I Origins (2014): What Would You Do If Something Spiritual Disproved Your Scientific Beliefs?

I Origins (2014) movie impression featured image

It’s not a question of believing; it’s a question of seeing.

I Origins (2014) is one of those movies that tickle your abandoned spiritual needs. It doesn’t take long to lull you into a dreamlike state and to wrap you up in a blanket of vulnerability, primal awe, and trust of the great unknown.

I’m still a little bit shy to admit but this movie truly blew my mind on my first viewing six years ago. It did the same on my recent re-watch but for slightly different reasons as I now am in a quite a different place spiritually and mentally. What can I say, I’m a real sucker for profoundly poetic and at the same time raw films like this!

It’s a sensitive story told by American film director and screenwriter (and also a very charismatic hippie) Mike Cahill. We first meet the main character Ian (played by American actor, model, and musician Michael Pitt) who is a molecular biology PhD student in New York. He has a life-long obsession with a human eye and has taken pictures of hundreds of eyes, each set absolutely unique in their iris patterns. Ian’s goal to show the step by step evolution of the human eye. the perfection of which has been long used as a proof of the existence of the intelligent designer aka God.

Two women enter his life almost simultaneously and change his life forever. As they should. One of them is Sofi (played by French-Spanish actress and model Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey), Ian’s love interest who, despite their unprecedented attraction, challenges him with her nonconformist personality and being attuned with to the spiritual world. And there’s Karen (played by American actress and screenwriter Brit Marling), Ian’s diligent lab assistant on a quest to help him find a missing puzzle in the human eye evolution. Being an impervious opponent of anything religious, superstitious, or spiritual, Ian finds himself in an array of strange coincidences and dramatic life events that not only start shaking his core beliefs and values but puts him on a path to one of the greatest discoveries of humankind. But it’s not what he thought it would be.

I Origins (2014) Ian and Sofi
Screenshot from the movie I Origins (2014) – Ian and Sofi’s first encounter.

***

A dialogue scene from I Origins (2014):

SOFI

“When I saw you… I had a feeling that I’ve known you. Actually, I felt like you knew me. Like we’re connected from past lives.”

IAN

I don’t believe in that.”

SOFI

What do you believe in?”

IAN

I’m a scientist, I believe in proof. There is no proof there is some magical spirit living above us.”

SOFI

Why are you working so hard to disproof God?”

IAN

Disproof? Who proofed that God was there in the first place?

***

Each time the lights go off in the movie theater before the showing of a new science fiction flick we get so excited as we realize we can now release our inner dreamers and indulge in those visions and doubts otherwise unspoken of in the world ruled by science. You can forget all the burdensome obligations to agree with the data-driven society and watch how other creative people let their wild imaginations loose at trying to find an explanation as to what are we truly all about.

But as soon as the ending credits start rolling and the lights turn on and we are dragged back into reality many of us dismiss the feelings brought up by the movie, put on our coats, our hats, and our masks back on.

Screenshot from the movie I Origins (2014) – Sofi and Ian.

We love to nit-pick a science fiction movie more than any other, don’t we? It’s pretty fun to engage a scientific community to help us analyze the films and make the whole process highly educational. Because it is science fiction after all.

We listen to the commentary of physicists, astronomers, biologists, and other exact science academics while they dissect the core of the sci-fi movie sorting its ideas and themes into believable and unbelievable.

And who can miss the chance of marrying entertainment with education? Or is it just more information to our weary brains? Education mustn’t be thought of as merely information coming from outside and being absorbed by us. Are we brave enough to be so vulnerable as to admit that we do have all the answers we need?

We as a society indeed love facts and data. But somehow we manage to be much less concerned about getting late Freddy Mercury’s biopic right (just do some fact-check on this one) than whether or not it’s possible that Love is truly the answer to it all (everybody was impressed by Interstellar, but not its ending, right?).

Recently I feel like I’ve made a full circle back into myself, reconnected with my soul and the divine source within. So much so that I now actually let myself articulate such words loudly and freely, which would have been unimaginable not so long ago.

