Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Revised Book Review: The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking

Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest minds in the world, published a new book called "The Grand Design" last September. In which he claimed to have answers to 3 major questions that have troubled the human race for thousands of years:

1) Why is there something instead of nothing?

2) Why do we exist?

3) Why does this particular set of laws govern our universe and not some other set?

Hawking also promised that the answer he gives to the question of "What is the ultimate meaning of life, universe and everything" will not be "42", as in "Hitcherhiker's guide to the galaxy"..

Being somewhat an admirer of Stephen Hawking, I wanted to read this book the moment it came out. However, it was impossible to find this book in Australia until earlier this year. I finally read an on-line copy the other day, and I eagerly consumed the book in two days of reading.

Due to the nature of this book, and the extensive information and discussion that could arise from this topic, this review is longer than usual. Therefore I sectioned the main body into two parts: The first part is concerned with the description of the book itself. The second part is the reflection and my take on Professor Hawking's ideas presented in this book.

Part I: Description of the book.

In the spirit of Hawking's other popular science book, "a brief history of time", Hawking retained his style of explaining scientific theories and laws of physics without the use of mathematical equations. The entire book is constructed in a way for Hawking's argument that M-theory, is the candidate for the unified theory that Einstein was looking for to answer all our questions about everything.

Here is the run-down of the book's structure:

In the beginning of the book, Hawking argued that everything, including the universe is governed by laws of physics, to back up his view, Hawking invoked the argument from scientific determinism. In which he further claimed that we, as human beings don't really have free will, and everything about us is like the rest of our environment, governed by the laws of physics. Therefore, the traditional views that a supernatural being (or God) is constantly intervening with the universe is proven false, because if the universe is governed by a set of physicals laws, then the will of God is not necessary. Therefore, everything can be explained scientifically because they are all predictable. For example, we can predict gravity through the study of gravitational forces, and to predict the human behaviour will belong to the science of psychology.

Having established his arguments that everything is governed by the laws of physics. Hawking moved on to discuss the history of the progression on scientific knowledge. From the Ionian Greeks view of determinism, to Copernicus and Galileo's model that earth is not at the centre of the universe, to Newton's law of gravity, Einstein's special and general relativity, Edwin Hubble's observation of the expanding universe, the Big Bang theory, and all the way up to quantum mechanics, and string theory. This is a very good summary of the development of physics in the last three thousand or so years.

The next few sections focused on quantum mechanics, where Hawking discussed how a historical event, is the sum of all the probabilities that could happen until the fruitation the event. He illustrated this by quoting the "sum over histories" method used by Richard Freynman, this section was quite difficult to grasp. With this background, Hawking started to talk about the central theme of the book, which is to combine quantum mechanics with general relativity to give us an deeper understanding of how our universe was formed and shaped, at the same time Hawking introduced the concept of "model-dependant-reality", which he claimed is a framework to interpret modern science. The central theme of his argument here is that, by combining the general relativity and quantum mechanics, there arise the contender for the theory of everything, which is the string theory. However, Hawking claimed that the M-theory, by uniting all 5 string theories is the ultimate "theory of everything".

As Hawking claimed, the consequences of his argument are: More than one universe exist. Our universe is simply one that co-exist with many other universes that were created by itself out of nothing because of a law such as gravity. Furthermore, Hawking stated that because of the multi-universe theory, there could be billions of universes out there with their unique set of physical laws. Therefore, a universe with "seemingly" fine tuned physical laws that allows life to exist (see anthropic principle) is not a statistical miracle. Actually, Hawking's title for the chapter is "the apparent miracle".

In the last chapter of the book, Hawking talked about his idea of "the grand design", which is his belief that M-theory is the theory of everything that we have been looking for. As a result, everything can be explained scientifically without the inclusion of a super natural being. To simply put it, Hawking is saying that 1) Because multiple universe can exist, therefore it is not a miracle that our universe can exist with the ability to harbour life, and 2) Because of the law of gravity, the universe can create itself out of nothing (quoting Hawking) without God to light the blue torch to start everything, he illustrated this view by using an example of Game of Life (of which I became fairly lost as I read his discussion of this example.) From what I understood in this section, Hawking's argument is that, given an initial condition in the Game of Life, the experiment shows that intelligent life, or structures and environment can manifest itself through an evolutionary process. The book concluded with Hawking stating that M-theory is the Grand Design we have been looking for.

