New Star Trek Movie — a Creationist Review

You’re probably aware of Star Trek Beyond (Wikipedia article), the newest film in the Star Trek series. Your Curmudgeon is a long-time science fiction fan, and although most movies are a disappointment, we’ve always liked the Star Trek TV series, both the original and the Next Generation.

We’ll eventually get around to watching the latest film, but probably not until it can be seen free on television, and we haven’t read any of its reviews, although they’re all over the place. However, we spotted one review that belongs on this humble blog.

London-based Christian Today, which says it’s “an independent Christian media company, established in 2004,” and which believes in the “divine inspiration and supreme authority of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, which are the written Word of God – fully trustworthy for faith and conduct,” has this headline in their Entertainment section: Star Trek Beyond: searching for hope in a godless universe. They don’t have a comments section.

It was written by contributing editor Martin Saunders, about whom we know nothing. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Science fiction almost always seems to take place in a godless universe.

Wow — what a beginning! But hold on, it gets even better:

I suppose the ‘science’ part of that title is the clue as to why: these are the stories which celebrate the breaking frontiers of human achievement, the imagined possibilities of where our collective ingenuity might one day take us. What’s more, sci-fi so often takes us up into the stars – where previous generations imagined heaven must be located – and finds only astronomical phenomena and a playground for adventure. God’s not there.

Your Curmudgeon must have led a very sheltered life. We’ve never encountered such a view of science fiction before. By the way, professionals refer to their field as “science fiction” or “SF.” The reviewer’s use of “sci-fi” is a clear indicator that he’s a novice. Let’s read on:

That’s certainly the premise behind Star Trek, the sprawling sci-fi saga which gets yet another cinematic outing this month with Star Trek Beyond. It’s about the crew of the most advanced spaceship ever built, on a five-year mission to explore deep space, discovering extraordinary new worlds and intense dangers at every turn. But God is nowhere to be found; as if the universe has advanced past their primitive need for him.

Gasp — what a horrible universe that must be! The review continues:

Sci-fi stories might be godless, but they inevitably create these situations of intense darkness in order to explore some actually very spiritual ideas: depth and development of character; the responsibilities of leadership; the need for a saviour; hope.

Aha — the film can’t avoid exploring “spiritual ideas” like hope. Maybe it’s not totally worthless. Here’s more:

Holding on to hope in the face of the seemingly impossible is often the driving force for protagonists in science fiction – we see overwhelming odds being overcome in almost every major sci-fi and fantasy story. Hope and redemption are so often key to the genre, despite being such unscientific ideas.

Even a godless science fiction movie is based on hope and redemption. Moving along:

All of this makes the film feel incredibly relevant and timely for us in the real world, where we’re currently a little short on hope, and left wondering whether the sort of unity and solidarity we’ve seen after recent atrocities is enough to overcome the evil displayed by individuals.

So there’s some merit to the film after all — if you know what to look for. The reviewer describes a bit of the plot, and he actually says the film is enjoyable. We’ve skipped all of that because there are undoubtedly better sources of information. But now, dear reader, you know what a creationist thinks about science fiction.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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19 responses to “New Star Trek Movie — a Creationist Review

  1. I saw the film the other day (it’s very good, BTW), and I am a big Star Trek fan. It’s true that Trek is not especially religious – alien cultures might make reference to gods and deities, but it does seem that humanity has abandoned the idea by the 23rd Century.

    Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I don’t know. I think ideas like creationism have no place in sci-fi, but I’m not against the idea of faith and belief in other forms. Still, Star Trek hasn’t suffered for it – it’s always striven to give us hope in ourselves.

  2. michaelfugate

    How or why is hope unscientific?

  3. Loved StarTrek, and as Kirk says ‘Why does a gawd need a space ship?’
    One of my favorite episodes, which says it all about gawd!

  4. I wonder how Christian Today contributing editor Martin Saunders would have written god into the story – “Scotty finds religion” or “Spock the Messiah”? There are nearly an infinite number of themes not written into any movie. I would bet there is no Nascar or Anime in it (both of which would make better episodes of Star Trek, and I don’t like either).

  5. “But God is nowhere to be found.” doesn’t make any sense. Is the writer suggesting a physical presence, like on Mt. Olympus, some kind of vapor cloud or halo or aura that sets his magical being up in some sort of visible entity? Should the trekkies look under stones, in caves, etc? Doesn’t make any sense.

  6. Does the “reviewer” want to see the crew lined up in chapel every Sunday and crosses/crucifixes on the walls? Have a Starfleet chaplain preaching that “love waits” or praying for guidance as Kirk & crew battle aliens? See xtians witnessing to everyone they encounter and threatening them with damnation if they don’t comply?

