May 20, 2009

Unscience Fiction

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 8:54 pm by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

I went to see the latest Star Trek movie this past week. It was lots of fun, but I came away wondering again why fantasy with spaceships, but no science of any sort, is called “science-fiction?”

Of course the original Trek series often played loose and free with science.  For example they never took trouble to explain phasers that vaporized bodies down to their shoe soles, without effecting anything near them.  But the latest movie had strange “red matter” that was never explained in any way, starships being built on a planet’s surface (very illogical), huge shuttle bays on a small ship, inexplicable water works on a starship, magic mathematical equations, planets (Vulcan and Delta Vega) that are way too close to one another, (and what does “delta vega” mean?)  etc. etc.  There was, literally, no science ever used or mentioned except in some questions for Vulcan kids being tested in school.

The point is that we communicate our values in the stories we tell.  Unitarians and Unitarian Universalists have long valued integrity between science and religion.  We have long insisted that supernatural ideas be taken with a grain of agnosticism and that science is of great value.  Many of UUs have loved Star Trek shows because they blended science and religion in fun ways (“Who Morns for Adonis,” “The Apple,” to name two original series episodes off the top of my head).  Often there were strange “spiritual” elements that were explained in pseudo-scientific terms, like the energy existence of the Organians, but there was also real science, and the portion of that increased through the Next Generation and beyond.

Now a movie is made with no science at all.  And we wonder why Kansas schools and others are trying to present religious ideas like Creationism (AKA “intelligent design”) as if they were good science!