When Enterprise Tried to Do Religion

In the Enterprise episode “The Forge”, Archer and T’Pol talk about the teachings of Surak:

“Over the centuries, his followers made copies of his teachings.”
“Let me guess: With the originals lost, whatever’s left is open to interpretation.”
“You find this amusing.”
“I find it familiar.”

Is this what passes for criticism of religion in Star Trek? Archer seems to have invoked the popular “copy of a copy of a copy” fallacy, to which I recently responded in Metafilter thusly:

Someone who makes a claim like this either hasn’t done his homework or is deliberately using a contentious straw man. The bibles we read today are accurate (or at least close-to-accurate) copies of manuscripts close to the originals that were circulated through the early church. The authenticity of these documents is backed up by archaeological evidence and simple church tradition. There hasn’t been a slow degradation through centuries because biblical scholars base their translations on the earliest possible material that they can. If changes ever crept into the process, they would have been noticed immediately against the backdrop of thousands of other copies of the same manuscript.

The different translations you see circulating today are updates for language or paraphrases of hard-to-translate Greek and Hebrew, with footnotes for any possible discrepancies. It doesn’t make sense to accuse Christians of using a Bible whose meaning has been deteriorated by time; we’re essentially reading translations of the same texts used by Christians at the start of the church — although now we have the benefit of footnotes, printing, binding, concordances, and the intarweb.

Also see this TrekNation review of “Chosen Realm” — another attempt to introduce religion into a Trek plotline — in which the reviewer exclaims, “The level of contempt suggested here for organized religion is staggering.”

Yet another good thing about Enterprise being cancelled, I suppose: we’re spared these Star Trek writers’ ham-fisted attempts at contemptuous, off-base critiques of issues of faith.


  1. Noelle says:

    Those Enterprise writers and some people I’ve encountered online lately must have been on the same stuff. :) That copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy fallacious argument is used whenever discussions of the Bible surface in online fora. Thing is, when I did try to assert the Bible’s authenticity, I got attacked for being a brainwashed moron. :( You can lead a horse to water, but it won’t drink unless it wants to.

  2. Well, to be fair, just about EVERYTHING on “Enterprise” was done with at least a moderate degree of ham-fistedness.

    In my household, a running joke during the Xindi story arc would be when my housemate Paul and I would have whole conversations speaking the way the Xindi “Degra” did: clenched teeth, barely restrained anger and that! way! of! speaking! that! suggested! we! had! to! kill! the! humans! now!