Reflecting on ‘Into the Dalek’
Dr Who asks, "Am I a Good Man?"
WARNING: this article contains information and spoilers about Doctor Who Season 8, Episode 2.
I LOVE Doctor Who and I am super excited that it is back on our TV screens with a whole new incarnation of the Doctor. If you have never seen it before there is no better time to tune in. While I have enjoyed the first two episodes of the new series, I have noticed that the writers are exploring different themes to what has come before. In particular, episode two really looked at whether people can change their nature. This all springs out of the Doctor asking Clara (his friend) “Am I good man?” while they are miniaturised and sent into the body of a supposed ‘good’ Dalek.
As the Doctor meets this broken Dalek he is adamant that a good Dalek is not possible. For their nature is just to desire to exterminate all other creatures. By the end he is proved right, that whether the Dalek is killing Time Lords, other enemies or even other Dalek’s, all they want to do is “EXTERMINATE.” In the episode we even see all good memories a Dalek has are being suppressed.
This nature is not far from our own humanity. While we are certainly not out to kill all other beings and rule the galaxy, our nature is that we can’t help but sin. To sin is to reject and rebel against God. Left on our own we can’t help but live to please ourselves and we make gods out of created things rather than honouring the creator. This is the theme of Romans chapter 1. That even though what may be known about God is made clear we “suppress the truth” by our wickedness. We deliberately choose to ignore God and run life our own way. This is the inherent nature of every human being and this state condemns us to face the wrath of God. So can we change or be saved?
Can we change?
What we see in the episode is The Doctor and Clara going inside the Dalek to try and fix him. Their goal becomes to try and change his nature. They try to do so by showing him his suppressed memory of a star being born, of life. The Doctor lets him inside his mind to see what the dalek describes as “beauty” and “divine perfection”, but then he sees the Doctors hatred.
Now our human nature is that we sin and rebel against God. Just like in this episode, the only chance we have of changing is if someone comes inside us and changes our hearts and minds.
We need to see the truth, we need to see life, we need to see divinity. That is exactly what we see in Jesus, when he himself says; "I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus is the truth we need to see, he is the only who is perfect and divine. If we want to be saved from judgement we need major heart surgery and the only one who can change our hearts is God, as his powerful Spirit comes and lives inside us. So we need to turn back to God and ask him to change our hearts.
Am I a good man?
In amongst all the running and exterminating, the Doctor is ultimately trying to work out if he is a good man or not. It seems to be a question that will define his identity. When he asks Clara, she responds by saying, “I dunno. But i think you try to be good and i think that is probably the point.” It’s as if trying to be good is what matters in the end.
This is where the Bible differs. It’s true that the Bible tells us to love one another and to live a godly life. But that is only ever within the context of a relationship with God. What is of most importance and what will define our identity, is how we treat God. Just trying to be good will never save you from God’s wrath and judgement. What will save you is putting your trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. Jesus says in John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."
The Doctor and the Daleks have raised some important questions. But don’t ask “Am I a good man?” because due to our sinful nature no one is good enough. Instead ask “Am I trusting in Jesus?”