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Issue #69 (August 1987)
I don't bewail the plunge in Star Trek IV from extraterrestrial theology to subhuman mundane depths. I have always been fascinated with science fiction and with Star Trek's speculations on human origins. Regardless of the fascination, however, I perceive the truth as more earthbound.
The Star Trek TV series ultimately portrayed the U.S.S. Enterprise as discovering the traces of where humanoids had originated. This acceptance of an extraterrestrial origin of Homo sapiens was not just a romantic or occultist preconception. Our generation has been preoccupied with the search for ancient astronauts. Accredited anthropologists have run into great [quoteright]difficulty defending classical Evolution; many have turned to "Punctuated Evolution" to solve some of the major gaps. Relevant to our purpose here, the main point is that the entry of modern-type (post-Neanderthal) man on Earth has to be attributed to extraterrestrial forces.
Punctuated Evolution has two basic theories. The one which Star Trek fans would understand is that we humans are the direct descendants of these astronauts. In this case, why would Cro-Magnons be so similar to their predecessors? Presumably Star Trek has the answer. Before landing permanently on Earth, our humanoid ancestors left on Earth (at intervals of millions of years) before the seeds of evolution in a human direction.
The second Punctuated Evolution theory gets around the difficulty of the similarity of body between earthly humanoids and humans. (The paradox to face is why Homo sapiens are all so similar, and yet too different upon emergence to explain by evolution.) This more occultic view is that the space invaders came in spiritual form and fashioned the genes of Neanderthals to suit their needs for a modern human body type. (A variant of this is that the extraterrestrials came in bodily form, but they transferred to dwelling in human bodies.)
The classical Star Trek theology would comfortably accept extraterrestrial origins for all of human bodily and spiritual features. Star Trek has never looked to traditional religious teaching nor to earthly explanations. Star Trek has never taken its inspiration from the Bible. The Bible does not recognize any bodily or spiritual predecessor to Adam. Most specifically, "Take note, the spiritual was not first; first came the natural and after that the spiritual." (I Corin. 15:46) This would seem to settle that the Bible allows no reconciliation with Star Trek theology.
Along now comes Star Trek IV with its shift of focus away from extraterrestrials. Its basic premise utilizes the frequent speculation that some life forms on Earth are highly intelligent. Usually dolphins are suggested, but in Star Trek IV, it is humpback whales. If we are to entertain the thought that whales can be equal or superior to us in intelligence, we can certainly view them as near enough in intelligence to serve as our predecessors. No whales (nor any living mammals) are direct bodily ancestors of Man. What about soul, however? Could we as souls have lived before as whales?
Religion is open to our origin as subhuman forms. Eastern religion routinely teaches a Transmigration doctrine which includes a rise of the soul from prior lives as animals. It would seem I had already excluded Christianity from this schema. That was in regard to the spirit, however, not the soul. Instead, the Bible says, "God chose us in him before the world began, to be holy and blameless in his sight, to be full of love." (Eph. 1:4) This could allow the souls to participate in the full course of Evolution at all levels of life.
Viewed more broadly, the Bible does make a big point about the Creation of all the forms of life at various times. The Star Trek IV focus on whales thus meets the Bible halfway and can be reconciled with it. The Bible does not specifically exclude an extraterrestrial origin for the soul. That God "chose us...before the world began" leaves open that most of this time could have been spent outside our world. Can we look at the common run of humanity and believe that most of them have lived prior lives as super-civilized Vulcans or whatever? We could believe more easily that they lived in some prior sinful, technological ages like our own on Earth. (This could have been in Tiahuanoco, Atlantis, or, very Biblically, before the Noachian Flood.)
Before the earliest human civilizations, there may have been other meaningful life. We assume small brain precludes IQ, and we assume intelligence is necessary for meaning. Neither is necessarily true. Indeed, high intelligence seems to hinder spiritual life.
Turning from the past to the future, is there any Biblical suggestion that our souls may enter into ocean life in the future? Revelation 20:13 states, "The Sea gave up the dead that were in it," which could imply that anything important enough to be dead and to be judged must have been human earlier. Nevertheless, too much of the Bible and Church teaching specifies one judgment for the soul after death of the human body. It would be reckless to suggest otherwise. On the other hand, Christian theology has itself poorly addressed the difficulty of what happens between death (the Particular Judgment) and the Last Judgment. Perhaps souls take up residence after death in aquatic creatures. They could return to land life at the start and/or end of the Millennium.
I have to admit that it's quite presumptuous to assume that by managing to reconcile Star Trek IV with the Bible that truth has resulted. I don't make any such claim. I do say that the world view of Star Trek is fascinating and deserves consideration in a comparison with Christian documents. Conversely, my own metaphysics has features which become clearer when explained in comparison to the Star Trek view of the universe. (As a further point in this regard, Star Trek's delineation of Mr. Spock is a perfect example of an individual with body and soul, but lacking a spirit.) That is, my own view and other Biblical teachings are irreconcilable with Star Trek theology (both television and the first three movies), but Star Trek opens possibilities of harmony with me and with the Bible (though not with conventional Christianity of the churches). Star Trek IV has started, but not at all completed, "The Voyage Home." In contrast, Star Trek reads as if it were (though it is not) orthodox Christian allegory.
In "What is Truth?" I present my own theory of knowledge (truth theory), as bold as Trejo's, but in a different direction.