Scientific Romanticism in Interstellar

I have a piece at the Gospel Coalition this morning that is part review and part analysis of the film Interstellar. In short the movie asks great questions but provides thin answers.
An excerpt:
If Interstellar were a religious text, the dogma it encodes could be called something like “scientific romanticism.” This belief system would hold that science will solve all of our problems one day, even the ones that by definition resist empirical observation and thus exist outside the purview of science (see Sagan’s Contact for another dogmatic specimen). Scientific romanticism works well as a narratival contrivance, but when employed to spice up the lives atheists who otherwise think that they have a clearer-headed view of the universe than those troglodytic believers, it can expose the scarcity of meaning available to those who eschew belief in God.
When it speaks of love, the movie is notably utilitarian.

Love’s value is apparently utilitarian, not ontological. It serves a purpose, but it has no value by itself. In these terms, the self-love of Dr. Mann and the survival instinct that animates his betrayal of our main characters is perfectly legitimate. Cooper calls him a coward because he seeks to preserve himself at the cost of the mission, but we might be reminded that, at this point in the film, Cooper is guilty of the same thing. The elder Dr. Brand’s plan A is a hoax, earth is doomed, so why not return to your loved ones? Dr. Mann is completely justified in his actions, so why all the sinister music while he is doing his thing?

Love is transcendent, the younger Dr. Brand says, but what that means differs from what it means in a world created and sustained by a personal God.

Read the rest here.

2 thoughts on “Scientific Romanticism in Interstellar

  1. I do not appreciate the negativity of this article. Case in point: interstellar is not a religious text and thus we should not interpret it as such. Didn't we learn that in Hermeneutics 101. This movie is science fiction, or science fable, and so let's approach it as we would the Odyssey or something. Enough with SO many dismissive musings about utilitarian love and scientific romanticism

  2. Thanks for your commment, Anon. I meant no offense, and I am clearly in favor of charitable readings of cultural texts (I think I did that in my piece on Breaking Bad over at &quot;On Faith&quot; a while back).<br /><br />I think it is also valuable to discuss the belief systems that inform a film (all texts have them, the Odyssey too, which has been explored thoroughly), particularly films that

Comments are closed.