Little Men and Godzilla

Little Men and Godzilla October 5, 2011

Humanity has been given great power and authority over the earth. Our dominion over the world comes to us as an obligation for the earth; it is not meant to be used for our sake. We are not meant to enslave the world and the powers of nature, but rather, to oversee them and to make sure the world remains pure and good. We have great power over the forces of the world; science shows us how great an authority we possess due to the intellectual and spiritual capabilities God has given us. The more we explore the world and how it works, the more power we find we have, and the more we can affect and change the world around us. When we try to use our authority for self-deification, the world shudders and everyone, including us, feels the detrimental effects of our megalomania. The world suffers, the world cries out, the world rebels, and the world kills. We, who would like to reign like gods, find ourselves trembling at the hands of the forces we unleash.


The original Godzilla film, Gojira, is easily seen as an allegory of nuclear power, and the destructive assault Japan experienced at the hands of the atomic bomb. Yet, the film created a character, Godzilla, who could be and would be seen as something more than the atomic power which humanity had unleashed on the world. More than atomic power, Godzilla represents the power of nature devastated and tampered with by humanity: nature becomes augmented, much more powerful than before, but so does all the cruel tendencies found within nature. When not respected, Godzilla is out of control; when Godzilla is befriended and guided by respect (if not love), Godzilla, augmented as he is, becomes a force for good – protecting humanity from the devastating effects of its own inhumanity. Godzilla becomes a hero, protecting the earth – capable of joy as he wins victory after victory for the sake of humanity:

Godzilla, in his turn from a force of destruction to a force for good, was asked by humanity to help save the world. Godzilla, with Rodan, at first declined, saying that ever since he emerged upon the earth, humanity had been seeking his own destruction. He saw no reason to help those who sought him harm. But he is convinced when he realizes it his own world, his own earth, which is threatened. And, even as he turns into a hero, Godzilla is a force of nature, capable of working with humanity, but he is never a force which can be perfectly tamed. Godzilla, even when defending the world, is wrecking destruction. Godzilla’s brutality remains an ever-present fact; Godzilla enjoys the fight. Nature revels in its ability to create and destroy. It needs guidance.

But such guidance cannot be had in the creation of a simulated nature, in overcoming nature by simulacra. Mechagodzilla is, in many respects, the greatest representation of humanity’s Faustian designs. Mechagodzilla is the attempt to create a false, simulated Godzilla, one which is meant to be more powerful than the original. And in many ways, it is, but yet in many other ways, as a simulacra, it is weaker, capable of being defeated by the prototype. Moreover, it continues to have the same weaknesses of the original: it is brutal, it wrecks havoc over the world, and it is easily manipulated and controlled by those who have no moral scruples. Mechagodzilla can become a greater terror than the original:

The original is in a way subsumed by its simulacra. In all appearances, Mechagodzilla is a heightened, augmented Godzilla. And yet, its derivative nature indicates that appearances are not everything. Recreating and enhancing something in nature does not end up being super-natural, but really, sub-natural. The integral, organic power of an original creation is lost. The raw potency which was needed to create the original nature might be imitated, but the original is able to tap into it in a way which no imitation can. Imitation, even when it is enhanced, can never equal the original, for the hidden essence of the original can never be imitated, but only approximated. Mechagodzilla, though it can cause Godzilla great distress, can never have final victory, just as subcreation can never overcome creation.  There is always the hidden reserve of the original which can surprise us in its ingenuity:

Godzilla represents nature in all of its fierceness, but also, in the good which lies behind it. Nature needs loving respect in order to attain the good intended. Without it, nature can be – and will be – a force of great destruction. And humanity, in its power over nature, is able to imitate it; the creation of a simulacra of nature can be seen as the work of Anti-Christ, of Anti-God, of humanity trying to become god without need for the one, true God. The beast comes out of the sea and into the earth as a result of our combined tampering with and reconstruction of nature. Humanity has been given cosmourgic powers; as Sergius Bulgakov points out, it can lead to one of three different ends:

But human cosmourgy is subject to spiritual self-determination, for it can mean different things: It can be miracle-working in the Name of Christ, in fulfillment of His commandment; and it can be a further submergence into the world, with spiritual enslavement by its elements and service of the lust of the flesh and of the eyes; and finally it can become a false miracle-working, with false signs and directed against God.[1]

This third kind, where we find simulacra created in order to pretend to be like God, is Satanic to the core:

Thirdly and finally, cosmourgy can become a pathway of theomachy, a satanical antagonism toward God and an exhibition of signs of human power, where man considers himself to be a god. And since, when it has awakened to a certain degree, the human spirit cannot remain neutral, this power becomes the throne of ‘the kingdom of the beast,’ i.e., of theomachy.[2]

Mechagodzilla represents the power of the beast, which imitates the power of nature, which in many ways appears greater than the power of nature, and which yet fails to meet the original.

And yet, as Bulgakov points out, there is a third condition which we have yet to express. It is of humanity worshiping nature, of being enslaved by it. Nature clearly is good in creation, and so is good in what it can give, but it is unable to control itself, unable to transcend itself in God. Humanity is needed for nature. Many, seeing this, have wrongly worshiped nature as God. Though erroneous, human worship of nature shows that nature, giving what it can for humanity, does so because humanity has first turned toward it.  Nature can and does give what it can when respected, though of course, it finds its gifts limited. It dies and is reborn, time and time again, limiting the gifts it can render to humanity, and yet, when it thrives, when it is at its height, nature works great wonders, even defending humanity from the dark underbelly of itself. Thus, we have Mothra:

Humanity was created to tame nature, to keep it under control, not to dominate it so as to become gods over the earth, nor to worship it and become enslaved by its dictates. The Godzilla films represent, at their best, the consequences of a false relationship with nature. They warn us of the havoc we are creating, of the monsters we are unleashing when we try to dominate or recreate nature, but also when we let ourselves become enslaved by it. We have been given great authority over nature, but when that authority is engaged outside of a proper relationship with nature, hell will come upon the earth. Little men and women next to Godzilla must realize, size doesn’t matter if we show love – but if we neglect the path of love, if we neglect the path God intended for us in nature, then size really does matter and we will find ourselves squashed by the brute force of nature.

[1] Sergius Bulgakov, “On Miracles” in Relics and Miracles. Trans. Boris Jakim (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 2011), 93.

[2] Ibid., 93.

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