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Ok, we've done Star Wars and the Matrix, now how about Star Trek? I was going to put this under "other wisdom traditions" but since it isn't a tradition... not sure how 'wisdom'

it is either. Anyway, I like Star Trek next gen (STNG)., but also like some of the others. I think it comes out more in STNG anyway. Also comes out maybe more in novels.

 

Ever notice that religion is essentially for aliens, not Terrans? Vulcans have their religion, Bajorians, etc.(In fact, Terrans could adopt alien religion maybe--- see Deep Space Nine).

Or humans as part of ancient cultures could still keep early religions (see episode on American Idians). I'm sure the writers considered it too hot to handle, so made everyone very nice humanists apparently.

 

But there is evidence that perhaps instead of religion as such we have a 'creed' based on what appear to be some sort of loose Judeo Christian values mixed in with the Prime directive for moral development. (Thsi is esp. true in the novels, though I realize they aren't, as they say, "canon"). (BTW, this is true of most current fiction. Babylon 5 was a series that freely jumped into earth present day religion.)

 

These are best observed in some stories regarding Wesley.

At every turn, Wesley is advised to basically do what is right without interfering too much in his development. He has someone to see to his studies, "tuck him in", and basically help him be a man without getting too much into how he does this.

 

However, at two points Wesley strays from the accepted behavior.

 

The first in the cover up incident at the Academy. Jean Luc, tells him his duty is to the Truth (scientific, moral, etc.).

He isn't just told to do what he thinks might be right. Picard is pretty strong about it. At the end, Picard tells him he just gave him a little push in the right direction which is the way he would basically want to go anyway.

 

One other incident and I think Wesley has the higher moral ground. That's the Indian episode where the Federation decides that they should remove these Indians from some world proclaimed in a treaty (deju vu over and over) as being Cardassian. Wesley very strongly argues their case (in words in another situation might be spoken by Picard), and tells Picard he is wrong. In this case, Picard does as ordered and suggests Wesley "just follow orders". In the end, the creed of Starfleet is not high enough, and Wesley goes off to follow a mystical "traveler"/ "seeker". (spiritual cult figure :-))

 

Another creed of Starfleet is to seek new life and new civilizations. The underlining message is that new life and new civilizations are "good" (even though some actually turn out to be some aspects of our own character that aren't so good. ) The Ferengis are certainly 20th C capitalism gone wild, and Cardassians are our military industrial branch (or perhaps aspects of current world crisis--- Cardassians occupiers and Bajorians are Palestianians. Some of whom are terrorists like the Mahki (sp?)). Anyway the notion that civilizations are inherently good and approachable (discoverable and someone we would want to discover)-- well not sure I would make that assumption.

 

 

:-)

 

Live long and prosper,

 

--des

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Anyway, I like Star Trek next gen (STNG)., but also like some of the others. I think it comes out more in STNG anyway. Also comes out maybe more in novels.

I'm a long-time Trek aficionado myself, although I never really found it to be all that spiritually deep. At least beyond your basic 20th century liberal, tolerant, technology-will-save-us (with a few very notable exceptions) sort of worldview. As you mentioned, religion is always to be cherished as a token of tolerance, much the way we preserve drawings of the "celestial spheres" from the Middle Ages. ("Gee, what cool drawings and calligraphy they have.") But we're beyond that now that we've abolished poverty in the early 21st century.

 

I think of all the Trek material, the stuff I like best is the stuff that deals with the implications of technology, and how to retain our humanity as we adopt more and more of it. I think Insurrection is probably my favorite Trek movie for that reason.

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I don't think it is so theologically deep either. In fact, I pretty much agree with your analysis. However, I read the books to fall asleep, and the characters always take the Prime Directive and apply to other things. Then I saw it in some of the episodes, esp. with Wesley.

Yes, though I actually think they consider religion a fascinating thing from their bygone age OR they don't want to deal with it on network (or rather syndicate tv).

 

Actually I don't know Roddenberry's religious views other than that he had this great optimism that there will be a future, and the future will be good. (I would say this is on the level of faith. :-)) I heard him speak (or rather Riker, or the guy who played him) gave a speech at a space conference I went to. It was not only full of optimism for the future-- not just in space exploration but in human progress. This is reflected in a series where they have conquered war and disease on Earth and need to go find it in the universe. :-)

 

BTW, I looked this one up. Roddenberry was raised a Baptist, but left this early on. He was rather critical of religion. He is quoted as saying, "I think God is as much a basic ingredient in the universe as neutrons and positrons. This is the prime force, when we look around the universe." Sounds rather pantheistic. There were some interesting notes on the series.

 

 

There are a couple interesting references, however some of the more religious references to alien religions were after Roddenberry's death.

http://www.jimmyakin.org/2005/05/that_next_time_.html

http://stjohns-chs.org/english/STAR_TREK/c...artedgods2.html

(the later has references to three Wesley C. episodes. I had (thankfully) forgotten the infamous quote from Wesley in the Edo episode "We're from Starfleet, we don't lie".

Don't quite buy Roddenberry's religious beliefs but interesting....

 

Live long and prosper

 

--des

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Thought I'd share this in case there are other Trekkers here :-) or if anyone else finds this hypothesis intriguing.

 

There's a course at Syracuse University, “Star Trek and the information age” which examines episodes of the series to talk about technology, society and leadership in our world. Gene’s son Rod Roddenberry was guest teacher and asked students to consider what would happen if a replicator were invented. He challenged them to imagine how society would react if we could eliminate hunger, material needs or even money itself. “Would people eventually decide to work for the good of society?” (as they do in the Trek future). Saying that he believed such a result was possible, although admittedly after a period of chaos, he asked the class to respond. Some students asserted that humanity would be capable of rising to the opportunities this breakthrough would offer. Others believed that self-interest, laziness or lingering resentment would prevent many from contributing in a world without the financial motivation to work.

