Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes



In the 19th century, Europe and the United States were grappling with some serious issues and developments, including: Industrialization and technology, Conflicting political ideologies, Power struggles between the elite, the middle classes, and the working class, and the influence of science vs. religion. The change brought about by these developments led to uncertainty and conflict. Individuals attempted to secure power by playing on that uncertainty and conflict to create fear. The 2009 detective film “Sherlock Holmes” revolves around Sherlock Holmes unraveling the mystery of a man’s resurrection from the dead. While other people tremble at the apparent supernatural event, the eccentric scientist Sherlock is not shocked. He sets a research to determine whether these occurrences are true. Sherlock then begins to disapprove one supernatural act after another with a natural explanation for each. He shows that the notorious reputation of Lord Blackwood, the occult leader, including his magical possession of a prison guard, is all a paid performance. The reason Lord Blackwood does these things is to inflict fear among people.

Power through fear is explained as the reason why Lord Blackwood went through so much trouble to deceive the weak minded. Conceived in an occult ceremony between a powerful practitioner and the occult order’s leader, he was believed to be a curse. Using the convenience of his miraculous birth, he learned to use the occult faith to position himself to overthrow England, America and maybe the world. Theism becomes a tool to instill a fear that will allow him to establish his rule over theists and non-theists alike. The occult leaders point this out to Sherlock Holmes by stating, “we know you don’t believe in magic. We don’t expect you to share our faith, just our fears.” Sherlock agrees that infectious fear is indeed the true danger, as the film subtly reduces the Theistic worldview to a means of manipulating people.

The film makes other subtle stabs at Theism and most specifically Christianity. Lord Blackwood is found in his cell reading from The book of Revelation, John’s Apocalypse. Later in the film he applies quotes of Christ living again to himself. Fearful masses are shown in the film twice, once before Lord Blackwood’s hanging carrying crosses and then again before the predicted rise of the dark powers. As Sherlock Holmes reveals how he unraveled the mystery and dispelled the magic to the vanquished Blackwood, he recognizes that despite his enemy’s failure for worldly power, his participation in occultism may have an impact on his eternal destination. He once says, ‘You’d better hope that occult black magic is nothing more than superstition, as you performed all the rituals perfectly. The devil is due a soul I’d say.’

The film uses Christian themes such as resurrection. Just like Lord Blackwood did in the film, Jesus Christ was brought to trial and executed, except Christ was falsely accused and hung innocent of any crimes. Again, similarly to the film, an empty tomb spoke to Christ’s resurrection, and may people witnessed him walking and even eating after death. The film’s references to Revelation could also serve as a conversation starter regarding Christ’s second coming, judgment of the Earth and ultimate victory over sin and evil. This has been used to instill fear among large groups of people who believe in what is happening.

Sherlock Holmes holds such a positive view of Naturalism while balancing a healthy view of reality that it serves as an effective means to begin an apologetic conversation with an unbeliever. Without overtly pro-religious themes or a wholly unbelievable story, the film meets those who firmly maintain a naturalism worldview on their turf. The film seems to have the idea that scientific knowledge will solve societies problems. The movie glamorizes Sherlock Holmes’s amazing power of observation of even the smallest details, recognizing a nearly invisible knife simply “because he was looking for it” or determining whereabouts through sounds and smell.

Eventually Christians must respond to the movies skeptical assertion that religion is a tool of manipulation. While unfortunate believers must agree that Christianity can and has been used to acquire power and even for evil. Just like Lord Blackwood, these “Christians” used religion like any other scientific practice for their own personal gains. This reveals that the corruption we disdain begins at the human level.

Using reason, we can question the use of fear to manipulate others and expose its flaws by inquiring why Sherlock Holmes himself did not adhere to strictly natural phenomenon and allows room for miracles in his investigation? Classical apologist C. S. Lewis argues that fear and belief in religion itself is circular, since if “everything, including our thinking and judging, belongs to one vast interlocking system of physical causes and effects, then we are left with no reason for believing it to be true because all judgments would equally and ultimately be the result of non-rational forces. Fighting fear would take quite a lot of courage as Sherlock did. This would create a platform for the honest skeptic to review the facts and evidence of religion.

