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The Island

In another work of science fiction, the 2005 film The Island depicts a large, self-contained city wherein residents are told that they are survivors of a “contamination” that killed the rest of society and rendered the outside world unlivable. Individuals living in this city are continually monitored by computers that give readings on their vital signs, sleep patterns, nutrition levels, emotional outbursts, and even their proximity to others who are standing too close. The population is fed in common food lines, and its average mental maturity seems to be about age fifteen.

Through a series of events, the protagonist, called Lincoln Six Echo, witnesses the murder of a peer who has just delivered her baby. The newborn is immediately taken down a hallway and placed in the arms of the apparent real mother, who strangely appears identical to the child’s recently deceased birth mother. Later, viewers learn that the self-contained city is actually a cloning center: People living on the outside contract the cloning of themselves to harvest their organs, and they delegate tasks such as childbirth to the “copies,” who are unaware that they are clones—and are terminated after serving their purpose. The movie’s plot follows Lincoln Six Echo’s efforts to escape with comrade Jordan Two Delta, and mildly probes the ethical dilemma of such business ventures.

While initial conversations about this movie might center on its suspense and even on the ethics of such practices, many will respond dismissively to speculation once the screen has gone dark, because the technology—and mankind’s depravity, for that matter—hasn’t escalated to this position in our reality, yet. However, many who find the premise of the movie interesting are unaware of just how closely we currently parallel the scenarios. To say that mankind would never cross such a technological and ethical threshold can’t be accurate, when fetal-tissue harvesting has reached such wide acceptance. Many people are surprised to learn that the tissue of aborted babies is often bought by biomedical companies that use it for research and other purposes,[1] such as cure-seeking for Alzheimer’s disease, spinal-cord conditions, HIV, Parkinson’s disease, and other stem-cell study, to name a few.[2] However, many claim that abortion procedures have been altered to procure a live fetus—unbeknownst to the terminating parent. In fact, according to former abortionist Dr. Forrest Smith, techniques have, at times, been altered at increased risk to the mother and resulting in the live birth of the fetus to “obtain, fresher, more intact organs.”[3] While legislature continues to conduct ethical review and rewording of the legislation to avoid loopholes that allow for harvesting and selling fetal tissue and organs, the industry accrues big money. In 2018, the National Institute of Health “spent $115 million on grants involving human fetal tissue research and is estimated to spend $120 million in FY [fiscal year] 2019,”[4] while another project that utilizes aborted fetal liver, bone marrow, intestinal matter, and thymus has to date held a contract of at least $13,799,501.[5] In 2017, abortion claimed more than 850,000 lives; that total was even greater in 2016, when numbers exceeded 925,000.[6]

If The Island’s premise ever elevates to scientific possibility (and we are headed in that direction), it provides some realistic ways the ethics might be justified. For example, the clones are unaware of their status as “copies.” They live in a self-contained city where they are employed, housed, and fed under the guise of the outside world being “unavailable.” They’re told of a beautiful place called “the Island,” where only a select few are able to go and live. (Those fortunate enough to be relocated to the Island, of course, are those who have served their purpose and are thus terminated). It is a happy enough existence lived without fear, and their impending expiration is never brought to their attention. They leave for the Island joyfully, as the lucky winners of a lottery promising a beautiful life across the water. It is perceivable that this might be considered a humane and ethical strategy should the movie’s proposition ever reflect reality. And it seems apparent that desperate people will be quick to justify such an industry, as stated toward the end of the movie: “The only thing you can count on is that people will do anything to survive. I want to live, and I don’t care how.”[7] If this sentiment represents most of mankind (and it likely does), then it can become the mantra for so many of these events. In addition, as stated previously, such movies often predict conditions that are only held back by two elements of society: technological advancements and mankind’s depravity. Since we’re able to depersonalize and kill our unborn, harvesting their body parts for research, then it’s feasible that we will eventually be able to embrace the logic of using clones in a way that would make The Island prophetic. The only thing we’re waiting for is the technology…

So how close are we to cloning a person? While several early reports of success in fully cloning human embryos turned out to be fraudulent, scientists have asserted that they have had this capability for seven years now. While most sources report that these haven’t resulted in live births of humans, cloning sheep and primates has been successful.[8] Despite that human cloning is still theoretical, many countries have already created legislation outlawing the practice, should it become mainstream. As for whether legalization would ensure that anyone would actually participate in cloning, we suppose time will tell. Beyond moral issues such as who would “own” the clones and what purposes would qualify one for approval to use the technology, the rights of clones, their uses, and their termination and disposal would need to be clearly defined legally. The implications in reference to malevolent individuals are concerning as well: Guidelines and limitations would need to be in place to prevent those with deviant minds from cloning people for sadistic purposes and pleasures.

