Life of Pi and Belief in God

Last night I saw the academy-award-winning film, Life of Pi. I don’t want to spoil this intriguing movie for anyone who has not seen it, but I do want to invite comments about its theological implications.

At one crucial point, the protagonist says to the fellow who’s been interviewing him, “And so it goes with God.” (Some moviegoers hear, “And so it is with God.”)

Without giving away details of the story, if you have seen the film how do you interpret that statement?

I would prefer to limit this conversation to comments on the film rather than bringing in what the book says. The book and the film are two separate artistic works, and our discussion might become muddled if we bring in data from both of them.

Roger Christan Schriner

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4 thoughts on “Life of Pi and Belief in God

  1. I feel that the film is asking us to see religion as a story we tell ourselves to accept a reality we don’t want to accept.

  2. I understand your point about not wanting to confuse the artistic aims of the novel and the film, and I do not intend to, it’s just that I do not recall if the film begins with the author being told of the story as one that will make him believe in God? It is in the book, I just do not recall if it is the film. If it is you can disregard the preceding.

    Anyway, the story progresses with that prediction and you assume the idea is that the story is so fantastical and unlikely it you will struggle to believe it could have occurred without divine intervention.

    But then it ends with Pi offering an alternative story, one that seems far more likely and also more disturbing, and asking which the author prefers. The author prefers the less likely, less disturbing one and this precedes the “And so it goes with God” comment.

    I think this means that rather than the story making you believe in God, it attempts to explain religious storytelling (or God’s storytelling if you prefer) – extolling hope and higher human qualities at the expense of factual history and the what that may tells us of the truth of the human condition – and suggesting by the author’s preference that most people prefer it that way, perhaps attempting to explain people’s openness to supernatural intervention if it makes it easier for them to hope and deal with harsh realities. A bit like how Milton wrote Paradise Lost with the aim of explaining God’s ways to man.

    For full disclosure – I do not believe in God.

  3. There are realities beyond our ability to describe them. How in words could Pi better tell the story?

    We can never reach the end of describing Pi by numbers, but in one glimpse we see the circle and its relations.

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