Clearly, judging by the comments thread to the latter, there aren’t too many people who take kindly to Young’s somewhat aggressive and demeaning stance on religion. As an atheist myself, I’m non-plussed when it comes to the subject of religion. I don’t believe, I don’t need & certainly don’t want anything to do with it. My belief being that there is no all-powerful, omnipotent being controlling the future of humanity or the functionality of the Universe. As Richard Dawkins opines, the Universe and everything in it, just is. My only objection to religion are those of its adherents who persist in selling their particular brand to me. I won’t tolerate it, pure & simple. That said, we all have our little foibles, likes, dislikes, beliefs and disbeliefs and personally, I think we should all just keep them to ourselves. The world would be a lot calmer place for that.
However, I digress. I wish to take issue with Young’s apparent denigration of something he claims to be a fan of. Gene Roddenberry’s Startrek Franchise. I’ll make my stance perfectly clear. Damon Young knows two fifths of seven-eighths of sweet fuck-all about Startrek if he thinks for a moment that fans of the franchise are limited to those he calls ‘Trekkers’. ‘Trekkers’ are people like me, and possibly himself although I doubt it, who enjoy Roddenberry’s creation for what it is. Fantasy creation of human drama, science-fiction thought bubbles and light-hearted trips into the hyperspacial light fantastic. Nothing more, and nothing less. If you really want to, reader, you can draw analogies between any dramatic creation, be it literary, auditory or visual, and some religious text from any of the myriad of belief systems. For Young, a supposed Philosopher and carrier of the letters ‘P, ‘H’ and ‘D’ together with the appropriate piece of paper saying so, to even attempt to draw allusions between Startrek II, or indeed any of the Startrek franchise movies or television series and religion, seems to me to be the single most unproductive of thought exercises. Quite simply, there ain’t no connection. Never was, never will be. Religion is a belief or set of beliefs. Startrek is just a bit of mindless entertainment. Fun.
Now, for the record, and because I clearly understand much more of the minds of the Startrek franchise writers than Damon Young, I’ll put to bed a few of his flights of fundamentalist atheism.
A mind meld, as portrayed in Startrek II, is not a vacating by one mind from its corporeal body into the mind/corporeal body of another individual. The word ‘meld’ means to blend or merge. In the Startrek sense, only Vulcans, as far as we trekkers know, can master the act. It’s a dangerous act for obvious reasons, and once melded, the two minds will ALWAYS retain some essence of the other. We see this imprint being left behind from some of the very earliest original series episodes. In the case of Spock ‘melding’ with McCoy, as Spock made the connection, he uttered the subliminal command, “remember”, which is what McCoy did as we saw throughout the sequel movie, Startrek III. Mannerisms, speech patterns, etcetera. What Spock did was the 23rd century Vulcan equivalent of a copy-and-paste of his essence as an individual from his hard-drive (mind) to that of Leonard McCoy. As we know, copy-and-paste differs from the cut-and-paste Damon Young deals with in his erroneous piece. So, Spock dies in the intermix chamber, after having re-set the matter/antimatter ratio (which in itself is a non sequitur because there is only one intermix ratio – 1:1), exposing himself to whatever radiation is emitted by the dilithium energy conversion. His actions had no moral or ethical meaning or sub-text. What he did was ‘logical’. “The needs of the many out-weigh the needs of the few, or the one”. Vulcans don’t know of self-sacrifice, only of logic. Spock is half human/half Vulcan, which is where the emotive part of his death comes into play. “I have been and always shall be, your friend”.
Spock’s body is disposed of in a photon torpedo casing, shot into the maelstrom of the Genesis planet. Now, we know from the movie that Genesis is “life from lifelessness”. Essentially molecular disassembly and reconstruction in line with a pre-programmed set of instructions to deliver the basic tenets of a Class-M environment. Nitrogen-Oxygen atmosphere and a base evolutionary form of life. There is considerable license taken with what Genesis does, as evidenced by the second phase result of the testing process in the subterranean chamber on Regula 1, but again, there is nothing even remotely religious about Genesis. It’s a technological process concocted by the mind of man/woman, and as we find out, is fatally flawed. There is some element of present day science in the idea. After all, what is stem cell technology if not the creation, or at least, reallocation of existing life. Let’s assume for the purposes of the exercise that the Genesis effect went to work on Spock’s degrading cells. Now, Genesis should have deconstructed Spock’s bodily matrix in favour of its own, however Genesis had already completed its transformation of the Mutara Nebula. Because of the unstable matrix programming used by Dr David Marcus in his rush to perfect Genesis, most likely what happened, because Genesis was activated within a Nebula & not a lifeless rocky world, the resultant matrix proved so unstable that Spocks body was simply re-organised within its own cellular limitations. We know the structure of the torpedo casing didn’t change at all. In other words, perhaps Genesis simply re-activated dead or dying stem cells. Fantasy science, with a thin smatter of acceptable make-believe. Nothing even remotely religious in the construct. Unless you’re desperate to create that remote connection.
Then we move forward to Vulcan and the now fully matured, corporeal Spock, with a completely vacant mind. That’s ‘mind’, not soul. The mind is not a soul, whatever a soul is. The mind is where we live, where consciousness resides, where decisions centred on right/wrong/good/bad/yes/no are made, judged and enacted. A soul, if indeed such a thing exists, might equate to a katra, IF a katra can be equated with a personality. Is a soul the equivalent to a personality? Can personality be related in any way, shape or form to a religious belief? Again, I think Mr Young is spouting garbage. There’s nothing religious in a katra. There could be religious connotations in the ceremony restoring the katra. The fal-tor-pan could, if one was desperate or seeking to equate Startrek to a religion, be construed as a religious occasion. For mine though, the reinstallation of one person’s essence from the mind of another is surely much more akin to a medical procedure than anything metaphysical.
For mine, the only genuine claim by Damon Young comes in his final para.
For this atheist, the most obvious difference is simply one of disbelief: Trekkers suspend it briefly, the faithful for most of their lives, and often unknowingly. But, of course, these questions are not for me to answer on another’s behalf.
Too right Damon. Who the fuck are you to denigrate anyone else’s beliefs, likes, dislikes, sexual preferences, political allegiances or dress sense? You choose not to accept religion as any poster point in your life journey. So do I. The difference being that I don’t make a weekly effort to decry anyone’s personal preferences. Oh, and that I enjoy being a trekker, not a trekkie. You really do need to learn the differences.