The other night, I re-watched the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “Who Watches The Watchers.” This is probably the episode that most obviously deals with religion and has become a favorite among atheists.
In the episode, a science team studying a primitive race is discovered and the cultural contamination rekindles the native’s ancient beliefs in a supernatural “overseeing.” While the whole episode takes jabs at religion, these two scenes stand out:
I love this episode for exposing mainstream audiences to the reality that religion really is silly and holding society back. Although, there is another episode that I think makes a much better argument against religion… or at least against why a large number of religious believers have become religious. It is an episode I frequently cite to religious believers in discussions. That episode is “Devil’s Due.”
In the episode, the Enterprise is called to a planet, where the people are in a state of panic out of fear of an ancient prophecy predicting the eminent return of the Devil. As Captain Picard attempts to reassure the leader of this world that the Devil doesn’t exist, she arrives.
There is a great scene in the episode after Picard challenges Ardra (The Devil) in a court-like mediation. Picard points out who is really responsible for the society’s “miraculous” recovery. According to the ancient prophecy, 1000 years ago, the society was in bad shape and the people made a deal with the Devil to fix things. Picard expertly showed that Ardra didn’t actually fix anything and that it was really the people themselves that saved their own planet.
Substitute the Devil for God or Jesus and you get the conversion story of so many Christians who claim to have hit bottom. I meet Christians all the time who tell me about how they were addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex, porn, and partying. They claim that their addiction was so powerful that it almost destroyed their lives, but then Jesus came and miraculously saved them just as Ardra miraculously saved the society of Ventax 2. But in the end, the miracle wasn’t performed by some supernatural being at all; it was just a lot of hard work and self-determination.
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- Is Sci-Fi A Vaccine Against Religion? (skepticink.com)
- Demons, Witches, and Warlocks… Oh My! (skepticink.com)