The Fall of Thor (From Miracle to Science)


The mighty Thor has had quite a long fall.  Not only was he cast out of Asgard to walk among the mortals here on Earth, but he has also been reduced from the mighty Norse god of Viking lore to a mere scientific anomaly.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not at all concerned with honoring the false gods of ancient mythology.  But this is just one more evidence of mankind’s obsession with science, adoration of rational thinking, and denial of the Supernatural – even in the fictional realm.

Thor:  A Rational Explanation

The most recent Hollywood editions of the Thor legend have taken particular care to provide a reasonable scientific explanation for the legend, which – let’s be honest – is pretty hard to do.  You try explaining a superhuman race, a magic hammer, and an otherworldly city called Asgard using the scientific method, and see if your movie doesn’t stumble awkwardly through its plot lines!

In the 2011 release of Thor, the hero speaks with his mortal friend, Jane Foster, about the difference between science and magic.   “Your ancestors called it magic, but you call it science.  I come from a land where they are one and the same,” Thor explains.  Thoughtfully, Jane responds, “Magic is just science we don’t understand yet.”

This theme continues in the recent blockbuster film, Thor 2: The Dark World.  Portals between time and space are explained as anomalies in the gravitational field of a particular planet, and Jane is even able to use a strange little device to actually control this phenomenon and send people hurtling from one pocket of the universe to the next with the flip of a button.

The result – honestly – is pretty chaotic . The more the film tries to explain away the magic element, the more confusing it gets.  On more than one occasion my wife turned to me and said, “What just happened?”  To which I replied:  “I have absolutely no idea.”

Miracles:  Simply Unexplainable

Throughout history man has continually elevated human reason while simultaneously rejecting anything our finite minds can’t make sense of.  According to a December 2013 Harris Poll, which surveyed 2,250 adults, American’s belief in God, miracles, and Heaven has declined while belief in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution has increased to 47% (from 42% in 2005).[1]

But here’s the thing:  there are some things that science simply cannot explain.  Take the miracles of Jesus Christ, for example, which were viewed by numerous eyewitnesses and recorded in Scripture.  A scientist could drive himself mad trying to explain these things rationally.  They defy logic – and that was the point – to point us to the only possible culprit – an Almighty God.

Even John Locke – a philosopher from the 1600s who is known for promoting empiricism and the idea that all human knowledge comes from experience and is gained through the five senses – was forced to admit that the miracles of the Bible must be attributed to God, since nothing else made any sense.  In his Discourse of Miracles, Locke wrote that a miracle, which, “being above the comprehension of the spectator, and in his opinion contrary to the established course of nature, and is taken by him to be divine,” is a “sensible operation.” [2]

Miracles have a unique way of flying in the face of skeptics, bringing them to their knees, and causing them to declare of Jesus, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39).

Rejecting Reason – In the Name of Reason

Unfortunately, people today are so unwilling to admit God’s sovereignty over nature that they scramble to piece together scientific explanations for these biblical accounts – and the results end up being much stranger than fiction!

If only our society – and Hollywood movie directors – would give up trying to explain everything and just admit that some things are far too great for our human minds to grasp.

This might have prevented Thor from falling from the realm of epic legend to straight science fiction… and might have prevented me from falling asleep during the film’s laborious, hard-to-follow explanations.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen!

[2] John Locke, A Discourse of Miracles, I.T. Ramsey edited version, Stanford Press, pp. 78-87.


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