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Thursday, March 03, 2005

A Trek Too Far?

A great sadness fell on the Trekkie community with Paramount's recent decision to abandon Star Trek after the 4th series of its latest incarnation. Few people other than Trekkies themselves, (of which, yes, I am one), would have anticipated the great joining of forces and raising of money mobilised by faithful fans to try and ensure that series 5 gets written and filmed. As this report shows, over $3 million of a $35 million dollars has been raised so far with some heavyweight donors from the commercial spaceflight industry.

For nearly 40 years Star Trek has kindled the imagination of young and old alike that humankind's future lies out there in the stars. It maybe many generations before we get there but this century will certainly see a more extensive human exploration and settlement of the solar system and perhaps a few long range probes sent to scout detectable hospitable planets in nearby stellar systems. What lies beyond that is anybody's guess. Star Trek has had an honoured history of stimulating thought about such issues and popularising the whole notion of space exploration. In admittedly lean times for public imagination and idealism about space perhaps we need Star Trek now to rekindle that great idea. Later in the 2020's perhaps the first human will step on Mars which will in itself be a vindication of that vision.

If all this seems too fanciful for you perhaps my old school chum Dr. David Darling will show you some amazing things on his award winning and excellent web site. Go here and be amazed!

The questions about human exploration of space and life elsewhere in the Universe do not stop here. There are profound theological implications in our quest for extraterrestial life. How will human believers adapt in their faith to first contact with sentient, intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe? How will Christians for example assess the significance of Christ in relation to other non-human saviours?

A long time ago I read a wonderful poem entitled: "Christ in the Universe." I can think of no greater testimony to an inclusive Christocentric faith and no better celebration of the importance of keeping the Trek idea burning brightly in the public imagination than this poem. "Make it so!"


Dave Holford said...

As someone who formed and ran an international Christian Star Trek fan club at the age of 13 (long before there was a need to say "The Original Series") , I have to agree with your post. Gene Roddenberry's vision may have been an entirely humanistic one, but that doesn't invalidate the aspiration to explore the extra-terrestrial locations in God's creation. I blog about this from time to time.

There are a lot of theological implications to the idea of sentient life and I tend to think that we are alone in that regard, with great potential for off-planet colonisation.

Christina Marie said...

I like Star Trek, but I much prefer Babylon 5.

Isaac the Idiot said...

I am surprised that fans of Start Trek want Enterprise to continue. I love the original series, Next Generation and Voyager, but found this new series rather lightweight. My brother, who has seen more episodes has also complained about their messing with the ST timeline: encounters with the Borg?! Give me a break!

Zac said...

Image-bearing or sentient life in the Universe is perhaps a real possibility, although a recent book by Hugh Ross cites several scientific studies that indicate the places where life-chemistry could possibly exist are very small.

I like that poem, but I wonder about a few things. I rather like C.S. Lewis' notion-- that perhaps image-bearing sentient life on other planets would not necessarily themselves have undergone a "fall" as with our species. In that case, perhaps they have reached illumination/deification and possibly are then not subject to the laws of corruption and death as we are?

Also, as with C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy, I tend to think that the Logos only entered into time and flesh once-- and that perhaps the Earth is really unique in that respect. Who knows... perhaps one day we'll get "pilgrims" from another planet that will wish to see where He lived, died, and rose to life again.

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