There is a show on television which has captured the attention of me and my family, The Walking Dead. It is a show about people who turn into zombies after death and must be killed with a devastating blow to the head so they will die...again. I will not spoil the series for those who may catch up later. My wife joined in the fun after my sons and I began watching it and she now is also part of the "turn off the lights and turn up the sound" experience as we DVR the show and then watch it together when schedules allow, fast-forwarding through commercials. My wife did ask a pretty good question, which was this: "Why do the zombies need to eat if they are dead and why do they just seem to want to eat living people?" I replied that it was just a black box. I don't mean a flight recorder, I mean that it is a very typical plot element found in monster/science fiction movies. The Time Machine used a time machine that was certainly a black box. If you love science fiction, you will recognize phasers and light sabers and the famous Star Trek transport beam as being black boxes. "Beam me up, Scotty" or "Set phasers to stun!" e.g
A black box is a plot device for fiction, although the phrase is used in many disciplines of science, engineering, and etc. In fiction and sometimes in fact it is just an unknown/unexplained thing with the input and output identified but how and why it works is a mystery or is not investigated. In the case of The Walking Dead, the zombification process and the actions of the zombies are just plot devices that allow the writers to develop the characters. Who will live, who will die, who will become zombies, who will become heroic, cowardly, be revealed as selfish or selfless, as ruthless or merciful, who will grow strong through conflict and who will be warped or destroyed by it? The zombies are simply the fulcrum for the story machine. They are the black box in my opinion, although since they are not a machine or device some would argue for another term. There are many plot devices/tools of fiction that writers opt to use to move the story along or to resolve it. The classic ending of War of the Worlds in which the alien invaders die because they had no resistance to earthly bacteria/viruses and simply perished would be a deus ex machina. I think the zombies are more black box than DEM and also are not MacGuffins.
A MacGuffin is similar. A MacGuffin is not a plot device, it is a motivating element for the story. Some might see the zombies as a MacGuffin but I think that since it is an unknown process with known input and output, it is a black box. The actual statue in The Maltese Falcon was a MacGuffin. The mind-powered Krell machines that produced the invisible monster in Forbidden Planet was a black box. The threat of the zombies is sort of a MacGuffin in TWD, but what they are and how they come to be is a black box.
A deus ex machina is another name for an unexplained plot device and a black box can be one, or part of one. They are not interchangeable, however, the DEM is pertinent to not only objects but also actions or powers that are conveniently available to save the story, er, day. It is possible and even likely that a DEM will wind up being employed in the final episode of TWD. In fact, considering the storyline so far it is hard to imagine how the writers can avoid this method without being very clever. If they can do it, TWD will become even more of a classic as an artfully done melodrama...if you like that sort of thing, of course.
Movies and television use all sorts of such plot devices and MacGuffins. For instance, virtually every bomb ever discovered in the last few decades has had a red digital readout attached counting down the time until the bomb will explode. Is it logical that a bomb-maker would add such a thing to a bomb? No. But it helps drive a plot. I recall a truly horrible monster movie, The Deadly Mantis, made in 1957, worthy of Son of Svengoolie or Mystery Science Theater 3000 parodies. This monster movie is full of dazzling anachronistic film footage splicing and completely wrong place names and so on. At the end, they literally throw big black boxes of some special gas at the monster mantis and kill it off. Could a 200-foot long Praying Mantis actually walk around in freezing conditions after being freed from ice? No. But then again, lighting bolts and weird equipment would not bring life to Frankenstein's Monster, actual vampires do not exist (I would hope) nor do werewolves or space aliens.
I would love to write fiction for a living but circumstances make it difficult. I did work as a journalist and my specialty was writing news features. I have a way with words, as they say, but I do need an editor as I do not care for grammatical rules and will misuse the English language with run-on sentences and incorrect use of colons and semi-colons, among other things. Like many other journalists and ex-journalists, I have short stories and partially-written novels that I have never taken to the logical end of finishing up and "throwing over the transom" to various publishing houses. Should I ever actually "retire" I would no doubt put working hours into these manuscripts.
