I have seen many interviews with Ridley Scott on "Alien Covenant". But I was surprised to find this one where he is asked point blank a couple of very interesting questions to which he gives very interesting answers. In a way he seems to dodge one of them in particular (when the interviewer asks him if it was a coincidence that the trailer was released on Christmas Day, referring the Jesus theory from Prometheus). However, in his reply he is very clear about what he thinks of man's origins: "Prometheus raised the question eventually of how we were made. Was it God? I don't think so. Was it random? No, I think it was planned"
I think if we consider that Scott believes that man is not God's creation is a good starting point to see the events in "Alien Covenant" from a different angle. Most importantly, it makes everything look much more transgressive and provocative. Is Ridley writing his own Gospel where Jesus is an Engineer, David is some kind of unforgiving God and the xenomorphs the plagues he punishes humanity with?
This is a link to the interview:
BBW, there is no need for an apology. It’s the internet and I have thick skin LOL! Appreciate what you and DS have wrote, lets see what I can add since I had some time.
I have a few minutes and wanted to comment that your critiques of religion cuts both ways. First, most modern criticisms of religion come from Marx, Freud and Nietzsche.
Marx basic critique is this: Religion is used by the rich to subjugate the poor. We’ve all seen this and know it has happened.
History and human nature back that one up.
Freud basic critique is this: Religion is self-justification. You go confess, then do what you want the rest of the week! You have a God you can buy and placate to feel good about yourself. We’ve all seen that too.
Nietzsche takes it to a whole new level. His critique is asking questions about your motivations. So a Christian claims to be motivated by love? But are you really motivated by love? Or are you saying that to get close to people so you can wipe them out and you are using love as your ‘power play’ to take over?
So Nietzsche would look at Marx and say: Your power play was to promise the poor equality, but they were just pawns in your grasp for power! The poor were never elevated to the class status you promised! Instead they were worked to death or sent to Gulags.
Hey Freud, you may be right, but your critique is a power play to gain status and control yourself to promote your ideas and propel yourself to center stage in the modern progressive era!
Then Nietzsche comes to himself. Built within Nietzsche’s critique of power plays is the worst and most horrific power play of all. That is there is no bigger power play that claiming everyone else is doing this but myself. Nietzsche understood this all too well and very skeptical of himself LOL!
We are all motivated by something, whatever it is and that is what we should be examining to what that would logically bring us too IF we and the power and control to do so.
I am very surprised BBW that you would state “materialism is not the problem”. Materialisms basic definition is to consider worldly possessions and physical comfort more important than spiritual values. If you actually believe that then you wholly undermine your righteous, and understandably so, anger at the genocide native peoples went through in North American and elsewhere.
Let’s look at materialism through scientific eyes.Through the study of biology, we have come to see that all organisms need two things.
- Acquire resources-food, shelter, clothing
If they don’t do these things, then the species is over. Therefore, the best way to understand any species, including humans, these are the two answers.
We see that a fish has a certain type of fin? We study it to try to figure out how that fin either helps it acquire resources or reproduce, because if it doesn’t do either of those things, it shouldn’t be there.
Apply this same kind of thinking to human behavior. If we see that you want a certain type of clothes or house, we would say, of course. You feel like you want it because that thing will increase your likelihood of acquiring resources or increasing your reproductive capacity. So, your thoughts aren’t really your own. You are being controlled at some level by these two forces. Here’s the problem. It seems harmless to describe house buying or grocery shopping or miniskirts in this way, but what about war, rape, and murder? Aren’t those equally explained away? Aren’t we not responsible for those as well if they are just ways of acquiring resources and increasing our reproductive potential? Imagine this conversation: “Listen, it isn’t my fault that we gave blankets used by people with smallpox to the local Natives, us Europeans need that land to build houses, plant crops and have more kids”.
The danger in materialism is it relativizes morality or morality judgments and if you believe materialism you end up undermining moral arguments themselves. I have a hard time believing that’s what people really want. This is the irony I see when these critiques are brought out on religion. That is why I quoted David Foster Wallace as we all worship something. We are all religious in some manner. We all hold some value or set of values sacred. An interesting example of this is Richard Dawkins. Having read the “God Delusion” it didn’t take me long to see his religion is science. He propels, among other ideas, that one day science will answer everything. Really? The scientific method cannot prove itself, so how can it answer everything? That is a faith based statement just like saying God exists. Michael Ruse and a few other atheistic philosophers have pointed this out and Dawkins loses his mind and acts like a religious fundamentalist about it. This is the point, we all bring non empirical ideas to the table and I say let them in for discussion. But understand what you are doing and see the limitations, if any exist.
