Mike and Diane Wilson -
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At the pictures

The world is doomed! We all know each of us has a limited time on this planet. Whether we believe there is an afterlife is a purely personal matter.

Many of us are happy to have their Almighty watching over them and each of these people hopes He will call for them to share life everlasting.

But the film moguls don't have the same belief.

Let's look closely at a few blockbuster films: War of the Worlds, The Day After Tomorrow, Independence Day, Deep Impact, Meteor and Armageddon. There are other similar films but I'll stick with these.

In War of the Worlds, Tom Cruise and his family are threatened by alien invaders who left their spaceships under the earth's crust millions of years ago. The telling of that story on film is so realistic we are easily able to believe it could happen. In the film mankind is surely faced with annihilation and it is purely down to the fact that the aliens cannot handle our microscopic life that they fail and we are saved.

The Day After Tomorrow proposes that the earth's weather patterns change for the worst.  Whether that change is down to man's abuse of his planet is only thinly referred to. The story is what happens to a group of people; not mankind in general, but a small group of human beings facing up to disaster.

There is an alien invasion in Independence Day, and mankind is saved by a computer geek, a good-looking black American and his equally gorgeous wife. The President makes a fantastic rousing speech and Old Alien is put in his place, while mankind celebrates victory.

Meter, Deep Impact and Armageddon all deal with the threat of an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. Once again, all mankind is at risk.

In every one of these films, the writers, directors and producers have attempted to portray what could actually happen if any of the events came true. While watching War of the Worlds, we accept that aliens did in fact leave their craft many eons before, way before, mankind crawled out of the swamp.

Those wandering asteroids have been on a collision course since the beginning of time and the fact that mankind has just discovered them does not mean they are a new threat. They have been on their journey for years and years, well before man was capable of rational thought.

Independence Day, too, started many years ago. The aliens must have journeyed from somewhere, travelling many millions of miles from their home star. It is easily accepted that they did not originate in our solar system.

The Day After Tomorrow deals with a threat upon earth itself. Whether there is any truth in global cooling is not for discussion here, only whether such a threat would lead to the end of civilisation as we know it.

Everyone accepts that these films are make-believe, mere figments of someone's active imagination and that there is no truth in them at all.

However, in not one of these films does God, in any of his multitudinous manifestations, appear. In no film does a kindly bearded image wave a magic finger to solve all mankind's problems. In not one of these films is there an invisible force field around the planet Earth to prevent any collision or invasion.

I suggest that any writer or film-maker who offered such a finale when pitching to make a film would be laughed out of the office.

Filmgoers would not accept it either. Too far-fetched, they'd say. Impossible.

We know these films are fantasy, far-fetched, impossible. And, even if we do believe for a few comfortable hours in the cinema, we know that they are not true.

However, in real life, many people on the planet have such a faith in their god they know without doubt that they will be saved.

If a film was made in which mankind was saved by the intervention of God, everyone would laugh and say "Impossible!" Yet, when many of the audience leave the cinema, they easily accept this great impossibility: the existence of an almighty being who created everything, even the farthest star and the smallest atom, who is going to preserve this insignificant planet and the insignificant beings that by good fortune live on it.

If indeed he did create everything - and I mean everything - then surely he created the asteroid and cast it aside knowing it would - millennia later - collide with Earth and destroy his lovingly created people.

If he made everything - and I mean everything - then surely he too created the monstrous aliens who will one day land on the planet earth and perhaps use us as pets - or food.

Because these thoughts have occurred to me, and because I can see that nothing - but nothing - is going to prevent those asteroids hitting the Earth eventually, then I'm going to put my hope in mankind itself. We have to work out a way to stay a successful species. We have to work out how to change the course of the asteroid.

There is precious little factual evidence of God. Only faith, blind faith. If someone prays for something and that something is granted, it is the work of a good, kind and merciful God. If it is denied, out comes the stand-by: "God works in mysterious ways." We pray for peace, but we make war. We ask for health but disease is everywhere. We ask for happiness but misery abounds. We ask for wealth, while knowing poverty is the norm for millions. Too right God works in mysterious ways. This all-loving all-powerful God does not answer our prayers.

The existence of God: Impossible!

Of course, I hope He forgives me for such thoughts. If He doesn't, I guess that's me doomed! But then, he made me too, so he knows I was going to have these thoughts. So I'll be forgiven, won't I? And live for ever? Maybe! Maybe not!

Added in February 2009:

I watched The Day After Tomorrow and The Flood recently. The Flood was, I believe a BBC film. Excellent!

I listened out for references to God. In the first film, the character played by Ian Holm says "Pray" when asked what the men in the weather shack should do. OK. Better than nothing I suppose. But I guess he knew what would happen when they prayed. He was a scientist after all.

The wife of the hero, a doctor, was rescued at the last minute by an ambulance. "Thank God," she said. That's what nearly every English speaking person would say in those circumstances. And if she was thanking God for saving her, what had she to say to him about freezing thousands of others to death?

In Flood, I don't think the word God occurred unless spoken by a character in a similar perilous circumstance. There had been multiple deaths during the terrible flooding of London, and to assume that God chose to save the heroes at the end seems a little on the arrogant side. He even allowed a scientist to carry out a mission from which there was no return.

To be continued - see Blog 07


Mike Wilson