Your Sunday Brunch Special: Star Trek

There is a new Star Trek movie. And, this is current (Gospel) events, people.

I realize many BCC readers don’t follow Star Trek. Consider this a drive by catchup on things. One of the devices Trek watchers are familiar with is the Transporter.

As you can see from the clip, the Transporter does something like shuffling molecules over a distance. But not just that. It essentially murders people, and reanimates them. (If you don’t want to think about Star Trek, consider the classic film, The Fly.) Recently, there have been rumblings about such a piece of technology. Whether or not it exists now, is irrelevant to my question however. Suppose there was a Transporter. What does a spirit do during transport? We advertise that spirits are material. Do they get disorganized and then reorganized in the Transporter?* I hope you understand the serious nature of these questions. And you’re welcome.**

* Joseph vs. Brigham here, right?
** Brain and brain! What is brain?!?


  1. Lamplighter says:

    Could this be one of those mysteries we are not to concern ourselves with?

  2. Lamplighter, on the contrary: it may be the key to article of faith 16 (down the road, I know, but these things take time now-a-days).

  3. Lectures on faith teaches that God is omnipresent via his spirit. So are we, so when the body transfers, the spirit is already there.

  4. Well, it seems to work well enough except that one time when they get mixed up with Bizarro versions of themselves and Spock has a goatee and Kirk gets lots of tail in both universes, but it’s only consensual in one.

    I don’t think in reality (or in this case, theory) the soul or spirit would transport. The result would be a meat puppet. Scientists have not been able to replicate the spark of life. Scatter and regather molecules, maybe. When I contemplate what would happen if I were to be incinerated in a plane crash or terrorist attack on a building or in some kind of self-immolation thing (no immediate plans) I like to think that when the molecules lose cohesion (or perhaps even before that), the spirit leaves.

  5. Wow hawkgrrrl. I’m impressed by the length of that.

  6. How about The Prestige? Are there multiple Wolverines running around the spirit world after each of their presumptive suicides? Or what about the one that shot his doppelganger–is his fate worse for having murdered himself? Then there’s Batman, who’s sometimes an adulterer and sometimes not. Did he exist as two separate spirits or was he a living horcrux? Too deep for me, man.

  7. Ooo, deep things to make me think! hawkgrrrl, you may be on to something there… So, in that scenario is the resulting meat puppet like Frankenstein, who is in pain because his life is no life and probably has no soul, or more like Two Face, whose reaction to extreme trauma is a full shift in actions and ideologies and probably pushed his own soul away?

    If the spirit does transfer, does it lose part of itself along the way? Does the transporter slowly murder your spirit until you lose yourself?

  8. Casey, that stuff’s fictional.

  9. And now I need to figure out a way to use “meat puppet” in my next comment in church.

  10. It should be noted that “Obession” was a good episode, but not really one of their best. Just to save anyone any confusion on that point.

  11. Im pretty sure there’s an entire sermon in here somewhere.

  12. Isn’t this sort of like asking what would happen to your spirit if your body walked from one side of the room to another? How would your spirit get to the other side of the room? Speaking of which, why did the spirit cross the road? Because Scottie beamed it there.

  13. When I was young my pop was inactive for many years. But a faithful home teacher never gave up. Even though we lived in a little rundown trailer in a remote location, each month he came out to (meet pop. It) made all the difference in the end.

    There you go. “Meat puppet”.

  14. Oh this is easy. Just as the physical body is made up of cells, likewise the spirit is made of spiritual matter cells. They also reside within each of the physical cells (you know, like the glove analogy?).

    Oh this is easy. Just as the physical cells are made up of molecules, likewise the spiritual cells are made of spiritual matter molecules. They also reside within each of the physical molecules (you know, like the glove analogy?).

    Oh this is easy. Just as the physical molecules are made up of atoms, likewise…

    (and recurse to the level of depth you’re comfortable with)

    So when the body is transported, the spirit goes right along for the ride. No meat puppets (hawk what are you thinking?). And that, my friends, is how it will go.

