Star Trek

Star Trek

Star Trek: The

Next Generation

How to outthink and outgrow

religion, Star Trek style…

TNG vs Classic Trek

• Little mention of

computer as God

theme - by 1980's, the

`silicone era,’ less fear

of computers -

• One holdover might be

episode “Justice”

(1987), where “Edo”

controlled by

computerized space

ship as god


TNG vs Classic Trek

Themes, con’t.

• Little concern with

individual freedoms -

1980’s era of corporate

identity rather than hippie

individualism - instead,

religion - threat to reason.

• Religion and science in


• Religion = superstition,

fear, war, oppression

• Science = progress,

reason, contentment

Reason vs Superstition Case

Study: “Who Watches the

• Religion = war,

chaos, oppression

• “Natural” cultural

evolution is to

outgrow religion

• Self-sacrifice, death

preferable to

fostering religious


Watchers (1989)

Reason vs Superstition Case

Study II: “Devil’s Due (1991)

• Belief in supernatural

beings = irrational

• False God theme - alien


• Religion = con game

• Logic, reason, will

reveal that human

progress independent of

divine plan, intervention,


TNG’s “Evolutionary


• Science instead of


• Evolution instead

of God’s Plan

• Evolution =

– teleology (purpose)

– destiny

– Progress

– biology/culture

evolve together

TNG’s “Evolutionary

Eschatology” Case Study:

“Journey’s End” (1994)

• Humans can/will evolve

physically, emotionally,

intellectually, morally,


• Religion (and other

factors) stumbling blocks

to human evolution

• Introduction of idea that

Native Spirituality might

be okay - human “other”

theme picked up in Star

Trek: Voyager

Religion of the “Other”

• TNG allows for

religion if:

– It is practiced by aliens

(Klingons, Vulcans, etc.)

– The aliens are as advanced,

or more advanced, than the

humans of the Federation

– It is a non-supernatural form

of religion

– It doesn’t interfere with

secular worldview

Vulcan Mysticism

• Reason, logic

elevated to

Mystical path

• Meditation,

ritual, revered



Klingon Religion

• Way of the warrior



• Meditation

• Martial Arts

• Mythic stories

• Mythic figures -

Kahless, Kortar

• Gods?

Klingon Religion

• Episode “Rightful Heir” (1993)

• Search for the historical

Kahless = search for historical


• Non-supernaturalist form of


• Religion in secular frame =

moral guidance only?

• No ontological claims?

• Science “proves”

supernaturalist claims false

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