Curious that Star Trek, a show created to tell a secular humanist stroy about mans ultimate triumph over supersitition could only tell human stories about human-like aliens by relying on religious tropes, including powerful deities, that are familiar to so many world religions.
Gene Roddenberry’s series reflected the great flaws in his humanist views. That’s why most episodes ultimately resolved around good vs evil and why even in his futuristic vision, pure secular humanism was difficult to make workable and why even the reboots, that praise themselves on being edgy and pc (recreating Sulu as a gay man, even against the judgement of George Takei) can never figure out how to actually keep a humanist world working on it’s own. COnsider that each Star Trek franchise tells the same stories over and over again, mankind evolving and yet never really changing.
In fact, it is often the most spiritual characters who have the most to tell us in the Star Trek universe.
Bajoran deities and prophets
The Q and omnipresent godlike powers.
The hell of a Borg cube
The Entire Greek Pantheon
The Squire of Gothos
Star Trek gave us an athiest world based on humanist philosophy and then promptly filled it with god like beings. Some good, some bad, most indifferent.
Whats more interesting is that if you really think about it, star trek is a nihilistic story concealed benath a false cloak of futurist utopianism. As the series grew and evolved we see Starfleet become more corrupt, eventually being fully realized in the first reboot and their employing a genocidal superman to develop weapons and in the 2nd reboot film, the appearance of a former Starfleet officer turned genocidal war monger.
What Rodenberry managed to do, though without realizing it is to tell a story about why secular humanisn is not workable, at least not in a story format that has any lasting appeal.
To be sure, Roddenberry transformed gods into simply powerful aliens, but this distinction becomes meaningless when looked at in the light of these beings powers and goals. Yes, we see a God liek being trapped on a prison planet needing a starship to escape. but we also see Q and his literal omnipresence all powerful abilities. What is the god Sybok sought out if not Prometheus bound and what is Q if not god?
And an argument could be made that Roddenberry was transforming old gods into aliens to show how religious superstition was itself a remnant of mans flawed past and that in time perhaps, man could become like these alliengods, but here too is a great flaw in secular humanism, that humans are celebrated only because we might one day become like the gods, again a very familiar religious concept, just look at the Garden of Eden or the Tower of Babel. In doing this he did not tell a non-religious, humanist storym but instead told a pan-religious, pagan story. Indeed, Star Trek is perhaps the most pagan of science fiction in its reliance on gods and magic. You disagree that this is magic? Q clearly has no technology behind his power and Gorgan’s power is fueled by the belief of children.
It is also worth note that as the franchise went on it grew succesively darker from ST:TOS and it’s almost comedic plots, to ST-TNG and it’s focus on wars (Klingon, Cardassion, Romulan), torture, Starfleets own section 31, to ST-DS9 and a planet of former slaves and religious holy wars , ST-VGR and with the arrival of ST:Enterprise we see even the early histroy of the Federation filled with intrigue and the very things that Roddenberry was speaking against. SUre, Roddenbery had verylittle to do with these shows, but they were spawned by his singular idea and in truth this is perhaps the greatest failing of secular humanism. It successed only when it is theorietical and abstract. Future generations must content with why it fails.
Indeed for every Star Trek there is a Babylon 5, Ghost in the Shell or Blade Runner, stories that show a much more likely future for mankind, free from superstition, liberated from the restraints of religion, left utterly to our own devices as independant beings. That is the promise of dystopia. Perhaps, as beingf aithful requires me to believe, some restraints are best left in tact.