Worldview in Avatar

I just went to see the new movie Avatar. WOW! I must say, this is one of the most fascinating and intriguing movies I have ever seen. The 3D technology and computer graphics make this very realistic in almost every way. It is a colorful and beautiful fantasyland come to life. In spite of a certain amount of violence, bad language and sexuality which enter at points in the movie, you will be blown away. Plot and worldview perspective aside, this movie will leave you with vivid visions and feelings that will carry you along for a while.

Those characteristics are both the good news and the bad news about this movie. As a visual experience it is very powerful and impacting. You will be entertained and, if you are like me, be left with strong feelings of wonder. On the negative side, you will also likely be drawn into a worldview perspective which is anything but Biblical.

This is, perhaps, one of the most powerful visual interpretations of an Animistic worldview that I have ever witnessed. Here, you have a realistic, animated (not an oxymoron in this movie) portrayal of a living nature in which humans, animals and plants all interact with each other in a symbiotic relationship. The real and the animation are so completely intertwined that you will need to pay close attention to keep them separated in your mind.

I am not one to discourage people from seeing movies like this, but I will throw in one caveat. Do it with your eyes wide open. Be sure you understand the difference between fantasy and reality, the difference between the Christian and Animistic worldviews and the objective reality of the God of the Bible.

What is going to happen with this movie is that people who don’t know how to make those distinctions will simply absorb this Animistic belief system as a part of their own without realizing they are doing it. There will be people who simply accept that an impersonal life energy courses through the earth and that humanity participates in that with nature. They will simply accept that there is something innately bad about technological, scientific and societal development, and that a living nature must not be violated. This is inevitable with people who do not consciously understand the various worldview possibilities and how to evaluate them.

The worldview that is pictured in Avatar is not real. Nature is not a living entity in the way that is pictured in this movie. Man does not have the kind of integral and interactive connection with nature in the way that this film depicts. There is no such thing as an idyllic primitive culture as portrayed in this movie. In the real world, societies in these circumstances live very harsh lives with virtually no prospect of improvement for themselves or their children. They have very high infant mortality rates and are in constant danger from illness and natural calamity as well as human and animal predators. The image presented in the movie is, literally, a fairy tale fantasy.

As Christians there is nothing particularly evil about watching a movie like this. The creative use of our imaginations is a gift of God by virtue of the fact that we were created in his image. After all, look at some of the real creatures in nature that God created. Nothing in any fantasy film  goes beyond some of those. It is critical, however, that we understand the worldview perspective that we are seeing. There is a way that reality is organized and it is not organized in any other way. The revelation that God has given us in the Bible depicts a reality in which a transcendent God exists who has a particular character. It also teaches that God created the material universe in a particular form and that he sustains that universe by his own power. We are also taught that God created mankind to be a special creature, made in his image, who is different from the other animal creatures in his creation – able to have a personal relationship with him through his provision of forgiveness of sin by the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The essential understanding that we must come to is that the Biblical teaching is the objective, literal truth about the way reality is structured. It is a very different understanding than what we see in Avatar. And when we watch a movie like this, we must recognize that it is pure fantasy – not just the story line, but the worldview being depicted, as well.

Because of the fact that we live in a world where technology gives us entertainment which is capable of implanting powerful worldview impressions into our lives without us even realizing it, we Christians must make the effort to learn how to understand how it affects people. I, personally, suggest that you take advantage of the opportunity to see this movie. And as you watch it, it is permissible to enjoy the power of the technology. At the same time, you must be aware of the worldviews that are being advocated and contemplate consciously why the Animistic worldview cannot be true.

This is important not only for yourself. Because of the blockbuster nature of this film, you are bound to interact with other people who will take the worldview beliefs advocated in the movie as truth. This could very well be your children and grandchildren as well as friends and colleagues. If you understand what is going on, a discussion of this movie could be an opportunity to share the real truth about God and how he, and he alone, provides eternal life in Jesus Christ.

There is a way that reality is actually structured and it is the way that is described in the Bible. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn about worldview and to fully grasp the evidence that confirms the truth of the Christian worldview. With this knowledge, God will be able to work in and through your life as never before.

© 2009 Freddy Davis