Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

Atheists bad, Christians good. That’s my four-word summary of God’s Not Dead.

This anti-atheist movie would be more effective if it didn’t portray every atheist as smug, angry, selfish, obnoxious, and unhappy. In contrast, nearly every Christian is kind, happy, generous . . . well, you get the idea.

 

The movie’s two protagonists are atheist philosophy Professor Jeffrey Radisson and Christian student Josh Wheaton at fictional Hadleigh University.

Professor Radisson is a bully who on the first day of class uses his bully pulpit to require that each student sign a “God is dead” statement or else convince him that God’s not dead — and, failing that, receive an F in the course. Radisson has been doing this for years, presumably without a complaint from students, other faculty, or administrators. In fact, he is about to become head of the Philosophy Department. He has a live-in girlfriend whom he started dating when she was his student, and he continually berates and belittles her in front of his academic colleagues. She turns to Christianity and finds the strength to get out of this abusive relationship after talking to Pastor Dave (more about him later).

Freshman Josh Wheaton is the only student in Professor Radisson’s class who refuses to sign the “God is dead” statement. Everyone encourages him to sign for the sake of his future career as a lawyer — except for Pastor Dave, who gives Josh the strength to enter Professor Radisson’s lion’s den, armed with Matthew 10:32-33: Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown.”

Radisson allows Josh three consecutive class sessions to make his case for God. Josh wisely requests that the class act as jury, and Radisson agrees. Perhaps Josh knows that most American students, just like their parents, believe in God despite signing the “God is dead” statement. (As a former professor, I think a rare accurate portrayal in the movie is of students who focus primarily on grades and are willing to say anything to improve them.)

In the first session, Josh cites the Big Bang as evidence that God created the universe according to Genesis (“Let there be light”). Despite countless possible rebuttals, Radisson simply quotes physicist Stephen Hawking saying that spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, and why we exist. He then taunts Josh by asking if he thinks he’s smarter than Hawking.

In the second session, Josh refers to Hawking’s comment that philosophy is dead, adding that perhaps their philosophy class shouldn’t exist. Professor Radisson is speechless, though he could have told Josh that Hawking is a physicist, not a philosopher, and that you can be an expert in one field and not in another. (The Hawking quote from Radisson was formerly a question for OnFaith panelists, and here’s what I said then: “As accomplished a cosmologist as Stephen Hawking is, no scientist would ever declare, ‘Hawking said it, I believe it, that settles it.’ Scientists require evidence, not an appeal to authority.”)

A vindictive Professor Radisson later confronts Josh for having the audacity to embarrass him in class and threatens not only to fail him, but also to make sure he never becomes a lawyer. When Josh asks Radisson why he’s an atheist, Radisson replies that his mother died when he was 12, despite his prayers, so Radisson hates God for killing his mother.

In the third and final session, Josh rightly asks Radisson how he could hate a God who doesn’t exist. Again, Radisson has no response. (Real atheists, not the straw men atheists that some Christians invent, don’t hate God any more than they hate the Easter Bunny.) Josh then calls for a student jury vote, and they all agree that “God’s not dead” as a bewildered Radisson leaves the room.

Other atheists in the movie include a snide, self-centered journalist and her atheist boyfriend. When she tells him that she has terminal cancer, he asks why this news couldn’t have waited until the following day because she has just spoiled a nice dinner, and he immediately ends the relationship. She later breaks down while interviewing the Newsboys, a Christian rock group, and they convince her to become a Christian because that will give her hope.

The movie has a happy ending, at least for some Christians, because a car runs over Professor Radisson. Pastor Dave just happens to be nearby and encourages Radisson to become a Christian seconds before he dies.

The most effective way to convert atheists in the movie is not by reason or evidence, but by personal tragedy. Perhaps this will inspire some Christians to pray that atheists contract cancer or undergo some other misfortune, because the film reinforces the “no atheists in foxholes” cliché.

The premise of the movie is ridiculous. Christians and atheists alike would be appalled if an institution of higher learning expected students to sign a “God is dead” statement. Universities that promote critical thinking must not require students or professors to believe a certain way and never question or change their beliefs. But shouldn’t that hold true for both public and Christian universities?

