British actor's God blunder highlights Star Trek's atheism

British actor's God blunder highlights Star Trek's atheism July 30, 2017

In the new Star Trek: Discovery TV series Captain Gabriel Lorca, played by Jason Isaacs,  strides across the Starship Discovery bridge in the midst of a battle against the Klingons, and says ‘fire at something, for God’s sakes!
According to Entertainment, the director abruptly halts the action and Isaacs, of Harry Potter fame, steps off the stage. The episode’s writer, Kirsten Beyer, then explains why Isaacs’ ad-libbed line is unacceptable.
“Wait, I can’t say ‘God’?” Isaacs asks, amused. “I thought I could say ‘God’ or ‘damn’ but not ‘goddamn’.”

Gene Roddenberry (August 19, 1921 – October 24, 1991)
Beyer explains that Star Trek is creator Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a science-driven 23rd-century future where religion basically no longer exists.
“How about ‘for fuck’s sake’?” he shoots back. “Can I say that?”
“You can say that before you can say ‘God,’ ” she drily replies.
The Telegraph takes the story further.

This won’t be news to many devoted Trekkies, however, as Roddenberry’s atheism has long been acknowledged within the series.

Its most notable depiction was in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Who Watches the Watchers?, in which Captain Jean-Luc Picard is mistaken for a god by a primitive civilisation that had long-since rejected religion. Picard says:

Millennia ago, they abandoned their belief in the supernatural. Now you are asking me to sabotage that achievement, to send them back into the dark ages of superstition and ignorance and fear? No!

Roddenberry himself was raised as a Baptist, but began to reject his faith in his teenage years, later identifying as a Humanist. He once told Humanist Magazine:

I guess from that time it was clear to me that religion was largely nonsense, largely magical, superstitious things. In my own teen life, I just couldn’t see any point in adopting something based on magic, which was obviously phony and superstitious.
I can’t say I didn’t care about it or examine it; I just let it pass lightly over me. Religion was so full of inconsistencies that I could see no point in arguing each inconsistency out. It was background noise that you ignore.

It’s hardly surprising that Star Trek – and Sci-Fi in general – is regarded as “dangerous” by Christian fundamentaloons. This from David Laughlin, writing for Answers in Genesis:

Although science fiction has predicted a number of useful technologies, the genre is permeated with unrealism, humanism, occultism, New Age philosophy, Eastern mysticism and evolutionism which are of no value in the real world and are condemned in the Scriptures. It is because science fiction has its roots in evolution that the false belief systems mentioned have emerged and thrive in the genre.

An hysterical Creation Science Study blog has a piece entitled “Star Wars is for Sinners”, and explains that:

The show came from the mind of a perverted atheist who we know is burning in Hell, and it has also spawned a bunch of films from godless Hollywood … In addition, the marketing of Star Trek through the secular media was also used to make the worship of the occultism popular in America! … Star Trek is riddled with ungodly themes, and it time for us Christians to stand up against the evils in our media and take it back for Christ.

Of course its “ungodly” themes include homosexuality:

Homosexuality is also rampant in the series. A cult of males, known as The Borg, is a reference to the alliance of homosexual men who were in defiance to God during the times of Saddam (sic) and Gomorrah. 
Apparently Patrick Stewart’s character who loves to cross-dress joins this unholy cult for reasons that are obvious, since he is known to be friends with Ian McClellan (sic) who is known for committing acts of homosexuality. Actor George Takei is also known for committing homosexual acts and it is said his performance in Star Trek was used to further the Gay Agenda in America.

If Laughlin is correct in asserting “science fiction has always been a very effective medium for promoting humanistic values”, let have more of it. Lot’s more. But, please, put the Alien franchise to rest. Ridley Scott said he wanted to “scare the shit out of people” with his latest movie Alien: Covenant. It bored the shit out me.

From Gabriel Sigler, of Bad Feeling Magazine:

Alien: Covenant is a mess of a movie, one that tries to balance Scott’s high-minded cosmic deliberations with schlocky B-movie aesthetics. In the end, it does neither very well, resulting in a languid film that serves no real purpose. Our poor Xenomorph deserves much better than this.

