The question of God or a higher power in ST

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by oddsigve, Sep 26, 2013.

  1. oddsigve

    oddsigve Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    The question of a "higher power" have been tackled in different ways in the different series/movies. Too me the whole notion seems redundant in a Star Trek universe with species like Q,"wormhole aliens", Okampans, etc.

    These are some of the questions i ask myself:

    -A problem with the English language? Phrases like"Oh, my god" are hard to avoid.
    -Being produced in the US
    -Producers afraid of alienating religious people?
    -Are they conducting a thought experiment so the viewer ends up pondering his/her beliefs?
    - If there is a god. Are the klingon, human etc. the same god or what? What`s beyond a species like the Q considering they are already omnipotent.

    I`m wondering what you think?
     
  2. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Kassidy mentioned her dad wanting her to be married by a minister so... they're still around even if not given the spotlight, I'd say.
     
  3. oddsigve

    oddsigve Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Yes, that`s true. It seems like they treat it like an obscurity and use other races religion to "discuss" the matter. Which is probably the "safe" way to tackle the question. Though the lack of references(?) to other religions on earth seems bias.
     
  4. teacake

    teacake Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Humans are snobs, hence the looking at races with religious beliefs as backward.

    The real question to me comes out in DS9. If there are gods or a god what makes this any different than vastly superior aliens we've already seen?
     
  5. sonak

    sonak Vice Admiral Admiral

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    they've referenced Earth religions or beliefs before. In "who mourns for adonais" Kirk seemed to identify himself as a monotheist. STV: TFF was full of speculation on God, and the Eden myth was referenced there as well as(of course) in "way to Eden." Chakotay has his spiritual beliefs too, of course. I would guess the idea is that Humans mostly are very private with their beliefs in the Trek future and that it is no longer quite the source of divisiveness and conflict that it was.
     
  6. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    Klingons killed their gods.
     
  7. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    The chapel on the Enterprise seen in TOS: Balance of Terror had what appear to be religious symbols at the altar.

    In TNG: Pen Pals, the question of whether there is a "cosmic plan" seems to be one that the senior staff deems worthy of serious consideration:

     
  8. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    "We make assumption you have a deity or deities or some such beliefs which comfort you."
    --Balok, "The Corbomite Maneuver"

    To me, this sums up the whole issue of God, religion, and faith in Trek. I think Trek acknowledges that people believe in a wide variety of things, including a higher power as well as no higher power. Somehow, Trek has managed to have people of very different creeds not only co-exist peacefully together, but also prosper together. It seem to boil down to an idea of "if it works for you."

    The only real problem seems to be with societies which are based upon the worship of an artificial construct (i.e., a super computer), where their lives are governed by the electronic whims of a device, IMO.
     
  9. David.Blue

    David.Blue Commander Red Shirt

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    Boils down to how one defines the word "God" not only in terms of Star Trek but in the RW as well. This routinely comes up for example in Facebook discussions, and certainly in other Trek forums.

    Gene Roddenberry's show seemed to avoid the question pretty much whenever possible, save to suggest that one of the worst things being like ourselves can do is to think themselves Godlike. Look at Gary Mitchell, or the Sargonites or even Apollo. Yet one sees very little by way of formal religion in the show. What we do see nearly always is portrayed as superstition, i.e. the Bajorans view of the Prophets, and any religious organization as nearly always inherently sinister. Or vaguely primitive.

    Part of this is the notion of God, as a transendance, as something far more than a mere human being. Give Charlie Evans vast power and what keeps him from being a God is his human limits. He lacks understanding. Gary Mitchell was the same, only as an adult he possessed the drives and complexities of a grown man (albeit still a young one). In "Plato's Stepchildren" in particular we see what someone with some genuine wisdom does when offered this kind of power. They refuse it, knowing themselves unworthy.

    Yet we have the Q. A seemingly literally eternal race, beings who've always existed and can reshape reality as they desire. Yet are not without limits. Not without room for growth.

    If anything, one gets a subtle hint that perhaps if humans are more advanced than (for example) cats, then races such as the Metrons and Organians are even more advanced. Yet further (or if you like, higher) are the Q. Is it really so much to believe something exists beyond the Q, unimaginable to us but as far beyond the wormhole aliens as we ourselves are above a virus?

    Personally, I belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church and will expound upon my church's theology at length given a chance. Hence my comments above, vis-a-vis the universe of Star Trek. But I don't believe the two mutually exclusive, even if the notion Jesus or Mohammed or the Buddha were aliens seems utterly unconvincing to me.
     
  10. Edit_XYZ

    Edit_XYZ Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The klingons sure like to think so.
    But faith drives their lives to a very large extent - all the Sto'vo'kor, etc beliefs.
    The klingons killed nothing; they merely stroked their ego.
     
