It is indeed hard to believe but in the midst of all the sleaze and tease movies that are part of the regular junk food called summer movies there is a National Geographic documentary which is drawing large audiences this summer--- March of the Penguins. Narrated by Morgan Freeman and filmed by a French crew who obviously had more courage than sense staying in Antartica for months at a time, even in -80F weather, this remarkable movie makes a rather remarkable if indirect argument for 'intelligent design' of God's creation and creatures. It is amazing that we have persons in our culture who can look at skyscrapers and have no trouble concluding that it must have been made by an intelligent being, but look at far more complexly designed things like penguins or humans and come to the conclusion that their existence and behavior patterns are the result of random chance. Go figure.
This movie is exquisitely filmed and seeks to chronicle a full year in the life cycle of a penguin. As it turns out the film is all about love--- or at least about the urge to procreate and prolong the species even in a brutal environment. Had Darwin visited Antartica where it is never, or almost never above 0 degrees, it would have given new meaning to his phrase survival of the fittest.
Emperor penguins are remarkable creatures who walk, waddle, and glide on their bellies for over 70 miles just to mate, and then another seventy miles to eat, and then back again to feed their young, and then a respite for the summer months when they swim and eat to their hearts' content. Turns out they live on an academic year schedule, and though they are sea creatures they spend most of their year walking to and from the breeding ground. Furthermore they go some 3-4 months at a time without eating in the winter time, but they also do not hibernate. Bears have got nothing on these creatures.
In addition to all this they are monogamous (on a year by year basis) and seem capable of showing considerable affection, and emotion towards their mates or young. The movie vividly portrays the love and sacrifice displayed by these creatures in order that their offspring may survive and thrive. You don't have to be a nature freak or a tree hugger to enjoy and even be moved by this movie.
When you witness the toughness and adaptability of these creatures it reminds one of just how fragile human beings are when it comes to their physical form and its vulnerabilities. We couldn't last five hours under the conditions these creatures live through day in and day out, without all kinds of extra clothes and support systems. We are by no means the physically fittest creatures, and yet we have survived. It is worth pondering why.
William Faulkner when he won the Nobel Prize for literature once affirmed: "I believe that humankind will not merely survive, but will in fact prevail." But why should this be so, and why should we have this sort of faith in humankind, if we are not created in God's image and God has not been watching over us and helping us survive even our own worst mistakes and follies considering how vulnerable we are compared for example to far more adapatible and rugged critters--- like for example alligators, or even cockroaches?
Perhaps above all else, this movie reminds us that all creatures great and small face many of the same basic challenges on our planet, the challenge to find food, to live, to procreate, to love, to survive, to sacrifice for others that we care about or are related to. We are all part of the same life cycle and eco-system, and there are things we can learn from watching Emperor penguins that could help us "live long and prosper".
And if it is indeed true that humans were set on this earth to tend this garden and use it without abusing it, then there is certainly one lesson that stands out so clearly from a movie like this--- all other creatures other than humans kill almost solely for food and yes occasionally as retaliation for being attacked or harmed. They do not kill for sport, they do not kill for fun, and most strikingly they do not under any normal circumstances kill their own species. They do not foul their own nests.
Perhaps after all, humans are not in all ways the most intelligent creatures on earth. Perhaps the sage knew what he was saying when he urged us to observe the lesser creatures and learn-- "four things on earth are small, and yet they are extremely wise---ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer; rock badgers are creatures of little power and yet they make their homes in the safety of rocky crags; locusts hasve no kings, yet they advance together in ranks; as lizard can be caught with the hand, yet it is found in king's palaces." (Prov. 30.24-28).
Go see this movie, and take your children, and so "teach your children well".