Star Trek Beams Down Humanism

Source: John McManus, The New American 39 (June 18, 1991).

Gene Roddenberry, creator of the long-running sci-fi television series Star Trek and its successor, Star Trek: The Next Generation, recently discussed his long-time love affair with humanism. Roddenberry, a member of the American Humanist Association (AHA) since 1986, was the recipient of the Humanist Arts Award for "distinguished contributions to humanism and humanist thought" at the AHA's 50th annual conference in Chicago on May 10th.

In an interview in the April/May 1991 issue of The Humanist magazine, Roddenberry admits that his affinity for humanism long predates his formal affiliation with the organization. He "would have come out sooner" he states, but "learned fairly early in life that great honesty about things could give you trouble, cause you problems."

Tenets of Humanism

The 1973 Humanist Manifesto declares that belief in God is "out-moded," dogmatic religions "do a disservice to the human species," and any system of ethics must be "autonomous and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction." In keeping with their belief that man is the center of everything, humanists insist that no variety of "sexual exploration" should be considered "evil."

Humanists point with approval to the French Revolution's "Rights of Man" and the UN's "Universal Declaration of Human Rights," both devoid of any spirituality. Notably excluded for praise is the U.S. Declaration of Independence; its fundamental truth that men "are endowed by their Creator" with rights is unacceptable. Approval of the U.S. Bill of Rights is given, but touting it without tying it to the Declaration's "self-evident" truth that God is the bestower of rights is dishonest. Attacking national sovereignty, the humanists want a "world community" with "a system of world law and a world order based upon transnational federal government." In short, according to humanists, God, religion, the Ten Commandments, and the independence of the United States are out. Situation ethics, the substitution of reason for faith, and world government are in. (For a Christian this sounds like blasphemy, but the Talmud has a teaching called "hora'ath she' ah," which means that a special dispensation can be given to meet the requirement of the moment. It is from this teaching the Christians were polluted in the 1960's with the theology known as "situation ethics.") In his introduction to the Roddenberry interview, David Alexander, editor of The Humanist, praises Star Trek's creator as "one of the most influential yet unheralded humanists of the Twentieth Century." He delights that Roddenberry's creations "are solidly based upon humanistic principles and ideas."

No Absolutes

Roddenberry himself claims that his TV creation is "more than just my political philosophy. It is my social philosophy, my racial philosophy, my overview on life and the human condition." With Star Trek: The Next Generation, he admits, "we press the line toward being liberal a lot harder."

Does Roddenberry actually promote the humanist creed in these shows? In the interview, Alexander enthuses about an episode entitled 'Justice" featuring "a scantily clad" love-making race. He approvingly describes it as "the most anti-religious and humanistic television program I had seen in years." And Roddenberry responds with a basic humanist tenet: ". . . there can be no justice so long as laws are absolute."

After separating himself from God's "thou shalt not" absolutes, Roddenberry adds: "Writing, in a strange way, is like having the best of all worlds. You do become God." No surprise then that Alexander labels Star Trek: The Next Generation as "probably the most humanistic entertainment program that is on television - or, perhaps, has ever been on television." human3.htm

Also Read: Global Ideology, Humanistic Studies and the Aspen Institute
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