Why Not A Starfleet Ships Chaplain As A Main Character?

Discussion in 'Future of Trek' started by Knight Templar, Oct 7, 2012.

  1. DonIago

    DonIago Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    So DS9 isn't Star Trek?
     
  2. Longinus

    Longinus Commander Red Shirt

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    Bajorans can certainly be religious, but not humans or the Federation as a whole.
     
  3. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    What do you think the entire "Search for Spock" ended up meaning? The ritual at the end of STIII was strict spirituality/faith, without a shred of science involved in the act.

    In TOS, Kirk, McCoy, Uhura and Scott have all made religious references (Christianity), and not as loose slang/expression, either. No episode was stronger in providing this proof than "Bread and Circuses" where Uhura and Kirk openly acknowledged God/Christ's existence, and this was an episode written by Roddenberry (along with Coon and Kneubuhl) while Roddenberry was involved with the series.

    Spiritual belief exists in the ST universe across all eras, which calls into question the motives of various ST books which try to paint the franchise with revisionist brush, as though religious belief was nowhere to be seen in ST since "The Cage."
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2012
  4. Longinus

    Longinus Commander Red Shirt

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    It is just a part of the Vulcan telepathy thing, just like mind melds. It may appear 'spiritual' to humans, but there is really nothing mystical about it.

    It merely acknowledges Christ as an important historical figure. And you don't have to be a Christian to see the moral value of Christ's teachings.

    What does 'spritual belief' mean in this context? Trek people seem to approach all sorts of strange phenomena purely scientifically. They measure particles, not ponder spiritual meanings. Of course they ponder ethical and moral issues often, but that's not being spiritual. There are all sorts of godly superbeings and never they are seen to be anyway spiritually significant. Q for example is seen merely as a powerful alien, even though he appears to be nearly omnipotent, certainly a god compared to the mere humans.

    Certainly, lingering effects of Christianity are more visible in TOS as they're in TNG. This has of course it's real world reasons, the time the shows were made and the control Roddenberry had over the production, but it also makes sense from the in-universe perspective. Religions do not vanish overnight, so religious worldview may have been more present (or at least better remembered) in 23th century than it was in 24th. And this also seems highly realistic to me. Religiosity is decreasing. United States is an anomaly amongst developed western nations for being highly religious, and even there atheism is growing. I find it completely plausible that that in few ceturies the religions are regarded as ancient myths and fables. This of course do not mean that people of the future cannot see value in some of these teachings and stories. We don't have to believe that Achilles or King Artur were real people to find them inspiring.

    I am not certainly saying that no character in Star Trek can ever express anything that comes even close to religious idealogy, but secular humanism is one of the core ideas of the Federation, and religions should be mostly gone. Having a chaplain in Starfleet would seem about as fitting as Space Marines in Warhammer 40K having sensitivity training courses.
     
  5. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    While Humanism would seem one of the core principals of the Federation, I would argue that secular humanism isn't. Where are you seeing this supposed secular in addendum to the obvious Humanist? And not all humanists are secular humanists.

    General Humanism neither considers or rejects metaphysical issues such as the existence or nonexistence of God, gods, or other supernatural beings, and if a significant potion of the founding members of the Federation possessed cultures with religious and spiritual faiths, secular humanism's particular philosophy might actually be specifically prohibited in the Federation charter.

    The Vulcan High Priestess in the fourth movie was named T'Lar, she was the one in the large head dress performed the fal-tor-pan ceremony. The script describes the scene as taking place in a "Vulcan Temple."

    When (non-canon) Spock and Saavik married in the novel Vulcan's Heart, High Priestess T'Lar was the one who officiated the wedding.

    There was a un-named Vulcan Priestess (you saw the large head dress right?) present at Spock's birth in the fifth movie. She was played by actress Beverly Hart.

    While it's unstated, I believe that T'Pau, from Amok Time, was also a Preistess. And if the marriage ceremony had occurred, she would have officiated it. Spock, prior to knowledge of T'Pring's challenge, spoke to Kirk and McCoy of a ceremony.

    What's illogical about praying?

    When Miles O'Brein and Keiko Ishikawa were married in TNG, Keiko wore a traditional Shinto wedding dress, the large "hat" gives it away. Not all Human faith is Christianity, in the same episode as the wedding there was a Hindu celebration.

    :)
     
  6. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    One, telepathy has nothing to do with the essence of what was happening to McCoy and what Sarek expected of Kirk. Two, mere telepathy is not on the magnitude of what Sarek described as Kirk denying him "his future"

    and--

    "He entrusted you...with his very essence--with everything that was not of the body. He asked you to bring him to us. And to bring that which he gave you--his Katra--his living spirit."

