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November 25, 2009 – The New ABC Drama, V

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The new ABC science-fiction offering, V, provides us with another illustration of Hollywood’s failure to apprehend Christian doctrine. The show, itself a re-make of a 1983 series, depicts the arrival of an alien race who offer substantial aid to humanity in exchange for some mysterious mineral that earth possesses. The aliens refer to themselves as the Visitors (or V) and are generally welcomed with open arms by the people of earth. A few holdouts divine the Visitors’ true and much more vicious motives and mount a resistance. For the most part, it is with this small resistance that the television show is concerned. One of the major figures in the new resistance is Father Jack Landry, a Roman Catholic priest whose skepticism about the motives of the Visitors is confirmed when he witnesses them massacre a small number of dissenting humans.

In the pilot episode of V, soon after the Visitors arrive, Father Jack discusses the theological implications of this new development with a fellow priest. He is frustrated with what he considers a cliché response to the aliens on the part of the Vatican. With regards to the aliens, the fictional pope simply observed that “we are all God’s creatures.” Father Jack finds this to be too simple an analysis and observes that “rattlesnakes are God’s creatures too.” He also voices his personal dilemma in trying to reconcile a belief in God with the reality of alien intelligence. In his opinion, these two things tend to cancel one another out. Watching his internal wrestling, one can’t help but wonder how long it will be before he lays aside his clerical collar entirely.

There are two frustrating things about this depiction of the presumed fragility of Christianity. The first is that it is such a widespread misunderstanding. The second is that it is so easily corrected. With regards to the first, I have often heard people use the likelihood of alien life as an argument against the integrity of the Biblical account of reality. The universe is so vast, they say, it is the height of naïveté to presume that we are the only intelligent life forms in it. This argument is thought to silence any suggestion that the Bible’s description of a Creator might be true. If aliens exist, this argument reasons, then the God of the Bible must be a fake. And indeed, if the God of the Bible were only the God of the planet earth, then it would be appropriate to throw him over as either entirely farcical or at least, so provincial as to be negligible. The fact that most of these sophomoric atheists gravitate towards the former rather than the latter conclusion suggests that they themselves recognize the absurdity of the argument that a God could exist who wasn’t sovereign over the entire universe (including any alien life).

And that brings us to my second frustration with this misunderstanding: It is so easily corrected. The simple fact of the matter is that the Bible describes God as creating all that there is. “Apart from him, nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3). This is an argument that a first-year logic student would understand: If God created everything, then God created aliens. The Christian faith has nothing to fear from the discovery of alien life. Rather, such a discovery, if it ever exists outside of the studios of Los Angeles, would only serve to heighten the glory of our lavish Creator.

Finally, the fact that Hollywood hasn’t been able to grasp this simple truth illustrates yet another central Christian dogma: The total depravity of the human condition, both individual and corporate. Whenever we see such ignorance put on display we should be led to pray that God would open the eyes of the blind so that they can see the universal vastness of his reign. We should also thank God that he has hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children, “for such was his good pleasure.”

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