Salvation from Illusion, Salvation by Illusion

The Gospel According to Christopher Nolan


  • George Faithful Seton Hall University



science fiction, Implicit Religion, Christopher Nolan, Pseudo-Gnosticism, Post-Modernism


That science fiction implicitly conveys religious world views is evident in the cinematic corpus of writer-director Christopher Nolan. The Prestige, Inception, and Nolan’s Batman trilogy represent a variation on Gnosticism, in that salvation comes from a secret way of seeing the world. Nolan’s vision, however, is a repudiation of Gnostic norms, for salvation hinges not on the truth, but on the perfect lie. Illusion is both what is being redeemed, and the means of its redemption. Contrary to traditional Western religious norms, in Nolan’s stories the truth is destructive; it is deception that is salvific. Yet, counter the mainstreams of post-modern culture, in the worlds that Nolan crafts not all constructed perspectives are equally viable. To understand Nolan’s work clearly is to have insight into popular culture, into those who consume it, and, perhaps, into reality itself.


Kripal, Jeffrey J. 2011. Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Nolan, Christopher. 2005. Batman Begins. Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video.

––––—. 2007. The Prestige. Burbank, CA: Buena Vista Home Entertainment.

———. 2008. The Dark Knight. Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video.

—––––. 2010. Inception. Burbank, CA: Warner Bros. Entertainment.

––––—. 2012. The Dark Knight Rises. Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video



How to Cite

Faithful, G. (2014). Salvation from Illusion, Salvation by Illusion: The Gospel According to Christopher Nolan. Implicit Religion, 17(4), 405–416.




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