 

If the world were free of poverty, hunger, and disease, would there be peace and cooperation? does technology have the capacity to change the tribal mindset that leads to conflict and violence?

 

just sort of a “what if” question, to me it seems related to PC, or Evolutionary Christianity at least.

Edited by rivanna
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If the world were free of poverty, hunger, and disease, would there be peace and cooperation? does technology have the capacity to change the tribal mindset that leads to conflict and violence?

I think technology does not have the power to change mindsets. Certainly it is a powerful tool but there is a strong impulse toward balkanization or increased tribalism. Watched a TED talk which highlighted how google's responses to an identical search have such wide differences in results because of the individual's habits. In response to news on the up-rising in Egypt one first page of results had only travel and history responses.

 

Besides balkanization forces Star Trek universe does not supply everyone's need for power which leads to many of the conflicts. I believe in Lord of the Rings and the 10-80-10 rule. The abusive social organization devolved in Lord of Rings is always a potential response which will occur even if basic needs are met. Roughly 80% of the people can be swayed by free riders and corruption. Star Trek has no answer to these problems. This 80% can also be influenced by prophets and leaders so the global world can be moved in the direction of Roddenbery's uptopia.

 

There is talk in many arenas about the opportunity being at hand to change the global mindset. The Charter for Compassion is one. Integral growth thinkers and writers are prophesying such.

 

some wuick ideas

 

Take Care

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I think technology does not have the power to change mindsets.

Take Care

 

I agree. We have had technology since the first humans emerged. The technology of paleolithic stone tools was surely more influential on early hominids than smart phones are to us today. Hopefully, we have learned a little along the way, but, IMO, the fundamental nature of humans is essentially the same since the development of modern humans (50-200,000 years ago).

 

George

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thanks for the replies. Interesting about LOTR, didn’t know that.

I agree, technology doesn’t change human nature. For every problem that is solved, another one is created it seems.

 

If you can forgive a bit more nerdiness - The Trek class discussion was in relation to the turning point of “First Contact” –a passing Vulcan ship lands on earth when they notice that we have warp drive capability. Within 50 years there is no more war, crime, poverty, or disease. It’s not so much our own technology that “saves”us, as the Vulcan technology which brings the two races together and transforms the world. How this happens is never really explained--perhaps the Vulcans give us help and advice, perhaps earth society is motivated to prove themselves competent, or some of both. So in a way Roddenberry’s vision is tribalism taken to a new level, but in a beneficial way.

 

back to reality - if technology advanced to provide for everyone’s material needs, there would still be human conflict and suffering. Perhaps there is a positive side to that, because compassion and empathy are based on the recognition that suffering is common to all of us.

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back to reality - if technology advanced to provide for everyone’s material needs, there would still be human conflict and suffering. Perhaps there is a positive side to that, because compassion and empathy are based on the recognition that suffering is common to all of us.

 

Unfortunately, we do have the ability to prevent any starvation from occurring in the world, but it is there. Many diseases that could be prevented or treated still persist. We have the ability to provide health care to every living American, but a substantial portion of our citizens oppose this.

 

Technology can help, but it isn't sufficient by itself.

 

George

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I think technology does not have the power to change mindsets.

 

Id agree with that but I do think technology has the ability to facilitate education which may in turn speedup if not change mindsets. Indecently this works in both directions (positive and negative).

 

steve

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Thought I'd share this in case there are other Trekkers here :-) or if anyone else finds this hypothesis intriguing.

 

There's a course at Syracuse University, “Star Trek and the information age” which examines episodes of the series to talk about technology, society and leadership in our world. Gene’s son Rod Roddenberry was guest teacher and asked students to consider what would happen if a replicator were invented. He challenged them to imagine how society would react if we could eliminate hunger, material needs or even money itself. “Would people eventually decide to work for the good of society?” (as they do in the Trek future). Saying that he believed such a result was possible, although admittedly after a period of chaos, he asked the class to respond. Some students asserted that humanity would be capable of rising to the opportunities this breakthrough would offer. Others believed that self-interest, laziness or lingering resentment would prevent many from contributing in a world without the financial motivation to work.

 

If the world were free of poverty, hunger, and disease, would there be peace and cooperation? does technology have the capacity to change the tribal mindset that leads to conflict and violence?

 

just sort of a “what if” question, to me it seems related to PC, or Evolutionary Christianity at least.

 

Hi Rivanna,

 

"If the world were free of poverty, hunger, and disease, would there be peace and cooperation? does technology have the capacity to change the tribal mindset that leads to conflict and violence? "

 

I think that, yes, technology had the capacity a long time ago. But technology is a tool for evil as well as good, and sadly, evil is in coltrol and had been. However, 'good' just might be the Jedi of Star Wars, and I think it's gaining strength because of the internet.

 

I think it's going to take much effort to free the world of the evil grasp, but once it's done, yes, i believe we an overcome poverty,hunger and disease. But easier said than done.

 

The only way that will happen is if people turn off mainstream media and start researching on the internet.

We are headed into a major catastrophic situation which will leave our population struggling to stay alive.

 

Good news is that good guys have that technology as well as bad guys. this is what is encouraging to me.

 

May the force be with you.

 

Kath

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Hi Kath,

 

I didn’t see your reply until now. Just a few ramblings…

 

Although I enjoyed the Star Wars films, to me the series is less appealing because its premise seems to be ethical dualism, almost Manichean or Zoroastrian extremes of good and evil, the Force and Dark Side. Star Trek’s secular humanism reflects a greater awareness of diversity, moral complexity and ambiguity, truer to the mix of human nature, IMHO.

