Solving the problem of evil in the twenty-first century

The Decalogue

In 1989, Krzysztof Kieślowski directed ten, one-hour films that were aired on Polish television as one series known as The Decalogue. The highly acclaimed series represented the Ten Commandments with each film lining up with one commandment. The first movie, just entitled Decalogue I, delves into the first commandment,which states “I am the Lord thy God thou shalt have no other gods before me”.   Kieślowski’s representation of the first commandment is not through the worship of a literal god, but that of science and technology, a philosophy that one lives by and clings dearly to. In Decalogue I, Kieślowski explores the dangers of living only off facts and truths and how faith is a necessity in one’s life that can coexist with science.

In Decalogue I, Kieślowski looks at the story of a father, Krzysztof, whose intellect becomes a barrier between him and faith. He is a man who lives by science and computation. He finds it hard to believe in God because God cannot be seen or explained through science. For Christmas, he buys his son, Pawel a pair of new ice skates that Pawel wants to use on a nearby frozen lake. Excited, the father and son use a computer program to calculate whether or not it is safe for Pawel to skate on the ice. The computer says yes, pushing Pawel to go skate on the lake. However, the lake unexpectedly breaks and Pawel dies in the cold lake.

Before Pawel’s death, Irena, Pawel’s aunt, was a large part of Pawel’s life. She is a caring and loving figure and tells Pawel about God and faith. She tells Pawel that “your dad’s way of life may seem more reasonable, but it doesn’t rule out God” and that “God is very simple, if you have faith”. These end up being the things that Krzyszytof realizes after the death of his son. He comes to a sudden important realization that he was putting all his hope and faith in science and technology and that they had become a religion to him. His philosophy, he realizes, is flawed and that there are things in life that just cannot be explained purely through sciences. Krzysztof experiences a sort of redemption at the end as he is seen weak and stripped away from his philosophy.

Decalogue I is a modern representation of breaking the first commandment and how it could be something seemingly good such as science. Kieślowski shows, however, that when one only believes in and lives by science, it becomes a “god”. Kieślowski never says that technology is bad, but he does show a large pitfall of the intellectual community. Krzysztof’s own brain and intellect becomes a stumbling block for him as he cannot believe anything that he cannot see or logically deduce. Through Irena , Kieślowski shows that science and religion can coexist and that there is room for God in everyone. People have to make room for faith though – but sometimes God intervenes, even through tragedy, to help people move their stumbling blocks aside and create room.


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