Back in the early 70's I wrote most of a novel about a world in which a game was the means by which a character could "move up one level" in a society of humanity that all apparently lived underground and on differing levels equated to social classes. I "invented" voice-activated and responsive computers that controlled complete living spaces but that is no longer science fiction but is instead becoming fact. Other aspects of the novel I will not share because I think they may be relatively new ideas. The Hunger Games would be a crude comparison to my basic plot element but it is not close enough to blow my cover.
When I got my first computer I began to continue the story in digital form. I had completed over 200 pages on my first computer when the disk failed, thus teaching me to learn to have a backup of everything the very hard way. Only a few of those original pages remain kept in a box, but the characters are still alive in my imagination so, given time, I may yet finish it. Some of us who write keep going back and re-writing chapters and that is something I must cure myself of before I can finish a book.
My Darwinist commenters would no doubt counsel me to quit writing this blog and spend that time on my novel. That is logical, but the blog is something I am called to do and while that remains true I will do it! Christians will understand this, not sure if Darwinists can "grok" the idea?
So I decided to compare Creation and Evolution as if they were novels written and made into movies about a mythical Universe rather than scientific disciplines with metaphysical components. It became clear to me that, quite ironically, the Darwinists resort to black boxes and deus ex machina continually in order to support their hypothesis, while the Creation story invokes God immediately and without mystery from the beginning and He does not "meddle in the affairs of men" unless He decides that a miracle is what is called for in that place and time. God is not surprised by anything, as He transcends time and has seen the ending as well as having fashioned the beginning. God is not a black box, because he is explained logically. God is not a MacGuffin nor is He a deus ex machina because He is the Deity Himself. He has not hidden Himself but rather has interacted with mankind from the beginning and has provided us with the Bible, which is His message to mankind. God does not attempt to hide nor does He attempt to explain how He is able to do what He does because He is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and therefore much of what He has done and will do would be beyond our comprehension anyway.
Yet we do see God everywhere we look - design in organisms, fine-tuning in the Universe per physical laws, logical and useful material for mankind to use to build things and accomplish things...all quite in line with the idea of a Logical and Creative Deity. In fact, reasoning and logic and morality and creativity and comprehension are all clues to lead us to God. Here is why:
Evolution is all black boxes and deus ex machina. There is NOTHING that explodes into EVERYTHING with such precision that it creates rather than simply destroys. As Spock would say, "That is not logical." A world that randomly pops into existence uncreated should not be anything but random in nature. We see a logical Universe and we should therefore understand that it was created by a Logical Mind. Also, we as humans are creative. Why? There is not a good Darwinist explanation for being musical, as noise would bring predators to you. There is no good reason for art because you cannot eat it, nor does the ability to ponder abstract thoughts bring mates to your feet or food to your mouth nor does it protect you from Tigers...or Smilodons...or dinosaurs! Darwinism appeals to statistically impossible and scientifically incredible miracles as random events with no caustion. Truly the number of miracles to build a Darwinist Universe exponentially exceeds the miracles listed in the Bible as performed by God.
A great movie, such as The Fugitive, is a well-crafted story with logical events and only a few resorts to unlikely occurrences. The story is largely that of a murderous act and that of two men, one of whom is determined to be the arm of the law and the other, seeking true justice. Both men are basically seeking the same thing from differing points of view. Tommy Lee Jones is Samuel Gerard, a US Marshal assigned to catch and bring back to captivity one Richard Kimble, MD, who was convicted of murdering his wife. Kimble, played by Harrison Ford, is the innocent man who seeks to evade capture while also attempting to locate the real killer of his beloved wife. Gerard seeks to enforce the law. Kimble seeks to uncover the truth. A great scene includes this classic exchange, as Gerard is poised to capture Kimble in a large stormwater drain system:
Richard Kimble: "I didn't kill my wife!"
Sam Gerard: "I don't care."
Can there be anyone who loves film who has NOT seen this move? I suppose I should not spoil it. The recent and phenomenal musical, Les Misérables, is another great movie that does not need to resort to fantastic plot devices to tell the tale. It is Jean Valjean versus Valvert but it is far more than that, just as Kimble versus Gerard is much more that man versus man. These are great stories and they are wonderful creations.
