As old-time radio fan, I recently heard an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and a few thoughts occurred to me and so I will play devil’s advocate to bring these ideas to you. The full title of the book is “Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus” and we all know the story well. It’s the story of Dr. Victor Frankenstein who through science created a man by building him using various human parts, in the end this man was more of a monster, a failed experiment, an abomination of nature, yet it occurred to me that in reality the real monster is not this man-made creation, but the man who created it in the first place. The subtitle of the novel makes it very clear that Victor Frankenstein is a man who has achieved godhood by creating this creature and giving it life. It is suggestive that like Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods and gave it to man and thus making us equal to the gods, Frankenstein by consciously creating life had gained a power that had been exclusive to God and like Prometheus his actions brought him terrible consequences.
This story is considered a classic horror story, yet what makes it horrific shouldn’t be the monster, but the reflection of our very nature. Victor Frankenstein played God, by creating life and that is true of all of us. There are times we play God as well, some more than others, and hide our god complex behind the shield of morality and self righteousness. When we feel morally superior from others and judge them by our personal value system, we play God, because we believe we possess an absolute truth and that the other is wrong. Medical science has also given us the power to play God and go against nature. We believe life is sacred that we have created medicine and several technological advances that have prolonged our lives. Doctors make life and death decisions all the time, yet what gives them the right to decide for others. I could go on, but the point I want to make is a simple one: we judge others all the time or we want to impose our own ideas or values on other, yet we forget that morality, ethics and values are subjective and that morality is our compass, our guide and our control system in the way we act and yes there are people who have none of this. Knowing right from wrong is what differentiate us from animals, we act knowing that what we do is right or is wrong, yet even that simple choice is subjective. What for one person might be wrong for another it might be right. Like I said, we judge people based on our personal value system. If there is one thing I’ve gotten out of religion is the fact that before judging others we should judge ourselves first. We are not God and we don’t possess the absolute truth, yet there people who believe they have it.
Back to the book, like I said Medical science has given us tremendous technological advances that have prolonged our lives and like Dr. Frankenstein doctors have been given a power that let’s them decide between life and death of any individual, of course they chose life and here is where perhaps like Victor Frankenstein we may go against nature. By either prolonging a life or saving it we may go against God’s will, on the other hand science has helped make our lives better, but it has also caused a problem that supersedes any moral or philosophical implication and is a very real economical problem. All over the world, but I’m referring in particular of Mexico there is a very real crisis in the social security and the pension system. Since our lifespans have been extended beyond the standard expectancy there are more older people and more retirees who are paid pensions, but when the pension laws were written down it was based on a specific standard and since then it has been surpassed so when scientists decided to better our lives by playing God they did not foresee the consequences of their actions.
In the end it’s up to you reader to make up your mind, are we playing God and justify our god complex by playing the morality card. Should we, like Victor Frankenstein, be horrified by the unforeseen consequences that our actions have brought upon us personally and in the bigger picture?