Saturday, May 4, 2013

The theology of Prometheus


I’m afraid I’m very much a latecomer to the pretentious commentary party vis-à-vis Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, since I only saw the flick after it came out on Blu-ray and even then have been too preoccupied with other things of late to comment.  But it’s better than the reviews led me to believe, and worth a philosophical blog post.  Plus, I need to do something to keep this site from becoming The Official Thomas Nagel and David Bentley Hart Commentary Page and Message Boards.

Prometheus is a prequel of sorts to the Alien franchise, and it reflects the desolate ambience of the earlier movies.  The setting of the films is a future in which mankind has spread far beyond the confines of Earth, but where human beings -- or at least the only ones we ever see -- are the pawns of faceless corporate interests, whose cruel indifference and technological prowess seem the only counterweight to the ruthless alien race that gives the film series its name.  The human race seems also to have been reduced at last almost entirely to a shallow materialist mode of existence -- working, feeding, and rutting, but with little in the way of culture, religion, or even ordinary kindness in evidence. 

Little, but not nothing.  Aliens, the least grim entry in the series, gives evidence that the maternal and military virtues have survived (and is also the funniest of the Alien flicks, thanks to Bill Paxton).  The depressing but underrated Alien3 is saved from utter bleakness precisely and paradoxically by its themes of guilt, self-sacrifice, and religious asceticism.  What we’re offered is essentially Stoicism rather than Christian hope, but at least it’s something other than cynicism.  For the latter you have to turn to Alien Resurrection, in which there is, I think, not a single likable character, and in which the closest thing approaching human kindness is the friendship-of-sorts between Ripley’s clone and Annalee Call -- the former part alien, the latter an android.  (Still, you gotta love General Perez’s Instant Whiskey Cube.)

Though the first of the Alien movies was the only one Prometheus director Ridley Scott had anything to do with, the newer movie is perhaps more like David Fincher’s Alien3 than it is like any of the other Alien films.  The reason has to do with the religious themes that permeate the movie -- themes which point, even if just barely, to something more like Christian hope than anything you’ll find in Alien3.  (Spoilers to follow.)

If Prometheus has a hero, it’s archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw, a Christian whose faith is challenged both by events and by the skeptical David -- an android which, perhaps, represents technology, shallow rationalism, and the corporate interests who, as always in the Alien universe, hold its human inhabitants captive to a ruthless vision of homo economicus.  The events in question include the discovery that mankind was spawned by an alien race the protagonists come to call “the Engineers,” and that this race has changed its mind and now seeks mankind’s destruction.

That brings us to the first of several theological themes in Prometheus -- perhaps the most important, albeit understated (to say the least).  In the foreground of the movie is the idea that if the Engineers made us, then Christianity in particular and theism in general are falsified.  But lurking in the background is the insinuation that such a judgment would be superficial.  Consider this exchange between Dr. Shaw and her love interest Charlie Holloway, which follows the confirmation that the Engineers spawned the human race:

Holloway: Guess you can take your father’s cross off now.

Shaw: Why would I want to do that?

Holloway: Because they made us.

Shaw: And who made them?

The thought is not pursued, but it is not hard to see in it the central theme of classical theism that whatever needs, or could even in principle have had, a cause of its own could not be the ultimate explanation of things and thus could not be God.  The Engineers, like the gods of the ancient pagan pantheons, are not in the strictest sense divine, precisely they differ from us and from every other creature merely in degree.  They, like the gods of the pantheons, are themselves essentially creaturely.  To use the language of classical philosophical theology, they are mixtures of actuality and potentiality, whereas what is truly divine is actus purus or pure actuality; they are in various ways composite, whereas what is truly divine is absolutely simple or non-composite; they are mere individual existing instances of an kind, whereas what is truly divine just is ipsum esse subsistens or Subsistent Being Itself.  That the Engineers made man thus has no more significance for classical theism than the fact that each of us has parents does. 

