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[This movie review was written before consulting the book’s sequels (2010: Odyssey two, 2061: Odyssey three, and 3001: The Final Odyssey).
Because the film by Kubrick differs from the novel by Clarke (it’s reported that even Clarke did not quite understand the ending to Kubrick’s film), we have chosen to review the film in its own context. If you have any thoughts about the enigmatic “2001: A Space Odyssey,” please contact us
After seeing “2001: A Space Odyssey” again after over 30 years, we can offer other possible themes to consider. Does the appearance of the slab among the “ape-men” in the film’s opening segment (see 2001: A Space “Oddity” (Part 1 of 2) for background if needed) signify a type of “fall” or “original sin” in any way? The tranquility of the ape-man “society” changes dramatically with the appearance of the slab, and hostility and murder appear on the scene as the first ape-man uses a bone as a weapon. Later in the film, the spaceship computer engages in its own murderous ways, which might cause reflection on the whole issue of evil, and whether it is unique to humans, or whether their creations can themselves be evil.
Also here is perhaps another way to explain and summarize the plot. Man has evolved to such a point by 2001 that his very intelligence prompts him to ponder: whence does his intelligence derive? After all, the search for the origin of intelligence (including for the extraterrestrial life or force/intelligence that built the slab) seems to be the odyssey that takes the astronauts to space.
Far from being portrayed as the random process seen in textbooks, evolution in this film becomes almost an object of worship, a process seemingly directed by some (impersonal?) form of cosmic intelligence. This is theistic evolution, to be sure, but has very little to do with Christ or the Bible.
The world, however, does not need to send space ships or point telescopes into the corners of the universe to answer this question about the origin of intelligence. The answer has already been sent to us in the revealed Word of God, which explains that God is the “first cause” of all intelligence and is omniscient (all-knowing) Himself. It also declares that humans are made in the image of God (Genesis 1: 26-27) and thus possess a hint of His infinite intelligence, but enough of it to be able to comprehend the universal truths in His Word.
This same Bible also reveals that humans are not progressing in upward evolutionary development. On the contrary, as a result of the Fall (Genesis 3), humans over the centuries have seen, overall, a drop in intelligence ever since the creation of the first humans, Adam and Eve, who were perfect in the beginning. (Our wonderful technology today is based on accumulated knowledge; we are not as intelligent as those in ancient civilizations-who were closer in time to the first couple-who built things that we today have great difficulty reproducing.)
Even though we all possess a fallen brain, God gave man the mandate for science and technology in Genesis, to “have dominion” over the Earth. There are many things which man has been able to discover, but knowledge and intelligence are not the same as wisdom. Psalm 111:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”
There are mysteries about God and His ways, and about this universe, which we may never find answers until we reach eternity. But the mystical “force-be-with-you” speculation about evolution as a path to “enlightenment” presented in this film leads nowhere except to darkness-and eternal regret for those misled by its message.
Acknowledgement: The author,, gratefully acknowledges the considerable assistance of Dr Carl Wieland and Dr Jonathan Sarfati, AiG-Australia in writing this review.