Theology and Man in Nolan’s Interstellar

To Be Continued . . . 

Here we are folks!  If you read my full review of Interstellar (2014) HERE, then you know I had some extra thoughts about the movie that had too many spoilers to go into the review.  I won’t waste your time: let’s get into it.

There are several things I need to explain first before I really get into my thoughts so let me make a few points / explanations as a preface.

  • God is not really mentioned in this movie.  But someone or something is mentioned as “they” and it sounds as if “they” might be plural.  “They” are acknowledged as trying to communicate with Earth, and these “messages” are picked up by what remains of NASA.  While there isn’t necessarily deity or divinity mentioned, it is heavily implied that these Beings are greater than we are, as they inhabit 5 dimensions and can pick any or all dimensions that they want to inhabit at any given time.

Sounds a little weird, but this is science fiction after all.

  • Cooper (and everyone else in the movie) has a rather dull view of humanity.  But also a very high view of humanity, or at least portions of humanity.  It’s a bit of an oxymoron . . . Let me explain the first point.  Cooper has a conversation with his dad in which his dad says, “Six billion people trying to have it all, think about that.  This world ain’t so bad.”  He says that after describing our overpopulated, over-stressed world that existed prior to the “blight”.  But another conversation, had in the vast expanse of space gives a different perspective.  Read the following from the script:

Cooper: How about Mann?

Brand: Dr. Mann, well, he’s remarkable. He’s the best of us. He inspired eleven people to follow him on the loneliest journey in human history. Scientists, explorers. That’s what I love. You know, out there, we face great odds. Death. But, not evil.

Cooper: You don’t think nature can be evil?

Brand: No. Formidable, frightening. But, no, not evil. Well, is a lion evil because it rips a gazelle to shreds?

Cooper: Just what we take with us then?

Brand: Yeah. This crew represents the best of humanity

My Thoughts

Now that you have that overview, I can drop all the spoilers and give my thoughts.  And here it is: “they” turn out to be Cooper in the future and past at the same time.

Mind blown.

But what does that say about the theology / morality of the new Earth?  It puts man in charge of destiny, to sum it up quickly.  If you stop and think about it, this is not a new way of looking at the world.  In fact, this is really what all non-Christians truly believe, or at least hope to be true.  Because if you don’t look to God, refuse to acknowledge His existence, or remain undecided you are trusting that man is in charge of his own destiny on this earth and in eternity after death.

What does this do to a person?  Easy answer: it makes them selfish.  Contrary to modern thought, focusing on yourself makes you more selfish and self-serving, not less.  And we see this so clearly when Cooper has a conversation with Murph shortly before blasting into space.  Murph is protesting vehemently – naturally, right? – as she doesn’t want her father to leave her alone.  Here is Cooper’s response:

They chose me! Right now I need to be alive!

 

The movie presents us with a dilemma: Cooper can save the world by leaving his family, or he can save his family by ignoring the world.  Honestly it’s not a decision I would want to be faced with myself.  However, looking at it from this side of the TV, I don’t see how sacrificing your children is beneficial.  And perhaps the point to be made here is Cooper’s motivation.  It’s not to save his children, it’s not to save the world, it’s to be “alive”.  He’s doing this because he wants the rush of flying again, of working in the field of science that he’s always loved.  Selfish motives always cause pain, even when they lead to supposedly good outcomes.

Moving on, there is a point to be made about the character’s view of the earth itself.  As Believers, we know that God made this earth for us to populate and to enjoy.  But he also created us to subdue it and have dominion over it all.  We don’t necessarily see that completely fulfilled in our time because the earth is groaning for salvation and its Savior.  But in Interstellar we see a different mindset.  Dr. Brand mocks mankind when he says we are “. . .driven by the un-shakeable faith that the earth is ours.”  At first, it can be unclear why he says this.  But this quote from a bit later in the movie illuminates what he really believes:

We’re not meant to save the world, we’re meant to leave it.

 

This is not what we believe as Christians, not at all.  I find it sad that this is how these characters felt about the earth.  This beautiful planet was a gift from our Creator for us to live on and enjoy!  Why would we want to forsake it?

Now to take a step back.  This is a fictional story.  The doctrine presented here does not necessarily display the beliefs of those who created it, but it is likely someone out there does feel this way.  As Believers we must be aware of what we are surrounding ourselves with.  What we see and hear greatly affects what we think and do.  That does not mean we can’t watch Interstellar, in fact I would recommend it because it’s a ridiculous, unbelievable, but also super cool space adventure.  Yet, with everything we do, we either step towards or away from our heavenly Father.

Wrapping it Up

Perhaps this was another moment of me overthinking and over-analyzing everything!  But I hope you could at least somewhat enjoy this conversation.

Enjoy your Friday and go read a book!

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