“The Arrival,” which debuted in U.S. theaters last Friday, is well worth the time, though it is a bit plodding at certain points. Without giving away any of the plot, the movie underscores to me how science fiction really has taken on many, if not all, of the properties of religion.Indeed, the spirituality of “The Arrival” is what makes it good science fiction.This particular film underscores to me how everything we have developed over eons – language, science, religion, philosophy and technology – provide both conceptual scaffolding and launching points for further discovery. All of these achievements and the ongoing refinements associated with them have provided our species not only with deep insight but with also with an evolutionary tug.
Moreover, they all work in tandem, providing routes to what the biologist Stuart Kaufman has brilliantly conceived as the “adjacent possible.” To illustrate the adjacent possible, imagine all human discoveries as rooms, each of which is connected to doors that lead to an infinite number of additional rooms.
And by demonstrating how all things work in tandem, the movie underscored something equally important: how all of these interrelated things are embedded in human existence. Back to that theme of “science fiction as religion.” One could even make the strong case that science fiction drives our understanding of reality and the emergence of new realities in ways that religion, at least, some forms of religion, simply can’t.
Perhaps in time – and through our advances in Big Data, artificial intellectual intelligence, cosmology, nanotechnology and sundry other yet-to-be discoveries – we will be able to connect our universe and our individual existences and experiences in ways that provide an almost seamless – not to mention, post-scientific and spiritual – understanding of everything. And we can virtually rest assured that the new discoveries will shed new spiritual insights that, in turn, will work in tandem with and enhance our understanding off the value of these discoveries.
We may even perceive that God, the objectification of whom (or which) has advanced our walk of discovery up to this point, is embedded on all of our existence and in ways that we previously never could have conceived.