The movement of zombie mythology from its first period to its second … mirrors the shift from faith in God to faith in science. – Kevin Boon’s essay ‘The Zombie as Other’ in Better off Dead, edited by Deborah Christie and Sarah Juliet Lauro
One of my favourite and hated of all stereotypical characters is the ‘crazy religious person’ (note: this does NOT refer to every religious person! There are people who take anything too far, no matter the name of their god. Second note: I will always not capitalise the word/name god unless it is from a quote. I use the term ‘gawd’ when I’m being silly.) This is the person who will deny what is front of them, even as the zombies are eating their flesh (literally in some movies). In Stephen King’s The Mist, it’s Mrs Carmody, thinking herself so pure when actually she splits the survivors apart. Whether unshakable belief in anything can be healthy is a topic for another academic. What I think about is god and science.
If you haven’t seen Prometheus, think of Frankenstein. The creation of life is an ability for god alone and no mortal can be god. Your belief can change the purpose of life completely in a story: in one side of beliefs (of either science or religion), mankind is king, either being certified by god as above all the creatures or through survival of the fittest and evolving above the animals. On the other side, mankind is one of many creations and it’s our ability to think that will save us (and animals) and doom us (and animals). Are humans any more worthy of survival than animals? In some texts, animals are immune or not part of the zombie food pyramid. Could it be god resetting the world back to equality, where mankind no longer has total control? Or is it the animals are better at survival of the fittest?
The disease/plague/whatever itself is another point. Mostly we see zombie plagues either made by man, for bio-weapons, for immortality, for whatever. I’m struggling to think of a zombie plague ‘sent by god’. Usually it’s science or there is no explanation at all. Voodoo is human-controlled, so I wouldn’t quite set that as being god’s power or intent.
Science vs god also determines how we look at the Other. Western society is very paranoid about robots, for example, where in some countries like Japan have huge robot development (just told my partner what I’m writing, and he said how easy it would be to program a robot to kill zombies). But if zombies were created by god? How would that change our perceptions of them (whether you are the religious type, and whatever religious type you are)?
So in all didn’t actually talk about the quote at all, but still an interesting divide, whatever the monster!