Part II: My thoughts after reading this book

As a enthusiast of physics, I admire Hawking's work and his brilliant mind. However, as a Christian, I found Professor Hawking didn't really provide the answers to the 3 questions that he promised to solve in this book. First of all, I was a bit disappointed with his new book, as he seemed to have changed his tone from that of a humble and passionate physicist, on a journey to discover the mysteries behind the mechanisms of the universe in "a brief history of time" to a more condescending manner in "the grand design". As he stated at the opening chapter of the book, Hawking claimed that "philosophy is dead", he explained because philosophy cannot keep up with the development in modern science, so it has no further roles in any department in science. Personally, I think his statement that "philosophy is dead" is ironic because the statement itself is a deeply philosophical one.

After reading this book, I still don't think Hawking has an explanation of how/why something can come out of nothing, and he certainly cannot answer the question of: Why are we here?

I have 3 main objections regarding Hawking's arguments which he presented in this book:

A) As Hawking is fully aware of, oscillatory universe and multiverse theory cannot be tested, and are not falsifiable theories. Furthermore, while its mathematical model might work on paper, but no one has ever observed the existence of other universe either than our own, never mind the phenomenon that our universe floats on a membrane alongside others. We all know that just because the theory predicts a certain result doesn't mean that the result will match reality. For example, in theoretical aerodynamics, the graph (drag polar) that predicts the coefficient of drag of a moving object in earth atmosphere shoot up to infinity as the velocity reaches the speed of sound (Mach 1). While in reality, we can travel at the speed that is faster than sound in the earth atmosphere (just look at Concord, SR-71 etc..). This is a perfect example that even if mathematics tell us the theory predicts a certain result on paper, while the problem is not with the mathematics, but simply because sometimes the reality might not be the same as we thought it was. There are times we have to develop new theories based on experimental data. In science, until a scientific proposition has passed the falsifiable test, a proposition cannot be treated as having the same credibility as falsifiable physical laws and theories such as special/general theory of relativity, law of gravity, Ohm's law, theory of lift, laws of thermodynamics etc..

This means if we examine the hypothesis with integrity. The multiverse theory, should be at the same level (in terms of credibility) with anthropic principles [1], which support the fine tuned universe argument. While some criticize both weak and strong anthropic principles for being philosophical arguments rather than scientific propositions. The multiverse and the theory of oscillatory universe, are not falsifiable (these theories cannot be tested and have no predicative power) and therefore belongs to the same category as anthropic principles, both are hypothetical propositions.

Perhaps the stronger argument against the naturalistic view of the origin of our universe, can be constructed by discussion on the seemingly fine tuned cosmological constants, such as cosmological constants discussed in Martin Ree's book, "Just Six Numbers" [2], where Ree provided some intriguing discussions on the six fundamental, cosmological constants, and the consequences of how the universe wouldn't be fit for the existence of life should these constants are different to what they are, by even a tiny fraction. These cosmological constants, are physical parameters whose values have been accredited in the field of physics.

I will give brief summaries for each of these six cosmological constants:

1)The ratio between the magnetic forces that holds the atom together, divided by the force of gravity, is 10E36. This number is denoted by "N". If this number is smaller by a tiny fraction. Say, 10E35 or 10E34, then only a very short lived universe can exist. Not only that, no creatures could grow larger than insects, and there will be no time for biological evolution to take place.

2) The number Є, with the value of 0.007. The number defines how firmly atomic nuclei bind together, and dictates how atoms on earth were made. This value, controls the power from the sun, and also controls how stars transmute hydrogen into all the atoms on the periodic table. This means if Є is 0.006 or 0.008, we cannot exist because either the universe will be filled too many lighter elements such as carbon and oxygen, or it will be filled with too many heavier elements such as uranium and gold. Because Є is 0.007, the universe is filled with "just" the right ratio of elements that allows life to form.

3) The third number is Omega Ω. This is the number that measures the amount of materials in our universe, such dark matter, galaxies etc.. If this number is too high relative to a particular critical value, then the universe would have collapsed long ago. On the other hand, if this value is too low, then no galaxies could have been formed. Because this number is fine tuned to the value that it has, it sets the initial expansion rate of the universe to the way that gives rise to our universe, stars, galaxies, that are suited for the evolution of biological life.

4) The fourth number is lambda λ. This represents the cosmic anti-gravity, and it dictates the expansion rate of our universe. This is going to become more dominant over gravity as our universe gradually becomes darker and emptier. The surprising thing is, this number is very small, otherwise it would have prevented galaxies and stars from forming, and will disable the cosmic evolution of our universe before it could ever being.

