The allusions to the story of Noah and the ark were explicit, but I wonder how many who are familiar with both stories will really think about both the similarities and differences.
For one thing, it seems that a super-intelligent, powerful alien may well be the closest we can come, in the context of our own worldview, to the ancient views of God that are the heritage not only of ancient Greece, or Rome, or India, but also ancient Israel. The movie’s aliens are united, a closer parallel to ancient Israel’s stories than ancient Babylon’s, for example. But the similarities are there: a paternalistic caretaker, concerned for all creation, who comes to carry out judgment against humanity’s ethical failings. And like the theology of the Jewish Scriptures (in contrast with modern Christianity’s most common emphases), these matters must be resolved in present history rather than an afterlife, and while the dead do not rise, they do live on through their offspring.
If people really want to see a deity that is like a person but greater, whose mind can be changed, one who (to echo Star Trek V: The Final Frontier) “has need of a space ship”, then perhaps astronomy is the best path. But while some who seek God are looking for such a being, others are looking for the One, the “God beyond God”.There are also echoes in The Day The Earth Stood Still of Christian ideas, such as when Klaatu comes down to Earth, taking on human flesh to dwell among us.
So, as a new year begins, both the seeking after God and the denial of the existence of God will continue. But as always, it depends what sort of a God you are looking for or denying. And for those who define God in terms of ultimate transcendence and infinity, by definition such a God will never be “found” but will always be an object of seeking. Perhaps the key difference between worldviews is not whether the quest to know just a little more about the reality that transcends and encompasses us, but whether such knowledge comes via the scientific method, reason, meditation, study of ancient texts or modern ones, or by the wise use of any and all methods at our disposal.