The plot of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is that a charismatic religious leader hijacks the starship Enterprise in order to fly to the center of the galaxy and literally meet God in the alien equivalent of Eden. The movie is widely considered the least entertaining in the Star Trek canon, one where the action took a backseat to a movie about interrelationships and the quandary in trying to track down and meet the “creator.” The only rational one in the entire movie is Captain Kirk, who makes several pointed comments about the absurdity of trying to find an esoteric concept (which it appears all of the sentient races in the Federation seem to share) and struggles to wrest control of his ship back from the brainwashed crew.
Eventually the ship breaches the maelstrom of energy that encircles the planet where God apparently lives. Kirk and company fly down to the planet’s surface and await a meeting with the Almighty. Of course “God” appears and tells them that he needs their spaceship to go out and bring his love and wisdom to the rest of the universe, to which Kirk asks the obvious question, “what does God need with a starship?” Much angry lightning and running around follows Kirk’s impertinent question and his failure to obey; leading up to “God” being destroyed by a Klingon Bird-of-Prey. Turns out the divine isn’t so divine.
Naturally, I was intrigued by the concept of pushing out beyond the boundaries of typical theology by using science to go and find the answer, compared to the more sedate method of just thinking about the question. The search for the creator of all extends so far back into the past, that human kind has forgotten why it had started the process in the first place. Every nation on the planet, and before nations, every tribe of pre-iron age drifters with a penis complex, have all tried to define the divine.
We could find no evidence of this creature and so we created one with the complex emotions that we felt: anger, jealousy, curiosity, lust, hate, fear…in every tongue people would speak about how God or gods lived lives much like their own, only up in the sky in floating palaces or on the tops of tall mountains. We would erect temples and sacrifice animals and other humans to satisfy those in the sky. They would have a set of people devoted entirely to the upkeep of the myths of the gods, vestal virgins to keep the secrets of the inner-sanctums and the testes and foreskins of little boys and the labia and clitorises of little girls to chop off; tossed up in the air to make a big salad of human misery.
The sum total of the nearly untallied verbosity contained on scrolls and sheets of papyrus and clay tablets and body tattoos and whatever else an endless stream of rules and regulations and tea times can be applied to, is all empty promises and poetry. It’s all screed and step-by-step masquerading as fundamental truth, all billowing phrases and simple “thou shalt” or not. The implicit and the simple, the complex and the strange, all explained away as mysterious workings of an omniscient, omnipresent deity.
Humans have invented very complex and involved theories pertaining to the needs and wants of our various gods, including their needs to reproduce with human females. Those wacky gods are always impregnating woman while in the guises of horses or geese or bulls or radiant angels of the lord. I have often wondered, often lain awake at night trying to figure out what God would need with a womb? Why wouldn’t he just ZAP! and make his own direct offspring using the unbelievable, unimaginable power he undoubtedly possess?
When the god of the Christian scriptures came to call on a young virgin (they are always virgins) he gave her the ol’ song and dance about how she was “blessed among women” and not be afraid that God was going to fill her uterus with his son, never she mind about her soon to be husband. My mind reels at the enormous lack if logic to be found in this story. Why did God need to impregnate Mary? Why couldn’t the angel of the Lord tell her after her wedding night that she was to be knocked up with Josephs’ baby-who was then lucky enough to have been selected by God to be his son? None of it makes sense.
Equally mysterious to me is the notion that God’s son had to be created for the express purpose of being murdered. The current Jesus mythos indicates that he was both a god and a man simultaneously, a being who shunned human sexuality and spoke primarily through fables, sent to down to Earth for the simple reason of being nailed to a some wood and left to die. Inexplicably, this supposedly emotional sacrifice is then immediately made pointless by having this hybrid god rise up from the dead and coming back to spook his surviving apostles.
Jesus proves he is the “savior” as foretold in the Old Testament, but instead of using this incredible proof by stopping by and visiting Herod, or flying over to Rome for a meeting with the Emperor, he walks around Judea for 40 days and ascends back to his home in the sky. Why only 40 days, why no major insights into human nature from him? Even the New Testament goes out of its way to say that if no one really believed that Jesus rose from the tomb, then the whole concept of their faith was a waste of time. The apologetics of the later books of the Bible practically scream out that thinking too hard on the matter is a dangerous waste of time. Thinking and not obeying is the biggest sin in the world of the religious.
It’s amazing to me that the only way to really question the logic, the only way to look behind the canvas that all of this fantastic imagery has been painted on, is to read a piece of science fiction or watch a movie where the hero is a middle aged spaceship captain asking the question why. Thought experiments are a valuable tool to begin the process of understanding how such massive facades have been erected and held steady by the act of believing them to be true; how to read beyond the scriptures, how to not obey.