Pacific Rim: Hope in Humanity

If you haven’t seen Pacific Rim, it’s an experience worth having in the theater. Remember how the visuals of The Matrix astounded us? Those transferred fairly well to the small screen. But some movies, especially something like Transformers, really feel out of place on a small screen. Pacific Rim is big, explosive, and tons of fun. But can it teach us anything?

Over at Many Horizons, author LA suggests that Pacific Rim is mostly optimistic in its view of humanity:

The monsters are other than ourselves, and if we stand together in unity, the indomitable human spirit will not be vanquished. Humanity melds itself with advanced technology to fend off its giant foes, as if to say that evil will be conquered through human means. Yet, a flip through a history book or the news, perhaps even a look in the mirror for some us, will show that humanity does not strive for the ideal good. We make an awful mess of things, and we have since time immemorial.

We do make an awful mess, don’t we? We’ve been pretty good at sinning since time began, or at least pretty shortly thereafter (“shortly” might mean a few million years, depending on your view of the age of the Earth). Pacific Rim doesn’t seem to think we’re all that broken: humanity is defined by our ability to overcome our difficulties. On a large scale, that means beating the monsters with our big, human-looking robots; on the small scale, it means acting against the chain of command when necessary. The point is that pulling ourselves up from our bootstraps is the truest form of humanity.

In a lot of ways, there’s truth to that. Mankind was made to work, and we’ve definitely done that. Our accomplishments–ranging from the clothes I’m wearing to the computer I’m typing on and beyond–are daily reminders of the progress we’ve made.

But Scripture teaches us that we can’t do everything on our own. Salvation comes through Jesus Christ, for it is by faith through grace we are saved, not of our own works. Humanity couldn’t do it on their own: we needed a savior. But when Jesus is born, when he lives a perfect life and offers to save us from our sins, it is worth remembering that he was fully human. Humanity, when paired (not combined) with something more (divinity) happens to be the right formula for eschatological success. (“Happens to be” is a joke: circumstantial this was not.)

So what of Pacific Rim? Let it inspire us, and let us remember that there are great things about humanity. We’re made in the image of God, after all, and the robots are made in the image of us. But don’t forget that while we’re quite capable, there’s always going to be the hurdle we can’t jump over entirely on our own: sin. Praise God for grace.

Published by

J.F. Arnold

James received his MA in Philosophy of Religion at Talbot School of Theology in 2013. He holds a BA in Biblical Studies from Biola University, and is a graduate and perpetual member of the Torrey Honors Institute. James blogs on a number of subjects, including technology, theology, and hip-hop. He has written for Biola’s Center for Christianity, Culture, & the Arts, The Gospel Coalition, and he is an editor for Mere Orthodoxy. You can also keep up with him on Twitter (@jamesfarnold).