Around last August I came across the teaser trailer for “God’s Not Dead”, the Christian movie produced by Prue Flix staring Kevin Sorbo in which he plays an atheist philosophy professor who is challenged by a young Christian student when he is asked to write “God is dead” on a sheet of paper. Between first discovering the trailer and going to see it in the theatre, I was very excited to go see this train wreck of a movie. There’s so much wrong with this movie it’s hard to figure out where to start.
First off, I grew up in the 90’s and I was very sad to see that Hercules had become an evangelical Christian on a mission to bash atheists. I really wish I could shake Kevin Sorbo and say, “You were the lead character in a show based on a mythical character, do you not see the parallels between that and your religion? Do you know there are some similarities between the character of Hercules and the character of Jesus? A guy who’s dad was god! Come on!”
Also as a 90’s kid, I was sad to see that Superman had gone the same direction that Hercules did. I could say something pretty similar to Dean Cain as what I wish I could say to Kevin Sorbo, you can just imagine for yourself what would be said.
There were three atheist stereotypes portrayed in the movie, as I mentioned before there’s an atheist philosophy professor, a successful business man, and a liberal blogger/internet reporter. Kevin Sorbo’s character was very arrogant and we barely saw him actually teach the class anything besides name a famous atheist like Dawkins and say they were right because they were. I kept wondering if the people that worked on this script or anyone involved in the movie had ever taken a philosophy class at a secular college because it was pretty obvious they hadn’t. I took several philosophy classes at the state school I attended and the professors never shut down opposing views and forced their own views on the students, they always welcomed debate and could make actual arguments didn’t rely on arguments from authority. This was a clear case of demonizing the academic realm. Scare the Christians away from the secular colleges where their kids might actually be exposed to the world and think for themselves and instead send them to a school like Liberty University where they will be conditioned to be good Christian soldiers. The successful business man was played by Dean Cain and was the boyfriend of the liberal blogger and brother of the professor’s girlfriend. He also was very arrogant, or to be more blunt, an asshole. He was well dressed, only cared about money and would only do things if there was something in it for him. He also has a mother with dementia and doesn’t care about her. Why doesn’t he care about her? He’s successful and why waste his time! His mother is also stupid because she’s Christian! The liberal blogger girlfriend was younger and was the stereotypical liberal activist girl. When she interviewed Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson and his wife and later in the movie the Christian rock band the Newsboys, she tries to attack them with half arguments and a lack of understanding of who she’s speaking to. I admit, there are probably a good amount of bias reporters out there, but her character was so over the top. We also find out she has cancer, Dean Cain leaves her because he’s an asshole (duh cause he’s an atheist!), and then she freaks out about the thought of dying. Hmmm will she convert because she’s scared of not going to heaven? Yes, of course. It’s Christian propaganda.
In addition to the atheist stereotypes, there were racial and cultural stereotypes. The main student that is at odds with the atheist professor befriends a Chinese boy in his class. He has a thick accent, wears a sweater vest and dockers, and becomes fascinated with learning about god because he’s from the east! He’s never heard of Christianity! It makes me so confused when people in western culture still think they need to send missionaries and bibles to Asian countries. Calm down Christians, they’ve heard about your religion. We also meet a young Arab woman who wears a scarf on her head when her father is around but as soon as he’s not around she takes it off. Hmmm possibly a clue that she doesn’t want to be Muslim? Yes. She gets caught listening to an audiobook version of the bible and her father beats her and kicks her out of the house. Yes you read that right, the Muslim father beats his daughter for talking about Jesus. Totally happens all the time. I was in shock at the blatant “look how bad Muslims are” message that was slapping me in the face, at one point I looked away because I was so ashamed to be witness to such bigotry. As we were walking out of the movie my husband was talking about that part and said “That was racist!” and a Hispanic man walking by us with his son chimed into the conversation and said “That kind of thing happens all the time! They do that!”. We tried to explain to him that yeah maybe it happens in the Islamic community on occasion but abuse like that happens in many different cultures and isn’t exclusive to that one, that kind of abuse even happens to atheists in Christian families. He brushed those comments off and was firm in his belief that the movie was pretty spot on.
Now to the main story of the movie. The epic battle between the Herculean philosophy professor vs the Christian hero. One thing in their “debate” that stood out to me right off the bat was that the student used bible verses to argue a point about god’s existence. If the professor was actually a good philosopher he would have said that you can’t use your holy book to prove that your god exists. When someone references the bible as evidence for god it is circular reasoning because they are just saying that god exists because the book says he exists and then if you were to ask why the bible is valid you are told because the bible says it is valid. In other words, you could use that same reasoning to “prove” the existence of many other gods with other holy books or you could say that Harry Potter exists because he’s in books and the books say he exists. He also compared the beginning of Genesis to the Big Bang, which I still don’t know how to react to because it was so ridiculous. Other arguments were mostly straw men arguments that could easily be taken down, like the argument for Design with a lack of understanding of what evolution actually is which we come across all the time when looking into debates between Christians and atheists. The arguments in the movie are so easy to take down and have been taken down so many times in other forms, so it’d be ridiculous to debunk all of the arguments said in the movie.
I don’t think I’ve laughed harder while seeing a movie that was mostly not intended to be funny, except maybe The Room. There were parts that were supposed to be funny, they were really cheesy family friendly type humor that the audience laughed at but I sat there in amazement of how people could find that type of thing funny. It makes me wonder if their heads would explode if they sat through a Monty Python movie. The parts I laughed at were some of the things I’ve already mentioned and I also laughed a great deal at the terrible acting that was worthy of a high school play or a soft core porn. There were moments I was sad for the people that ate up that sort of thing and would continue to follow the herd because this movie helped reaffirm their biased and ignorant beliefs. I wanted to talk to as many of them as I could and tell them how flawed the movie was, but I knew it would have been a futile effort. I just hope that there were people in that audience that took the things in the movie with a grain of salt and thought for themselves after they saw it. At least if they don’t look into the philosophical arguments, I hope some people at least realize atheists and other people of non-Christian cultures aren’t as bad as they were made out to be. I would also suggest that atheists see this movie to see how flawed their arguments are and to get an understanding of their clear misunderstanding of us.