  11. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    ALEXANDER: Parmen, listen to me. I could have had your power, but I didn't want it. I could have had your place right now, but the sight of you and your Academicians sickens me. Despite your brains, you're the most contemptible things that ever lived in this universe.

    I think it is not that Alexander considers himself "unworthy" but he is a very smart guy, and the title of the episode is a helpful hint, IMHO.

    Plato had recorded the actions of Socrates, and although "Know Thyself" was an inscription of the temple of Apollo (...) at Delphi, Socrates delivered an easy to understand explanation of "Know Thyself".

    In the context of this episode, Alexander apparently knows himself well enough (i.e. he is aware of his strength and weaknesses) to imagine how these godlike powers will corrupt him. He realizes that these would make him as contemptible as Parmen and the others which is something he does not want to be happening to him (just drop the "unworthy" and you have the correct interpretation, IMHO).

    The delicious paradox is that Alexander's wisdom would make him worthy of such powers but he knows himself way too good that the moment he'd accept he'd be unworthy. ;)

    In contrast Riker's acceptance of these godlike powers in "Hide and Q" reveals that he lacks wisdom and self-knowledge. But he quickly realizes with the help of his friends that he is not yet ready for such powers.

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  12. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    Being atheistic does not preclude having mysticism, mytholgy, superstition or beliefs in an afterlife (or at least a process by which such things as joy and suffering are sorted out). Obviously who are what is a god can be a messy affair, but I don't see why the veneration of Kahless would be much different than of Buddha.
     
  13. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Maybe Buddha didn't set the pattern for Earth tyrannies? :rolleyes:

    Excalbian rock: Captain, Mister Spock, some of these you may know through history. ... Kahless the Unforgettable, the Klingon who set the pattern for his planet's tyrannies. We welcome the vessel Enterprise. ("The Savage Curtain")

    Bob
     
  14. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    And you don't do that?

    What Trek more than once criticized was mindless faith. When people get completely irrational and utterly stupid in their faith. And Trek was every time absolutely right about that.
     
  15. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    However, it seems that the ability of anyone being(s) to function as a deity requires them to inspire such things are obedience or devotion. Gary Mitchell and Q appear to approach omnipotence, but they cannot inspire obedience in their absence. If they did, that devotion would be incredibly fragile, based almost entirely on the threat of force for non-compliance. Q, in particular, doesn't seem interested in being recognized as a god. He seems content to making people do things directly, and he even implores Picard et al to pray to their own gods. The Prophets, on the other hand, stand apart from these examples because they inspire devotion through what they give to Bajorans.
     
  16. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    That dude was as dumb as a rock!
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  17. Phily B

    Phily B Commodore Commodore

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    I always thought it was pretty obvious religion isn't really something around on Earth anymore. Look at Picard's attitude to Q, the Federation's attitude to the prophets - they look at the scientific explanations first.

    The Federation should have a great grasp on the origins of the universe when you look at the progress of humanity in that field, but you can't really expect the writers of a TV show to hazard a guess at this.
     
  18. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and several Native American religions are still around, or at least their practices and customs are continued to be observed (the same is likely true for Judaism and some other religions too).

    I think it's just a case that most Humans don't tend to openly flaunt their personal religions. It may be a case that Earth actually has more religions than most worlds and one way Humans have been able to keep the peace with one another is by becoming a more nondenominational society.
    Picard looked as Q as being a very powerful life-form, like so many others that the Federation has encountered before. And the Federation's attitude towards the Prophets was based on a similar philosophy, but perhaps soured by the idea of the Bajorans mistaking just very powerful aliens as gods, IMO.

    I think the definition of God is something that will always be an arbitrary one by whoever defines it: Is it just one god or many gods? Male or female? Creator of the Universe or just one aspect of it? Human in shape or not? Unless there's a universal answer to all of these, there will always be a question raised--are you really God?--whenever Starfleet encounters a very powerful life-form, because it's so easy to mistake them as gods.
    I think this is one area where Trek tries not to be preachy, so it allows different points of views. It may be Starfleet policy to be more secular, but quite a few of the alien civilizations they encounter have thriving religions.
     
  19. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    I don't think that's really a problem. At this point, those sort of phrases are just common figures of speech, often devoid of meaning, and are hardly evidence of sincere religious belief.

    If I stub my toe and exclaim "God damn it!" I'm not literally calling upon a higher power to condemn an inanimate object to eternal perdition. Ditto for "Oh my God!" or "Oh, for God's sake!" or even "Jesus f-ing Christ!"

    If we accept that characters in Star Trek routinely speak 20th-century colloquial English, as they have for decades, the occasional "Dear Lord!" or "Damnit, Jim!" are just par for the course and don't actually prove anything about the status of religion in the 23rd Century.

    Hell, I'm a lifelong atheist and I just said "hell." :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2013
  20. Shawnster

    Shawnster Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    All the data the Excalibans had about Khaless came form Kirk and Spock's memories. Not exactly unbiased sources.