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"Monsters from the Id"

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Michael G. Zey of Montclair State University in New Jersey writes: “People want to believe that there is superior life in the universe, and that these aliens will be able to upgrade our own lives. This is a form of wish fulfillment.”[1] This is especially true since, as the late Michael Crichton made clear, “the belief that there are other life forms in the universe is a matter of faith. There is not a single shred of evidence for any other life forms, and in forty years of searching, none has been discovered. There is absolutely no evidentiary reason to maintain this belief.”[2] Similar to the way the “evidence” for evolution is designed to rid God from the cosmos, space exploration and the search for extraterrestrial life (SETI) are designed to make man the next best thing to a god.

There are at least two problems with space optimism: (1) Evolution can go in any direction. You could get Kanamits, Terminator-like Aliens, or space vampires. There is no guarantee that you’ll meet E.T. or the child-like aliens that showed up at the end of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Here’s how one commentator put it: “we are no more likely to find other planets inhabited by benign vegetarian philosophers than the Americas were.” (2) If humans ever explore other planets in earth-like solar systems (an unlikely prospect in the near or even far future given what we know about the distance of stars and the length of time it takes to travel to the nearest one), they will take their fallen natures with them.

One of the best films to make the second point is Forbidden Planet (1956).  It takes place on a distant planet in the early part of the 23rd century. The storyline is based loosely on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. “Of all Shakespeare’s plays, The Tempest sets forth most fully and delightfully the biblical story of humankind: the tempestuous nature and thorny way of fallen man. . . .”[3]

The United Planets Cruiser C-57D is sent to the planet Altair IV, some sixteen light years from Earth. Their first contact with the planet is a warning to stay away by a Dr. Morbius, a member of the original earth colony. Ignoring the warning, Commander John Adams and his crew land and are taken to the home of what seems to be the lone survivor. Showing that he is in perfect health and in need of nothing, he dismisses the intrusion and encourages them to leave.  Then Altaira appears, Morbius’ nineteen-year-old daughter. Paradise has its Eve but with no Adam in sight.

In time, Morbius tells the history of the planet that he has been able to compile after 20 years of study. The Krell were a highly advanced alien race who “were a million years ahead of humankind” and believed “they had conquered their baser selves.” But on the “threshold of some supreme accomplishment, which was to have crowned their entire history, this all but divine race perished in a single night.” A similar thing happened to the original Earth colony as they tried to leave the planet in their spaceship. Only Morbius, his wife, and Alaira survived. His wife died of natural causes a few years later.

What unseen and unknown force wiped out the original expedition’s exploratory party and vaporized the Bellerophon as it took off? Like 20 years before, the unseen “monster” reappears and begins to kill members of the newly arrived crew. We soon learn that there is no monster “out there.” In reality, the monster was Morbius’s “own subconscious desire for lust and destruction” projected by Krell technology onto anyone who threatened his world. In the end, Morbius realizes that he is the monster. “Guilty! Guilty! My evil self is at that door, and I have no power to stop it.”

The Krell were of the same nature as humans, something that believers in a new humanity will not tolerate:

In the Myth of the New Humanity, the human race evolves progressively upward toward spiritual as well as physical transformation, or toward absorption into something even grander—a Cosmic Mind, a Conscious Universe, The One. Our evolutionary path takes us off our home planet and out toward the stars.[4]

Tell it to Morbius and his beloved Krell. “The author Colin Wilson [author of Space Vampires] has likened Forbidden Planet’s ‘monsters from the id’ to claimed occult phenomena involving monsters from the subconscious, and in his novel The Philosopher’s Stone, the destruction of Mu is caused similarly by subconscious monsters from the sleeping minds of the Old Ones.”[5] In biblical terms, we would call it “sin.” No matter where we go on earth or in the cosmos, we will take it with us.

No matter how sophisticated the technology, the heart of man is still the problem. Krell science could be used to light cities and power factories or destroy an entire race of people “in a single night.” Good and evil are always in the picture. Even the most technologically advanced can’t get away from them, but given evolutionary assumptions, they can’t account for them. Don’t ever think that scientists are somehow immune to “monsters from the ID.” They aren’t,[6] as even evolutionist Stephen J. Gould has stated: “The stereotype of a fully rational and objective ‘scientific method,’ with individual scientists as logical (and interchangeable) robots, is self-serving mythology.”[7] Scientists did not stop the Holocaust. Scientists invented atomic weapons. They, like the rest of us, can be spokesmen for good or evil, but in a world without God, they will not be able to tell the difference.

Endnotes
[1] Quoted in Thomas Hargrove and Joseph Bernt, “Y3K? Space aliens and androids: A national poll finds that Americans believe in a fantastic future filled with technological, medical and space-age advances” (2000).
[2] Michael Crichton, Caltech Michelin Lecture (January 17, 2003):
[3] Grace R. W. Hall, The Tempest as Mystery Play: Uncovering Religious Sources of Shakespeare’s Most Spiritual Work (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1999), 22.
[4] James A. Herrick, Scientific Mythologies: How Science and Science Fiction Forge New Religious Beliefs (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 99.
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forbidden_Planet
[6] “Scientists are thought to be objective in their search for facts, as opposed to others (especially theologians) who are considered biased by their faith.” (Charles E. Hummel, The Galileo Connection: Resolving Conflicts between Science and the Bible [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press], 1986, 14).
[7] Stephen J. Gould, “In the Mind of the Beholder,” Natural History (February 1994), 103:14.

 
Article posted June 23, 2009

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