Star Trek: the Next
by Louis A. Turk, B.A., M.Div., Ph.D.
John was exhausted when he arrived home from work. Alice, his
wife, had also had a hard day. They were both so tired they didn’t
even feel like talking. It was past meal time, and Alice hadn’t had
time to even begin dinner. To make matters worse, their children
were squabbling with each other. A little relaxation was badly needed.
They all decided to microwave some TV dinners, and watch "Star Trek" on
their big screen as they relaxed in the den. They were just one of
millions of families—many of them Christian families—that watched "Star
Trek" that evening, and they were spellbound as they watched Captain Kirk
(or Captian Picard) guide his ship to planets inhabited by alien peoples.
Relaxed in their overstuffed chairs, the vast majority of these television
viewers never even consider the implications of what they and their children
are watching. Their guard is down, the show is irresistably interesting,
and only briefly during commercials do any of them take their eyes off
that fascinating color picture.
What is the significance of "Star Trek" and "Star
Trek the Next Generation?" The March/April
1991 issue of The Humanist magazine answers this very question.
Virtually the whole issue of that magazine is devoted to an in-depth interview
of Gene Roddenberry, the
creator and producer of Star Trek. The
article begins like this:
Gene Roddenberry is one of the most influential
yet unheralded humanists of the twentieth century. His two
most famous creations, "Star Trek" and "Star Trek: the Next Generation"
are based solidly on humanistic principles and ideas....The basic message
of both "Star Trek" and "The Next Generation" is that human beings are
capable of solving their own problems rationally and that, through critical
thinking and cooperative effort, humanity will progress and evolve....
The first pilot for "Star Trek" was pronounced "too cerebral" by network
executives and rejected. With changes in the second pilot, the show
was accepted and ran from 1966 to 1969 for a total of 79 episodes.
In the fall of 1969, the show began syndicated distribution...."Star Trek"
has run continuously in at least 150 markets in the United States, as well
as dozens of foreign countries....In September of 1987 "Star Trek: the
Next Generation" debuted. Now, over 80 episodes later, it has surpassed
in longevity the original series. "The Next Generation" has already
won three Emmy Awards as well as the 1987 Peabody Award for the "best of
Gene Roddenberry has been a member of the American
Humanist Association since 1986. On May 10, 1991, at its fiftieth
annual conference in Chicago, the AHA [American Humanist Association] will
present Roddenberry with its Humanist Arts Award in recognition of his
distinguished contribution to humanism and humanist thought. (The Humanist,
March/April 1991, 5)
Wow! If a Baptist preacher had told his congregation that "Star Trek"
was humanistic, would not many of them have denied it in anger? Yet
here is The Humanist magazine saying it loudly and clearly.
Certainly The Humanist magazine knows what a humanist is and believes if
David Alexander, the editor of The Humanist magazine which interviewed
Roddenberry, made this comment to him during the interview:
"Star Trek: the Next Generation" is probably the most humanistic entertainment
program that is on television—or, perhaps, ever has been on television.
One of the underlying messages of both series is that human beings can,
with critical thinking, solve the problems that are facing them without
any outside or supernatural help. I was especially impressed with
the episode, "Who Watches the Watchers?"
A Federation anthropological field team is observing a mediveval culture
on a planet that had, hundreds of years before, dropped all supernatural
beliefs. Captain Picard observes that this was a magnificent accomplishment.
Then some technology fails and the observers are themselves observed.
The story line revolves around some of the natives’ desire to return to
the religion of their forebears since it explained, simply, the existence
of the alien observers. One of the subthemes throughout the episode
was how easy it was for some people to attribute unexplained events to
supernatural causes instead of thinking things through. Picard spends
a great deal of time convincing a native leader that he is a mortal like
her and not a supreme being. (Ibid., 8) [Emphasis added]
Humanist Principles Espoused In Star Trek
Among the many humanist principles held by Roddenberry
and woven into the themes of his Star Trek shows are:
Roddenberry’s mother raised him up in a Baptist church (Ibid., 6), but
his father did not go to church. Says Roddenberry,
A great deal of my early training was due to my father who, mysteriously,
never showed up in church. I can remember now what things he had
to say. He did not think the church was particularly the guidance
that he would have pushed me to have. He felt that it was good for
me to go to church but be [explicitive deleted] careful of what the preachers
say" (Ibid., 7-8).
As a result of this negative influence from his father, Roddenberry became
an atheist early in life. Said Roddenberry:
At five years old, I was serious about Santa Claus, but at five and
a half I had learned it was nonsense. Writers often write these as
weighty moments, but in my experience they’re not. Santa Clause doesn’t
exist. Yes, I think back now that there were all sorts of reasons
he could not exist and maybe have a little sadness that he is gone, but
then I think the same thing about Jesus and the church. (Ibid., 6)
They said God was on high and he controlled the world and therefore
we must pray against Satan. Well, if God controls the world, he controls
Satan. For me, religion was full of misstatements and reaches of
logic that I just couldn’t agree with." (Ibid., 7)
From those quotes we see how serious a mistake it is to lie to a child—about
Santa Claus or anything else. When a child realizes he can’t trust
his parents about the existence of Santa Clause, he might start believing
what his parent’s tell him about the existence of God too. Also,
Roddenberry’s confusion about why God doesn’t control
Satan shows a great ignorance of the teachings of the Bible. Human
being can create robots with preprogrammed computer brains, but only God
could create beings with free wills, able to choose between good and evil
without His intervention.
