Scott Lohman – Star Trek and Humanism

May 30, 2011

Do you often wish you lived in the far future? Or on a different planet? Do your friends and family think you belong there, too?

Cheer up! This may not be just because you’re a science fiction nerd! It may be because you espouse a worldview that is in the distinct minority in our time and place—Secular Humanism! It is a vision of a better future. And that is no doubt why many of us feel such an affinity for SF, and of course for Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. It is a vision of a future when scientific Humanism has prevailed.

Join Robert Price, himself a notorious Sci-Fi/Fantasy geek, as he interviews the far more respectable Scott Lohman, a lifelong Trekker and a prominent leader and broadcaster for Humanists of Minnesota.

And by the way, did you know Captain Kirk never once said the words “Beam me up, Scottie”?

This is point of inquiry for Monday, May 30th, 2011. 

Welcome to Point of inquiry. I’m Robert Price point of inquiry is the radio show and the podcast of the Center for Inquiry, a think tank advancing reasons, science and secular values and public affairs and at the grass roots. Scott Lowman is the current chancellor of the High Council of the Humanists of Minnesota, a 26 year old group affiliated with both the American Humanist Association and the Council for Secular Humanism. He hosts and produces the access cable TV program Humanist Views, editions of which can be found on the Web site at Humanists of Minnesota dot org. That is Humanists of M Airmen dot org. Besides that, Scott is a rotating host and interviewer for the Minnesota Atheists Radio program Atheists Talk. Mr. Lohman is a life long connoisseur of science fiction. Starting early with the Tom Swift’s junior series, he’s a fixture at local science fiction convention Minniecon. For the past 28 years, he even chairs his own small local convention called Diversey Khan. Welcome to Point of Inquiry, Scott Lowman. 

Thank you, Bob Scott. 

How old were you when you first became a science fiction fan? 

Yeah, I’ve got a feeling I was pretty young on that because I was born in 1960. And I can remember being interested in, you know, the science fiction, the spaceships, the Rockets, which was really big at that time, and playing that with my friends in in grade school. So in fourth, fifth, sixth grade. So it’s got to be when I was in my, you know, late before even before 10. I had an interest in it. 

Yeah, I have a picture. My parents took of one Christmas morning when I was a little shaver and probably around the same time where I’ve got a ads like a I guess an astronaut zip suit, a helmet on my head, probably a ray gun and a bunch of various great robot toys they had out at the time a day. It was it was a great time to be a science fiction fan. As a kid, though, was years before I read anything. What was the first thing you read as a young man? 

I read sometimes Walt was trying to find the title, but the one I remember the most is is A Revolt on Alpha Centauri by Robert Silverberg. 

And this was an old, cheap paperback that was in my sixth grade teacher’s library. And at the end of the year, he was going to let people bid for the books, you know, and there wasn’t anything besides like, you know, play money we were using. And I was so worried that somebody else was gonna outbid me on that one. I should not have worried. 

But also my mother got me up. And even as a baby, she had me up watching the first U.S. astronaut flights. So she kind of did that, even though later on she says, you know, maybe I shouldn’t have gotten them up for those things. 

Yeah. Was science fiction a factor in your becoming an atheist stand or humanist then? In what age did that happen, by the way? 

It is definitely a factor in that because I was reading into my teens and I fortunately managed to dodge the bullet getting Atlas Shrugged at that age and instead went for the Lord of the Rings. And then, as with the Tom Swift junior series, which is put out by the same people that would put out the Hardy Boys. 

And then, as I say, I moved on to the hard stuff from there. So like stranger in a strange land without it. By that point dune. And those are things that got me thinking. And then to apply those skills, to start looking at real life and looking at my religion from there. So, yeah, it was definitely a factor to my becoming and I believe are really then faced up to that to my mid teens. But pretty much it did not. It wasn’t it was slowly going away during my early teens. 

What do your parents think of this? 

I didn’t really tell them till I was much older because my dad is was the town funeral director and so was very much involved with that. The church is there and I was also his emergency backup assistant, so was always helping him with funerals on weekends. So we were going in and out of churches all the time. So I thought it best not to mention that at that point. 

What do you suppose it is about science fiction that, shall we say in one to secularism and humanism? 

