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I Origins

16 February 2016

"I Origins"

So Mikaela recommended this movie called I Origins and well … I didn’t like it. At all. It got me thinking though, so here is a long rant about it.

You know these movies where so called rational scientists get exposed to unlikely events and at the same time meet some religious person who is not rational but somehow sees things clearly and understand from some sixth sense everything going around them when these unlikely events begin to occur? Suddenly the scientists stand dumbfounded and chocked and begin saying extremely stupid things and acting really weirdly. It’s probably my favorite hate genre and this film steps into all of these clichés with the overwhelming stupidity that follows. Just listen to this conversation between the two scientists in the film (It’s not their exact quotes, but it’s very close):

Woman: “This could potentially be the biggest scientific discovery that the world has ever seen. This is bigger than you. It’s bigger than me.”

Man: “It’s a false positive. It’s an error. It has to be an error. It’s a statistically impossible data point.”

Woman: “If I dropped this phone a thousand times, a million times and one time it doesn’t fall. Just once, it hovers, in the air. That is an error that is worth looking at.”

Man: “You’re so fucking stubborn.”

And then they kiss. I mean wow, just wow, isn’t that the worst load of crap you have ever heard? It’s also so expected that the woman is the first one to accept the unlikely magical world that they live in, since she is of the more spiritual gender (that’s right, I just accused the movie of being sexist as well). Finally she realizes that the world is a magical place where phones can fly, sadly the man is not as clever.

In this film the main protagonist wants to prove evolution (again I guess) by studying eyes (from which he wants to somehow prove that god does not exist). And this is were I get really annoyed. First of all, I strongly disagree that the motivation for a scientists is to disprove god, because how could you ever do that? Since you can’t prove or disprove god you don’t really get involved at all, and why should you? The important thing is to as clearly as possible describe the world that we live in. And historically speaking that has required a few of the most original concepts ever from the most creative people that have ever walked this earth.

Just imagine coming up with the idea that time is relative, that we all come from much more primitive animals, the concept of abstract forces and some mystic invisible power called energy that is always conserved. Later it turns out that this energy and all matter is really the same thing and that they can transform from one to the other. We have particles that can be at different places at the same time described by a very solid mathematical framework. I could go on forever with this argument, but the point is that scientists are very open minded people, oftentimes exceptionally good at adapting to new world views and ideas; much better I would say than people in general. Still they are often portrayed in movies either as these old fashioned people that can’t accept unexpected results or as crazy maniacs doing these extremely reckless experiments that endanger the whole planet.

It is, of course, just a movie that is perhaps not meant to be realistic (and you could argue that there are people being treated worse than scientists). But my problem is that I am on the scientists side here and that I take it as a personal insult when they are portrayed as idiots, eventually ruining the film for me. I want to emphasize here that I don’t think religion is stupid at all and I have no problem with unrealistic movies. Heck, I’m a huge fantasy, sci-fi and superhero fan, but the difference there is that the characters in these movies (at least in the good ones) don’t act as complete idiots, at least not if they are not supposed to be idiots (Deadpool I’m looking at you).

Alright, now I think it’s time for another conversation from the movie (once again altered slightly):

Another woman: “A scientist once asked Dalai Lama what he would do if something scientific disproved his religious beliefs. And he answered after much thought, that he would read through all of the papers and really try to understand things. And in the end if it was clear to him that his beliefs were disproved, he would change his beliefs.”

The man from before: “That’s a good answer.”

The woman again: “Ian … What would you do if something spiritual disproved your scientific beliefs?”

To this our scientist stand dumbfounded, which I have to say is surprising, since he according to the movie is a spokesman for atheists. Obviously the writers find this quote clever and powerful, but it’s really both stupid and hollow. Because let’s think for a second about how something spiritual could disprove scientific beliefs? First of all, what is a scientific belief? In science you don’t really believe at all, because believing is not science. All agree that the work of science is not complete, meaning that things are disproved, or at least altered and improved all of the time. Of course not by spiritual beliefs, but by science itself.

Next it is interesting to think about how something spiritual could disprove science. In the film they are implying reincarnation, which I guess the writers mean disprove his scientific beliefs. But science is completely agnostic to reincarnation, since we don’t have any evidence towards or against it whatsoever. Also, reincarnation is not proved because people are reborn with the same eyes (spoiler alert). I guess that there is a difference in world view here, since a scientific person would not settle until the newfound reincarnation process is given a detailed description, while a spiritual person would settle with a spiritual proof, which is of course not a proof at all. And in the end the people who would give the full explanation would be scientists (if we play with the thought that this was really true).

You can hear me preaching for the science team here, which is really sad. Because there really should be no conflict here at all. Science deal with hard proofs and detailed descriptions of the physical world, while religion and spirituality deal with something equally important, namely to give people hope and meaning to this world. The fields could not be more different and they should not be mixed at all I think. But the movie continues to present this science vs. religion thing and it’s so damn annoying when the writers speak for the scientific world so incredibly poorly.

The really sad thing here is that a lot of things in the movie are really good. The acting is superb, the camerawork is solid and the overall concept with eyes is intriguing and in large well presented. But in the end none of that matters when a scientist about to uncover “the biggest scientific discovery that the world has ever seen” suddenly becomes stupider than an annoying, horny teenager in a bad horror movie.

I have actually not been this upset since Lucy, for the very same reasons I now realize. This really is the kind of movie that makes me most annoyed it seems.

End of rant.


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