Friday, November 23, 2007

Star Trek and the Veracity of the Bible

I'm a Trekkie. For the most part I have enjoyed the character development, pseudo-scientific context and problem-solving, and situational continuity in the series. That said, Star Trek has hardly been written from a Christian worldview. The storylines influenced by Gene Roddenberry were typically innocuous. Despite storylines that have involved Nazis, historic American freedom, native American religious practices, etc., there was enough divergence from modern religious and political maneuvering and argumentation to be relatively innocuous. Since Roddenberry's death, this pattern has slipped somewhat. Perhaps the discipline is lost on most writers. (I wonder if these are the writers now on strike.)

Today is the SciFi channel's Enterprise marathon. I've watched a few of them between the initial run and the re-runs on SciFi, but I haven't gotten into the series like I have some of the others. The series doesn't appeal to me because of the overt propaganda the writers have embedded in the action. The most obvious is the political similarities between the wise and lovable Doctor Flox and the platform of one of our political parties. He often discloses things about his people that resemble current political ambitions or anti-moralistic sentiments that are otherwise flawed. For example, he addresses the issue of marital commitment as thought the concept was immature. It is more “enlightened” to have multiple sexual partners. The manner in which he shares this information parallels arguments currently made in the U.S. public arena. However, the flaws in the arguments are not discussed except to be mis-portrayed as straw men. On top of this, the ostensible “maturity” of Flox's race is presented as a group that we should emulate. Flox is only one example.

I just watched a double-episode where Dr. Noonian Soong, the creator of Data and his brother Lore, had followed in the footsteps of the genetic engineers that created Kahn (discovered in the original series). At this point in time, he had created some “children” of his own. They were fighting over the fate of some genetically engineered embryos. Sound familiar?

Right now, I'm in part two of another two-parter that involves the framing of the leader of a Vulcan religious sect. The difference between the sect and the religious system upon which the rest of Vulcan society and culture are founded is a dispute over the accuracy of the copies of the writings that the founder left behind. Implicit in the storyline is a common textual criticism of the Bible, that we cannot be certain that the copies we have of the Bible are accurate. The further implied conclusion is that we cannot be certain of the veracity of what we have.

Many of the refutations of these arguments I read are adequate, but not very refined. To be sure, the Bible reveals the truth about ourselves. Inasmuch as we admit to this truth, we realize the intrinsic veracity of the scriptures. This is the rub for those who do not wish to accept the truth.

The question remains, however, whether we can know the scriptures are given by our Creator. I've gone into this before, but the question remains. It is a matter of philosophical reason. It is one thing to reason that if I have one apple and obtain another, I now have two. It's altogether...well...the same thing - to realize that there is a unified eternal first cause. The only difference is in degree. One can incorrectly reason that 1+1=3. It's less likely because the intelligence required to arrive at the correct answer is considerably low. The intelligence required to wade through the derivation of the attributes of the first cause to where one can logically conclude that the Christian scriptures are accurate is considerably high. Add to that the motivation of many to distort the rationale and it becomes sociologically burdensome to agree on it. This, by the way, is the source of the disagreement over the precise meaning of the scriptures even among those of us who agree that they are accurate.

As it is, Captain Archer has brought to the Vulcans the original writings of the founder of Vulcan society as well as his “katra” - his mind (just like Dr. McCoy did with Spock's katra in the movies). Well, we don't necessarily need the original manuscripts of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures to determine their accuracy – or veracity. It was nice for the fictional Vulcans, but the truth is that if our Creator bothered to leave word for us of the Truth, we would expect that He would preserve the veracity of that word.



Anonymous Capt Logan said...

I read the Vulcan T'Pau arc in fourth season Enterprise (which was actually a three parter, just for the record) as more of a commentary on how scripture and law can get twisted if the wrong people are in charge, not neccessarily critisism of scripture or the idea that Jesus (or Jesus' soul) must come to us itself to confirm what the scripture really means. It seemed like bringing in Surak's katra was just the most convenient way to accomplish what the episodes needed to, which basically amounts to fixing all of the things that Berman and Braga did to the Vulcans in the first season. After all, unless the Vulcan government's ideas about logic and, maybe more importantly, mind melding, were corrupt and T'Pau ultimatley had to overthrow them, it would be impossible to Vulcan society to look the way it does in TOS, where mind melding is a part of major Vulcan ritual. The message seemed to me that any text can be twisted to fit anyone's agenda, which is certainly true and peritinant to today's events. (Also, completely off this topic, it was Noonien Soong, it was an earlier Soong, probably his grandfather.) Enjoyed the article though!

Fri Nov 23, 11:51:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Capt Logan said...

*it wasn't Noonien Soong, it was an earlier Soong... sorry for the typo

Fri Nov 23, 11:53:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Jim Pemberton said...

Thanks for the corrections, Capt Logan. It just goes to show you that Enterprise simply hasn't been enough to keep my attention the whole time. This was a real head-smacker: Noonien Soong would have had to have been really old to have showed up on TNG with the adventures of Capt. Kirk and crew in between if that had been Noonien in Enterprise.

Sat Nov 24, 09:03:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not a Trekkie I'm a science fiction fan. I started reading sci-fi at age 9 Years before Star Trek came on the air. I encountered the ideas of atheism and agnosticism in sci-fi books and decided I was an agnostic at 12 even though I went to a Catholic school.Inthink many Christians don't understand how many other people just don't care about their religion and the idea of an alien culture thinking differently doesn't get thru to them.

What do most Christians think of the idea of honor killing? But once upon a time Christians burned people at the stake. Some human cultures have practiced polyandry. Christians just set themselves up as the "NORM".

HELL isn't in the Bible. Ever heard of SHEOL? The translation is wrong.


Mon Sep 01, 04:32:00 PM GMT-5  

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