Star Trek is Atheist

On the subject of faith, Trek had a very clear position. Of everything in my past, it is this one show that I most credit for being able to identify myself as an atheist. There was a recurring plotline in so many episodes that it almost became a running theme—some all-powerful being would set itself up as God but would eventually turn out to be nothing more than an advanced alien or megalomaniacal computer. As a little kid watching episodes like “Return of the Archons” and “The Apple,” I learned that it wasn’t enough to have faith in something just because everyone else around you did. I learned there might be truths outside one’s own society—heavy stuff for a seven-year-old.

In an episode called “The Squire of Gothos,” actor William Campbell played one of these all-powerful beings. Even though his powers were limitless he was the bad guy. In other words, all-powerful did not automatically equal all good. Captain Kirk decides to oppose this being, even though the alien seems unstoppable. In the end this superbeing turns out to be nothing more than a child, and his parents show up just in time to put an end to his antics. Now consider the message: it doesn’t matter if you are all powerful. If you’re doing something wrong, you’re doing something wrong, and should be opposed. No matter what the consequence. Wow. This wasn’t what I was being taught in my catechism classes.

And so as a boy I found it increasingly hard to understand why Christians weren’t acting the way Kirk and Spock were. If there was a God, some being causing earthquakes and hurling hurricanes, why wouldn’t Christians (or Jews or Muslims for that matter) fight against such a being? What I was learning on Star Trek seemed more moral to me than what I was learning in church. As I got older and learned more about suffering around the world, the more I wondered why religious people didn’t oppose such a cruel God. These holy men should be up in arms, I thought. If they were faithful Star Trek watchers, they would be trying to build some sort of giant phaser to take him out.

And even at seven I was smart enough to know that God doesn’t get a pass by saying he didn’t cause the terrible things that were happening in the world. If you can stop something from happening and you choose not to, it’s as bad as causing it. (I learned that from my mom when I sat watching my dog eat an entire pan of lasagna off the kitchen counter while my family was all in the other room.) Why were priests and rabbis afraid, I’d wonder, just because this “God” of theirs was powerful? Didn’t religious people think someplace out in the vastness of the universe there might be a mommy and daddy god having a much needed night on the town, destined to return at the last minute to whisk away this naughty child calling himself god with a capital G and return the world to its normal conditions?


The show has a reoccurring theme of finding planets of aliens worshiping powerful beings that are pretending to be gods, which are usually evil and which the crew must take out.

Folksonomies: science fiction atheism star trek

Star Trek (0.994314 (negative:-0.348482)), actor William Campbell (0.868580 (neutral:0.000000)), Star Trek watchers (0.828309 (positive:0.392735)), religious people (0.818958 (negative:-0.365852)), n’t religious people (0.817686 (positive:0.348895)), all-powerful beings (0.731442 (neutral:0.000000)), powerful beings (0.690729 (negative:-0.655439)), clear position (0.672977 (positive:0.692174)), society—heavy stuff (0.670905 (positive:0.314296)), n’t matter (0.666053 (positive:0.515543)), little kid (0.661439 (negative:-0.278804)), advanced alien (0.660863 (negative:-0.259879)), catechism classes (0.655254 (neutral:0.000000)), Captain Kirk (0.655115 (negative:-0.410705)), bad guy (0.647936 (negative:-0.591428)), holy men (0.644138 (neutral:0.000000)), giant phaser (0.641579 (neutral:0.000000)), cruel God (0.640067 (negative:-0.714747)), terrible things (0.638750 (negative:-0.301638)), daddy god (0.636502 (positive:0.348895)), naughty child (0.632209 (neutral:0.000000)), entire pan (0.630965 (neutral:0.000000)), normal conditions (0.630908 (neutral:0.000000)), atheist (0.527480 (negative:-0.226752)), world (0.515734 (negative:-0.519133)), faith (0.504591 (positive:0.556098)), episodes (0.500975 (positive:0.038537)), end (0.484608 (negative:-0.532830)), Christians (0.482120 (negative:-0.389440)), Archons (0.470135 (neutral:0.000000))

James T. Kirk (0.947173): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Star Trek (0.883974): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Spock (0.859325): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago

 Star Trek Made Me an Atheist
Periodicals>Journal Article:  Farrantello, Nick (2009/07), Star Trek Made Me an Atheist, The Humanist, July / August 2009, Retrieved on 2013-01-05
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: science fiction humanism