X-Files: I Want to Believe

Christians could have a problem with this movie, which is understandable given its controversial premise — a convicted pedophile (and former priest) experiences psychic visions that lead him to assist in solving a horrific case of advanced medical science and research. I can certainly see their point, and the argument that the film has an anti-Catholic slant. I don’t know that I buy it, because throughout the film are subtle indications that nothing is by chance, that Scully is lead by divine intervention, and that God continues to work through sinful people… but yes, I do understand.

I have a somewhat unorthodox approach to “abnormal” things. I believe we cannot put God in a box, or claim that He can or cannot do something, because as the Master of the Universe, He can pretty much do whatever He wants — and in the past, He has done some pretty incredible things. So to have Him work as He seems to in this movie doesn’t really seem too much a stretch of the imagination — for me, at least. Many would see it differently. But I thrive on the notion that God might work in our lives in unusual ways. That yes, sometimes He does guide us, and speak to us, and give us a “sixth sense” or “intuition.” That if He wanted to, He could speak through a convicted sinner — after all, some of our saints were… well, no saints.

The entire premise of the X-Files from the beginning has been searching for truth. I want to believe. In what? God? Aliens? Unexplained phenomenon? Ghosts? All of the above? In this film, Mulder is searching for physical answers. He is trying to solve a crime and redeem his ruined reputation with the FBI. Scully, as she did throughout much of the series, is searching for a spiritual truth, whether or not God exists and if He does, why He allows bad things to happen. At the same time, the villains of the film are involved in advanced science, which creates a moral question: when is man allowed to play God?

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelly, explores this philosophy and the consequences of it, when it introduces us to an ambitious young inventor determined to “create life.” What he brings to life instead is a monster — devoid of human emotion apart from loneliness and despair, a soulless creature that so repulses him when it awakens that he abandons it to the injuries and injustices of the world. Then, medical science was just beginning to bud, and it was only in our greatest imagination that such things could be considered possible. That was, quite easily, the first literary foray into “science fiction” of a kind we are fully accustomed to.

As a society, we are contemplating immense advances in science. It is, quite literally, becoming possible for us to play God — with cloning, limb re-attachment (something this film delves into, on a greater and more disturbing scale), and other controversial procedures. But simply because we can does not mean we should. Some believe science in fact overrules God, that if science makes “miracles” possible, there is no divine hand behind such miracles, but in fact it is God that gives us the knowledge to make some miracles possible. It is as much His inspiration as the work of our hands. And I think Scully knows that, since at the end she chooses to do something in faith without being certain of the outcome.

The underlining message is not I want to believe as much as Believe, and then act on it. Because of the characters’ beliefs, certain things happen. Scully saves Mulder’s life because she has pushed aside her prejudices and allowed herself to believe the priest might actually be telling the truth. His intuition leads her to Mulder just in the nick of time. Is it coincidence or divine providence? Mulder finds answers because of his faith in the truth. Scully chooses to operate on the child “in faith.” Mulder even says it is possible the former Father was forgiven because “he never gave up.”

While it is safe to say that the morals and messages contained within this controversial and unusual sci-fi movie are not predominantly Christian in intent or origin, nevertheless one profound truth stands out: that if we believe in something, we should act on it. God rewards those who pray, and then prepare their fields for the harvest. He rewards those who ask, and make ready for His blessings.

Believe, and then act on that belief.

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