(This is, of course, why the New Atheists’ “one god further” objection -- discussed here, here, and here -- has no force whatsoever, and in fact simply misses the whole point of classical theism.  As we saw in an earlier post, a similar implicit recognition of this fact can arguably be found in The Avengers, Joss Whedon’s atheism notwithstanding.  All of which perhaps goes to show that secularist Hollywood screenwriters are smarter than New Atheist ideologues.)

Still, if we are to think of God as existing in Prometheus, he is most definitely a deus absconditus, with the Engineers functioning as the visible, lower-case-“g” gods.  Indeed, the movie presents us with something like a Gnostic hierarchy: David and the other androids in the Alien universe were made by man; man was made by the Engineers; the Engineers came from God only knows where; and Dr. Shaw’s God, at a seemingly unbridgeable distance, stands inscrutably behind it all.

Nor is the hierarchy of emanations the only aspect of Gnosticism echoed in Prometheus.  The Gnostic idea that the Demiurge, who actually made the world, is not only inferior to the true God but positively sinister, finds an echo in the Engineers’ unfathomable hostility to mankind.  In general, the relentless cruelty of the Alien series’ universe is just what you’d expect from such a Demiurge.  The aliens who give the franchise its name -- evidently spawned from the same genetic material the Engineers use as a weapon -- are nothing short of demonic both in appearance and behavior.  There is even something like a counter-Incarnation in the film, as the infertile Dr. Shaw, playing unwilling pseudo-Madonna, is to her great surprise impregnated with this genetic material, which combines with her own DNA to produce a repulsive alien (which she promptly removes in a now notorious C-section -- which, I can report, was perhaps a little worse than the four others I’ve witnessed). 

And yet the Christian Dr. Shaw gets the last word, her only fellow survivor -- the decapitated skeptical android David -- entirely dependent upon her, and forced to accompany her on a mission to pursue the deeper answers he thinks aren’t worth bothering over.   

It’s a triumph of aesthetics over cold rationality worthy of Hart, in a movie whose skeptical naturalism is worthy of Nagel.  I just can’t escape these guys!

49 comments:

Joe said...

"The Engineers, like the gods of the ancient pagan pantheons, are not in the strictest sense divine, precisely they differ from us and from every other creature merely in degree. They, like the gods of the pantheons, are themselves essentially creaturely."

You could be describing the gods of the LDS church!

Anonymous said...

"... whatever needs, or could even in principle have had, a cause of its own could not be the ultimate explanation of things and thus could not be God." It's a simple idea. Why is this so difficult for the New Atheists to understand? ~ Mark

Hallvard N. Jørgensen said...

Interesting review! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Just in case ppl hadn't read this review as well http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/1475/iprometheusi_and_the_cross.aspx#.UYTi-so3lGo

George R. said...

Holloway: Guess you can take your father’s cross off now.
Shaw: Why would I want to do that?
Holloway: Because they made us.
Shaw: And who made them?


Actually, if Shaw were a Thomist, her response would not be, “And who made them?” but rather, “It is impossible that they made us; for finite beings cannot be the cause of substances, which can only come into being by either creation ex nihilo or by generation. For finite beings cannot be the cause of the substantial form, which alone causes a substance to be what it is. Finite beings are only capable of informing already existing substances with accidental forms. To inform matter with a substantial form, on the other hand, is an act exclusively reserved to God and nature.”

Of course, if she had said that, she would have been in the wrong movie.

dd said...

George R,

what is your argument that a finite being cannot the cause of a substantial form?

Anonymous said...

Good review. The main problem with the film wasn't the philosophy, which was interesting (I don't expect movies to be correct, just interesting), but the horror movie cliches. Here you have a bunch of presumably intelligent scientists on an alien world that clearly has life and nevermind the super-dangerous genetically engineered organisms, they don't even take precautions against infections from alien bacteria. And when the alien moray eel presents itself, yes, I'd expect a biologist to be fascinated and even feel a bit of affection, but not quite so careless as the idiot in the movie--even a normal earth animal (like a moray eel) of that size could do some serious damage. It'd have been a much better movie if they'd presented the characters as very intelligent, but still taken by surprise, instead of morons taken by surprise.