Since public knowledge currently maintains that the notion of cloning a human being is technically possible but has not—as of yet—become a perfected science, most of us can feel a (false) sense of safety that widespread realization of this practice is not imminent, and thus maintain detachment from the likelihood that elements of The Island’s plotline will come to pass. Yet perhaps such events lie in the near future. There is the possibility that it would take no more than a nudge in the direction of technology and/or man’s depravity to see the premise of The Island, like that of 1984, become reality.

(Note that a similar dystopian idea was depicted in the book Cloud Atlas, as well as the subsequent film by the same name starring Tom Hanks. A central theme throughout part of the narrative shows young, female human clones, servers at a futuristic restaurant called Papa Song’s, awaiting the day they will earn their release into Xultation, a utopian paradise promised to those who serve faithfully for a designated time. Each of these women is fitted with a slave collar that houses hidden technology to execute her if she exercises free will in any way, fails to comply with the rules of her servant position, or doesn’t succeed in completely pleasing every Papa Song patron during her shift (regardless of what abuses or humiliation a patron might inflict upon her). The narrative follows one of these women, a faithful servant at the end of her slave contract, as she is led into a back room. She has been told she will be redressed, relieved of her collar, and released into Xultation. Excited for the paradise beyond, she smiles and cooperatively leans back, allowing mysterious men and women wearing “nurse-like,” red garbs to lower an apparatus around her head, listening as they reassure her in soothing tones that the machine will remove her collar. The device instead activates the execution, killing the girl instantly, without a sound, and without even the slightest reaction from its victim. Her lifeless body is then placed on a conveyor belt and taken to the recycle room, where her organs will be harvested and turned into the food that subsequent generations of the cloned human slaves will unsuspectingly consume as their regular sustenance rations. (The organic material will also serve as bio-matter for the womb tanks that grow the clones. If cloning ever becomes a reality for us, then feeding the clones will be an issue as well, and film plots like this might be unthinkable now, but they illustrate that depraved minds can come up with an answer if they are ever confronted by inconvenient, inquiring clone-people…)

For each small step in progress man takes, a trade is made. With each technological stride, he becomes more certain of himself, more confident in his own ways, more the master of all he surveys. We’re not saying that technological or scientific progress is sinful by its own right, but often each successful innovation is met by man taking another step farther away from his Creator. With this in mind, one might wonder if the future will become so filled with man’s achievements that there will no longer be room for God at all.

Aggression in Media

For many, a relationship between media and culture is undeniable. Yet, it’s often easy to overlook just how deeply and intricately the two are intertwined—the immediacy and severity of the condition. When research defines the relationship in solid numbers, it can be a wake-up call, especially considering the prevalence of aggression depicted in media. In fact, research shows that, typically, American children witness eight thousand killings and more than one hundred thousand other types of violent acts—all while they’re still in elementary school.[9] Multitudes of studies have shown connections between violence in media and the willingness to act aggressively toward peers,[10] the types of media aggression and subsequent criminal activity and conviction,[11] and the volume of violence in media taken in and later-life infractions,[12] as well as concluding that, in general “exposure to violence makes violent thoughts and emotions more accessible.”[13]

Video games equally encourage hostile behavior, which is no big surprise, since they literally make players participants in violence. Usually, games are designed so that such acts are rewarded, which is positive reinforcement for aggression. Research has shown a correlation between teenagers engaging in risky, delinquent, or violent behaviors while playing video games and their willingness to take similar actions in real life.[14]

Additionally, with the upsurge in popularity of VR (virtual reality) gaming, young minds are trained not only to enact violence such as shooting at enemies appearing on a screen, but also to carry out that activity toward someone standing right next to them. The more realistic this type of gaming becomes (and, for readers who haven’t experienced VR technology, it’s scary how realistic it is!), the easier it will be to initiate violence toward people in real life. Think about it: Players have the benefit of much practice in using weaponry, with only rewards and none of the catastrophic consequences that the correlating real-life action brings. In fact, for impressionable minds, they are merely having to do what they must to survive (within the game’s context). The convincing vulnerability they feel while engaging in such gaming, followed by rehearsing multiple homicides or other gruesome acts, provides the perfect training ground—and desensitization—for future, real-life performances. Furthermore, our young suffer increased distance from their fellow man (which is exacerbated by the social-distancing practices ushered in during COVID-19 pandemic). In essence, real-life peers become depersonalized as those in the virtual realm become more lifelike. Even worse, these authors won’t even begin to discuss how detrimental VR technology can be for the young mind who uses it in conjunction with pornography.

