The Theology of Heroes

I’ve become a big fan of the freshman NBC sci-drama Heroes. This week marked the season finale of the show, where they wrapped the main storyline up while putting forth new challenges for next year. While I found some aspects of the episode to be somewhat disappointing, I was left thinking about how quality the show was in its first year. As I’ve digested it over the last couple of days, some interesting things have come to mind. I’ll try to discuss them without spoiling any major plot points for those of you have haven’t yet seen the show.

First of all, there was one major character who existed anonymously for the entire season. He was referred to as HRG (which stood for Horn Rimmed Glasses), but had yet to divulge his real name. In this last episode, he stated that his first name was “Noah”. This got me thinking about the fact that many male characters from the show had Biblical first names. Peter, Nathan, Matthew, Isaac and Micah. Certainly this was not by accident.

Secondly, I started thinking about the science of the show. In the first episode, we meet a geneticist speaking to college students about the absurdity of the account in the book of Genesis (in fact, the first episode of the series is titled “Genesis”). He says that “man is not worthy to be made in God’s image” and goes on to say that cockroaches are actually the most advanced species on earth and therefore God must be a cockroach. To emphasis his stance on Christianity and God in general, the character stomps on a cockroach in a later scene. This seems to set up an argument for evolutionary theory by saying that humans are now evolving more abilities and are taking their next evolutionary step. But not so fast.

In later episodes, it becomes clearer that the people displaying new abilities have all been “marked” and are being watched by a secretive organization. The geneticist character takes a long time to come to a realization that these people have been tampered with genetically and have not simply taken the next evolutionary step. It would appear that genetic engineering has taken place, which implies that an engineer exists. This is the exact summation of the position for Intelligent Design. We look at the world around us and its complexity and rather than look to pure chance we say that it has been purposely designed this way. In the purely secular definition of the thinking, scientists would say that the designer is unknown (even though many ID proponents are Christian and point towards God’s involvement). In Heroes, the designer also unknown at this point. Was the geneticist’s father involved? Or the mysterious company Noah worked for? Or the wealthy Las Vegas tycoon? We are left wondering if the heroes will ever discover where they came from. But the final image of the season was that of a living cockroach crawling on a manhole cover, a symbol that God is still active even though geneticist’s may not believe it.

Finally, we are shown that fathers play very important roles in the lives of the characters. One hero realized that his father was supporting and guiding him all along (even though at times it felt like he was totally against him). Another hero decided to go against his pride make sacrifices for the good of his family. And a flawed father-figure sacrificed much of himself and even took a bullet to save his adopted daughter, while another father was seriously injured protecting his wife and son. So you can see that there is a running theme of loving fathers and brothers making sacrifices for their families. Sound familiar?

With all that in mind, I’m very interested to see where they take the show next year.

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3 thoughts on “The Theology of Heroes

  1. I haven’t gotten into Heros at all even though so many friends and family absoulutly love the show. I just keep thinking it’s a TV version of J. Michael Straczynski’s comic book series, Rising Stars.It’s kinda funny, when I went on Wikipedia to see how to spell Staczynski’s name and looked at the Rising Star’s page, the bottom also noted the similarity to Heros.—b

  2. I deliberately chose to not watch Heroes because I knew I would get addicted to it. I’ll just rent the whole season sometime and watch it all at once (essentially just putting off my addiction until later).Interesting to hear your thoughts on themes in the show, brother.

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