As dogmatic as the fictional Professor Radisson is, he at least gave ample class time to a student who had a different opinion. Not necessarily so at some Christian universities. Perhaps Josh “Wheaton” is meant to represent Wheaton College, a Christian institution where students and faculty are expected to affirm a statement of faith and educational purpose that includes “God created Adam and Eve, distinct from all other living creatures.” It’s not difficult to see how such affirmations of faith might discourage critical thinking.

Charleston Southern University, in my hometown, expects faculty and students to accept core values that include the Bible being inerrant and infallible. Dr. Richard Johnson, a religion professor there, once invited me to debate the existence of God on his campus. However, the university wouldn’t allow it and the debate took place at a nearby church. After the debate, Dr. Johnson asked if he could speak to the secular student group on my College of Charleston campus. I readily agreed, and he also invited me to speak to his religion class. But the day before I was to speak, I was disinvited because his university objected. In an article about the incident in the Charleston Post and Courier, I said it reflects poorly on an academic institution that allows only one point of view.

The God’s Not Dead movie is probably intended for those who believe the myth that Christians in this country are being persecuted. (I suppose that’s why so many politicians hide their Christian beliefs and pretend to be atheists.) At secular universities, students and professors are free to discuss and debate a full range of controversial ideas, including whether God is dead. And that’s a good thing.

Herb Silverman
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  • http://www.twitter.com/MaggieArdiente Maggie Ardiente

    Did you see the “American Humanists” bumper sticker on the car of one of the atheist characters? Totally worth seeing that painfully bad movie just for that.

    • Arturis Dentalis

      I’m lazy and have crappy eyesight, what did it say exactly :)?

  • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

    According to the movie, the best thing a Christian can do seems to be to run over an atheist with a car.

    • Jonathan Minard

      I dunno, I’ve been run over twice and I’m still an atheist. Maybe a bigger car?

  • RichardSRussell

    As a former professor, I think a rare accurate portrayal in the movie is of students who focus primarily on grades and are willing to say anything to improve them.

    Partway thru the semester, voluptuous sophomore Veronique, wearing a low-cut blouse and short shorts, approaches her professor during his office hours and says she’s very worried about her grade in the course.

    “You’re right to be concerned,” says the professor, “you’re currently running a D average and haven’t yet turned in the paper that was due last week, which isn’t going to help.”

    “But professor,” Veronique says tearfully, “I simply must get a good grade in this course. I’d do anything to get one.” As she says this, she frets over the top button on her blouse, which comes undone as she leans forward. “Anything!”

    “What, anything?” asks the professor, cocking an eyebrow.

    “Oh, yes, professor,” murmurs Veronique breathily, while gently stroking her thighs, “anything!“.

    “Good!”, exclaims the professor. “Study!”

  • No_one_significant

    Maybe the best thing all of us should learn from this movie is that none of us should caricature other people… whether Christians or atheists.

    • qxe

      “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions.”

      -Thomas Jefferson

  • Amy

    This is an excellent review of the movie, and I, too, agree that the premise is ridiculous. One of the skills that we as atheists value is critical thinking, yet this movie showcases dogmatic thinking, the opposite of critical thinking. As an atheist parent, I am raising my children not to be atheists per se, but to be freethinkers. I want them to explore and inquire freely into all subjects, including religion, without regard for any impact their conclusions may have. Of course, I hope they reach the same conclusions I have – that evidence is lacking for any gods, specifically the Christian god – but that conclusion will be theirs to reach. Some may suggest that my raising my children as freethinkers and sharing my humanist values and atheist beliefs is no different than a Christian parent raising her children with her Christian belief system. I disagree. The difference is influence versus indoctrination. I am influencing my children with my beliefs, yes. But in the end, unlike my Christian counterparts, I am not indoctrinating them. I do not tell them WHAT to think and then offer consequences ranging from disappointment on one end to disowning them on the other when they do not think the same way I do. My hope is to offer them tools to teach them HOW to think. This is completely counter to the teachings of the professor in this movie, and I do not feel that this movie fairly depicts most atheists.