  15. While McCoy is clearly godless, I have to believe Scotty would not endorse technology without thinking through the meta-spiritual ramifications and finding them harmless. Therefore, the pattern buffer must obviously include a mechanism for preserving the spirit until the meat puppet is assembled at the other end, at which point the spirit transports *itself* via an application of quantum entanglement theory and the breath of life once again fills the body. Vulcans, however, are well known for their ability to extrude their own spirits and live for a time as walking meat puppets, as demonstrated in The Search for Spock.

  16. J. Stapley says:

    JMB275, Orson would be proud.

  17. Inavanbytheriver says:

    Spirit matter can’t be destroyed. Right? So how do you spread pieces into a stream?

    I suppose in the future my desktop won’t crash so I’ll trust this idea better then.

  18. Second J Stapley’s comment. Orson would be proud.

  19. If, as you suggest, the transporter murders and then reanimates, then it seems the spirit must leave the body, spend the interim in the spirit world, and the (hopefully) return to the body at the right time and place.

  20. I’m more serious about “meat puppet” than I realized at first. We need a broader doctrinal plaza surrounding this term.

  21. I submit the the following for your consideration.

    In the hope that it might add something worthwhile to the discussion.

  22. bjjandlaw says:

    I used to wonder about this exact thing as a child watching the original Star Trek episodes on occasion. :)

    Kate @ BJJ, Law, and Living

  23. This must be the only episode where a secondary player wearing an odd colored shirt was not killed off when visiting a strange planet.

  24. Old Star Trek so much better than any of the newer ones. In the old, the crew actually had personalities. In the new, who can tell them apart? They all have one big Federation personality. What a downer.

  25. If the spirit gets transferred in the matter stream to be put in the newly constructed body, could another spirit jump in and supplant the original? Would the original fade in and out, crying silently for help, like Kirk stuck out of phase wearing a space suit?

    I think we’re going to have to figure out how to measure this spirit matter before we can even think about matter transition to energy. Course, if we manage it pre-millenium, it would bring a weird twist to birth control. What if you could keep a spirit from entering the created body?

  26. I keep wondering how much spirit matter physics had to be worked out before the first successful transporter was built. Did it require development of a tested fundamental model? Some kind of Standard Model of elementary spirit particle physics? If so, then why isn’t spirituality more uniformly represented? Or did they just work out the ordinary matter stuff and then luck out when the spirit managed to show up on the other end with the body? Or was it divine intervention that saved them from outcomes of meat puppets or zombies or handless gloves or open hosts ripe for possession by evil spirits or whatever (And what does it mean that I’m using the past tense to speak about the future)? Because all speculation aside, I’ve seen the show and those things do not appear to be a big deal.

  27. Maybe the spirit is baked right in to the physical molecules like honey is baked into honey nut cheerios.

    However, if so, I would not like to die in an explosion. Or transporter accident.

  28. MDearest says:

    We’re assuming the primacy of the physical universe as we experience it when we speak of “spirit matter,” as if one merely has the same molecules, just of a finer material. Orson, et al. notwithstanding, spirit “matter” is not material at all, but something we cannot observe in a physical way, and thus cannot define in a physical way. Or transport in a physical way. It’s something altogether different, and is subject to laws we can’t comprehend according to physical definitions. Thus, it’s freed from the laws of physics, which are the only laws the Transporter is concerned with. As long as the Transporter rearranges the molecules of the physical body back into the same living form as it was at the start of the process, the spirit, whatever it is, will be there to animate that form. Exactly how is beyond physics, and could generate many, many television series on its own.

  29. What you’d end up with is a dead body. There’s no reason for the spirit to die just because the body does, but it still leaves when the body dies. If you’re killing the body the spirit leaves.

