Star Trek rule

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The Star Trek rule states:

Before quoting the Bible to atheists, always ask yourself whether the same statement would be just as effective in your mind if you were quoting Captain Kirk.

It points out that an argument or statement's worth is generally independent of the source. Relying on the source of an argument to prove its worth is an argument from authority, which is often a fallacy. The Star Trek rule is a form of the outsider test, which is the principle that beliefs should be examined as if outside the particular belief system.


"[Y]ou could claim that anything's real if the only basis for believing in it is that nobody's proved it doesn't exist!"

— Fictional character Hermione Granger, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows[1][2]

"Atheism will never be a ‘religion’. Look, we are a ‘religious preference’ (the Army’s term). Even ‘no-religious-preference’ is still a preference. As a great man once said (in a really high voice) “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”"

— Justin Griffith, quoting lyrics from the band Rush.[3]

"What does God need with a starship?"

— Fictional character James T. Kirk in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.[4]


The Star Trek rule was given in the form above by Russell Glasser[5], in response to Christians who quote extensively from the Bible in lieu argument.

The point of the Star Trek rule is that a good argument does not depend on who articulates it, or even whether the person giving the argument exists or not. For instance, Socrates may or may not have existed; but the points he makes are true regardless of whether he was a real person or merely a character invented by Plato.

If, on the other hand, an argument depends on the identity of the person making the argument, then it is important to establish that the person actually exists. As a trivial example, you will react differently to the threat "give me your money or I'll shoot you" depending on whether the speaker is standing in front of you with a gun, or appears on a movie screen.

Christians who have been raised to see the Bible as both true and full of wisdom may have trouble distinguishing the two. The Star Trek rule helps to make this distinction.