History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Prometheus review

June 19th, 2012 · No Comments


I haven’t seen the movie, so I am not sure about this negative review, but there is a lingering feeling that the sci/fi take on ‘intelligent design’ is what is triggering this rejection, in part.
Most of these films are such schlock that reviews like this are inevitable (and this one is very cogent).
Whatever the case, the raising of the ID quesion is appropriate and sci fi writers are, ironically, one of the few sources of Darwin doubt in the non-religous community of geeks/scientists….

The problem I have is the crudity of psychological portraiture, and the probable impossibility of this kind of low-level life manipulation.
The real thing, if ‘real’, would require a superadvanced technology completely unknown to us at our present stage.
Meanwhile, whatever the crudities of this plot and its market-driven religious tone, the issue of ‘intelligent design’ in the emergence of life in the ironic sense of alien life forms is a phase of the evolution debate finally coming to the fore.
Since it is a variant of Hoyle’s view, it is actually an original part of the challenge to Darwinism.

What is not suspected is the existence of ‘hyperlife’ forms beyond the physical, and yet neither non-physical nor quite ‘spiritual’.
Whatever the case (and I will have to wait to see the film), the ‘naturalistic superlife’ is one of the logical alternatives in the ID debate, and shows how ‘design’ issues are, ironically, naturalistic ones.

We don’t know, and must hold our breath, but we must suspect, and hope, the universe is designed to make it impossible for the kinds of villains that are the staple of sci/fi pulp fiction to control the production of life.
The horror of the universe would escalate expoentially if that were the case.
You had better say your last prayer and hope that there is a cosmic police force to root out the degenerate possibilities we see in these films created by and for sadists, Hollywood ‘scum’ life…

I can’t quite figure out how the Prometheus myth is used in this film. But we should recall that Prometheus was the early myth of a ‘leftist’ and the champion of man against the tyranny of the gods.

In any case, the question of life is more than genes and bodies: a figure such as homo sapiens impinges on a realm that flowers in the emergence of ‘buddhas’ and that kind of potential is completely beyond the crude monstrosities of created life in these films.

And then there’s the film’s treatment of religion.

Von Daniken’s thesis, at least in its early incarnation, expressed a sixties’ skepticism about traditional Christianity, since the attribution of ancient cave paintings and Biblical scriptures to the same alien source provided an obvious challenge to conventional dogma.

In Prometheus, on the other hand, the ancient astronauts actually confirm the faith of thecentral character, Elizabeth, largely, it seems, on the basis that the extraterrestrial role in shaping humanity discredits Darwinism, the eternalbête noire of the fundamentalist right. When her drippy boyfriend suggests that proof of interstellar beings manufacturing humanity poses a teensy problem for believers (ya think?), Elizabeth shoots back, like Sarah Palin sassing the New York Times: ‘Well, who made them?’

As James Bradley points out, the religiousity that runs throughout the movie is immediately identifiable as the pop Christianity associated with conservative megachurches, a creed that can assimilate any kind of woo hoo into its theology. For manyAmericans, religion now entails less a coherent set of doctrines than a homemade assemblage scrabbled together from TV evangelists and the Left Behind books and Hallmark cards about angels and whatever else comes tohand, and so there’s no reason why identifying God as a cosmic astronaut should pose any particular dilemma.

‘It’s what I choose to believe,’ says Elizabeth, neatly voicing the contemporary sense that sincerity matters more than truth. ‘True for me’ is, of course, a notion entirely at odds with 2000 years of Christianity, and thus an illustration of the paradoxical secularism now embedded in so much contemporary religion. As we learned during the Bush years, even (or perhaps especially) for fundamentalists, truth has given way for what Stephen Colbert calls ‘truthiness’, a knowledge that resides in the gut rather in the brain, a way of understanding the world that depends more on emotion than intellect.

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