Saturday, May 21, 2011

Good-bye to God

I don’t watch Supernatural very often. It was never great drama. For the most part pure entertainment. But it started going downhill after Eric Kripke decided to introduce the war-in-heaven plotline.

The show’s theology embodies finite godism. There’s not much difference between angels and demons. “Heaven” is a cross between a broken, blended family and a cutthroat firm where job promotion involves ambitious, backstabbing executives who betray one another to please the boss. Imagine Gregory Boyd as a screenwriter, and you get the general idea.

It soon became so campy that I only tune in now and then to sample the latest downturn. But it does unintentionally illustrate a neglected truth.

In Supernatural, there is no Christian God. There’s no assurance that in the long run the good guys will win and the bad guys will lose.

As a result, everyone is insecure. You don’t know who you can trust. Since no one is safe, even your best friend might turn on you at any moment to get ahead or save his skin. Loyalties are fickle. The players keep changing sides.

So you have Castiel, an angel who wants to do the right thing, but he’s thwarted by hopeless moral dilemmas.  He has to compromise. Has to be ruthless. Has to cut a deal with the devil.

And when you think about it, this is, unwittingly, a parable of atheism. A godless world is a friendless world. A Machiavellian world. A world where everyone is always at risk. A world where everyone is dangerous to everyone else.

In a risky random world, where everyone is threatened, where there’s no certainly­–or even probability–that virtue will be rewarded or vice be punished, that’s a fundamentally friendless world. In a ruthless world, only the ruthless survive or prosper.

That’s why our pagan forebears practiced witchcraft and divination. It wasn’t superstition. It was fear. Anxiety.

And secular science tells the same story–the story of a pitiless world, indifferent to human existence. Where a stray asteroid may suddenly extinguish life as we know it.

Like movies in which the villain arranges for friends to be in a situation where there’s not enough to go around. Not enough food, or water. No enough room in the boat. In that situation, friends turn on one another.

Like totalitarian regimes where wives spy on husbands while husbands spy on wives. Where, at any time, or any place, the authorities may seize you for unspecified crimes, due to the anonymous tip of your coworker.  Where everyone is on the take. Where every man has his price, or has a price on his head. Like banana republics where nepotism, assassination, and bribery are the common currency.


  1. I recently read Robert Service's Comrades, A History of World Communism, and one point was interesting, how the peasants in Russia, further out geographiscally, for the most part, from the machinery of terror, kept their belief and identified Stalin as an anti-Christ, openly.

    I'll repeat what I wrote on my blog, if you're only familiar with the horror of the camps and torture and terror of communism in the 20th century, add to it Service's book because you see the full machinery of tyranny as only atheists can bring it down on people.

  2. My son and I watch only two shows regularly now that SGU is off the air: Supernatural and Fringe. We love them both, and deciding from the start that we weren't going to let the lousy theology of either show drive us nuts, we decided on the pure entertainment value they have to offer. And they do it in spades.

    Smart writing, good dialogue from adults (not 35 year olds playing teenagers and twenty-somethings), and high quality acting are the keys. And Castiel? Our favourite character. Now that he thinks he's God and is demanding worship, well, let's just say he's going through a rough spot.

  3. Love the show. Glad to see there are other fans out there. I too am fascinated by the storyline. So much bad theology. The absentee god is very interesting to see. Cas is a great character. Thanks for writing on this. Been reading your blog quit a bit lately. Really enjoy it my friend.

  4. We enjoy Supernatural. I think the angel metastory was unfortunate, but it was introduced as a way of wrapping up the series (it was supposed to get canned), so it seems like they're trying to get away from it (which I appreciate).

    Probably killing off the yellow-eyed demon too early was a bad move. This storyline was about family and then got noted previously, the dialogue can be quite smart, and they don't take the series too seriously...and who else could introduce the leg guitar?