    • nwcolorist

      I would have to disagree with you, Amy. There are volumes of information available supporting the existence of God going back many centuries. But one needs to be open to the possibility to appreciate it.

      • Merari

        Ehm. No. There isn’t a shred of evidence. Please provide any that is testable, observable and doesn’t rely on tricks with words.

        • Chuck

          What is the testable, observable evidence for atheism?

          • Merari

            No, the onus is on the one making the positive claim. Atheism makes no positive claim, it is under no requirement to provide proof. Even still, not a single shred of the observable universe necessitates a deity of any sort.

          • Chuck

            No positive claim made. I have faith in Christ. Merely asking any atheist for support for atheism. Surely you folks know something.

          • Amy

            My support for not believing something is that nothing has yet persuaded me to believe in that something. Surely you understand that?

          • Martin Barratt

            “I have faith in Christ”, that right there is your positive claim. I do not share your faith, that is not a claim, it is an unwillingness to accept yours. To be an atheist is to not believe in a theist system. You know all about that because there are plenty of theist systems you don’t believe in, such as Islam.Your last point is interesting. We folks know just as much as you do, but when we arrive at a point where we don’t know something we either try to find an explanation for it or we admit we don’t know, rather than fit a ‘god’ into the gap.

          • Chuck

            I would agree with you about my claim; however, when Merari accused me of making the claim, I had not made it. I had asked a question. He read into the question what HE wanted. I’m just trying to learn a bit about you folks. Sure, I’m direct and like to have a bit of smirky fun (at Amy’s expense…sorry), but that’s just me. So, what do you know about the origin of the Universe? What gives your life meaning, value, and purpose?

          • Martin Barratt

            Making a guess abut the origin of the universe isn’t that important to me. I’m glad that people are working on it, but I guess it will be a while before we find anything out, and just like every human before me I will live and die without knowing. Value, life and purpose come from my family and friends, working hard and enjoying the time when I’m not working. I’m very happy that some people believe in things that keep them secure and stop them worrying if that’s what they need. I am less happy when people try and impose their beliefs on me, and that does happen.

          • Martin Barratt

            You are a sensible rational guy, but somewhere we diverged (so that implies I think I’m sensible and rational too – some might disagree). I would like to know how you came to your belief, but maybe we should find a way to take this offline…

          • Matthew Lane

            “No positive claim made. I have faith in Christ”
            Then you are making a positive assertion, in the form of an existence claim.

          • Stefatropolis

            Chuck, saying you have faith in Christ IS a claim. The fact that faith doesn’t make your God any more real than a Muslim’s faith makes Allah real (and a thousand other religions) IS the support for Atheism.

          • Diane Phillipa

            My understanding faith is about belief in something there is no proof for. As someone who in a reason based life I will only accept as fact something proven.

          • Matthew Lane

            Atheism doesn’t make a positive assertion about something. It simply states a lack of belief given the current state of evidence in god claims. The only evidence that is required to justify this position is me saying “I as an atheist have insufficient evidence to believe that any god claim is accurate.”

          • Stefatropolis

            The testable, observable evidence for atheism is that faith is an inadequate means to determine the existence of God. Secondly, that there is NO factual evidence for God.

          • Diane Phillipa

            I worked out for myself that god does not exist. Atheism is about the non existance of a supernatural explanation of the world and universe around us. People of faith say there is proof of a god but come up with some absurd proof like we are supposed to belive with out confirmation from an independent source that the feelings a person feels is actualy connection to God. Will convert only once God is proven to exist.

        • Guest

          Every interaction I see between atheists and Christians on a web forum is combative. This is getting really annoying.

          Please, folks, you ain’t gonna convert anyone on the Internet. If you just go “Well you’re wrong,” any possibility of actually learning anything goes away immediately, because people are free to either just say “Well you’re wrong” back or not respond.

          • Merari

            Well, if he does have some real evidence I would genuinely be interested. There is always the possibility I am wrong and I like learning new things.

