Should we refer to J. J. Abrams as in some sense a “theologian”? Last week’s episode of Fringe, “Forced Perspective,” which I only found the time to watch last night, is full of theology and philosophy. From a girl with remarkable precognition asking why God made her this way (and being reassured that God makes everyone and everything for a purpose) to discussions of fate and foreknowledge, the episode explored interesting theological and philosophical topics.
Even in the Latin slogan on the courthouse, “Dei judicium fiat justitia” – “By the judgment of God, let justice be done” – there is a theological component.
On the one hand, the vision of the young prophetess who is at the center of the story seems to predict the inevitable, and yet – just as with those known as prophets in ancient Israel, for instance – it turns out that by taking her warning to heart, it is possible to avoid the predicted outcome.
On the other hand, the observers seem to be in the role of gods or angels. They exist outside of time, or in all time, and so they do not predict the future, but have already experienced it. Even there, their knowledge seems to be what is known as “middle knowledge” – not knowledge that one course of events is inevitable, but knowledge of what will transpire given every possible unfolding of events.
The subjects of foreknowledge, fate, and free will are fascinating ones. But perhaps even more interesting is the very fact that a science fiction TV show is exploring theology. I wonder how many viewers actually treat shows like Fringe as an opportunity for theological and philosophical reflection.