As far as Christianity goes, and it seems my experiences have been a bit different in this realm. Talking with Christians the question has come up: “Why are people so angry at us at times?”
Me: “Well that’s pretty easy. It appears some Christians do not take the critiques of Jesus Christ seriously.”
What does that mean? I say any reading of the Bible and the stories it tells it does not take long to see that it is the most Anti-religious-religious book I have ever read and Jesus is the most Anti-religious-religious leader I have ever read. He takes the critiques of Marx, Freud and Nietzsche to an unreal level. He goes after the Marx’s of the world claiming good works in helping people but there real motivation is ‘societal status’. He is savage to the self-justifiers like the rich young man and lets them know they are trying to self-justify. Then he goes after the religious in their power plays with others and here is the weird part of the story. Unlike Nietzsche who suspects your motivations, Jesus makes the radical claim he does know your motivations because he can see what’s driving your heart and the behaviors he sees are a manifestation of those motivations. The point often missed is it’s not about your behavior but your motivations. What most people here are pointing out in the discussions I think? Jesus even tears into his disciples for trying to self-justify and use Jesus for their own power plays! He tell them that’s not how this works guys as it’s on MY power you do anything worthwhile.
Now that is something many people seem to struggle with and BBW brought it up. The whole ‘sacrifice for me’ thing. I do not doubt its weird, especially to the Western world and our fierce sense of individualism. But I often hear the questions framed in a manner that is more about understanding it vs. believing it. They might go together, but I usually see the issue an understanding issue.
I’ve told people that its sometimes direct, but it’s also subtext depending upon which Gospel story you read and later as the Church begins, the New Testament letters are more direct, but the concept of sacrifice on your behave produces a very strange humility. It’s supposed too anyway if a person believes Jesus’s words and story. Read any of the great theologians and they understood this very, very well but also believed it. This humility is supposed to make you secondary to other people. You are supposed to care in ways that often times are a detriment to yourself but in a paradox also makes you more happy and focused. Paradox is really the word. At least for the people I know who both understand it and believe it at the same time.
Someone once said they didn’t believe the whole sacrifice thing but just wanted to understand it. I said to start reading any of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s writings and you will quickly gain insight into understanding it because he is very clear on what is motivating him to do what he did in the face of sheer evil. I said: “It’s that weird humility Christians will display. He was one of the ones clearly motivated by something else, something not of this world.”
In closing. I’m a bit of a nerd. This is an Alien film forum so I guess that goes for us all LOL! But I am intrigued with ideas and why people see the world the way they do. It is my hope my writings above are clear and are to further discussion, not silence it and I certainly have enjoyed what you all have been writing.
Forgot to add human rights to my post and how they too are not empirical, yet most of us agree they exist. I meant to flesh that out more and now I am out of writing time :-(
If he thinks it was planned, then he's already (unknowingly?) answered the question. It was God. Maybe he's never read the Bible, thus doesn't realize who the "planner" is.
Occam's razor in this case is that a God exists, even if my phone auto-corrects God as "good". But I guess it could be worse...
This is why I am here!! This discussion is more interesting than any movie we will ever see!!
Ok, so now can I tie the Engineers to this in another way, again by saying, 'Bob', or 'the last Engineer in Prometheus' was mad as hell because we killed his friend Jesus?
I am sorry guys, I just cannot help myself!! LOL!!
This is a great post Joylitt!!
The Engineers aren't real. So you can tie them into anything..like a Santa Claus story - the Engineers used the goo to make gifts and flew them around on the Covenant ship to all the good kids. ;-)
All kidding aside, my stance is one of experience and observation. I am a design engineer, and I know that designing complex, effective, efficient and durable things takes considerable talent. People don't accidentally produce things like this. Nor does my dog, Frank. So, if you consider the best among us as complex, effective, efficient and durable (which we are), then we were no accident. My question is more focused on whether or not we are a forgotten ant farm on a galactic coffee table.
Spearfish, that very Lovecraftian idea that the God or Gods that created you are indifferent to your existence or want your outright destruction.
