Prometheus – Conclusions Part I

As promised, I would now like to talk about many open questions, some of them obvious, some of them not so obvious. By discussing these questions in the next two sections, my belief is that we could tie up the loose ends that would give us a complete picture and aid us in determining the movie’s progression in its second part. In the previous eleven sections I have attempted to talk about every scene in detail and have spent considerable amount of time talking about how modern day science could help us with the analysis. Right now though, we have to ponder over things that could be hypothetical at best. Nevertheless, the movie provides us a lot of clues to help us arrive at such a hypothesis. So, without further ado, let us start.

What we know for sure is that the engineers engineered life on earth. The key word here is engineered, and not intervened with already evolving life. Throughout the development of modern humans, they have visited us frequently, the oldest evidence of their visit dating back to 35,000 years. Almost every description, symbolized by cave paintings and other visuals of their visit shows them pointing towards a particular star system, interpreted by many archaeologists and anthropologists as an invitation for us to come there. Years into the future, a star system exactly similar to the map is found and we learn that the object that they are pointing toward in every painting is the moon, LV 223. But, what Prometheus finds on LV 223 in 2093 is pure hell, to put it in the lightest term. The entire crew is dead, except for one human survivor and an android.

Engineers’ Transition – From Sacrifice to Batshit Crazy

Teed off engineer - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Teed off engineer – Copyright 20th Century Fox

During my analysis earlier, I wrote that when the engineers had invited us years ago to LV 223, their intentions could have been very different, perhaps even benevolent. I also theorized that they could have wanted to show us how life could be engineered. Our visit to LV 223 would have proved that we are almost at the apex of evolution and that time has come to learn the truth – about our own existence, our creators, and how to engineer life. But, we screwed up something big time that eventually led the engineers to take another look at us and go, “Let’s smoke these morons out until kingdom come!”. The developments in the movie suggests that they were gunning for total annihilation of the human race to create another sophisticated being and so, such a huge emotional outburst tells us that they were more than offended by what we did!

The Event!

To analyze the shift in the engineers’ mentality, one has to look closely at human history on earth. But first, based on the star maps (7 in total) we know that the engineers had visited many ancient civilizations – Egyptian, Mayan, Sumerian, Babylonian, Mesopotamian, etc., and showed them all the same star map (One of the things though is the fact that Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations are different eras of Mesopotamian cultures). As Holloway put it, these civilizations couldn’t have had contact with each other and were separated by centuries and hence, the discovery of the same star map during different time periods is an indication of engineers’ communication. In addition, they were looked upon as Gods.

The fact that the engineers were fine with the ancient civilizations tells us that they were absolutely fine with their belief systems. It also helped that humans saw them as gods. Nevertheless, it would be alright to assume that they were fine with our other religious beliefs. Their hate for us began much much later. That’s why I think it makes sense to talk a bit about Mesopotamian religions. I have already talked about one of the creation myths of ancient Egypt while discussing the mural and hence, we don’t have to talk about Egyptian religions in detail again.

Since Mesopotamia covers both Sumerian and Babylonian civilizations, I would like to talk about both of them together. Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) as you know is considered the cradle of civilization and was the first culture to develop cities with elaborate streets and street grid designs, water distribution, sewage systems and other engineering tasks. (It is a pity that a region like Mesopotamia with such a history is in such a bad shape today. The same holds true for Egypt. I think my good friend Caroline Seawright said right – “Very sad. One dictator swapped for another when all the people want is freedom”. Something tells me that the pharaohs must be rolling over in their graves). In addition, the Sumerians are credited with developing the art of writing, for their contributions to early mathematics amongst many other things that served as the foundation for the further development of human race.

In my opinion, their religious beliefs also show a level of sophistication. Let us do a brief review of religion in Mesopotamia. It is said that no specific records detailing Mesopotamian creation myth have been found yet. But, modern scholars have examined clues from other documents and have arrived at a partially accurate description of Mesopotamian creation mythology. In the Epic of Creation, dated to 1200 BCE, it explains that the god Marduk killed the mother goddess Tiamat and used half her body to create the earth. He used the other half to create both paradise and the netherworld, known as šamû and isrsitu, respectively.

Marduk slaying Tiamat - From Wikipedia

Marduk slaying Tiamat – From Wikipedia

A common element in both ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian religion was polytheism. This is a key factor because it leads to to the acceptance of the existence of other deities. In ancient Mesopotamia, I can believe in a god who is different than say, your god. We would not be arguing about it. Both of us would acknowledge the fact that there are many gods and you believe what you want to. In addition, there were both male and female deities. They also subscribed to a henotheistic philosophy, with certain gods considered more powerful than the others by the specific group that prays to that god. I don’t think there is any record from that time that would suggest a religious discord amongst the people of ancient Mesopotamia. In ancient Egypt, I know that Akhenaten’s beliefs were found to be extreme and many priests in his time were pissed off with him. Just to be sure, I consulted Caroline Seawright for details. She gave me the following answer:

The major clash in religious belief that I can think of off the top of my head was Akhenaten vs the cult of Amen. It wasn’t really a war, per se, but he did eventually shut them (and the related Theban cults) all down. His own henotheistic religion was quite abnormal, as the royal family was suddenly at the centre stage of the religion – the Aten was inaccessible. He was generally fine with other cosmologies, though – he equated himself with Shu, and Nefertiti with Tefnut. I guess he equated (or replaced) Ra with the Aten, but not sure on that point.

