TV Thursdays and Futuristic Fridays – What Makes Us Human?



Hello everyone, we’re back after a long hiatus for blogs, and on the first combined TV Thursdays and Futuristic Fridays of the year, I am going to delve into one of the questions I have had on my mind for a while, using TV shows and movies as examples as I coherently let my thoughts be known. What has often made me curious is what makes us human. Sure all of us have breath and can feel, have emotions, and can love each other, but animals have that too, so what sets us apart?

I know, I know, this is probably a controversial topic that may or may not be reserved for another post later in 2015, so I will keep it as brief as can be. While I’m not using any official definition from Google or anywhere else, as sometimes it seems like those definitions are too clinical and black and white for such a topic as this, I will say that to me as a Christian, being human is knowing who you are as a person and understanding the plan God has for your life, and having security in Jesus that the future is in His hands. It’s having consciousness, but also knowing that you’re on the planet for a reason, and that reason continues to make itself known as long as you are breathing. As long as you’re alive you are needed on this earth- God has a special plan for you.

But what about those in the future who are ‘human’ but are not? I know, I know, I’m delving into sci-fi, but watching many films has reminded me that God’s definition of humanity may be different to ours. In Terminator filmed in 1984, and the subsequent movies, Arnold Schwarzenegger starred as a model ‘terminator’ android who time travelled, once to kill Sarah Conner, and another time to protect her son John Conner. Confused? Sorry for spoilers, but you can read the info here. The point is that somewhere during the trilogy, Arnold’s character gained a bit of humanity as he and young John Conner bonded and while it’s not known whether the Terminator became aware of his status as a machine, and longed to be something more, the questions arise in my mind after watching a movie series like this. Certainly Sam Worthington’s character in Terminator Salvation, and Summer Glau’s character in the Terminator series (both are robots) showed us that one day it could be possible for androids to be more human than we are. Bicentennial Man takes things a step further, with Robin Williams playing the role of an android longing to be human, and finally reaching that goal at the end of the film, posing the question of what really makes us human- our skin and bones or our soul, our character and emotions?

Another aspect of humanity is explored in The 6th Day and Multiplicity, as well as the highly popular BBC America series Orphan Black, where the concept of clones is introduced. Will clones be possible in the future? Will you still be you if you are not the only ‘you’ in the universe? Read Jon’s blog here, but if you want a one sentence answer, then if in the future clones of humans were possible, then they’d be their own identities and we’d still be us. Clones of us would be fashioned into God’s plan, hence our worries and concerns about humanity being lost are unnecessary- when human clones do exist, and they have to deal with their own soul and humanity too, as well as Jesus’ role in their lives.

The most recent TV show Almost Human centred in the near future, with a human paired with a robot for police detective work. The robot was aware of his status, and surprisingly was indifferent about being a robot. While the show was cancelled way before its time, I am sure had it been renewed, that the robot may have explored his ‘humanity’ a bit more, culminating in a possible ‘Bicentennial Man’ situation. And while Real Steel featured a fighting machine that touched upon thinking robots, the upcoming 2015 film Chappie further poses the question of humanity with Chappie, though not having a human like exterior, being a machine that can think, feel and experience human emotions. Though I have not seen the film, the trailer is quite exquisite, making us think. The director of the film being the director for Elysium and District 9 makes this upcoming film very interesting, and sure to pique the interest of many people, given the meaty subject manner. Another film highlighting humanity is My Favourite Martian– Christopher Lloyd plays a Martian in a human body stuck on earth. Prompting us to think about life on other planets and whether inhabitants there are human as well?

Now after the analysis/description about humanity displayed in the movies I spoke about, what conclusion can be drawn? Are clones human, and if they are, are robots? And if both are true, what does that mean for us as people living on Earth? Well I don’t really have an answer, just jotting my thoughts down to promote discussion. People are going to have different opinions about humanity and that’s ok. While I might link my definition of humanity with Jesus because of my belief, others may not if they do not share that same belief and that’s ok as well. But what matters is that topics like these that we can wrestle with for many days weeks, months; can be discussed without intrusion and condemnation and can stir our hearts to dwell upon the meaning of life. It may take time, but I believe that such movies discussing our reason for being on this planet are useful in shaping beliefs of even the most stubborn of people. I believe that God is working, and that the topic of ‘what makes us human’ is only the tip of the iceberg of what He wants to show us and tell us. So let’s sit back, chew on these films I have glossed over, and let God speak. And let us remember that even if we aren’t the only ‘humans’ living in the world, that other forms of life are children of God as well, and that He loves them as well.

Do you wish there was more than one ‘you’? What would you do if you came face to face with your clone? Would you evangelise to them?

Til next time!

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