Frankenstein And Science Today Essay, Research Paper
Sporting With Life: Frankenstein and Science TodayThere is a broad based ethical debate taking place within today’s medical and scientific fields. This debate primarily centers around the use of science and technology in dealing with human life. In his article “Sporting With Life” Dr. Lester D. Freidman cites the ethical problem in this way. The potential destructiveness of nuclear power, the morality of organ transplants, the possible uses and misuses of DNA, and the wonder and fear created by the space exploration program – just to cite some clear examples – gives us all pause to contemplate the ramifications of scientific endeavors made in the name of humanity, yet having the potential to destroy it. (185) Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein provides a dramatic case study of what goes wrong when people sport with life and attempt to “play God”. Victor’s motivation, process and reaction to his creation can be clearly contrasted to God’s creative and redemptive process. This contrast will demonstrate society’s need for self-imposed medical and scientific limitations through identifying our human incompetence in attempting to “play God”. Victor’s motivation for creating life stands in stark contrast to God’s motivation. It is obvious from reading that Victor’s motivation was purely selfish in nature. His own words convict him at this point. “The world was to me a secret which I desired to divine. Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature. . .” (Frankenstein 36), “I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation” (Frankenstein 47). Victor’s motivation to “play God” was to achieve his own level of deity. To posses the power of life would be an accomplishment never before attained by the finite human race. Victor did not care about the repercussions and responsibilities of creating life, he was only concerned with the deistic power that creating would provide. When examining Yahweh God as a creator, it is discovered that while there is a similar motivation for creating, there is also a diametric difference in His motivation to that of Victor’s. It is very obvious through the Bible that God created selfishly in that He wanted a creation in which to express His love. God had nothing to prove, nothing to gain nor an ego to build. Because love is at the heart of His nature He wanted to demonstrate that love to something and someone. Thus He created the heavens and the earth and placed man in it. Not only do we see a contrast to Victor’s motivation for creation but also to his process of creating life. Because Victor’s motivation was to achieve his selfish desires, he had no underlying extrinsic value for his creation. There was no compassion and paternal investment involved in the creation process. There was nothing more than the eerie, clinical coldness that surrounded the creation activity. “Frankenstein mistakenly substitutes cold, abstract, scientific logic for the warmth of human friendship and love” (Freidman 183). Victor was not concerned with the emotional and aesthetic environment in which his creation would be brought into existence. It was of no importance to him because he had no loving concern for the life he was creating. Interestingly, the monster’s drive to revenge and murder resulted from his intense desire to obtain exactly what Victor has so careless rejected: Friendship and love (Freidman 184). Victor’s concern was to simply gather the necessary components and assemble a corpse by which to bring about the creation of life. To Victor, the monster’s anatomy was nothing more than a housing place for the propagation of life. David Ketterer describes the clinical feel of Victor’s process. Broadly speaking, the creation of the monster takes place in three stages. First, Frankenstein has the task of collecting what Mary’s Introduction terms `the component parts’, the various limbs and organs that go to make a human being. Second comes the matter of assemble and arrangement according to the principles of human anatomy. Third and of most importance is the creative galvanic spark which gives life to the inert form (Ketterer 13). Not only did Victor possess no personal value for his creation, his scientific experiment was performed without serious pre- thought to the responsibilities that come with such a deistic endeavor. Again, this was problematic to his lack of a proper motivation and love for his creation. The monster points out this fact many times throughout his discussions with his creator. When comparing his creator to the God he discovered thorugh personal his reading he spoke: He [Adam] had come forth from the hands of God a perfect creature, happy and prosperous, guarded by the especial care of his Creator; he was allowed to converse with and acquire knowledge from beings of superior nature; but I was wretched, helpless, and alone (Frankenstein 126). Even this wretched monster knew that Victor stood in stark contrast to the loving Yahweh creator. The monster had carelessly been created and flung into interaction with his world with no purpose, direction or interaction with his creator. Not only had Victor did failed in his attempt to create the monster in his own image aesthetically, but he had created him with his own fallen selfish nature as well. The monstor’s inhumane physical appearance restricted him from affectionate and meaningful interaction with society, and Victor’s abandonment restricted him from similar interactions with his creator as well. It is of no real wonder why the monster responded to his existence the way that he did. Hateful day when I received life! I exclaimed in agony. Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance (Frankenstein 126). David Ketterer notes the monster’s awful dilemma when he wrote, “The monster is an object of alarm not only because he is different but because he appears to be assembled imperfectly” (10). When comparing Victor’s creation process to that of Yahweh God’s, one finds additional contrasts to the comparisons. It is discovered over and over again in holy scripture that God is a loving God who created with well-thoughtout, methodically pre- planned action. Another unmistakable feature of Genesis 1 is its presentation of the creation as a place of order, system and structure. “We live in a cosmos, not a chaos, and we do so because of the creative word and action of God” (Wright 215). The first book of the bible (the book of origins) begins with; Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image and likeness…” (Genesis 1:26 NCV) The very fact that God created man in His image indicates that his creation has order and meaning. Because God’s purpose for creating was opposite to that of Victor’s, He wanted to provide an environment that would reflect His love to His creation. He wanted His loving creation to experience fullness, meaning and purpose in life. The Psalmist clearly describes humanity’s place of important in God’s creative order by saying, “But why are people important to you? Why do you take care of human beings? You made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:4-5 NCV). With His omnipotent majesty and radical wisdom, God meticulously pre-planned all the various aspects needed for His creation to experience loving interaction and true meaning in life. God created man with purpose and meaning. The book of Genesis reveals God’s plan by stating “. . . And let them [humanity] rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the tame animals, over all the earth, and over all the small crawling animals on the earth” (Genesis 1: 26 NCV). God created mankind to steward His creation as a means by which to have purpose and meaning.
