RSS iconTwitter iconFacebook icon

The Trek BBS title image

The Trek BBS statistics

Threads: 135,740
Posts: 5,215,465
Members: 24,211
Currently online: 960
Newest member: DeimosAnimus

TrekToday headlines

Q Meets NuTrek Crew
By: T'Bonz on Apr 18

Pine In Talks For Drama
By: T'Bonz on Apr 18

New X-Men: Days of Future Past Trailer
By: T'Bonz on Apr 17

Nimoy to Receive Award
By: T'Bonz on Apr 17

Star Trek Special: Flesh and Stone Comic
By: T'Bonz on Apr 16

These Are The Voyages TOS Season Two Book Review
By: T'Bonz on Apr 16

Kirk’s Well Wishes To Kirk
By: T'Bonz on Apr 15

Quinto In New Starz Series
By: T'Bonz on Apr 15

Star Trek: Horizon Film
By: T'Bonz on Apr 14

Star Trek: Fleet Captains Game Expansion
By: T'Bonz on Apr 14


Welcome! The Trek BBS is the number one place to chat about Star Trek with like-minded fans. Please login to see our full range of forums as well as the ability to send and receive private messages, track your favourite topics and of course join in the discussions.

If you are a new visitor, join us for free. If you are an existing member please login below. Note: for members who joined under our old messageboard system, please login with your display name not your login name.


Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old June 16 2013, 07:57 AM   #1
eskyliz
Lieutenant Junior Grade
 
Does Data have a soul?

I just got done rewatching "Return of the Archons" in the original series and I got to the end when Captain Kirk was talking about how the computer was not Landru because even though it had the knowledge that he had, it did not have the wisdom and compassion and it had no soul.

Now it's kind of obvious that the Landru computer had no soul. I mean it was leading a whole civilization that had almost no emotions. (No offense Vulcans. You're different.) But then I got to thinking. Why does Data seem to have a soul? He seems to have that spark of life just like any human. But he can't have a soul can he? I thought he was a machine and by Kirk's logic machines don't and can't have souls. Yet Data makes friends and even has a few romantic relationships. And we refer to him as "he" instead of "it." (Perhaps thats mostly because he's an android so he looks human and our brains are hot wired to recognize human faces and match them to names. Maybe we would call anything "him" or "her" if we painted a face on it.) Even though he's incapable of emotions, he understands that humans need creativity and feelings to be humans unlike the Landru computer which was only concerned with peace and order.

So my question is does Data have a soul or is he just another lifeless computer?

(Sorry if I sound like I hate Data. On the contrary, he's one of my favorites.)
__________________
"That may be the most important thing to understand about humans. It is the unknown that defines our existence. We are constantly searching, not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions. We are explorers." - Captain Sisko
eskyliz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 16 2013, 08:16 AM   #2
R. Star
Rear Admiral
 
R. Star's Avatar
 
Location: Shangri-La
Re: Does Data have a soul?

Data is a toaster!

Sorry, had to. Anyways... on topic. There's a bit of difference between your comparison to the Landru machine and Data. He does have compassion and wisdom. He's quite possibly the most compassionate person on TNG. Wisdom? He can be naive at times, and remarkably perceptive at others. Is he perfect no? But those imperfections seem to me to be part of the human condition he's coveting.

As for a soul? I can't accept that as a criteria for sentience. If you can prove to me unequivocally that a human has a soul, then maybe I'll reconsider that. Until then I'd say it's just an abstract metaphysical term created by us to fill in the gaps between what we don't know and what we want to believe.

So is Data human? Obviously not. I do believe Louvois made the correct determination that while he's different he should have the freedom to find his own answers in it.
__________________
"I was never a Star Trek fan." J.J. Abrams
R. Star is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 16 2013, 09:09 AM   #3
Timelord Victorious
TARDIS Janitor
 
Timelord Victorious's Avatar
 
Location: Germany, Earth, the Solar System
Re: Does Data have a soul?

I sort of agree.
You have to define "Soul" first before one can answer that.

He is a machine, yes, but so are we, just different material bodies.

We have a brain that produces our personality and so does Data.
From what I understand of his positronic matrix is, that it forms new neural pathways all the time and makes his brain as unique as every human's.
I think they had a diagram of it up in one episode.

Of course that is abit of sci-fi magic, but within the StarTrek universe that Data really is much more than a programmed automaton.
As much as we are anyway.
Timelord Victorious is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 16 2013, 09:56 AM   #4
iguana_tonante
Admiral
 
iguana_tonante's Avatar
 
Location: Italy, EU
Re: Does Data have a soul?

People don't have "souls".

Problem solved. You are welcome.
__________________
Scientist. Gentleman. Teacher. Fighter. Lover. Father.
iguana_tonante is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 16 2013, 10:03 AM   #5
Portal
Commander
 
Re: Does Data have a soul?

Do you have a soul? Do I have a soul? I don't know.

