After Star Trek: Enterprise concluded in 2005, Star Trek went on hiatus until the 2009 film Star Trek and its sequels. With the success of these films, Star Trek returned to the small screen with series like Discovery, Picard, and Strange New Worlds. These films and series, in different ways, reflect cultural shifts in Western society. Theology and Star Trek gathers a group of scholars from various religious and theological disciplines to reflect upon the connection between theology and Star Trek anew. The essays in part one, “These are the Voyages,” explore the overarching themes of Star Trek and the thought of its creator, Gene Roddenberry. Part two, “Strange New Worlds,” discusses politics and technology. Part three, “To Explore and to Seek,” focuses on issues related to practice and formation. Part four, “To Boldly Go,” contemplates the future of Star Trek.
Shaun C. Brown (PhD, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) is associate minister at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Garland, TX and an adjunct professor at Johnson University and Hope International University.
Amanda MacInnis Hackney (PhD, Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) served as a college and seminary course instructor for seven years, teaching classes in theology, spiritual formation, and ethics. She is the architect and curator of the Women and Theology Research Database.
Part One: These are the Voyages
1. Gods and Theology in the Star Trek Universe: The First Commandment and the Prime Directive James F. McGrath
2. Critique and Creativity: Canonicity and Mythos in Star Trek and Religion Timothy Harvie
3. Star Trek, Time Travel, and the Problem of Evil: A Science Fiction Theodicy Michael J. Stell
4. This was your Ritual: Theology, Crypto-Theology, Star Trek, and the Teleological Limits of the Study of Religion
5. The Future of the Future of Humanity: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Star Trek
6. Starfleet’s AWOL Chaplain: Why Star Trek’s Federation Lacks Chaplains Robert C. Stroud
Part Two: Strange New Worlds
7. Malfunction and Transcendence: Machines, Free Will, and Spiritual Transformation in
8. Borg Eschatology and Alien Flesh: Theological Anthropology and the Limits of the Human
Brett David Potter
9. Context is For Kings: Existential Threats, Carl Schmitt, and Political Theology in
Star Trek: Discovery
10. Help Save the Whales, Help Save our Selves: The Participatory Confluence of Social and Ecological Salvation as a Voyage Home in Star Trek IV Christopher Hrynkow
11. Personhood and Theology in the Case of Data of the USS Enterprise W. Craig Streetman
12. The Devil of Many Names: Ardra and the Problem of the Use of the Term ‘Demon’ to Other Civilizations Tupá Guerra
13. Becoming Gods Zachary B. Smith
14. Building Bashir: The Science and Ethics of Gene Editing in Deep Space Nine
Michael Buttrey and Leah DeJong
Part Three: To Explore and To Seek
15. Seven Deadly Sins in the Delta Quadrant Siobhan Benitez
16. Fundamentalism and Openness in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Timothy Harvie and Michael R. MacLeod
17. “Peldor Joy”: Liturgies of Rest in the Star Trek Universe Amanda MacInnis Hackney
18. These are Our Stories: Narrative Moral Formation in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Alasdair MacIntyre
Shaun C. Brown
19. Identity and Moral Personhood in Star Trek, Deep Space 9, and Picard
Peter M. J. Hess
20. The Telos of Humanity: Star Trek in Dialogue with Hebrews Timothy J. Bertolet
The contributors to Theology and Star Trek have boldly gone to the final frontier of inquiry about the franchise’s treatment of religion, from Gene Roddenberry’s depiction of classical gods as alien travelers to the spiritual practices of Vulcans, Klingons, and Bajorans in later series. Important themes discussed include free will, ecology, and transhumanism, among many others. These essays enhance Star Trek’s optimistic hope for a future in which humans and non-humans work together while respecting our infinite diversity in infinite combinations.
The Star Trek multiverse is one of late modernity’s defining explorations of science fiction’s great “What if?” question. For far too long, scholars have ignored the extraordinary depth of religious feeling and the ways in which it defines not only Earthbound cultures, but those beyond our solar system. Theology and Star Trek makes another bold essay into the strange new worlds of the religious imagination.