Well that’s along story and considering I was a baby sitting on my mother’s lap when it came out and I first got into Trek. I remember being four y.o., sitting in a lazy boy watching Spock get sprayed by a flower and acting weird- for him that is. Of course by this time it was in reruns. Hold on to your seats, because we are going on a Trek and keep in mind the old (Catholic?) saying, “Give us a child before s/he is seven and when s/he old s/he will never depart.” So, I guess you could say it was both, for Gene “helped” to raise me and I can not talk about any one of the subjects without the others.
Excuse the life story here, but to speak of Trek and Humanism is to talk about my life’s journey (or Trek) into Humanism too. Even as a child you will see that, like Gene, I grew into Humanism. So, here we go on a “Trek” that I’ve always attributed to Gene (my mentor, who is like a father):
I was six y.o. when I found Dr. Spock in my mother’s bookcase and asked my mother when Spock became a doctor. She explained they were two different people. :( Oh. I wanted Spocky to be a doctor too. She raised me on Dr. Spock and had no idea the man was a Humanist too.
She and I were in love with Scotty though. We just loved his accent and swooned when we heard it.
Those early years my parents did not go to church and my bio-father was an Atheist- not a very good Atheist though. I had a great uncle who was a Free Methodist minister, who had forever long alter calls the scared the hell out me and I wanted to run the other direction. My grandmother was Church of God and I found that just as frightening at times. We only went to church when we visited them and being an only child I was privy to adult conversations.
Gene had a few quotes that are very fitting here- like the one about false prophets and alike, but I won’t post them now.
However, the most wonderful great uncle (another one) was one who was a medic in WWII. During this time, he became an Atheist. Whoever started that lame saying, “There are no Atheists in foxholes” never met my uncle Lawrence. He was a real dear. He taught children after the war and always had a smile on his face when I saw him- as long as the adults didn’t talk about war or God. He gave me hugs and never said a cross word to me when I saw him. He never scary, never pounded me with the Bible or anything else. He was one of the better adults in my life, yet the rest of my family spoke badly about him behind his back because he was not a Christian. Such hateful words, yet were ultra friendly (two-faced) around him. Who was the better adult? :?
Now, here is another twist in the mess, my bio-father, an Atheist too, was very abusive and it was also at an early age, after watching all these adults, that I knew there was no devil causing them to do evil. They did it themselves, but yet after one of my bio-father’s “tantrums” I looked into my loving and sympathetic pets eyes and found “transcendence”. At the time, I considered “It” god. I was too little to know about the chemistry that occurs in the amagdyla and frontal lobe that caused these feelings that were numinous and transcendent ; triggered by external things. However, this being had no form or shape, it just was much like the wind and was very much a part of nature. I never once thought of it as the same god my family thought of either. It was different, yet I knew of it- whatever it was.
My FM great uncle sat at the dinner table criticizing various members of his congregation, yet while in seminary, he had a son out of wedlock and was not allowed to preach at some FM churches. They held it against him most of his life. It made no sense that he would talk about people behind their backs in such a cruel way when he himself was treated so badly and had made mistakes too. :? My atheist great uncle never spoke an unkind word about anyone, but my FM great uncle was always talking badly about others. Think about it.
Meanwhile, my friends and I played Star Trek on the playground at school. My best friend and I argued over who would play Uhura and I’d end up pretending to be Nurse Chapel. Little did she know I got the better character, because she went on to marry Gene and play Lwaxana. :D Not only that, but when I was seven, I was lying down in the back seat of a Vega (I’m short), looking up at the sky, with Trek and our space history in mind, thinking, “We’ve been to the moon and back. God isn’t there. So, where is God?” I was a freethinker even then and this brought into question my grandmother and FM great uncle’s beliefs, which I knew better than to speak about ever without their wrath coming down on me. NOT God’s wrath, for that god didn’t do ANYTHING and wasn’t anywhere. It was people who did the cruelities of the world, not some invisible demon, and I knew it. Little did I know, at the time, it was Gene’s myth busting that helped with this idea.
It was not until I was about 14 y.o. that I knew Roddenberry got his ideas from some where and did some research concerning “we strive to better ourselves” “For the greater good…”, the IDIC, etc. I found out he was a Humanist. The greater good saying was right there too in the Humanist Manifesto as well as many other sayings that Gene had said in Star Trek. It was also around this time that my mother was “born again” and “saved” at my FM great uncle’s church. She immediately had me baptized in a river, by my him. My life did not change after that, I was still me, only with swimmer’s ear.
Well, I manage to get a hold of some Humanist literature shortly after all of this and one day I was reading it in my room. My mother caught me and took it away saying, “That’s not Christian!” I never saw it again and can only assume she disposed of it. However, I knew better than to tell her what I knew about Gene or I would never have any form of contact with the man again- even if it was via TV, books, and magazines. I guess you could say I was leading a secret life, even then, but what is a minor to do? :(
About this time she also took me to a Lutheren Church because she knew I would rebel against a Fundamentalist church. When I left home at 19, I became Episcopalian, mainly to keep my family off my back, but I knew I was the black sheep of the family because I did not/do not believe as they did/do. I knew my beliefs were vastly different.
9/11 happened and I got so sick and tired of people blaming it on God. God had NOTHING to do with it! Humans did it! This goes right back to my early years where I saw all the cruel things Humans did. There was no god or demon involved with the behaviours of humans.
