160122fifthwaveposterAt first glance, the newly released sci-fi thriller “The 5th Wave” looks like just another teeny-bopper action/romance flick.

And for the most part, the film, based on Rick Yancey’s New York Times bestselling novel of the same name, is exactly that – except that when it does take a turn for the philosophical, it makes an argument for the existence of God.

The movie posits an invasion of Earth by aliens determined to exterminate the human race. A series of attacks or “waves” kill millions, first by EMP, then by flood, then by disease, and so on. Poor humanity is down to a few, straggling survivors.

The movie then focuses on the fifth wave, as 16-year-old survivor Cassie Sullivan tries to protect her little brother, Sammy, from the latest alien attack.

The movie’s action is reasonably entertaining, and it pulls the heartstrings pretty hard, but like most movies of this genre, the absence of meaningful adult characters and the all-too-obvious reality that all the young people are unrealistically Hollywood gorgeous does pigeonhole the movie as squarely for teens only. Then when the syrupy romance kicks in … yeah, it’s like that.

“The 5th Wave” is a decent movie for the genre, but the romance is rushed, and the ending left quite a bit to be desired.

Yet a key conversation in the film is noteworthy because it plants a major seed of doubt in the prevalent, naturalist worldview of our time. Bolstered by the theory of evolution, this worldview suggests the natural universe is all there is and whatever emotions or instincts we feel are merely a product of that evolution. There’s no room for the supernatural, and without the ability to put Him in a test tube, there’s no room for God, either.

But still, there’s something deep inside us that rejects this notion. Something that wants to believe in purpose, in design, in things – like love – that are greater than evolutionary leftovers.

“The 5th Wave” brings that latter point home in a conversation with an alien who has found something he never expected to find: love.

“Our kind believe love is just a trick,” the alien says. “A way to protect your genetic future.”

“Do you really believe that?” the alien is asked.

“Love’s not a trick,” the alien concludes. “It’s real.”

But the conversation begs the question: If love isn’t just a trick played on us by our evolutionary past to push us into the procreation of our species, if it isn’t just a firing of electric sparks and hormones – if “it’s real,” as the movie says – where does this “real” supernatural thing come from if the supernatural is not real?

The reality is, every time you say, “I love you,” you argue something more than the natural is real. In fact, you make an argument for God.

“For what can be known about God is plain. … His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:19-20).

“God is love” (1 John 4:8).

Content advisory:

  • “The 5th Wave,” rated PG-13, contains just fewer than 30 profanities and obscenities, most of which are completely unnecessary and distract from the film.
  • The film contains some minor sexuality, including some discussion of sex, lewd comments, a few shots of the actress’ bare legs in her skivvies, and the hunk of the film bathing in a lake, shirtless. There are also some passionate kisses which may or may not imply off-screen sex.
  • The film contains a fair amount of violence, including gun fights, hand-to-hand combat, explosions and implied deaths. A character suffers a potentially fatal gunshot wound, which bleeds profusely, and several characters remove bloody tracking chips implanted under their skin. Otherwise, however, there is a deliberately absent amount of blood and gore. The film needs violence to press the story forward, but it doesn’t revel in it.
  • The movie contains no overt occult elements and two deliberate references to Christianity, in addition to the themes mentioned above: First, an innocent character is killed while clutching a crucifix, illustrating the loss of humanity after the alien attacks; and second, 1 Corinthians 13:11 is quoted in its entirety (“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways”), but it’s in the context of a man teaching children to “grow up” and become soldiers.

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