Prometheus – Conclusions Part II

Now, let us further explore the Christianity angle and analyze its impact on the engineers’ decision to both destroy humans and their intention to create a sophisticated creature. As Christianity’s message spread all over the world, the engineers realized that their role in engineering life on earth had been forgotten and perhaps, they thought that we would never reach a stage where we would really know the truth behind our existence (I am of course talking about our ability to decode the star maps and come looking for them!). We also see that belief in Christian god is something that Shaw, even after all what she has seen can’t let go. She even argues with David in one of the scenes, where she asserts that the fact that the engineers created us doesn’t negate the existence of god, since the question arises as to who created the engineers!

One of the fascinating facts is that the engineers could have used other ways to obliterate our race on earth. For instance, they could have dumped a load of nuclear weapons that would have resulted in mass extinction. But, they didn’t. Instead, they decided to attempt engineering a semi-biological life-form that would have served as the medium for the extinction of the human race, had it been successful. This is a very important aspect that I believe is key to understand the engineers’ mindset in planning our destruction. Again, I believe it is tied with Christianity and its message. The religion also produced an elaborate rule-set that suggested a way of life that was the one with god. Any other way was not how god intended and anyone following in that path was meant to fail. In addition, the religion also decried the belief in any other god or religious philosophy. Even today, you would find many fundamental Christians claim that religions like Hinduism and Buddhism are pagan religions and that these beliefs need to be destroyed (I am talking of course about people like Pat Robertson from The 700 Club and many other morons on TBN and crazies like the late Jerry Falwell).

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

In addition to promulgating the idea that there is only one god and he created the universe and life on earth, Christian faith also laid some strong rules as to how morality needed to be perceived and defined the difference between moral and amoral. I believe this was the final nail in the coffin as far as the engineers’ hope for us was concerned. The connection between religion and morality has been explored from a philosophical standpoint for many years. Of late, a few thinkers and biologists have put forward the argument that morality doesn’t necessarily have to be a product of religion. Richard Dawkins in particular talked about this in great detail in his awesome book, The God Delusion. He argues that morality is not something that resulted from a religious belief and that it has a Darwinian explanation. He goes on to explain that altruistic genes, selected by standard evolution imparts natural empathy. He also adds that the perception of morality constantly evolves in society and would eventually lead to liberalism. For more, I would suggest you read The God Delusion. He tackles not just the issue of morality, but also many other aspects of religion that have caused only more problems.

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins

Anyway, the important thing I wanted to convey is the fact that the engineers were peeved with the propagation of Christianity and its message on morality and especially as it pertains to sexual themes. Of course not a lot of people would talk about it, but, from some conversations I have had with staunch Christians, I have come to the conclusion that some of them think that the act of sex involves only the male and female sexual organs. Oral sex of both kinds were considered unnatural and don’t even get me started on anal sex. Such acts are still considered sub-human in many cultures and religions. If you extend that further, you would see people giving religious reasons as to why homosexual relationships are an abomination. Actually, most so called “holy books” of many religions talk about the evils of homosexual relationships. Ever since the last decade, we have consistently seen that there is a large amount of evidence that suggests a biological/genetic ground for homosexuality. But, still, fundamental religious nuts resort to idiotic cleansing rituals to and I quote, “Pray the Gay away”.

It is clear to me that the engineers wanted to turn this religious interpretation of morality on its head. Although the destruction of the human race was the engineers’ primary intention, they wanted to execute their plan in a way the humans would realize the blasphemy they had committed when they created the imaginary christian god. The best way to teach them a lesson would be to do it in all ways possible that would be a complete antithesis of Christianity and its message on morality.

Before I talk about how the engineers used this message to plot our destruction, I would like to briefly discuss the multiple religious symbolism that we saw in the film. Right from the beginning, the concept of religion was consistently discussed in the film. Before Prometheus lands on LV 223, we saw David establish a neuro-visor link with Shaw, who was still on hypersleep. We saw an interesting conversation going on between Shaw and her father and in the short time David saw her dream, we saw evidence of religious discord between two faiths and how one’s belief in a god is very strong. We also saw what could presumably be her dad placing a crucifix pendant in Shaw’s hands. The pendant had a life of its own in the film. Prior to her inspection, David tried to remove the pendant to which Shaw reacted strongly. Only after he promised that he would keep it safe, did she let him remove it. During the final scene, when she rescued David, the first thing she asked him was for the pendant. Such an attachment to the pendant could also be viewed as her strong belief in her god and how she still clings on to her faith, irrespective of all what had happened. As I had mentioned earlier, Shaw also argues that the question of who created the engineers was still open. So, it is very clear that she believes in an imaginary god and is unwilling to let go of her belief even in the face of massive evidence against her line of thinking. In addition to Christian symbolism, one cannot deny the fact that ancient Egyptian philosophies had influenced the filmmakers as well.

Development of Alien creature

Finally, we have arrived at the point where it all started – the conception and engineering of the Alien creature itself. I had previously mentioned in my Mural analysis sections that it was clear that the engineers had figured out the life-cycle of the creature and how it would subdue and infect its host (The presence of facehugger on the mural). In my opinion, based on the design of the creature, the way it was intended to sexually abuse the host by orally raping the person is somehow reflective of the engineers showing a giant middle finger to our religious perception of morality! Actually, there is more evidence that would add weight to this idea. For instance, let us revisit the movie Alien for a moment. When Ripley learns the truth about the mission to retrieve the biological specimen, she confronts Ash. During the following struggle, it becomes evident that Ash is an android.