 

Of course technology has always been used both for beneficial and destructive purposes, but I don’t think “evil is in control” of the world any more than it has ever been. I think we humans always have the potential to be good or bad depending on circumstances. Whether technology now has the capacity to feed, house, and provide education and health care for everyone, seems impossible to know – somehow I doubt it.

 

The future as imagined by Roddenberry is that earth will be visited by benign aliens (the Vulcans) who help us, and then threatened by hostile aliens (Romulan Empire) who attack us. Those two outside influences are what unite the world’s peoples as one “tribe.” To me that scenario seems psychologically valid (as Troi would say) --the transformation comes about not so much through technology as through contact with alien races. Then, the world becomes one stable, just, and prosperous society.

 

I’m drawn to the optimism of Trek, but skeptical also—

 

good just might be the Jedi of Star Wars, and I think it's gaining strength because of the internet. The only way that will happen is if people turn off mainstream media and start researching on the internet...We are headed into a major catastrophic situation which will leave our population struggling to stay alive.

 

do you want to explain - ? or maybe start another topic elsewhere since this is meant to be a rather light-hearted chat :-)

Edited by rivanna

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Guest billmc

The topic of this thread brought to my mind the old Star Trek episode, “This Side of Paradise.” Due to a drug found in the spores of plants on an alien planet (Omicron Ceti III), the entire crew of the Enterprise, except for Captain Kirk, abandon ship and enjoy a sort of Garden of Eden existence on OCIII. Even Spock falls in love or, at least, is able to admit it and claims that he is happy for the first time in his life. Fortunately for the ship (and the show and future movies), Kirk discovers that strong emotions can cure people of the drug-like effect of the spores and, as usual, the show ends with everyone back at their respective duty stations, ready for the next episode.

 

Gene seemed to believe that we would one day find a way to live compassionately with “infinite diversity in infinite combinations” in a world (and worlds) united together to pursue peace, exploration, and the betterment of all sentient species. At the same time, he seemed to hold to a notion of ongoing evolution, that we will never “arrive.” In “This Side of Paradise,” Kirk says something to the effect of, “Maybe we were meant for Paradise.” Kirk thought that we, as humans, needed the constant struggle and questions of existentialism in order to mature as a species. And he didn’t mind, as the good captain of the Enterprise, forcing his views on his crew.

 

It is interesting the circle that Star Trek takes, though. In “This Side of Paradise,” Kirk isn’t ready to sacrifice his technology (his ship) for the sake of the happiness of his crew. He has a ship to command, a career to further, and a mission to fulfill, and he will not leave any of his crew on the spore planet to enjoy their bliss with, at least implied, immortality. But a number of years later (is he older and wiser?) in the movie, “The Search for Spock”, he is willing to sacrifice his ship, his career, and even his very own soul in order to rescue his friend, Spock, from the Genesis II planet. He will willingly turn his back on all the technology for the sake of just one relationship.

 

Do you think Roddenberry believed technology was the answer to our human quest? Or was Gene trying to tell us all along that relationships were the focal point? According to extra-canonical Star Trek, Spock’s very existence was the result of technology. His human mother, Amanda, could not conceive and give birth to a half-human, half-Vulcan child without the aid of Vulcan medical technology. Spock, in some ways, incarnated the marriage of humanity and technology, emotion and logic. But Kirk, in “The Wrath of Khan”, says at Spock’s funeral, “Of all the souls I have met in my travels, his was the most…human.”

 

Is this, as many PC writers ask, our goal – to become truly human? Was Jesus, despite the “technology” of his miracles, the Son of Man, the “truly human one”?

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Hi Bill,

 

thanks, I enjoyed your comments. “This side of Paradise” was a classic episode. [btw- I’m sure you meant to quote Kirk as saying “we weren’t meant for Paradise”] It’s true Kirk tears his crew away from the bliss of the spores, but he gives Sandoval the choice of relocating his party or staying on the planet. His response-- “We’ve done nothing here. No accomplishments, no progress. Three years wasted. We wanted to make this planet a garden. I think we’d like to get some work done. The work we started out to do.”

 

It’s like in Star Trek 7, “Generations” when Kirk chooses to leave the Nexus (another paradise) to help Picard save the planet Soren was planning to destroy. Kirk chose a meaningful death rather than eternity in a meaningless dreamworld. As you say, the Trek stories show humans need constant struggle, challenges, goals to mature - even when we finally attain peaceful coexistence on earth, we go out into space and find more problems to solve :)

 

I also agree about relationships being paramount. Roddenberry thought technological progress would stimulate or accompany cultural progress; but the stories show his highest value was profound friendship and mutual commitment among the crew. “It is only when you look at what unites humans, rather than what divides them, that you have some idea of what it means to be human. In Star Trek, people can disagree and not let it erupt into war. An antagonist does not have to be your enemy.”

 

About Amanda and Sarek needing genetic treatment to conceive Spock – where did you read that? T’pol and Trip Tucker, a Vulcan and a human, had a baby together on “Enterprise.”

 

You recalled that Kirk says at Spock’s funeral (ST2) that his soul was “the most human” -- honoring his capacity for loyalty and self -sacrifice. However, when Spock is thrust into a leadership position, he fails to inspire, as in “Galileo 7” and “Tholian Web.” According to the final interview with Roddenberry, Spock and Kirk were written as two halves of one whole.

 

I’m not sure how to answer the question of whether Jesus was the ultimate definition of being truly human, but it’s interesting that some PC authors say that (?)

 

One film that really focuses on Trek’s secular humanism, is “The Final Frontier” -- Kirk confronts and destroys the false god of Shakiree. It ends with Kirk saying “maybe God is not out there, but in here – the human heart.”

