Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Religion in Star Trek

My major beef with Gene Roddenberry’s vision of Star Trek is the lack of religion in the 24th Century. The complete collapse of religious undertones in the franchise drives some of the stranger uses of science and stories.

Originally, The Original Series recognized monotheistic religions as the choice of humanity. In “Who Mourns for Adonais,” Kirk says that “mankind has no need for Gods. We find the one quite adequate.”


However, Gene didn’t seem to agree. In an 1997 AOL Chat interview, Ronald D. Moore said that;

Gene felt very strongly that all of our contemporary Earth religions would be gone by the 23rd century, and while few of us around here actually share that opinion, we feel that we should leave this part of the Trek universe alone.

I find this a strange thing for Moore to say. Moore was the lead producer of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which is known for, among other things, having the religion of the Bajorans front and center of the story. Moore is also known for creating the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, which also focuses intently on religion, specifically the polytheistic religion of the humans verses the monotheistic religion of the Cylons.

Another reason I find the lack of religion so weird and unnecessary is because I don’t believe humanity would be able to eliminate religion completely. Religion originally helped to explain the whys of the universe. If humanity reaches the edges of the galaxy, the whys will still be there. In fact, I would assume new whys would creep up.

How can the same humans that barely survived World War III and an endless winter only to find warp travel suddenly throw their hands in the air and say “screw God, Zeus, Thor, and any other god?” It seems almost the opposite of the human element to abandon our need to explain everything with something.

Also, I doubt 200 years of scientific advancement could eliminate 6,000 years of religion. Religion has built empires, destroyed civilizations, been the beginning and end of wars, saved people, and grown our culture. There is no way someone isn’t thanking God for First Contact with the Vulcans. It’s illogical.

So, sorry, Gene. But I think you’re full of it. If you want to see how to write religion into a sci-fi, spacey-shippy show, come back Dec. 23.