I think it’s because science fiction is often known as speculative fiction or the fiction of ideas. I like to point out that science fiction does a better job of talking about the really big ideas, not just like the lawyer thrillers, talking about all the big legal debates going on in society. But the big questions that sometimes religion takes on of, you know, who we are in a way. How did humans come to be with you over the why are we here? Questions are is Douglas Adams puts it. The ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is was found in science fiction. He would have the writers talking about that. Robert Heinlein in The Stranger in a Strange Land. Talk to a lot of those those big questions and put it in, you know, his social science fiction at that point in his career. 

Were you ever interested in just good old space opera adventure, which I admit is a bit less a matter of ideas, though? A lot of fun. 

Oh, definitely a lot of fun. I was at the in the audience at the original Star Wars, its opening weekend. So. 

Yep, that was one that was like all of us science fiction fans who had grown up with watching PBB or lower rated science fiction films with very bad special effects are the best they could do at the time of trying to convey big and powerful and that sort of stuff. And that first shot of the blockade runner being chased by the death by a star destroyer as it comes overhead still sticks in my mind as just amazing stuff. But I think you enjoy that. I’ll read that stuff as well and still will do that. But I enjoy a wide variety. I ma read towards that. The hard science fiction. End of the spectrum. 

Mm hmm. Yeah, I was there the first day back in May of 77 to see Star Wars open to. 

Did they have boxes of May the force be with you buttons at the theater you were at? 

I don’t remember that. I do remember seeing those buttons. In fact, I had one at one time. I’m not sure where it’s gone off to have being more of a Star Trek person than a Star Wars. I’ve always enjoyed sort of the rivalry between them, but I lean more on David, bring the side when it comes to discussing Star Wars or Star Trek, which I assume that’s the star dregs. He falls in the Star Trek side because I and I like to point out when I’m, you know, giving an overview talk on science fiction, and that is that it comes down to the weapons in Star Wars. You can solve your problems by chopping your enemy in half. In Star Trek, your phaser has a stun setting so you can knock them out and ask questions later. 

Mm hmm. 

If they’re if you hit him with just the light saber in the right place, nobody’s gonna be around to answer any questions. And Siddig whites will just be using guns with bullets with these blasters and so on. Exactly. Fatal shot with a flare gun. Far be it for me to complain. Yeah. 

But as far as action stuff, it’s it’s a lot of fun there. And it’s it’s a different story approach than what Star Trek did. Star Wars Moore looked at Joseph Campbell’s the hero’s quest for the basis of his stories, whereas when ROBERI was creating Star Trek, he was looking for a way to talk about the issues on television, using drama to be able to talk about big, important issues of, you know, life, politics, religion, sex, all that sort of stuff. And Star Trek was a pioneer in the original series of using an ongoing cast to talk about those issues by incorporating them into the plot where it would come out as being able to discuss that like the classic being the third seasons. Let this be your last battlefield where you’ve got the guy who’s black and white on his face and the other guy who’s black and white, but reversed. 

And even though that’s rather obvious, it’s a great way to talk about the stupidity of prejudice. 

Yeah, that is just priceless. That is so great when you think, how could these idiots not see this? And if it it’s no different than any kind of skin color preference. 

Yes. The great line is when. And it’s also when our friend Caution’s just best performances. And there’s a, you know, discussion between Perkin’s, Spock and him. And he says, well, what do you see? We’ll see in Perks’s while you’re black on one side and wet and the other. Well, what happens when you see the other guy? He’s black on one side and white on the other. 

No, he’s black. And he has whichever side it was. And that’s the difference. And Perkins, can you tell like, we don’t graph that at all? 

Yeah. The contrast between that and earlier standard brand science fiction hit me once when I was reading a Captain Future novel by I guess it was one of the ones by Edmund Hamilton. And this was in the really pretty scientific science fiction where they pictured all the worlds of the solar system with humanoid inhabitants and it and Captain Future, somebody is saying, well, you know how the Jovi ends, have orange skin in the margins, have green skin and the Plutonian is blue skin and earthlings white skin. I suddenly thought what you did say, it just struck me the obliviousness of this. I’m sure it didn’t cross Hamilton’s mind. You know what I did say at that time? 

But he was at least making an attempt at that point because. Yeah. And a lot of the science fiction writers of that era put different types of humanoids or different types of life on our solar system planets because they had a great grasp of, you know, how big the galaxy or the universe is. And but no graph above, you know, Huckabee come up with something that’s a faster than light drive. So then, bam, we still hadn’t known enough about the planets at that point where there was a possibility of it. So what the heck? Let’s take it and run with it. 