  30. John Roberts says:

    The Star Trek transporter is a fictional device, and cannot work as described under the current known laws of physics. Specifically, the “pattern buffer” and the ability to replicate objects on a quantum level (as in The Enemy Within, TOS, and Icarus Factor, TNG) are prohibited by our current understanding of quantum mechanics. Fictitious super-technological devices known as “Heisenberg Compensators” have had to be invoked in order to explain the capabilities of the transporter.

    In the real world, photons, electrons, and whole protons have been the subject of teleportation experiments. That is, the quantum mechanical state of one particle has been measured and transferred to a different particle. In the process of measurement, the original particle is destroyed. To the best of my knowledge, only photons have been wholly teleported in the manner: only one or two specific quantum attributes of other particles have been moved in this manner.

    Theoretically, it is possible to consider a human body and its clothing and appurtenances as a single, highly complex, quantum-mechanical wave. It should be possible to take the short scale quindecillion or so quantum attributes of this wave and impress them on another similar mass. In the process, the original individual would be destroyed.

    The question now becomes: is the spirit a quantum-mechanical attribute? Is it the association of the spirit and the body an emergent condition from the interaction of these quantum attributes? Is it laid upon the physical body from “outside”?

    Prior and continuous quantum entanglement of the subject and target is also necessary for real-world teleportation. Do quantum-entangled particles already share a soul?

    Does the spirit even share the identical dimension and location of the physical body? The Holy Ghost is said to dwell in us, even as it dwells in others. The associated wavelength of dark energy is on the order of galactic clusters, so there is precedent.

  31. I know it’s seriously embedded in our gospel speech, but might not the body be active, alive, even awake, without a spirit entity “inhabiting” it? Can’t “the body without the spirit is dead” language of James be read as “body that doesn’t breathe” and thus account for, er well, zombies?

  32. So much sturm und drang for something that was a plot device cooked up because the original show had no money (or time) to show away missions taking shuttles to the surface. As explained, transporter tech is far beyond the other innovations on the show, original or TNG or whatever (I mean, even the replicators are explained as being only molecular-level tech, but the transporters are quantum-level. WTH?). If transporter tech existed, why aren’t there just a bunch of interplanetary booster stations that would push your buffered pattern instantaneously to Rigel 7 instead of the incredible waste of resources that a starship represents? Why go flying around in space anyway? Why not interactive holodecks that you can log into from anywhere in the galaxy? Picard could host galactic peace conferences from the comfort of his family’s winery; Kirk could meet . . . ahem . . . women from anywhere with no intergalactic consequences. Win/win.

  33. “freed from the laws of physics”

    “The Star Trek transporter is a fictional device”
    Atheist proselytizing.

    “If transporter tech existed, why aren’t there just a bunch of interplanetary booster stations that would push your buffered pattern instantaneously to Rigel 7 instead of the incredible waste of resources that a starship represents? Why go flying around in space anyway? Why not interactive holodecks that you can log into from anywhere in the galaxy?”
    Intellectual backsliding towards doubt, loss of faith, and apostasy.

    Ask yourself, WVS, is this what BCC is really supposed to be about? Fostering sentiments like these?

  34. Aaron, I’d say “I repent” but like Huck, I can’t, honestly.

  35. Behold the superiority of the revamped Battlestar Galactica. No transporter systems for them. (Although the Cylon Resurrection capability kind of works like a one-way only version of one.)

  36. lindberg says:

    If transporter tech existed, why aren’t there just a bunch of interplanetary booster stations that would push your buffered pattern instantaneously to Rigel 7 instead of the incredible waste of resources that a starship represents?

    The power it takes to transport seems to be related to range. The only incident of interstellar (or even interplanetary) transport I recall was in “Assignment:Earth” where they accidentally intercepted Gary Seven’s beam.

    Closer to the OP, apparently spirits travel just fine through artificial wormholes, per the Stargate franchise (which also includes at least two forms of transporter technology).