To me, Darwinism comes in at the level of Plan 9 From Outer Space, a movie so awful that it is wonderful to behold for the sheer idiocy and inanity of the plot, acting and scenery and actually EVERYTHING about it is so bad that it is a movie all should see at least once! The back story about the movie is far better than the movie itself as some remarkable characters come together to unintentionally create perhaps the worst movie of all time. The drug-addiction of Bela Lugosi and his death three years before the release of the movie, the graveyard scene where the props are so bad you see the ground move and the tombstones wiggle and fall! The weirdness of Ed Wood, the remarkable Vampira, wooden performances, terribly crafted dialogue, a complete lack of any reasonable MacGuffin and a ludicrous black box are part and parcel to the movie, along with film clips inserted that cannot possibly be taken seriously. I love the part where the auto that is crashing has a number on it, indicative of some kind of racing accident captured on film, an auto unlike the one supposedly in the storyline. The "goofs" page is far longer than the plot description. After Bela Lugosi dies early during test footage predating the film, a chiropractor named Tom Mason takes his place but always covers his face with his cape to hide the fact that he is not Lugosi!!! High School plays would have better quality control than this movie!
Actually I suppose Lady in the Water is much worse, as we expected M. Night Shyamalan to come up with something better than a ridiculous plot so bad that it needs animated explanations both before and after the actual movie to help the audience comprehend what they were seeing/had seen and seems like a group of actors inventing a plot as they go along. Shyalaman really needed someone who could tell him, "Uhm, NO!!!" Those who defend this film claim that M. Night was actually attempting to make a ludicrous comedy out of an Asian legend in the context of a dramatic and supposedly scary film. More likely is that he was a bit too fixated on Bryce Dallas Howard and was so in love with his own abilities he considered a spontaneous bedtime story he had told his children would make a great movie.
So, now that I think of it, Darwinism to me is actually closer to Lady in the Water. pre- and post- movie explanations that are rather senseless and childish equal the premise and the actual evidence of Darwinism. We are expected to believe that everything came from nothing for no reason, creating a world of logic and wonders and unexplained evil consequences where explosions create and mutations (broken things) improve and develop the primitive into the sophisticated. Such a premise is bizarre and illogical and yet it is the ruling paradigm of Scientism, helping to dumb-down humanity and hinder actual scientific breakthroughs due to misdirection of time and energy in an attempt to prove the impossible and uncover the nonexistent.
Yet, just as Lady in the Water has fans who see it as brilliant, some incredibly intelligent people believe in evolution with fervency. This is a mystery to me from a logical standpoint, but I realize it is because the metaphysical aspect of the so-called science is the sizzle that covers a bad steak. I know most of the moviegoers we shared the LITW viewing experience with were walking out of the theater grumbling or laughing, if they stayed for the conclusion at all. We were all shaking our heads at the sheer idiocy of the experience. Could the maker of The Sixth Sense really be capable of such a disastrous effort? Well, yes. Charles Darwin was apparently an interesting companion in his youth and a fine naturalist and gentleman companion for the Captain of the HMS Beagle. Had he recorded his observations as observations, we would have learned a lot from his writings. It is when he tried to turn speciation into evolution that he spoiled the plot and ruined the movie.
Science has not yet recovered from the ghastly wound Darwinism has inflicted upon it. Perhaps cancer would be cured had all the time and effort put into trying to prop up Darwinism been directed towards medical research? Would we have already learned to turn trash into energy efficiently had we directed efforts to find space aliens in that direction instead? Would the horrors that Social Darwinism has unleashed on humanity in the form of holocausts in Germany and Russia and massacres in China and Cambodia and baby-murders in the hundreds of millions around the globe have been averted? Would not a society founded on Godly morality and law not be better were it still firmly standing on those absolutes rather than sticking one figurative foot out into the air, unsure if there is anything upon which to stand? Are we not already beginning to fall as we abandon God and Godly behavior?
Are not those without a relationship with God the real walking dead?