Big Daddy wrote:
Isn't it possible that the references to religion in the various TOS episodes mentioned above were put there simply as small devices to help the audience relate a little more to this futuristic universe?
Of course that's possible. It seems to me, though, there's a little bit more to it. The Original Series has always struck me as having a sort of split personality regarding spiritual ideas. The Enterprise characters were very rational, and they expressed no overt religious beliefs.
There was the recurring theme of Kirk's rejection of paradise/supreme being (This Side of Paradise, The Return of the Archons, The Apple). Kirk was adamant in his view that people weren't meant to live an easy life, to stagnate under the influence of a higher power, no matter how benign. They were meant to struggle, to strive for improvement.
Meant by whom? Seems to me that Kirk believed in some sort of innate purpose for sentient beings, and that he thought he knew what that purpose was.