Donald

But if you could overlook that, yes, it was an interesting movie in precisely the ways Prof. Feser outlines.

George R. said...

dd,

Substantial forms are ontologically prior to creation ex nihilo; for they are the principles by which creation ex nihilo takes place. Therefore, they are uncreated and, therefore, eternal. Finite beings, on the other hand, are ontologically posterior to ex nihilo creation; for they are the effects thereof. Furthermore, all things caused by finite beings will be ontologically posterior to those same finite beings, which themselves are posterior to creation, which itself is posterior to the substantial forms. Now if nothing can be the cause its own cause, a fortiori neither can it be the cause the cause of the cause of its cause. Therefore, finite beings cannot cause substantial forms.

But someone may object: "Well of course, nothing can cause its own substantial form, but what's to prevent a finite being from causing the substantial form of some thing?" But that would require two substantial forms to exist in two entirely different ontological orders; but two things existing in different ontological orders can only be called the same thing equivocally.

This is why Thomas Aquinas taught that the first man must have been created ex nihilo by God; for the only other way a man can come into being is by generation; and before there existed men there could be no generation. Therefore, Adam must have been created directly by God.

Rick DeLano said...

"Therefore, Adam must have been created directly by God."

Somebody ring up the International Theological Commission double-quick!

“While the story of human origins is complex and subject to revision, physical anthropology and molecular biology combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in Africa about 150,000 years ago in a humanoid population of common genetic lineage.”

Adam, Eve, and their non-human human population of common genetic heritage.

Yeah.

Makes perfect sense.

That will get all the smart folk to show up for baptism.

BenYachov said...

>Therefore, Adam must have been created directly by God.

Well only the soul could be created ex-nilo. His body would have either come directly from dust from the grind or indirectly threw preexisting living matter like the body of a non-human hominid animal that at best physically looked like a modern human(rational) hominid animal.

But yeh I hate the idea that Adam is a term for a collective group of humans who went rogue. The human soul can't evolve it must be created. So the first human soul must have been created at some point ergo that name of that chap was Adam.

This is true wither you postulate the seemingly current scientific view that it is unlikely the modern human race is biologically monogenesis from a single human couple or polygenesis.

Under biological poly genesis you still need Adam as the first true man. The first rational animal.

http://www.aish.com/tp/i/moha/48931772.html

rank sophist said...

Substantial forms are ontologically prior to creation ex nihilo; for they are the principles by which creation ex nihilo takes place.

Absolutely and utterly wrong. First, a substantial form is not an essence: the former is a lower, "ontic" component; the latter is a higher, ontological component. Creatures can give substantial forms to one another, but they can't give essences to one another. The reason for this is that essences can only be actualized by existence--by creation ex nihilo, which is prior even to essence.

rank sophist said...

To get back on topic:

I find it interesting when Christian and Gnostic themes appear in cinema. Prof. Feser's Demiurge comparison was particularly entertaining. You have to wonder if this stuff is intentional, in most cases, or if it's just part of the culture.

George R. said...

Absolutely and utterly wrong.

I see you're not entirely convinced by my argument, rs.

There's really nothing controversial in what I said. Obviously, before God creates something, He must have an idea of what it is He is creating. This "idea", therefore, is ontologically prior to both the act of creation and the thing created; for creation depends on the "idea," not the other way around.

No?

Craig Payne said...

"This is, of course, why the New Atheists’ 'one god further' objection -- discussed here, here, and here -- has no force whatsoever, and in fact simply misses the whole point of classical theism."

Remarkably, the "one god further" argument even misses the point of atheism. The New Atheists do not know what atheism is!

No one is an atheist for not believing in, say, Loki.

Corrigan said...