      • qxe

        “There are volumes of information available supporting the existence of God going back many centuries. But one needs to be open to the possibility to appreciate it.”

        Let me fix that for you:

        “There are volumes of CONJECTURE available supporting the existence of God going back many centuries. But one needs to SUSPEND THEIR FACULTY OF REASON TO BELIEVE IT.”

      • Matthew Lane

        Sure, unfortunately they are the same kinds of countless volumes of information available supporting the existence of Spiderman.
        Fiction is not evidence of anything except that people like to write fiction.

      • Diane Phillipa

        Produce it then.Will convert for one piece of actual reproducable verifiable proof.

    • Chuck

      “evidence is lacking for any gods”

      Would you agree that evidence is also lacking for no god?

      “The difference is influence versus indoctrination. I am influencing my
      children with my beliefs, yes. But in the end, unlike my Christian
      counterparts, I am not indoctrinating them.”

      That’s a bit smug, Amy. Thought about using holier-than-thou, but it doesn’t seem to fit atheism :).

      “I do not tell them WHAT to think and then offer consequences ranging
      from disappointment on one end to disowning them on the other when they
      do not think the same way I do.”

      I know lots of Christians, but none who do that. Do you know any Christians (I know that’s a very expansive term these days, but there it is.) who disown their children for rejecting their faith?

      I’m a Christian with adult children both of whom have chosen faith in Christ. To paint that with the broad brush of indoctrination is ignorant. Nonetheless, it seems like we agree much on raising our kids in engaged, thoughtful, conversational relationships.

      Blessings!

      • Amy

        Hi Chuck!

        You ask if I agree that evidence is lacking for no god. I will submit to you as my answer that there is the same amount of evidence for no god as there is for no unicorns.

        I don’t see how my statement that you quoted is smug. I will say that I would have been better to word it “unlike some/many of my Christian counterparts,” though. I did not intend to group ALL Christians into that group, but I can see how my wording may have sounded that way. The tenets of Christianity are not up for discussion by their adherents. They are there for acceptance. Teaching these beliefs as the one true way with repercussions (including those implied by a fiery afterlife in hell) for failure to adhere/believe IS indoctrination. Also, a core part of many Christian faiths is conversion. That comes through evangelizing, which is the intent to convert. It is what it is, and I have merely pointed out what many Christians, including Christian parents, do. Personally, I do NOT indoctrinate with regard to worldview. I have shared my beliefs and values with my children while sharing that there are other worldviews out there, and I have made it clear to them that they are allowed their own freedom of conscience. In fact, I do not want them to adopt my view just because it’s my view. I don’t want them parroting me. I want them to arrive at their own conclusions by a well-thought out process using any ideas they come across and are available to them, not just mine. I fail to see how that’s smug. I am correctly pointing out the different ways Christian parents (in general) versus my personal (in particular) approach sharing our personal worldviews with their children.

        Yes, I do know some Christians that have disowned their children for rejecting their faith. I personally have been rejected by some family members, though not by my mom, because of my atheism. However, other kids have indeed been thrown out and rejected by their parents for their lack of faith.

        Congratulations on raising your children in engaged, thoughtful, conversational relationships. If you have raised your children within your faith while allowing them to freely and without judgement choose the path that resonated with them, I commend you. I will refer back to my amendment to some/many instead of all Christian parents 2 paragraphs above, so perhaps you have not indoctrinated yours. I do stand by the fact that many Christian parents DO indoctrinate their children, though. Do you honestly think that doesn’t happen?

        Speaking of smug, though, I find your closing of “Blessings!” to be rather smug. You have not closed with that on other comments, but you have here. You know that I am not Christian, yet you chose to use language that is specifically Christian, and therefore not mutually used. To be clear, I am not offended by it. But I do think your use of it was intentionally pious, and not just to wish me a good day.

        • Chuck

          “Do you honestly think that doesn’t happen?”

          Yes, I’m aware it happens. I’m also aware that it’s more a commentary on human behavior than on Christianity.

          “Speaking of smug, though, I find your closing of “Blessings!” to be
          rather smug.”