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  • Broga

    ” Roddenberry’s atheism has long been acknowledged within the series.”
    In 2017 acknowledged atheism is still something that is regarded as so unusual, and even shocking, that it is commented on. Place that in the context of, I would confidently assert, a decided minority of people having anything other than the most glancing acquaintance with faith.
    Religious belief is now, for most people, something which they assume they have but never examine what they are suppose to belief. Treating the commonplace of agnosticism or atheism as worth commenting on encourages the religious to claim we are a Christian country.

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  • Daz

    ” cult of males, known as The Borg, is a reference to the alliance of homosexual men who were in defiance to God during the times of Saddam (sic) and Gomorrah.”

    I’m not sure Jeri Ryan, to name but one of the many actresses who played members of the Borg, would agree with this assessment. Could it be possible that the authors haven’t even bothered to watch that which they presume to critique?
    Two SF short stories I’d recommend. Harry Harrison’s The Streets of Ashkelon and Arthur C Clarke’s The Star [pdf].
    And a nice Humanist quote from Harry Harrison’s The Stainless Steel Rat For President:

    “Stated very simply, I face reality and admit that not only isn’t there anyone at home upstairs, there isn’t even any upstairs. I have one life and I intend to make the most of it. Therefore it follows naturally that if I firmly believe this, why then I cannot deprive another person of their turn at existence. Only the very self-assured political and religious zealots kill people in order to save them.”

  • Anthony Baker

    Science Fiction is related to religion. Religion is fiction without any science.

  • Barry Duke

    Daz: one can read Harrison’s brilliant The Streets of Ashkelon here.

  • Angela_K

    I’m certainly not a Trekkie fan, too silly for my taste, but anything that provokes the ire of religious loonies is OK in my book.

  • L.Long

    “…atheist who we KNOW is burning in Hell, ….” Again they demonstrate themselves as bold faced LIARS!!! As they KNOW no such thing!!
    Also yes they are basically atheists BUT they are suppose to be earth future, since they came from earth culture saying GawdDamn or any such would not be unbelievable. And any atheists who thinks the future would be with gawd-bots, is delusional!

  • AgentCormac

    While science fiction authors attempt, with varying degrees of success, to predict what the future may look like based on advances in human knowledge, religiots constantly and mindlessly decry the genre precisely because it envisages a human condition which, to an ever-decreasing state, no longer requires superstition to explain our existence or to control our future. Being a child of the ‘space race’ I was brought up on a diet of Asimov, Sagan, Robert A. Heinlein, Airfix models of the Apollo rockets and newspaper supplements about the increasingly progressive attempts to actually put a human being on another world. My young head would spin with the fantastical ambition of it all. It was unbelievably exciting and inspiring. Yet that, right there my friends, is what the religiots among us fear. Do not look to the stars. Do not look to the future. Do not have hope or excitement in your life. Spend your days in fear, in subservience, in a form of cowardice which stops you from dreaming, enquiring or wondering. What would humanity be without imagination? Some kind of ISIS hell, I have no doubt. And that’s where the religiots of all persuasions want us all to be.
    In so, so many ways I feel privileged that I always have been, and always will be, a freethinking atheist (I just knew there was no such thing as god when I was 10 years old). And I believe that the creativity and insight of sci-fi masters such as Roddenberry played a huge part in that.Looking to the future, humanity needs more of such visionaries.
    Anyway. As they say, the truth is out there. But it really does have nothing to do with superstitious claptrap.

  • Ate Berga

    Made a knot in my ear to remember ‘fundementaloons’!