Boy, the story that I edited a book for Arkham House where I had an old Robert Block story from weird tales called Flowers from the Moon, where these astronauts go to the moon and and we find out what the real link is between the full moon and werewolves. Because when they come back, it turns out they they become werewolves because of some plant they found on the moon, because as air what they somehow didn’t know. I can’t believe the science didn’t know it then. But the writers seem to. Sheesh. Did you become a trekker? And that is the right word, right? 

That’s what I haven’t heard, that those of us who are serious fans as opposed to like we used, like to use the basement dwellers who we refer to as the Trekkies. 

Right. That’s what I figured. Yeah. 

Yeah. I’m a trekker. I have got to put myself right on the borderline. 

So I lean towards putting me as an original original series knowing it was on because I look back and my awareness of the show and I was born in 60. The show premiered in 1966 and I was talking with my friends and doing Star Trek related stuff before sixth grade. So I’m thinking that it was right in that point just before it went from its first triumph. I’d seen some episodes there, but really got to know it during the first syndication rounds. 

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Being an old codger, I remember the original broadcasting real well, it was. And of course, lost in space is on at the same time. Holy mackerel. What a difference. 

Oh, definitely. Yeah. Irwin Irwin Allen stuff is is interesting to look at now is as much more cultural of its time period than Star Trek as when you look at it, especially the contrast between the early seasons of Lost in Space and the later ones. And then his other series like Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Land of the Giants and his other attempts at doing some science fiction and time tunnel is one I’ve picked up because I fondly remembered it. It was a contemporary of Star Trek. It came on in 1966, but only lasted a season and that was really happy when they put out BBB, watched it and went all my and go with. What makes up for the sort of cliches of the way the stories were written is seeing some of the guest actors show up. There’s one with a performance by Carroll O’Connor as a general in the 1812 war set in Louisiana. That is actually a lot of fun to watch. 

You remember the one where they’re at the exodus. And I think the Lee Meriwether scientist is saying some sort of skeptical, unbelieving stuff. And then suddenly the waters part, after all, and so on. I guess they couldn’t really go against Nielsen rating piety at the time. 

Well, if the network censors Star Trek even had that in there, their reference to vague reference to Cristiana in the episode Bread and Circuses was put in there by the network because they were having a sense because that involves such an outrageous historical gaffe when they said there was no sun worship in the Roman Empire. 

Oh, yeah. Right. And like Saul and Victor’s Mithras aliens by. Yeah. 

That was the case of the writer blowing that one. But having the network stick in that other reference on. So you had that they had that going on at that time. Roddenberry for his lecture series would wrote a funny part of his lecture called A Network. A letter from a network censor about your episode. 

The Bible and Apink allow you to talk about religion, but he also talks about typical things that a network censor at that time would have required them to change. 

I remember in the one where they meet. Apollo, that’s an interesting sort of von Dannica, an idea that the gods existed, but they were aliens. But what strikes me about that is when Kirk says we find one God sufficient, that surprised me because, of course, Star Trek is supposed to be secular humanism of the future, no chaplain on board the ship, etc.. 

Correct. Yeah. Roddenberry fought to putting a chaplain onboard the ship, but I think that’s another one of the three network. You better throw that in there or there is going gonna be issues because there were some episodes of the original series that did not play in reruns in certain parts of the country, like the return of the Icons is one specifically and return to tomorrow from second season is another one where they encounter some of the remnants of some godlike beings who want the enterprise’s crew to help to build some new mechanical bodies so they can survive those two. I’ve heard stories about them not running on certain TV stations and certain parts of the country because it was hitting a little too close to them to criticism of religion. 

Mm hmm. 

Is there any truth to the rumor that originally the script for what would come out of Star Trek, the motion picture, had something to do with Kirk meeting God, which Corsi did do in the Sci Bock movie? 

Yeah, and Star Trek five. There was a lot of different things going on with Star Trek. The motion picture. There was it was actually supposed to be a pilot for Star Trek to return as part of Paramount, doing a fourth network at the time. 

