Hollywood has been a hotbed for pantheism for many years. The latest pantheistic movie is Avatar. Here are a few of my random thoughts about pantheism in general, and Avatar in particular. I am certainly not an expert in either subject. But I offer my thoughts based on my limited understanding for your consideration.
As I understand it…
Pantheists recognize that there is something incredibly awesome about the universe, the earth, and the myriad forms of life we find all around us.
Pantheists believe that we have an obligation to act responsibly to protect and care for this world we live in.
Pantheists believe that human greed has resulted in much harm to others and to our environment.
I (and I think most all genuine Christians) would wholeheartedly agree with these things. (Of course, there is a huge difference between the Christian perspective of responsible stewardship of God’s creation and an attitude of worship of and unity with that creation.)
On the other hand…
Pantheists reject the existence of an Eternal, Supernatural, Creator God. They flatly reject Biblical Christianity and Biblical teaching on the work and person of Jesus Christ.
In place of God, Pantheists substitute a somewhat vague belief that “god” (actually, most prefer the feminine “goddess”… as in “Mother Earth” or “Mother Nature” or “Gaia”) and the universe are one. The universe (or perhaps only the earth) is itself a living thing that evolves itself and everything in it with some kind of “super-intelligence.” As such it is to be worshipped.
Pantheism is popular for many reasons. It has an air of being “scientific” yet, in some mysterious way, “beyond science.” (I would call it pseudo-science.) It appeals to our natural intellectual pride, especially to those who perceive that they are “deeper thinkers” than others, or that they possess an esoteric knowledge that others cannot see (think gnosticism).
Any religion that allows us to decide for ourselves what we want to call “evil” will appeal to many people. The idea of a God Who has revealed what is righteous and what is sinful is repugnant to many. We don’t want the Creator God, or anyone else, telling us how we ought to live our lives.
Since God really has created us with a deep inner awareness that there is more to life than we currently experience, pantheism offers a way to fill that void without accountability to God.
These things, and more, make pantheism a popular, but dangerous substitute for the Truth.
Avatar, of course, is a blatantly pantheistic movie. But, for a religion that likes to portray itself as esoteric and profound, the text is surprisingly simplistic.
The story line is juvenile and unsophisticated. The script is an unimaginative rehash of similar scripts that Hollywood has produced over and over in recent decades. With such an enormous expenditure of money to produce the movie, I would have expected a bit more profundity in the dialog. But it was not there.
About half-way through the movie it hit me. I leaned over and whispered to Vickie, “They have not made this movie for adults. They have made it for kids.” There is no aim or pretense of an attempt toward thoughtful or intelligent persuasion. It is purely emotional persuasion, which won’t work with most adults (but may work for those who are spiritually empty).
It is a simple case of the bad guys (high-tech marines and corporate leaders… surprised?) who are really grotesquely and despicably bad, being eventually beaten (and against all odds, of course!) by the good guys (low-tech natives and the few humans who “get it” and embrace their oneness with the Mother Goddess). All the emotional stops are pulled to cause us to weep and cheer for the good guys (the pantheists).
Sure, the settings, and the technology (ironic, huh?) which allows the stunning visual effects are seriously impressive. The creativity that lies behind the sensory experience is worthy of applause.
But the movie as a whole I would rate as mediocre.
To those who are spiritually empty, the emotions of the movie may seem to offer an answer in the form of embracing unity with the mother goddess. But there is a far more satisfying way to fill that emptiness. His name is Jesus. He is the One who created this awesome universe (including the brains that were able to create the fantastic visual world in Avatar).
I invite you to worship, not the creation, but the Creator Himself. Ultimately, only He can satisfy the internal longing we all have for meaning.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities… his eternal power and divine nature… have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)
“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator… Who is for ever praised. Amen.” (Romans 1:25)
You can have the real God. Or you can have an emotionally impressive substitute that might temporarily take your breath away but which will ultimately (and inevitably) leave you empty.
I’ll take the real God.
Stay in the battle!