I Origins, which just debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, is out to make skeptics rethink spirituality.
The words “molecular biology thriller” don’t come up a lot when describing movies, but director Mike Cahill’s I Origins aims to be different. The film, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival this week, revolves around around the concept of ”irreducible complexity,” the argument put forth by proponents of intelligent design who believe some biological systems are too intricate to have evolved naturally. It’s not an easy concept to cram into a suspense thriller, but Cahill had a guiding principle: Make a movie compelling enough that even an evolutionary biologist or staunch atheist might stop and ponder.
In the film, a young molecular biology Ph.D. student named Ian Gray (Michael Pitt) is researching the development of the eyes — organs often cited by intelligent design proponents as examples of “irreducible complexity” – in an attempt to put the argument to rest forever. In the process, he discovers that eyes may not be the unique fingerprints we think they are, and may even have deeper and more ethereal purposes. The story is told from the perspective of Ian, a scientist and skeptic who was partly inspired by one of the most noted evolutionary biologists and staunch atheists in popular culture, The God Delusion author Richard Dawkins.
“I really got into Richard Dawkins [while making this movie] and kind of based the character off of him,” said Pitt. “If you could you convince Dawkins, then you will convince everybody. So we were setting up a really big challenge.”