Sadly we often expect movies with an explicitly Christian worldview to be awkward in plotting, corny in dialogue, and a victim of hammy acting. I’m so grateful that “God’s Not Dead” escapes those limitations. Bear in mind that it is a didactic movie. It has a specific, unambiguous purpose. In this sense it’s not a complex and great work of art as a novel by Dostoevsky or a short story by Flannery O’Connor. But it’s comprehensibility is thoughtfully and well crafted. I was more than willing to suspend disbelief for the sake of a story well told.
Actually it is several stories running concurrently. The main conflict is between a professor of philosophy who demands that his freshman students sign their names to the proposal, “God is Dead.” One student refuses and the professor demands that he defend his belief in God at the lectern, fully expecting the student to do such a poor job of it that the professor’s assertions will prevail. As you might expect, the student comes through with arguments that are sound and effective. I thought they could have been more thoroughly presented. But let’s be fair; this is a movie not a philosophical treatise. I don’t think it fair to fault the movie for lacking philosophical rigor sufficient to make audiences comatose. What it did do is to show clearly that there are such things as sound rational arguments supporting belief in God. Moreover it also showed via the professor’s answers, the vacuity of much atheistic argumentation.
… it is reasoning on this low order that impresses science journalists whereas the entirely rational explanation that a universe so intricate and finely tuned for life gives evidence for a super intelligent creator gets dismissed as delusion and myth. But then that is what we encounter in the real world and this paradox is the central theme of the movie.
As far as I’m concerned the most bizarre point of the movie came when the following quotation, attributed to Stephen Hawking, was read by the professor as supporting evidence for atheism “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.” These words are so appallingly stupid that I thought they might have been invented by script writers. Well, they weren’t. Hawking actually wrote them in his book, The Grand Design. I could accept a drunk gassing on this way right before closing time at the local bar; but a great physicist insisting that a universe can spontaneously pop out of nothing makes my head spin. This is reasoning on the level of a none too bright third grader. Yet it is reasoning on this low order that impresses science journalists whereas the entirely rational explanation that a universe so intricate and finely tuned for life gives evidence for a super intelligent creator gets dismissed as delusion and myth. But then that is what we encounter in the real world and this paradox is the central theme of the movie.
Two subplots involve women. One is obviously a daughter of a Muslim who is unmasked as a secret Christian and dramatically kicked out of her house by her brutish father. The other is about a zealous liberal reporter specializing in ambush interviews who is cruelly dismissed by her lover when she reveals to him that she has terminal cancer. These stories were gracefully interwoven into the main plot line demonstrating in the former, the cost of discipleship and in the latter the selfishness that comes so naturally in a life without God.
Though the final wrap up scene in which the professor finally comes to pledge faith to Christ may strike some as too pat, I found it touching. After all this is a movie, a work of fiction, and a fiction that intends to teach straight forward lessons.
Hmmm. The “secret Christian” episode could hardly be worse than real life, so if anyone complains, they can stuff the political correctness. Yesterday’s news, that.
At any rate, it is being denounced by all the right people (the self-satisfied and angrily important) for all the right reasons (audiences get something out of it).
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