Jurassic World and the Creative Obligation

“We can’t just let them die.”

As the newly released “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” opens, society is faced with a dilemma. After the natural disaster that occurred in Jurassic Park in the previous movie installment of “Jurassic World”, the island containing the dinosaurs has been abandoned. It was clear (yet again) that trying to create and control nature will only result in chaos and unintended consequences. But the island of “Isla Nublar” that continues to be home for the dinosaurs is about to experience a volcanic eruption that would once again bring the creatures to extinction. Is that nature’s way of self-correcting something that should never have happened in the first place, or is it an opportunity for environmental intervention? Not surprisingly, humans decide to act and make a Noah’s ark-esque attempt to preserve the species from a second extinction.

The rest of the film follows the quest to rescue the dinosaurs from the volcano and then to decide what to do with them afterwards. At times the storyline relies heavily on tropes and jump scares, but overall it is a solid offering of dino-packed action and suspense. Perhaps the strongest aspect of the movie is the question of what creators owe to the things they create. The Jurassic Park franchise has always explored the difference between “can” and “should” as modern science pushes the limits of possibilities and ethics. This latest film dives deeper into the aftermath of living with our decisions and assessing who is obligated to handle the clean-up that follows our actions.

“Fallen Kingdom” invites us to wrestle with our motivations for creating new things. From dinosaurs to other scientific ethical dilemmas, why do we use our creative capacities? Is it to gain wealth and status? Is it to try controlling life itself and the avoidance of death? Can it simply be to enjoy something that is good and beautiful? If something that we have produced becomes out of our control, do we recognize our limitations or double down on seeking to have power?


The Jurassic films are so successful, not only because dinosaurs are real and that’s awesome, but because they tap into an urge that is core to being human. To be created by God in the image of God means that to be human is to desire to create. The imprint of God within us and the Cultural Mandate to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:26) propel us towards cultivating what is and wanting to make something that has never been. This is fundamentally a very good and Godly impulse. The world was not meant to be static but to be dynamic with humans acting as God’s stewards who would unlock more and more of the creation’s potential. Yet sin in the world and in our hearts projects a false narrative that we can be like God (Gen. 3:5), the ones who are in control. To be human is also to experience a perpetual struggle between producing things that are good in response to God’s character, and trying to obtain mastery in response to our sinful hearts. If we have cultivated out of evil intentions then our ability to steward the growth of what we create will be gravely impaired. Like “Fallen Kingdom”, will we seek flourishing for the beauty of the earth, or manipulate and violate the creation for our own ends?

Part of why we love to ask these questions about the motivations of the creator is because we feel that tension with God. Humans continually wonder if we were put here by a loving Creator who still cares for us. We fear the possibility that life could be random and that God could be careless or outright malicious. We wonder what we would do as creators of something new in order to find out what God might be doing with us. Our longing to be in control on earth is often to assuage our anxiety that there may be a lack of care in heaven. If we can establish that we take good care of what we produce, maybe we can believe that God will take care of us.

Pursuing that desire to be good caretakers can actually be exactly what God intended. If God gives us a picture of what it means to create, then God is also our best guide for tending the created order. God alone demonstrates pure motives and constant watchfulness towards the world.

24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!  27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! – Luke 12:24, 27-28 (NIV)

If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:32, 35, 38-39

We tend the creation because God lovingly tends to us. We know what it looks like to care for the world because we serve a Savior who exemplifies sacrificial love. We can act out of pure desires for flourishing because the Spirit gives us new hearts and better minds. In all things we look to the One who calls forth beauty and goodness, and the One whose eye is on the sparrow.




Who is the God of “Jurassic World”?

If you know me at all, and if not I hope you will get to know me, then you know I am a movie person. I love them. I studied and wrote about them in college. Movies are the medium that speaks to me the most, it is a place I often meet God more so than on Sunday mornings. The art of movies moves me. When anyone asks me what my favorite movie of all time is, it’s an easy answer, Jurassic Park.

