Life will survive. Love will redeem.
Reflections on how Jurassic World values of life
When Jurassic Park debuted about twenty-five years ago, Jeff Goldbum’s character, Ian Malcolm, a chaos theory aficionado, uttered the ominous statement, “Life will find a way.” The movie then proves his statement correct revealing that the female dinosaur species found a way to create new life. This latest Jurassic movie, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, takes this theme a step further to communicate that not only is life resilient, it has value.
In a critical moment, one of the main characters, Claire, has to decide whether to release the eleven species of dinosaurs out into suburban America or allow them to die and become extinct once again. She decides not to let them go, possibly thinking of the human lives that would be lost. Claire is distraught about this decision—the entire film centered on her desire to save these animals from destruction on the island. However, when confronted with choosing life for the dinosaurs or life for the humans, she chooses to protect people.
As Claire and Owen look out the window, though, they suddenly see the dinosaurs running out of the building. They turn to see that the third character in the room, Mr. Lockwood’s granddaughter Maisie, has released them. As they stare at her, she states defiantly, “They are alive. Like me.” She too has been a result of genetic manipulation, as her “grandfather” cloned his daughter who had died in a car accident, of which Maisie is the result.
The final scene of the movie reverts back to Ian Malcolm, now sitting before a group of politicians and onlookers, explaining that since dinosaurs are now living amongst them, they are living in a new era, a new world—a Jurassic world.
As the film cuts to scenes of the dinosaurs in the wild, we know that this new world is not going to be a safe world for humans. According to Jurassic philosophy, though, the only lives that seem valuable are the lives of the animals. While the scene of the brachiosaurus left behind to die in the eruption is upsetting and drawn out, human life is extinguished with flare and a sense of vengeful justice. This is, unfortunately, not a surprising trend.
Which Life to Save?
When my daughter was little, she liked to ask me difficult questions to test me. Once she asked me if the house was on fire, would I grab her or our dog Junior. I of course answered that I would grab her, and she then cleverly stated that she would grab the dog. I love my dog, whom I joke is my emotional support helper, but it was important for my daughter to understand that human life, for all its issues, is still valuable, even more valuable than a beloved dog’s life.
In recent years, it seems people aren’t so sure that human lives are valuable. After decades of being taught in school that we are just evolved animals ourselves, it isn’t a far leap to say our lives are not that important. In fact, in many ways, animals act in superior ways—they mostly just kill for food, they are not unnecessarily cruel, and they follow the rules of their world without much variation. In our pets, particularly dogs, we see loyalty and simple affection. Humans, on the other hand, are markedly selfish and evil at times. If the fruit of our lives is what gives us value, it is no wonder that many are disillusioned with the idea of inherent human value.
The problem with this mindset, however, is that we don’t understand that our value is not tied to our behavior. It is connected to our Creator. We, unlike animals, are created “in his image.”
Humbled by His Love
As we consider the value of life, then, we must do so with profound humility. I do not look at the life of my dog and think it has no value. I do not even look on the lives of the animals sacrificed to nourish me as being without importance. I accept the sacrifice knowing that God has put value on me that I do not understand and cannot validate. I am humbled that others must die so that I may live, a constant reminder of the one sacrifice that brought me eternal life.
I agree with Jurassic World that all life is valuable, but I take it a step further to say that human life is something special, something different and worthy of redemption. And, while life will find a way to survive, love will find a way to redeem. In this is all our hope.
Cover image by Vitor Fontes.