Date: 27 Apr 2010 17:28 Title: The Powers That Be: A Religious Cosmology in the Trekiverse
This was a really intertesting piece. I'm also a person of religious faith, and I've had some similar thoughts regarding the place of religion in the Trek universe, particularly human religion.
Part of the reason I am Catholic is that we are not required to check our scientific minds at the door of the Church -- we merely have to ensure that the ways in which we handle new discoveries are moral. (In other words, just because we can ... doesn't always mean we should.) I don't think I could adhere to a faith that urged me to ignore science completely.
I liked your thoughts on the soul (both alien and machine). I'm in the camp of "always err on the side of benefit of the doubt" when it comes to life. I have no idea if there's other life out there, but I always wonder at those who suggest it should cause some kind of crisis of faith to discover we aren't alone. If we ever discovered (or were discovered by) sentient lifeforms, I would just naturally assume they're part of the same creation I am, and imbued with the same inherent dignity and worth. It wouldn't instantly make me an atheist or anything like that.
As for the powerful lifeforms we've seen in Trek -- nice analysis. I personally share the view that God is all-good, and that the failures of these entities to live up to that standard is powerful evidence that they are not, in fact, gods, despite their apparent power. I do have one little nitpick, though -- did we ever see Q claim omniscience? I don't think we did. He may have unlimited control over space, matter, and time, therefore appeearing omnipotent to us, but omniscient or all-knowing? I think there was a lot he didn't know, and he freely admitted it on several occasions. So that right there was ample evidence that he's not godlike.
An interesting essay, I truly enjoyed reading it. Well done, Nerys!
Thank you so much for reviewing! :-)
As I think you know, I nearly left the church because of people insisting I SHOULD check my mind at the door. Ultimately I concluded that rather than running away from the problem, it is my calling to help to do something about those sorts of abuses.
I've seen some claim that the creation of artificial life by us would somehow disprove the role of a Creator. I don't see how it does...the soul is something entirely different. My fear is, though (and we saw this with Data, and with the holograms) that people would fail to recognize the inherent dignity of those sorts of lifeforms. Even clones got that sort of treatment on Trek. I think would be far better to assume that life forms of other types DO have souls, and should be treated as such. That should also, though, be a cause for great caution in creating life. Since God will always provide a soul, and not leave anything empty, we have to be VERY careful that we are not creating something that no soul should be tied to.
I thought Q had claimed omniscience, but I could be wrong. That said, though, some fans seem to be under the impression he is omniscient, so I still think it is important to prove that this is not the case.
BTW, I would be particularly interested in your POV as a Catholic on the issue I raised about the Prophets. I also know Catholicism has a more developed idea of the heavenly powers, so I would love to know how what I said about those beings lines up with church teachings on angels, demons, saints, etc. Also, I wanted to know if you agree with me about the way the conception of Sisko went down vs. the way God approached Mary.
Date: 26 Apr 2010 01:20 Title: The Powers That Be: A Religious Cosmology in the Trekiverse
Well, a lot of this is about fanfic stuff that I have not yet read, but I did enjoy the sections about Q, the Prophets, and Pah-Wraiths. Their conflict kind of prepared me for the conflict between Jacob and the Man in Black on LOST.
I'm sure the future will be very tolerant. After all, in "Balance of Terror", Angela genuflected before the ship's altar; in the 60s, there was some pretty strong prejudice against Catholics (yes, I know it's not a Catholic-exclusive practice). Also thought most of the DS9 episodes that dealt with the Bajoran religion were pretty interesting.
I agree the Bajoran religion got some of the best discussion of anything in the Trekiverse. That definitely affects how I felt about its practitioners, and why I warned that if you lived in the Trekiverse, bashing the Bajorans is a very disrespectful thing to do.
I have reasons that I do not think the future in the Trekiverse...at least by the 24th century...would be very tolerant. Or put more accurately, that humans will not be so tolerant towards fellow humans. Part of it has to do with Gene Roddenberry himself. But I think this addresses some of the objections.
Oh, and I hope you'll check out the fanfic stories I mentioned, if this intrigues you! ;-)