Alien 1979 - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Alien 1979 – Copyright 20th Century Fox

Alien 1979 - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Alien 1979 – Copyright 20th Century Fox

The remaining crew finally subdue him and interrogate him. The interrogation scene goes like this:

Ripley: Ash, can you hear me? Ash?
Ash: [speaking in an electronic, distorted voice] Yes, I can hear you.
Ripley: What was your special order?
Ash: You read it. I thought it was clear.
Ripley: What was it?
Ash: Bring back life form. Priority One. All other priorities rescinded.
Parker: The damn company. What about our lives, you son of a bitch?
Ash: I repeat, all other priorities are rescinded.
Ripley: How do we kill it Ash? There’s gotta be a way of killing it. How? How do we do it?
Ash: You can’t.
Parker: That’s bullshit.
Ash: You still don’t understand what you’re dealing with, do you? Perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility.
Lambert: You admire it.
Ash: I admire its purity. A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality.
Parker: Look, I am… I’ve heard enough of this, and I’m asking you to pull the plug.
Ash: [Ripley goes to disconnect Ash, who interrupts] Last word.
Ripley: What?
Ash: I can’t lie to you about your chances, but… you have my sympathies.

Ash: I admire its purity. A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality - Alien 1979 - Copyright 20th Century Fox

Ash: I admire its purity. A survivor… unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality – Alien 1979 – Copyright 20th Century Fox

I think it’s no accident that there was a dialogue like this in Alien. I am positive that this message was used as a major theme in developing the main plot of Prometheus. If we work that backwards, it is clear what the engineers’ intentions were. They wanted to engineer a creature that was unclouded by conscience, remorse, or delusions of morality. In addition, it was also designed to be structurally perfect that can survive just anywhere in the cosmos, thanks to its silicon base later in its life-cycle. I am sure most of you would agree with me that such a creature is absolutely invincible, thanks to not only its physical strength, but also due to its lack of empathy of any kind. It knows only one thing – Kill anything that moves. All it is interested in is propagating its race, infect as many hosts as possible. It really doesn’t care if the host is a man or a woman or a child. The engineers’ intent in creating a creature with such a lack of empathy just shows how pissed off they were with us. In fact, they even went further. They used Christian symbolism in the mural and cast the Alien creature as their version of “son of god”! Its like them telling us, “You believe in this religion and think that your son of god died on the cross for the sake of you? Well, let us define him differently. Our version of son of god will orally rape you, lay his seed inside your body and result in rebirth by breaking out of your chest. That is the only way for your salvation!” Remember, in the second part of my mural analysis I mentioned that I was deliberately avoiding talking about the posture of the Alien on the mural and that I would do that later? Well, I think now is the time. Observe the Alien again in the following picture. The way the creature is standing, with its hands stretched out is very much similar to Jesus on the cross.

"Alien" Mural - Detailed (Copyright 20th Century Fox)

“Alien” Mural – Detailed (Copyright 20th Century Fox)

Now, take a look at Jesus on the cross. I don’t think it is mere coincidence. It is deliberate on part of the filmmakers to connect the creature and the Christian faith and its message.

Jesus on the cross

Jesus on the cross

Not only the mural, if you observed the engineer’s spaceship when it’s leaving, from the front, one side of the ship looks like a slightly stretched out hand that looks very similar to a famous picture of Jesus’s hands. It is likely that I am seeing things, nevertheless, I wanted to mention it. Look at the following couple of pictures.

View of the engineer's spaceship

View of the engineer’s spaceship

Jesus hands

Jesus hands

So, my conclusion is that the engineers wanted to teach us a lesson and hence, designed the creature as an antithesis to Christianity and its message and wanted to use it as a medium for our destruction. But, something unexpected happened. They had developed the schematics of the organism of course, but they were unable to create the Alien. From the madness on LV 223, it is clear that the reverse engineered black goo was extremely potent. A mutated worm killed Milburn and we all saw what happened to a mutated Fifield. The engineers were able to get some of their plans right, like as I talked about earlier, shedding of organic cells and replacing it with silicon. But, it is also likely that they underestimated the potency of the black goo. That’s why the entire colony of engineers was almost destroyed by the breakout. Based on the hologram that David saw inside the bridge, one could glean the fact that the surviving engineers had enough with their “failure” in creating the creature that they decided to leave LV 223 and dump the entire cargo on earth.

Now, coming back to the Alien itself, how come they were unable to bring their plan to fruition. It is my view that they had overlooked one essential aspect in creating the creature – the act of sex. The creature they had designed was meant to abuse you sexually in every way possible, yet, they didn’t know that the creature had to be “born” first from the act of sexual reproduction. This is the reason why they were unable to create the creature as they had planned. When the infected Holloway had sex with Shaw, it resulted in the birth of the giant facehugger, which ultimately resulted in the birth of Deacon or proto-alien. This whole thing makes the Alien partly human and it is absolutely fascinating that the engineers’ doomsday machine for humans needed humans for its creation! Imagine what might have happened, if David hadn’t spiked Holloway’s drink with the black goo? That’s why I find David integral to the movie. But, I must confess, it isn’t that surprising at all. In Alien, Ash was a very important character and androids have always had a notorious reputation in the entire Alien franchise. This is one of the reasons why I would like to talk about the role of David and androids a couple of posts later. There is also another aspect to the act of reproduction that I would like to discuss in my next part, where I talk about how Prometheus Part II would look like.

Final Review

I think I have finally been able to convince you of my thoughts on why the engineers conceived the alien. They were pissed off with us for creating a christian god and propagating Christianity and its message on morality. They conceived the creature as an antithesis to this belief and wanted to use it to destroy us. But, during the course of developing the creature, they overlooked the fact that the creature had to be born first. The potent reverse engineered black goo they used to conceive the creature turned on them and almost destroyed their colony on LV 223. Prometheus’s visit to LV 223 in 2093, reawakened this process and thanks to David’s intervention, resulted in the birth of Deacon or proto-alien.

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.