Doctor Who is pretty much the last place you might expect to find a Christian message. It’s a show about aliens produced for a long time by a gay man in a country where the media often seems to go out of its way to make any sort of religion out as deluded idiocy.
Yet, while watching last weekend’s episode, “The Zygon Inversion”, I was struck by how much Christ imagery there was in it.
“You just want cruelty to beget cruelty. You’re not superior to people who were cruel to you. You’re just a whole bunch of new cruel people. A whole new bunch of new cruel people, being cruel to some other people, who’ll end up being cruel to you. The only way anyone can live in peace is if they’re prepared to forgive. Why don’t you break the cycle?” – the Doctor
As I was watching this, with my new cynical hat brought on by a semester of “Introduction to Worldviews”, I was thinking, “In the atheistic worldview espoused by Doctor Who, what reason, ultimately, would there be which could convince someone to turn the other cheek and not retaliate?”
It’s all very well to say – and, indeed, the Humanists do say – that we should live decent, moral lives. But what is a decent and moral life? What are morals? Modernist and postmodernist thought supposes that morals are dictated by traditions passed onto us by our ancestors and our community, and by our own emotions and the emotions of those around us.
If someone believes in evolution, then he has no reason to do this, to think about others. After all, evolution is all about the survival of the fittest. Living in community is a good idea for one’s own personal success as a being, but the belief system of evolution necessarily means that the “fitter” being can, justifiably, do anything in order to ensure his own survival. Evolutionist government have committed terrible atrocities, because, after all, why should we waste resources on “less fit” members of our community, like disabled people or those of “less evolved” races?
People today like to think that humans are inherently good and can live “good” and kind lives entirely of their own volition, and yet the most basic facts of their belief system mean that such a thing is impossible. Compassion for weaker and sicker beings is contrary to evolution. In a word with a fear of overpopulation, wouldn’t fighting and killing off some of the competition to your own survival be considered a good thing?
All this ran through my mind quite quickly as the Doctor was ranting, along with the inevitable parallels to Judeo-Christian teaching. Here are just a few of many examples, any of which might be used to replace the Doctor’s speech about cruelty.
“Depart from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it.” – Psalm 34:14 (NKJV)
“Whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” – Matthew 5:39 (NKJV)
“Repay no-one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:17,21 (NKJV)
“What is it that you actually want?” – the Doctor
“War.” – Bonnie
“Ah. And when this war is over, when you have the homeland, free from humans, what do you think it’s going to be like? Do you know? Have you thought about it? […] Well? Oh, you don’t actually know, do you? Because, just like every other tantrumming child in history, Bonnie, you don’t actually know what you want.” – the Doctor
What is sin but a tantrumming child rebelling against God’s guidance?
“You think they’ll let me go after what I’ve done?” – Bonnie
“You’re all the same, you screaming kids, you know that? ‘Look at me, I’m unforgiveable.’ Well, here’s the unforeseeable; I forgive you. After all you’ve done, I forgive you.” – the Doctor
This was the real “oh!” moment. If I ever preached another sermon (not planning to), I’d try to work this clip in as an illustration. Once we’re made aware of our sin, and we realise just how horrible we really are, we know that we don’t deserve forgiveness and we can’t expect forgiveness.
And yet, like the Doctor in this scene, God forgives us anyway. That’s the unforeseeable, to echo the line, that after all we’ve done, God forgives us.
“You don’t understand. You will never understand.” – Bonnie
“I don’t understand? Are you kidding? Me? Of course I understand!” – the Doctor
The Doctor goes on here to rant about the Time War, showing that he has experienced the same – he’s experienced worse – and he really does understand Bonnie’s position.
And isn’t that Jesus? He was God – He is God – and he didn’t have to come down and live as a human! He already had everything:
“[…] Jesus Christ, who, being in the form of God […] made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man…” – Philippians 2:5-8 (NKJV)
So Jesus has experienced what we have experienced. He’s lived life as a human. He was born, He had a childhood, He learnt a trade. He’s had the human experience, so He can understand our position and where we’re coming from.
But then Jesus has done something we didn’t do, so we don’t have to; He actually died – in fact, was sacrificed – to make up for what we’ve done. The Doctor, in the episode, shares his experience and its consequences to stop Bonnie from having to go through the same; Jesus was a step ahead and went through our consequences for us.
All Scripture quotes from the New King James Version. All Doctor Who quotes from “The Zygon Inversion”, Doctor Who, Season 9, Episode 6.