Theology and Star Trek

This past Saturday, a local thrift store had a bag sale on paperbacks, so I brought home a grocery bag full of an eclectic selection of titles. Over the next few weeks, I hope to read through much of my bag. If my reading seems rather random, it is. Since bulging bags didn’t cost any more, I couldn’t help packing my bag full as possible. I ended up stretching the bag so much that it exploded about three feet from my car.

Over the past couple of days, I read Rogue Saucer, a Star Trek novel. Yes, out of all the things in the world I could have read, I chose Star Trek. Get over it.

Since I doubt anyone out there is still trying to get around to reading a mid-90’s Star Trek novel, I’ll give you the plot. Warning: this is Star Trek; don’t expect any great literary turns.

The crew of the starship Enterprise discover a small ship entering a restricted sector of space. The bad guys aboard the outgunned ship escape by playing a nasty high-tech trick that disables the Enterprise’s forward section. When the Enterprise goes to a starbase for repairs, the captain receives orders to detach the engine portion of the ship and take a skeleton crew out to test a prototype front section. But oh no it’s a trap! The bad guys have a traitor in place to help steal the Enterprise. However, after a bunch of phaser fights, a crash landing, and a run-in with some pesky aliens, the crew of the Enterprise prevails and most of the bad guys get captured or killed. Amazingly, only one red-shirted crewmember meets an unfortunate end, but being the traitor, he had it coming.

Color me geeky, but I enjoyed the book. Now the theological question, should I have? Before you answer, “Well, nobody in their right mind should enjoy Star Trek,” I’ll acknowledge that Star Trek may not be your cup of tea. However, as part of our culture, is Star Trek something that a Christian can rightly enjoy?

When dealing with issues of culture, Christians should be in the world but not of the world. This means Christians must engage in some parts of their cultures while avoiding others. Christians should reject cultural elements to the degree that they facilitate and celebrate sin lest their affections be drawn away from God.

So far so good, Rogue Saucer—like most things Star Trek—is relatively free of objectionable elements. However, depravity runs deep in culture down to the level of worldviews. Most cultural elements embody some non-Christian worldview. Star Trek is no exception; it creates a fictional universe in which God cannot exist. This problem plagues not only Star Trek but also most of the Fantasy/Sci-Fi genre as a whole.

Because of the non-Christian worldviews shaping culture, Christians can only enjoy their cultures with caution. When reading Star Trek, a Christian should be bothered that God cannot exist in the story. God’s absence should be noted and cause a longing for home.

While Christians can cautiously enjoy Star Trek, they cannot thoroughly enjoy it any more than they can thoroughly enjoy anything cursed by the fall. An obsession with Star Trek would be sinful as it would entail submersing one’s thoughts in a sinful worldview. Fortunately, I’m really not into conventions or dress-up anyway.

2 thoughts on “Theology and Star Trek

  1. Pingback: The Theologian Who Never Experienced God | The Parallax Perspective

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