Interstellar is a veritable goldmine of topics, and back in episode 55, we discussed the more general stuff, including the idea that God is [almost] nowhere to be found in this movie. If you haven’t yet listened to episode 55, be sure to check that out!
This and Nothing More
Turns out that God wasn’t the only thing missing from Interstellar; Eve points out that there are no animals on the Cooper farm—in fact, there doesn’t appear to be animals in the movie at all. Why is that? Could humanity even exist on a planet so stripped of [larger] animal life? We wonder what the creative team was seeking to convey with this lack of diversity animal life. When you consider the huge hole left by these missing creatures, it really seems to highlight the missing element of the divine throughout the movie. This is even more blatant when you realize that the “plan B” didn’t appear to include any animals either.
The movie is very focused on the problem of the survival of humanity, but cannot seem to be bothered with the idea of survival of creation (or even the ecosystem). The reality that they paint is one with no soul, where the individual has no value. The universe of Interstellar is a scarecrow—it looks enough like mankind to [hopefully] scare away the crows, but cannot hold up to anything resembling scrutiny.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John [15:13])
Such an existence calls into question the value of mankind at every level. Where does the value begin? At the level of the individual? The team? The organization? Even the species? In an existence that consists of only the here and now and the legacy we leave behind, where does the value of anything come from?
In Interstellar, the calculation of value appears to be a forgone conclusion. The decision makers of the Interstellar project have not only taken it upon themselves to place the value of the continued existence of mankind over the lives of all of mankind in existence. This seems to be contrary to the will of God, who took up the mantle of humanity and gave his life that we may have the chance to understand His love.
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans [1:20]-21)
It is ironic, then, that despite every apparent effort to focus the story of Interstellar on the idea that only humanity can save itself, they include a discussion that, for all intents and purposes, says, “Maybe we’re missing something?”
Cooper: You’re a scientist, Brand.
Brand: So listen to me when I say that love isn’t something that we invented. It’s… observable, powerful. It has to mean something.
Cooper: Love has meaning, yes. Social utility, social bonding, child rearing…
Brand: We love people who have died. Where’s the social utility in that?
Brand: Maybe it means something more—something we can’t yet understand. Maybe it’s some evidence, some artifact of a higher dimension that we can’t consciously perceive. I’m drawn across the universe to someone I haven’t seen in a decade, who I know is probably dead. Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving that transcends dimensions of time and space. Maybe we should trust that, even if we can’t understand it. All right Cooper. Yes. The tiniest possibility of seeing Wolf again excites me. That doesn’t mean I’m wrong.
Cooper: Honestly, Amelia… it might.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. (1 John 4:7-8)
The problem is that they both stop short and the main character goes so far to suggest that love may even be to the detriment of man. Perhaps LOVE is why, when given the choice, the powers that be do not believe that humanity can be trusted to choose the survival of the species over the lives of every person on the planet. The movie culminates with the agency of distant humanity providing Cooper with the means of communicating the critical data to Murphy. Putting aside the paradoxical causal loop, it is still Cooper’s love for Murphy that drives his final understanding of the solution.
Like so many things that come out of secular Hollywood (and secular science in general), everything we are, everything we see, and everything we know, is all the result of a near infinite set of circumstances that result in a fortuitous accident. The Big Bang just happens to be exactly the right temperature. The building blocks of life just happen to be in the right place at the right time. The idea of using a destructive force, like accidents, to create life just seems difficult to accept. Everything that we know, thus far, is that windows in which all the elements that can lead to the conditions in which life can exist is so minusculely small that it, too, beggars the mind that it was even a single accident (let alone a nearly uncountable series of accidents) that lead to our habitation of this blue marble.
An Array of Science Questions
How many habitable planets have we discovered? How many systems have we surveyed? Of the 1,941 exoplanets listed as confirmed at NASA’s Planetquest website, only 87 (.04%) are rocky planets that reside in multiple planet systems (two of several likely requirements for life as we know it). [However, as we discuss in the podcast, there are a lot of things we simply cannot know about extra-solar planets because we cannot visit them. Scientists do make a lot of assumptions in their research, especially scientists who are optimistic about finding habitable planets. Yet, until we can actually visit extra-solar planets (as the characters do in Interstellar), we are actually only guessing about their similarities to Earth.] We know that Earth is amazingly special (as even the characters in Interstellar acknowledge).
For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. (Romans [8:22])
What’s up with those waves? Eve and I discuss the waves on Miller’s planet a little bit, and as far as topics go, it is not an uncommon one. How does such a shallow water planet generate such huge waves? Are the waves created by the wind, by gravity, or something else entirely? Turns out, the director, Christopher Nolan, and the scientific adviser, Kip Thorne, actually discuss this in the book, The Science of Interstellar. It appears that one of the science adviser’s jobs is to decide what conditions have to be present in order to create the environment the director wants—in this case, giant waves on a shallow water planet. Without going heavily into the science, the waves on Miller’s planet are actually in oscillation, not rotation, on the spheroid of the planet, generated as the planet wobbles in Gargantua’s gravity. Of course one of the implications of this cause is that the science team was exceedingly stupid about where to put down…
We also discuss the fact that the planets are well lit, despite orbiting a black hole. Dr. Thorne covers this in the book as well. Part of the problem is that we think of black holes as…well, black. Which they are. But that doesn’t mean that they have no light. The black part of the hole is singularity past the event horizon. Outside of that, where the accretion disk is formed, all kinds of radiation is generated, including visible light. This is why the pictures of Gargantua all show a very weird looking mix of a sphere and a pancake.
There is no doubt that the science presented in Interstellar is impressive, and possibly speculative, but we know that the glory goes to God:
Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. (Psalms 1[19:89])
While the science of the movie is very interesting, and in many respects, solid, the creative force behind Interstellar suffers from the same hubris that secular science faces. Both proceed as if science is the ONLY source for answers. If it cannot be explained by science, then it cannot exist. Yet every year, we uncover greater and greater wonders about which we had no inkling before. Reality continues to surprise us despite the “natural laws” we’ve defined. Like examination of this movie and like mankind’s understanding of reality itself, we can never form a complete picture without God, and there will be men and women who, despite all signs and miracles they might witness, will never believe. It was so in the time of Isaiah and in the time of Christ; for how long?
“Then I said, “How long, O Lord?”
And he said:
“Until cities lie waste
and houses without people,
and the land is a desolate waste,” (Isaiah [6:11])
The Chief End of Man
So much of what Interstellar IS hinges on the purpose of man. Eve mentions a line from Cooper, “Now we’re just here to be memories for our kids. Once you’re a parent, you’re the ghost of your children’s future.” When delivered in the movie, it comes a little bit out of the blue, and makes you wonder why that odd thought was planted there. By the end of the movie, it appears to sum up the philosophy pretty well —it’s not so much about the survival of mankind as it is the responsibility of each person to serve the concept of continuation of humanity. Ironic, that those who prescribe to such a philosophy do not see the hypocrisy. Service to such a concept is but a small, imperfect reflection of what we are truly called to do with our lives:
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians [10:31])
Speaking of ends…was the end of Interstellar changed, like The Abyss? How does the feel-good, miraculous rescue of Cooper at the end of Interstellar serve the purpose of the rest of the movie?
So how do you go through life? What is your goal? Is it to create a better existence for your children? To save the planet? Solve the mysteries of the universe? These are all admirable goals, to be sure, but they are all such a poor reflection on the true, ultimate existence—eternal life basking in the love and glory of the Almighty Creator, the Triune God. In doing everything for the Glory of God we do not serve creation, but we fulfill the will of the Creator and in so doing, we achieve all good things.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans [8:28])
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