Updated: Oct 5, 2022
JT Bogden - Nearly everyone is familiar with the Star Trek franchise created by Gene Roddenberry then popularized through numerous television series and movies. Many people seem to draw their sense of ethics, leadership, and societal mores from the fantasy episodes that explore issues common to Earth but seem to exist throughout the galaxy. Nonetheless, Star Trek has an agenda that is not exactly compatible with America's Founding.
The Star Trek Theology
In the ethos of Star Trek is the Prime Directive that prohibits Humans from interfering in off-planet affairs and societies. In the first season of The Next Generation (TNG), episode 22 which is called Symbiosis, Captain Picard explains the Prime Directive is not a set of rules but a philosophy that protects the normal course of the universe and mandates that humans are expendable to prevent violation of the directive. During the second season of TNG in episode 15 called Pen Pals, the senior staff debate the extent and limits of the Prime Directive. The staff volleys between philosophy and practical application, theology and religion. In many episodes, the Prime Directive is broken usually in favor of some ethical fabric that is beyond the human convention but often cast as their humanity.
From where does the Prime Directive originate? This directive is from the human convention of Star Fleet Command in the series. But the notion of the Prime Directive is a secular humanist, atheistic, construct drawn from the human imagination. Atheism denies the existence of sovereign God(s) but promotes with evangelical zeal nothingness. The atheist's god is appropriately named the god of nothingness, a NULL, for which they fight. Numerous US circuit court cases have upheld that Atheism is a religion protected by the First Amendment having the Right to free exercise and the Right to assemble. One of the more recent cases was Kaufman v. McCaughtry (2005) which relied on the precedence set by numerous earlier cases and a US Supreme court ruling (Davis, 2005).
Roddenberry was a secular humanist, an atheist, who imagined the Prime Directive. Roddenberry held a belief in levels of ascension or a New Age philosophy that he wrote into the Star Trek The Original Series (TOS) and early TNG episodes before he died. According to Roddenberry, there are pre-warp, warp-capable, and post-warp societies as well as alternate planes of existence. Ultimately, intelligent and sentient life achieves the continuum where the Q exists. The Q is god. To Roddenberry, man achieves a god's status in time. In the Star Trek TNG third season, the fourth episode called Whose Watching the Watcher highlights Roddenberry's Secular Humanist Theology and thinking. Picard breaks the Prime Directive to prove he is not a god - yet.
Watching Star Trek reveals what secular humanists are thinking and what is on their uninspired minds. The Star Trek TOS episode, The Mark of Gideon which is a Biblical reference aired in February 1969. The leader of the planet Gideon uses a virus to reduce the over-population which sounds too close to COVID-19 which may have been a test run in reality.
The Theology Behind America's Founding
A brief account of the historical path to America's founding began with the printing of the Gutenberg Bible which lead people to read the Bible discerning the unfiltered message. In time, the Bible was annotated and cross-referenced in the margins creating the Geneva Bible which was used by the Protestants and the Pilgrims. These annotations lead to a more in-depth understanding and, in time, were carried over to the King James Version of the Bible. At the outset of the Pilgrims to America, Pastor John Robinson wrote a farewell letter that detailed the Biblical form of Government for them to live under in the New World. The Pilgrims set sail on the Mayflower on September 6, 1620. Upon arriving in the New World on November 11, 1620, there was a near mutiny on the ship. They sat down and used Pastor John Robinson's letter to draft the Mayflower Compact which became their Constitution.
Over 150 years later, the French and American Revolutions were occurring close together. In an odd sensibility, America is a Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens wrote about Paris and London were the worst of times and the best of times. America is about Jamestown, VA and Plymouth, MA which were experiencing the worst of times and the best of times as well. Jamestown was under the rule of King George III. They were warring with the Indians, there was famine, economic depression, plagues, martial law, and harassment by the King's agents. Meanwhile, Plymouth was enjoying an abundance of food, good relations with the Indians, a thriving economy, and good health. The American Forefathers were inspired by the contrast between these cities and observed the Mayflower Compact. In 1756, the Biblical model was well understood as demonstrated by John Adams' diary entry:
"Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry; to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love, and reverence toward Almighty God... What a Eutopia, what a paradise would this region be." - John Adams on February 22, 1756.
