On Star Trek: The Original Series

We Find the One Quite Adequate

Religious Attitudes in Star Trek
By Michael A. Burstein

In the third season of Star Trek, the episode “Is There in Truth No Beauty?” (3-5) introduced the Vulcan concept of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, abbreviated as IDIC. IDIC was their philosophy of respecting the differences of others.

If Star Trek stood for anything, it stood for that concept, the idea that people (and aliens) existed with different customs, cultures and beliefs, and that this diversity needed to be respected. IDIC was an expression of the governing philosophy behind the show: humanity had survived the turmoil of the 1960s and had gone to the stars as a united planet.

The crew of the ship reflected the diversity of the future. The members of the senior staff included all races and backgrounds: Uhura, an African woman, was a senior officer, and starting in the second season, Pavel Chekov, a Russian, joined the crew. To the American audience of the time, a Russian was probably much more alien than a Vulcan.

But it seems that one aspect of our culture that did not travel with us was religion. In fact, the attitude of the original Star Trek series toward religion was less one of respect for diversity and more one of disdain.

There are four places we can look to determine the religious attitudes found in Star Trek: the religious behavior of the crew, the religious behavior of other Federation humans, the religious behavior of aliens, and the godlike beings found roaming about the Star Trek universe.

I. Religious Behavior among the Crew and Members of  …

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