And they were two weeks away from start of filming of that series when the corporation pulled the plug on the fourth network and then pulled the plug on the TV series. They actually wrote a half dozen of really fascinating scripts which are available various places, including getting some writers from the original series on that. So that really wasn’t the plan for Star Trek, the motion picture. But they had some other scripts in which they played with some godlike ideas. I believe at one point, Phillip Kaufman, who had directed the newer versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, had been signed to do a possible Star Trek movie called Planet of the Titans in which some time travel was involved. And they keep running in to the stories of this real powerful, helpful people who were rumored to be gods. And the ending turned out to be that the enterprise had been pulled through time and that these gods were the descendants of them who had been helping people throughout time. 

Hmm. Hmm. Hmm, hmm. Hmm. 

Oh, yeah. The 70s and Star Trek between the end of the original series with a quick run of the twenty two episodes of the animated series is a lot of up and down. So when people are looking at what’s going to go ahead with the next new Star Trek movie, I said, OK, here’s my rule. Wait until they start announcing a shooting date and casting and then listen to the rumors about the plot. 

Because having gone through that, Yo-Yo, up and down four or eight or nine years in that time period. Yeah, I know when to stop and listen. 

What’s your favorite? Does Star Trek series and why I don’t let anybody Naomi, down on that. 

I like them all so I can I can be an evangelist, too, so to speak, about all of the Star Trek, even the animated series, which I even will find. People said there was an animated Star Trek. Yeah, that was out in 73, 74 won an Emmy was when a Peabody for best children’s programing at the time and has an episode in which Kirk says to another powerful creature who says, We’ve grown up, we don’t need gods anymore. So they move to the point where they can say, no, we’re we’re ready to grow up. We don’t need to be babysat anymore, which I thought was really cool. And they said it on Saturday morning. 

Shock. Really? Yeah. So. 

So I can find good in all of the series, even the sometimes much myelinated lamented enterprise, their spaded, some a few good things. And it’s too bad that they had a good producer coming on board for the fourth season when both Paramount and everybody else was running out of steam on it because he was great, raring to go and starting to have some fun. But there is good stuff in all of the series. There’s also a few things where it’s like you okay, if you guys were working too hard and needed to take a little more time off prior to that point. So there’s lots of good stuff in there. And as Trekkies are, we will discuss the minutia in all of that and, you know, have fun with that kind of stuff. Mm hmm. 

You mentioned Frank Herbert’s Dune, which I’m ashamed to say I only read about 10 or 12 years ago for the first time, and I was just blown away by all six books. And the thought here is something comparable to Tolkien. Do you think that there’s much influence from Dune on Star Trek, especially Deep Space nine, or is it my imagination? 

There might be a little on that, knowing the writing producer, IRA Stephen Baer, who like to bring in all sorts of influences. It wouldn’t surprise me that he was influenced by Dune on that, especially to be able to use religion a little more in the forefront than most of the Star Trek series with the Bajaur and being a religious people who thought that the aliens in the wormhole were actually gods as opposed to aliens who live in a different timescale than the rest of us. So I think they may have borrowed from that. And it certainly did help because Louise Fletcher was just a delight, a delightful to watch. And she said she had a good time doing Star Trek Deep Space nine thing Kai when the leader of the religion throughout the entire series run so that they were able to use those themes a little closer to the forefront than in some of the other Star Trek series. 

Yeah, and that Captain Sisko was sort of it was like the voice from the outer world, like Melody’s been in Dune and the the idea of what is religious from one standpoint, being super scientific from from the other, I thought was really fascinating. And that’s somewhere where often I think our secular humanist buddies don’t want to tread because they think, perhaps rightly, that it’s giving aid too much aid and comfort to supernaturalism. But like when Narcisco gained prophetic powers but then lost them once they did a brain operation. That’s fascinating. 

Oh, yeah. Yeah. They had a lot of fun with those things, including playing very well with the fringy who Roddenberry had sort of designed one way. And they went to totally different way when the first episode premiered with them in it and then using them to play on sort of the more baser instincts of whatever being, you know, on beings where they’re always looking out for the greed, but having the head of their society go into the wormhole and having the aliens change him because they thought he was too barbaric. So instead of coming out, going for more greed, they they changed them to being nice. And he wanted to rewrite the rules of acquisition. Is the Grand Nagus the Grand Nagus, up of which Wallace Shawn played run. 

And it just looked like he was having way too much fun. 

And it seemed like they did it without any makeup. But no. Yeah. I have always wondered if there was somebody out there complaining that the Franki was a racist invention, because though they reflect that no particular group to portray a whole race, repulsive jerks was somehow social, but that was only a suspicion. And we never heard anything of the kind and not on that particular stuff. 

