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When you exclude the moments that feel inappropriately filched from To The Wonder, I Origins' first half actually has more than a handful of really human, touching scenes. It's just a shame that they don't carry over, once the movie decides its about its message more than about its characters.

But even if the movie didn't have those problems, it would still struggle with a way more fundamental issue: I Origins sets up the conversation as Science vs. Faith. Ian is presented as a kind of logical positivist in the vein of Ayers or Russell. When asked why he doesn't believe in God, Ian says that you should have to disprove God, but that it should be the burden of believers to prove that he's there in the first place. "I believe in data points and facts," he says at one point (the dialog frequently being just about this tin-eared).

The movie lays out its thesis question late in the game, while Ian's speaking to an Indian woman who's helping him investigate his claim: "The Dali Lama said that if he encountered proof that his beliefs were incorrect," she says, "then he would change them. So what if you encounter proof that your beliefs are incorrect?"

The movie practically hinges here: is Ian going to adhere to his own quasi-Dawkinsian dogma, or will he be open-minded enough to accept the possibility of a spiritual reality?

To its credit, the movie doesn't frame science and faith as incompatible. But it does a fairly bad job of characterizing both science and faith. On the one hand, it's only the most rigid logical positivists (like Richard Dawkins or Bill Maher) who would argue that you need proof of something's existence for it to be a "real thing"—for instance, love, which plenty of non-believers would claim is something other than a bunch of chemicals in the brain.

And on the other hand, there's no sense of a coherent faith proffered in the movie. Sofi believes in a living statue, to some extent, and in reincarnation, and has a Zoroastrian logo hanging around her neck, but it's never clear what effect this belief has on her life, if any. It's just sort of there for Ian to disagree with or find childish, but it doesn't make her less afraid of death, and doesn't seem to make her stronger, or more independent. If anything, the faith presented in the movie is just an institutionalized irrationality—is not wanting to know anything about anything, because mysteries are sexy and exciting.

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I Origins