5) The fifth number, is the number Q. This is the ratio that represents the two fundamental energies, and has the value of 10E-5. If Q was smaller, the universe would have been inert and be devoid of any structure. If Q was larger, than the universe would be a violent place, with black holes everywhere, and no stars nor galaxies can survive.

6) The sixth number, is actually a very well known constant. This is the number that represents the spatial dimension, D (in mathemaics, you probably know them from co-ordinates system as x,y and z). This number is 3, life couldn't have existed if D was 2 or 4. Although time is the fourth dimension, but time is different from the spatial dimensions in that it has a built in arrow (the arrow of time). Meaning that we can only move towards the future, and not backward. While in spatial dimension (3D), we can move both directions on these dimensions (this should be common sense). Imagine if D was equal to 2, is it possible for life to exist if life is in 2D? What if D is equal to 5? What would that kind of universe be and can life exist?

At this point, we can decide either that:

a) the cosmological constants have the strict requirement because they are fine tuned, and so allowing the universe to evolve into the state (and continuously existing) where carbon based life forms can evolve and exist,


b)because there are multiple universe that co-exist with our universe (which we cannot observe), therefore these cosmological constants are only "seemingly" fine tuned, but are not statistical miracles because if there are billions or trillions of universes out there (which we cannot observe), then our universe can have these strict values for the cosmological constants by naturalistic causes through random statistical distribution, which allows the evolution and formation of our universe to host and sustain life.

Which argument is more probable? We can solve this by applying Occam's Razor. In a), we are making one assumption, and that is the constants are fine tuned. In b), we are making two assumptions. The first assumption is that the not falsifiable theory of multiverse is correct, the second assumption is that, there are infinite parallel universes instead of one million or one trillion parallel universes, where random statistical distribution can give rise to cosmological constants with strict values that allow everything to be the way it is in our universe. Needless to say, the statistical probabilities that these cosmological constants can take on the values they are in our universe, is heavily influenced by the first assumption, the multiverse theory. The probability that these constants arrived by random statistical distribution will reduce dramatically if there are one million parallel universes instead of a trillion or infinite parallel universes, what if there are only 4 parallel universes? What will the statistical probability be like then? (because we cannot observe parallel universes, so even if multiverse theory is correct, who knows how many parallel universes are out there?). It is only fair to say that the assertion that there are infinite parallel universes in the multiverse theory, giving rise to random statistical distribution to generate these cosmological constants to have the values they have in our universe, is the second assumption made in argument b).

By applying Occam's Razor, when selecting the more probably hypothetical proposition, whichever hypothesis make the least number of assumption must be the right one. Therefore, according to this method, the fine tuned argument presented in a) is the more probably hypothesis. Note that this result takes us to the weak anthropic principle.

The anthropic cosmological principles and the appearance of fine tuned cosmological constants have been frequently cited in some well known apologetic literature on the topic of religion vs. Science, written by renouned scientists such as Francis Collins [3], and Kenneth R. Miller [4], and have appeared in various Christian apologetic literature [5-7].

If one takes into account the evidence of the cosmological constants for the comparison between anthropic principles against the multiverse and the oscillatory universe theory. By using Occam's Razor, it is not difficult to deduce that , the evidence from the cosmological constants are actually more in favor for the argument of fine tuned universe than the argument for the naturalistic origin of the universe.

I am not saying that the evidence from the fine tuned properties of cosmological constants can be some sort of Deus Ex Machina to end the debate on the existence of God (I think the evidence for the Christian God should be a different discussion, a discussion more focused on history rather than science). However, I do think the fine tuned cosmological constants should raise a thought provoking question: "why" are the cosmological constants fine tuned? If these cosmological constants are fine tuned to give rise to a fine tuned universe that can host and sustain life, then what is the purpose for existence?

B) In Hawking's example of Game of Life, which is a two-dimensional universe, he argued that with certain pre-existing laws, a universe can create itself progressively, even as far as manifesting intelligent life forms. He went on to say that in our universe, because of gravity, the universe can create itself spontaneously out of nothing, without someone (or something) to initiate the process. The problem to this argument is, even if we suppose that he is right, another question will arise as why and how does gravity came into existence? One needs to understand that nothingness, in its true sense should be devoid of everything including the laws of physics such as gravity. Therefore, something (or someone) must have happened that brings a law such as gravity into existence. Hawking has no explanation for the existence of gravity in this book.

