134. Why Do Mad Scientists Keep Trying to Make Monsters?
If it’s not one creepy critter, it’s another, here in Monster Month. Next to rise up moaning, not from the crypt but from the secret lab, it’s mad scientists. Whether it’s Victor Frankenstein from Frankenstein, or all those Marvel villains, or the folks who let loose dinosaurs from Jurassic Park—or the scientists actively trying to experiment on mutilating humans in the real world—mad science just won’t stop. What’s unique about these monsters and the monsters they make? Why do they seem to take the Devil’s promise, “you will be like God,” as their gospel?
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- Oasis Family Media: Frankenstein adapted by A. S. Peterson (Amazon, Audible, SoundCloud)
- Mountain Brook Fire: Wraithwood by Alyssa Roat (audiobook, ebook, paperback)
- David Umstattd, The Pilgrim’s Progress Reloaded podcast
- In episode 60, we asked why real researchers don’t heed stories’ warnings.
- We surveyed ideas of gene editing, sentient robots, and transhumanism.
- Much of that episode was all about the “what.” Now we ask: Why?
- In this one, we’ll focus more on the fictional/real “mad scientist” figure.
- Many stories ignore this once-popular villain. Science is good, you see.
- Old Marvel: Dr. Osborne goes “back to formula,” and goes mad.
- New Marvel: Tony Stark makes a monster, then tries again, makes a hero.
- New Marvel, again: Peter Parker uses science to try curing all the villains.
- We assume (not try to prove) mad scientists want to make monsters.
- Our only question is: why? So today we will focus on human idols.
- Our key assumption here is that man is sinful, as the Scripture says.
- Science, like man, started out good. But any good thing can get twisted.
- Lewis in The Great Divorce says strongest fallen angels make fiercer devils.
- Thus we do assume this truism: mad scientists are the real monsters.
- Finally, some of this touches on politics. But we’ll try to focus on culture.
1. Mad-science monsters want power.
- Many Christians fear human power, and this is one reason why.
- We’ve had years of people (rightly and wrongly) fearing this bad power.
- But this challenge is far older than all the recent political disputes.
- Whether it’s climatology or war-planning, scientists like being in control.
- Stephen’s Tshirt says, “God created science!” It’s a good power to have.
- And hey, being in control is fun. I like it, even planning Lorehaven stuff.
- But this gets more dangerous when you have authority over others.
- Scripture recognizes this about kings and even soldiers (cf. Luke 7:8).
- Kings are a good idea. Organizations are necessary. Order > disorder.
- But we derive this power from God. We have no authority without him.
- Frankly, that’s why I’m by default skeptical about secular scientists.
- I think it’s naivete to assume they’re not tempted by power and control.
- This goes double when mad science meets government bureaucracy.
- Then when you get secular moralism in there, the lab will just explode.
- The first godly attribute stolen for a mad-science monster: sovereignty.
Chapter 2: These monsters want to re-create men.
- The second item stolen for evil secret labs: the gift of creation.
- Mad science abuses other people, and body parts, to attempt creation.
- Here we could add a whole other spread of concession-stand items.
- But if you’ve been tracking the news, you know the modern analogue.
- Last week I heard one American state wants to impose this madness.
- They want to give mad science power over kids, denying parents power.
- They want to give mad scientists sole right of “remaking” confused kids.
- We might even make some reference here to “mad social science”!
- Back in 2003, my old Catalog of Tomorrow predicted body modification.
- It suggested growing horns, weird piercings, or wearable electronics.
- No contributor to that book counted on the evil of sexual imperialism.
- That’s a great term for it, over “sexual revolution” (credit Andrew Klavan).
- Your revolution method may vary. Here, we fight evil with better stories.
- This is a better way to remake humans, from the inside imagination.
- It’s closer to the Holy Spirit’s work. He alone has power to alter men.
3. Mad-science monsters want eternal life.
- I can empathize. Do you want to live forever? Of course, we all do.
- This is a third gift that evil will corrupt: power, creation, and life itself.
- Of course we see this most overtly in sci-fi transhumanism notions.
- But I’m thinking of another way this works itself out more subtly.
- I think of the constant references to “right side of history.”
- I also think of power/creation attempts, to gain such omni-ish power.
- This is a kind of immortality: to be praised, well-known, for generations.
- Most aren’t trying to live forever. But they want their names to be great.
- This is a kind of glory-seeking that trespasses against God himself.
- “I am the LORD … and my glory will I not give to another” (Isaiah 42:8).
- For this one, we really need an eternal perspective (credit Randy Alcorn).
- I don’t think people know how truly eternally focused Christianity is.
- Many famous, worldly wise, wealthy, powerful people will vanish away.
- That includes all the terrible attacks on people in the name of “science.”
- Every monster they make will be restored to God, or punished forever.
- And of course, we’re the mad-science monsters all along.
- Our evil lab started in Genesis 3 with the worst experiment ever tried.
- Yet the true caretaker of creation, Jesus Christ, is our great physician.
- Imagine this! A famous title for Jesus describes him like a scientist.
- He is not mad. He makes no monsters. He restores our souls and bodies.
Abigail Falanga replied to Stephen’s “revamped” Dracula article:
I read “Dracula” for the first time some years ago as a skeptic and was pleasantly surprised by the depth and awesomeness I found in it. It quickly became one of my favorite books! The genuinely Christian elements move it into true excellence.
Re Point 3, especially the last paragraph, from my (by no means exhaustive) reading of Victorian “sensational” or popular literature, I find that it tends to be more realistic about physical and mental limitations than some modern stories. Men are portrayed as having weaknesses, even as women are (which is all anyone seems to remember), and sometimes deal with severe health issues after their exciting adventures.
- We’ve had a lot of fantastic feedback to all our recent Dracula content.
- But we’ve seen a lot of social sharing for fantastical Lorehaven content.
- Also you can subscribe to Lorehaven’s audio-only YouTube channel.
Links mentioned in this episode:
- Yuval Noah Harari’s Dystopia, by Rod Dreher
- Yuval Harari at the World Economic Forum
- Yuval Harari comments on eternal life
Meanwhile at Lorehaven
- To see the best Dracula feedback, join the Lorehaven Guild.
- We’re halfway through our Dracula book quest, only in the Guild.
- Subscribe free to get your Guild invitation and updates that you choose.
- Last Friday, we reviewed Jessica Sly’s spooky A Promise of Deception.
- Next we’re reviewing the new Nadine Brandes fantasy novel Wishtress.
- Coming soon after: another article about Christian-made scary stories.
Next on Fantastical Truth
You’ve heard about them in sermons. You’ve seen their name in dozens of Christian-made fantastical books’ back covers. And now, I’m not saying our next monster for Monster Month was nephilim, but it was nephilim. Join us for this giant controversy. They get such a quick cameo in Genesis 6 but a top starring role in many Christian speculations. Who were these critters? Why do they appear in so many Christian fantasy novels? And do they even matter in the grand scheme of the gospel according to the Scripture?