Star Trek’s Final Frontier

A Pop Culture vs. The Bible post by LaShawnda Jones, March 6, 2011

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.  ~ Psalm 111:10

During a rest period over the holidays, I watched Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Filmed in 1978, it looked and sounded like many of the variations of Star Trek episodes I’ve watched over the years. I’m almost certain I’ve seen this movie at least once before over the years, however it felt I like a first viewing. Halfway through the movie, one of the bridge officers is abducted by a beam of light that penetrated the hull of the starship. The officer’s name is Ilia (the Slavic form of the Hebrew Eliyahu/Elijah meaning, “my God is Lord”).

Some time later Ilia reappears on the ship as an exact replica of herself. Her features and physical body are the same and she can access memories from her former body, however as a recreated being her function and purpose had changed.

Captain Kirk, curious about this anomaly on his ship, confronts Ilia with his officers and questions her. Their conversation goes something like this:

Kirk: Who is…’V’ger’…?
Ilia: V’ger is that which programmed me.
Kirk: Is V’ger the name of the Captain of the alien vessel?
McCoy: Jim, this is mechanism. (He’s doing a bio scan of Ilia as he speaks.)
Spock: A probe, Captain (confirming McCoy’s finding). No doubt a sensor-transceiver combination, recording everything we say and do.
Kirk: Where is Lieutenant Ilia?
Ilia: That unit no longer functions. I have been given its form to more readily communicate with the carbon-based units infesting Enterprise.
Security Guard: “Carbon-based units”…?
McCoy: Humans, Ensign Prarez – us.
Kirk: Why does V’ger travel to the third planet of the solar system directly ahead?
Ilia: To find the Creator.
Kirk: Find the Creator? Whose…!? What does V’ger want of the ‘Creator’… ?
Ilia: To join with him.
Spock: How?
Ilia: V’ger and the Creator will become One.
Spock: …and Who is the Creator?
Ilia: The Creator is that which created V’ger.
Kirk: Who is V’ger?
Ilia: V’ger is that which seeks the Creator. I am ready to commence my observations.
Spock: Doctor, a thorough examination of this probe might provide some insight into those who manufactured it, and how to deal with them.

I got a kick watching this on a stormy winter Sunday afternoon. It was like an added bonus of a Sunday school lesson!

I had always thought the appeal of Star Trek was the adventure and exploration of the universe as we can only imagine it to be. Paying attention to the words in this movie revealed to me what I have discovered over and over with Star Trek franchise throughout the decades and more recently on my own personal journey with God – the true voyages are internal.  The space adventurers were willing to search far and wide for anything to explain everything they were in that moment of time. Only to come to the realization that the deep space is within our humanoid forms. Exploring who we are is a continuous adventure throughout life. 

An all-consuming search for our Creator leads to an inescapable confrontation with our true selves. Likewise, an all-consuming exploration of ourselves leads us to a face-to-face with our Creator. 

Purpose of a creation            

Decker: Does V’ger object to the presence of the two carbon units?
Ilia: The carbon units are of no consequence; V’ger will determine their purpose.
McCoy: Their purpose is to survive.
Decker: You said V’ger’s purpose was to find and join with the Creator.
Ilia: That is how V’ger will survive.

V’ger was a created entity that was programmed to learn all it could in the universe and return to it’s creator. When the starship Enterprise encountered V’ger, V’ger was in search of it’s Creator. It abducted Lt. Ilia off the Enterprise because it needed a way to interact and communicate with species on the Enterprise – the carbon units aka humans. In short, V’ger was on it’s own vogage of self-exploration.

Spock took it upon himself to go off on his own to explore V’ger and came back somewhat comatose – there were indications of some neurological trauma. Spock attempted to mind-meld with V’ger and the experience literally blew his mind. Imagine! Joining with something that has accumulated incalucable knowledge. In the below exchange, Spock attempts to explain the experience.  

Spock: I should have known…
Kirk: Were you right? About V’ger?
Spock: A life-form of it’s own. A conscious, living entity…. I saw V’ger’s planet: a planet populated by living machines. Unbelievable technology. V’ger has knowledge that spans this universe. And yet… with all it’s pure logic, V’ger is barren. Cold. No mystery… no beauty… I should have known…
Kirk: Known what, Spock? What? What should you have known?
Spock: Jim… (Spock grabs Kirk’s hand) This simple feeling is beyond V’ger’s comprehension. No meaning… No hope… And, Jim, no answers…! It’s asking questions…
Kirk: What questions?
Spock: “Is this all I am? Is there nothing more?” 

Spock should have known about V’ger’s search and experience because his Vulcan half (an unemotional but very intelligent and logical race of people) was in constant conflict with his human half (a highly emotional and often irrational race of people). It’s rare for Spock to show any emotion (I can’t recall any other scene actually), however, this was a very emotional scene for him (he was on the brink of tears!) – analyzing a machine with characteristics similar to himself, a living being with unfathomable knowledge and merciless logic. We all seek knowledge. We all seek some sort of understanding. V’ger was a created machine that had traveled the known universe and amassed all the knowledge therein. When Spock tried to mind-meld with this machine he overloaded his capacity. More importantly, he was made aware of the true knowledge: everything that V’ger had learned on it’s travels through the universe amounted to nothing real. V’ger had infinite knowledge, but no emotional intelligence – no ability to connect with another being. He couldn’t compute touch, love, compassion, joy or sadness.   

The end of logical knowledge…

Spock: Captain… V’ger must evolve. It’s knowledge has reached the limits of this universe and it must evolve. What it requires of it’s God, Doctor, is the answer to it’s question: “Is there nothing more?”
McCoy: What more is there than the universe, Spock?
Decker: Other dimensions. Higher levels of being.
Spock: The existence of which cannot be proven logically, therefore V’ger is incapable of believing in them.
Kirk: What V’ger needs in order to evolve is a human quality. Our capacity to leap beyond logic.
Decker: And joining with it’s creator might accomplish that.
McCoy: You mean this machine wants to physically join with a human? Is that possible?
Decker: Let’s find out.
Kirk: Decker! Don’t!
Decker: Jim, I want this. As much as you wanted the Enterprise, I want this. 
[Decker is encircled in light and Ilia walks and joins him in a pillar of light. Their joining causes and eruption of light beams that spreads steadily outward, across the universe.] 
Kirk: Spock, did we just see the beginning of a new life-form?
Spock: Yes, Captain. We witnessed a birth. Possibly, a next step in our evolution
Kirk: I think we gave it the ability to create it’s own sense of purpose… out of our own human weaknesses and the drive that compels us to overcome.

All of the Star Trek franchise is an illustration of the struggle and melding of logic and emotion, passion and reason, belief and unbelief. faith and doubt. The series and movies discuss fictitious planets, beings and relationships, but the substance is certainly based on something real. 

True seekers – true voyagers – will always discover the True Source. They will come into contact with God and be awed even by their simple comprehension of all that He is.

Psalm 111

1 Praise the LORD, I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

2 Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. 3 Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever. 4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate. 5 He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.

6 He has shown his people the power of his works, giving them the lands of other nations. 7 The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy. 8 They are established for ever and ever, enacted in faithfulness and uprightness. 9 He provided redemption for his people; he ordained his covenant forever— holy and awesome is his name.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.

Other Pop Culture vs. The Bible Posts

Amy Winehouse: When did she live?

For the Sake of His Praise

Pop Culture Messiah (Michael Jackson)

Things Charlie Sheen Has Taught Me

Whitney Houston & The Greatest Love of All

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