Jurassic Park 3D: Playing God will eat you up

Posted: April 4, 2013 by John C. Kwasny, Ph.D. in Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
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JP3dIt’s hard to believe that Jurassic Park is already twenty years old.  It seems like just yesterday when  nail-biting moviegoers everywhere were thrilled by Steven Spielberg’s ground-breaking special effects.  Next year, Jurassic Park IV is slated to be released.  But this weekend, the original will be re-released in theaters in 3D.  I’m not sure that I would pay hard-earned money to see it again in 3D when it seems like the 2D version is on TV every other week.  But, this revision gives us the chance to do some good Biblical thinking on this classic sci-fi adventure!

I really love Jurassic Park.  The characters are great, especially the choice of Seinfeld’s Newman as the bad guy.  Jeff Goldblum is excellent as the slick chaos theorist, and I even like the two little stressed-out kids.  I also appreciate Sam Neill as the curmudgeonly paleontologist who ends up much softer in the end.  Of course, the dinosaurs steal the show, especially the Raptors.  Just the idea of a theme park made up of pre-historic dinosaurs is pretty awesome.

A story about the re-creation of dinosaurs from DNA extracted from ancient mosquitoes trapped in amber is pretty outrageous.  Yet we are pulled into this drama precisely because we are trained to believe that modern technology can accomplish just about anything!  This is certainly the central issue that the novel’s author, Michael Crichton, wants us to think about.  Is new and better technology always such a good thing?  Even if we are able to do something technologically, does that make it wise and/or beneficial to do it?

The characters themselves do a great job of debating this issue.  John Hammond, the park’s “creator,” takes the idealistic position that if we can do something technologically, why not do it!  The two invited paleontologists (Neill and Dern), are skeptical about science being able to re-create the past, but are enamored with the possibility as well.  Dr. Ian Malcolm, the smooth scientist and philosopher, takes the most negative position using the doctrine of “chaos theory.”  Essentially, chaos theory teaches that small differences in initial conditions will have potentially devastating outcomes (popularly called “the butterfly effect”).  Malcolm believes that introducing dinosaurs into modern times, interacting with humans (even in a caged theme park), would have chaotic effects.  Even if you have never seen Jurassic Park in 2D, you probably can figure out which position wins the debate!

Beneath the central theme of the use/misuse of technology is the REALLY BIG question of the human desire to “play God” in this world.  Since we are all made in the image of our Creator, we are endowed with the ability to be creative.  Humans can have amazingly brilliant ideas, as well as the skills and tools to actually see many of them come to fruition.  John Hammond’s dream of a dinosaur theme park demonstrated the combination of extreme creativity with scientific innovation.  Unfortunately, he also naively believed that he could control all of the environmental variables in order to create something that seemed impossible.  His “playing God” enabled dinosaurs to eat some people and scare a few others to death.  If the park actually opened, the results would have been a lot more devastating.  All it took was one greedy disgruntled employee to take away all of his God-like abilities!

There are many ways that human beings attempt to play God, other than trying to re-create dinosaurs.  Abortion and euthanasia are two of the most heinous activities that use technology to make it “easy” to kill off unwanted people.  Genetic engineering is another area of great debate which puts scientists in a potential position of playing God.  Yes, it can be argued that we play God any time we do anything to extend or reduce life.  And certainly, we serve a sovereign God who is still in control even when we attempt to play God.  Yet within that blessed sovereign control we human beings still make devastating decisions in rebellion against him.  We can use our creative minds that produce ideas and practices that do Satan’s bidding rather than God’s.

But let’s end our brief discussion of Jurassic Park 3D with a much wider application of this temptation to play God .  The oft-ignored truth is that we demonstrate the desire to play God each and every time we give in to ANXIETY.  The best definition I have ever heard of the pervasive problem of anxiety is that it is the attempt to “control what I can’t control.”  In other words, every time we are anxious or worried, our hearts are saying that we long to BE GOD.  Our anxious minds race to figure out how we can control our own little world, making sure things go our way.  Anxiety is really about trying to build our own kingdoms (maybe even dinosaur theme parks) instead of seeking God’s Kingdom first (Matthew 6).  That’s why anxiety eats away at our hearts and minds like those irritating Raptors, or even swallows us whole like a T Rex.  So let those sleeping dinosaurs lie, and rest in the sovereign plan of God!


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