Reviewed by: David Criswell, Ph.D.
FALSE PROPHETS—Nostradamus, did he predict the bombing of the Twin Towers in New York? Answer
Is there valid prophetic evidence that the Bible is God’s Word? Answer
What does the Bible say about intelligent life on other planets? Answer
Are we alone in the universe? Answer
Does Scripture refer to life in space? Answer
Questions and Answers about The Origin of Life Answer
|Featuring:||Nicolas Cage, Rose Byrne, Chandler Canterbury, Ben Mendelsohn, Nadia Townsend, Adrienne Pickering, Liam Hemsworth, more »|
|Director:||Alex Proyas—“I, Robot”|
|Producer:||Escape Artists, Goldcrest Pictures, more »|
|Distributor:||Summit Entertainment / Sony Pictures Releasing|
“What happens when the numbers run out?”
Alex Proyas is known for making spiritual movies. This should not be confused with making Christian movies, but it is no surprise that Proyas has a number of fans among Christian audiences. Films like “Dark City” and “I, Robot” both had heavy spiritual and religious themes although neither was particularly Judeau-Christian in scope. Proyas' latest film, “Knowing,” continues this trend, but with a much heavier does of New Age mystic-pantheism and Von Däniken.
Some have called “Knowing” a secular version of the Bible Code theory, but it is really more like what Von Däniken would have thought of the Bible Code had he heard of it. The movie is also eerily similar to a famous episode of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, entitled “The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes.”
“Knowing” opens with a apparently disturbed young girl placing a series of seemingly random numbers into a time capsule. Fifty years later the mysterious letter finds it way into the hands of John Koestler, an agnostic science professor who is also the son of the pastor. He soon discovers that the numbers are actually predictions of disasters that took place between 1959 and the present. Several “prophecies,” however, remain and John must struggle to find meaning in the prophecies and in his own life. Can he prevent the disasters to come? If not, why did he get the prophecies at all?
Obviously the movie poses great philosophical and theological questions. There is the arbitrary line of dialogue about “sciences” versus “faith” (a false argument set up by secularists) and in an early scene John Koestler discussed the theories of determinism and randomness. He eventually reveals that he believes there is “no purpose” and life and “s--- happens.” By movies end John has had a transformation, but the Christian viewer needs to realize that it is not a Biblical one, but a vague (pan)theistic one. I will discuss the theological implications below, but since it will involved spoilers, I will not recite it here.
Morally the movie is fairly clean. There are a few cuss words including two uses of the “s---” word early on in the film. There is violence including a young girl with bleeding fingers who was scratching something into a door, people are on fire following a plane crash, and numerous scenes of death following various disasters. None of the violence is particularly gruesome or exploitive, but because of the nature and scope of the violence the movie garnished a PG-13 rating which should be taken seriously.
Like most Proyas films, “Knowing” is well made piece of art with deeply philosophical and religious themes. Unlike his last two films, however, some devout Christians may be disturbed by direction of this films religious views; namely the views of Erich Von Däniken. This aspect needs elaboration, but will involve spoilers—reader beware.
Erich Von Däniken wrote a famous book called Chariot of the Gods. In his book, it is suggested that the angels of the Bible were actually space aliens, the chariot of Elijah was a spaceship, Adam and Eve were space travelers, and the miracles of the Bible were actually done by means of alien technology or similar theme. This New Age interpretation of the Bible has fascinated science fiction authors ever since. “Knowing” is the latest to follow this theory. In this case, the angels of Ezekiel are aliens who come on a spaceship to “save” a small number of people who will populate a new world, like new Adam and Eves. In another scene John is talking to his pastor father and refers to the Gifts of the Spirit found in 1 Corinthians. Once again his definition of the gift of prophecy is foreign to the Bible.
The basic problem with the Von Däniken view is that it is essentially pantheistic. It views the universe itself as an intelligent entity and whatever cannot be explained in this way is transferred to aliens from another world, rather than to God as an intelligent, all knowing Creator. The theme has been promoted by science fiction shows ranging from “Star Trek” to “Space:1999” to “Battlestar: Galactica” to “Knowing.” Ironically, atheist Richard Dawkins, in the movie Expelled, also suggested that life could have begun on an alien planet which was transferred to the Earth via aliens. Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek, and avowed atheist, also incorporated this theme into many Star Trek episodes. This fact alone should make people realize that Von Däniken’s theories are not truly compatible with Christianity. God is ultimately replaced by highly evolved space aliens. It is for this reason that parents should make sure their young children understand that angels are not aliens. The concept is not only foreign to the Bible, but ultimately a way of diverting people’s eyes from God to outer space.
There is no doubt that Alex Proyas makes quality films with a deeply spiritual tone absent from most Hollywood films. As such he has gained a small following among Christian movie goers, but the Christian needs to be able to distinguish between “spiritual” and Christian. Proyas' latest film is entertaining, if a little poorly paced. It delves into many spiritual issues, but ultimately degenerates into a cliché ending that is rather disappointing. Fans of Proyas will definitely want to see the film, but Christian parents should educate their children to the nature of Von Däniken’s theories and ensure that the spiritual message of the film is not confused with Biblical Christianity. Overall, I give the movie a B. It is entertaining and thought provoking, but seems unevenly paced, plodding at times, and offers an unsatisfactory ending. Nevertheless, I will look forward to Proyas' next venture in which I hope he will return to the form he showed with “Dark City” and “I, Robot.”
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.