11

In "Thine Own Self," Data converses with a little girl whose mother has died. The girl states that her father believes that "Mother" has gone to a place where there is no sickness, no death, etc. I don't recall her exact words, but it's obvious she's referring to some version of an afterlife/Heaven.

Data admits to the girl that he believes that such a place exists. But why would a logical, "cold" android believe in an intangible afterlife?

  • 2
    Android are made to simulate human thought patterns. No real reason why they are colder than anyone else. The ones made by that Requuiem for Methuselah fellow were hot-blooded for sure. – Oldcat Aug 7 '14 at 23:05
33

The full quote from the original script for TNG: Thine Own Self is

GIA : She died about a year ago. (beat)
Father says that she went to a...beautiful place where everything is peaceful... where everyone loves each other... and no one ever gets sick. (beat)
Do you think there's really a place like that?

Data stares out the window at the stars for a long beat... drawn to them by something that he can't name.

DATA : Yes. I do.

Note the additional direction.

Due to his amnesia (caused by the impact of the crash), he's unable to precisely identify the place that he's half-remembering but it seems pretty clear from the context that Data is not referring to Heaven but is in fact thinking of the United Federation of Planets and/or the USS Enterprise.

  • 6
    People who die go to the United Federation of Planets? Everyone loves one another there? Not sure if you're joking, Richard. – user30592 Aug 7 '14 at 0:23
  • 5
    @T-1000 - It's pretty clear that the Federation would seem heavenly to someone in her position. With the exception of the odd intergalactic war, most Fed citizens live in peace and tranquility, among luxury, wanting for nothing and subject to the finest medical treatment. – Valorum Aug 7 '14 at 0:36
  • 6
    @MattGutting - Because he's suffering from amnesia. – Valorum Aug 7 '14 at 0:48
  • 10
    She asks "Do you think there's really a place like that?", not "Do you think you go somewhere like that when you die?". When I watched it originally I assumed he meant the Federation. And his experiences on the Enterprise were generally positive, so it makes sense he would be thinking of that, even if he does have amnesia and can't remember specifics. – PointlessSpike Aug 7 '14 at 7:03
  • 5
    @T-1000 Data isn't thinking about life after death. Gia's description is triggering his memory. He's remembering a world that (compared to her world) is beautiful, peaceful, and disease free. Since her words stir his memory, he expresses his belief that such a place exists, since he can half-remember it. He thinks a place fitting her description (beautiful, peaceful, disease free) does exist. – Drew Aug 20 '14 at 18:31
3

Concise question Gia asks Data:

Do you think there is a beautiful place where everything is peaceful, everyone loves each other, and no one ever gets sick?

Data's answer:

Yes.


No theology is necessary for a computer to reach this conclusion. Although Gia is referencing the great beyond, Data answers the question he was asked.

Data either believes that such a (real) place could exist and therefore most likely does (who could disagree with just one look at the night sky?), or knows examples of such. Wherever the crystalline entity lives sounds like a good fit, assuming they all get along out there. The planet in the episode "Justice" comes close if it isn't a bulls-eye. The plot of "Thine Own Self" seams to lead us to think he's remembering the Fed, as Richard points out. I disagree, this would subsequently lead to total recall in very short order; head jerk and all.

Gia's question would be put on hold as "unclear what your asking". Did she mean 'did my mom go there when she died?' or 'does a place like this exist?'.

1

Outside of the possibility that Data is indeed not referring to an afterlife, but rather to other, more prosaic, heavenly wonders that he's experienced while traveling the cosmos, I'd also say, "Why not?" Data is shown to be able to reason out abstractions without direct evidence. He knows that, for most of history, people have had experiences of something like this afterlife, have documented it. While religion is generally downplayed in Star Trek, it's still clearly present in some aspect and there's no evidence that they've ever disproven the afterlife. So why, as an intelligent being, shouldn't he believe in it?

  • 1
    Voyager deals a lot with the afterlife-idea (B'lana, Neelix, Kim, Janeway come to experience it as none-existent) and the general tone is always: It's existence is rejected but faith is a valuable thing. That is probably that what's thought on Starfleet Academy. And the questions "Do you believe an afterlife is possible?" is not the same as "Do you believe there is an afterlife?" – Einer Aug 8 '14 at 11:45
  • 1
    Janeway and Kim were open to the possibility of an afterlife for the race in "Emanations," if that's what you mean. Janeway's rejection of the "afterlife" in "Coda" was simply a rejection of an alien's lair; she wasn't truly dead yet. Neelix didn't encounter an afterlife, and perhaps Talaxians don't have one. Perhaps they do, and he wasn't truly dead. Whatever the case, just because four people on the Voyager aren't sure about the afterlife doesn't mean that everyone on the ship, or in the Federation, rejects it. – user30592 Aug 10 '14 at 2:30
1

I know, technically this should be a comment. I can't resist an opportunity to quote from one of favorite authors, Clifford D. Simak.

These exchanges are from Simak's Project Pope:

“The one question that must first occur to us is to ask ourselves if a robot is capable of love. Of loyalty, yes; of responsibility, yes; of logic, yes. But how about love? Can a robot actually love anyone or anything at all? The robot has no spouse, no children, no kin of any sort, no blood relatives. Love is a biological emotion. It should not be expected of a robot, nor should a robot expect to experience it. Because he has no one to love, a robot has no one to protect or care for - he doesn’t even have to worry about himself. With minimal repair and maintenance, he theoretically can live forever. He does not have the specter of old age to worry over. He does not have to amass a fortune to care for himself in his later years. In the way of personal relationships, he actually has nothing at all. Which leaves a big hole in his life, a lot of emptiness.”

“Perhaps,” said Tennyson, “he would not know about the emptiness. He would not be aware that he is empty.”

“That might be true if robots lived entirely by themselves, if they lived apart from biological beings. But they don’t; I don’t think they can. They’re hung up on humans; they must have their humans. And all these years, observing humans, they must realize, at least subconsciously, what they are missing.”

“So you think,” said Tennyson, “that, lacking the ability and opportunity to love, they turned to religion to fill the emptiness. But that makes no great amount of sense; religion is based on love.”

“You forget,” said Decker, “that love is not the only factor contributing to religion. There is faith as well. At times a very dogged faith, and a robot is so constituted that he could operate a long way on dogged faith alone. I would think that he could become, with very little effort, a fanatic that would put to shame any human zealot.”

and, later in an audience with the computer-Pope:

“You humans feel both love and hate,” said the Pope. “I can feel neither of them. I think that’s one up for me and my fellow robots. You have your dreams and I have mine, but my dream cannot be identical with yours. You have the arts - music, painting, literature - and while I am aware of these, while I recognize the function that they serve and the pleasure to be gotten from them, I cannot respond to them.”

“Holiness,” said Jill, “faith itself may be an art.”

“I do not doubt it,” said the Pope. “You may have put your finger on an important consideration. Yet you cannot say that robots are lacking in their faith and their hunger for the faith. It was that hunger which built Vatican and has carried us through a thousand years of searching for a more perfect faith. Could it be that there are many varieties, not of faiths, but of perfect faiths, of truthful and solid faiths?”

Maybe all sentient beings need some mystery in their life.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy