Gene Roddenberry Didn’t Want Religion in ‘Star Trek’

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the “Star Trek” franchise, had a really particular imaginative and prescient of how the universe would look in the longer term. He imagined a post-scarcity world the place everybody’s wants had been met. He dreamed of a post-capitalist society the place cash was out of date. He envisioned a future in which humankind had left behind all of the primitive concepts that now not served them.

One of these left behind concepts was faith. Though Roddenberry grew up in a non secular, Southern Baptist residence, he did not agree along with his household’s beliefs. As an grownup, Roddenberry recognized as a humanist.

In an interview with The Humanist in 1991, Roddenberry defined that he noticed faith as a approach for individuals to elucidate the issues they do not readily perceive. He additionally interpreted faith as a approach for individuals to depend on the “supernatural” somewhat than their very own drive to raised themselves. Roddenberry likened faith to an alien tradition explaining the existence of life exterior their planet by calling that life God.

Though Roddenberry explored faith and non secular ideas in “Star Trek” by way of encounters with non-human beings, the crews of his starships had been by no means spiritual. In truth, they had been staunchly non-religious. This was certainly one of his cardinal guidelines in regards to the world of “Star Trek.”

However, there have been some in the “Star Trek” world that did not agree. In two main instances, “Star Trek” insiders determined to interrupt Roddenberry’s cardinal rule.


William Shatner and ‘Star Trek V’

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Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” was William Shatner’s brainchild in each approach. In his guide “Star Trek Movie Memories” he wrote that he got here up with the concept whereas watching televangelists preach. He was livid that these individuals presenting themselves as spiritual leaders had been making a lot cash off their congregants in the title of God. So, he determined to make a film a few God that turned out to be an alien being.

On its face, this idea sounds very similar to how Roddenberry seen faith. People who could not clarify the presence of an alien being deciding to name it God. However, when Shatner pitched him the concept, Roddenberry was livid.

A series of memos uncovered by the Mission Log podcast documented Roddenberry’s quest to cease Shatner from making a film about God, even a false god.

In a memo addressed to Shatner, Roddenberry wrote that he “merely can’t help a narrative which has our clever and insightful crew mesmerized by a Twenty third-century spiritual charlatan.” Roddenberry went on, expressing his frustration that Shatner had chosen to pursue a non secular storyline in spite of his clear objections.

When Shatner didn’t relent, Roddenberry began corresponding with two of probably the most revered writers in the historical past of science fiction, Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. He advised them to assessment the proposed script for “Star Trek V” and share their opinions with the studio. Roddenberry emphasised his perception that faith did not belong in science fiction. He wrote that in the event that they shared that perception, they need to protest the creation of the film.

The memos found by the Mission Log podcast did not embrace a response from Clarke. However, they did embrace two responses from Asimov. In the primary, he expressed his disdain for the proposed spiritual storyline. In the second, he painstakingly detailed all of the methods in which he believed the story did not match with “Star Trek’s” established canon.

Despite Roddenberry’s objections, Shatner went forward along with his false god story for “Star Trek V.” According to the media rating web site Rotten Tomatoes, the film was, by far, the worst of the franchise.


Religion in ‘Deep Space Nine’

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“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” was the one “Star Trek” show that made faith a significant a part of the storyline. One of the principle threads all through all seven seasons of the show was the Bajoran faith and the “Wormhole Aliens.”

In the primary episode of the show, “Emissary,” Commander Benjamin Sisko traveled by way of a steady wormhole and encountered a species of non-corporeal beings. When he returned from the wormhole, the Bajorans instructed him that he had encountered The Prophets, the gods of their faith. From that time on, Sisko was revered by the Bajorans as a result of, in their eyes, he spoke to the gods.

Throughout the sequence, the character of The Prophets and the Wormhole Aliens was explored. Again, the story appeared in line with Roddenberry’s beliefs about faith. The Bajorans had encounters with beings they might not clarify, in order that they referred to as them gods. Initially, all of the Starfleet members of the Deep Space Nine crew accepted that the Bajoran gods had been merely a brand new alien species, which they dubbed the Wormhole Aliens. They refused to imagine that the Wormhole Aliens had been godlike in any approach.

However, because the sequence progressed, most of the Starfleet crew members started to shift their opinions in regards to the Wormhole Aliens. The most notable and distinguished shift got here from Captain Sisko. At first, he rejected his revered place in Bajoran society as a result of he refused to imagine that the beings he’d encountered had been gods.

Toward the top of the sequence, Sisko started to embrace his function because the Emissary. In the episode “Shadows and Symbols,” Sisko used one of many Orbs of the Prophets to talk to his long-dead mom. She revealed that his delivery was pre-ordained by the Prophets and that he’d all the time been the Emissary. Though Sisko struggled with this info, he finally accepted that the Prophets had performed a task in his life and embraced them as godlike beings.

The overt faith in “Deep Space Nine” and the storyline of a human embracing their function as a voice of the gods had been undoubtedly main divergences from Roddenberry’s rule about faith in “Star Trek.” The sequence was made after he died, so there isn’t any strategy to know whether or not or not he would have accredited of the way in which faith and deities had been depicted in “Deep Space Nine.”

In “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years” showrunner Michael Piller posited that Roddenberry would have accredited of the spiritual components of the show. He stated that Roddenberry was adamant about creating various cultures that had been completely different from his view of humanity in the twenty fourth century. Therefore, having an alien species, the Bajorans, be deeply spiritual wouldn’t have bothered Roddenberry. Piller insisted that the people in the show and the members of the Federation had been all nonetheless humanist, the way in which Roddenberry had envisioned.

Piller was now not a part of the show when the brand new showrunner, Ira Steven Behr, determined to position Sisko on a religious path. In “The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years” Behr admitted that the writing staff hadn’t all the time meant to make Sisko a key determine in Bajor’s faith. The preliminary thought behind Sisko’s tie-in to the Bajoran faith was to focus on the alternative ways the Bajorans and the Federation seen the beings in the wormhole — faith versus science.

However, because the show progressed Behr and author Ronald D. Moore thought it could be fascinating to discover Sisko’s personal religious beliefs and his journey. This finally led to Sisko fulfilling the Bajoran prophecy that the Emissary would reveal the Celestial Temple to the Bajorans.

Behr additionally revealed that he confronted a ton of criticism for bringing faith into “Star Trek” in such an overt approach. He insisted that “Deep Space Nine” was true to the intention of “Star Trek” and that it was a chance to discover new issues. So, he took these alternatives and explored new territory.

Though Roddenberry envisioned a human society that had outgrown faith, the continuous exploration of the religious and faith in “Star Trek” means that up to date fascination with these ideas is just too pervasive to disregard.

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