The Star Trek Heresy

I was never a big fan of the original Star Trek, but I watched TNG (The Next Generation) every week without fail. My wife even watched it with me. Now I run across reruns as I surf for that elusive Discovery, History Channel, or Learning Channel documentary on something besides custom choppers, military machines, or decorating (another topic altogether). Anyway, TNG reruns. I can't stand them. Between the transparent formulaic stories and the dated sets and costumes, I'd rather watch the father-son dynamic in a custom chopper shop!

But the real truth is that I became too Orthodox for Star Trek. Let me explain.

In the late 4th to early 5th century, a British preacher named Pelagius began opposing the teachings of Augustine of Hippo. In one sense Pelagius was opposing Augustine on good grounds, the Bishop of Hippo had gone too far in regards to Original Sin and the condition of mankind. It is debatable whether Pelagius was teaching heresy, but his followers borrowed his name and went too far in the other direction. Below is the Wikipedia article on Pelagianism, no point in rewriting a good thing:
Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature (which, being created from God, was divine), and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil with no Divine aid whatsoever. Thus, Adam's sin was "to set a bad example" for his progeny, but his actions did not have the other consequences imputed to Original Sin. Pelagianism views the role of Jesus Christ as "setting a good example" for the rest of us (thus counteracting Adam's bad example). In short, humanity has full control, and thus full responsibility, for its own salvation in addition to full responsibility for every sin (the latter insisted upon by both proponents and opponents of Pelagianism).
What does this have to do with Star Trek? It seems to me that Star Trek is the Pelagian paradise. Mankind has lifted himself out of sin altogether and peace reigns on Earth. All without any help from God at all! But Star Trek is merely a symptom of the greater threat of modern Pelagianism, of which the UN, for the good it may do, is the chief product. Modern Pelagianism could also be called the theory of progress. Progress is always good and ultimately mankind, through progress will achieve peace on Earth. So they say.

Sometimes it is hard to argue. Surely the civil rights movement and the changes it brought are good. Surely progresses in medical science have allowed us to heal those who could not be healed previously. Surely our homes and offices and cars are all safer thanks to progress in technology. Shucks, the very medium I am using to publish this screed is part of our progress.

But it's a lie. We are no better off than we used to be. For every "advance" we've made, there have been losses. Sure we're safer in our cars, but we drive faster so we can commute further and exacerbate the loss of community. Our doctors can perform multiple heart bypass surgery, but they can also fulfill whatever warped and vain fantasies we have about how we want to look. We have reached a point where science no longer has to say, "that will never be an ethical issue because it's impossible." It is possible and it is being done.

My understanding of the original Star Trek is that it was about hope. About the future that could be. A future where a man with a strange way of talking could pick up space-chicks regardless of their color. A future where a community could comprise beings from many cultures and races and live in peace. But ultimately it was about hope for the future mankind could create without God. And it is a lie.


james said…
So, you attend St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oakridge? I attend St.Athanasius Church in Nicholasville, Ky., so you know how very important your church is to my church. We're very thankful for Fr. Stephen.

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