Thursday, July 11, 2013

Gargantia: What it Means to be Human

[Spoilers ahead] 

The thirteenth episode of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet has a pretty interesting element to it. To put it simply: there’s a machine with a god complex, and another machine that explains humanity pretty well. Looking at it in simple terms, it’s rather amusing.

Yet the conversation between these two “pilot interface enlightenment systems” (aka the AI in the mechs) is serious. Profound, even, in a way you don’t expect from two machines.

The first machine, called Striker, is carrying on what she says are her dead pilot’s wishes. She has a fleet of humans at her service. They worship her and fall to her (and her late pilot’s) cruel interpretation of order and happiness. Their lives are controlled by her, and she’s convinced that she’s doing them a favor. “That is to say,” she summarizes, “I am the presence called god.”

Striker's a pretty magnificent machine, but a god?
Yup, we heard her right. This incredibly dangerous machine has declared herself god. She’s all “logic,” no emotion... yeah, definitely not a being I’d want running my life.

She’s even relieved her slaves of the “burden of having to think and decide for” themselves. Ain’t that benevolent of her? 

Look, I can get pretty tangled up in my mind. I think too much, and sometimes it’s hard to make my mind rest. And decisions are tough. Whether I’m choosing which shirt to wear or which college to attend, I easily get overwhelmed. And those aren’t even moral decisions! I get tired of messing up, sinning, and just generally not being perfect. Sometimes, part of me wants to pray, “God, why’d You have to give us choice? When we choose wrong, we make a pretty big mess! The examples start with Eve listening to a snake, and they go downhill from there! Can’t You make my life easier and just take complete control of me? Can You please make me stop thinking?”

But without choice, who would I be? What would I be? Chamber, the main character’s mech, makes an excellent point: “One who abandons thought and decision-making deviates from the definition of ‘human.’” Without choice, without thought and creativity, we would not be the people we identify our race as today. 

I don’t understand why God allows all the horrible, cruel choices people make. I can attempt to explain it, but I don’t know what goes through God’s mind. If I did, He wouldn’t be the amazing Lord that I follow.  My understanding is very limited; His is not. All I know is that He is good. I could go into all the reasons that I trust Him and follow Him, but then this post could sound a lot like a smitten woman gushing about her love, and I’m already off topic enough. 

Where was I?

Like I said, I can’t tell you why so many bad decisions are allowed. But I may have a small inkling of why we have the ability to think and decide things for ourselves, even if it means our self-destruction. With thought comes emotion: love, joy, sadness, excitement, relief. We have choices, so we are people. We’re not machines with one-dimensional thinking. Instead, we have emotion and spirit. We have precious relationships with each other and with God. Without these things, we may as well not exist. Actually, the human race as we know it really wouldn’t exist.

I serve the God who made us sentient beings in His image. Unlike Striker-the-scrap-heap, He doesn’t call me a slave. I’m His servant, yes (albeit a very clumsy one). But He’s also called me His friend, heir, and beloved. I trust Him because He loves, because His justice includes mercy, because His fairness includes grace. He does not need me, alive or dead. Unlike Striker or the Galactic Alliance that made her, He won’t toss me overboard because I’m a burden. He doesn’t measure my worth by what I can do for Him, or even for the people around me. If He did, I’d be long gone. 

Perhaps it’s ludicrous and unfair to compare the Lord God to a fictional artificial intelligence with a god complex. Of course Striker doesn’t measure up! That’s kind of the point: no matter what anyone tries, nothing will measure up to the Real Deal. Words fail to describe Him, and the best of us and our machines fail to imitate Him. 

God gave us thoughts, choices, and emotions. Part of being human is embracing those gifts and the responsibilities they come with. It’s tough, but beautiful. 


  1. Great post. I like how we ended up covering the same conversation, but from different angles.

    I believe it is a testament to how much God loves us that He allows us to choose to love Him. He is certainly all-powerful enough to force us to follow Him, but He doesn't, because a forced love is not truly love.

    1. Thanks! I didn't read your post until after I wrote mine (partially because I hadn't watched the last episode yet myself). But I wasn't surprised to see that we both talked about the same conversation. I was amazed at how much was said in the first couple minutes!

      Well said about God's love. :)


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