I personally don't think it is indifference, as that has a negative context. Maybe it is more of a parental story, where the parent has passed on all the necessary information, and now it is up to the free will of the offspring to enact it. Like I tell my son, in the case of soccer (to lighten the conversation) "devotion" is trying as hard as you can even when no one is watching.
It is a curious thing, consciousness. Even the greatest minds alive today can only hypothesize what forms our awareness within this space - whatever it is. Each of us is a unique set of eyes and ears experiencing the world from a perspective only we will ever comprehend. That is such a marvel - and a thing of beauty. We are, each of us, a singular awareness capable of understanding the world and all its wonders. To look into the eyes of another person or animal is to connect to another consciousness experiencing the world in a way we can not. Every living creature is an amazing and beautiful thing based upon something - a "blueprint" - created by the universe over billions of years. Life has purpose; otherwise, why exist at all? Why do we feel attachment and love for our friends, family and pets? What value is there to love and grieve if there is no purpose to life? Why would the uknowable forces of evolution choose for life to retain the weakness of feeling emotion? I ponder these questions quite often, and often run into dead-ends. That is the beauty: life is unknowable. Existence is unknowable. We can only go forward through both and marvel at the fact that we have the capacity to wonder, think and feel. :)
Oh, and the delight for sweets - such as ice cream! That is a marvelous adaptation within humans! ;)
I guess the most compelling argument I know in regard to faith & proof is in the movie Contact when Matthew McConaughey's character is asked by Jody Foster's character to prove to her that GOD exists. So he then asks her if she loves her father. Of course I do, she says. He then says to her, prove it.
CERULEAN BLUE - Who knows what is possible in existence? We are such small and wonderful things within a vast and overwhelming sea of energy! We may very well be the "universe contemplating itself". :)
@Something Real - Absolutely! I know I do not have all the answers we seek & may never, but I do consider everyone's discussions here on this site to be time well spent on this rock! HAHA!
Ok, so how do I get Sir Ridley back on track with the Engineers? ;)
CERULEAN BLUE - Hmm. Perhaps you could write him and expound upon your displeasure with the direction in which he is moving his work? Failing that, you could attempt to bribe him. :)
@Something Real - HAHA!! Maybe bribe him with a shrubbery that I chopped down with a dead herring?
I will see Alien Covenant this weekend & will likely have more questions!
CERULEAN BLUE - Ni! Hahaha! That said, I fear Scified as a whole has become stagnant. Here is an superior website for Alien news - https://www.avpgalaxy.net
Glad that things are good between us, I really didn't want a misunderstanding on my part to bollix things up! :)
Great post regarding Marx, Freud and Nietzsche !!! Nietzsche is someoneone from history I would VERY much loved to have been able to have an evening's conversation with!!
Materialism... I think you misunderstood me, due to my fault in not expanding my point properly. I can't do full-length dissertations right now, owing to a stupid head cold and the 'eye-burn' that means I can only see/work about 3 minutes out of 10. :)
"I am very surprised BBW that you would state “materialism is not the problem”. Materialisms basic definition is to consider worldly possessions and physical comfort more important than spiritual values. If you actually believe that then you wholly undermine your righteous, and understandably so, anger at the genocide native peoples went through in North American and elsewhere.
Let’s look at materialism through scientific eyes.Through the study of biology, we have come to see that all organisms need two things.
- Acquire resources-food, shelter, clothing
If they don’t do these things, then the species is over."
I agree with you actually and you phrased what I wanted to say SO much better than my feeble attempt earlier!!
As you illustrate materialism is not the problem.For my people in the long ago, it wasn't an issue. You needed something, you made it or traded to someone who could do so for you. It was just part of life, you didn't really think about making arrow points, you just did it, or if someone who didn't have the skills came to you, you'd do it for them after a trade had been accomplished. Usually a game animal or such as the time you spent working on the arrow points they need, is time you couldn't hunt.
I guess materialism both IS and yet IS NOT the problem, depending upon the degree it's taken to and assorted factors.
Long ago; a non-issue. Just part of life/survival, never got in the way of spirituality.
Modern day; you have all manner of shiny things that demand attention and dazzle...which distracts from asking Big Questions and truly pursuing the answers. You have constant ads for the latest and greatest smartphones, etc, etc, etc. You have so much overload from media outlets and such that all shower Bad News 24/7 that it's like David's Pathogen Bombing at times, and all of which cause the person to shrink back, disconnect from subconscious desire to escape the inundation. BUT, the price is paid in disconnecting from the Human Condition and finding solace in technology.
