Morality, Knowledge, and X-Men
by Luke Nix
X-Men Set The Stage
I was watching X-Men: First Class the other day and something stood out that I thought might help in our discussions of morality. The two main characters (Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr) are mutants- humans with special abilities. Charles can read and control minds. Erik can manipulate metal via magnetism. Both of these are very powerful abilities demonstrated throughout the series. In the series, the X-Men series story goes that there is a growing fear of mutants among the normal populace and an effort by some government officials to eliminate them. Ultimately it ends up in a war between normal humans and mutants. However, Erik and Charles end up on opposite sides. Erik (as Magneto) wishes to eliminate the lesser evolved humans (ones without mutations), while Charles (as Professor X) fights to preserve humanity.
But what caught my attention was something very subtle: a miscommunication between Erik and Charles is actually responsible for them being on opposite sides of the war, yet both believing that they are right and the other is wrong.
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What Kind of “Good”?
Erik’s and Charles’ definitions of “good” and “better” were different. Erik’s was based on mutation and survivability. Charles’ was based on morality. Charles was pushing Erik to be the “better” man; Erik believed that he already was the “better” man because he was more evolved.They did not mean the same thing. The result of using common language but meaning two completely different things landed them on sides of a war opposite of one another for the rest of the series.
This is a powerful illustration by Hollywood of just how different the meanings of “objective morality” are when spoken by the atheist and the theist. Interestingly enough, the meanings for the atheist falls directly in line with Erik’s in X-Men: survivability determines what is good. Charles’ definition aligned more closely with the theist (though Charles never makes the effort to found his position like Erik did). I want to explore two issues that I see with this little gem…
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