  37. The problem you describe, WVS, is actually a crucial element of the second original Star Trek novel ever published, “Spock Must Die” by James Blish. From!:

    “Dr. McCoy expresses his fear that he was killed the first time a transporter disassembled his original body and created a replacement in a new location. Scotty attempts to create a new method of teleportation that uses tachyons. He later uses this experimental method to send a duplicate of Mr. Spock to Organia via a souped-up transporter beam, without having to travel through Klingon space. Something goes terribly wrong, …”

    I won’t give any spoilers, but it’s a good read.

  38. It is always advisable to begin by getting in contact with producer straight. There may be some manufacturers that don’t provide suppliers the freedom to be able to straight obtain these people. In this instance the particular sellers contact details can be obtained through the maker and so they can be called as an alternative. fake oakleys polarized

  39. lindberg: You can’t mix Star Trek and Stargate technologies! That’s like comparing slipstreams with FTL drives. Don’t cross the streams, people.

  40. Apparently the idea for an interstellar transporter was stolen by J.J. Abrams for use as a plot device in the first new, alternate history Star Trek movie, with the sequel coming out this year. You will recall that after James Kirk is stranded by Spock on an ice planet, to keep him from interfering with Spock’s command of the Enterprise, Kirk encounters the original Spock from the future of the original timeline, and they together find Scotty and his interstellar transporter and Kirk uses it to beam back to the enterprise.

    The theory behind the transporter, especially its ability to reassemble someone at a “naked” location, without a transporter device to receive it, suggests that what is really happening is a space-warp phenomenon, in which the transporter device is able to be in two places at once through a connection in other dimensions of space-time. The information is not transmitted across our three-dimensional space, but the transporter device is enabled to have a simultaneous virtual presence in another location, functioning indistinguishably from a wormhole ala Stargate SG-1. Fundamentally, the warp-drive and the transporter utilize the same technology. While the warp-drive creates an Alcubierre bubble* of a virtual separate universe around the vessel, the transporter and its virtual clone are the contact points at either end of a bubble universe that touches normal reality at two points.

    *See Stephen Baxter’s SF novel, Ark.

  41. In Pratt’s Key the the Science of Theology, he addressed this issue by stating that spirits could “far exceed” “the tardy motions of light” and transport themselves (ourselves) at the speed of thought. IIRC.

  42. The speed of thought isn’t all that fast:

    I heard a similar discussion on the radio over the weekend (thought it was on NPR, but I’m not finding it at the website), where it was explained that it practically takes an eternity, from the moment we see something and our brain deciphers what it is we’re seeing to the point where we decide or not whether we want to manipulate the item in question until it sends signals back down to our arm and hand saying “grab that thing and use it”. We’re constantly living 2 tenths of a second behind where we think we really are. Interesting, anyways.

  43. Blast. Now that’s SLOW. Actually. I misquoted (and misapplied) Pratt’s quote. Sorry about that.

    He really spoke to the idea of spirit element… See last line below.

    “The purest, most refined and subtle of all these substances, and the one least understood, or even recognized, by the less informed among mankind, is that substance called the Holy Spirit.

    “This substance, like all others, is one of the elements of material or physical existence, and therefore subject to the necessary laws which govern all matter, as before enumerated.

    “Like the other elements, its whole is composed of individual particles. Like them, each particle occupies space, possesses the power of motion, requires time to move from one part of space to another, and can in no wise occupy two spaces at once. In all these respects it differs nothing from all other matter.

    “This substance is widely diffused among the elements of space. This Holy Spirit, under the control of the Great Eloheim, is the grand moving cause of all intelligences, and by which they act.

    “This is the great, positive, controlling element of all other elements. It is omnipresent by reason of the infinitude of its particles, and it comprehends all things. . . .

    “It penetrates the pores of the most solid substances, pierces the human system to its most inward recesses, discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart. It has power to move through space with _an inconceivable velocity_, _far exceeding_ the tardy motions of electricity, or of physical light.”

  44. I think I understood what you were going for, but the “speed of thought” phrase got me all sidetracked, and I thought it was pretty interesting on just how limiting our poor little mortal bodies really are, when push comes to shove.

  45. And it was MY “speed of thought” gloss. Not in the original.

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