Regardless of whether one is willing to believe that seeing an excessive amount of violence on screen causes a person to act out, there is also the fact that what takes place on screen is implanted into the minds of our youth. Usually, people don’t think of heinous things to do unless the idea has been placed there by some form of entertainment. Consider the following observation of Jerry M. Burger:

In May, 1981, John Hinckley tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan.… Hinckley had viewed the motion picture Taxi Driver several times before the shooting…subsequent investigation discovered that Hinckley also had a strong attraction to Jodie Foster [who takes similar action in the film]. In July 1991, the motion picture Boyz n the Hood opened around the country. Although calm was the norm at most of the theaters, some became the setting for real-life violence, including several shootings. Thirty-five people were reported wounded or injured for the first night the movie was shown. A man in Chicago was killed. In December 1997, a 14-year-old boy entered his Kentucky high school carrying five guns. The boy opened fire on classmates who had gathered for a prayer meeting, and three students were killed. Later, the boy said he was acting out a scene from the movie The Basketball Diaries. On May 25, 2009, a 17-year-old set off a bomb outside a Manhattan Starbucks. When arrested weeks later, the boy confessed to plans for a series of similar attacks. He explained that he was just imitating Brad Pitt’s character in his favorite movie, Fight Club. The list goes on and on.[15]

Some arguments assert that the violence level in media is determined by those who are more aggressive, thus, an individual’s propensity toward violence is not fed by the selection, but rather feeds it.[16] Others point to the masses who have watched plenty of violence in television shows and movies yet have never—nor would they ever—hurt anyone. These are fair arguments, and research abounds for curious readers who want more information on this topic. Suffice it to say here that when we see a culture riddled with spikes in nearly every sort of crime—theft, cybercrimes, hate crimes, physical and sexual assaults, homicides, child abuse and neglect, sexual exploitation and human trafficking, brutality toward and by people in authority—not to mention the burning, raiding, and looting of our cities, it’s not a stretch to suggest that increasing violence in media could be shaping the behavior of our population (more on that shaping in a later article).

UP NEXT: Approaching the Point of No Return

For more information on the topics covered in this article series, see Donna Howell and Allie Anderson’s book DARK COVENANT, available eblow:

[1] Prestigiacomo, Amanda. “Abortionist Testifies: ‘No Question’ Babies Being Born Alive to Harvest Organs.” The Daily Wire Online. September 26, 2019. Accessed October 8, 2019.

[2] Fox, Maggie. “Planned Parenthood Video: Why Use Tissue from Aborted Fetuses?” NBC News Online. July 17, 2015. Accessed October 9, 2019.

[3] Prestigiacomo, Amanda. “Abortionist Testifies: ‘No Question’ Babies Being Born Alive to Harvest Organs.” The Daily Wire Online. September 26, 2019. Accessed October 8, 2019.

[4] “Use of Aborted Fetal Tissue: Questions and Answers.” Charlotte Lozier Institute. June 5, 2019. Accessed October 9, 2019.

[5] Ibid.

[6] “Induced Abortion in the United States.” Guttmacher Institute Online. 2019. Accessed October 2, 2019.

[7] Bay, Michael, director, The Island. (United States: Dreamworks, Warner Bros.; 2005). DVD, 2hrs 16min.

[8] Greely, Henry. “Human Reproductive Cloning: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.” Stat News Online. February 21, 2020. Accessed November 6, 2020.

[9] Burger, Jerry. Personality, 10th edition. (Boston, MA: Cengage Learning; 2018), 356.

[10] Anderson, C. A. & Bushman, B. J. (2002). “The Effects of Media Violence on Society.” Science, 295, 2377–2378.

[11] Eron, L. D. (1987). “The Development of Aggressive Behavior from the Perspective of a Developing Behaviorism.” American Psychologist, 42, 435–442.

[12] Johnson, J. G., Cohen, P., Smailes, E. M., Kasen, S., & Brook, J. S. (2002). “Television Viewing and Aggressive Behavior During Adolescence and Adulthood.” Science, 295, 2468–2471.

[13] Burger, Jerry. Personality, 10th edition. (Boston, MA: Cengage Learning; 2018), 358.

[14] Ibid., 359–360.

[15] Ibid., 352.

[16] Ibid., 357.

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