Humanists hate the Bible, and therefore they deny the absoluteness of truth
or morals. This theme is constantly stressed on "Star Trek" as the
following exerpt from the interview illustrates:
The Humanist: Another good example of your humanistic
philosophy on the program is the episode "Justice" from the first season
of the current series. The scantily clad love-making race, the Edo,
is observed and protected by its orbiting "god," an advanced race or being
that is only dimly perceived. At the conclusion of the episode, I
recall turning to my wife and commenting that that was the most anti-religiious
and humanistic television program I had seen in years.
Roddenberry: At the end of the episode, the "away team"
is blocked from beaming back to the Enterprise by the Edo’s "god."
Picard resolves the story’s conflict by saying, "I don’t know how to communicate
this, or if it is possible, but the question of justice has greatly concerned
me lately. I now have something to say that I think is important!
I put it to any creature listening that there can
be no justice so long as laws are absolute. Life itself is
an exercise in exceptions." Riker then quietly says,
"Bravo. When has justice ever been as simple as a rule book?"
The superior being evidently agrees, and the Enterprise crew is permitted
to beam up.
The Humanist: I was stunned at the presentation of such
humanistic ideas. What kind of mail did you get on that episode?
Roddenberry: Not a great deal. People get caught
up in shows and really don’t think in terms of philosophies. They
are concerned that the beginning, middle, and end hang together.
Is is sensible? This episode was. It is a source of considerable
amusement to me that we can do shows like this, and on various other subjects
large and small, and get little or no public reaction. (Ibid., 16)
Of course the "rule book" referred to above is the
Bible. It should extremely concern Christians to realize that "Star
Trek" teaches our children "that there can be no justice so long as laws
are absolute," for Biblical laws are the absolute laws to which Rodenberry
Anti-Fundamental Christian Sentiment
When The Humanist asked Roddenberry his thoughts about the religious
right and fundamentalism, he responded as follows:
There will always be fundamentalism and the religious right, but I
think there has been too much of it. I keep hoping that it is temporary
foolishness. Some of it will be around because there will always
be people who are so mean-spirited and such limited thinkers that their
religious beliefs seem so logical—that there is a god, and so forth—that
nothing else in their limited concept can explain what the existence of
a god can. (Ibid., 17)
Fundamentalism, the way humanists define the word, means belief in revealed
religion, that is, belief that the Bible is inspired of God and therefore
inerrant. What Is Roddenberry’s solution to
protect society from all us "mean-spirited," limited-thinking, Bible belivers?
Why public education in humanist principles, of course!
If they can’t get us, then they will get our children.
Of course, the only thing that will keep such things from continuing
and growing is education. Dewey was right about that. Unless
we have an educated populace, there’s no telling what may come along.
The pressures of life are so great that a certain percentage of all these
uneducated people will come up with strange ideas. Strange, violent
ideas. They seem to have good answers for all of our problems.
I don’t think life’s problems are such that we have to rely on simplistic
answers instead of thinking things through. I think these things
will be found in proportion to and in reverse order of how well we educate
the populace. (Ibid. 16-17)
How amazingly twisted these humanists are! Our public school system
has turned from safe havens of learning into terror zones of violence,
drugs and sex since God and the Bible were thrown out. Yet “more
of the same” is the solution to the “strange, violent” ideas of Christianity?
What strange, violent ideas? Our belief that murdering unborn babies
is wrong? Our belief that capital punishment is right for murderers,
rapists, and kidnappers? Our belief in spanking children when they
are naughty? Our belief in turning the other cheek in the face of
religious persecution? Brethren, public education is socialism and
it is sin. It is destroying our children. It is humanistic
and therefore atheistic. It is our moral duty to oppose it.
Other Humanist Doctrines
Roddenberry also believes in the legalization of
drugs (Ibid., 20), and the legitimacy of the gay lifestyle (Ibid.,
25). Not mentioned in the interview, but obvious to all who open
pay attention to what they see on "Star Trek" are Roddenberry’s belief
in evolution, the existence of human life on other planets (not possible
if Adam was the "first man" as mentioned in 1 Cor 15.45), the belief that
there will be no second-coming of Christ and no divine judgement upon sin.
"Star Trek" is my statement to the world. Understand that "Star
Trek" is more than just my political philosophy. It is my social
philosophy, my racial philosophy, my overview of life and the human condition.
If Roddenberry’s philosophy is the philosophy you
want your children to learn and to live by, fine: the heros and heroines
of Star Trek are all humanists. But
if you want your children to grow up to believe in God and Jesus Christ,
you had best not let your children watch "Star Trek."
Be sure to also read "Ye Must Be Born Again."
(C) Copyright 1994 by Louis A. Turk. All rights reserved. You may
reprint this article, provided you do not edit it in any way without the
author's consent, and provided this paragraph is printed at the end of
the article. Other publication requires advance permission of the
Louis A. Turk, B.A., M.Div., Ph.D.
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