Prometheus and the ‘who made us?’ question.

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The following was written by Rachel Giles here: http://www.licc.org.uk/engaging-with-culture/connecting-with-culture/entertainment/monster-questions–1357#fbcomments

Maybe they were hiding from the rain, but an awful lot of people went to see Ridley Scott’s sci-fi blockbuster, Prometheus, over the Jubilee weekend. The prequel to his 1979 film Alien, it grossed £6.24 million over those four days – and it’s still topping the UK box office.

There’s plenty to please fans of the Alien series: a strong female lead, shocks, slime, a rapidly dwindling spaceship crew and, of course, scary aliens. But it also asks some big questions: where does human life come from? Who, or what, made us?

The film’s mythology – that humans were created by extraterrestrials who visited Earth – isn’t original, alluding to Erich von Däniken’s 1968 Chariots of the Gods. Nor is it one that would sit too happily with most Christians.

But here’s a surprise: the heroine, Dr Elizabeth Shaw, a scientist determined to find answers to these questions, is a Christian; she wears a cross and is ‘a true believer’. She trusts that the evidence (cave paintings and stone carvings from ancient civilisations) points to something ‘out there’. And she has faith that when the crew of the Prometheus arrive on LV223, two years from Earth, they will, literally, meet their makers – and ask them ‘why they even made us in the first place’.

Her beliefs aren’t shared by the crew. It’s 2093, and Darwinism, the prevailing explanation of life on earth, has been around for three centuries. Interestingly, her hunch about the aliens doesn’t clash with her faith in God, for if they exist, ‘who created the aliens?’ she says.

The mission has potentially disastrous consequences for Earth. But the film is less about humans overreaching themselves (like the Prometheus of Greek myth), and more about our unquenchable thirst for truth. Writer Damon Lindelof, who wrote the series Lost, said in a recent interview, ‘The entire point of being alive is to ask these questions and search for some meaning.’

It’s encouraging to see a popular film grapple with these ideas, even if it doesn’t provide answers. We’re regularly told that science has explained everything, but some questions won’t go away. Prometheus presents huge opportunities to share what we believe about God’s creation and purposes with others. But it challenges us, too. Would you pursue the truth, even if it cost you? And if you met your maker, what would you ask?

Not every slime-shocker blockbuster makes you wonder that.

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