Theology found in the movie Surrogates
Surrogates: The Movie
The premise of Surrogates is interesting. A scientist who is restricted by his movements decides to make a machine, or surrogate body, that he can control from a remote location. This machine would be able to move, interact, drive, and do anything that a normal person could do in the outside world. This would allow the scientist to be more freely and be more "human" in his mind. Then the movie fast forwards, and like all good scientific improvements, someone takes the idea and makes a lot of money from it. Now everyone has surrogates, from the very basic model to highly skilled government enforcement models. Each person is able to look and act exactly how they want to without fear of being assaulted, robbed, killed or physically injured. The world is a better place, right?
There is a group of people led by the Prophet who want people to stop using the Surrogates and start being truly human once again. When a new weapon hits the streets, one that can kill the person behind the surrogate through the surrogate people start to get worried once again. As the movie progresses, the main character discovers that everything is not what it seems, and that maybe living a lie, or a life through a surrogate, has only made it possible to ignore the real issues and pain of life. Sometimes it is in the pain that we can understand the real meaning of life itself.
Surrogates: The Theology
Being a minster I watch movies with my mind focused on how does this speak to us about God or ourselves. The first thing I thought of was the Tower of Babel. The story where people begin building a huge tower that reaches to the sky, and then give themselves the credit for all their great skill and acheivement. When God sees what man has done, they are punished by no longer being able to speak the same language anymore. Hundreds of languages are born at one moment and confusion runs rampant through the people. This way they are no longer able to build such a tower again.
As I watched Surrogates, I realized it was the same human failure as the Tower of Babel. We are very quick to take something that is meant to be beneficial, like a body to allow a crippled person the chance to "walk" again, and make it just a thing to use for our own pleasure. People begin taking advantage of the surrogates, no longer living in fear or common sense. There is good to be had from technology and science, but we cannot lose sight of who gave us the gift of thought and insight. We cannot lose focus of why we have the skills and talents God gave us. The human element, the gift of life, cannot be degraded to a very impressive SIMS game (where people use a Simulation on a computer and "live" a life they cannot live in the real world).
We need to give credit where credit is due. Not take all the credit for ourselves and show people how wonderful we are. This is just another form of idolatry. We are putting something that is not God in God's place.
Why see Surrogates?
This is a great action movie that is both science fiction and realistic fiction. It is not hard to see something like this happening in the next 10-20 years. The way our society is headed with Facebook, Texting, and all the non-personal interaction we are quick to take one more step in that direction. It would be a slippery slope, and one that people have taken with several scientific advancements. But the movie is well crafted, and has enough action and plot twists to keep you entertained. My wife and I enjoyed watching it and talked about different elements for several days afterward.