In NBC Heroes tonight we had more religious overtures and a thorough playing out of moral equivocation across the board. The question basically asked was: “Are these men and women angels or are they monsters?” There seemed to be no way to distinguish ‘good’ guy from ‘bad’ guy and previous ‘good guys’ now seem to be monsters whereas ‘bad guys’ are becoming winsome.
In my opinion, this sort of moral confusion doesn’t bother me all that much. Really, the whole thing typifies what life could conceivably be like in a godless universe. True, it doesn’t match up with our own universe, but it is interesting to see some consistency for once. ‘Good’ is whatever the ‘heroes’ think is best at that particular moment, and by ‘best’ they have utilitarian standards, such that in one case Hiro slays his most loyal friend in cold blood ‘to save the world.’ (Of course we don’t believe Ando is actually dead). But really, apart from raw utility, in a godless universe what other kind of moral motivation can there be? I mean rationally.
A question is posed in this episode that ties in and I think is noteworthy. Nathan Petrelli wants to know who else could have bestowed all these powers except for God himself. By the end of the episode we know that mad scientists are the culprits and that his visions and sense of ‘divine purpose’ are the spinnings of another ‘hero’ that can control the mind. In this madcap universes of the heroes (and our own) the question is reasonable: just how would you know that it was God at work, that you were on the side of the angelic and not the monstrous?
On this vital point, the series has made it impossible, in theory and in principle, for any character in the show to be able to reliably discern the truly divine. Why? Because every criteria by which we might have judged the question is represented by an attribute by some ‘hero.’ They can walk on water, they can rise from the dead, they can travel through time… the ‘laws’ of nature have been reduced to chaos. As such, you wouldn’t be able to recognize when a truly transcendent entity had intervened within the system because his actions are essentially indistinguishable from the actions of the other characters.
This is a compelling paradox. Atheists cling to the ‘laws of nature’ on the belief that they will inexorably persist into the future and that the universe, our system, is self-explaining, but it is the very fact that the universe appears to be orderly and predictable which makes the detection of a miracle possible at all! In other words, an orderly universe is a pre-requisite if God exists and wanted to communicate with his creation. And we have such a universe.
That does not mean that there is a God, but it does mean that if he exists, he has made the universe in such a way that he could conceivably communicate with us. We might plausibly decide, then, that we should be looking for revelation. This revelation can be ascribed to God if, and only if, it is authenticated using means that are otherwise outside our capabilities- theoretical and actual.
And how many revelations in human history have such authentications? How many of those are historically substantiated? Things to ponder after another exciting night of NBC Heroes.