, angel or demon was thought to grant a mortal power over the entity.
But why does Doctor Who intersect with religion so often, and what do such instances tell us about the society that produces the show and the viewers who engage with it?
The writers of Time and Relative Dimensions in Faith attempt to answer these questions through an in-depth analysis of the various treatments of religion throughout every era of the show’s history. While the majority of chapters focus on televisual Doctor Who, the authors also look at audios, novels and the response of fandom. Their analyses – all written in an accessible but academically-thorough style – reveal that examining religion in a long-running series such as Doctor Who can contribute to a number of key debates within faith communities and religious history.
Most importantly, it provides another way of looking at why Doctor Who continues to inspire, to engage and to excite generations of passionate fans, whatever their position on faith.
The contributors are drawn from the UK, the USA and Australia, and their approaches are similarly diverse. Chapters have been written by film scholars and sociologists; theologians and historians; rhetoricians, philosophers and anthropologists. Some write from the perspective of a particular faith or belief; some write from the perspective of no religious belief. All, however, demonstrate a solid knowledge of and affection for the brilliance of Doctor Who.
‘Why Time Lords do not live forever’; ‘Pushing the Protest Button: Doctor Who’s Anti-Authoritarian Ethic’; ‘Divine and Human Nature: incarnation and kenosis in Doctor Who’; ‘Breaking the Faiths in “The Curse of Fenric” and ‘The God Complex”’; ‘The Doctor Working on God’s Time: Kairos and Intervention in “The Waters of Mars” and “A Christmas Carol”’; ‘“You’re this Doctor’s companion. What exactly do you do for him? Why does he need you?”: Doctor Who, Liminality and Martha the Apostle’; ‘“Humany-Wumany”: Humanity vs. Human in Doctor Who’; ‘The Monstrous and the Divine in Doctor Who: The Role of Christian Imagery in Russell T. Davies’s Doctor Who Revival’; ‘“With proof, you don’t have to believe”: Doctor Who and the Celestials’; ‘“Her Brain was full of Superstitious Nonsense”: Modernism and the Failure of the Divine in Doctor Who’; ‘Religion in Doctor Who: Cult Ethics’; ‘Mediating Between the Scientific and the Spiritual in Doctor Who’; ‘Karma, Conditionality, and Clinging to the Self: The Tennant Years as Seen Through a Tibetan Buddhist Lens’; '"There never was a Golden Age”: Doctor Who and the Apocalypse’; ‘Qui Quae Quod: Doctor Who and the History of Magic’; ‘The Church Militant? The Church of England, humanity and the future in Doctor Who’; ‘Bigger on the Inside? Doctoring the Concept of “Religion or Belief” under English Law’; ‘“Something Woolly and Fuzzy”: The Representation of Religion in the Big Finish Doctor Who Audio Adventures’; ‘Doctoring the Doctor: Midrashic Adventures in Text and Space’.