Just that. They had a lot of fun with playing on them as sort of a race that everybody sort of, you know, hated, but you somehow needed to use them on some days of the week. So it was up that they had fun with playing off those different pieces of it throughout the entire run and deep space nine. 

I got to ask, now that the Ciscos prophetic powers were mentioned and all the aliens quite as a intellectual, a thinker. 

Is your opinion of some of these big Star Trek themes for real? Like the likelihood of extraterrestrial intelligent life or psychic powers? 

I definitely am one that I was a believer in, that there is probably life out there someplace, whether when we run into it is just a matter of of, you know, searching in that just because, as is in the movie Contact, based on Carl Sagan, the book is it’s an awfully big universe. So on that. But I was also a UFO fanatic in my teens. And that was another thing that got me moving towards skepticism and free thinking in Athie ism is that I started seriously reading up on UFO incidents and investigating and that look in that. And as I was studying that, it’s going OK. These stories don’t match up. They’re different. These guys are seeing different things over there than those guys. And it finally came to the point. It’s like it’s just all imagination. And now I’m up to the point where it’s it’s bodies and spacecraft guys or, you know, I know how far away the nearest planets are. 

And it takes some serious technology and society to get somebody from there to here. Mm hmm. 

How about things like E.S.P or telepathy, like with Counselor Troi and people like that? Is there any chance you think that’s real? 

Those are playing on some things. And I’ve heard some on the fringes science talk about there’s something on that. But that one I’m a little more skeptical of just because I read enough about our brain to know that it’s like, you know, it’s kind of tricky for us to be able to do that, much less, you know, finding sort of a one spot where your brain is thinking about things. Mm hmm. 

Yeah, I always have mixed feelings about that, too, because it’s hardly scientific to say, well, we can’t quite see how it would work. So it doesn’t. But on the other hand, you really don’t want to let the camel’s nose under the tent and like Cho, Brian, all these pseudo science people do. So it’s a mess. 

Oh, yeah, definitely on that part of it. So, yeah, that’s why I sort of keep that pushed over to the fringy end and I’ll see if they ever come up with something reasonably serious. But in the meantime, you know, keep an eye. I’m holding out for a good warp drive. 

And Rodden Berry comes up inevitably. I’ve heard, too, I guess, contradictory things about that Gene Roddenberry when he died. I. Some news reports said that he had been a Baptist, but I’ve always heard he was a secular humanist. And perhaps they just meant that being a Baptist was his inherited religious tag. Do you know anything about his religious history or identity? 

Well, he grew up in El Paso, Texas. And, yeah, I was a Baptist family, but he had left that fairly early in life. Here he early on also ran into science fiction reading. He was reading some of the pulps. And then the early Asimov, though, was being and, you know, Clark and Hylan from the 50s. And that point. So that inevitably pushed him in that direction. That’s why he pushed it is as much as he could to actually get real science fiction writers to contribute to the original Star Trek to help on that. So, yeah, it was family was brought up as Baptist. So that’s why you would hear that. And then, yeah, he definitely moved into the the secular humanist camp, probably, you know, or he says early in his in his teens, he was leaning that direction. He just didn’t let it out. And probably his war experiences may have even pushed him further on that to. 

He was a bomber pilot of he flew. B Seventeen’s in World War Two. 

Wow. I didn’t know that. 

Yeah. And then after that, he looked to become an a airline pilot because that was something in doing. So he was flying airliners for a while and then that he sort of got soured on when he was writing back home in a plane in the back and it crashed in the Middle East and the whole flight crew was killed. And he was there helping the survivors. And so when that got, he started looking for another job. And then, you know. 

Yeah. Ended up working in Berridge. 

Yeah. So, yeah, he he had interesting things on that. And it was, you know, after that that his daughter was born to his his, you know, with his first wife. And, you know, she always wondered why he wrote he was so thankful for her being around on something. And he finally explained to her later on that that was after he’d come back from that plane crash. And so then he went and worked for the Los Angeles Police Department, both as a cop and then as a speechwriter for the chief of police. 

Yeah. When did he marry the computer voice? 

They married about round during the time actually just around the time of the first series run or just after it. 

His divorce had gone up before that, and the two of them had been an item for throughout that time period. 

And then because young Rod Granbury was born in 69, I believe on that. 

