On the "Fringe" of Reality

Although I'm not a fanatic, I've become interested in the TV show Fringe--especially the biblical metaphors. Some stand out more than others:

- The alternate universes - Good vs. evil
- Time travel - Eternity
- Walter Bishop - God
- Peter Bishop - Jesus Christ
- Olivia Dunham - The Holy Spirit
- Observers - Angels
- Shapeshifters - Demons
- Massive Dynamic - The Bible
- Transporting between universes - Salvation and Death

The alternate universe symbolizes good vs. evil, or the spirit vs. the sinful flesh. The show's adaptation is fitting since, from our human perception, there's sometimes only a fine (and unclear) line distinguishing the two. We often justify our own universe to be the good one. (BTW, this is an old idea in science fiction, similar to a 50-year-old episode of The Twilight Zone where there was a parallel universe populated with near-mirror images of ourselves.

The time travel is perhaps the closest thing that we can relate to eternity, in this life. One of the characters even said, "There is no past and there is no future--everything happens now." Eternity is bound neither by time nor by space. However, unfortunately, we cannot perceive of a way to depict life as non-spatial (and the show's producers haven't yet figured this out either).

Walter Bishop is a symbol for God. His superb intellect makes him appear to be almost omniscient--the voice ("source") of logic and reasoning of the whole universe. In his lab, he's even a creator.

Walter's son Peter is a symbol for the second member of the godhead, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In one time warp, (the alternate) Peter died, but in another one, he lives--a resurrection of sorts. He is also able to visit "the other (evil) side," just as Christ "descended to the lower earthly regions" (Ephesians 4:9) where He "made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits" (1 Peter 3:19). "Peter" is also the name of one of Christ's disciples, and "Bishop" is analogous to a leadership position in the Church.

However, we've learned that this Peter is not really Walter's son. He's actually Walternate's son, from the other side. In this sense, Peter is the Antichrist, coming from the dark side to infiltrate our universe.

Although it's not quite as good of an analogy, Olivia Dunham must be a symbol for the Holy Spirit. She appears to be a source of great power, although the show keeps us in suspense as to the extent of her capabilities--intellect, memories, etc. She is also a comforter at times (John 15:26).

Just as the two universes stand for good and evil, the Trinity (Walter, Peter, and Olivia) has a mirror image of itself in an evil, unholy, and deceitful Trinity (Walternate, Peter, and Fauxlivia) in the alternate universe.

The Observers are angels--beings that transcend time without aging, watching over humans. They have been described as "traveling chroniclers" and "enforcers of extraordinary events." In one time warp, they assisted in saving young Peter's life, similar to the angels that announced the birth of Christ (Luke 2:9-15). Some of them seem to have a negative disposition, like fallen angels (demons). (BTW, these observers are all bald. Why would angels need hair anyway?)

However, perhaps the true demons are the Shapeshifters. They're undercover agents from the other side that can suck the life out of people and take on the form of their victims. Hebrews 13:2 tells us that angels (apparently including fallen angels) can assume the form of humans because we might have "shown hospitality to angels without knowing it" (Hebrews 13:2). Also, these Shapeshifters seem to be some sort of human/machine hybrids, not unlike some of the weird creatures we see in the book of Revelation. Shapeshifters have some sort of a mysterious and identifying device implanted in their backs, perhaps the mysterious "sign of man...666" (Revelation 13:18).

All of the knowledge encompassed in Massive Dynamic is a metaphor for the Bible.

The members of the Fringe team can "leave their world" and beam over to the other universe, transporting themselves through a portal. On our side, this portal is provided by a magic device; on the other side, this portal is at the (pseudo) Statue of Liberty. This portal could symbolize both death--the way out of this life), and salvation--entry into the afterlife.

Heaven - In a recent episode there was a reference about "getting to heaven." One man tried to earn his way to "heaven" by doing "good deeds;" i.e., by taking people's lives and thus saving them from a worse fate. Just as true salvation is through faith in Christ, the fate of the characters in Season 4 seems to rest on their faith in Peter (the type of Christ), and the seemingly outrageous (unbelievable) claims he makes about his time warp experiences. (But I'm not so sure that Peter is really on the level.)

Prior to commercial breaks, a brief image of a glyph is shown. This is a puzzle symbolizing the mysteries of the universe that are known only to God, or to a select few, just as the Fringe team investigates unexplained mysteries.

Owen Weber 2012