To be completely honest and yet humble I must tell you that I’m going through some pretty intense spiritual changes. Actually, I must have been “going through” them for many years. Now more than ever I can see how each and every episode of my life, each event, each person, each bout of darkest depression and each attack of joy, absolutely everything has led me to where I am now. Everything finally makes sense, everything has a meaning and purpose.

And that is why movies like I Origins have always spoken to me and had my full attention, heart and mind.

Screenshot from the movie I Origins (2014) – a white peacock.

The material world is inherently dualistic. There is male and female polarity, day and night, light and shadow. We get used to it. At some point in our lives, we find ourselves convinced that spirituality and science are also two opposites on the same scale. God does not exist until science can prove it. In other words, what you see is what you get.

The problem here is that people see different things. We create our own reality – and this is something science is now starting to admit (check out book references below). So that means that all of us are carrying our own truths. But when those truths clash with one another, who’s to say which is the right one?

You need to start hearing before you start seeing. You know, just like you did when you were a baby. And what do you hear when you listen to your heart, your inner voice, your higher self, your intuition (call me by your name)?

Let’s not forget, after all, that most of the scientific breakthroughs were ignited by those scientists who, against or in the lack of physical proof, followed their intuition. Stepping out to peek into my own personal experience (and that shown in I Origins and many other flicks about science vs. spirituality), if you continue to ignore your own intuition, it will keep on pressing. It will eventually manifest into a full-blown physical proof you so much wanted, proof so blatant that is immune of any other explanation than that which you’ve already known all along.

Screenshot from the movie I Origins (2014) – Are these your eyes?

***

A dialogue scene from I Origins (2014):

PRIYA

“Dr. Grey, are you religious?”

IAN

I thought you researched me. I’m not religious.

PRIYA

“Why not?”

IAN

Religion is based on scripture written by men thousands of years ago. Those beliefs can’t be changed or challenged. They’re fixed. In science, great thinkers have written things very long ago… but every generation improves upon them. The words are not holy. Einstein is a brilliant man, but he is not our god. He’s one step in the evolution of knowledge….but we always continue to step forward.

PRIYA

“You know, a scientist once asked the Dalai Lama: ‘What would you do if something scientific disproved your religious beliefs?’ And he said after much thought: ‘I would look at all the research and really try to understand things. And in the end, if it was clear that the scientific evidence disproved my spiritual beliefs, I would change my beliefs.'”

IAN

That’s a good answer.

PRIYA

“Ian. What would you do if something spiritual disproved your scientific beliefs?

***

Don’t immediately turn to science for validation of the things you feel are true. It could be that science has not caught up with what you already know – yet!

On the other hand, science and spirituality are not polar opposites as they are commonly perceived.

We don’t need to choose one, you know.

The Dø “Dust It Off” – the main song from I Origins (2014) movie soundtrack.


The Dø “Dust It Off” lyrics:

Burning papers into ashes
What a season, how they fly high from the ground up
There is yet another fountain, flowing over, as the night falls
Keep dreaming away
If you hold on to that past, don’t you lock yourself inside
Nothing has been done before
It’s the most virgin dress you could possibly wear
Mess it up, time is up
Hold your memory for a moment with a blind hand
Write some stories for tomorrow
From the bottle of amnesia
Find instructions, to salvation, to oblivion, supreme
Don’t be tempted to look back
It has all happened before
Someday miraculous spread will forgive every cowardly thing that you’ve done
That I’ve done
Dust it off

***

Here are two awesome books right on the topic:

  • The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality (2005) by Dalai Lama
  • Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe (2009) by Robert Lanza and Bob Berman

Comments

    1. Post
      Author
      Audra

      I’m glad you liked it, Shizmos! And this movie is definitely rewatchable. Just don’t forget to wait until after the credits! I think I missed it the first time 😀 That scene certainly adds a powerful layer to the story. ..

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