Star Trek: The Motion Picture

The Gospel According to Star Trek: The Motion Picture

The opening lines of the Star Trek series begins ‘to boldly go where no one has gone before.’ As I contemplated this series I thought I might be breaking new ground – but no! Someone has already produced a book apparently on this very theme. Undaunted and a little uplifted to think I am not the only trekkie to find references to God in the annals of star date, I would like to offer some insights from the many star trek films, both old and new.

It seems only right that we should begin with the very first Star Trek movie, aptly titled ‘Star Trek: The Motion Picture.’ The movie records the return of the space probe Voyager to earth after exploring the outer limits of the galaxy for hundreds of years. The probe, which had been damaged, was found by a race of machines that reprogrammed it to learn all it could and then report back to its creator. However, on its return the probe gained so much knowledge as to achieve consciousness. Vger finds that despite all its acquired knowledge, devoid of its creator, its existence is empty and without purpose. To understand and relate with the crew of the enterprise Vger takes on the form of a crewmember named Llia. A crewmember, Decker, who is in love with Llia, merges with Vger and a new life form is created and finds fulfilment.


The message within the film is that knowledge of itself is not sufficient for complete fulfilment, which can only come from joining with our creator, God. For an essentially science based film this is quite an admission. There is so much in the world for us to learn and discover, but without a meaningful relationship with God, we will ultimately be left unfulfilled. We are not machines like Vger, but we have one thing in common, in that we have been created by a creator and given a purpose. It is the discovery of that purpose and the re-establishing of our relationship with God that leads to peace and joy. The gospel says that God came to us in the person of Jesus, so that we might relate to him and learn of him, even as Decker related to Llia. Furthermore, as we by faith give ourselves to Jesus, so God comes to live in us and we are made one with him – and so find true fulfilment. The apostle Paul writes, ‘if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has gone; the new has come.’

As we begin this new academic year, let us take every opportunity to learn and discover all we can of our world and of our God. Let us also not be satisfied with knowledge alone, but may we also seek to grow in faith and in a living relationship with God that we may discover the purpose of our lives and true fulfilment in Jesus.

John Harries (Chaplain)

Sir Thomas Boteler Church of England High School by STB