Edited by rivanna

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Guest billmc

Hi Rivanna,

 

btw- I’m sure you meant to quote Kirk as saying “we weren’t meant for Paradise”

 

Yes, that’s what I meant. What kind of Trekkie am I when I misquote the sacred words? Ha ha!

 

It’s true Kirk tears his crew away from the bliss of the spores, but he gives Sandoval the choice of relocating his party or staying on the planet. His response-- “We’ve done nothing here. No accomplishments, no progress. Three years wasted. We wanted to make this planet a garden. I think we’d like to get some work done. The work we started out to do.”

 

That’s interesting, isn’t it? BTW, I enjoy Star Trek precisely because I do find a lot of spiritual meaning in it. Star Wars was always to “new-agey” for me (or maybe I’m just too dang old), but I found Star Trek interesting because it challenged superstition and supernaturalism while still insisting that we don’t know everything. Back to the topic: I don’t remember who wrote this particular episode, but I find it interesting that Sandoval doesn’t want to go back to “Eden.” Of course, it wasn’t so much that they had made the planet a garden as it was that they had simply found some Wacky-Weed. But I think this points to the notion that, put in biblical terms, we were made to be creators ourselves, co-creators with God, co-workers.

 

It’s like in Star Trek 7, “Generations” when Kirk chooses to leave the Nexus (another paradise) to help Picard save the planet Soren was planning to destroy. Kirk chose a meaningful death rather than eternity in a meaningless dreamworld.

 

True. Part of me, though, wanted to see Kirk go (if he had to go) at the helm of his ship, which was always his first love, maybe like his father, George, did in the new Star Trek movie. I just wasn’t crazy about a catwalk falling on him and then his muttering, “Oh my…” So anti-climatic compared to Spock’s death in TWOK. But, then, this is probably just the part of me that has always seen the good captain as a hero and knowing the myth that the captain goes down with the ship aka Titanic.

 

As you say, the Trek stories show humans need constant struggle, challenges, goals to mature - even when we finally attain peaceful coexistence on earth, we go out into space and find more problems to solve.

 

This is something that always irritated Q, isn’t it? If I remember correctly, the Q Continuum, as powerful as they were, were bored stiff. They had no challenges or goals, they just “were.” Q, time and again, tries to give the crew of the Enterprise-D challenges just to see how/if we petty humans could overcome them. And he finally admits his own insecurity that humans will surpass the Q at some point. He is scared to death, for an immortal, of what humans might become. You probably have it, but if you don’t, download the “Alien Voices” audio presentations Q and Spock chat about humanity. It is funny and poignant at the same time.

 

I also agree about relationships being paramount. Roddenberry thought technological progress would stimulate or accompany cultural progress; but the stories show his highest value was profound friendship and mutual commitment among the crew. “It is only when you look at what unites humans, rather than what divides them, that you have some idea of what it means to be human. In Star Trek, people can disagree and not let it erupt into war. An antagonist does not have to be your enemy.”

 

A very PC (progressive Christians, not politically correct), is it not?

 

About Amanda and Sarek needing genetic treatment to conceive Spock – where did you read that? T’pol and Trip Tucker, a Vulcan and a human, had a baby together on “Enterprise.”

 

Gosh, Rivanna, I’d have to go back into my Star Trek library and look it up. As I said, it is in one of the non-canonical novels, not in any of the shows or movies. I’ll get back to you on it.

 

You recalled that Kirk says at Spock’s funeral (ST2) that his soul was “the most human” -- honoring his capacity for loyalty and self -sacrifice. However, when Spock is thrust into a leadership position, he fails to inspire, as in “Galileo 7” and “Tholian Web.” According to the final interview with Roddenberry, Spock and Kirk were written as two halves of one whole.

 

Makes sense. For me, I kind of saw Kirk, Spock, and McCoy as the human trinity with Spock being logic, McCoy being heart and emotion, and Kirk being the will, trying to balance and implement decisions based on head and heart. Of course, Kirk was quite emotional himself, but I loved the way McCoy always focused on the human component of decisions.

 

Another interesting episode is where Kirk gets split into two Kirks because of a transporter malfunction and eventually realizes that he needs his dark side in order to be a good commander.

 

One film that really focuses on Trek’s secular humanism, is “The Final Frontier” -- Kirk confronts and destroys the false god of Shakiree. It ends with Kirk saying “maybe God is not out there, but in here – the human heart.”

 

Probably my least favorite ST movie, but certainly a good line. I also remember him saying in one of the TV shows, concerning God, “We find the One quite sufficient.” Interesting.

 

Concerning humanity, what did you think of the STTNG episode, “The Measure of a Man” where Data’s standing is considered?

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Guest billmc

About Amanda and Sarek needing genetic treatment to conceive Spock – where did you read that?

 

Rivanna,

 

I finally remembered where I got my information on Spock’s origins from. Quite a few years back, there was an audio production (which I now have on mp3) called, “Inside Star Trek,” where Gene Roddenberry interviews Sarek (Mark Lenard) about Spock’s infancy. Sarek says that Spock was not the first Vulcan/human hybrid, but that he was the first one to survive.

 

Sarek states, “As you must know, an Earth/Vulcan conception will abort during the end of the first month. The fetus is unable to continue life once it begins to develop its primary organs. The fetus Spock was removed from Amanda’s body at this time – first such experiment ever attempted. His tiny form resided in a test tube for the following two Earth-months while our physicians perform delicate chemical engineering, introducing over 100 subtle changes we hoped would sustain life. At the end of this time, the fetus was returned to Amanda’s womb. At the ninth Earth-month, the tiny form was again removed from Amanda, prematurely by Vulcan standards, and spent the following four months of Vulcan term pregnancy in a specially designed incubator. The infant Spock proved surprisingly resilient. There seemed to be something about the Earth/Vulcan mixture which created in that tiny body a fierce determination to survive.”

