When nature itself turns against mankind, we must reach for the stars and find a new home among the endless possibilities of the galaxy. Any such effort would be dead on arrival, but for a supernaturally placed wormhole near Saturn that offers a limited humanity a chance to reach a distant solar system that is overflowing with potentially habitable planets. In a time when most of the world’s population believes that we should be investing in agriculture, a drastically downsized NASA sends a small team of astronauts to find humanity a new home…or die trying. Eve and I take on the Hollywood blockbuster, Interstellar.
Interstellar brings a lot to the table when it comes to big ideas, and there turns out to be far too much for us to cover in one episode. We’re broken our discussion into two separate AYJW episodes, #55 and #56.
Interstellar tried very hard to be real and accessible, despite dealing with some very nearly overwhelming topics. It is an enjoyable movie, despite the very blatant humanistic and evolutionary worldview. One of the things that really helps to make this movie memorable is the score by academy award winning Hans Zimmer. His masterful use of sound and music contribute a great deal to the the viewers’ empathy for the character’s plight.
Overall, the movie and story were fairly clean, aside from some harsh language dropped here and there. If you would like to know more about how the movie holds up to traditional family values, be sure to check out the review over at Focus on the Family’s Plugged In.
When you bring a story of this scope to the big screen, there are always going to be questions unanswered and things unsaid—the trick is knowing what you can safely leave out without sacrificing critical elements like a viewer’s suspension of disbelief. The biggest one for us was the lack of options—no mention of hydroponics or any advanced farming techniques. In the movie, there is no apparent attempt to segregate the food crops from the various blights that they faced. The supposed core premise of the movie, that humanity had to leave the planet in order to survive, just didn’t seem to to be the proper response to the problems being faced.
We briefly discuss the appearance of a drone that has supposedly been flying for more than a decade, and speculate on how plausible that might actually be. Turns out—not at all implausible. Three years ago, Titan Aerospace brought a solar powered drone to market that they claimed could remain aloft for five or more years. A year later, the company was snatched up in an amicable purchase by Google.
Another technological issue we saw in the movie was the spin on the Endurance, which we felt was completely unnecessary to the operation of space flight, let alone to the story. We know from decades in space that we do not need to maintain gravity in space ships or stations, and since the astronauts slept through much of the journey, it seems superfluous to the story. Tim suggests the only purpose for the spin was to make filming the space scenes easier (no need to create zero-G for every scene).
Deus Ex Machina
The idea of deus ex machina is usually a criticism brought against stories that use the supernatural to make everything come out okay in the end. Despite Interstellar attempting a very naturalistic and scientific story, it still falls into that very trite trap, using an amorphous “they” to save mankind. In the worldview of the film makers, there is no god but the one that mankind will eventually evolve to become. The core of the movie—the understanding upon which it is based, is one of humanism. In fact, through the entire movie, there is a near complete lack of any reference to anything resembling faith—so much so, that the movie glorifies pure secular humanism. By the end of the movie, you almost feel like your brain may be slowly leaking out of your ears due to the complexities introduced through the elements of five dimensions and time flow, most of which is technological fantasy that would turn the stomach of most scientists. In the end, it’s still a “god” that saves mankind (and Cooper)—so much for humanism’s rational worldview.
The world that Nolan creates is one completely devoid of faith in anything except science. Despite being set in the American Midwest, there are no visual or audible references to God in the everyday lives of any of the characters. The only evidence that we noticed that the Bible ever existed was a reference to Lazarus.
While it is interesting that the filmmakers even poke a little fun at the Apollo conspiracy theories, it also shows how education can be used to disseminate popular worldviews rather than truth—a useful warning to those who trust their children to state-run schools.
Fight, flee, or give up?
Particularly throughout the earthbound portion of the movie, it is well established that humanity has given up on innovation and dreaming in order to focus on the day-to-day drudgery of feeding the planet through farming. This was a difficult disbelief to suspend. When faced with adversity, humanity tends to fight back, not shut down. During WWI and WWII, with the rationing and labor shortages brought about by war, society stepped up to the plate and hit it out of the park. When faced with the very real, very tangible tragic events of 9/11, the citizens of New York banded together and defied the odds. Persecution of the early Christians spread the gospel around the world. Adversity can bring out the best in humanity, and that best is realized through our God-given talents and abilities.
Interstellar shows a civilization that compartmentalizes and filters the roles that people can play in the society to a bare minimum, turning innovators into farmers. While humanistic-based societies may not understand the value of diverse and individual gifts, we have a biblical example in the Apostle Paul’s depiction of the Body of Christ in 1st Corinthians 12:
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts.
And I will show you a still more excellent way. (1 Corinthians [12:12]-31)
Unfortunately, this biblical example only works with the proper head for the body, something that a humanistic society lacks. With that in mind, Interstellar depicts a society based on the popular humanistic fallacy that mankind is good at heart. However, with the world in such a global crisis of hunger, we would expect to see a great deal more chaos (more rioting, theft, and general discontent). We found it to be unrealistic to think that the situation could be so dire for so long without the society completely collapsing—particularly in light of the godless reality of the society depicted in Interstellar.
The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. (Romans [7:18])
There is a great deal more to discuss, but not enough time to do it. Be sure to check out AYJW episode 56 for part 2 of our Interstellar discussion.
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