Watch the YouTube video here (please like, share, and subscribe)!
What’s up Free-Thinkers and True-Believers? I’m Dr. Stratton . . . and today I’m going to be talking about Doctor Strange and the Avengers.
Marvel Studios took their time and spent a good decade developing many of my favorite childhood comics into fantastic movies. And they continue to build on top of this foundation on Disney Plus with shows like WandaVision and The Falcon & The Winter Soldier!
Marvel started with Iron man all the way back in 2008, then shortly after released Thor and Captain America . . . and then went on to develop other stars and co-stars within a robust Marvel Cinematic Universe that, in my opinion, is unrivaled — even by Star Wars!
Not only do I love the Marvel super heroes who I grew up with in the comic books, but these movies have provided fantastic opportunities to discuss philosophical and theological issues in pop-culture.
For example, Captain America knows that there is only one God (Cap’s a good “mono-theist”) … and makes it clear that God does not dress like Thor! Cap also knows about objective morality and the “law above the law” that can only be grounded in God (click here to read more: Make America Great).
Tony Stark (Iron Man) has demonstrated how absurd it is to hold a person responsible and accountable for . . . “their actions” . . . when someone else is ultimately in control of their thoughts and actions (FreeThinking Ministries has pointed out the theological implications of this . . . click here to read about that: Captain America, Bucky, & Moral Responsibility).
Avengers: Infinity War continued in this ten-year tradition and does not disappoint. In my opinion, this movie provides one of the best illustrations of one of the hardest to grasp theological issues ever conceived – which was the focus of my doctoral dissertation. Namely, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has painted a beautiful picture of Molinism and God’s middle knowledge while simultaneously defeating the so-called “problem of evil.”
I think this “beautiful picture” can eventually defeat not just the problem of moral evil, but ALL the problems of evil . . . including the so-called “problem” of Divine Hiddenness!
Let me explain: Tony Stark (also known as “Iron Man”), Peter Parker (also known as “Spider-Man”), and Doctor Strange (known as Doctor Strange) join forces with The Guardians of the Galaxy on the planet Titan. They know a fight to the death with Thanos – one of the most powerful beings in the universe – is looming and the heroes are desperately trying to devise a plan to defeat him.
A task that might be easier said than done when Peter Quill (also known as “Starlord”) is on the planning committee!
Doctor Strange, however, chooses not to be involved in this conversation and instead uses the Time Stone to look forward in time.
However, he did not merely look forward into the future, rather, he evaluated over 14,000,000 “alternate futures.” These are perfect examples of what philosophers and theologians refer to as “possible worlds.”
Why is Doctor Strange doing such a thing? Because, although it is not logically impossible for the Avengers to defeat Thanos, he wants to see if there is a possible world that could be actualized — a “feasible world” – in which the Avengers would actually defeat Thanos!
Doctor Strange tells Tony Stark and the others that he examined over 14 million alternate futures, but out of the multi-millions of possible worlds surveyed, he knows of only one in which the good guys would actually defeat Thanos in the end.
One in 14 million is commonly referred to as “horrible odds.”
However, these “alternate futures” are not merely based on chance alone . . . ya see, Doctor Strange gained knowledge of how all of these super heroes and villains would FREELY choose in each of the millions and millions of possible worlds he examined.
Possessing this knowledge of how these super-powered persons would freely choose in each of these possible futures (similar to what theologians refer to as “middle knowledge“), Strange freely chose himself — and did everything in his power — to make the possible world in which the good guys would win the actual world in which the good guys will win.
Strange actualized this possibility when he did the unthinkable (what seemed to be a stupid mistake), and handed over the time stone to Thanos!
Because of this, Avengers: Infinity War ends on a cliff hanger and in apparent defeat. In fact, so many of my childhood heroes were destroyed and seemingly “killed off” . . .
. . . as they literally turned to dust in front of our eyes.
This includes the demise of Doctor Strange himself . . . but just before Strange dies, his last statement to Stark was attention-getting: He said, “There was no other way.”
It was almost as if he said, “It is finished!”
You see, Doctor Strange knew that even though many good guys are dying — and he himself would be killed in this world he just created — and seemingly everyone who was not dead was suffering – this is the only world available in which the evil of Thanos is ultimately defeated. Based on this knowledge, Doctor Strange laid down his life for his friends and all the creatures in the entire universe – he laid down his life for the greater good . . . The ultimate sacrifice.
That is to say, although this world is suffused with so much suffering and death, Strange believed – he KNEW – that this world is still the BEST of all possible worlds that could be actualized.
In his last moments – before his death – Doctor Strange had a “strange” peace because he possessed knowledge that everything was going according to plan. You see . . . Doctor Strange knew that all the pain, evil, and suffering that occurs at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, was actually the only way to ultimately defeat the evil of Thanos.
But . . . as we see in the next movie – Avengers: Endgame – Strange is resurrected from the dead . . . and the evil of Thanos is defeated . . . forever!
It’s vital to note that Doctor Strange possesses this counterfactual knowledge before he somehow chose to make this possible alternate future – to be exact, one of the 14,000,605 possible futures – the actual future.
That is to say, Doctor Strange possessed this knowledge prior to making this possible world the actual world!
So, although it might not seem like it at the end of Infinity War, this horrible world – as bad as it is – is actually the BEST world humans could have hoped for . . . even though it sure doesn’t feel like it at the moment. Strange has chosen the best of all possible worlds available to make actual.
Because of this, (even though Strange created a world filled with so much evil, pain, and suffering – even a world where he was nowhere to be found for a “5-year blip” – Doctor Strange is the HERO of the entire Marvel Universe!
Now Let’s Think About GOD . . .
Although no analogy is perfect, Doctor Strange provides a great illustration as to how we should view God and His sovereignty over the entire universe and all of its contents.
This also includes ALL the affairs of humanity.
God is omniscient and knows all that could happen . . . all that will happen . . . and also . . . all that would happen in “alternate futures” or possible worlds. God is also omnipotent and has the power to choose the best of all the possible worlds available (these are called “feasible worlds”) and to make it actual.
Now. . . it might not always seem like it — especially when we’re in the middle of experiencing pain, evil, and suffering ourselves — but God (similar to Doctor Strange but maximally greater) perfectly knows that this “evil-infused universe” will eventually lead to a world where evil is extinguished and no one will ever make evil choices again (in Heaven).
Doctor Strange had the BIG picture in mind and made his choice allowing limited evil to ultimately defeat evil. God has ETERNITY in mind and made His choice allowing limited evil (which includes everything we might not like about this universe in the past, right now . . . or even in the near future) to ultimately destroy ALL evil into the infinite future.
Doctor Strange is the hero of the Marvel Cinematic Universe . . .
God is the Hero of the actual universe . . . and should be praised!
It is finished! (–SNAP–)