  • barriejohn

    Agent Cormac: I, too, was entranced by the prospect of space travel, but in my case it was Dan Dare (and Digby!). Although a “comic adventure”, I could see, with the aid of the cutaway diagrams and information supplied, that this was not the fairytale adventure that the older generation still considered it to be, but a very real prospect. As it all unfolded in real life, I felt part of something new and rather wonderful, with untold benefits for humankind. The Eagle was a magnificent magazine (surely not a comic!), and all my copies were carefully saved, though many were later cannibalized for school projects, etc. If only I had kept them all (and my Dinky toys, of course). The following was a fascinating article; sorry it had to be from the Mail!

  • Paul

    Some time ago I read Lawrence M Krauss’s book beyond Star Trek. He’s a clever chap and I would recommend it is worth a read. It might not be better than Dan Dare but is as good as Sagan.
    I don’t recall gawd getting a mention in it.

  • RussellW

    The earlier sci-fi films seemed scarier than Hollywood’s more recent efforts, particularly the 1950s ‘Forbidden Planet’ and ‘The Thing’.
    Oh jeeze not another ‘Alien’ film.
    I’d agree with Roddenberry’s rejection of religion when he was a teenager. Despite a Christian education, I can’t remember ever being a believer as an adult.

  • 1859

    ‘… unrealism, humanism, occultism, New Age philosophy, Eastern mysticism and evolutionism which are of no value in the real world and are condemned in the Scriptures….’
    Evolution is condemned in the bible? Really? I sometimes wonder just how much time is wasted refuting such idiotic statements. So much so that I’m beginning to stop commenting on the trash spouted by those whose minds have been infected by superstition.
    Watched most of the early Star Treks found them vaguely entertaining. However the best quote I once saw was in a lonely hearts magazine in which a woman, after describing her attributes, finished with ‘I need a man to boldly go where no man has gone before’.

  • Anthony Baker

    OT but no apology.
    I have just opened up the BBC News Website Front Page.
    At least two articles on it have glaring mistakes.
    1) William and Kate cannot REMEMBER WW1 because they were not even born … not even their parents were born and probably not even their grandparents so they cannot remember it.
    BBC Editorial Staff 0/10 See Me
    2) Ms Feltz is an ignoramus because Jewishness IS NOT A RACE. Its as stupid as describing FAT OVERPAID OVERBLOWN OPINIONATED UNTALENTED WOMEN such as she as a race.Vanessa Feltz has said she felt “extremely upset” by a Sunday Times column which suggested she and Claudia Winkleman earned high salaries because they were Jewish.
    The BBC presenter described the piece by Kevin Myers as “so obviously racist it’s surprisingly hurtful”.
    Ms Feltz 0/10. Don’t see me as I have no desire to be within 100m of you.
    And its beyond me how two such untallented and stunningly unattractve women can command such exorbitant remuneration for doing nothing of merit. Fucking appalling.
    John Humphys in my view is worth a good deal of money and at least he was contrite and honest in saying that he though he is overpaid.
    I say give very very brave women war corresondents such as Orla Guerin Caroline Wyatt, Lyse Doucet and Shaimaa Khalil deserve the salaries of Winkelman and Feltz. And give Winkelman and Feltz the boot to save the “money for nothing” and to restore some confidence in the British public that the BBC is a serious Broadcasting company.

  • barriejohn

    Anthony Baker: So you think that Claudia Winkleman and Vanessa Feltz are “stunningly unattractive”, so undeserving of the remuneration that they receive? Words fail me!
    Returning to the topic under discussion (well – almost!); does anyone else remember the radio series Journey Into Space (“the last UK radio programme to attract a bigger evening audience than television”)? I was riveted to the “wireless” when each week’s episode was broadcast, and quite terrified by the amazing “cliffhagers” with which they invariably ended (“Aah! Aah! Aah! It’s horrible! What is it? Aaaaaah!”). This was an amazingly inventive series, which seemed years ahead of its time, featuring Jet Morgan (Andrew Faulds) and his slightly dim companions (naturally!). In my view, although we loved the early Star Treks (because the storylines were excellent – blow the “special effects”), JIS did demonstrate how effective radio could be in stimulating the imagination of listeners, and its huge audiences were testimony to this fact.

