In theological terms, the idea of predestination holds that god creates human beings with a specific destiny. Because god is all-knowing and all powerful, the theory goes, humans are traveling a path known and ordained by the creator. This applies not just to this life, but to the next. Of course, there are those who disagree. Lorenzo Dow, one of the key figures in the Second Great Awakening, once mocked Calvinist predestination theology as “damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” Dow, like many others, believed in free-will, which teaches that people have the ability to choose to follow the righteous path, and thus change both their temporal and eternal destiny. So which is it? Are we traveling a path that’s been laid out, or are we forging our own path?
This is just one of the questions that pops up when you see Predestination, the new sci-fi drama from Michael and Peter Spierig (billed together as The Spierig Brothers). I use the term “sci-fi drama” pointedly here because although it is billed as a thriller, and the advertisements showcase star Ethan Hawke with a gun, in fact Predestination is a more of a character study than a shoot ‘em up.