And he he’s been working on a documentary on his having to face his father’s legacy of all these crazy people who think he is his dad is is, you know, this amazing person. And he’s finally come to terms with that and is now doing his best to forward the Roddenberry name and that part of it. So it’s kind of cool and I haven’t seen it. I don’t think he’s quite released it yet. But that would be a very neat documentary to see. Mm hmm. 

Once at a conference on Humanism and War and Peace or something, I was surprised to hear a brilliant secular humanist scientist and debater whose name everybody would know here declare that our goal ought to be a one world government like on Star Trek, and that since the closest thing to it we have is the United Nations. We should just obey whatever they say. Do you think he’s right or is that taken fandom a little too far? 

I’m going to go with a little too far on that particular part of it, because my read on that is that Roddenberry is always trying to encourage thinking even within a big thing like the Federation, because there are times when he has got his crew being set up as sort of going against the grain. My favorite part of that one being Star Trek insurrection, where Picard says, well, even though the federation approved this, I’m going to go on the other side and deciding to go against the grain on that and bringing his crew with him. There were other instances where you could see sort of the big government thing and other times not depending. And those flavors ebb and flow throughout the entire series on that part where sometimes they would go, well, this is neat idea. And other times, though, there’s some scary to having some big things like that on there. So there’s not even within that. The full series, a consensus on, you know, is something as big of the federation. Really good. Or is it you know, if there’s a nice goal to aim for and see what we can do to keep it from taking too much power over the individual? 

Well, speaking of Star Trek fandom becoming fanaticism. Why do you suppose seriously, like, what would motivate anybody to learn to speak the Klingon language? Like what? Where, in your opinion, do you draw the line between fandom and fanaticism? 

That’s one of those lines that can move depending on where you’re at in the spectrum. There are people who consider me a fanatic is like, OK. No, I don’t have a Web site and no, I don’t put on makeup with my costumes. 

So there’s that. I do know some. 

Well, we have some local Klingon groups here that get dressed and have fun. And there’s a neat book that’s out called Future Perfect Star Trek Conquered the World by Jeff Greenwald. And he takes a look at how the Germans have taken the Clintons and made the Americans look like a bunch of amateurs. And people will get married in, including on uniforms, including on makeup, and they will speak Klingon. You know, the cool thing is that Michael Crann, who created the language, sort of they went up George Lucas there, he just went for gibberish with his alien languages. But Roddenberry actually brought in a linguist to make sure that the language didn’t take some word from some existing language and use it inappropriately in Star Trek. So early is a created language and. But why? People need to speak it all the time, I’m not sure. And so that’s where they you can see the fun things like in the TV series The Big Bang Theory, where the guys are having fun by playing Klingon Boggle. 

You have to spell out words only they have to be in playing on. 

Now, about this having a fault’s cognates and borrowed words, I could swear every time they say go play, they’re talking about some sort of a Jewish pastry thing. 

Yeah, everyone. Well, you got those things on that. 

I think he wanted to avoid and although it was after Star Trek, the motion picture came out where they created that in the third of the original Star Wars movies, apparently one of the words that the little guy copilot in the Millennium Falcon says as apparently not such one of those good words you want on the big screen in one of the African languages. 

So that inevitably gets them just a rah. And when that one goes by. 

Oh, boy. Well, I got to say, we’re sort of running out of time, but I cannot resist asking how would you compare the new with the newer Battlestar Galactica with Star Trek? 

I think it’s it’s it’s it plays on Star Trek’s legacy a lot because Ron Moore, who helped develop that, worked on both Star Trek, The Next Generation and Star Trek Deep Space nine. And so he took science fiction television to a new point where people were watching that, who are normally not science fiction fans because they got drawn into the drama and the ongoing story of that. And he was able to sneak in some things that way so they won’t pull it off. Plus, it really did a nice job of the original series that was such a neat concept of people on the run from total destruction. But in the original run, it sort of mutated in to sort of lost in space with bad guys on the trail. Right. Whereas in the new series, Moore was able to use a sort of ongoing war to look at the stresses on a society, the fact that you’re down to only so many bodies that you can count on and play on those big things. How does a society survive? How do your ethics go on that? And then also looking at, you know, big picture items of single God versus multiple gods and playing on a lot of those themes. 

Mm hmm. 