I'm sure they probably do understand the concept, Mark. The problem is that it's not telling them what they want to hear. The thing to understand about the New Atheism is that it is essenitally a business trading for profit, and the thing it's manufacturing is validation for people with a pathological need to conceive of themselves as being smarter than their fellows. Thus, more sophisticated atheist philosophers like Thomas Nagle get hauled over the coals when they engage at an actual scholarly level with theists because A) the subsequent debate is way above the intellectual pay grade of most Gnus and B) he's acknowledging that the other guy isn't necessarily stupid because he sees thing differntly. Gnusims is essentially a kind of mob oratory run through with logical fallacies and inconsistancies and Ed Feser does a stirling job pointing them up at every opportunity.

Scott W. said...

Aliens, the least grim entry in the series, gives evidence that the maternal and military virtues have survived (and is also the funniest of the Alien flicks, thanks to Bill Paxton). The depressing but underrated Alien3 is saved from utter bleaknes

Really? I always took the portrayal of the marines in that movie as a lampoon of the military virtues. They start off with macho bravado, but when they get clobbered by the Aliens they start crying like children and only Ripley and her feminist "I am woman hear me roar!" bossiness can pull it all back together. Eeew.

Anonymous said...

Interesting insights. I thought Prometheus was interesting philosophically but lacking in the more obvious story-telling departments. Great visuals though. Alien is perhaps the bleakest (but not totally without hope) of the franchise, but also the best. Aliens to me was the most entertaining, but was the least substantive with its cookie-cutter caricatures of the US military.

I recall a mentioning of the possibility of a review of The Thing. That's one review I'd still love to see.

Edward Feser said...

Really? I always took the portrayal of the marines in that movie as a lampoon of the military virtues. They start off with macho bravado, but when they get clobbered by the Aliens they start crying like children and only Ripley and her feminist "I am woman hear me roar!" bossiness can pull it all back together. Eeew.

I don't think that's correct. While Gorman and Hudson come off badly, the rest of the marines don't, and Hicks and Vasquez in particular are, I think, pretty clearly portrayed sympathetically. And even Gorman and Hudson rally at the end. So I don't think it's a matter of bravado turning into cowardice, full stop. Rather, it's the false bravado of some of the marines being broken, followed by pretty much everyone finally getting their acts together. The only main character who really has no redeeming qualities at all is Burke -- the stereotypical corporate weasel who is, I think, pretty clearly supposed to look bad compared to the marines.

Glenn said...

I recall a mentioning of the possibility of a review of The Thing. That's one review I'd still love to see.

A (cryptic) review of The Thing (ta dum):

Whimper and simper they do not
Esprit de corps amongst the lot

Though source of no import
Disposal all athwart

Yea, Saint Peter at the gate
Lo, there thou shalt take the freight

So, if you see Pandora
Don't you dare adore her


(Hey, it's just a placeholder. Until the real thing comes along.)

BenYachov said...

Hicks was my hero,

Eduardo said...

Game over, Man!!!!!!

lol

Gyan said...

"That the Engineers made man thus has no more significance for classical theism than the fact that each of us has parents does."

Not for classical theism perhaps, but surely for Christianity that posits a loving Creator who cursed first humans as they disobeyed his specific command, and so on the entire Christian story.

It is an error to identify classical theism with Christianity.

Gyan said...

"sophisticated atheist philosophers like Thomas Nagel"

What is Nagel's sophisticated argument for atheism?

Or it is meant that Nagel is a sophisticated philosopher who is or happens to be an atheist but he is not necessarily a philosopher who argues for atheism?

Gyan said...

BenYachov

"The human soul can't evolve it must be created. So the first human soul must have been created at some point ergo that name of that chap was Adam"

Isn't a soul just the form of a living body?
So it must evolve along with the body.
Or do you mean that the rational element of the soul is supernatural (CS Lewis' position in Miracles) so it is infused by God at conception.