    Fine, write he can write his own space opera and quit crapping on Star Trek.

    PS: Saw it Sunday and loved it! SOOOO happy for more Star Trek!!

  7. docbill1351

    Didn’t Spock get a burial at “sea?” Why not just throw him into the warp drive like a Klingon?

  8. The reviewer of the piece has must not have watched much science fiction on tv, or film, in the last 20 odd years then, because religion is all over the place in it. Admittedly often alien religions and not good old Christianity but it still around in large amounts

  9. While Star Trek is quite godless (even taking out Apollo himself in one episode.) to say all sci-fi isn’t exactly correct. Star Wars for example takes a lot of themes from mythology as well as having “the Force”, which is pretty much the disembodied god of the far far away galaxy of the series’ setting. Star Trek is a special case in that creator Gene Roddenberry was an avowed atheist.

  10. I suppose the author thinks science fiction is godless, as opposed to religious fiction which as been stuffed with all sorts of gods over the millennia, some quite cute, like Ganish.

  11. Consider other popular genres of writing WRT godlessness: Detective mysteries (how often does the solution depend on an unidentified intelligent designer doing an unspecified thing?); Cookbooks; US Civil War (was the Battle of Gettysburg decided by an act of God?); Crossword puzzles; Shakespeare; Pets; Diets; …

  12. OK! Space travel is now off limits to TRUE BELIEVERS. Got it !

  13. @Flakey Agreed. In fact, science fiction is one of the few genres really willing to explore religion and what it means to people.

    Just off the top of my head, there have been consistent religious themes in Star Trek (DS9 especially, but also TNG and VOY), Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica (religious to the core!), The Expanse (space Mormons!), Doctor Who — the list goes on.

    Perhaps what Martin Saunders really wants is “God’s Not Dead — In Space”, starring Kirk Cameron.

  14. Creationists are likely to oppose science fiction in general because of the, er. science part–though there’s a dreadful old video about a fundamentalist time traveler from the 1890s who ventures ahead a century and discovers the modern world, which in his eyes is seething with sin and ripe for Armageddon. The closing sequence has him trying to send objects into the farther future only to fail, over and over, even as he brings his focus closer and closer to the present–supposedly because the world we know has been wiped out by God in the Apocalypse. The message is clear: The End Is Nigh–Repent, ye sinners!

  15. “But God is nowhere to be found.”

    Not exactly correct, as quite a number of SF works explore various aspects of religion. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land and Job: A Comedy of Justice come to mind, but there are hundreds of other examples.

    What is missing, and what creationists are railing against, is the lack of their dogma being presented uncritically as the one and only TRVTH.

    But then it is Science fiction after all, not religious fiction. There’s plenty of the latter in the bible and scripture already.

  16. Dave Luckett

    That Saunders is capable of a comment like “Science fiction almost always seems to take place in a godless universe” is a conclusive demonstration that he simply has not the vaguest clue of what he’s talking about. The examples of SF dealing with religious faith, good, bad, positive, negative, are legion. C S Lewis was an SF author. Arthur C Clarke’s story “The Star” is a direct examination of the idea of God’s goodness or evil. So is Mary Doria Russell’s “The Sparrow” and its sequel “Children of God”. Treatment of religion, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, alien, and others, is found in SF by dozens of different authors from Jack Vance to C J Cherryh to Connie Willis.

    Saunders is not merely confessing his abject ignorance, he is also revealing that he has no clue that he is ignorant. This is the very heart and soul of Dunning-Kruger – and Dunning-Kruger is at the heart of all creationism. Creationists must not only be comprehensively ignorant; they must also be sublimely unaware of their ignorance, and must assume that they know what they do not know. That is, they must compound their ignorance with arrogance.

  17. The last Star Trek movie opened with a scene of the Enterprise crew trying to save a planet inhabited by primitive beings. Those beings wound up worshipping the ship itself as some sort of god after seeing it rise from their ocean. It illustrated Arthur C. Clark’s statement that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Or gods, in this case.

    Also, in Star Wars’ Return of the Jedi, the last of the original trilogy, C-3PO becomes a god to the Ewoks. Certainly he is a more practical god in that he is at least visible.

    Come to think of it, in both cases religion was associated with primitive beings.

  18. A good treatment of religion in SF is Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, in which scientists invent a religion to safeguard their knowledge of nuclear power and give them control over others. The novels are probably too difficult to make into movies, but one can hope.

  19. Star Trek’s “Bread and Circuses” (1968) includes an explicit pro-Christian theme and “Who Mourns for Adonais” (1967) has an explicit pro-theist statement by the show’s leading character.