A few posts ago, we talked about the characteristics of a true God according to Star Trek. We looked at many examples of powerful beings; but the downfall of all of them was that they lacked compassion. Now, let’s look again, this time at beings in Star Trek season 2 with God-like intelligence, and see if they measure up.
In “The Changeling”, a modified earth probe is brought on board the Enterprise. The robot, Nomad, is very intelligent. It can compete with Spock in mental computing power, and has the knowledge to bring someone back from the dead. This, in particular, seems to make Nomad an almost god-like character. But it’s failing is that it lacks concern for all humanity, as it looks to eradicate all biological lifeforms it finds. In the end, Nomad doesn’t make a very good god-of-tin, after all, and is destroyed by a few well-placed words from Captain Kirk.
The robots in “I, Mudd” have a similar issue to Nomad. Though their desire is to rule over the humans by means of pleasure, rather than destruction, they still have no sympathy for humanity’s needs. According to the episode, (as well as the song “For Pete’s Sake”, on an only slightly unrelated note), what humans really need is freedom. The androids do not want to give it. Those robots wouldn’t have made very good gods anyway. In the end, they are taken out by a couple of trippy improv sketches performed by the Enterprise crew (what even is this episode?).
In “Catspaw”, Kirk, Spock and McCoy encounter some very small alien beings with incredible mental powers. They can project images into the world around them, and create atmospheres- so, of course, they build themselves a haunted castle playset. They have mastered the power of substitution. They can take over peoples’ minds. But these aliens don’t even know what love means. When their mental projections are stripped away, they are no more than little… shrimp things? I don’t know.
In “The Gamesters of Triskelion”, we meet a race of creatures that is pure intellect. They have grown beyond the need for bodies, and are literally just brains in jars. However, it seems that even creatures of pure intellect aren’t very good gods. These “gamesters” spend their days capturing ‘inferior’ creatures, training them to fight, and betting on the outcomes of their death-games. Their downfall, too, is a lack of compassion.
So, it seems, then, that the qualifications for godhood aren’t just strength or smarts. It is the combination of these things with one more essential and defining characteristic- mercy.