 

None of this is, of course, official Star Trek canon. But it seems that Roddenberry sanctioned Lenard’s creativity in coming up with this “explanation” of how Spock came to be. At least, it made for interesting listening. :)

 

Sarek closes the interview with a statement about Spock that really touches me as a progressive “Christian.” He references all of the cruel taunting that young Spock received from other Vulcan children who have not yet learned the Vulcan Ways. Roddenberry asks Sarek why he remained on Vulcan during that time and allowed Spock to endure that suffering:

 

“We felt Spock’s torture, of course, but Amanda and I also had a dream, one that justified the risk of our precious son’s life and sanity. What point is there in any life surviving unless it has meaning? The meaning of Spock’s existence is the very meaning of our marriage: that our two life forms combine and offer something of value to other life forms. IDIC. Infinity Diversity from Infinite Combinations. It has given us quite a lovely universe.”

 

Spock was a gift, to both his parents and to the universe.

 

Hope you enjoyed these transcriptions.

 

Regards,

Bill

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Guest billmc

Why the Star Trek phenomenon? Why was it a success?

 

Roddenberry, in answering this question and talking about Star Trek’s philosophy, says, “Ultimate power in this world, as you know, has always been one simple thing: the control and manipulation of minds. Fortunately, any attempt, however, to manipulate people through any so-called ‘Star Trek formula’ is doomed to failure and I’ll tell you why in just a moment. First of all, our show did not reach and affect all these people because it was deep and great literature. To get a prime-time network show on the air and to keep it there, you must attract and hold a minimum of 18 million people every week. You have to do that in order to woo people away from Gomer Pyle, Bonanza, Beverly Hillbillies, and so on. And we tried to do this with entertainment, action, adventure, conflict, and so on. But once we got on the air, and within the limits of those action/adventure limits, we did not accept the myth that the television audience has an infantile mind. (Applause) We had an idea and we had a premise. We decided to risk the whole show on that premise. We believed that the often-ridiculed mass audience is sick of this world’s petty nationalism and all its old ways and old hatreds. (Bill’s comment: Sounds like another Visionary from 2000 years ago.) And that people are not only willing, but anxious to think beyond those petty beliefs that have for so long kept mankind divided. (Applause)

 

“So you see that the formula, the magical ingredient that many people (Bill’s comment: referring to network executives and TV producers) keep seeking and many of them keep missing is really not in Star Trek. It is in the audience. There is an intelligent life form out there on the other side of the television tube. (Laughter) The whole show was an attempt to say that humanity will reach maturity and wisdom on the day that it begins, not just to tolerate, but to take a special delight in differences in ideas and differences in life forms. We tried to say that the worst possible thing that can happen to all of us is for the future to somehow press us into a common mold where we begin to act and talk and look and think alike. If we cannot learn to actually enjoy those small difference, take a positive delight in those small differences between our own kind here on this planet, then we do not deserve to go out into space and meet the diversity that’s almost certainly out there. And I think that this is what people responded to.

 

“The result of that was, seven years after being dropped by the network of (because of) saying those things, there are now more people watching it than ever before. And if you ascribe those things to any mystic or scriptural brilliance in Star Trek, you miss the entire point. What Star Trek proves, as faulty as individual episodes could be, is that the much maligned common man and common woman has an enormous hunger for brotherhood. They are ready for the 23rd century now and they are light-years ahead of their petty governments and their visionless leaders.” (Applause)

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Bill,

 

thanks for all your info - the backstory on how Spock was conceived (and I thought I was a geek!)

I agree that McCoy was the emotional part of the Enterprise “trinity” with Kirk and Spock. Kirk was often torn between them. For awhile I thought the actors represented a trio of Protestant / Catholic / Jew with Kirk, McCoy and Spock – then I learned that Shatner is from an orthodox Jewish family. Gene Roddenberry was raised Southern Baptist, but his mother was Jewish-- her maiden name was Goldman, according to Susan Sackett, his secretary who wrote the memoir Inside Trek.

 

About “Measure of a Man” where Data is granted equal rights as a sentient life form –it was a satisfying conclusion, but somehow I can’t imagine technology will ever invent artificial life on quite that level - ?

 

About Q – strikes me as a parody of a deity. Similar to the Greek gods –petty, deceitful, capricious rather than compassionate—and/or the Accuser, putting humanity on trial.

 

“The Enemy Within” is one of the best TOS -reflects an essential aspect of the Trek vision, that we have to confront and embrace our own shadow side.

 

I do see a lot of parallels between ST and PC / Evolutionary Christianity – humanity as co-creators of the future. That’s the perspective that seems the most relevant. For instance several PC authors convey the idea that Jesus came not to impose a new religion but to get beyond religion, which resonates with Roddenberry saying he rejects organized religions but accepts the idea of God as an entity in process of growth.“I have faith in something that I can’t know. God is like the leap outside oneself to the source. In Star Trek we let our characters have their own beliefs without examining them too closely.” We only get rare glimpses of this, but for example at the end of ST7 “Generations” when Picard says to Riker, “after all, number one, we’re only mortal” and Riker replies lightly with a smile, “Speak for yourself sir, I intend to live forever.”

 

Roddenberry felt strongly that organized religion was a huge obstacle to world peace. He saw religion as a form of totalitarianism, taking away peoples’ reason and free will. Maybe he never experienced a liberal open-minded branch of Christianity or Judaism. I’m in a tiny minority here, haven’t been a regular churchgoer since childhood, but I can’t imagine the world will ever “outgrow” the need for faith communities. An intriguing question though.

Edited by rivanna

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Guest billmc

I enjoyed your post, Rivanna. This is a good topic for discussion. BTW, didn't Jesus say that the geeks shall inherit the Earth? :lol:

 

Hope you don't mind a little more of my personal thoughts related to all of this.