If the rational element is supernatural, then thinking is supernatural as well, and then it is not simple as case that the brain and its neurons describe the efficient process of thought, while the rational element describes the final cause. Rather, the rational element supernaturally moves the neurons. Again, this is CS Lewis' position in Miracles.

So do you agree or disagree that the acts of rational thought are supernatural?

Mr. Green said...

Gyan: Isn't a soul just the form of a living body? So it must evolve along with the body.

Bodies don't evolve. Populations do.

(Or rather, bodies do of course "evolve" in the proper sense of the word: they change, they grow, they age. But these are accidental, not substantial, changes. In this context, the evolution referred to is special evolution, which just means that every now and then circumstances lead to a new kind of creature becoming instantiated.)

Chris said...

I think Christianity is the reason for the Engineers' hostility to humankind. It's Christmas when they arrive at the alien planet, and the corpse they find has been dead approximately 2,000 years (hmmm, what major event happened about 2,000 years ago?). So 2,000 years ago the Engineers were preparing to destroy Earth, but their plans went awry. Since they created man, and were worshipped as gods by man (the movie, alas, was inspired by von Daniken's 'Chariots of the Gods'), this 'new' religion of Christianity, I think, is the reason for the Engineers' change to hostility toward humanity. That can mean either that the Engineers are simply vain and retributive, or that, perhaps, Jesus could be a member of another alien species, one the Engineers are hostile toward (and Jesus as an alien is not at all an unheard-of idea in the world of ufology).

There is also perhaps a perversion of the idea of the Garden of Eden on the alien world - it has Earth's atmosphere and so is a kind of enclosed world, it contains a serpent-like creature (and perhaps we can say that the ludicrous biologist is 'tempted' by it).

Lee said...

Chris,

Interestingly enough, one of the original plot points considered (but later scrapped) was that Jesus was an engineer, thus the planned destruction of earth was in retaliation of that event. Glad they took it out, though.

http://www.prometheusforum.net/discussion/1575/ridley-scott-engineers-they-are-dark-angels/p1

corrigan1 said...

I simply meant that Nagel is sophisticated by comparison to Dawkins. By comparison to Dawkins, Laurel and Hardy were sophisticated. I'm a practicing Catholic myself, but I have respect for Nagel because he's intellectually honest and he at least familiarizes himself with the arguments of theists, although disagreeing.

Chris said...

Lee,

Yes, better that they dropped that. It's a bit schizoid - we'd better pop down and save Roman civilization - oh, wait, they killed one of ours, now we'll destroy the whole bleeping planet! Then again, that would've fit right in with the absurdity of most of the other characters' actions.

Jeffrey S. said...

Yes, I give the film points for trying to tackle a philosophical point or two, but really Ed, we cannot make excuses for this film:

http://www.juliansanchez.com/2012/06/11/whats-wrong-with-prometheus-a-partial-list/

Eric said...

This is interesting, though somewhat off topic. (Fr. Spitzer on philosophical arguments for the existence of God.)

Anonymous said...

Wait, I really havent' heard as much as I'd like on Gyan's point above: would humans being created by another intelligent species (Engineers in the movie) count against Christianity somehow? Could such a species be considered a secondary cause, akin to evolution, by which God creates humans? I thought for a moment there must be a problem here, but on reflection, I'm not sure there really is.

Scott said...

@Anonymous:

"[W]ould humans being created by another intelligent species (Engineers in the movie) count against Christianity somehow?"

I don't see how secondary causes would count against the Primary Cause.

Brandon said...

Anonymous,

If we were talking about creation in the strict sense, making it simply to exist, there would possibly be a problem: creation in the strict sense is a prerogative of God as the source of all actual existence. (There are Christian views that allow that God could delegate creation, but they are very much a minority view; most schools, including the Thomistic, take it to be a contradiction for a creature to be a creator of another creature.)

But we aren't actually talking about this here; as you say, the Engineers, and their genetic skill, are actually secondary causes of the generation of human beings. It's not really any different from saying that families are created by parents: in the case of the human beings made by Engineers, we would just be saying that the parentage is a little more complicated than the norm.