C) Hawking's argument on scientific determinism that applies to human is not an agreeable one. Let me use one simple example, if all human thoughts and actions are governed by a set of physical laws, and therefore predictable by science. Then why is it that we haven't been able to make scientific predictions of ourselves by using these "physical laws", to minimise human tragedies in our daily lives? For example, why can't we minimise divorce rate, suicide rate, homicide rate, crime rate and so on and so forth? Do physical laws really govern the way we think and act? Maybe to a certain degree but definitely not entirely. The answer is in the Bible.

The Grand design, when viewed as a scientific hypothesis, is an interesting read. However, in terms of its ambition to answer the big questions in life, it failed to deliver. Why is there something instead of nothing? Why are we here? After reading this book, I think the answers provided in this book are as clear the answer of "42" from Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy. Furthermore, it still can't answer the question of "who are we and why are we here?" Hawking did not realize that he cannot substitute the metaphysical with the physical, it won't work because creation is more than just physical laws, and we are here with meaning and purpose. Science, is a tool for us to understand how things were made, not why were things made.

Final verdict: 3/5 - This book is not very easy to read, as some of the illustrations and discussions are quite difficult to comprehend. However, Hawking managed to explain the most complex physics theories without using a single mathematical equation, and made it accessible to the general public. An interesting read for all if you are willing to approach it with an open mind and ready to flex your brain muscles. At the same time, this is an ambitious book attempting to answer the big questions of life purely from scientific perspective, yet falls short on delivering meaningful answers. If you want to know the purpose of the real "Grand Design", try the Bible instead!


[1] John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. 1988, Oxford Press.

[2] Martin J. Rees, Just Six Numbers: the deep forces that shaped the universe. 2000, Basic books.

[3]Francis S. Collins, The language of God: a scientist presents evidence for belief. 2007, Free Press.

[4] Kenneth R. Miller, Finding Darwin's God: A scientists search for common ground between God and evolution. 2007, Harper Collins.

[5] Dinesh D'Souza, What's so great about Christianity. 2009, Tyndale House Publishers.

[6] Tim Keller, The Reason for God. 2008, Hodder & Stoughton.

[7] William Lane Craig, Quentin Smith, Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology, 1995, Clarendon Press.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Book Review: The Complete Conan of Cimmeria Volume 1-3 - published by Wandering Star

"Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars - Nemedia, Ophir, Brythunia, Hyberborea, Zamora with its dark-haired women and towers of spider-haunted mystery, Zingara with its chivalry, Koth that bordered on the pastoral lands of Shem, Stygia with its shadow-guarded tombs, Hyrkania whose riders wore steel and silk and gold. But the proudest kingdom of the world was Aquilonia, reigning supreme in the dreaming west. Hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet."

Welcome to the world of the Hyborian Age, a pseudo-historical world that existed 15,000 years ago, created by American Author Robert E. Howard. Howard, who lived between 1906-1936, if you do the Maths, you can see that he only lived up to the age of 30. During his short life, and even shorter life as a writer, Robert E. Howard has wrote numerous amount of stories, and have crafted some of the most unforgettable and immortal characters ever to embrace the world of fantasy literature. Such as Bran Mak Morn, Solomon Kane, Kull of Atlantis, and most importantly, Conan the Cimmerian (aka Conan the Barbarian). The paragraph I quoted above is actually the opening of the first Conan story written by Robert E. Howard in 1932. As you can see, this writing shows how good Howard is in his craft as a writer. As you read the narration, not only was Howard able to pain pictures of the Hyborian age into your mind with a few words, but you also get the feeling that he is about to tell you something epic and mystical, tales from an age long forgotten and has just been unearthed.

Robert E. Howard is my most favourite author. His writing is full of energy, and he is able to paint pictures in my mind with whatever scenery he is trying to describe. His writings, although prose in style but always inspire the feeling of poetry in the way he constructed the sentences. Howard suffered from clinical depression for most of his life, and at the age of 30, he committed suicide. Yet his greatest creation, Conan the Cimmerian has survived and whose popularity is ever increaseing more than 70 years after his death. As the famous author Stephen King remarked "Howard was the Thomas Wolfe of Fantasy, and most of his Conan tales seem to almost fall over themselves in their need to get out." King also said "Howard's writing seems so highly charged with energy that it nearly gives off sparks." Howard will be remembered as the founding father of the sword and sorcery genre.

