Klingon Religion

I can rarely pass up an opportunity to mention something about the intersection of religion and science fiction. And so here’s a clip that Hemant Mehta shared today (in a post that actually mentions some discussion of Star Trek and the Bible):

From what little we learn about it in various episodes, Klingon religion is somewhat more complex than Worf’s remark in this clip suggests. And it isn’t clear that the Klingons fared better than the Bajorans as a result of their diminished religiosity, whether real or imagined. Thoughts?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05947081596759328950 Matt

    Star Trek has an odd rule that all aliens are racially homogenous and maintain religious beliefs while humans are diverse and have mostly secular outlooks. It's not until one episode of Enterprise that I ever remember any mention of any human practicing a religious belief and it's mentioned in passing by an alien. I like the classic episode where they ran into a Greek god and he turned out to be an alien. The newer ones seem to stick to the Q as the only omnipotent beings in the universe. I guess there's only room for one godlike species in modern television.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    The episode you mentioned, "Who Mourns for Adonais?" from the original series, is definitely a classic.I can't remember the name of the episode from Enterprise, but there is one in which Capt. Archer is skeptical of religion and says "I like to keep an open mind" but doesn't sound like he means it. The character who comes off the best in the episode is Dr. Phlox, an alien himself, who joins in the newly-encountered species' ritual.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06137890891223067672 Morrison

    Dr. McGrath, what you rarely pass up is an opportunity to ridicule.Out Psych Prof says that people who rely on that repreatedly have an underlying hostility to that which they are ridiculing.In other words, it isn't all in fun.(As far as Star Trek Theology goes, Roddenberry was an atheist so of course there is no agenda there.)Of course, I mean all this in the best possible sense.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06137890891223067672 Morrison

    By the way, the original series did mention Christ, as there was a Chapel and they had a Christmas party in one episode.Which Kirk used to get a hot chick (Dr. Helen, I forget her last name, the Psychiatrist) to get it on.What does all this mean?Nothing. It was a TV show.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Morrison, I wasn't making fun of God, religion in general, any particular human religion, Klingon religion, Bajoran religion, Klingons, Bajorans, Star Trek, or anything else that I can think of. Would you be so kind as to clarify what you meant, or what you think I meant?Looking at how religion is depicted in popular culture is a useful enterprise (if you'll excuse the pun). I find it very interesting in particular to trace the changing views of religion from the original series to the spin-offs (something I and others have written about in the past).It is easy to say that anything is "just" this or that. But given the amount of time we spend watching TV, I don't think shows should just be dismissed. Shows that are popular are popular for a reason, and understanding cultural trends is useful and important, in my opinion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12963476276106907984 Sabio Lantz

    Some gods need slaying, but maybe the Klingon gods demanded cooperation, kindness and honesty and for the Klingons, that was "more trouble than they were worth".

  • Jon

    In this portion from a Klingon marriage ceremony, the gods are slain by the beating of the hearts they create. Other accounts say that it is Kortar, the ferryman of the dead, who killed the gods. These seem like two alternative creation myths to me. I wish I knew a real religious text with two alternative creation myths. ;)I actually think the most interesting thing about this is Klingon anthropology. Clearly mortals, and not deity, are the center of the Klingon universe. This makes a lot of sense given the high place of conquest and personal honor in their ethics.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13483419817200339955 Paul D.

    "Star Trek has an odd rule that all aliens are racially homogenous and maintain religious beliefs while humans are diverse and have mostly secular outlooks."Babylon 5 follows the "aliens homogenous, humans diverse" trope that nearly all sci-fi sadly does, but they include religion. In addition to many episodes featuring members of one religion or another, there is an episode ("The Parliament of Dreams", season 1) in which the various races have a cultural and religious exchange, and Sinclair decides to portray "diversity" as man's religion, presenting representatives from several dozen faiths — and an atheist.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02561146722461747647 James F. McGrath

    Somehow I never watched much Babylon 5, but "The Parliament of Dreams" is one of the episodes I made a point of seeing, and really like the ending, largely because it tackles that sc-fi trope head-on and does something different with it.

  • Jon

    Vulcans were pretty diverse in Enterprise. There were the Syrrannites — considered terrorists by the establishment, which the Syrrannites thought did not interpret the teachings of Surak correctly. Then there were the pejoratively named "v'tosh ka'tur," who thought that logic was a complement to emotion, rather than a replacement for it.


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