CAPTCHA word: persons

Anonymous said...

Chris,

I must say that your reading of the Engineers, worshipped as gods, becoming usurped by the Incarnation of the Word is actually a strong and ancient current in Christian belief. This is what St. Paul meant when he talked of the "powers of the air" (i.e., demons) and the cosmic Exodus and overthrow of "powers and dominions."

This was also understood by Tatian the Assyrian, Origen, and Rabbi Nachmanides (cf. "Dwelling Within the Law" by Joseph David and Prof. Michael Heiser).

The belief that God, in fact, delegated authority to created "gods" - or, angels - was standard fare in First and Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity.

Then again, let me assure you I do not believe for a second that these tutelary powers were actually extraterrestrials.

Still, from a literary perspective, it's interesting to see the same themes rehashed even in such a mess of a film. Perhaps it could be better explored in other venues of fiction (cue in Michael Flynn or John Wright, perhaps?).

Gyan said...

corrigan1,
To my knowledge, Nagel does not disagree or agree with theist arguments, he merely wishes the universe to be so as not to require God.

It is not an intellectual position and in any case a curious position for a philosopher to take.

But perhaps I am ignorant of some actual atheist argument that he has made.

Gyan said...

Mr Green,

Believers in evolution hold that a normal human body now differs from the body of an ancestral human say 200,000 years or 500,000 years ago.

I was using "bodies evolve" in this sense. If BenYachov is correct, a gradual biological evolution did not correspond to a gradual evolution of the form of organism. There was a discontinuity when a rational soul was infused into a body that was biologically prepared for it. So if a soul is just the form of an organism, how could there be a discontinuity in the form when there was to be no discontinuity in the biological evolution?

Eduardo said...

Gyan

... You mean George R... Don't you?

Eduardo said...

Oh I misses that comment from Benyachov ahhahahah, didn't noticed it there, so it is really Ben and not George.

Adeniyi T. said...

I thought the movie was entertaining, as thrillers go. However, I thought it gave a backhanded compliment to theism. Although the protagonist retains her belief in the Christianity, her belief comes off as a choice that is devoid of reason or evidence. It makes it look like belief in Christianity is purely emotional. This feeds into the perception that belief in God is merely a crutch.

BenYachov said...

@Gyan

>Isn't a soul just the form of a living body?

Which type of soul? Vegetative, Sensitive, or Rational?

The Rational Soul is the Form of the Human being.

The Body has both Vegetative and Sensitive properties.


Emotion, imagination and things related to sense are found in the physical brain. But the intellect is something else.


That is all I know.

Mr. Green said...

Gyan: If BenYachov is correct, a gradual biological evolution did not correspond to a gradual evolution of the form of organism. [...] So if a soul is just the form of an organism, how could there be a discontinuity in the form when there was to be no discontinuity in the biological evolution?

Ah: there was a biological discontinuity in the sense that yes, we would have gone from having organisms of kind X to organisms of kind Y; but there wouldn't be any discontinuity in the evidence. If I have some pictures of you, and then of a very detailed statue that suddenly replaced you, it would be impossible to tell the difference by looking at the pictures — even though a person and a statue are very different things. So as long as the indirect evidence that is left behind is approximately close enough, biology can't "see" any difference either.

(Also, don't forget that every substantial form is accompanied by lots of accidental forms: a creature that is substantially an X might have a lot of accidental features that make it look — as far as a biologist is concerned — similar to a Y; maybe even to look more like a Y than like an X, or vice versa.)

Anonymous said...

Great analysis

DonJindra said...

The movie was silly from the first scene. It brought to my mind Erich von Daniken's Chariot of the Gods. Then when they took off their helmets simply because the air was breathable, I thought it couldn't get much more ridiculous. The "theology" of the movie was just as simple minded, imo.

Reader said...

