Prometheus is a Creationist Trojan Horse.
The movie Prometheus is a subtle piece of intelligently designed anti-evolution propaganda. From the seeding of earth by an angelic alien with a human image to portrayal of creationism’s worse enemies (the biologist and the geologist) as cowardly buffoons, the film attacks evolution and makes out evolution as something to be feared. I do realize that much science fiction is based on asking what might happen if something we know is true is not, but in this case it seems to go beyond just being a plot device to manipulative propaganda.
WARNING SPOILERS: If you have not yet seen the movie you might not want to read beyond this point until you have. I will be revealing plot twists below.
Right from the beginning warning flags pop up as the earth is seeded by a human like life form, on a melting glacier. My first thought was that is probably not what the earth looked like 4.5 billion years ago but this is more like the end of an ice age, hmm. . . I let it slide. A little later we find out the main character is a cross wearing creationist, which is not in itself a problem. This could make for an interesting twist I thought. We learn this when she shouts down the team biologist with a lame intelligent design statement, who then caves in with a weak argument about 300 years of Darwinism. It is the way this biologist and the rude, ill kept geologist are portrayed that finally gave away the creationist agenda. Can it be coincidence that the most threatening enemies of creationism, biologists and geologists who have amassed most of the convincing evidence for evolution are the ones portrayed as the cowards and fools? The biologist in particular is presented as an unbelievable object of ridicule. First he is shown wanting to run away from an alien without even taking a close look at it. This is patently unbelievable. Then to add insult to injury, when the two boffin buffoons encounter an alien life form the biologist pushes aside the geologist and says say I’m a biologist let me deal this and then promptly employs that sophisticated biology technique of using baby talk. I am not kidding, no grab the camera or even grab the creature with ill-advised enthusiasm; just baby talk. I must have missed something in graduate school. When the organism makes what any biologist and all animals would recognize as a universal warning gesture (making itself look big) our expert biologist takes this an invitation stick his finger in its mouth. My only relief was that both boffins were promptly and vigorously removed from the movie before the writer could make any more fun of them. This is pure targeted caricature that one does not expect to see in smart Sci-Fi. The next reference that made my sphincter clench in my seat was a discussion where one of the crew members said all you need to make life was a “some DNA and half a brain” as if it was obvious. Maybe I was being a bit over sensitive by then but all of the evidence so far suggests that it takes a lot less than that and certainly no brains at all.
At the deepest level the real monster in Prometheus is Dawkin’s selfish gene. It is the uncontrolled evolution of life that provides the main threat in the movie. Evolution itself is the uncontrollable power and only the intelligently designed life forms can hope to contain it. Instead of unguided natural evolution being accurately shown as the well spring of all life and humanity it is portrayed as a dark corrupting process that is threatening to destroy everything. Every horror movie needs something real behind the monster. The irony here is that what make the movie scary at all is that evolution is true and individual level selection is the rule despite creationist and intelligent design dribble. Unfortunately, even the portrayal of change over time as the monster “evolves” shows a progression with nothing to do with natural selection and instead appears as some sort of directed unexplained advancement occurring with each incarnation. The movie makers can’t even get that right, nor do I suspect that they wanted to. Ridley Scott and the other makers of the film should be ashamed of themselves for mistaking suspended disbelief with promoting belief in creationism at the expense of evolution.