“Avatar” takes place 4.3 light years from Earth, in the year 2154.  Here is a description of the key premise of the movie from a review:

Intelligent life, called Na’vi, has been found on the moon called Pandora.  Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a paraplegic Marine from Earth, volunteers to take his recently deceased brother’s place in the Avatar program, which will shift his consciousness into a genetically engineered copy of an inhabitant of the planet.

In other words, the premise of the movie is that within a very short time — only 145 years into the future — technology and science will have made huge advances.  The avatar is grown as if a clone, fully formed, an then the consciousness of Jake Sully, and his cohort, Signoorney Weaver, are periodically placed into these living beings.  The spaceship transporting Jake and hundreds of mercenary type soldiers travels 4.3 light years — 4.3 light years ! — in order to get to the planet Pandora.

Is it reasonable to think that it is in the potential of humanity to accomplish such a huge leap in science?  I’ve got to wonder if this movie defies not only what the limits of science presently are, here in 2009, but what the limits of science will be, ever.  Will science ever understand consciousness enough that it could actually shift one’s consciousness from one being into another being?  It’s mind boggling to suppose such science could exist.  Such science, 145 years in the future, would require a magnitude of change in scientific capacity many many more times than the great change in science humanity has actually accomplished in the recent 145 years, already passed, starting in 1864.

The change in science from 1864 to today has been immense, but the “Avatar” movie predicts that the change in science 145 years in the future, in 2154, will be awesomely greater.  The premise of “Avatar” is that, in time, there will be no limit to man’s control over his physical universe, no limit to the growth of mankind’s science.  But, the truth is this premise is dead wrong.

There is a huge limit to scientific progress and that limit is humanity itself.  Even if science has the potential for such a huge magnitude of growth, suggested in this movie, developing such science would require a stable and prosperous earth.  Science and everything else will come to a halt if we blow ourselves up or if we despoil the earth, to the point that human life is eradicated.

The science demonstrated in “Avatar” — traveling 4.3 light years! — will only be possible if humanity itself profoundly changes.  Only an enlightened humanity can have an enlightened future.

The contradiction in the movie “Avatar” is that the human characters depicted in the movie are right out of the stereotype of Hollywood casting.  They are not enlightened  or improved humans and some are even cartoonish is their human failings of ego, hatred, self-centeredness, and avarice.  The humans in this movie are hopelessly anachronistic.  Of the far-fetched concepts in the film, the concept that the present version of humanity can arrive at such a glorious technological future is among the most far-fetched. The present version of humanity is on its way to disaster, and better technology is only hastening the inevitable end.

Humanity’s ongoing scientific revolution can save us or it can destroy us.  The limit and hope of humanity is not in our science but in ourselves. Only an enlightened humanity can avoid the certain disaster looming before it.

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