In part 1, I commented briefly on some of the beliefs expressed by characters in A Beautiful Mind:
- reductionism or materialism can be used to justify one’s urges
- beliefs don’t necessarily need to be grounded in science to be valid
- meaning and significance are found in relation to others
As viewers we follow John Nash through this transformation.
A comment about the production of the movie itself – the plot is loosely based on the story of John Nash, a Nobel-prize winning mathematician. Most Hollywood biopics tinker with events, characters and timing, to make a point or to give a story more dramatic flow or impact. A Beautiful Mind is no exception. Please consider these thoughts in relation to the movie characters and not necessarily to the actual persons.
Now we turn to Alicia, who is the primary transforming force in the story and is at times, mildly existentialist:
It’s called “life,” John. Activities available; just add meaning.
and angry at God:
Alicia: Guilt over wanting to leave…Rage…against John, against God, and…But…then I look at him…and I force myself to see the man that I married. And he becomes that man. He’s transformed into someone that I love. And I’m transformed into someone who loves him. It’s not all the time, but…it’s enough.
This is understandable. Putting it mildly, these are difficult times, and we find ourselves in these times from time to time as we seek meaning in the hard (or mundane) things of life. Alicia is, to her credit, honest and doesn’t allow her frustrations to dwell. At other times, Alicia asserts that God is responsible for beauty in the world:
Alicia: God must be a painter. Why else would we have so many colors?
Alicia perceives beauty in the appearance of light and within the context of the story it wouldn’t be too big a stretch to say the physics which govern it as well. Mathematicians and scientists see the world in a unique way – finding enjoyment and seeing beauty in nature, in the stars, in the patterns and laws which govern the physical world. Only a Nash could say any mathematical solution is elegant. Only they could see nothing wrong in developing a mathematical description for a mugging.
The fact that we can describe the phenomena and their relationships within the universe through the laws of physics and expressing these interactions precisely in a language – mathematics – is indicative of an ordered, rationally intelligible universe. One we would not expect to appear by chance – less so, one in which we humans could live in order to make these very observations. Nor must the laws of this universe exist by the necessity of it’s own nature. In other words, the universe didn’t need this particular configuration.
The scientific minds in A Beautiful Mind have room for God in their thinking and appreciate his handiwork, but their foundation for their worth is slightly misplaced. If God exists and he created us for his purposes, our lives are already imbued with meaning and significance and worth.
“…you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” Revelation 4:11
We don’t need to create our own meaning. We don’t need to rely on achievements or success for our worth as humans, though those things may be good. What we do already matters. If there is a god, everything matters and we ought to be properly related to him – Christianity claims we do this through Jesus. Our very reason for being, and that which we perceive as beautiful, find their source in the mind of God. The Most Beautiful Mind.
Recommended resource – God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?, John C. Lennox