Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Prime Directive

Thousands of Trekkies are probably foaming at the mouth in anticipation of the new Star Trek film (May 8th!!!) directed by J.J. Abrams (co-creator of Lost), and I have to give it them, the trailer looks pretty intense. I never really got into Star Trek except for Voyager. I watched every single episode of Voyager, loved it! One concept in the Star Trek universe that has always caught my attention is their beloved Prime Directive.
"As the right of each sentient species to live in accordance with its normal cultural evolution is considered sacred, no Starfleet personnel may interfere with the normal and healthy development of alien life and culture. Such interference includes introducing superior knowledge, strength, or technology to a world whose society is incapable of handling such advantages wisely. Starfleet personnel may not violate this Prime Directive, even to save their lives and/or their ship, unless they are acting to right an earlier violation or an accidental contamination of said culture. This directive takes precedence over any and all other considerations, and carries with it the highest moral obligation."
I am not a Trekkie, although I do love Star Trek, so I can only assume that the Prime Directive is the Federation's moral foundation to any interaction with alien life to protect any evolving sentient life to continue their "normal cultural evolution" even if they're meant to become extinct. Any unintentional, and at times intentional, violation of the Prime Directive is equivalent to playing God. Too bad nobody told God about the Prime Directive.

Do we really need God to tell us not to kill each other? Would mankind have figured out morality without God violating the Prime Directive by sending down His Word down through prophets and revelations? I was just wondering how mankind would have fared without any communication with the divine. If God had not revealed himself in any way would we have progressed this far? God could not have communicated to all people throughout history because that would mean that all religions would have a sliver of truth, and we can't have that now, can we.

If God has not revealed himself to ALL religions then all but a few, or even one, must have sprung up naturally. We would first have to figure out WHICH religions have not communicated with God and then measure the level of morality they have obtained naturally. If no morals can be found whatsoever, nothing, zilch, then we can say that it was good that God taught us to behave. (We have been bad little boys and girls ever since Eden.) This is not the case because religious and non-religious people across all faiths have the same capacity to commit the most heinous to the most loving acts towards one another. I don't believe that any one faith has a monopoly in morality, let alone a monopoly on truth.

I also can not believe that our ability to reason is limited to the point where we need God to tell us not to kill each other. I believe that man's morals along with our view of God has evolved throughout history. Now that we live in a global community we have to think on a global scale. It's not about which tribe's ethics will dominate but how can we keep our GLOBAL tribe from committing suicide. Man can not be completely dependent on the divine for morality or else Atheist would be the most immoral people on the planet for rejecting all things divine. And I really don't see how a lack of belief in the divine leads to any immorality. Atheist share a similar belief using reason as a guide to morality, except they do away with God and faith altogether.

In the end mankind chooses what ethics and morals to follow regardless of the source. I believe we have the ability to evolve without God although I don't believe that God would ever disappear from man's heart (or even mine for that matter). Faith is part of what makes us human. Even Atheists have faith: faith in love, compassion, reason, justice, and the human spirit. So even if God did violate the Prime Directive and decided to meddle with humanity's evolution to cause us to be more loving, respectful, and compassionate to our fellow man, does it really matter? As long as we are headed in the right direction does it matter if God gave us a helpful nudge or not? I don't know. I can't imagine a world without faith. It seems that man naturally yearns for God even in pagan religions. On the other hand, man has committed the most horrendous atrocities in the name of God throughout history. To take a pinch of wisdom from South Park, even without religion man would find other reasons to fight his brother. Are we doomed? No, not yet, I'm sure someone from the Federation will time travel back to save us from complete annihilation, but of course this would be a violation of the Temporal Prime Directive. Oh well.

Live long and prosper.

Also: Check this recent post on The Spirituality of Star Trek over at the Science Fiction Gospel blog.


Don Rogers said...

You posit an interesting scenerio. It does, though, seem to me deistic at its core. My view of God, our Source has changed so much in the last five years that I view him/her/it dramatically different than in my "previous life". I wrote a post some time ago on the subject of how I now view the Source. If you are interested, here's the link:
Eruesso, I really like your line of thinking. I find it expresses many of my same thoughts and at the same time piques my imagination, and curiosity. I like being challenged now. Something I was really uncomfortable with just a few years ago. Thanks for your thought-provoking posts.

Eruesso said...

It is deistic because honestly that is where I am now in my journey. I hit the reset button on my religious views on God (as humanly possible) years ago and started from scratch so that I can look at all faiths as unbiased as possible. I don't think I'll always hold a deistic position, and in fact have been increasingly interested in the Eastern view on the Divine. I am always welcome to change and new thought. I write only on what I know, and I hope I may learn more so that I may write more on all beliefs. Thanks again for all of your comments.

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