In addition, there were patron deities, which means that some gods were city-state specific and they were worshipped by devotees from a particular city. There are many examples of such gods in ancient Mesopotamia, but I don’t think I have to mention them all here. The wiki article on Mesopotamian religion is pretty exhaustive in this regard. It is estimated that there were nearly 2400 gods, with most of them bearing Sumerian names. The gods were anthropomorphic, thereby possessing a humanoid form. Just like us, they required food and drink. There was occasional drunkenness on display as well. In most cases, the deities were related to each other and hence, were part of a big family. This is another common trait in polytheistic religions.

One of the most important of these early deities was the god Enlil, viewed as  the king of gods and controlled everything in the world. Another was the Sumerian god Ea, who was very similar to Enlil and became known as Anu. Much later, in 18th century BCE, the king Hammurabi, declared Marduk was another one of the all supreme gods, elevating him to the same status as Enlil and Anu. Apart from the aforementioned gods, there are many more who fit into a hierarchical structure and I am not gonna talk about all of them. But, I will talk a bit about a group of gods called Anunnaki. In the hierarchy of gods, the Anunnaki are what you would call as great gods. They were worshipped during different eras of ancient Mesopotamian civilization, including the Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian eras. It is said that the name, Anunnaki refers to those of royal blood and descended of the kings. They enjoyed enormous stature during those eras. And thanks to people like Zecharia Sitchin, the Anunnaki are still part of pop culture. Now, I have my reasons for not believing in any of Sitchin’s ideas. But, he was relentless in his belief and he has a strong legion of fans. But, when you hold his interpretations against scientific facts, you would realize that there are many problems. Sitchin’s main idea was that Anunnaki are a race of giant beings who created us as a slave race to primarily mine gold on earth. There are many more aspects to this idea, but I am not gonna go through all of them.

Zecharia Sitchin

Zecharia Sitchin

If you look at Sitchin’s idea closely, you would see parallels between the engineers and the Anunnaki. It is no doubt in my mind that the writers used his work in developing the main story of Prometheus. The material that we have from ancient Mesopotamian eras is not as exhaustive as discoveries from ancient Egyptian civilizations. This obviously presents a problem. Nevertheless, to believe that the Anunnaki were extraterrestrial visitors is a bit far fetched and flies in the face of current factual knowledge. If some of you are interested to learn more about Sitchin’s interpretation of ancient Mesopotamian text, you could buy one of his books. Personally, I would classify his work speculative fiction.

Anyway, I think I will stop with the Anunnaki right here and talk about something else. The French historian J. Bottéro has written extensively on ancient Mesopotamian religion and one of his books titled, Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia is a must read for anyone interested in Mesopotamian belief systems. What differentiates this great book from the rest of the pack is that he just presents his findings and never speculates. This is the problem that I mentioned earlier with Sitchin’s work. His work is all driven by his own interpretations and selective quotation to further his own ideas. The paperback edition of Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia costs just over 15 dollars and trust me, it’s worth the dime. One of the things that Bottéro points out in his thesis is that the ancient Mesopotamians never viewed their gods mystically. The gods were looked upon as higher up in command and were meant to be obeyed and feared, and as he put it, as opposed to be loved and adored. The lack of overt mysticism meant that they were not considered to be magical and having control over every aspect of people’s lives.

I believe, I have arrived at a critical point in talking about belief systems in many cultures. There are two important things that become evident in their beliefs – Polytheism and lack of overt mysticism. Polytheism meant that there were many gods and you could believe what you want to. Acceptance of different faiths was absolutely fine. Lack of mysticism and anthropomorphism meant that gods were just considered to be like us humans and were simply looked upon similarly like the kings and queens. Such a religious system existed not only in the Mesopotamian cultures, but also in Egyptian civilization and the Mayan cultures. If we talk about contemporary religions, then, I can think of Hinduism that is polytheistic and is still one of the most widely followed religions in the world. I was raised in the Hindu faith, and although agnostic, the religion itself is more tolerant of other faiths. Some people who practise the religion though, are not. But, there is nowhere in ancient Hindu texts where it says that either Shiva, Vishnu or Brahma is the all supreme god and anyone who doesn’t believe in it would not go to heaven.

It should be clear now as to where I am going with this. I am talking of course about the birth of Christianity and how it spread all over the world in the last couple of thousand years. The major tenet of Christianity is that it is monotheistic and most Christians would tell you that the belief in Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. A few Christian friends of mine even tell me that I would go to hell for not believing in Christ. I don’t think I would have to talk more about Christianity in general. But, in the context of the developments in Prometheus, it is clear that the christian belief system is what pissed off the engineers that they thought they had to destroy us all. Imagine we had the tendency to engineer life and we did exactly that in a far distant planet and hence, we are the creators as far as life in that planet is concerned. Now, if the people on that planet resorted to constructing a fable around which they wrapped around a religious belief that their planet was created in six days and all that crap and made sure that this organized religion spread all over the planet, I am sure we would be incredibly pissed. Based on Christianity’s development on Earth, it is totally understandable that the engineers went batshit insane. Their role in engineering not just humans, but entire life on the planet was overlooked by us. Instead, we ended up constructing a solitary imaginary god and a detailed fictional story to explain our existence. The engineers were rightfully offended by these actions and decided to destroy us for this blasphemy!

In Part II of my Conclusions post, I would like to analyze in detail the role Christianity played in the engineering of the Alien creature and how Part II of Prometheus film might look like.