 

About “Measure of a Man” where Data is granted equal rights as a sentient life form –it was a satisfying conclusion, but somehow I can’t imagine technology will ever invent artificial life on quite that level - ?

 

Yeah, I'm not sure about that either. What really struck me about that episode is that all the characters think that Data's "humanity" is on trial when, IMO, it was everyone else's humanity that was really being tested. I've always enjoyed the way that many Star Trek episodes simply try to hold a mirror up in front of us and ask, "What do you really see?"

 

About Q – strikes me as a parody of a deity. Similar to the Greek gods –petty, deceitful, capricious rather than compassionate—and/or the Accuser, putting humanity on trial.

 

Strikes me that way, also. Though he could sometimes be over-the-top funny, I also thought he had a cruel side and his sarcasm was just a cover for it.

 

“The Enemy Within” is one of the best TOS -reflects an essential aspect of the Trek vision, that we have to confront and embrace our own shadow side.

 

This is a notion that I've been pondering a lot recently, my own dark side and my belief that Jesus also had one. I haven't reached any conclusions yet. :lol:

 

I do see a lot of parallels between ST and PC / Evolutionary Christianity – humanity as co-creators of the future. That’s the perspective that seems the most relevant. For instance several PC authors convey the idea that Jesus came not to impose a new religion but to get beyond religion, which resonates with Roddenberry saying he rejects organized religions but accepts the idea of God as an entity in process of growth.“I have faith in something that I can’t know. God is like the leap outside oneself to the source. In Star Trek we let our characters have their own beliefs without examining them too closely.” We only get rare glimpses of this, but for example at the end of ST7 “Generations” when Picard says to Riker, “after all, number one, we’re only mortal” and Riker replies lightly with a smile, “Speak for yourself sir, I intend to live forever.”

 

I've always appreciated that about ST, also. It seems that, for Roddenberry, his recurring characters could "believe" anything they wanted to as long as they were of good character. They obviously all had their faults and their blind spots, but, IMO, that is precisely why they needed each other. I have mine also. That is why, for me, the view of that it's just "me and Jesus" doesn't work for me any longer. I'm slowly coming to see how important community is. It's a slow process though because the Christianity of my youth taught me that faith was such a personal thing.

 

Roddenberry felt strongly that organized religion was a huge obstacle to world peace. He saw religion as a form of totalitarianism, taking away peoples’ reason and free will. Maybe he never experienced a liberal open-minded branch of Christianity or Judaism. I’m in a tiny minority here, haven’t been a regular churchgoer since childhood, but I can’t imagine the world will ever “outgrow” the need for faith communities. An intriguing question though.

 

Well, I like the way you put that and I think I agree. We won't outgrow the need for faith communities. For me, on a more personal level, I don't really care if people see God theistically, deistically, atheistically, agnostically, or "other." What I care about is how we treat one another. Although I currently don't think so, the notion of God may well be a human invention. If I'm honest, I have to admit that. I had what I believe to be a real experience of God, but I laugh when I think of how I could ever "prove" that to someone. To me, it is not the details of the event that make it "real" to me, it is how it changed my view of what I believed made me (and others) acceptable to God or the More or the Sacred or any other human name we want to put on it.

 

So, for me, the goal of faith communities, unlike religious communities, is not to get everyone to believe the same, but to encourage everyone to use whatever "gifts" they have to make the community and our world better. To me, in a community of genuine faith, we see each other, not as competitors for God's love and grace, but as means of them. We enrich the lives of others around us. My marriage is, perhaps, a small metaphor for this. My relationship with my wife has made me a better person and I simply cannot imagine my life without her. And I'm sure that as her husband, I've been living proof to her that "many are the afflictions of the righteous." :) But the goal, perhaps somewhat like Sarek and Amanda, is to bring a small space of unity (with A LOT of diversity) to our corner of the world.

 

For the sake of this unity, I attend church with her. But I don't go to church to encounter or hear from God. If I do, that's okay. But, for me, the world is my church. God speaks to me from almost everywhere. I'm not saying this to demean the church, just to say that God is not boxed. So I would hope that as our human journey continues, faith communities would be more about building relationships than about worship wars or keeping empty rituals going just for the sake of tradition. Time will tell.

 

Nevertheless, I have, metaphorically, heard God speaking to me just as much through Star Trek episodes as in my Bible or in my church. I would be booted off from other forums for saying this. :D

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Nevertheless, I have, metaphorically, heard God speaking to me just as much through Star Trek episodes as in my Bible or in my church
Amen

I enjoyed reading your posts. Our family were addicts for reasons you've mentioned.

 

Dutch

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thanks for the replies.

 

Bill’s comment about the personal vs communal side of faith, started me thinking how that plays out in Star Trek shows and films.

 

In the original series and Next Generation, religion seems obsolete or reduced to individual practice-- like Spock meditating in his quarters or Worf performing a ritual in private or Wesley going on a vision quest. One exception – “Bread and Circuses”—the brotherhood of the Son, i.e. disciples of Jesus. In that parallel world, as Kirk observes, they had both Caesar and Christ.

 

After Roddenberry’s death, Trek altered course, to some extent - in “Deep Space Nine” organized religion is treated openly, part of life. Every day on the Promenade a public worship service is held by the Vedek, and there are communal gatherings like the Gratitude Festival and other celebrations. However it’s not one God but many – the Prophets, the Founders, the Q continuum, etc. In TOS, none of the crew practice religion; on DS9 Captain Sisko becomes at the end, the next emissary of the prophets.

