Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Religion of Transformers: Age of Extinction

Transformers IV finally came out on Redbox and I immediately rented it to watch at home. Well worth the wait. I enjoy action movies, for several distinct reasons.

  1. They're creatively stimulating. Intricate CGI gives an active mind much to fantasize about.
  2. You'll therefore get something out of it even if the plot or dialogue is terrible.
  3. Because of the emphasis on aliens, robots, war etc, there's less unnecessary sexual content.
  4. Because of dealing with very big themes and archetypes, the sparse dialogue is more significant. It can therefore be amazing (Jurassic Park, Dark Knight), or far off the mark.

In this case, with my senses highly attuned to detecting religious themes, I found several seemingly innocuous scenes which could, depending on a particular person's political/religious passions, be enormously significant, either as a slight or as an affirmation.

These go all across the board. Allow me, briefly, to show you where and what they are, to hopefully dazzle you with content you might not have noticed when you watched it.

Possible Theme: Diversity and Multiculturalism v. Conformity and Tradition

This is not an evenly matched equation, I grant you. But yet this is what gets bandied about in higher academia. Diversity is the golden calf and golden goose egg both, for universities these days. There is an unquestioned assumption that geographic diversity among students means better things for society. This has replaced the archaic notion that diversity of thought improves education by increasing students' exposure to a variety of ideas through lively discourse, that the most persuasive arguments may carry the day.

And why is this set in opposition to "tradition?" Because it's held in these circles that people who are "opposed to diversity" are religious hardliners who are all about following outmoded rules and such.

This is a portion of the cultural message from the left that I've been exposed to via student organizations in my college experience. That's why it stood out to me, when this line of dialogue occurred:
"All this species mixing with species, it upsets the cosmic balance. The Creators, they don't like it. They built you to do what you were told."
This is put in the mouth of the archvillain of the movie, and in one fell swoop, it ties the ideas of racism in with obedience to one's Creator. Subliminal promotion of the belief that the Bible and Christianity are/promote racist ideologies? Or do you disagree?

Next up,

Possible Theme: Humans Are Insignificant

A trope in alien-warfare movies and videogames which is frequently implicit by virtue of the setting, if not explicitly remarked upon, is that the existence of aliens--especially technologically superior aliens--is proof that earth and humanity have no special cosmic purpose, value, meaning, etc.  Why should this be so widespread in the fiction? I believe it's spiritual. It's a part of the spiritual war against God. That which is assumed by the culture because it's so prevalent that it gets taken for granted is something that becomes very difficult to challenge or dismiss. And since it's so indirect, hardly a "haha Jesus Christ is a myth!" outburst, the simple reinforcement of the statement that humans are not remarkable, because aliens are more numerous, bigger, have been around longer, or are more advanced, becomes a very easy and successful avenue for indoctrination. Find someone who loves sci-fi movies and is a Gamer, and ask them what they think of humanity's place in the universe. I guarantee you they'll unquestioningly assert with extreme confidence that human's aren't significant. And why is this an issue? Because the implicit conclusion is that any religion that addresses human actions as if they have eternal significance must be wrong, a holdover from an era of ignorance when people believed they were the only inhabited world in existence.
"Every galaxy I have traveled, all you species are the same. You all think you're the center of the universe. You have no idea..."
Again put in the mouth of the villain, who is demonstrably hyper-advanced in technology, using 'dark matter drives,' flying a mile-wide spaceship, traversing galaxy after galaxy as a bounty hunter capturing other advanced aliens/robots. The assumption in our secular world is that advanced aliens would have the answers to the big questions of the universe, because it's believed to be a matter of quantity, not quality, of our knowledge.

And that's a subliminal attack on the Bible. Moving on,

Obvious Theme: Aliens Rewrite Our Beliefs About Our Origins

This is in every movie. I won't expand upon this too much, here, however, because I'm considering a standalone blog post on just this topic, namely, that movies and video games have a universal tendency to propose alternative explanations for key moments in Biblical history: Creation, The Flood, Babel and the Incarnation, to name the four largest and most common. In Warhammer 40,000, The Emperor of Mankind is an immortal shaman who at various times in history presented himself as the founder of every major world religion. In Assassin's Creed, the Apple of Eden is an alien-built mind-control device that the Templars are trying to acquire to subject the world to their rule. In Aliens v. Predator, the pyramids all over earth were built by the Predators as vaults to keep the Alien "facehuggers" and where they would sacrifice humans to allow the Predators to hunt their ancient prey. In Halo, the Flood is the name given to an advanced alien parasite which was destroyed by another alien race in an event that caused all sentient life in the galaxy to perish. These aren't casual, accidental or unimportant connections. And from where I stand, it is clear as high noon to see that there's an undercurrent of a subconscious spiritual nature that ensures the continual promotion of ideas like these. There's a spiritual motivation to offer alternatives for the Creation, Flood, sudden apparent rise of civilization everywhere at an advanced level (because of Babel), and to undermine the Gospels themselves. But no avenue is left unexplored. The point is to sow confusion or at least create contentment with fanciful fantasies to ensure that people don't bother to think about what really happened, and what significance it has to their lives and eternal destiny.