    This was no mind meld, and contrary to you saying:

    It is spiritual to Vulcans. Sarek is clear--the Katra is the living spirit, or as some call it--the soul. Again, there's no getting around it: the Spock-related events of STIII are all about his race's religious beliefs--they know as a matter of fact that he has a soul--his future (presumably beyond physical death), but thanks to the restored body being retrieved, it was restored to his physical being, otherwise it would remain a mindless piece of flesh. Nothing more.


    Uhura specifically refers to the "Son" as the Son of God, a distinct position which is far more than merely referencing a historical figure. She did not water down his identity by reducing him to the random philosopher alone, hence her description.

    Now, if Kirk happened to be talking about Lincoln, then that would fall into the catagory of a strict historical reference, as he (Lincoln) was simply a regular man who played a part in a significant chapter of U.S. history.

    Two examples above were not approcahed and/or considered in that manner. Belief in Spock even having a living spirit--his Katra--and his fate (whether the oriignal "future" Sarek spoke of, or the restoration to his body) had nothing to do with attempting to verify its truth through a scientific process or investigation.

    Part of the humanity which allows a character such as McCoy to function in fantastic situations comes from his obvious religious upbringing, which guided him to often challenge more secular approaches to situations (seemingly lacking a strict moral compass).

    Nonsense. Starfleet is not the future's version those engaging in so-called Black Ops, where an anything goes/by any means necessary mentality is the foundation of how the missions are run.

    This is one of the reasons Star Wars fans love to criticize Starfleet in any hypothetical conflict with the SW universe's Empire. It is not just about sheer numbers, but what SW fans percieve as Starfleet not being some grim, balls-to-the-walls strike force, but one where higher beliefs would--in theory--prevent them from being effective agianst an enemy who will do anything to anyone, including destroy everything from a family to an entire civilization if its suits their purpose.
     
  7. Longinus

    Longinus Commander Red Shirt

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    Merry, you mistake some cultural trappings for a religion. I'm an atheist and I celebrate Christmas. It's a tradition but it doesn't have religious meaning for me. I also celebrate Midsummer's Eve (as does everyone in Finland) and it's an old pagan tradition, origin's of which have pretty much been forgotten. Cultures today constantly refer to things about past religions and mythologies that are no longer believed to be actually true.

    And Vulcan priests are people who are familiar with Vulcan traditions. There are no Vulcan gods.

    And why is praying illogical? Why would you even ask that? It is either supernatural thinking (if you think it actually does something) or a mere gesture (if you don't). Now latter is really not a problem in human sense; saying 'I pray your journey will be safe one' may be just saying that I really wish nothing bad happens to you on your journey. It is still kinda odd thing for a Vulcan to say though.

    In any case, people in Trek do not talk about spiritual things. Never do Starfleet personnel speculate whether a random super energy being might be an angel, a god or have any other spiritual meaning. Never do they ponder about afterlife or salvation of an alien species. They approach things from a purely scientific viewpoint.
     
  8. Longinus

    Longinus Commander Red Shirt

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    Katra is a scientific fact for Vulcans. It is the mental pattern of the person that they can transfer via mind meld. Obviously the Vulcans do not wish the knowledge and experiences of the person to be lost once he or she dies. Note how this 'soul' needs to be stored in a living brain (or in a katric arc, I suppose.)

    And Spock without his Katra is not really mindless. He is merely a newborn without any memories or experiences. By restoring Katra he becomes Spock we know.

    'Son' is what the space Romans called him, and it is certainly known historical fact that Christ was called 'Son of God' by his followers. It is no way an indication that Uhura herself presumed Christ to be an actual son of God.

    You seem to assume that if people acknowledge that someone is an important historical figure and moral and religious leader, they also acknowledge that the supernatural part is true. That just doesn't follow.

    Sarek already knows how Katra functions. Vulcans have verified it centuries ago.

    I'm not saying that you're wrong. It's a long time I've watched TOS, but what leads you conclude that McCoy is particularly religious?

    Yes, that's called having morals. No religion is involved.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2012
  9. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In the last scene of Bread And Circuses, where Uhura and McCoy are speaking on he bridge , there is joy in Uhura voice, and a matter of fact'ness in McCoy. There no sign that McCoy is employing sarcasm or is reciting a line out of a history book. That they are both persons of faith come from the tone of their voices, and the look on Uhura's face.

    Uhura: "Don't you understand? It's not the sun up in the sky. It's the Son of God."
    Kirk: "Caesar and Christ. They had them both. And the word is spreading only now."
    McCoy: "A philosophy of total love and total brotherhood."


