Revelations on Having the Human Touch
This discussion will begin a series that uses the mythology created by the record-breaking works from Gene Roddenberry called Star Trek. I can’t think of a piece of science fiction that has had more impact on the direction of human thought than this collection of stories. Some of the terms that we just naturally use in everyday language were first used in Star Trek. For instance, humanoid and voice messaging. In some cases, some people have taken on the mythology created by Star Trek as their new religion. Sadly, some have even taken it to the extreme of giving death threats to writers if the characters whom the fans adore die.
We also have the phenomenon of spurring technological advance. New technology looks strangely familiar to the devices used in the episodes and movies. Another achievement is its ability to go from TV show to feature film successfully and to be explored by international audiences. Now there is rumor that more men like this show than women, so I guess I am one of those anomalous figures who actually enjoys the mythology. Why? Great storytelling! Heroic characters! A playground of discovery! There is also a rumor that atheists run with this mythology as proof of God’s non-existence as if Christianity or any faith in the supernatural has no place in its science mythology. On the contrary, Star Trek mythology is permeated with the search for something deeper, more authentic, and in its search, it discovers, accidentally or not, eternal truths.
Let’s delve into the story of their first feature film. The gist of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is that logic is not enough. Logic alone lacks human-ness. One of the most beloved characters–Spock–struggles with this idea throughout the episodes and feature films. He is half human and half Vulcan. Vulcan’s rely heavily on logic, like the Stoics of real human history. It comes at the cost of losing affection, the emotions, and the passions, all that which helps a person move, live, and have being.
This story in particular draws out that point because the V-ger (Voyager 6 sent by NASA) seeks only information. It has amassed all of the information of the universe, but it is still missing something. It knows everything about the physical universe, mathematically and scientifically, but there are things that it still cannot comprehend. The crew surmises that Logic has the inability to leap, to have the human touch. It cannot stand alone without becoming just an indifferent machine that kills just to learn. It has not evolved into a human being. This contrast between what is human and what is not is also carried into the Next Generation when the Star Trek crew under Jean-Luc Picard encounters the Borg (a topic for a future article).
So what are some other parts of a being that Logic alone lacks? In Rhetoric, the other elements that would be known to be missing are pathos and ethos. These are the two other elements that help to create better stories, better writings, and better oration–better communication. The three combined make the story more human. Logic cannot live the story without having emotions and ethical dimensions, otherwise it becomes inhumane. The Church Fathers would call this error Rationalism–the over-trust in one dimension of the human intellect at the cost of all the others. As Kirk would say Logic by itself lacks an inherently “Human quality. Our capacity to leap beyond logic.” In Christianity, Jesus is the One Person who is Most Human among all of us. He has all three aspects and then some…
Let’s turn to theology to learn more about the affections and their ability to connect us to our ethical and logical dimensions:
The Stoics, as St. Augustine remarks, denying that the wise man can have passions, appear to have confessed that he has affections, which they term eupathies, or good passions, or, as Cicero called them, constancies: for they said the wise man did not covet but desired, had not glee but joy; that he had no fear, but only foresight and precaution, so that he was not moved except by reason and according to reason: for this cause they peremptorily denied that a wise man could ever be sorrowful, that being cause by evil, whereas no evil can befall a wise man, since no man is hurt but by himself, according to their maxim. And truly, Theotimus, they were not wrong in holding that there are euphathies and good affections in the reasonable part of man, but they erred much in saying that there were no passions in the sensitive part, and that sorrow did not touch a wise man’s heart: for omitting the fact that they themselves were troubled in this kind (as was just said), how could it be that wisdom should deprive us of pity, which is a virtuous sorrow and which comes into our hearts in order to make them desire to deliver our neighbor from the evil which he endures?…
Now these affections which we feel in our reasonable part are more or less noble, according as their objects are more or less sublime, and as they are a more eminent department of the spirit: for there are affections in us which proceed from conclusions gained by experience of our senses; others by reasonings from human sciences; others from principles of faith; and finally there are some which have their origin from the simple sentiment of the truth of God, and acquiescence in His will. The first are called natural affections, for who is he that does not naturally desire health, his provision of food and clothing, sweet and agreeable conversation? The second class of affections are named reasonable, as being altogether founded upon the spiritual knowledge of reason, by which our will is excited to seek tranquility of heart, moral virtues, true honour, the contemplation of eternal things. The third sort of affections are termed Christian, because they issue from reasonings founded on the doctrine of Our Lord, who makes us love voluntary Poverty, perfect Chastity, the glory of heaven. But the affections of the supreme degree are named divine and supernatural because God Himself spreads them abroad in our spirits, and because they regard God and aim at him, without the medium of any reasoning, or any light of nature, as it will be easy to understand from what we shall say afterwards about acquiescences and affections which are made in the sanctuary of the soul. And these supernatural affections are principally three: the love of the mind for the beautiful in the mysteries of faith, love for the useful in the goods which are promised us in the other life, and love for the sovereign good of the Most Holy and Eternal Divinity.
–St. Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God
The interior voice of a human being, within whose heart the inner law of God is inscribed.
Moral conscience is a judgment of practical reason…It moves a person at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil (CCC 1777-8).
Moral perfection consists in man’s being moved to the good not by his will alone, but also by the sensitive appetite, as in the words of the psalm: “My heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.” (1770)
In the Christian life, the Holy Spirit Himself accomplishes His work by mobilizing the whole being, with all its sorrows, fears and sadness…(1769)
“To love is to will the good of another.” –Thomas Aquinas
Humans love stories. We listen to stories, read stories, watch stories. Many of us would like to have our own story. Mythology is a type of story. It is a wonderful way to explore ideas, explore the consequences of certain ideas, reveal human nature, and maybe even get people to think in a new direction. With mythology, writers can creatively grasp certain universal truths that are otherwise hidden. In short, the myth tends to know what is unknowable. How does mythology do this?
In the words of Chaucer, the best story is that of “best sentence and moost solas.” It is not only woven together well, but it also has more to offer. Sir Philip Sidney suggests that “Poesy [story, literature] therefore is an art of imitation, for so Aristotle termeth it in the word mimesis—that is to say, a representing, counterfeiting, or figuring forth—to speak metaphorically, a speaking picture—with this end, to teach and delight.” Good stories not only entertain, but they also teach something. Mythology has a profound way of doing this. This series is devoted to delving into the mythology created by movie and other visual media makers.
Christological will be a frequently referenced concept.
The education of conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart (1784).
 Jeff Cavins’ The Bible Timeline: The Story of Salvation
 Theology of the Body reference notes, p. 91
 from the “General Prologue” in Canterbury Tales
 from “The Defense of Poesy”