One of the toughest parts of selling the conservative message is that so often we’re for what we’re also against. For instance, I oppose racism as being anti-American and anti-God. But I also oppose the abuse of racist accusations to curtail speech and to silence opposition to statist solutions. Like Ronald Reagan, I’m in favor of a government safety net for our citizens who are in financial trouble and need help becoming self-sufficient. But I oppose buying off citizens with entitlements in order to continually increase the power of the government.
And, of course, like every thinking person, I’d like to keep our air and water clean and want all of us to use the earth with conscious care. But I despise the fear-mongering, small-minded primitivism of modern environmentalism and its superstitious juju nonsense about evil oil, “climate change” and diminishing resources.
Which is why I so enjoyed The Martian, the engrossing and moving new adventure film starring Matt Damon and based on the nerdy-but-exciting novel by Andy Weir. Whatever the intentions of the author and the filmmaker, the message of this story is clear: There is nothing man can’t achieve if he is willing to “science the s*** out of it.” And as director Ridley Scott and screenwriter Drew Goddard also show: faith in God underlies our faith in ourselves because it affirms the ultimate logic of nature. That is, things don’t just happen, they happen in an orderly way, and so we can figure them out. As astronaut Mark Watney (Damon) tells Jesus (playing Himself): “I’m counting on you.”
The Martian‘s message is the same as the message of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar: “Mankind was born on earth. It was never meant to die there.”
We’ve always defined ourselves by the ability to overcome the impossible. And we count these moments. These moments when we dare to aim higher, to break barriers, to reach for the stars, to make the unknown known. We count these moments as our proudest achievements. But we lost all that. Or perhaps we’ve just forgotten that we are still pioneers. And we’ve barely begun. And that our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us, because our destiny lies above us.
But The Martian is far more successful as a film than Interstellar because the intellectual Nolan hasn’t yet overcome his need to tell us what to think whereas Ridley Scott understands he just has to tell the story and keep us entertained. Whatever themes a story has will explore and explain themselves. You can’t walk out of The Martian without feeling — without knowing: The stars are ours for the taking. The future lies — not in the dreamy backward illogic of primitivistic left-wing pap like Avatar — but in the science and faith that take us deeper and deeper into the universe and closer and closer to the truth which is our destiny.