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Truth and Free Will Allegory in The Matrix
The Christian themes and symbolism in The Matrix are numerous and overt. Most central among these is an allegory for a religious view of truth and free will. When viewed as an allegory The Matrix illustrates that man achieves free will only by accepting God’s truth and that this truth can only come from God.
In this film there were two worlds, the real world a century from now, and the Matrix. While in this Matrix Neo asked, “What is the Matrix?” an obvious quest for truth. He wants to know what reality is. In both the literal and figurative senses Neo is searching for truth. On a literal level he finds truth when he is contacted from people who are not plugged into the Matrix. The office scene is the first major piece of the allegory, Morphaeus literally calls Neo. A call is the most common Christian metaphor for a message from God. Further evidence that Morphaeus represents God comes in his display of omniscience, because he cannot be seen but knows everything. This scene also begins the introduction of the concept of free will. Though Morphaeus showed Neo how to escape by ascending to the roof, another metaphor for heaven, Neo chooses not to and is captured by agents.
When Neo is questioned by Agent Smith he makes a great deal of noise about his rights, but they are not granted, in fact he has his mouth sealed. Freedom of speech is supposed to be one of our most inviolable rights, yet after refusing to follow the path Morphaeus i.e. God laid out for him he was taken by the agents and his freedom was taken away.
The next time Neo receives the call from Morphaeus, he accepts and starts down the road to seeing the truth. When Neo asks what the Matrix is Morphaeus responds that the Matrix cannot be explained it must be seen. This statement is the next major element of the truth and freewill allegory in The Matrix. Man can only receive truth from God, and there is no other avenue. If Neo had turned down Morphaeus he would forever remain impotent and unable to learn of the basic untruth that constitutes all that he knows. Next Neo is again given a choice, red pill or blue pill. The red pill will free him to an unpleasant reality while the blue pill will return him to his life of ignorant bliss.
Neo awakens into the real world and is immediately dumped into a pool of water from which he is raised up into Morphaeus’s ship. It looks like the Hand of God raising man into the light. This scene shows that when man finally accepts God’s truth he is baptized and born anew to be raised by the hand of God.
Onboard the Nebuchadnezzar Neo is informed that he is supposedly the chosen one from an old prophecy, and this clashes with Neo’s non belief in fate. Neo, like mankind, does not want to believe that he lacks free will. This is a major religious and philosophical debate. If God is all knowing then the future is set, and if the future is set how can there be free will? The question can be quite maddening as humorously illustrated by the Oracle’s question of whether or not Neo would have broken the vase if he hadn’t been told not to worry about it. This question is answered after Morphaeus is captured.
Onboard the Nebuchadnezzar Neo realizes that he has a decision to make, he can kill Morphaeus or he can attempt to save him at the risk of his own life. Later the movie reveals that the prophecy was correct. Neo did exactly as the prophet, another metaphor for God, said he would and yet he still had the choice of whether to go after Morphaeus or not. Unlike Neo’s decisions in life up to this point this decision was true choice rather than the illusion of choice. Every action that Neo decided to take in the Matrix was a fake decision. In the Matrix when Neo decided to eat tasty wheat’s he never actually ate Tasty Wheat’s, while Neo thought his options were tasty wheat’s or waffles in reality his options were liquefied human remains or liquefied human remains. This is similar to a religious view of free will. The material world is like the Matrix with the real world being the spiritual realm of Heaven. Man scurries about on the material plain unaware of the real world, that of God and without knowledge of God’s kingdom man’s soul will never have the chance to rise into Heaven.