Movie Review: Cosmic Origins


Got atheists friends or family? The stellar new DVD Cosmic Origins might help. In this film, some of today’s top scientists (many award-winning) weigh in on the mysterious origins of our universe. Old and new cosmological theories are presented, leading up to the possibility of an “intelligent Designer.” But the film, being mostly a scientific exploration and explanation piece, doesn’t harp on “intelligent design,” which, as Cardinal George tells us, belongs more to the realm of philosophy rather than either science or religion. Rather, physics is juxtaposed with a brief consideration of metaphysics. The tone in this film is one of informative scientific updating geared to the layperson and the message is conveyed without talking down to viewers. One does not feel bamboozled or railroaded by a sudden attack of “religious thought.” Instead, Jesuit priest Robert Spitzer (Magis Institute for Faith & Reason) introduces the concept of a harmonious relationship between science and belief at the conclusion of the film.

The format is diverse: footage of the universe, graphics, interviews, more than one live host, man-in-the-street opinions, etc. Cosmic Origins never lags, but there is a conspicuous presence of young adults, especially in the personalized but contrived man-in-the-street scenes. Yet with atheism and “unaffiliated” as the fastest growing religions categories among young adults, and the New Atheism movement proselytizing young minds and hearts, this might not be a bad thing.

Carl Sagan wanted the average person to be informed about science and was frustrated by what he deemed Americans’ “celebration of ignorance,” and famous atheist, Richard Dawkins, who held the position of Oxford’s Professor of Public Understanding of Science from 1995 to 2008, pushed his viewpoint often. It seems some scientists think that everyone must understand how the universe works and want to know the scientific explanation of the origins of the universe.

But it can be argued that the average person does not need to know these things to flourish. The universal longing for love, meaning, fulfillment, self-understanding, and a connection with others often trumps the desire for and acquisition of functional knowledge. But a curiosity about God’s astounding creation is still healthy for believers.

Also, we all have our own specialties. Does Dawkins know what a mechanic knows? Can he fix his own car? Sometimes, scientists have a kind of hubris, demanding that everyone bow down to science as the most important thing on earth.

For more information on this new film and screening packages go to:



About Author

Sr. Helena Burns, fsp, is a member of the Daughters of St. Paul, an international congregation founded to communicate God's Word through the media. She is finishing her M.A. in Media Literacy Education; has a B.A. in theology and philosophy from St. John's University, NYC; studied screenwriting at UCLA and Act One, Hollywood; and holds a Certificate in Pastoral Youth Ministry. She is the movie reviewer for “The Catholic New World,” Chicago’s Archdiocesan newspaper. She is currently writing and producing a documentary on the life of Blessed James Alberione: Sr. Helena has been giving Media Literacy and Theology of the Body workshops to youth and adults all over the U.S. and Canada since the 90’s, and believes that media can be a primary tool for sharing God's love and salvation. Sr. Helena Burns, fsp Pauline Books & Media 172 N. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60601 facebook: Helena Burns twitter: @SrHelenaBurns

  • noelfitz

    “But a curiosity about God’s
    astounding creation is still healthy for believers”. I agree with this.
    According to Aristotle humans naturally desire to know, and St Thomas Aquinas agreed
    with this, even though Plato and Augustine seemed to think curiosity about the
    nature of things was not such a good idea.

    In the old days it was believed that the
    person who studied the nature of things was blessed. Our civilization today is
    based on knowledge and searching for it is one of our best aims. After all we cannot love what he do not know.