Not only does man have great worth, importance and purpose to God, but man’s design was infinitely and eternally thought-out as well. You made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old. God, your thoughts are precious to me. They are so many! If I could count them, they would be more than all the grains of sand. When I wake up, I am still with you. (Psalm 139:13-18 NCV) The final comparison that need be examined is that of Victor’s response to his creation to that of God’s response to His creation. While this particular aspect of the comparison has been previously touched on, it is important to draw attention to Victor’s abandonment of his creation. Again, the Monster’s own comments concerning this issue best describes Victor’s response. I remembered Adam’s supplication to his Creator. But where was mine? He abandoned me, and in the bitterness of my heart I cursed him. (Frankenstein 127) Not only did Victor tritely and selfishly create he also failed to provide for his creation’s needs. Where Frankenstein fails miserably is neither in the dream nor in his medical ability, but in his inability to integrate them with his social obligations. Even more importantly, his pitiful refusal to provide the parental responsibility due his “offspring” assures his eventual destruction. (Freidman 182) Looking again at the bible we find a totally different response from God to his creation. Whereas Victor ran from his creation and failed to provide for his physical, emotional and relational needs we find God constantly and movingly moving towards His creation. Even after Adam and Eve rebelled against their creator’s authority and attempted to run from God He pursued the relationship. Then they heard the LORD God walking in the garden during the cool part of the day, and the man and his wife hid from the LORD God among the trees in the garden. (Genesis 3:8 NCV) In the New Testament section of the Bible we find Jesus Christ using a parable to describe God’s movement to His creation. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. (Luke 15:20- 22 NIV) God not only continues to move toward and pursue a personal relationship with His creation He also lovingly and adequately provides for his creation. From the beginning of time until now God provides the necessities for His creation. The LORD God made clothes from animal skins for the man and his wife and dressed them. (Genesis 3:21 NCV) The Psalmist notes God’s enduring provisions for man in this fashion: Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you. If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts. (Psalms 199:90-93 NIV) Conclusion After comparing and contrasting the core elements of creation as performed by Victor Frankenstein and Yahweh God it is accurate to say that only the omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God is the only capable creator for life. Finite man does not and will never posses the necessary attributes to bear the responsibility of being a creator. Lester Freidman provides a great insight to the cosmic task of creating life when he said, Responsibility begins, not ends, with creation. (184) Creation is not a single act without ongoing responsibility. Genesis 2 focuses specifically on God’s human creatures. Instead of merely appearing in the last act, so to speak, we consistently hold center stage;…. (Walsh/Middleson 54) Creation is an ongoing process in need of a supernatural and loving creator to properly care for its creation. Creation is not so much something that God did as something God is doing. (Wilkinson 31) All of mankind’s combined ingenuity could not sufficiently manage the task. Victor demonstrated no such ongoing work. There was no attempt at redeeming the broken relationship between he and the monster. Frankenstein’s turn away from an outward union with nature and toward an internalization of his imagination forces him to become overly self-conscious and destroys his social self. (Freidman 183)
Friedman, Lester D. “Sporting with Life: Frankenstein and the Responsibility of Medical Research”. Medical Heritage, 1, no. 3, May/June, 1985 181-185. Ketterer, David Frankenstein’s Creation: The book, The Monster, and Human Reality ELS Monograph Series, no. 16 University of Victoria, British Columbia, 1979. New Century Version of The Holy Bible New International Version of The Holy Bible Shelly, Mary Frankenstein Penguin Books, London, England. 1818. Walsh, Brian and J. Richard Middleton, Transforming Vision: Shaping a Christian World View Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1984. Wilkinson, Loren “Christ as Creator and Redeemer” The Environment & The Christian 25-44 Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1991. Wright, Christopher J H “Ethical Responses to God the Creator” Reprint from European Journal of Theology] Evangelical Review of Theology 18 July. 1994. 214-221