In March last year, after seeing the advert for Wandering Star's Complete Conan of Cimmeria collection, I decided to purchase all 3 volumes. These collections costed me a fortune, and my wallet shrank as if air flew out of a formerly full balloon. This set of books was the most expensive books I have ever purchased, and I was unsure about my decision at the start. The books were shipped from the UK, weighting 5kg in total and packed in a big paper box. The complete set contains all 21 short stories and some fragment writings about Conan, written during Howard's life time between 1932-1936. These stories are unabridged and are arranged in the order according to their original publication date. Needless to say, this is Conan as Howard intended him to be, before Marvel's make over to turn Conan into a popular figure in comic books, and before Arnold's portrayal in the 1982 movie Conan the Barbarian (which is not even closely related to any of Howard's Conan stories.)

Each volume is illustrated by a different artist, amount to hundreds of beautiful illustrations alongside the texts. Some are colour paintings, while some are black and white drawings. Only 1950 copies are printed for each volume world wide, and are signed by the artists who did the illustrations. One can say that these books will one day worth a lot more than they are at the present. On ebay, the average price is currently 240~250 US dollars per volume. Each of the books is hardcovered, with a dust jacket and a slipcase. All in all, these three books are gorgeously crafted and definitely worthy of collection in one's personal library (especially if you are a fan of Howard.)

Unlike my other reviews on this blog, I will not review the stories of Conan and discuss the content in detail, as I have already done so with another book review on "The Complete Chronicles of Conan" from last year. However, I often ponder on the possibility that if Howard had lived past 30 years of age, what contribution could he have brought to the world of fantasy fiction, and to literature in general? I dare say that Howard would have surpassed the achievement of J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis with his energetic, beautiful writing and the ability to tell great stories.

Because of the way Howard wrote Conan, sometimes I wonder if Howard was not inventing a new character, but merely chronicling the adventures of a legendary wanderer long forgotten in the sand of time.. an elemental, ferocious barbarian who travelled the ancient world full of mysteries and wonders that no longer exist. Untamed by the civilization and free from its culture of pretentiousness, always working for his own gain yet never betrayed his own code of honor and principles no matter how difficult the situation is. It is the barbaric and primal honesty, elemental fury, stoic and resilient attitude that outlines Conan's character, and it is with these characteristics that defines Conan as one of the greatest fiction characters that has ever being created alongside Tarzan, James Bond and Sherlock Holmes. As author Raymond E. Feist remarked about Robert E. Howard's Conan "A hero of mythic proportion, fashioned by a storyteller who helped define what modern fantasy should be."

So is this set worth 700 dollars from my bank account? Every cent of it!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Movie Review: Doomsday

There are numerous movies with post-apocalyptic settings. Such as Independence day, 2012, day after tomorrow, 28 days later.. the list goes on. Doomsday, is a 2008 British sci-fi movie, set in futuristic Scotland. I guess I will say right at the start of this review that, if you can, avoid this movie at all cost, because it is probably one of the most boring and disgusting movies I've ever encountered!

The movie is pretty much a rip off of 28 days later. The story of Doomsday goes like this: In the future, a deadly virus outbreak in Scotland caused most of its inhabitants to die, there is no cure for this virus. As a preventive measure to stop the virus from spreading into the rest of the country, the British government decided to build a massive wall that segregate Scotland from the rest of the UK. Leaving all the inhabitants to die. The main Protagonist in the movie was a little girl who made it pass the wall just before they closed the wall off, all citizens in Scotland were presumed dead. 20 years later, the deadly virus was found again in London, and through satellite images, the government found survivors in Scotland, so they thought the survivors in Scotland must have found the cure. The government sent a team of special force agents into Scotland, the goal was to investigate and attempt to obtain the cure, lead by the main Protagonist. As the team made their journey to discover the mystery, a series of shocking events unfold...

So here you have it, a standard sci-fi story with inspirations from 28 days later. It would have been an average film, but there are so many things in this film that made it really bad. Firstly, there was a 5 minutes scene of cannibalism, where the camera showed a man being roasted alive, and then a bunch of savages started to cut, tear and eat flesh from the charcoaled corpse, all depicted in painstakingly great detail. It was really revolting, I remember I was sitting on my couch eating dinner when I watched this, and I almost vomited. Secondly, despite all the actions, this movie is terribly boring, as the plot unfolds it becomes more and more ridiculous and makes no sense. Thirdly, there is just too much unnecessary violence in this film, it's almost as if the director derives joy from torturing the audiences with overwhelming scenes of decapitated head, flying limbs and splattering of blood on the screen. Fourthly, there is nothing to think about after you watched the movie, all you get is a sick feeling in the stomach from the overdose of unrealistic blood and gore.

