Prometheus and Creation Mythology

I always hated english class and 90% of the books we were told to read. I read 10% of them, and bullshitted my way through the other 90, part of the reason I’m a decent writer, it was out of necessity. When I got to college and had to pick a lit class, I took mythology.

I don’t love mythology just because the stories are entertaining. Mythology is our way of trying to explain things we don’t have a good grasp on. Mythology is how we dream together. Mythology binds us so tightly as a species. We see the same story lines, memes, and beliefs throughout time and geography. We all ask the same questions, we all search for the same answers. And across the world our myths bind us through a shared view of what is right and what is wrong, not on the superficial level, but the most fundamental beliefs of our species.

I saw the movie Prometheus today, the prequel to the Alien series. The film is definitely worth seeing and I was entertained the whole time. It’s not as scary is the vien of the original Alien series which was horrifying, at least to me it is, this movie is (or at least tries to be) a bit deeper on the storyline and mythology than it is a scare flick. And for that I give it one thumb up, it was a good story. I though they could have been more explicit with it at times, I’ll bet a lot of people left the theater with a shallowish understanding of what Ridley Scott was trying to get at. I even had to read a few recaps to get the whole thing.

Like any good film, Prometheus steals and or alludes to many different previous films and texts of the mythological kind. There are so many different classic mythological story allusions it’s hard to list them all. The main one though is definitely the deep human belief that the cycle of life is sacred. We all live and must die in time to make way for the new. Death is natural, necessary, virtuous, and sacred.

Obviously the movie also tells a story of creation, the most prevalent in mythology. I’m not spoiling anything by saying that in the movie, aliens, who look much like ourselves, seed earth with life, interestingly via the sacrifice of one of their own, again the birth/death cycle being sacred.

And as I walked home after watching the movie, it got me thinking about my own religiosity, or lack there of.

My main argument against religion of any kind centers around the sacred texts and stories (myths). They are all the same. Across time and space, completely separate cultures tell the same exact stories with different twists. And as time moves on, we add our increased understanding of our universe to these myths.

The movie Prometheus in that sense is no different from the Bible, Koran, cave painting, scrolls, hieroglyphics, or any other religious text. It’s just another myth, it tells the same general story with a more modern twist. Why is the belief in a 2,000 year old story any better or worse than the belief in a story written a few years ago, or better yet 50,000 years ago. The answer is that it’s not, they are all stories which say very important things about what we all believe at our core, beliefs we all share, even if we don’t always choose to live those beliefs.

I believe that education, connectedness, and awareness of mythology throughout history and across people will eventually eradicate formal religion from this earth. When we ask ourselves, why are my beliefs any better than the beliefs of others, why do I posses the one truth, we realize that there is no one truth. We realize that we all inherently believe the same basic things, but we’ve woven different stories around those beliefs, many of which have been taken way too literally. People wasting their lives and killing others over what, over a different twist on the same story.

While I don’t know if aliens with the same DNA as us came down to earth and seeded it with life, or not, that story is just as good if not more plausible for me than some singular “god” my Jewish ancestors believe created everything including us. We’ll probably find out some day that the Prometheus story is as practically flawed as a turtle climbing out of the ocean with the world on its back. But that doesn’t mean the lessons within the story don’t speak to our deepest beliefs, and those are real.

And that’s why I love movies like this.



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