August 19, was what would have been the 98th birthday of Star Trek’s creator, Gene Roddenberry. As luck would have it, I injured my back somehow last Wednesday which put me in bed for the better part of that evening and most of Thursday. There was a Star Trek Marathon on BBC America which I can only guess was being done due to his upcoming birthday. It consisted of TOS (The Original Series), The Next Generation, as well as some Voyager thrown in. I know that these are available on Netflix, but for some reason I was compelled to watch some of the broadcast marathon. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has watched any of the Star Trek shows or movies and not seen any similarities to Freemasonry present. For the purposes of this article, I am only going to use Star Trek (The Original Series) as my example.
There’s a popular conspiracy theory that Roddenberry was a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Freemason, although there is absolutely no evidence to support this. Roddenberry considered himself a humanist. Wikipedia defines Humanism as such: Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and empiricism) over acceptance of dogma or superstition. This isn’t to say that he was an atheist, his friend Charles Muses is quoted as saying that before his death, Roddenberry stated:
“It’s not true that I don’t believe in God. I believe in a kind of God. It’s just not other people’s God. I reject religion. I accept the notion of God.”
“Understand that Star Trek is more than just my political philosophy, my racial philosophy, my overview on life and the human condition.”This being said, it’s easy to see why there’s a belief that Roddenberry might have been a Freemason. The Star Trek universe parallels many of our teachings in different ways. First and foremost, the United Federation of Planets espouses liberty, equality, justice, peace and universal cooperation. It is described in the TOS episode “Whom Gods Destroy” as being an enlightened group of humanitarians and statesmen that had a dream, which became a reality and spread throughout the stars. I think we can look at the history of our own fraternity and say something very similar. While not spread throughout the stars, Freemasonry has spread to all seven continents and the moon. (Antarctica’s first lodge Antarctic Lodge No. 777 was established on Feb. 5, 1935 by members of Admiral Byrd’s Antarctic expedition of 1933-1935. The lodge on the moon (Tranquility Lodge 2000) was created by Buzz Aldrin with special dispensation given to him by the Grandmaster of Texas. If you want to know more: http://tl2k.org/history/)
Freemasonry and Star Trek reflect the cardinal virtues. The virtues of Justice, Prudence, Temperance and Fortitude are represented by the three principal officers on TOS, Kirk, Spock and Dr. McCoy, but also by the three principal officers of the lodge. Kirk being Captain of the USS Enterprise would represent two of the virtues, namely Justice and Fortitude. Spock, being Vulcan and relying on Logic more than emotion, would represent Prudence. McCoy, whose emotion balances Spock’s logic, would represent Temperance. Parallel to this in the Lodge, The Worshipful Master would represent Justice and Fortitude, The Senior Warden Prudence, and the Junior Warden, Temperance.
Even the Starship USS Enterprise evokes some Masonic symbols. The twin Nacelles could be representing Jachin and Boaz. While the Saucer section when viewed from above could mimic the Circumpunct (point within the circle) with the bridge serving as the point within the circle. If the Nacelles were extended, they would most definitely serve as the two parallel lines often depicted with the Circumpunct. Another interesting side note relating the USS Enterprise to Freemasonry is that it is a Constitution Class starship. Roddenberry originally wanted to name The USS Enterprise the Constitution. The only Masonic lodge to be instituted on an active ship of war was Major General Henry Knox Lodge. The lodge was instituted on March 17,1926 on the gundeck of the USS Constitution.
The idea of a brotherhood is also prevalent throughout Star Trek. The most striking example from the Original Series is portrayed in the episode, “The Menagerie”. In this episode, Spock hijacks the Enterprise to transport his severely disabled former Captain, Captain Pike, to the planet of Talos IV where he would be able to live out the illusion of a normal life. Is this not something that we as Freemasons might do? We promise to aid all poor, worthy distressed Brothers.
Spock being a Vulcan (half human – half Vulcan), has some interesting connections to Freemasonry as well. Vulcan as we know is the Roman God of fire and metal working. Albert Mackey wrote in A Lexicon of Freemasonry in 1860 about T C, stating:
“He was the inventor of edge-tools, and introduced many arts into society which tended towards its improvement and civilization. T C is the Vulcan. In after times TC figured as workers in metals and inventors of the mysteries… For these reasons TC has been consecrated among Masons of the present day as an ancient brother.”Furthermore, to quote an article written by Bro. Robert Johnson regarding the passing of Leonard Nimoy on this very blog, there is a parallel between the Vulcan culture and Freemasonry. (http://www.midnightfreemasons.org/2015/03/freemason-is-to-earth-as-vulcan-is-to.html):
“There is a direct parallel to Masonry here, at least to me anyway. It would seem like the Vulcan culture manifested in the universe of Star Trek mirrors the logical thought processes we as Masons are taught to use in our everyday lives. To suppress vice, to break away from the superfluities and obey the dictates of logic. And to self-sacrifice for the good of humanity.”I’m sure there are other similarities between Freemasonry and Star Trek that I am missing given the expansive Trek universe. However, I hope I have proved that the themes of the show parallel ideas and concepts that we have in Freemasonry. The ideas of liberty, equality, justice, peace and universal cooperation between mankind which are taught throughout our degrees are the same principles which guide the United Federation of Planets. Perhaps one day these principles will guide us if we contact an extraterrestrial civilization. Perhaps one day we will see Freemasonry spread amongst the stars. As long as there are men that are willing to carry forth these ideas, I think that’s a real possibility.
WB Darin A. Lahners is the Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph and a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL). He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of the new Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282, and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). He is also a member of the Eastern Illinois Council No. 356 Allied Masonic Degrees. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.