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Critics Getting "Worried" about "Intelligent-Design Subtext" in Ridley Scott’s Prometheus

I think I was the first to point out what looks to be an interesting intelligent-design element in Ridley Scott’s anticipated prequel to his sci-fi classic Alien. We’ll have to see and report back once I’ve had a chance to go to the theater after the film, Prometheus, opens tomorrow. Meanwhile, some early reviews are in already and picking up the same theme.
Scott seems to take as his premise that there’s no way life could have arisen on Earth without intelligent intervention. Of course the critical community isn’t entirely happy about this idea. Donald Clarke in the Irish Times frets about the “worrying” implication that life was somehow “engineered,” the product of “intelligent design”:

The film begins with a sequence that appears to show an alien flinging himself into a prehistoric river and decaying into DNA. Several million years later, Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), scientists and romantic partners, locate a mysterious cave painting that seems to invite humans to a distant constellation. For reasons the scriptwriters choose to keep largely to themselves, the boffins decide that the relevant aliens have — there’s a worrying intelligent-design subtext here — triggered the process of human evolution. They are our “engineers.”

A reviewer for The Economist became so upset watching the movie with its implications of “intelligent design” that he goes into a (completely irrelevant) rant about chimp versus human DNA and young-earth creationism:

Science fiction can be a fine home for big ideas — as in 2001. But creationist intelligent design is neither big nor clever. When alien DNA is revealed to be — gasp — 100% identical to human DNA, no one says, as one would imagine that they might, “so what about the 98% identical DNA in chimps — where does that fit in?” Admittedly, a character identified as a biologist does harrumph in an aside about giving up on the theory of evolution. But as he later takes pole position in the too-stupid-for-a-red-shirt stakes it’s hard to take him seriously as a critic of this preposterousness. And it’s not even as if intelligent design were intriguingly subversive. An astonishing 46% of Americans will say when asked by pollsters that they believe that God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago. It is, to be fair, perhaps a little subversive, if far from original — Captain Kirk was always going up against dodgy gods — to suggest that the creators/engineers/gods involved were, in fact, not very nice aliens.

More to come, I have little doubt.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.



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