 

Also, in DS9 religion is no longer incompatible with technological sophistication, as it was in TOS and in TNG episodes like “Who watches the watchers?” The Vulcans with their superior intellect believe in the katra living on after death. In “The Undiscovered Country” Spock tells Valeris, “You must have faith... that the universe will unfold as it should.” The Bajoran religion is highly developed, with Prophets and Pah-wraiths, Vedeks and Kai’s, the pagh, the orbs, sacred scrolls, etc. The Klingons have their equivalent of heaven and hell –Stovokor and Grethor--and their legendary Kahless, along with many sacred rites and rituals. Even the Ferengi believe in their own version of celestial afterlife, the Grand Negus, etc.

 

So Star Trek evolved to imagine faith communities among the scientifically advanced races. However, it also seems that organized religion is often associated with violence -- Deep Space 9 is by far the darkest series. Yet the stories are always nuanced with irony and paradox -- good and evil are relative, not absolute qualities--what I love about Trek.

The ideal of respect and tolerance remains unchanged from the beginning--in TOS McCoy says to Septimus, “Well, if you’re speaking of worships of sorts, we represent many beliefs.” Kirk says to Elaan of Troyius, “It’s been my experience that the prejudices people feel about each other disappear when they get to know each other.” In DS9, Sisko says to Kira, “My philosophy is that there is room for all philosophies on this station.” In Voyager, Janeway says “There’s a difference between respecting the spiritual beliefs of other cultures and embracing them myself.”

 

I’d add a similar quote from “Enterprise” but am not so familiar with that series.

 

if anyone wants to talk about a favorite episode, feature film, character etc feel free!

Edited by rivanna

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Guest billmc

As I've mentioned, despite repeated viewings, I am always touched by Kirk's line at Spock's eulogy at the end of STII, "Out of all the souls I've met in my travels, his (Spock's) was the most...human." Spock, in the ST universe, is really only half human. But Spock, though often either denying or burying his emotions, often acted for the good of others. He might say that such actions were the only logical choice, but we are knew better. And it's amazing to me that the crew's main alien turned out to be "the most human."

 

A new translation for mainline Christians has come out, the Common English Bible. It is written on a 7th or 8th grade level where the NRSV is, I believe, on about an 11th grade level. The CEB tries, in its translation philosophy, to be as literal as possible where the literal makes sense and is clear, but to be dynamic if necessary. Reviews are, so far, generally positive. Fuller has sanctioned it as a good translation for their seminary use.

 

But the CEB is taking some heat, however, for translating "the Son of Man" as "the Human One." Some people are concerned the the messianic link to Daniel might be lost. But the translators say that "the Human One" is the most accurate translation from the Greek.

 

I find this interesting because a substantial amount of what I read from PC authors does focus, not just on the humanity of Jesus, but on his role of being the "second Adam" or, in Christian language, man as God intended man to be. Or, to be more gender-inclusive (which I am all for), Jesus is human as God intended humans to be. This is best exemplified by his compassion toward others and, of course, his selfless death, something which Spock is known for.

 

All of this is, to me, a new twist in considering Jesus, not to be just a "mere" man, but the Human One. Raised in a form of Christianity where Jesus was very much deified and, therefore, distant, I'm intrigued by this new perspective of Christ, not as God pretending to be human, but as an actual human who is godly. Jesus becomes, therefore, much more relational to me. And though it is certain that our gospels don't read this way, I can imagine Peter saying of Jesus, "Out of all the souls I've met in my travels, his was the most...human."

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Interesting. Didn’t know about the new bible translation. Substituting “The Human One” for “Son of Man” reminds me of Star Trek changing “Where no man has gone before” to “where no one has gone before.”

 

About Spock in ST 2 and 3 – more than any other Trek character, he takes on a Christ role in that story arc – the comparison is unmistakable. It’s also a reversal of logic – Spock had justified his martyrdom by saying “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” But when Kirk has restored Spock to his former self, and Spock asks why would you do this, Kirk responds, “because the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many.” Poetic symmetry.

 

There are many examples of heroic self-sacrificing figures throughout the Trek films and series, characters who give, or risk, their lives for the entire crew. Data in “Nemesis” is another example. But the only character besides Spock who is “resurrected” is Kai Opaka, in Deep Space Nine (“Battle Lines”) – she is a Bajoran spiritual leader killed in a runabout crash, who then miraculously comes to life again. However there is a scientific explanation – the moon microbes change her physiology at the cellular level. In contrast, when Spock’s katra is transferred back to his body, it’s a mysterious ritual performed by a Vulcan priest.

 

The idea of non-divine saviors also brings to mind a common theme in TOS especially – the false god who is exposed and/or destroyed. “The Apple” – Vaal, “Return of the Archons” – Landru, “For the world is hollow and I have touched the sky” – the Oracle; “Who mourns for Adonais” – Apollo; “And the children shall lead,” etc. Also from TNG, “Devil’s Due” – Ardra, and others.

 

A related motif is the false paradise – in “This Side of Paradise” -- the magic spores; “The Way to Eden” --the mad Sevrin and his followers; “The Cloud Minders” – unfairly divided society, and ST5, “The Final Frontier” --the search for the false god of Shakaree. The Nexus could probably also be called a false paradise, though not a malevolent one.

 

So there are many negative examples of what isn’t God, and what isn’t paradise. But Trek does occasionally present glimpses of what truly ideal society would look like. “The Inner Light” (TNG) shows Picard experiencing an alternate adult life on the planet Kataan, with a family – he lives a simple but fulfilling life, learns to play the flute, enjoys his grandkids, becomes a community leader, etc. In “Family,” Picard goes back to his childhood home in France, a country vineyard. His brother Robert avoids the latest technology, e.g. not allowing a replicator to be installed. For awhile Picard is tempted to leave Star Fleet for a more peaceful way of life on earth. And in ST 9, “Insurrection,” the Baku people seem to live the perfect existence – they have the technology for space travel but choose not to use it. They embrace an idyllic, pastoral life as farmers, artists, builders, teachers - sort of a Shangri-la. They have developed extraordinary mental clarity, an altered state of awareness that makes time stand still – they live for hundreds of years.