Well, one last thing I would be remiss not to ask, though, this could unleash a dissertation, which I wouldn’t mind. How would you sum up or describe the issues of human nature and destiny that you see in Star Trek Nemesis, where you’ve got Picard and the Clones, so you’ve got really the same guy in two different environments and then data and B four and all that. I just find it fascinating what they’re saying about human nature. What do you think they’re saying in that movie? 

Yeah, I think they’re trying to play on, you know, that that there’s a point where you know a lot with sometimes we can stop learning in life, but other points where, you know, there are ideas that will point us towards a new future and learning. And, you know, with the data portion and before, you know, data does the sacrifice and his own memories have been put in there. And it’s almost as if they’re saying, well, we can do a rebirth out of these things. But they also point out that, you know, the nature versus nurture part in Picards clone in that, you know, where how your outlook is formed by your society and that part and how that can affect your goals and your destiny on that. So, yeah, yeah. Nemesis was trying to pull off some really big themes on that part of it. Yeah. Each of the movies kind of did that by some tackling big themes with, you know, my favorite line from Star Trek five is what does God want to do with a starship? 

You know, you read my mind. Yeah. That’s got to be one of the best. 

That is still even though that that movie is is one of the more flawed ones of the original series. It’s got some great lines. That one being the best. And that was in like the best lines of the movies of the summer that year. It came out because just because there is a skeptical approach, it’s like Cantero. If you’re a God, why do you need a spaceship to get places? 

So that’s a good question. I don’t question the Almighty. 

Yeah, I should do by another great line from Dr. McCoy as well. And the other thing moving away from that I’m psyched about is that the franchise is getting a rebirth again with the new movie that came out in 2009. And now the sequel is in close to going into production later this year for 2012, sometime release the dates currently in flux. But just showing that you can take this format and give it a reboot and take it on a new run. 

Yeah. That is amazing how well they did that. I was grateful, especially in contrast to Star Trek of Gods and Men. You must have seen that. What would you think it ad that went to? 

Actually, I have not seen all of the fan productions on that. I’m working on catching up with that. But I have not had the world’s fastest Internet connection. So those I need to work on because they are there is different trends in the end where the fans want to go with things. And that’s our whole internist and phenomenon right there. That’s worth worthy of of a decent dissertation on things. 

Mm hmm. Yeah, this was a whole movie they did with some original actors, including Chekhov and Tuvok and others. And Lieutenant Hura, though I thought the script was severely muddled and well left, a lot wanting, but in odd ways it’s a bit similar to the reboot of Star Trek. But in the latter, they did everything right. Anyway, I just can’t tell you how much fun it’s been. It’s when we’ve talked about this before, formally and informally, Scuds. 

Definitely. I’ve enjoyed it, Bob. It’s always fun when, you know, I can get down and get nerdy. 

Yeah, you bet. Yeah, I. Thank you so much for being our guest on Point of Inquiry. Thank you, Bob. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of Point of Inquiry to get involved with an online conversation about today’s show. Join the online discussion forum at point of inquiry dot org. Views expressed on point of inquiry aren’t necessarily the views of the Center for Inquiry, nor its affiliated organizations. Questions and comments on today’s show can be sent to feedback at point of inquiry dot org. 

Point of inquiry is produced by Adam Isaac in Amherst, New York. And our music is composed for us by Emmy Award winner Michael Waler. Today’s show also featured contributions from Debbie Goddard on your host, Robert Price. 

Robert M. Price

Born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1954, Robert Price moved to New Jersey in 1965. At Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary he took an MTS degree in New Testament (1978), then, at Drew University, a PhD in Systematic Theology (1981) and a second PhD in New Testament (1993). He has served as Professor of Religion at Mount Olive College, North Carolina, pastor of First Baptist Church, Montclair, NJ, and Director of the Metro NY Center for Inquiry. He founded and edited the Journal of Higher Criticism and has authored scores of articles on the Bible and religion. His books include Beyond Born AgainThe Widow Traditions in Luke-ActsDeconstructing JesusThe Incredible Shrinking Son of ManThe Da Vinci FraudThe Reason-Driven LifeThe Pre-Nicene New TestamentJesus Is Dead, and The Paperback Apocalypse. Price is a Fellow of the Jesus Seminar. He served as Professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies at Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary and Professor of Biblical Criticism for the Center for Inquiry Institute in Amherst, NY. He and his wife Carol and daughters Victoria and Veronica live in Selma, NC.