The Modern Prometheus

Read Psalm 14

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Fools base their thoughts on foolish assumptions, so their conclusions will be wicked madness; they chatter on and on. No one really knows what is going to happen; no one can predict the future.” (Ecclesiastes 10:13-14 NLT)

FrankensteinOne of my more favorite books, as a fan of Gothic Horror, is Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s “Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus”. Inspired by a group of friends who were all competing to see who could write the scariest horror story, Shelley penned Frankenstein about a doctor who would use science to create human life. Shelley’s world was one that had gone through the age of enlightenment and scientific knowledge was growing in leaps and bounds. There was seemingly no limit to human potential and it seemed as if humans could achieve anything if they so willed it. All it took was scientific discovery. As has happened ever since the Age of Enlightenment, scientific discovery got more and more narrowed down to physical and/or natural sciences, such as medicine, biology, anatomy, physiology, ecology, etc.

But Shelley also lived in a world that still held on to the other sciences as well. The word science comes from the Latin word scientiae, which means “knowledge.” Therefore, the sciences were avenues to attaining knowledge. Whether it be the knowledge of the physical/natural world, of wisdom (philosophy), of the mind (psychology), or even of God (theology), people have been in pursuit of such knowledge. Thus, the physical and/or natural sciences are no more or less science than philosophy, sociology, psychology, archaeology, and theology. All of these are avenues to knowledge…all of these are sciences.

In Shelley’s novel, Dr. Victor Frankenstein abandons himself to the physical sciences in order to attain something that the other sciences such as theology and philosophy might warn against. He attempts to leave the realm of humanity and starts to play God. The results are catastrophic, as one can imagine. Instead of creating another human being, Dr. Frankenstein creates what he ends up considering to be a monster and an abomination. In reality, the creation (who refers to himself as “Adam” in order to draw a parallel between himself and the first man created in Eden) is not the real monster…rather, Victor Frankenstein is the one who becomes monstrous in creating and abandoning “the Adam of [his] labours”, as well as for the hell he brings upon his household and his people.

Shelley’s novel is one that intentionally warns the reader about the danger of abandoning the sum of knowledge for just one of its parts. While we have learned a great deal about the world through the physical and natural sciences, that is not the whole of the knowledge we have to learn. Just as one who ignores the knowledge we have gained of ourselves and of the world through the physical sciences is considered to be foolish, so too is it foolish for one to ignore the knowledge we have gained of God, of the cosmos, of creation and of our relationship to all of the above through theology.

Today’s challenge is for us to move away from being like Frankenstein and toward a more holistic understanding of reality. We are not just physical beings, but we are also emotional, intellectual, psychological and SPIRITUAL beings as well. We cannot be one without the others. We cannot be one part without the whole. When attempt to be apart from the whole, we end up becoming hollow, shadowy caricatures of our former selves; when we abandon the whole of knowledge we often, in our willful ignorance, end up becoming monstrous and dangerous to the larger community around us. Christ is calling us from that to humility, curiosity, and open-mindedness…values that any true scientist would eagerly embody.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink, so a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honor.” (Ecclesiastes 10:1 NLT)

PRAYER
Lord, teach me to be open to all of the possibilities so that I may grow in knowledge, as well as in wisdom. Amen.

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