I recently nagged my mother enough that she started watching Doctor Who. I’ve enjoyed re-watching the show with her (and not just because I can now sneak up on her and say, “Mummy? Are you my mummy?”). It’s always great to share a passion. And I’ve discovered that the reason I love Doctor Who so much is that it teaches me about my faith.
Now I’m not trying to make the argument that Doctor Who is overtly or even covertly Christian. As far as I’m aware, there is no religious agenda. This is more about my projections onto the show. An added benefit of conversion is that I see religious symbols everywhere.
Let’s start with the Doctor himself. His name is never spoken, just the Doctor. As a Time Lord, he is always able to see/hear what was and will be and what must not be. Those aspects make me see God the Father in him, but I think the role of Christ figure is more accurate once you see the Doctor interact with humans. He chooses to spend his life defending the weak (usually humans), and he’s always an advocate of non-violence. He even traps his own people to save creation; during the Time War, the Time Lords were willing to sacrifice time and all creation to save themselves and exist in a non-material state, but the Doctor places a time lock on the Time War, sacrificing his people to save all of existence.
When fatally injured, he is able to regenerate, which brings to mind resurrection. The Doctor has followers, friends who travel with him and fight for him, but they never really understand him. Many times, people even die to protect him, believing whatever the Doctor’s mission is to be more important than their life.
In one episode, he saves Rose by forcing her back home, but she can’t stand the thought of him dying while she’s safe. Her mother says, “But that’s way off in the future,” and Rose replies, “But it’s not. It’s happening now.” The battle of good and evil is always going, even when we can’t see it. Our protector is always fighting for us, unlimited by time or place.
The Doctor has a particular love of humans, and it’s often shown that he envies them. In one episode, he hides his Time Lord identity from himself and gets to be a human for a few months. He teaches in an early twentieth-century boarding school and falls in love. He loves his simple life. When it’s time for him to become a Time Lord again, he’s heart-broken, because the life of the Time Lord is powerful but lonely. He loves humans so much that he wants to be one. Steven Moffat, who writes for both Doctor Who and Sherlock said, "The Doctor is an angel trying to be a human.Sherlock is a human trying to be a god."
But not everyone loves the Doctor. Some fear his power, some think he’s just a myth, and some think he is the cause of disaster, the coming storm.
Clive: The Doctor is a legend woven throughout history. When disaster comes he's there. He brings a storm in his wake and he has only one constant companion.
Rose: Who's that?
Clive: Death. (from the episode “Rose”)
The Doctor’s two main enemies are the Daleks and the Cybermen. Both are cold and calculating, unable to show love. In the case of the Daleks, they are mutations of the Kelads who have to live in machines to survive. They only care about race purity and exterminating undesirables. The Cybermen are humans who have become machines. They see any emotion as a weakness. The Doctor has battled forces known as the Darkness and the Silence. “Every culture has an irrational fear of the dark. Only it’s not irrational…it’s what’s in the dark. It’s what’s always in the dark.” -The Doctor(from the episode, “Silence in the Library”) The Doctor serves as the antithesis of these enemies; he’s passionate, he loves, and he is always willing to give people another chance. And when we look at the battle of good and evil, isn’t that it? Evil filled with nothingness against good filled with love?
In the next part, I’ll look at the TARDIS.