  • barriejohn
  • Barry Duke

    I am pleased to report that the man who invented Doctor Who’s sonic screwdriver, Victor Pemberton, is alive and well and living close to me on the Costa Blanca in Spain. He successfully completed a solo trip to the Arctic to raise funds for Help the Heroes.

  • Hein

    It’s a real pity that words did not actually fail you for once. And like it or not, very attractive people are often paid a great deal of money just for being very attractive. And don’t you think that people who put themselves in very real danger to report news from the front lines of brutal conflicts, to keep you, you in the comfort and safety of your armchair, well formed are more deserving of a fat pay check that those who are so sloppy as to state that Jews are a race.

  • Gui

    The NT has very eight or eighty logic: if is not Christian is necessarily from the Devil.
    “The show came from the mind of a perverted atheist who we know is burning in Hell, and it has also spawned a bunch of films from godless Hollywood”
    It is curious how they say to hold a moral standard based in love your neighborhood, but often rejoyce in thinking of unbelievers suffering an eternal torment.

  • barriejohn

    I am unrepentant – “Hein”!

  • Broga

    Gui: I have discovered over the years that the prospect of an atheist burning in hell for eternity gives satisfaction to some Christians.

  • barriejohn

    Broga: And Bob Hutton is a prime example of that strange phenomenon, as we all know!

  • Cali Ron

    1859: Fave Star Trek quotes:
    “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” “… or the one.”
    “Mister Chekov, give him a full spread of photon torpedoes.”
    I have ordered a full spread of photon torpedoes many times when stuck in traffic, but Chekov fails me every time.

  • Cali Ron

    Daz: Just read The Streets of Ashkelon. Great short story!

  • Broga

    @barriejohn: ” I wonder if the answer is that God, in His mercy, is giving them opportunities to repent.”
    Bob Hutton comes up with some desperate arguments. This is his view on why someone lives into their 90s. It seems, according to the Hutton credo, that however wicked your life all you have to do at the last minute for eternal bliss is say you accept Jesus. Meanwhile, an atheist who has spent an exemplary lifetime of service to others is dumped in the pit.
    I don’t think Bob is going to heaven. His cruel attitudes (and behaviour?) have got him down for hellfire.

  • 1859

    @Cali Ron: Great quotes, thanks. The full spread of photon torpedoes probably didn’t work because you were not in sub-zero space – but you need to be driving a 1977 Ford Cortina for it properly engage the warp drive. Good luck.

  • Cali Ron

    1859: I’ve got a 1963 Sunbeam Alpine with a Ford 2000 cc motor, is that close enough? Some day I will return it to its former glory, but for now she’s in space dock.

  • Broga

    1859: You have released a bout of nostalgia in me for happy days long gone. A black Ford Cortina was the first car I owned. My son, aware of my affection for the car, recently gave me a mug with a Ford Cortina on it.

  • Brian Jordan

    Oh, tears in my eyes! As a long time (but now somewhat lapsed) sf fan, I wish I’d noticed this conversation earlier.
    All I can add, now,is that perhaps we hard-core types were wrong after all when we rejected the Trekkies!
    Oh, and that Journey Into Space had a re-run not long ago on Radio 4 Extra.

  • Vanity Unfair

    Once you have satisfied yourself that copyright is not being violated, Journey into Space (all three series) can be found and even downloaded at the Old Time Radio Fan website:
    The quality is not outstanding, even for stories set in the far future of 1965.You have to remember what constituted bleeding-edge planetary science in the early 1950s to appreciate the plots. The characterisations are definitely BBC 1940s-era but I still got hooked all over again. Even remembering Andrew Faulds as an MP didn’t spoil it. And did Martians build the pyramids? Of course they did; people are still making a living out of that.

  • Mimi johnston

    Star Trek and Star Wars are called science fiction, just as the Holy Bible et al should be called religious fiction.

  • Mimi johnston

    Or is the latter an oxymoron?

  • barriejohn

    Mimi: Exactly! What on earth would “religious fact” be?