Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Scattered Thoughts on The Adjustment Bureau

If you haven't seen The Adjustment Bureau yet, that's okay, but don't read this. You really ought to watch the film since it's pretty good, pretty exciting, and quite thought provoking. Way too many people have written very thoughtful analyses of the film for me to attempt the same thing here, but I did have a few spoilery random thoughts about the movie:

1. I couldn't decide if The Chairman in this film was the god of Open Theism or Molinism. Maybe someone could spell it out for me. Either way he seemed quite to be completely in time, he most certainly did not possess absolutely foreknowledge, and he appeared quite adept at handling counterfactuals.

2. I couldn't help but think that the Chairman is exactly what modern Americans (and yes, many Christians today) think God is really like. They think that they are absolutely free and all that God can do is tweak things here and there and can do anything except mess with their free will.

3. I liked Thompson's statement that there is no free will, "only the appearance of free will." Depending on how you define free will, he's absolutely right. That's why you've got to get your definition of free will right from the very beginning. Within the film's framework, they were operating on the Libertarian definition of free will, as I understand it ("one is free if and only if one could have chosen otherwise"). A Compatiblist could not make Thompson's statement.

4. If I had been Thompson with my Calvinistic Compatiblism under my belt, I would have told Norris, "Who cares why you do what you do? Isn't the most important thing that you want to do it? We haven't stopped you from doing what you want to do so far, have we?"

5. I love (sarcastically speaking) how the immanence of the divine is so emphasized that we've all met the Chairman at some point as a he/she/it. The god of this movie is so immanent that there is almost no room for the deity to still be conceived of in transcendent terms. Hence, the movie ends with the Chairman completely writing a whole new plan (which will probably have to be discarded down the line...).

6. Americans will love this movie. Actually, correction: sinful human beings would love to think that the Chairman is really like he appears to be in this film. The god of this movie is in many churches around the world, and that makes me sad.

7. It's rare to see a film today tackle tricky subjects like free will and predestination, and for that, I do offer kudos to writer/director George Nolfi.

8. This doesn't have to do with the movie, but it does have to do with the trailer. I give the trailer for the movie a ten out of ten rating because it uses "Adagio in D Minor," which is my favorite musical piece in the history of the universe.

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