When I posted my Top 10 Worst episodes from the original Star Trek, I included “The Apple”, in which Roddenberry raved about how religion impedes scientific progress and we’d be bored in the Garden of Eden. In the 80’s, Star Trek TNG’s second season was in full swing, and Roddenberry proved he still hadn’t moved on past his rants he had during the heyday of peace, love, and hippies.
In Who Watches the Watchers, once again Roddenberry brings up an old argument. He says that the Vulcans are so much better than 20th century Earth because they outgrew the “superstitions of old”. When they mistake Picard for a god, we get the worst of his speeches, where Picard tells us just how awesome atheism is.
So why do these kind of Star Trek episodes bother me? Is it just because I’m Christian? Actually no. They bother me because they go against what the ideals of the Federation are. Starfleet’s future is supposed to be one where aliens of all races and cultures band together for common goals, defending themselves against common enemies and engaging in altruistic reform. One would think that all cultures would also include a future where religion would still exist. And it does. In Deep Space 9, we see that at least the Bajorans managed to progress far enough to develop warp core technology despite having religion. And so did the Klingons. It’s a total contradiction.
Fortunately, this is the last episode in the Star Trek franchise that would address this bugbear. Perhaps the writers that continued on realized that it was an argument that people grew tired of hearing.