Since it is the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, I thought I would share my thoughts about what Star Trek has meant to me and what it means to me know. I think many Trekkers and atheists may feel a similar attachment and I encourage you to present your thought in the comment section below.
For starters, I didn’t get into Star Trek until The Next Generation. I watched some episodes of the Original Series when I was young and they didn’t really do much for me. Maybe it was because I was too young or maybe it was the dated special effects. I’m not sure. I do remember watching Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan when I was young and was totally freaked out by the ear bugs. When TNG came along, I was older and much more ready for Trek.
Star Trek: TNG is tied with Babylon 5 as my favorite television show of all time. What I love about TNG is that Captain Picard was first and foremost a diplomat and explorer. He knew how to use phasers and photon torpedoes, but they were not his first instinct.
Continuing from the example of TOS, TNG also tackled social issues. Sure there were a lot of terrible TNG episodes like Aquiel and Sub Rosa, but where were also so many incredible episodes like, The Inner Light, A Measure of A Man, The Drumhead, Darmok, and the list goes on. My personal favorite is Tapestry.
Then there are the episodes that really go after religion in a very inoffensive way. While Who Watches The Watchers is the episode most people think about first, my favorite is Devil’s Due. If you swap out Ardra for Jesus and the problems from the planet’s past with a person’s personal drug/alcohol issues, this episode is devastating.
But all these great episodes aren’t what make Star Trek great. They certainly help and there are great episodes that deal with social issues in all the Star Trek shows, but what really makes Star Trek great is that optimistic view of the future.
It is the idea that despite all our problems today, humanity not only survives into the future, but that we have actually learned somethings. We have come out of today’s troubled world and created a better world. We have realized that our diversity is not the source of our problems, but rather it is the source of our strength. With new technology like replicators, the need for money and an economy disappears and people work because they enjoy it. The future is a better place.
Star Trek gives humanity a goal and it sets that bar high. We can create a better future not because some deity, but because we are smart and clever and we can find a way. There is no great testament to humanism than Star Trek.
To me, Star Trek is what humanity is capable of if we just stop our petty fighting and start working together for the betterment of all humanity. It is what science can give us that religion can’t… real hope for a better world. Star Trek not only allows us to boldly go where no one has gone before, but it also inspires us to explore the human condition. It is about more than, “mapping stars and studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence,” as Q put it in the final episode of The Next Generation.
- Who Watches The Devil’s Due? (skepticink.com)
- The First Contact Litmus Test (skepticink.com)
- Getting To The 24th Century (skepticink.com)
- Move Over Wolf 1061c, Here Comes Proxima b – Dangerous Talk (skepticink.com)
- Thoughts on The New Star Trek Series – Dangerous Talk (skepticink.com)