Efilism in Alien

Sacrifice (Originally posted on the Alien Wiki)

Thanks to Accerino who shared thoughts on this subject with muthur on LV426 Discord


Efilism is the philosophical idea that life is inherently bad. It’s life spelled backwards.
The belief is that creating sentience comes with pleasure (which could never have been asked for before existing) at the cost of suffering to some degree.
Since it’s impossible to consent to being created, it’s seen as a form of rape. Alien makes this literal with the host being forcefully impregnated and killed just to birth the next generation.

The Engineers’ Sacrifice

But Alien takes this philosophy a lot deeper, starting with the Engineer race.
The Engineers were likely very similar to humans, hard wired to reproduce, forcing the next generation to go through the same hardships as their parents. Failing this they seeded planets with life, creating more sentience. They’d doomed humanity by creating it, all the horrors in human history that would have been avoided if the engineer race hadn’t forced it into being.

Now it’s very possible they believed they were doing us a favor, perhaps their home world had been cruel and they wanted to create life that would flourish more. They were wrong, so wrong. I believe the Engineers realized this, they realized they had created a mess of suffering. They regretted creating life once they had seen how it’s always destined to suffer. The Engineers had decided to undo it, euthanize humanity, until the events on LV-223 stopped them.

Upon waking and seeing humanity, the engineer on LV-223 was clearly traumatized to find out that humans themselves had also gone on to create life in the form of David. His decapitation of David was an attempt to save him from the pain of existence.

This philosophy doesn’t apply to creating planets of life, it applies to the most basic form of procreation. Forcing hardships onto offspring, which brings us to the two purest characters in the series. The two real protagonists.

Shaw and David

Dr Elizabeth Shaw was aboard the Prometheus as a true believer, she only ever wanted answers and had no ulterior motive.

Elizabeth Shaw (Originally from the Russian AVP wiki)

Her infertility, this was not just a device to add some mystery to her alien pregnancy later on in the film. In a series about how creating life always goes awry, she’s the only character incapable of creating life.

David is also incapable of creating life, due to different limitations than Shaw. He’s clearly above human intelligence and lacks the reproductive instincts of life. He sees life and humanity for what it is, cruelty. A pattern that emerges due to the properties of DNA, that drives reproduction and as a side effect causes suffering in sentient life. This may add to reason for his love of Shaw, seeing her as truly pure. He truly did love her, which is why he killed her and used her for his plan. In his own messed up robot kind of way, this is likely what he thinks is a loving gesture.

David 8 (Originally from Den of Geek article)

David sets out to end the suffering, by ending all sentient life using the black goo “designed to infect all non botanical life forms, all the animals, the meat if you will.” Sentient life capable of suffering.

David, despite having good intentions to end suffering by ending sentient life, is not as compassionate as he could be, and intends to end life through creating more life. Perhaps he feels hatred towards it and wants it to suffer. Rather than saving the life that already exists, he’s torturing it but by doing so he is saving the infinite unborn future generations from all suffering.

“What do you believe in David?”
“Creation” Says David, seemingly going against this whole theory, this is until you realize that David simply is not doing this as a good guy, in this scene and many others he’s representing the devil. He’s ending life through creating more life. However, the life he’s creating is self limiting. It will stop once there’s no more meat to incubate it.

Creation (Still taken from Covenant Death Scene Comp.)