Dr. Grant sees the magic!

Imagine being 8-years-old and having your dad take you to see dinosaurs come to life. Jurassic Park was my first and closest experience ever with magic. What Steven Spielberg and his team accomplished back in 1993 still echoes in the most interesting parts of my imagination. It was a movie that proved to me that anything is possible and is my measuring stick for all movies to come and in the many viewings since that special time with my dad my love for it still grows. Yes it was a blockbuster, but Jurassic Park is about so much more than sharp teeth and vibrating water glasses.

Then, the highly successful film did what almost all highly successful films do, it spawned sequels. I’m probably a little nicer to them than most and that is entirely because of my love of the first and how captivated I am with dinosaurs. However, even I can’t argue that, with The Lost World and Jurassic Park III, the franchise lost its magic. They didn’t seem as heavy and there seemed to be a lack of respect for the dinosaurs who consequently became giant slasher movie villains. They were just different, BUT now we have Jurassic World!

Taking in Jurassic World!

The magic of the original will probably never be duplicated but Jurassic World sure did come close. Returned are our claustrophobic encounters with our thundering friends. Back is a deep love and respect for the animals themselves. The boss of the theme park even says they were created to show us how small we are. And with that, the inspired, thoughtful storytelling of the original is revisited.

These movies with all of their terror, power, and destruction scream to me questions about our place in the grand story of the world. We see how big and perfect these beasts are and how can we not stop and wonder why is it that, in the bigger picture, they went extinct and still we roam free in this world. The answer may be found in the opening few scenes of Jurassic World where I didn’t count but am sure that word “control” was uttered over ten times. If the dinosaurs, or humanity for that matter, could control our own fate, they would still be making foot prints in our mud.


The horror of the Jurassic series only comes once humans attempt to assume the position of the one that does have control. The consequences are bloody. Jurassic Park asked all of these questions well through the bumbling, stuttering prowess of Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcolm (who makes a small cameo in World via his book “God Creates Dinosaurs”). World continues to ask those questions of what kinds of creative power humans should play with but it asks a bigger question fans of the series have been asking since the first film, what would happen if the park actually opened? What if the creators of the park, the engineers of the dinosaurs were successful?

Claire and Owen

The answer takes us deeper down the humans-playing-God rabbit trail. We have Claire who will continue to be one of the most talked about roles due to recent headlines calling the film sexist. I never saw Claire as a stereotype, but the logical type of person it would take to assume the role of running Jurassic World. She is cold, harsh and sees everything around her as commoditized assets. Real relationships…with her family, with her love interest, with the creation itself seem foreign to her. This cold distant character is not unlike how some perceive God.

Then we have the business of Jurassic World. We have a culture that is failing to be impressed by the majesty and wonder of the dinosaurs. Kids are getting bored and are hard to impress. How often today do companies stress over holding the ever changing focus of our youth? How do you make money then? Let’s let sponsors name the dinosaurs as if they belong to them, as if like a scripted TV show they can control the outcome of their name being plastered across the display case. This picture of an overbearing master to which the animals must bear the image of seems to be another perception of God I encounter.

Dino love!

However, then we have Owen. He cradles the dinosaurs when they are young to form a bond, to gain their trust, to let them know he will never leave them. He names them because he loves them. His desire is to be their father figure, the alpha, someone that will help their community form and desires to see them flourish on the island.  This is the picture of God I know. Our God that gave us his image, that calls us by name, that is sovereign, is our father but gives us the ability to choose him.

Being concerned with the flourishing of the entire world, contributing to the restoration of the relationships in our lives between us and others, between us and creation, between us and ourselves, and between us and God are impossible tasks. Still we are not that different from the curators of Jurassic World. Every day in thousands of different ways we try to assume God’s position. We try to take control in areas of life that we have none and sometimes the results are bloody. Thankfully God is always willing to call you by name, draw you near, and take his loving, powerful position back.