2001: A Space Odyssey
JR. Forasteros - April 30, 2017
2001: A Space Odyssey
From Series: "Strangers in a Strange Land"
Great Science Fiction offers visions of a utopian future where humans have achieved peace and prosperity through progress. But Jesus' resurrection challenges the assumption that humans can save ourselves. In this series, we'll examine some of the most famous sci-fi visions of the future against the image of the Church we find in 1 Peter and see how the Spirit at work in us is the true hope of the world.
More From "Strangers in a Strange Land"
One of the great classics of science fiction is 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was released in 1968, and was a collaboration between film legend Stanley Kubrick and sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke. In the film, essentially humans discover that super-intelligent aliens have been guiding human evolution for millions of years.
The opening sequence of the film is one of the most famous in history.
It opens on a group of apes struggling to survive. They’re chased from their watering hole by another group of stronger apes, and awaken the next day to find a massive obelisk standing outside their cave (it’s clearly alien). The apes fearfully touch it. In the next scene, one of the apes is walking among some bones, when he picks one up and realizes he can use it as a tool. (This is where the iconic score comes in.) The apes, now armed with bone tools, return to the watering hole and kill the leader of the other apes with their bone tools. As they screech in triumphant celebration, the lead ape throws his bone high into the air. It turns over and over… and dissolves into a spaceship in the distant future of 2001.
This is the moment that solidifies the meaning of the scene: the obelisk was sent to earth by unknown aliens to jumpstart human evolution. What began with a bone hammer has become, by the future of the movie, space shuttles. By the end of the film, the lead character has encountered another obelisk that triggers another stage in human evolution – he becomes the star child. (yeah it’s weird)
2001: A Space Odyssey embodies what we can call the myth of progress – the idea that the narrative of human history is one of constant improvement.
Of course, most people don’t think hyper-intelligent aliens are responsible for our advancements. Most of us think we’re going to figure everything out on our own. We’ll cure disease and solve poverty and even death itself.
Promise of progress assures us that the good life is just over the horizon. All we have to do is… do a little more. Work a little harder. Put in a few more hours. Get into a few more activities. And THEN we’ll have it made. How could we not? What makes life better isn’t waiting for God to speak, then responding, but working, earning, achieving. Progress is the key to the good life.
I want to challenge that assumption. I want to pick at the bedrock of progress we’ve built our culture on. It’s not so sturdy, that progress doesn’t actually pay off like we hope it will. And we’ll find that