A friend and I were arguing a few weeks ago over coffee. “Oh Star Trek,” he said, “the show where people just magically show up to work with no money and no incentive.” I tried telling him about replicators and how the goal of humans in the Star Trek universe is to aggrandize themselves and a whole bunch of other things that made me sound, in his ears, like a pimply faced nerd wasting away in my parents basement watching Star Trek reruns ad infinitum.
For some reason, I just had to score a point for Roddenberry (the creator of Star Trek). I wouldn’t call myself a Trekkie in any proper sense and neither would a proper Trekkie. I more so believe that Star Trek and its philosophy are incredibly important and influential. So I told my buddy, “I think that the two most important opposing viewpoints of the contemporary world are the canon of scripture and the canon of Star Trek.”
He looked at me sideways, demanding an explanation. Many of my generation, and of older generations, have rejected Christianity for something else. Some millennials who reject Christianity, opt for some sort of universalism or vague spiritualism. These philosophies all have something in common, a metaphysical explanation. Nietzsche called Christianity, “Platonism for the masses.” I think this is a fair description and most monotheist and spiritualist hold beliefs quite similar to Plato – we are not seeing the whole picture with our senses, there is something ultimate behind and beyond it all.
So if Plato, Jesus, and Deepak Chopra all think along similar lines, what about Kirk, Picard, and Janeway? Both sides, one we could call Platonism and the other humanism, believe in going beyond what is immediately apparent. However, Roddenberry wouldn’t call this a spiritual endeavor, but simply a human one. We are not separated from the beyond by sin or the flesh. It is merely our own self set limitations that separate us from a greater existence. The Star Trek universe doesn’t buy into the realm of forms, heaven, or nirvana, but instead buys into the universe itself, believing in the infinite possibility of a seemingly endless cosmos.
The whole argument between the two canons comes down to this. Should we be striving for a better world, one where people work to better themselves, rather than earn a paycheck? Or should we be improving ourselves in preparation for a wholly different, probably perfect, world beyond our senses? These are, I think, the defining questions of our time. This is also why everyone should be reading their Bibles and watching their Star Trek
Live long and prosper and God bless