There is no sign or mention of organized religion in these ideal societies, only meditation. Yet there is a solid community spirit, people are respectful, gentle, caring. Sort of like the Tao’s vision of the most desirable way of life.

Edited by rivanna

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Guest billmc
About Spock in ST 2 and 3 – more than any other Trek character, he takes on a Christ role in that story arc – the comparison is unmistakable.

 

Yep, definitely some similarities there. Though I certainly wouldn’t call McCoy a follower of Spock, they were friends, and while Jesus, according to the gospels, breathed on his disciples to give them the spirit, Spock mind-melds with McCoy to transfer his katra to McCoy. McCoy then, in some sense, occasionally acts and talks like Spock. The “risen” Spock then has to ascend to Mount Seleah (sp?) with his father in order to be fully restored.

The idea of non-divine saviors also brings to mind a common theme in TOS especially – the false god who is exposed and/or destroyed. “The Apple” – Vaal, “Return of the Archons” – Landru, “For the world is hollow and I have touched the sky” – the Oracle; “Who mourns for Adonais” – Apollo; “And the children shall lead,” etc. Also from TNG, “Devil’s Due” – Ardra, and others.

 

Yes, Roddenberry and co seemed to be very much against the authoritarian god concept i.e. absolute power corrupts absolutely.

 

“The Inner Light” (TNG) shows Picard experiencing an alternate adult life on the planet Kataan, with a family – he lives a simple but fulfilling life, learns to play the flute, enjoys his grandkids, becomes a community leader, etc.

 

Probably my favorite TNG episode. Just so well written and acted. It was a very novel way for an alien race to preserve who they had been.

 

Another one of my favorites that deals with god-images is the episode (sorry, can’t recall the name) where Picard meets the old man “god” who, in a fit of rage, destroyed all of the Hu-schock (sp?) everywhere in the universe. Picard realizes that Star Fleet has no laws by which to judge this being and, perhaps even more to the point, this being should be left completely alone. Star Trek, while presenting its gods to be quite powerful, also often made it a point that they were subject to the same faults and failures that plague humanity – pride, greed, hatred, jealousy, callousness, ambivalence. To me, many portraits of God in the Bible are much the same with God being jealous, committing genocide, enraged against his people, etc. If I understand it correctly, process theology beliefs that God may have actually learned to be more loving and compassionate as history progressed. Or it’s very possible that we have placed our own human attributes onto our images of the Divine. I don’t really know.

 

Yet there is a solid community spirit, people are respectful, gentle, caring. Sort of like the Tao’s vision of the most desirable way of life.

 

Yes, I think the best images of the sacred or the divine in Star Trek comes when people see themselves as part of Something greater, Something which calls us to be better than we have been. To boldly go where no one has gone before isn’t so much a change of physical location as it is a transformation of who we are as beings totally wrapped up in our own personal agendas and welfare, to beings to seek to live and grow in harmony with everything around us.

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thanks for the reply.

 

you wrote

 

process theology believes that God may have actually learned to be more loving and compassionate as history progressed. Or it’s very possible that we have placed our own human attributes onto our images of the Divine.

 

To me the latter seems more plausible, though there are instances in scripture where God changes his mind in response to human needs.

 

The episode you referred to is “The Survivors” – Kevin Uxbridge reveals to Picard that he is a Douwd, an immortal energy being with vast powers. In a fit of rage he had annihilated the entire race of Husnock, then in remorse exiled himself to Rana 4 with a replica of his dead wife Rishon. Great story – complex.

 

About false gods using power in negative ways – as you say, the scripts often worked with that idea. Kirk’s friend Gary Mitchell acquires telekinetic abilities and breaks bad in “Where no man has gone before.” Sylvia and Corob play cruel Halloween tricks on the crew in “Cat’s Paw.” The genetically enhanced Khan is a sort of Nietzschean superman who betrays Kirk in “Space Seed.”

 

On the other hand there are also aliens with special gifts who use them only for good purposes --

 

Gem, a mute telepathic woman in “The Empath,” heals Kirk and McCoy of near-fatal injuries through her compassion and the “laying on of hands.”

Gary Seven travels back from the future to prevent world war in “Assignment: Earth.”

John Doe, the injured Zakonion in “Transfigurations” (TNG) restores Worf to life after he’s killed.

Tam Elbrun, a Betazoid whose telepathic ability causes him terrible pain, forms a mutually beneficial relationship with the mysterious alien GomTuu in “Tin Man.” At the end, Data asks him, “Is that the purpose of existence? to care for someone?” and Tam says yes, it is for him.

Guinan, the El-aurian whose entire race was nearly wiped out by the Borg, becomes a friend and counselor to many on board, and has a prophetic role in “Yesterday’s Enterprise.”

These aliens could be called ‘wounded healers.’ Star Trek also has many normal humans who fit this role.

 

The enigmatic Traveler has the ability to alter the laws of physics, rescuing crew members in “Where no one has gone before” “Remember me” and “Journey’s End.”

Odo the changeling security officer on DS9, uses his shapeshifting to help others and plays a crucial role in defeating the Dominion, before he finally returns to “the Great Link.”

 

Even Q, the trickster demigod who at the opening of TNG presents a menacing threat to the Enterprise, at the end gives Picard the chance to avoid destruction by the Continuum in “All good things.” His particular brand of ‘divine intervention’ actually saves the whole human race in that episode. Maybe he has “learned to be more loving and compassionate as history progressed.”

Edited by rivanna

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