    One of those trappings being a "Vulcan Temple." Commander Tuvok referred to a Vulcan temple as being "sacred." Vulcan family's travel to the temples so that prayer can be said.

    In the (non-canon) novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Vulcans, in addition to the senses possessed by Humans, have a sense that give them the ability to perceive a oneness with The All, the universe's creative force, or God. The novelization was written by Gene Roddenberry.

    One of the prime creators of Star Trek says that Vulcan do in fact have relationship with God.

    Why would it be illogical for Vulcans (or anyone) to pray? Vulcan know that the self survives the mortal flesh, and they (like many of us) can personal perceive God.

    :)
     
  10. Longinus

    Longinus Commander Red Shirt

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    Yes, I watched that scene. They obviously think that Christ's teachings will improve that planet. No religious element required.

    I would not pay too much attention to words like 'temple' or 'priest', but I already sy it is odd for Vulcans to pray.

    I haven't read it. If that's true it is indeed odd, and goes against what he has said about world of Star Trek and his ideas about religion. Could anyone provide the exact quote?

    What would be the purpose of the prayer? It does nothing.

    And Katra is physical thing, it cannot survive without a physical container such as brain or katra arch. Vulcans preserve their Katras because they know there is no existence beyond this physical world.


    Oh, and apparently network bosses pressuret Roddenberry to include a chaplain in TOS. He adamantly refused.
     
  11. Squiggy

    Squiggy FrozenToad Premium Member

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    No.

    It would be bad television. It would be boring. No one wants to watch someone wrestle with the moral questions of others while in space. We don't even have any evidence that Starfleet vessels have chaplains. Who Watches the Watchers seems to shoot down human-based relgion entirely and who the hell wants to watch a Andorian talk about his Gods?

    No one would watch it. No one would air it.
     
  12. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    Sarek's original intent was not about restoring the Katra to a brain (or arc which was not mentioned on screen). when he approached Kirk, it was about returning that living spirit to Vulcan, as Sarek (and Kirk--at the time) did not know Spock's body had been restored.

    Sarek's dialogue cannot be misunderstood--he refers to the Katra as a living spirit. It is not telepathy, or the physcial mirror of a hard drive: the entir essence of a being--the soul--is contained in the Katra, and you have yet to apply a plausible scientific explanation for the Katra...because science was not intended to have anything to do with the process.

    In fact, the only "science" in the film was the Genesis effect on a mindless, soulless body, which had nothing to do with the continued existence of Spock's Katra in McCoy on earth.

    Spock was not intelligent and hardly self-aware while growing on the Genesis planet. Animal instincts are not thoughts. That left with his Katra in McCoy's mind.

    Tone means everything: Uhura said it as an emotionally upbeat, matter-of-fact statement of Christ's true identity, otherwise she would have described Christ as you do (or like many Muslims) as just some random philosopher who does not have a divine origin.

    He applies his beliefs in various situations, referred to Biblical scripture and has used it in one of his many arguments with Spock.
     
  13. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    You are only able to say that for yourself; you are incapable of knowing how prayer works for any who regularly perform it, so when you post "it does nothing," you need to add "...for me."
     
  14. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Haven't there been many episodes where that's exactly the main plot line, wreastling with ethical and moral questions and issues?

    What is being discussed would be a new type of character.

    I thought that was a Vulcanoid-based religion.

    Would make for a good episode, too bad we never got Shran to wax philosophically about Andorian beliefs.

    Remember, we're talking about just one new character in the mix of other crewmembers. TNG did well introducing both a councilor and a security officer as main characters on the show.

    Change can be good.

    No he didn't, there was a chapel in two TOS episodes, it was used for a wedding ceremony and later a memorial service.

    :)
     
  15. Longinus

    Longinus Commander Red Shirt

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    I cannot scientifically explain how transporter works, but in context of the show it's not magic; Scotty knows how it works. Similarly I assume Vulcans have scientific understanding of Katras, even though the details are not spelled out on the screen.

    What do you assume the Vulcans do with the Katras? Why, if they are souls in Christian sense you need to but them into a physical containers?

    Spock was not intelligent and hardly self-aware while growing on the Genesis planet. Animal instincts are not thoughts. That left with his Katra in McCoy's mind. [/QUOTE]

    What sort of mental faculties you'd assume a few days old person to posses? Considering his age, he seemed pretty smart.

    Also, how could Spock function just fine in STII after he had transeffer his Katra to McCoy? It was not transferring the Katra that wiped his mind, it was dying that did that. Katra is just a backup of one's mind.

