Star Trek and Humanism

A couple weekends ago I went to see the new Star Trek movie. Yes, I am a Trekkie. While growing up, I was more apt to watch an old Star Trek episode on Sunday mornings than listen to a preacher’s sermon.

As for the new movie, I must say I enjoyed it quite a bit. Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Bones are like old friends after all. It was fun watching a new generation of actors bring them to life, and take them where no man has gone before. (Errr, I mean, no one.)

In my opinion, however, the movie did have some flaws. (Minor plot spoiler begin.) The plot was generally believable, but: an alternate reality? (Minor plot spoiler end.) That’s pretty convenient. At one particular point, I was unable to suspend disbelief. I leaned over to my husband and said, “That would never happen,” after which I laughed at myself. Captain Kirk and his pointy-eared friend fly through outer space at “warp” speed on a mammoth ship that contains “magic” gravity.

Furthermore, Kirk is never afraid. He is overconfident and self-absorbed, loyal and endearing, but he never shows an ounce of fear. He is larger than life, more than human—never billed as a superhero, but portrayed as one nonetheless. Forget nine lives, Kirk has nine hundred.

Now that I’m older, and hopefully wiser, I am able to watch Star Trek with more discernment. An earth where violence, money, and poverty no longer exist? Where the fulfillment of human potential is the be-all and end-all, where if we all just stick together and work really hard everything will turn out just peachy? (Unless you are the unfortunate fellow in the red shirt.) It’s okay to dream, I suppose, but . . . back to reality.

As a humanist, Gene Roddenberry was critical of Christianity. In his own words:

“I guess from that time it was clear to me that religion was largely nonsense–largely magical, superstitious things. In my own teen life, I just couldn’t see any point in adopting something based on magic, which was obviously phony and superstitious.” — Gene Roddenberry, The Humanist, Mar/Apr 1991

Beam me up, Scotty?

But beaming objects through space is not magic. It’s physics. According to Wikipedia, transporters convert a person or object into an energy pattern (a process called dematerialization), then “beam” it to a target, where it is reconverted into matter (rematerialization). Clear as rematerialized mud.

By the way, how is it the Enterprise can drop out of warp speed instantaneously while everyone on board remains safely in their seats? Shouldn’t they all go splat against the the ship?

Despite the obvious flaws, I’m a Trekkie. In fact, I may be a Trekkie because of the flaws. However, as a Christian, I feel the need to remind fellow believers to watch with discernment. Gene Roddenberry was a humanist. His philosophies still permeate the franchise. Be on guard.

“Test everything. Hold on to the good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (NIV)