Now if Data were a Christian, I wonder what denomination he would chose to be. They're always asking that question when you go into the hospital, for instance.

Can androids be religious/spiritual?

Data is always striving to be more human, so I think he actually might believe in God and practice religion. He's always practicing his music and his art for example. But of course you have to consider whether or not he inherited a sort of atheism from his father and mother.
Portal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 16 2013, 10:30 AM   #6
cheesepuff316
Lieutenant Junior Grade
 
Re: Does Data have a soul?

Although Data isn't human, he is still sentient and AWESOME!

Define having a soul.... Is it your personality, and everything that makes you who you are? Is it the spiritual thing that religion thinks it is? Is it like the katra for Vulcans?
cheesepuff316 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 16 2013, 10:43 AM   #7
Portal
Commander
 
Re: Does Data have a soul?

^Does he have a strong Pah like the Bajorans?
Portal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 16 2013, 11:01 AM   #8
MacLeod
Admiral
 
Location: Great Britain
Re: Does Data have a soul?

This was one of the points made of "The Measure of a Man", it couldn't be proven or disproven that he had one, and the same went for a flesh and blood person.
__________________
On the continent of wild endeavour in the mountains of solace and solitude there stood the citadel of the time lords, the oldest and most mighty race in the universe looking down on the galaxies below sworn never to interfere only to watch.
MacLeod is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 16 2013, 11:28 AM   #9
Relayer1
Commodore
 
Relayer1's Avatar
 
Location: The Black Country, England
Re: Does Data have a soul?

iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
People don't have "souls".

Problem solved. You are welcome.
Is the correct answer !
__________________
Soon oh soon the light, Pass within and soothe this endless night, And wait here for you, Our reason to be here...
Relayer1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 16 2013, 11:41 AM   #10
SonOfMogh
Commander
 
SonOfMogh's Avatar
 
Location: UK
Re: Does Data have a soul?

I think TNG made it pretty clear those silly superstitions are a thing of the past. I doubt anyone on the Enterprise believes they have a "soul".
SonOfMogh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 16 2013, 12:20 PM   #11
R. Star
Rear Admiral
 
R. Star's Avatar
 
Location: Shangri-La
Re: Does Data have a soul?

The soulless minions of orthodoxy rule the future.
__________________
"I was never a Star Trek fan." J.J. Abrams
R. Star is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 16 2013, 01:13 PM   #12
Lt. Uhura-Brown
Lieutenant Commander
 
Location: New Zealand
Re: Does Data have a soul?

Self-awareness is the seed from which the flower that is a soul, grows.
Lt. Uhura-Brown is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 16 2013, 03:04 PM   #13
Chemahkuu
Vice Admiral
 
Chemahkuu's Avatar
 
Location: United Kingdom
Send a message via Yahoo to Chemahkuu
Re: Does Data have a soul?

Relayer1 wrote: View Post
iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
People don't have "souls".

Problem solved. You are welcome.
Is the correct answer !
Exactly.
Chemahkuu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 16 2013, 03:40 PM   #14
Mr. Laser Beam
Fleet Admiral
 
Mr. Laser Beam's Avatar
 
Location: The visitor's bullpen
View Mr. Laser Beam's Twitter Profile
Re: Does Data have a soul?

Yes, I believe Data has a soul. I don't care what he's made out of - he is a sentient being, and therefore has a soul. I feel the same way about the EMH.

Of course there's no way to prove something like this, I just have to take it on faith.
__________________
Taysiders in Space. In amungst ye!

"Set phasers tae malky!"
Mr. Laser Beam is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 16 2013, 03:45 PM   #15
Charles Phipps
Commander
 
Charles Phipps's Avatar
 
Re: Does Data have a soul?

iguana_tonante wrote: View Post
People don't have "souls".

Problem solved. You are welcome.
The issue is more complicated, even if you're an atheist (I'm not but that's not relevant). Soul can mean more than something that lives on past death but a certain Greek "spark of life" which renders something a person.

What's the difference between Data, Moriarty, the Doctor, your typical hologram, and a very well-done computer simulation? In Star Trek, the question of simulating life is an issue which is relevant because a simulation is not real. However, if that simulation is real enough to FEEL that is a person. If a simulation does not feel but merely is following its programming, it's not.

Yet, what is instinct if not programming?

Also, while Gene Roddenberry was an atheist, the Star Trek universe is composed by people who have expanded it tremendously beyond and in some places against his vision. Bill Shatner's Star Trek is a deistic universe while accepting DS9 as part of "your" canon also means that it's a universe where literally true supernatural religion is not in conflict with science.

It's more ambiguous in TNG and Voyager but even TOS has implications that religion isn't so much wrong as misinformed.
__________________
Check out the United Federation of Charles:
http://unitedfederationofcharles.blogspot.com/
Charles Phipps is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 11:43 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
FireFox 2+ or Internet Explorer 7+ highly recommended.