Science Fiction and Religion – Noah

The movie Noah was much better than I thought it would be. I also feel like I have liked it more – and for different reasons – than other people. My goal with this post is to say why I thought this was one of the best movies I have ever seen.

Holly did her LitFlix on this movie already, so she’s talked about some of the differences between the movie and the source material already, and some of the controversy. People at either extreme of the debates this movie tackled had trouble with it. People tied to a literal interpretation of the Bible had trouble with it. People who are pure science had trouble as well, feeling that the whole film was a waste of time.

There’s also the fact that it took a somewhat fantastical approach, but given the director, Darren Aronofsky, and some of his other work – like, say, The Fountain – how could you not expect this? This is a director who makes films that make you think, that aren’t obvious, and that is why I think that our Science Fiction and Religion category applies.

So when you get past all of these extremes, you have the movie I watched. And it had a point and a purpose.

The Middle

So I’m thinking that Aronofsky maybe did some homework. Just a little, to make this movie. He captures some of the fact that this was all based on an oral tradition. Captures language like the characters saying “Creator” rather than “God,” as this should be before the stories.

Well, there’s one story. The story of the creation.

So let me take a moment to get there. In the Hebrew storytelling tradition, the point of the story is in the middle – not in the end like we are used to today in the West. Generally in a seven-segment story, you would have three lead-in elements, your central and main point, and three points afterwards which mirror the three leading up.

So let’s assume Aronofsky knows this. That he might have been thinking of it. That he built his movie the same way.

If this is the case, then the point of the film is one story, in the middle. The story of creation.

Creation in Noah

When the characters first get on the Ark, and they’ve fought their way through, and things are bleak and lonely and rainy, Noah tells them a story. The best story he has, the best story he knows. He tells them the story of the creation.

Within the context of the Noah story, it follows that the only way we even know about the creation story would be through him. His story is the one that would survive. So of course it looked like the start of Genesis.

Well, let me rephrase that: it sounded like Genesis.

What it looked like, however, was a time-lapse from the Big Bang through Evolution up to people. And you know what? Those visuals, with the story, matched up pretty darn well.

Actually seeing this on screen – after all of the controversy and fighting on this topic that we’ve witnessed these last many years – was so refreshing. The thought that maybe, just maybe, the creation story and evolution don’t have to be at odds? This is the point. This is huge.

Creation and Science in General

I think honestly rather a lot of people share this belief. Not the vocal and loud people, not the ones catching the press. But generally, I think people are pretty good with the Big Bang and with Evolution – and yet, a lot of these same people still believe in religion. I’ll just throw it out to all religions here, and not just the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Maybe it’s because of my love of science fiction and fantasy, but the idea that a creator could be put in a box – that we might say “God couldn’t possibly have done X” – is crazy. If we believe in a creator, who has power, then this creator could of course have created the world with what we call science.

And why not? Fiction writers create internally-consistent rules for their invented universes all the time. Belief in a creator should allow for the same allowances – only even better than a human can pull off.

If you’ve made it this far, I want to refer back to my post about The Best of All Possible Worlds. A logical universe that makes sense is of course something a creator could have made. The thought that we have to cling to some notion of literal interpretation of what is an oral tradition is really confusing to me.

The tradition is also that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, inspired by God. Okay… so God told him “Moses, I created you through a complicated process of Evolution” and explained it all to him? And even if He did – would Moses understand it? And even if he did, would he be able to explain it to anyone else?

Sorry, that’s pretty hard to explain even now, even today. We put a lot of time and scientific study into these things, over the course of many years and many lives. Not something that’s just easily explained away.

So I find the lack of the literal description of what science tells us is the story of creation in religious texts to be something we should expect. Let me say that in a different way: Of course religious texts don’t mirror what science tells us. It would be too confusing, too much at once. It would be a textbook – it would be a lot of textbooks.

But with a little imagination, with the view that Aronofsky shows us in Noah, you can kind of see that maybe we’re finally getting it.

2 responses to “Science Fiction and Religion – Noah

  1. Pingback: The Science Fiction Film Trifecta | DBCII

  2. Pingback: Best of 2014 2 | Comparative Geeks

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