--
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Are Christian Leaders Today a Bunch of Girly Men?

http://occamsrazormag.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/are-christian-leaders-today-a-bunch-of-girly-men/

--
--

Anonymous said...

For once I agree with Djindra. That helmet scene was too stupid for words. Oh yeah, and also the scene where the Jerry Coyne doppelganger starts trying to pet the creepy albino mega worm...after spending hours running around in fear of his new environment.

Anonymous said...

C'mon guys, that was simply the best crew they could get for that multitrillion-dollar mission to make first contact with the alien life form that might have created human life. All the really good crews were out on other, more important missions.

I mean, when your geologist says he became a geologist because he '[bleeping] loves rocks,' you know you have your man.

Trev said...

Ed,

This is off-topic, but you really should have a look (you may want to take an analgesic in advance) at Andrew Levine's article at Counterpunch, "What’s God Got to Do With It?"

[http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/01/whats-god-got-to-do-with-it/]

He's also written a book, "In Bad Faith: What's Wrong With the Opium of the People," sold at Amazon. I've tried to find his email to send him a reference to TLS, but can't find it.

I am hoping you can write a post--and preferably an article to Counterpunch--demolishing him.

Best wishes,

Trev

William Maximilien Dunkirk said...

I have seen a few films that would seem necessarily to assume a Deity or an immutable moral law without. HBO's Rome follows, IMO, a Genesis conception of the Deity as acting quietly behind the scenes -seemingly absent even- yet always bringing a final justice to all human acts, small or great, though usually there is a lengthy fruition between the act and its desert. People make massive, seemingly calamitous mess, are morally confounded, but in a truly marvelous way -apparently by chance- things work out enough, virtue is vindicated and all pretense or falsity exposed. In such films there must be a God but it takes work to see him. Consistent poetic justice of moral acts can only be coincidence so may times. Otherwise, there would be no need to carefully analyze the moral choices of characters and make sure each decision -large or small- gets its rightful desert. A good commentary on Genesis will show this theme working especially in Genesis: those who deceived in order to aggrandize themselves or enforce their own (usually petty) sense of justice are finally themselves out-deceived/witted or humiliated. Lot, perhaps carelessly, offers his daughters up to be raped as a bribe for the otherwise just reason of defending the dignity of God's angels or sparing the Sodomites God's wrath; but later Lot will be raped by his own daughters: perfect humiliation. Lot is not lost or slain but he gets his come uppance. Onan thinks God needs him to carry out his promise and holds God's promise ransom, refuses to fulfil his brotherly duty so he can inherit for himself and his children all the rights and property of his deceased brother, but God swiftly slays him and the promise continues unabated. The Biblical portrayal of God is consistent and confirms the sense of faith that there is no avoiding God in life and that we always get our due. God is intimately involved in human affairs but in a transcendent way that baffles us. The Decalogue makes plain that God does take cognizance of human moral evil; the Prophet Elijah forbids human beings from trying to usurp this prerogative (namely visiting the sins of parents upon their offspring). Often cause and effect are so far removed that they simply aren't recognized; sometimes it is even trans-generational. Josephus helps enslave the Egyptians at the end of Genesis and at the opening of Exodus we find the Hebrews enslaved. I haven't seen Prometheus but maybe you should watch it again and see if there is any moral relationships playing out; sometimes God is there but just as he is here: mysteriously. If you take care judging the moral decisions of characters, and if there is truly a poetic justice taking place, then you can reasonably claim that such a film assumes an underlying moral law that is inevitable, irresistible and pierces into hearts for their motives. God is speculated upon by humans but exists very much irrelevant to it. The greatest stories always include this theme; the best have an awesome sense of poetic justice and it underlies the whole story, though so artfully as to be almost imperceptible.
A good and careful historian will even see this in history: St Augustine does a wonderful job explaining especially the reasons for the rise of Rome: he insists that God's hand is absolutely active in history and nothing escapes his notice and power.

Finally, a defense of marriage please Professor Feser.