There are lots of interpretations of the new Ridley Scott film Prometheus floating around on the web right now. And when my husband couldn’t wait to see it, I saw it with him, now I can contribute to the theories.
The film’s strongest thoughtful element is the android David and his interactions with the other characters as creature to creator. But as interesting as that is, the film remains utterly unsatisfying, not because it doesn’t answer its own questions, but because asking whether aliens created human life is really just a circular question.
As the two lead scientists discuss in the film, if aliens created humanity, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is no God, it just leads to the further question of who created the aliens.
The question of creation just goes back and back and back unless there is a necessary being, one who’s existence is what defines it, one who doesn’t depend on any contingency in order to exist.
Traditionally, this necessary being is how philosophers (since Aristotle) and theologians (since Thomas Aquinas) have described God. Thus the “Well, who created God?” question is answered. God is the one being that exists by definition. The non-contingent being who has the logical power to explain how all these other (temporal, temporary) creatures and things exist.
Unfortunately, I don’t think this metaphysical conception of God is given much thought nowadays, which is really too bad because greater minds than ours have pondered this and found it satisfying. To dismiss the understanding of God as necessary being simply doesn’t give enough credit to the weight of ideas in play.
Now, some people might come to deny such a conclusion, but I hope that before the denial there is more serious thought and effort to understand the metaphysical points than just a quick “well, who created God?”
Turning to aliens, while interesting, does not give the human characters the answers they seek. Dr. Shaw wants to understand why humanity was made. Dr. Holloway doesn’t think it would be sufficient for humans to be a result of “just because they could.”
The beautiful thing is, from the Christian point of view, God, the necessary being who explains existence itself, created all the world and all humanity out of love, not because he had to. Because God is a Trinity of Persons in loving relationship, his goodness overflows and creates. Humans and everything else are loved into existence.
Now isn’t that more satisfying than arbitrary fiat? Or us being the side effect of alien experiments?
We so desperately still desire to know our origin and why things are how they are, to find an explanatory reason. The answers of faith that have been around for millenniums are still really, really good, strong, satisfying answers.
It’s not that people shouldn’t be allowed to consider other possibilities, but I just wish more credit and thought were given to the old answers. If aliens aren’t patently absurd, why would it be absurd to theorize that we have been loved and willed into existence by the necessary being?
All this being said, who doesn’t enjoy a bunch of aliens, robots and slime in space? Thank you, Prometheus!