That's as close as I'll get to calling movies Satanic...for now. Here are the examples in Transformers: Age of Extinction that justify this assertion about the film:

* The opening scene of the movie shows hundreds of alien spaceships firebombing a valley, sending dinosaurs fleeing in terror, until they are destroyed by the blasts. It is assumed that aliens caused the mass extinction event of 65 million years ago according to the secular thinking.
* Later, the character Darcy tells Joshua Joyce (Stanley Tucci) that "carbon dating" put a metallic dinosaur skeleton found in (Antarctica?) at 65 million years of age. For one, this just shows you the unscientific nature of secular speculation in the first place. Radioactive carbon decays with a half-life of 5,700 years roughly, and the best instruments these days can detect isotope levels corresponding to an extrapolated age of 50,000-80,000 years. Roughly 1 radioactive atom in 12 trillion. If the whole earth were made of Carbon-14, then after 1 million years, there would be 0 radioactive carbon remaining on the planet. Zero. Secondly, the dino skeleton was clearly metal (later revealed to be Transformium because the alien weapons transmuted organic material into an exotic metal), which wouldn't be datable by carbon dating anyway. Carbon isn't a metal! But it should be noted that every time someone can say "65 million years", it's a subconscious victory for those who reject the Bible's clear indication that the earth is not much older than 6,000 years. Deny the age, deny the history. Deny the salvation based in the history. Just that simple.

That's it, basically. The retelling of a Transformer-specific 'creation story' is that aliens made the dinosaurs go extinct, in order to create the Transformers, and that earth and humanity were merely incidental to that purpose. Collateral damage. Further reinforcing the notion that humanity is superbly insignificant, to fight against the idea that there could be a God who loves everyone individually and personally. Why us, is the question we're supposed to ask.
*     *     *    *     *                              *     *     *    *     *
And yet, we haven't come to the most interesting thing to me that I heard in the film. So far, I've told you what's made me angry. Let me tell you what made me hopeful.

This is the really religious stuff:
Cade Yeager: [examines Prime] The missile just missed your power source.
Optimus Prime: We call it a spark. It contains our life essence, and all our memories.
Cade Yeager: We call it a soul.
Cade Yeager: You're not actually leaving, are you?
Optimus Prime: How many more of my kind must be sacrificed, to atone for YOUR mistakes?
Cade Yeager: What do you think being human means? That's what we do. We make mistakes. Sometimes, out of those mistakes come the most amazing things... When I fixed you, it was for a reward. That was it. That was why. The money. And it was me making a mistake. Without it, you wouldn't be here. So even if you got no faith in us, I'm asking you to do what I do. I'm asking you to look at all the junk and see the treasure. You gotta have faith, Prime, in who we can be.
Optimus Prime: There are mysteries to the universe we were never meant to solve. But who we are and why we are here, are not among them. Those answers we carry inside.

There's a whole lot of semi-positive half-truths in here. For one, yes our soul is what gives our bodies life, and something of who we are lies in it and is distinct from our bodies. But the analogy breaks down when you consider that the spark is a physical object that can be removed, as shown in another scene early in the movie. For two, it's nice to see that human nature is described as inherently making mistakes. On the other hand, "mistake" and "sin" are not the same, and mistakes in this culture are seen by many to be unserious things. In deed, in the rest of that dialogue, no real sorrow for the error is shown, only a courtroom defense of the idea that mistakes should be allowed because the fact that good things can come from them somehow is supposed to mean that the mistakes were right to make. This is where, again, the religious accuracy of the statements break down, and we get a very man-centered view of human nature. And for the third thing, it was nice to me to see such a public refusal of the idea that we can't know ultimate answers. And I say half-truth, because in some way, the answers are inside. They are inside because every person has a conscience that points them to God, and every person according to Romans 1:20 inherently know that God exists. But that isn't usually what is meant by "look inside you for the answer," it usually means that you have to find purpose in yourself, strength in yourself, etc. This is where this analogy fails, because whereas we have the ability to find the answers to who we are and why we are here, in what we already have in us, the answers don't point TO ourselves as the fulfillment, but they point outward and upward, to something greater than ourselves, someone who can fix those mistakes--sins!--and save our souls.

It hit on all the subjects without giving it clarity. But frankly, that makes Transformers: Age of Extinction a better religious film than Noah and Heaven is for Real.

~ Rak Chazak

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