With the recent passing of Charlton Heston, I have been treating myself to a retrospective of his movies. Many are available on Netflix's "View Instant" option (which I highly recommend for any movie fan - all the movies you want to watch instantly online for only a few bucks a month.)
Other than 'Ten Commandments', I hadn't seen any of his other movies. Not even Ben Hur. I knew he had done a couple of Sci-Fi films and I was particularly anxious to see those. Most notably "Soylent Green" and "Planet of the Apes".
I know that "Planet of the Apes" has become a classic. It has been analyzed and re-analyzed in film classes and sci-fi fan blogs. It's not my intent to repeat that here. You can find many descriptions of every bit of the film if you Google it. No. I just wanted to express my surprise at the story. It's more than a sci-fi story, it's more than the "shock" ending.
It's about religion. And especially religious suppression of science and fact. And it hurt me.
Sadly, we live in a world much like that shown in the film. It's either Science or it's Religion and the two can't live together. Creation of Evolution, Fundamentalist or Worldly, Republican or Pro-choice Democrat. There is no room for open debate or any "gray area".
Why? Why does it have to be like this? I am a Christian, but I am also a life-long student of history, science, and truth. Yes, I believe what is written in my Bible, but I also look up at the world around me and try to view one through the lens of the other. You can't make sense of one if you ignore the other.
One scene that was particularly striking was where one of the ape "scientists" (who are also the "keepers of the sacred writings") tries to prove that man is unintelligent. He asks Charlton Heston's character (who landed on the planet in a spacecraft and knows nothing of the place) a series of questions. The questions are about the "sacred writings". The man couldn't answer, so obviously he's unintelligent and therefore an animal.
Are we so different? Scientists can't explain what the Bible says, so they are heretics. Religious people don't look at the scientific evidence, therefore they are ignorant and bigoted.
Science, history and intellectualism in general are not the enemies of Religion - and vice-versa. I am a firm believer in faith, but not blind faith, faith based on evidence. Do I have all the answers? No, not by a long shot. Can I explain how scientists have evidence of evolution, yet other scientists look at the same evidence and say it points to something else? No. Does that shake my faith in a Creator God? No. What it does do is make me look deeper, into both sides. It makes me think, it makes me study, and it makes me learn.
I think that's what God intended for us. Never stop questioning, never stop learning. If you think you know, then assume you don't and keep learning, reading, studying.
Don't be an Ape.
PS. I also took the time to view the 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes. Unless you just want to see a bunch of anthropomorphic monkeys in armor, I'd avoid it. It bears no resemblance to the imagery/story-thick original of 1973. (Though I must say, I haven't read the original book that came out in the late '60s, so I don't know how much either movie compares to that, but since when does converting one art form to another ever produce something resembling the original?)