I stumbled on to Bishop John Shelby Spong while in the Episcopal church. Wonderful man he is, and I soon found out there was nothing wrong with me because I did not see god as my family did. There was nothing wrong with me because I found so many things in the Church, like the Crucifixion and Communion, as barbarism and cannibalism. However there was a difference between Jack and me. He loved the Bible, but I hated it. I only read the N.T. from front to back once as a teen and the O.T. once in an O.T. Parallels class in college. The O.T. Parallels class was taught by a memeber of my church (Episcopal) at the university. I discovered in that class, which I was taking to get my first degree (in my late 20s with two babies after a divorce) and for credit in Humanities or something like that, that the Bible came from, just as I suspected, mythology to make a long story short and became very disillusioned from it. I eventually stopped going to church due to and because of all that I have learned and became disillusioned with.
I was also raising my sons on Star Trek: The Next Generation about this time too. This is also when I went back to studying Humanism, in my 20s. I had long since internalized Gene’s values, but I was learning even more through my studies and watching TNG.
While reading Spong, I was also studying Humanism, but this time I was in my mid to late 30s. Then I read something he wrote that sounded a lot like Humanism and wrote him about it, without telling him I was also studying Humanism or a Humanist. His reply was, “Humanism is not anti-Christian or anti-God. It is through the human that we experience the Holy, The Other. The Divine is the Ultimate (a word I can’t read due to his handwriting) of the human.” It hit home even more. The one man who understood how I viewed “god”, accepted that I was a Humanist without critism or hatred. The other difference between Jack and me is that I don’t call it the “Ground of All Being”, but rather “It” or transcendence because it is part of the natural world due to brain chemistry and alike- referring back to science.
Now mind you, for those who have not read Spong, this is NOT a supernatural God he is talking about. It is the same god that Dawkins mentions occassionally. Spong has met Dawkins and he even says he and Dawkins believe in the same god. What he talks about is like the wind, but other than that, it’s hard to explain. Spong is a non-Theist. What he said hit home and I felt normal, but unlike him, because I could not accept the Bible for anything more than myth, BUT he also taught me more reasons as to why it was not worth anymore than research into the human mind- the Psychology of Religion. There are too many details about that to go into right now.
Life has taught us that theism is dead. There is no supernatural God directing the affairs of history. Atheism, however, is not the only other viable conclusion. Supernatural theism is nothing but a human definition of God. ~ John Shelby Spong
My answer was Humanism- the very thing Gene taught me (everyone). Even my second husband and I agreed Star Trek was “like” a religion. Thing is, he didn’t know what I knew about Trek and that was also Humanism.
Sometime during TNG (sixth season I believe), my beloved Gene died. :( I didn’t get to attend his funeral celebration, but even so, I was crushed. He lived on, though, in his interview in the Humanist magazine, Star Trek, and through Majel and Rod. I had internalized everything Gene sent via his message using the media and studied it well over the years. As much as I appreciated Spong and his works, I could not and can not accept his views about the Bible, but I could accept Gene’s ideas fully.
It was long about this time, I finally claimed Humanism as mine. I realized what was happening between the religious and me was that I did not believe as they did, but rather as a Humanist. I was a Humanist. I am a Humanist, just like Gene and his family and little to my mother’s knowledge, I was raised as a Humanist.
Gene helped to raise me because he was so prolific in my life, all my life from 4 or 5 months on to this very day. My studies in Psychology helped too, but it was Gene who taught me everything I needed to know about life. It’s not just a saying for me, but very true and I love the man very dearly. He’s like a father to me, my mentor, even though I never got the chance to meet him. I had clung to his teachings at an early age, even when life was so bad and humans were so cruel. Not once did I ever cling to an anthropomorphic god, but rather to Gene’s teachings. It was my inner drive that helped me through life. Everything I did, I did myself and I knew it- not some invisable deity. Even as a teen, I did it to better my situation in life.
I joined the Roddenberry board and the wonderful admin gave me permission to bring up some controversial issues- like religion. This of course got me nailed a few times (still does) by the very few right-wingers on the board, but it brought the board to life again, which the admin says she appreciates, and I grew even more into Humanism. Gene is (mentally) still with me and his teachings still guide me through life and now I feel closer to him as I study more and more of Humanism. I feel closer to him and his family just by being on his board and as I continue to grow into Humanism.
Once one of the right-wingers, who has now left because he could not hang, caused a big explosion on the board due to what I had said about something. It got to the point that others were discussing his behaviour on the board, which was very verbally abusive towards me. He even accused me of not being a Christian- no, I’m a Humanist. The admin explained to me Rod’s (Gene’s son) desire was to allow everyone to speak what was on their mind. I saw what she said as being an Open Society and I made a comment concerning an Open Society, the greater good, and IDIC that was well appreciated by the admin. She liked what I said, but I don’t know if she knew I was “preaching” Humanism and when I posted it, Gene was mentally with me- his memories, his ideas, everything. If Rod ever saw it, before the thread was deleted, he knew what it was.
I’m still growing into Humanism and still learning about it, but I have Gene to thank for starting me on that path long before I was seven, Dr. Benjermin Spock (not Mr. Spock) for his words of wisdom to my mother in his books, and Spong for showing me I was normal along this long continuing Trek. My mother did not know it and still does not know it, but I was raised a Humanist because of these influences. So, for me, Gene, Star Trek, and Humanism are one in the same to me and I can not talk about one without the others. I can honestly say that Gene indirectly helped to raise me via Star Trek and Humanism. So, Gene, Star Trek, and Humanism is all one in the same to me. I love that man, even though he is gone.