2) Wolf 359
The other episode that symbolizes a central theme within the general Christian worldview is Wolf 359.
Professor Jonathan Wragg (Patrick O’Neal) creates an artifical planet in his laboratory, introduces DNA into its biosphere, and watches as evolution begins taking place and life begins developing at a highly accelerated rate (one second of our time equals eleven and a half days on the miniature planet).
At first only plant life is preset, but soon animals (including what appear to be gigantic predatory dinosaur-like creatures) make their appearance and proliferate. After a time, however, another being appears; a disturbing, ghostly creature that is connected to the planet yet independent of it, and which is aware of the humans watching it through Wragg’s optical equipment. As it grows more powerful, it leaves the artificial planet and begins exploring the laboratory and Wragg’s home, killing vegetation and laboratory animals (which it unambiguously attacks).
What is it really? No one knows, but Wragg develops a theory, from watching the development of civilization on his model planet. In time, the planet becomes wracked with evil, war, hate, and cruelty. The longer it develops, the greater the chaos and carnage, and the more powerful the spectral creature becomes. The planet becomes, in Wragg’s own words, “a place without a God.”
The creature isn’t an “inhabitant” of the planet, like the other creatures there, but “seems to be the spirit of the place.”
Hubris again? The story asks the question of what would happen if humans were to “play God” and create an artificial world? And if it were possible, what kind of world would it be? Is DNA, organic molecules, and the matter of which it is composed its only important constituent elements? Or is a world populated by intellectually and morally aware beings more than the sum of its basic material building blocks? Are there forces in the universe science does not understand, forces with moral implications that influence the way we look at the world and each other? Did professor Wragg’s experimental world take those forces into consideration? Could he have?