Kira's struggle with her own inner demons draws strenght from her belief in "the Prophets"--or are they aliens? What does Star Fleet believe about Sisko's dual role? Do his beliefs evolve?
I. What does Eschatology mean?
II. Peterson seems to argue that what exists between science and religion as dramatized in the ST universe?--Pay careful attention to the four themes he will treat, (page 62).
III. SCIENCE AND RELIGION--CONNECTING MODES OF THOUGHT.
A. What is the relationship between science and faith? Are they different modes of a common epistemological base? Recall what we have said regarding Galileo and Newton's views on this issue? What do you think Roddenberry would say?
B. Two TNG episodes that Peterson sights reflect ST's interest in religion, science and technology:
1. Rightful Heir--Worf's "faith" in Kahless is challenged,
2. Who Watches the Watchers--One of the horrors of the ST universe that itself almost becomes dogma is how a less developed culture might view the technological sophistication of the UFP. NOte especially Picard's tone of voice as he addresses this issue, and Troy's epistemological dilemma that raises the faith / science issue. I wonder what Galileo would say?
IV. RELIGION AND SCIENCE AT WAR: PERSECUTION AND DEBUNKING:
A. Peterson opens this section by positing a dualism: what is it, and do you agree that ST follows this premise?
B. Peterson himself mentions (p. 67) the "Galileo mode" implying scientific truth suffering at the hands of the inquisition. Find out:
1. ...what Galileo said about faith and the Bible.
2. ...what the response of the Church was?
3. ...who was to blame...what is the Vatican's position on the Galileo matter?
C. Episodes sited include: Devils' Due / Half a Life / Who Watches the Watchers? / Justice
D. Note the conclusions Peterson reaches in this section (pp. 68-69).
V. RELIGION AND SCIENCE AT WAR: THE PROBLEM OF PLURALISM AND THE CULTURAL OTHER:
A. This section addresses the religious practices of alien races--e.g.: the Klingons
B. Is there a conflict between Picard's conviction that religion is harmful to progress, and his respect for the cultural diversity on his ship: how is the IDIC / PRIME DIRECTIVE philosophy of Spock exemplified in theory and practice?
C. Episodes include: The Bonding, Ethics, The Emissary, Journey's End, The Next Phase and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
1. The movie as we will note is overtly Christian in its theme--there are several Biblical allusions.
2. Interestingly, Journey's End may imply that the scientific utopia of UFP may not indeed be what it seems.
3, Another episode in which Picard has reason to question what the Federation has achieved technologically is Force of Nature--Why? What is Picard forced to admit?
VI. RELIGION AND SCIENCE AT PEACE: EVOLUTIONARY ESCHATOLOGY AS THE RELIGION OF STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.
A. What is eschatology? What is the Church position, and does it conflict with the science of ST?
B. Peterson's comments suggest that ST posits an evolutionary-scientific humans that he seems to equate with the philosophy of the Enlightenment. Citing Encounter at Farpoint (TNG's pilot), he notes that Picard defends himself against the charges that Q files ("a savage child race"--at one moment, Q dresses in a Marine Corps uniform, which Picard disdains as a costume long outgrown) by saying tha mankind is no longer guilty of savage offenses.
C. Instructor Notes: Several important allusions deserve mention:
1. Picard (p. 73-4) quotes Hamlet's "What a piece of work is man..." Hamlet offers a challenge. Although critics disagree (E.g. J.Dover Wilson's What Happens in Hamlet, and E. Prosser's Hamlet and Revenge), one reading of the famous 'TO BE OR NOT TO BE' (Act III) soliloquy suggests Hamlet is torn between elements of a dialectic not unlike Picard's. What decision must Hamlet make; what must "be or not be?" In Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, Harold Bloom argues that Hamlet's intellect is so vast, so all encompassing that he (like Q?) sees possibilities others miss? What does Hamlet see regarding our discussion? Remember that Patrick Stewart is an accomplished Shakespearean actor.
2. Q is an enigmatic character. At first cruel and hostile, a character voted by fans as their favorite villain, his persona will change even to the point that Picard in Tapestry argues that he owes Q a great debt. Why? Perhaps, though, Q never changes--how can an omnipotent being change, but in true ST fashion, he exists to force us to change, to see ourselves and then him differently. In just the first episode of TNG, we know already that Q forced Picard to admit that humans were savage (See also Genesis / Season seven).
3. Genesis is a fine allusion. Read the creation story and temptation scene in the Bible. What is your opinion of God, if this story were the only record we had? Why? Recall too Job. What does God expect of Job? Does Q expect the same thing? Recall Q's final words to Picard in the last episode of the seventh season (All Good Things) that brings the series full circle like the ring structure of a folk epic.
4. What does Q have in common with the Homeric gods of the Iliad and Odyssey?
5. Peterson of course discusses evolution. What did Darwin think? Is the evolution suggested in this chapter the same as Darwin's? What do make of the announcement on June 26, 2000 that the human genome had been mapped!!! Remember why the Borg want assimilation.
VII. Note the strong moral tone of pages 74 and 75. What did the poet Shelley believe about morality and science in his Defense of Poetry?
A. State Peterson's thesis regarding religion and ST.
B. Does he modify Roddenberry's thesis?
See as usual the SJC Web pages for British Literature, Philosophy and Shakespeare.
Genesis and Job
Prosser, E. Hamlet and Revenge
Wilson, J.D. What Happens in Hamlet?
Homer, The Iliad and The Odyssey
Shelley, P. Defense of Poetry (See British Literature Home page, Romantic period)