QueenTiye, on 07 October 2017 - 09:08 PM, said:
^^Precisely right. In the context of the culture, T'kuvma's claim seems credible.
Cult leaders' claims always seem credible to those who want
to believe, but that doesn't make them credible to everyone who shares that belief system. Say some random guy showed up and started telling people he was the reincarnation of Jesus, and even did some things that happened to align with the Biblical depiction of Jesus. Would you expect every Christian church and denomination on the planet to just blindly accept him as the Messiah? I think it's immensely more likely that the established institutions would question his claim and dismiss it as a fraud, since they're not just going to give up their institutional authority and control to some stranger on his say-so alone. And because people who do make claims like that are often dangerous psychotics and fanatical cult leaders, so it would be profoundly unwise to blindly trust such a claimant. The only people who'd take him at his word would be those who don't
already have power or control over their lives and are thus in need of someone to fill the void.
Heck, we saw this in "Rightful Heir." The Kahless clone was engineered to match both the historical and genetic record and the prophecies in every respect, but Gowron still dismissed him as a fraud -- correctly -- because he had a vested interest in rejecting his legitimacy. Even within the context of a single culture with a shared belief system, there are different agendas and points of view, and not everyone is going to accept the same claims as factual. Indeed, the High Council here seemed just as skeptical of T'Kuvma's movement as Gowron was of the Kahless clone. The culture is obviously not united behind him, or at least it wasn't before his martyrdom. Indeed, the whole point of his movement was to try to get
the culture united behind him. Which proves that it hadn't already happened.
But in terms of Star Trek ethos (not science), the claim still needs to be considered as credible (which is different from factual).
The burden of proof is still on the one making the extraordinary claim. "Credible" means nothing when there are other interpretations that are equally credible, if not considerably more so. If someone is claiming to be the reincarnation of a culture's ancient spiritual leader, it's far more likely -- far more credible -- that he's lying or delusional than that he somehow happens to be the real deal. I mean, even if it were stipulated that reincarnation were hypothetically possible, why him? Why here? Why now? Why not any of the countless other people and places and times that it could've happened? Out of all the cult leaders throughout history who've no doubt claimed to be the reincarnated Kahless, the odds are very slim that this one just happens to be the one that isn't
a fraud or a lunatic.
How many times havehave we seen Federation officers familiarize themselves with local beliefs then use local beliefs in order to argue points they want to get across? Indeed, the eponymous "Vulcan Kiss" is an example of diplomacy from the cultural viewpoint different from those seeking diplomacy. It seems standard procedure to become acquainted with the culture and understand it's internal logic, rather than leading from judgment against said culture.
So, I am arguing that the facts in evidence argue in favor of T'kuvma's claims.
Respecting another culture's beliefs does not mean adopting them. It doesn't mean accepting them as literal fact. It means respecting their right to believe those things if they choose, and respecting that they play a socially and emotionally valuable role in that society, even if they're not physically real. You can respect religion as metaphor without mistaking it for science or history.
The "Vulcan Hello" is a poor analogy there, because what's at issue there is not the factual existence of a phenomenon, but merely the best way to begin an interaction. Since the Klingon military respects strength as a general rule, it's logical to begin an interaction with a show of force to earn their respect, since it's reasonable to expect most any Klingon military crew you encounter to have that similar ethos. But if someone from outside the halls of power is claiming to be a prophet or a Messiah, it's highly likely that the culture will be divided on the question of whether he really is or not. So it would be unwise for the Federation to just blithely accept that disputed claim. Indeed, it would violate the Prime Directive to take sides in that dispute.