Prometheus, the Titanic god of ancient Greece, is the overt metaphor behind Ridley Scott's new movie. The story begins on Earth, in the midst of an archeological dig in the year 2089. It follows two idealistic archeologists on their quest to find humanity's creators among the stars and takes us on a journey that is roughly a prequel to the sci-fi horror classic, Alien. Traveling in hypersleep (a kind of cyronic suspension), the scientists make the trek from Earth to far-flung LV-223 to encounter the purported makers of mankind. Expectation builds for what many hope to be gods, only to find an ominous disappointment which leaves us with more questions than those with which we began.
Fundamentally, the movie is a cosmic question along the lines of classic science fiction, asking about the origins of humanity and what kind of thing may be called truly a “god.” The gods of modern science are, in this movie, very baldly portrayed as evil, self-centered, or otherwise something terrible to behold. Looking beyond this planet for the true makers of humanity embodies a distrust of the cold, technological world embodied by the very tools they use on their journey to the stars – the spaceship Prometheus, the ethically ambiguous android David, and the Weyland corporation. The possibility of faith in something greater continues to arise as a possibility. Sadly, however, this faith is seen as something in which the main characters “choose to believe in,” left in the realm of what might be a hypothetical possibility or, at worst, a convenient fiction.
The most interesting lines in the movie were not those which dealt with the makers of mankind among the stars, but about the relationship of the futuristic human race to their own creation – the android David. The few encounters between him and his makers exposed the spiritual hollowness of the distopian world of the Weyland Corporation.
“Why did you create us?” David asks one of the scientists.
“We made ya 'cause we could,” he answers.
“Can you imagine how disappointing it would be for you to hear the same thing from your creator?”
The core of truth in the film Prometheus is not what it can answer about the existence or non-existence of God, but what it tells us about our world today. We have become a sorry imitation of the ancient Greek god Prometheus, creating so much possibility and power through technology, but lacking any moral compass to tell us how and why we should use it. We have fire, but have no gods to prepare us to use it. The world of the movie – and, conversely, the postmodern world – lacks meaning, so that people run to discover meaning in the most shallow or the most remote places. In their case, it was to seek a finite “intelligent designer” who could give them the answers they sought, while others merely ignored the question. In St. Augustine's metaphor, we try to squeeze blood from a rock, seeking infinite happiness from finite, material pleasures.
As Martin Heidegger famously said, “Only a god can save us.” Postmodernity, following Heidegger, seeks gods in themselves – finite ones that offer material rewards. We see that all around us today - people taking refuge in drugs, alcohol, sex, money. But there is a perverse truth to the idolater - they seek an object beyond themselves to fill up an infinite gap within themselves. They just seek in the wrong place. The truth is that only the Triune God can save us. For our hearts are restless until they find an object which is itself infinite and can sate our infinite thirst for knowledge, love, and happiness. In the end, while technology untrammeled by morality is represented by Prometheus, we must not forget that, as a punishment for seeking the fire of the gods, Zeus sent Pandora to follow Prometheus.
My Rating: 9 out of 10.