“We killed our mother,” says Jake Sully in the movie Avatar.
The movie is set in a distant future when humans have traveled to a nearby star and found a moon there brimming with life. In fact, all of the plants and animals on the moon are said to form one super intelligence that controls all the nature, almost like a goddess. Jake is implying that Earth was once this way, but that humans killed all the plants with pollution and fossil fuels.
This idea about Earth is known in scientific circles as the “Gaia Hypothesis.” In this thinking, all life on Earth is thought to work as a unit to maintain stable conditions for life. In other words, all life on Earth is thought of as a single organism that insures its own survival.
This is a beautiful idea. In the chaotic coldness of space, a biological super-organism maintains a warm and nurturing atmosphere for itself to grow and thrive. All humans are part of it and sustained by it. It also fulfills a religious need, because people feel like a part of something larger than themselves.
One can’t research this terribly well, but scientific findings so far haven’t been favorable. This shouldn’t worry Christians, though, because our religion is better by far. Here’s how.
Part of Something Much Bigger
Human beings are living organisms, and are designed to live in a biosphere. However, the activity of the biosphere on earth is not enough to sustain life. Our planet is meticulously placed in space so that life can thrive.
We are just the right distance from the sun to receive the right amount of energy. The planet has a magnetic field that protects life from being cooked by cosmic radiation. We have a moon that stabilizes our orbit. We live in a very safe part of space.
We don’t just live in a intelligent biosphere that protects us. We live in a universe that protects us. We aren’t part of a self-sustaining organism. We are image-bearers of God, and we live in his universe, intricately designed and meticulously upheld.
Part of Something Much Better
As Christians, we are part of the City of God, a massive body of people from all throughout history that God has predestined to be adopted into the image of his Son. When Christ returns, he will raise his people’s bodies from death, and they will live forever with him. This is our identity.
The Gaia Hypothesis takes a dim view of individuality, since humans are just part of another entity, whose purpose is to sustain itself. We aren’t special in this view. In fact, many with environmental concerns have compared humans to a cancerous tumor that threatens the life of Gaia.
God doesn’t see us this way. We are not expendable parts serving a larger purpose. We were made to have relationship with him through his Son. We are the point. The biosphere of Earth is just a tool towards this end.
Avatar 2 is always just three years away, so let me know what you think about the original movie in the comments, and also post any thoughts about the Gaia Hypothesis.