March Meeting Review “The Humanism of Star Trek”

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By James Zimmerman

Photo of Scott speaking at the podium, wearing a Star Trek shirt.

At the March 15th meetings, attendees were treated to Scott Lohman’s presentation of “The Humanism of Star Trek”. As both the President of the Humanists of Minnesota and a life-long Star Trek fan, Scott was certainly qualified to deliver such a presentation. And he didn’t just talk Trek: he delivered his presentation while in Starfleet uniform and came equipped with Trek gadgetry.

Scott’s talk began in the nineteenth century, wherein Scott detailed the origins of science fiction. He noted that creators of science fiction soon discovered that they could tell stories that pushed the edge of cultural norms and comment on social issue in a safe setting – where such heavy topics were disguised in science fiction.

Scott gave a mostly chronological overview of the Star Trek universe. He related the beginnings of Star Trek: how atheist Gene Roddenberry created and then pushed for the show to be produced. He then discussed the original series, the animated series, the motion pictures, the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise. In each case, Scott drew attention to episodes that took on matters of faith and the supernatural, such as “Who Mourns for Adonis”, from the original series, in which the characters refuse to worship a god they’ve discovered, and “Death Wish” from Voyager, in which an omnipotent being fights for his right to die (as eternity is a long, long time). Scott also cited episodes which dismissed gods as merely more advanced (but non-supernatural) beings, such as the original series’ “The Return of the Archons”, in which the ‘god’, Landru, turns out to be a computer, and the Next Generation’s “Devil’s Due” in which the being portraying herself as the devil is simply a powerful charlatan.

Scott reminded everyone that, should they want more Star Trek, they need only wait until May 8th. The eleventh Star Trek motion picture is scheduled for release on that day.

Scott quickly noted the top-rated episodes of each series. For those who missed it, here they is the top rated episode from each series:

  • Star Trek: The Original Series – “The City on the Edge of Forever”
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation – “Yesterday’s Enterprise”
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – “Duet”
  • Star Trek: Voyager – “Scorpion”
  • Star Trek: Enterprise – “In a Mirror Darkly”
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