    How Katras exactly work is left vague, and we can argue about details all day, but there is no reason to assume that anything magical is going on there anymore than with any strange phanomenon they encounter in Trek all the time. Mystical/Magical/Supernatural explanations are never even considered in Trek. There are only things that they understand scientifically and things they do not yet understand scientifically.


    Yeah, that's quite slim evidence. Tone of her voice. Maybe she was a Christian, but that really isn't conclusive evidence in any way.

    I can quote Bible, Edda, Kalevala or even Lord of the Rings to made a point, that does not mean that I believe supernatural things in those books are true.

    Again, he may be a Christian, but the evidence just isn't there.
     
  16. Longinus

    Longinus Commander Red Shirt

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    Yes. And they use their human ethics to solve those tituations, not consult scriptures.

    Yes, there was a generic chapel space for various seremonies, but the chaplain part is true. He didn't want Starfleet to have chaplains.

    So yes, we can find offassional references to religion, especially in TOS. The general idea is still clear: in future humans are mostly atheistic.

    Now, I certainly don't think one has to take Roddenberry's opinions as a word of god, but I really think that this is a core part of Star Trek. The show is about people resolving issues with reason and compassion. Supernatural explanations are never considered, nor are morals ever justified by religious reasons.
     
  17. Longinus

    Longinus Commander Red Shirt

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    It can certainly affect your own mental state (or of those hearing the prayer), but it obviously cannot affect the external world. Praying for somene's safe return will not make them less or more likely to return safely.
     
  18. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Where are you getting the "didn't want chaplains in TOS" thing in the first place? Do you have a reference? As you're probably aware, Roddenberry wrote only a small handful of the scripts. Balance of Terror (which featured a chapel) was written by Paul Schneider. The Tholian Web (another chapel employing episode) was written by Judy Burns and Chet Richards. Roddenberry was famous for changing a few lines in a script to get part of the writing credit. He doesn't appear as one of the writers of either of these two scripts because he had no hand in them. Likely the reason there isn't a chaplain in either episode is they didn't want to pay another actor for a speaking role. And not a Roddenberry imposed directive not to have a chaplain.

    Where does the network applying pressure for a chapel come from as well? Did NBC (or Lucille Ball) call up Gene one day and insist there be "a chapel" in TOS's eighth episode? There was a scripted wedding scene, that came from writer Paul Schneider, not NBC.

    Just out of curiosity, who wrote that wikipedia entry? Anyone who knows what they're talking about?

    Given his conflicting statements in "Where Silence Has Lease" and "Who Watches the Watchers" it's completely impossible to call Captain Picard an atheist. If future humans are mostly atheistic, perhaps you can site some examples of characters who are, because while we have see some examples of character with beliefs and faiths, where are all these atheists?

    And still the highly logical Vulcans did pray for someone's return, and they did return safely. How about that?

    What is "spelled out on screen" is that when Sarek wanted his son's katra refused into his physical body, McCoy and Spock were brought to a Vulcan Temple, and the one who perform the re-fusion was a Vulcan High Priestess.

    Not science, spirituality.

    There's no indication in any of the five series or eleven movies that the Vulcans understand the concept of katras scientifically. As it's a matter of the living spirit, scientific understanding might be impossible.

    But if their ethical and moral grounding is based upon their religious and spiritual up bringing, and life long instruction, then the solutions that they arrive at would come from there.


    :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  19. Longinus

    Longinus Commander Red Shirt

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    I do not know the exact source of that wiki article, and I'm not going to comb through Roddenberry biographies to find it. It is well established fact that Roddenberry was an atheist and he wanted his show to reflect his ideas.

    Chaplains are part of an organised religion, even though some people might have vague 'oh, maybe there is something after death' type of ideas, you do not need chaplains for that. Certainly an open minded person consideres all possibilities, but that is not having a religion, nor does it take faith.

    As for Katras and 'unexplained spiritual things' here exactly is the problem with religious/magical thinking and why it has not place in a scientific exploratory organisation. Such things just do not exist and cannot be assumed to exist. There are only things you understand or do not yet understand. People in Star Trek never resign in a face of an unusual phenomenon and say 'oh, maybe it is a miracle!' They encounter beings that are obviously gods, yet they do not treat them as having any greater spiritual significance. They are just powerful aliens. And they try to study them.

    As for prayers, do you seriously think that they can alter the reality in real life? Because that obviously is not the case.
     
  20. EmperorTiberius

    EmperorTiberius Captain Captain

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    Star Trek is pretty agnostic, or in some cases atheistic. The only person who is a strong believer is Worf and Klingons. There is no character in TNG through Voyager that you could point at and say he's such and such fait, except may be Chakotey, but it's unclear what his religion is.
     

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