Theology and science are dueling entities of thought in the modern age, and have become a hot-button issue even in the realm of global politics. These philosophies have existed not only within conflicts of ethics, but even more so as a conflict of existential thought. The question of humanity’s origin has long been within the forefront of our conscious minds, and fuels our curiosity and zest for the furthering of knowledge. The truth is, the more we learn about ourselves, the more we wish to know, and our existence therefor becomes a never-ending quest for answers. In our search for these answers though, we turn to either one of these philosophies – science or theology – as a basis for answering these most basic yet unnerving questions.
In Prometheus, Ridley Scott brings about this very dichotomy to create a visual exercise in mankind’s pursuit of ultimate truths. The creation of man, and the reason for his creation, transforms into an exploration through space to discover the realities of these questions. Elizabeth Shaw (played by the wonderful Noomi Rapace) and her partner scientist are at the forefront of this exploration, believing truths to lie deep within the outer reaches of the stars. Although conversely, Shaw holds onto her faith in religion as a guiding beacon of morality, all the while her belief in science grounds her to alternate, more physical possibilities. She represents the whole of humanity and embodies the spirit of moral fortitude and religious conviction, in comparison to the furthest push of the scientific agenda that is embodied by David.
David (portrayed by Michael Fassbender) is the antithesis of theology, the most radical of measures that humankind could take, and at one point has taken, to reach an ultimate goal of scientific knowledge and understanding. This of course comes at the expense of humanity, as David acts as the tipping point for the downward spiral that leads to the crew’s realization of truth, and by extension, terror. His lack of the human factor, that necessity of emotion that makes us such unique beings, is what blinds him to any form of remorse or hubris, and this leads to the potentiality of ultimate truths at the expense of humanity’s very existence.
Shaw and David are essentially two sides of the same coin, as they both strive for the same form of knowledge. Yet unlike David, Shaw has the ability to comprehend the limits of human benefit within the situation, and takes a rather diverging approach to the methodology of reaching their goal. There is a loss for each side though, and through the losses there is an overarching expression of weakness to our various philosophies and methodologies for attaining answers. The truths that arise are not that of our ultimate existence but rather of what our search for these ultimate answers, through either method, will lead us to.
Scott has portrayed a magnificent train of thought pertaining to the beliefs of mankind, but his execution of such ideas come in a manner that are somewhat less than deserving of the ideas themselves. His scope is grand, and the world of existence for this adventure is vast, but there is a middling sense of inconsistency mired by both the spectacle itself and the eventual unfolding of events. Sometimes a dream is too big to conceptualize within the confines of filmic space. The finding of truth to the age-old question of the origins and reasoning for existence are certainly a dream of this magnitude, inhibited by its own complexity and philosophical duality.
8 out of 10