I am reading through your post, and it is really extremely well-framed, your points are very completely supported and it reads very smoothly. Quite an exceptional post I have to say!
I will try to catch up when this headcold's done and my eyes aren't waterfalls!!
*Man's giant leap was just a stumble in the dark.*
I tend to class myself as a deist, it is a simple and convenient label that I use, but to expand on that would be complicated, so I won’t. There are those who like to think inside the box, and those who like to think outside the box. You can if you choose, be one with the box until it is no longer fit for purpose. I can procrastinate over something until the penny drops, or perhaps sit under an apple tree, and when a piano falls on top of me, declare I have discovered surrealism.
I thought it would be wise to set the tone of my approach to a God conversation. Things could get weird from this point.
I do not adhere myself to anyone particular form of religious dogma, but that does not mean I just dismiss it off hand either. So here is a theory of mine based on some selective cherry picking.
I think most can agree that the human brain is a collection of bio electric signals that in some way give us consciousness, self awareness and the ability to think. As we think we form ideas. These ideas are invisible, but they are there. Some of these ideas give us words which when spoken take on a physical characteristic in that they have become sound waves. In Christian circles in is said that “the word becomes flesh”.
This idea can be dated back to P’Tah, an Egyptian god of creation. So the idea that the word becomes flesh pre-dates Jesus. So can the mere “idea” of a God be used as proof of the existence of a God ?
The tetragrammaton is supposed to be a representation of the true name of God and it is believed that to pronounce the true word of God is fatal. As I have stated, words have sounds, and they operate within a certain frequency range. If ancient teachings are believed to be true, how can an audible signal to the brain kill? Perhaps here is one explanation.
When we are born, we are following a preset code that is embedded within our DNA profile. What if there is also what I would call a God programme embedded in there. Is it something that evolved or was it put there? Along with the ability for humans to accept input that creates a belief in a God. It is fair to accept that the interactions of ideas over time have created different belief systems, but at the core is the acceptance of a God. I’m not saying all humans wish to go along with this. If you do indeed have a programme running in the background, maybe it is possible that as we approach a different technological era, through selective breeding a global population could evolve away from that programming, and hence lesser acceptance in believing in a God. In effect God is being bred out of existence.
Great post btw
The 'programme' running in the background is called common sense. If a God code was put in our DNA, who or what put it there?
Believe what ever you want. It is ok- just realize that belief is not fact and please don't use it to influence public policy. Lots of beliefs are out there.
I have noticed that belief systems, especially some religions are rigid and some of those folks accuse science of being rigid. They seem to equate belief with fact and remain static. Actually, science does change based on research and new discoveries and realize it needs to be updated.
Meanwhile, some belief systems ignore that and seem to feel defensive when faced with facts and have accused great minds of heracy. Seems a bit ironic. Personally I will go with facts, science and the empirical. Until then, I will acknowledge a lot of these notions as interesting and make for good sci fi- but will not be a belief system.
IRaptus- It is tough to argue against Dawkins. I would throw Christopher Hicthens in the mix too.
Just a couple Hitchens tidbits:
What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.
Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it.
Something Real What if there is nothing special about us? Is it possible that we just perceive ourselves that way? If we are special, how is it decided what is not so special? I don't expect an answer since the question is rhetorical.
Actually, its really easy to argue against Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett and Harris. Not on their critiques of religion, but in short, they make very poor historians and philosophers. Its odd too since Dennett in the only trained philosopher in the group.
A good friend of mine is a pretty big fan of Hitchens and out of The New Atheists he has certainly entertained me and certainly was a sharp guy. I appreciated how he asked questions in earnest.
Thank you, you are too kind.
Dinner with Nietzsche? You are much braver than I! He is really fascinating but I am not sure I want to live in a society filled with or have the "ubermensch" ruling over us/me.
Yes, I assumed when you brought up materialism it was in the modern sense of the word.
Hope you feel better soon and see you on the forum :-)
Bubba Zanetti Well in Alien Covenant David does not read any of Nietzsche's poems but he listens to Richard Wagner :-)
joylitt- Its always a German...ALWAYS! :-)
Yeah, that is an interesting connection in itself. Pretty sure someone has posted up about Wagner and his operas that look at evil. Then you have Hitler's fascination with Wagner and tying his art into the Third Reich.
More of those nice connections Scott gives us to nerd over.
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