Star Trek fans have been waiting 12 years to see the long-running franchise return to television and on Sept. 24, fans will get what they want when "Star Trek: Discovery" airs on CBS. To many, a TV landscape without Star Trek has felt godforsaken.
Oh wait — but they can't feel that way. Because you can't even say the word "god" on this show.
As revealed in a recent article from Entertainment Weekly, when cast member Jason Isaacs (best known as Harry Potter's Lucius Malfoy) ad-libbed the phrase "For god's sake," writer Kirsten Beyer interrupted his performance and forced him to find a different phrase.
"You can say (the f-word) before you can say 'God,'" she told him.
Many in Hollywood have, in recent years, abandoned any notion of accepting that many people in the U.S. have different values than they do. But this instance goes beyond simple unacceptance into actual bigotry. The stated reason Beyer gave for her thought-policing was that franchise creator Gene Roddenberry was a secular humanist.
But this line of thinking is very problematic.
Despite Roddenberry's beliefs, Star Trek never demonstrated intolerance toward the Western (or any) religious tradition, with episodes like "The Apple," "Requiem for Methuselah," "Far Beyond the Stars," "The Good Shepherd" and others explicitly taking inspiration from the Bible.
Star Trek fans like to brag about their celebration of "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations" — but those words turn in hollow sanctimoniousness when they say, "We celebrate all peoples! … unless they think differently than we do."
Beyer's actions remind me of a particularly pointed Star Trek speech where one alien calls out the self-righteous Starfleet.
"You Federation types are all alike. You talk about tolerance and understanding … but you only practice it toward people that remind you of yourselves. Because you disapprove of (our) values, you scorn us … distrust us … and insult us every chance you get."
Wow, what does that sound like?
The notion that future humans will all be unbelievers has been out-and-out rejected by other science fiction shows. One of the main characters on Firefly was a preacher, with the pilot episode showing him saying grace. Both the original and remake of "Battlestar Galactica" (created by Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint member Glen Larson) dealt with religious issues. "Babylon 5" contained incredible religious diversity; the show featured a Jesuit, a Jew, an atheist, and a member of a religion founded in the future!
But that's not the only problem with the idea of a "perfect, godless future." Anyone who thinks that the human race will make it into the 23rd century and beyond without God are — and I really love that I get to write this — denying science.
There is a strong connection between belief in God and procreation. The less godly a society becomes, the less likely it is to self-perpetuate.
Yes, Earth has more humans on it than ever before, but the problem of future population contraction is very easy to see. Even billionaire-futurist Elon Musk is worried about it. People in Western cultures are increasingly less likely to go to church, get married and have children. But note that the highest birth rates in the U.S. are in red states and the top spot (of course) goes to religious Utah.
This correlation is not a coincidence.
In much of Asia, it's even worse. State-enforced atheism in Russia has left it struggling to maintain its population. China has the same problem, but combined with the problem of its mass abortion of baby girls. Godless Japan is dying in front of our eyes, with the data point that the nation sells more adult diapers than baby diapers.
Perhaps, then, not believing in God is a quality that evolution does not want to pass on. And if civilizations and the entire human race can't survive without Him, what chance does a TV show have?
C'mon Star Trek. Demonstrate that tolerance actually means tolerance. Quit thought-policing your creatives. Show the same kind of open-mindedness that competing series have shown. And acknowledge scientific reality.
For god's sake.