Star Trek made him an atheist

I came across this great article that was linked to by Friendly Atheist and thought it was worth sharing. The writer discusses the atheist and humanist messages that have almost always been a huge part of Star Trek, and how Star Trek influenced his own atheism. In the article, he largely focuses on the common Star Trek theme of gods turning out to be just deeply flawed aliens. Two particular TNG episodes that I think were left out of the article were “Who Watches The Watchers” and “Devil’s Due.”

I do disagree on a few points. Namely, I think Voyager sucked, that DS9 wasn’t always easy on religion, and I can’t believe there was no mention of Star Trek V, which is CRIMINALLY UNDERRATED, especially within the context of a discussion about Star Trek and religion.

Let me take a moment to defend Deep Space 9. First of all, the main religious leader of the Bajoran people (basically their pope) was almost always treated as an opportunistic villain throughout the series. Second, like with the “gods” of previous Star Trek series, the Bajoran Prophets were nothing but an advanced alien race. And in the first season finale of that series, religious fanatics blew up a school because they thought their beliefs were being threatened when the teacher taught the secular, scientific interpretation that “The Prophets” were just “warm hole aliens.”

And with regards to Star Trek V, I frequently cite 3 quotes when debating with the religious. The first is:

“What does God need with a starship?”

Though I usually replace the word “starship” with something more appropriate to the discussion like, “What does God need with a blood sacrifice, etc?” Borrowing from IMDB, here’s the entire context of the excerpt, which concludes with my second favorite quote from the movie, uttered by Dr. McCoy:

Kirk: What does God need with a starship?
McCoy: Jim, what are you doing?
Kirk: I’m asking a question.
“God”: Who is this creature?
Kirk: Who am I? Don’t you know? Aren’t you God?
Sybok: He has his doubts.
“God”: You doubt me?
Kirk: I seek proof.
McCoy: Jim! You don’t ask the Almighty for his ID!
“God”: Then here is the proof you seek.
[Hits Kirk with lightning]
Kirk: Why is God angry?
Sybok: Why? Why have you done this to my friend?
“God”: He doubts me.
Spock: You have not answered his question. What does God need with a starship?
“God”: [hits Spock with lightning; then addresses McCoy] Do you doubt me?
McCoy: I doubt any God who inflicts pain for his own pleasure.

And the last quote I often use from this film is uttered by Captain Kirk within this exchange:

McCoy: We were speculating. Is God really out there?
Kirk: Maybe he’s not out there, Bones. Maybe he’s right here.
[points to his heart]
Kirk: Human heart.

It’s also worth noting that in addition to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry being an atheist (or humanist), William Shatner shared story credit on Star Trek V. And Shatner too is an atheist:

“I’ve always had sort of an ironic view of life,” the 75-year-old Shatner said. “My belief system is that when this is over, it’s over. That you don’t look down from heaven and wait for your loved ones to join you. There may be some soul activity, but I’m not sure about that. But what I am sure about is that your molecules continue and in due time become something else. That’s science.”

6 Responses to Star Trek made him an atheist

  1. Lots of trekies take this shit way too seriously. They almost start believing star trek is a religion and live by the stuff in the movies and series. We do live in a strange world!

  2. […] Star Trek made him an atheist « Skepacabra […]

  3. […] Star Trek made him an atheist « Skepacabra […]

  4. God says:

    Ummm, seeing as Shatner is real, how is Star Trek any less a valid religion than the the remaining 99% of theist/deist/pantheist/polytheist dogshit? Joke’s on you, as you’ll have to Google/Wiki 3/4 of those terms :p

    • Actually, it’s not a religion… a religion is a doctrine of ritual traditions, ceremonies, mythology, and associated dogma of a faith-based belief system which posits a posthumous promise, that some element of ‘self’ (be it a soul, consciousness, or memories, etc.) may, in some sense, continue beyond the death of the physical being.

      Star Trek is none of that.

      None of the religions that posit a deities existence has met that burden of proof… so, it does not merit serious consideration.

  5. ‘“The Prophets” were just “warm hole aliens.”’

    I hope you mean “worm hole aliens”, though, since we are talking about Star Trek your original wording might be apropos (at least for Kirk).

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