1 Corinthians, Atheism, Batman, Christian worldview, Evolution, God is Dead, Gotham, Joker, Judgment, Living Consistently, Morality, Nietzche, Parable of the Madman, resurrection from the dead, The Dark Knight, Worldview
If this were a movie review, it would be the latest one ever. I prefer to think of it as a world view review though. Last night I watched “The Dark Knight” Batman movie – not for the first time. This is a film with great characters and an interesting story, but something has always bugged me about it. Last night, I think I found the words to express that lingering feeling.
In a nutshell, “The Joker” character (masterfully portrayed), is the only character in the movie whose words, actions, and what he stands for are completely consistent with an evolutionary/atheistic worldview.
Gotham is a world without God, and the Joker recognizes that significance. While being beaten by our hero, he says “You have nothing to threaten me with, nothing to do with all your strength”. Even if Batman were to break his one rule (no killing), in a world without God, death is not a threat; it is not a sentence for crimes; it holds no significance – it is simply an end.
At the films climax, when the Batman has finally captured his foe, the Joker’s comments are an astute observation on the worldview in Gotham, and in much of our world today: “You won’t kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness, and I won’t kill you because you’re just too much fun.” He hits the nail right on the head.
The Joker understands that our most generally accepted worldview – that of an ungoverned universe, with self-creating life – means that life is meaningless, that chaos and anarchy are only fair, and the Batman’s willingness to do everything but kill is also a random, meaningless, self-righteous choice (again, based on the logical living out of a worldview in which life in a cosmic accident, with God, and without eternal justice).
The Apostle Paul lays this out very clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:13b. “If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” The Joker makes the same point. If life only has the meaning that WE can invent for it, then to fight for “justice” as the Batman does is lunacy. If there is no resurrection to Judgment for eternal life or eternal punishment, the only sensible thing is to do whatever you find pleasure in. Life for fun, because there is nothing else, and in this worldview, there is no person, organization, or social structure which can reasonably tell you that anything you do is “wrong”.
Batman’s reply is somewhat limp. “…deep down not everyone is as ugly as you. (There is a whole city of people) willing to believe in good.” At this point, I have to ask Batman, why? Why believe in good? Why have rules? Without a Sovereign Ruler and Judge of all things, the Joker, not the Batman is living a consistent life.
In Gotham, or in a reality devoid of divine justice “the only sensible way to live… is without rules” – The Joker
Of course, the Joker is portrayed as insane, but it is actually true insanity to borrow from a Christian worldview, picking and choosing what you like in order to live with some social order, rather than to bow before the Creator and Judge of all things and live out the only worldview that can be lived out consistently.
ADDENDUM: The following is the greater context of the famous saying “God is Dead” from Friedrich Nietzsche, The Parable of the Madman (1882)
What the “Madman” is saying is what the “mad” Joker represents. To live in a world without God, without a Creator, and without a Judge, people must accept the severity of the consequences of this worldview:
“Whither is God?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed him — you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.
“How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us — for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.”
Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars — and yet they have done it themselves.