The American Forefathers were well studied in many theologies and philosophies. They were not proponents of religion although most were practicing members of Protestant sects. They determined that Judeo-Christian Theology was the kindest towards establishing the new nation. The Judeo-Christian theology became the underpinning of America and is known as Original Intent which was focused on the individual, his or her path in life, and unalienable human rights. Original Intent was 100% derived from Judeo-Christian Theology.
Original Intent Compared to the Prime Directive
The Bible is an integrated message system having internal consistency meaning no message or question is left dangling or open-ended. Every message compliments other messages supportive of Christ, the individual, and ordained systems or constructs. One of the systems in the Bible is the construct of a Republic, also known as representative democracy. This is underpinned by the free-market economy which is creativity in service to humanity. The free market is underpinned by the energy, fossil fuels, that were gifted by God following the Great Flood. The Republic is an overseer ensuring natural rights are not lost or infringed upon and the safety of its citizens. Individuals are architected to support the free market given a mind to imagine things, hands to create things imagined, and feet to transport things made to the market where just rewards are earned. Each individual has God's image in them and these Biblical systems give levity to the image in people. However, unlike the Prime Directive that expends human life to preserve itself, the Bible has commandments that uphold life and the individual. For example, Thou Shalt not kill is the Right to Life.
The commandments which also include The Ten Commandments are written in a negative connotation. When written in a positive connotation and modern-day language become natural and unalienable Rights that have duties and responsibilities that protect society from the wilds of an individual. An individual's Rights are directed at them by others as opposed to impressed upon them and respected by others. Nonetheless, the action is incumbent upon the individual. The commandment Thou Shalt not kill is a simple example which is the Right to Life. Each individual has a duty not to kill and a responsibility to uphold the sanctity of life. In this way, society is preserved and everyone is alive and well. In short, your Right to Life persists because other people fulfilled their duty and responsibilities. The Right to Fair Treatment is the commandment "Thou shalt not to bear false witness" which applies to all circumstances including criminal, civil, and even gossip. The duty is to be honest and the responsibility is to uphold truthfulness in all circumstances.
Other commandments are developed in a more complex manner in the Bible as themes more than simple statements. The pursuit of freedom is a theme throughout every book in the Bible. Freedom is not a hedonistic pursuit to do self-indulgent things. In general, the pursuit of freedom included entire nations fleeing slavery to individuals serving their masters up to the Year of Jubilee. In other Biblical terms, freedom is from bondage to Mosaic Law and is found in Christ who fulfills the law. Thus, Christians live not by rules or laws but by principles. Laws are for those who are not in Christ. Sometimes principles and laws of the land conflict and Christians are to adhere to God's commandments. Commandments can also be viewed in terms of principles that humans aspire towards since everyone falls short. One Biblical struggle is people struggle against who they are to become who they are supposed to be. America is aspiring toward a more perfect union and America's citizens are to live by and aspire to principles.
The difference between the Prime Directive and Original Intent is opposite of each other. The Prime Directive asserts non-interference, even hiding from other cultures, and is self-preserving at the expense of humans. America's Original Intent asserts that the United States is a beacon to the world to be seen, an example known as American Exceptionalism. Original Intent asserts that America is seen as a principled place and at times interferes to uphold those principles which exalt human rights that preserve people and virtuous societies. Original Intent is the exact opposite of the Prime Directive. The only Star Fleet I see are the fifty stars on the American Flag.
Davis, D, (2005) Is Atheism a Religion? Recent Judicial Perspectives on the Constitutional Meaning of “Religion”. Journal of Church and State. Vol 47 No 4. Oxford University Press: USA. pp. 707-723.
Federer, W. (1996). America's God and Country. William J Federer, Fame Publishing, ISBN: 1-880563-05-3