Since Sherlock Holmes conveniently brings up the idea of a man resurrecting from the dead, we should ask the question “can somebody truly rise from the dead?” Obviously, Christianity claims that not only can someone rise from the dead, historically somebody did – Jesus, and Christians themselves will be resurrected at the end of history to join him. A combined Evidential and Faddiest apologetic will prove most helpful with a skeptic now hopefully open to investigating truth claims. By studying the primary source material of Christ, the Christian bible, skeptics can begin to make their own informed decisions rather than accepting other skeptics’ conclusions with blind faith. Beginning with the gospel’s depiction of Christ’s ministry we can show where and how Jesus claimed not only to be the God of the Hebrew bible, but also the divine Messiah prophesied there. Then we can discuss Christ’s predicted death to solve the depraved world’s sin problem and the evidences of his victory over death through his resurrection. As the skeptic reviews the scriptures and reasons for faith, we should pray be trusting that the Holy Spirit will work and reveal truth in their life, all from watching Sherlock Holmes.



Technology has been brought in by the idea that Holmes uses science to explain events others see as supernatural is not unique to this film. Holmes investigates a mysterious event that happens throughout the film. Most of them are caused by Lord Blackwood. Though some believe it to be a supernatural power that Lord Blackwood is using, Holmes does not get intimidated to believe such allegations.  He forges on and comes up with reasons for every occurrence that had been deemed miraculous or supernatural by other people who believe in what Lord Blackwood does. The events that happen in this film can be likened to what Holmes does in a new story.  He uses scientific detection to try to solve the crime. He collects data, then looks for patterns and connections. Holmes cautions Dr. Watson against “theorizing in advance of the facts,” pointing out that thinking we know the result we are looking for can influence what we see. Students designing an experiment in an inquiry-based science class should be similarly cautioned. Scientific questions are supported by a theory, but the investigator must accept the data collected, not discard it if it does not fit the theory.

Fear and political power

Blackwood gets to appoint where he tries to instill fear in Sherlock Holmes. He warns him of three more impending deaths that will cause great changes to the world. this is meant to frighten people and gain control of their thinking. After some time, Sir Thomas and another senior member of the group are later killed through apparently supernatural means by Blackwood, allowing him to assume control.  Lord Blackwood plans to push for Britain to retake the United States, weakened by civil war.  His intention is to use political powers to make people fear him. He however knows that there is one person who won’t believe in his ideologies, Sherlock Holmes. He therefore manipulates Lord Coward, who was in league with Blackwood all along, to issue a warrant for Holmes’ arrest.

When Holmes learns he is wanted by the police he goes into hiding and studies Blackwood’s rituals, concluding the next target is British Parliament. Holmes tricks Lord Coward into revealing that the plan is to wipe out the House of Lords and then rejoins Adler and Watson. The three sneak into the sewers beneath Parliament and discover a machine, based on Reardon’s experiments, designed to release a cyanide derivative into the Parliament chambers. They fight off Blackwood’s men, and remove the cyanide containers from the machine. This leads to the death of Lord coward. Lord Blackwood goes into hiding but is ultimately tricked by Sherlock Holmes to perform a mock trick of suicide. In so doing, a loose pillar falls tightening the noose and ultimately killing Lord Blackwood.

Effectiveness of fear as a means to obtaining and keeping power

As the saying goes, the foundation of every government is fear. There would be no government if people did not fear their governing bodies. Governments and people who thirst for power make good use of fear. They use it as a weapon against their opponents as well as their subjects. They exploit it and cultivate it for their own benefits. Whether they compose a warfare state or a welfare state, they depend on it to secure popular submission, compliance. Without popular fear, no government could endure more than twenty-four hours. Lord Blackwood tries to get political power by using this ideology. He instills fear among people to gain fame and recognition. He plans to push for Britain to retake the United States. This is because at this time, it is already weakened by civil war.  He intends to use political powers to make people fear him.  Blackwood wants control of the society and in turn the government so as to create an elaborate series of illusions that might make the public terrified of him. He also hopes that by doing this, the members of the society would believe he has magical powers.

Blackwood’s threat seems hollow, as he soon meets the noose, and Dr. Watson pronounces him dead. But death proves no obstacle to Blackwood, he later seemingly resurrects and continues committing murder while still plotting the fall and rise of England and perhaps the world.