I think you get the picture now..


Story 1/5 - The story is a rip off of 28 days later, but at the same time it is so boring, sickening, flat and all in all uninteresting. Heck, they even use the soundtrack from 28 days later. Personally, I could not see any thing worth reflecting about from the story.

Cinematography 3/5 - In terms of colour and contrast, the cinematography is all right in this film. However, in terms of blood and gore, it is way over the top and extremely graphical.

Sound 2/5 - The sound effect is quite good, the volume for the dialogues are crisp, sharp and easy to listen to, but using a soundtrack from 28 days later? I mean, come on, they could have been more original than that!

Violence Extreme - To summarise the level of violence and gore in this film: I felt like becoming a vegetarian for a week after I endured this 2 hours long visual torture.

Sex/nudity medium - there was a frontal nude scene of a woman at the beginning of the film and that is all.

Final verdict 2/10 - Personally, I really think this is one of the worst movies I've seen in years. It will be on my chart as one of the worst movies ever made, just after John Travelta's Battlefield Earth and Edwood's plan 9 from outer space. Yep, it is that bad! There is just nothing in this film that can redeem itself from being horrendous and ridiculous. Strongly NOT RECOMMENDED.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Movie Review: The Book of Eli

Imagine this, it is the post apocalyptic world. Most of the books/records about our past and history have been destroyed, it is a Godless society and most people are illiterate. However, you have the last copy of the Bible and you are a Christian!

This, is the setting for the Huges brother's 2010 post-apocalyptic action film, Book of Eli, starring Denzel Washington. Set in the futuristic post apocalyptic world, Denzel Washington plays the character of Eli, who is said to have heard God's voice, telling him to bring the last copy of the Bible in the apocalyptic world to a safe location on the west coast of USA. In the post-apocalyptic world, morality amongst people is practically non-existent, the society is extremly depraved, and most people can't read because most of the books were destroyed during the apocalyptic event. Eli travels on foot, and on his journey he demonstrated unparalleled survival and fighting skills. He arrived at a town where the main villain of the movie Carnegie (Gary Oldman) is trying to collect certain books where he thinks he can use to control people's minds and therefore, bring him power. After Carnegie found out that Eli has the last copy of the Bible, he went out of his way to try and take the Bible from Eli so he can use it, twist the words to bring power to himself. Without spoiling too much of the film, this is basically the plot of this movie. Quite interesting and original.

I don't think this is a Christian movie, but this is a movie that contains a lot of Christian values. For example, there is a scene in the movie where Eli realized that although he knows the Bible text by inside out, but he doesn't really put the words of God to practice and he needs to change his ways, and he taught a girl who can't read how to pray. Another theme is that Eli shows a lot of perseverance, he trusts that God will deliver and provide for him not matter what the situation is like in his whole journey. Also, the final narration of Eli at the end of the movie is really moving and really shows that Eli is a Godly man who serve the Lord whole heartedly. I was really surprised that such a movie came from Hollywood production, and I really enjoyed the film.

Final verdict:

Story 8/10 - The story is straight forward, but it is very original and contains great Christian themes, where Eli's character shows that he loves God with everything he has, and also the theme of how important it is that Christians should put the words of God into daily lives, instead of just treating it as an academic, intellectual exercise.

Cinematography 7/10 - The environments and design of the post-apocalyptic world is very well done, it really brought the feeling of decay and brokenness into the atmosphere of the movie. However, I didn't like the color and contrast as I thought a lot of the scenes were either too bright or too dark in color and light.

Sound 6/10 - The sound effect was great, but when the actor/actress were speaking the volume is very small, so I had to turn up the volume to hear the dialogues, but when the action scenes start the volumes become too loud and is really annoying.

Violence: Strong - The violence level in this movie is very strong, there are numerous scenes of decapitated limbs and such. It is definitely MA rated.

Sex/Nudity: medium

Final verdict 7.5/10 - Personally, I am NOT sure if Eli doing things because he thinks he physically "heard" God speaking to him is a good example for Christians to follow or not. But we do known that God speaks to us through the Bible, if we read, understand and want to put the words of God into practice with a heart of wanting to love/obey God then we can live according to Godly wisdom. There are great Christian themes in this movie. It's refreshing to see a Hollywood production that portray Christianity in the positive light for a change. But it has its flaws, mainly in the color contrast of the pictures and the soft dialogue volume. One must also be warned that the violence level is quite high. However, if you are over 16 I would recommend this film.