Perhaps science fiction movies are always theological movies in disguise. The question “Are we alone in the universe?” sounds big, ponderous, and existential. But if we discover life on other planets, as a friend of mine opines, “We’ll just be alone with the Martians.” “Are we alone in the universe?” is always a question about God’s existence.

Interstellar shows this clearly. It’s a big, ponderous, self-important movie by Christopher Nolan, creator of the latest Batman films. While it falls short of its outsized ambitions, the movie still satisfies. And it does so by raising the question of a very modern god: technology. Modernity is marked by a trust that technology will allow us to master our universe and outlive mortal challenges. This film nearly jettisons this cheerful faith.

In the not too distant future, environmental ruin has made Earth nearly uninhabitable. The whole planet is one big dust bowl. Most crops won’t grow and the few that do are primed for blight. But NASA, or what is left of it, is on the case, secretly building a spacecraft to either transport human life off the planet or transplant fertilized eggs to some more livable locale. Here is modernist faith throwing one last Hail Mary pass. Did I mention that NASA calls this the Lazarus Project?