Dominion and Subjection

Ian Malcolm, a character in Jurassic World: Dominion, addressing his students.

I watched Jurassic World: Dominion recently. This movie is the conclusion of the six movie long Jurassic series which began with Jurassic Park. I will likely have more to say about the movie in a later post, addressing some science that is relevant to the plot of the movie itself. However, I want to make a quick comment about a particular statement by one of the main characters.

In case you do not know who he is, the character Ian Malcolm, played by Jeff Goldblum, is a long running character in the Jurassic franchise. He was in the original movie and its immediate sequel, and he had a cameo in the opening and closing of the second Jurassic World movie. Plus, he is a character from the original novels, being in both the novel Jurassic Park and its only sequel, The Lost World. In the original novel, Malcolm played the role of the author avatar: he spent a lot of time pontificating about the events of the novel, explaining to everyone what was happening and why everything was wrong. You could almost hear Crichton speaking directly through him.

The writers of Jurassic World: Dominion may have taken a cue from Malcolm’s author avatar status. In his introduction in the movie, we see Ian Malcolm giving a lecture to students. His topic is about philosophy of science, particularly the science of genetic engineering. He delivers a line that caught my attention. I will have to paraphrase it, since I do not remember it verbatim. He said that humans think they have dominion over the planet, but they don’t. We are instead subject to the planet.

I specifically remember the word “dominion” being used, both because that is in the title of the movie, but also because it reminded me of a verse in the Bible. That verse is Genesis 1:28, which says,

And God blessed them [man and woman]. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

This verse is often called the Dominion Mandate. As can be clearly seen by reading the verse itself, God gave humans dominion over His creation. Humans were set apart, a unique creation, designed for a unique purpose, and part of that purpose was to maintain and care for the world God created.

I do not know if Ian Malcolm’s statement was meant as a deliberate antithesis to Genesis 1:28. Regardless of whether it was intended, it certainly is an antithesis. As creationists and Christians, we see God as the supreme authority and He is thus capable of giving some of that authority to His creation, hence the Dominion Mandate. However, in secular, evolutionary thinking, the Earth is supreme. Sure, they do not worship it: there are no shrines to Gaia or Mother Earth. However, we humans are merely a part of life, and a tiny branch of life at that, on a planet that happened, through one way or another, to develop life. In such a view, we truly are subject to the planet and have little right to alter it in any significant way.

I was surprised by Ian Malcolm’s bluntness, and presumably, the bluntness of the writers of the movie, to just come out and directly oppose the Dominion Mandate. But, that is to be expected. Begin with a faulty premise (the theory of evolution) and you will reach a faulty conclusion (humans are subject to the planet). The movie series began with Ian Malcolm stating, “Dinosaurs had their chance and nature selected them for extinction,” and ended with “We have no dominion over the planet.”

Thoughts from Steven

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