          Really? I would think it more sincere, and not self-satisfied, coming from me than you. After all, from my perspective I know someone I may ask to bless you, do you?

          “You have not closed with that on other comments, but you
          have here.”

          So, I must march in lock step to your notion of propriety?

          “You know that I am not Christian, yet you chose to use
          language that is specifically Christian, and therefore not mutually
          used.”

          Well, I suppose you need to be tolerant of me.

          “But I do think your use of
          it was intentionally pious, and not just to wish me a good day.”

          I’m glad you used the word think, because you don’t KNOW whether I’m pious or not, and I may want to wish you a good day, sincerely so.

          But, I failed to ask the one question I always try to ask first of atheists: how do you know you’re an atheist?

          Blessings Redux!

          • Zachary Mitchell

            Hi everyone. Now, I just want to make it clear that I myself am an atheist. agree with Chuck on one thing: “I’m glad you used the word think, because you don’t KNOW whether I’m
            pious or not, and I may want to wish you a good day, sincerely so.”. Despite my being an atheist, when someone sneezes, I say “bless you”, and I thank someone who does such to me. I don’t say it because I honestly think it matters, Hell, most people probably don’t think it matters, it’s just polite. Chuck may simply be wishing you a good day, with no spite behind it. It is simply his way of doing so. I also agree that having a problem with such is just a tad intolerant. If I went to a friend’s house for supper and they did a prayer, I’d hold hands with them and close my eyes, but I wouldn’t include the “Amen” at the end, as I wouldn’t pray. I merely play along out of respect of THEIR beliefs, not mine. However, Chuck, you need to realize this: there are good and bad of any group. There are good Christians and there are bad Christians. There are good atheists and bad atheists. There are good Muslims and bad Muslims. You two people disagree, but that’s no reason to argue. And don’t call it a debate, because it’s getting condescending. Speaking of condescending, I don’t like the term tolerance. It’s condescending. You don’t tolerate a person, you tolerate a bad smell, or a headache. I don’t tolerate other beliefs, I accept them. Just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean I don’t respect your right to your religion or lack thereof. Arguments solve nothing, especially when things start getting hostile.

          • Martin Barratt

            Chuck, you need to look the word Atheist up in your dictionary. I know I am an atheist and I know you are one too. That’s because no-one can believe in two distinct theist systems, so the only difference between you and me is that I believe in one less than you.
            In direct answer to your question; I do not believe in the tenets of the Christian religion as contained in the Nicene Creed. Do you?

          • Jack7

            Christianity is a comment on the state of humanity. and not a good one. You’re making a form.of “no true Scotsman”

          • Diane Phillipa

            Thanks for the smug pat on the head.

        • Ron Farmer

          Oh my Flying Spaghetti Monster, I am in love with you, Amy. That’s one of the most coherent, pertinent, and, nicely barbed by the way, responses I have ever seen to those with the blinders on. Man, I hope you reproduce on a prodigious level! Nicely worded, mis amiga. Let’s hope this fire hits fuel and spreads. Logic is our friend. :)

          btw- I don’t usually post on comment sections, but your comment just f***n’ nailed it. Please, for the love of pasta, go forth an multiply. Prodigiously! :)

      • Stefatropolis

        Chuck, do you really expect us to believe you raised your children to believe whatever they wanted, in an environment free of any one religion? Of course not. Children naturally lack the critical faculties to comprehend faith vs. evidence, nor do they have access to the vast array of philosophies and religions the world has to offer. Secondly, children naturally internalize the beliefs of their parents. INDOCTRINATION is by definition the process wherein one instills a belief into someone else without teaching them to think critically about that belief, or question it. Just listening to you, I can see there’s no way in the world you taught your kids to critically think, because you yourself don’t.

        • Chuck

          HA! I’m really not concerned what you believe, Stef. I was there and still am. You weren’t. That’s verifiable and substantiated!

          • Stefatropolis

            Chuck, I’m not sure what you mean by “I was there and still am. You weren’t. That’s verifiable and substantiated.” If you’re going to disagree with me, refute what I say or even insult me, please invest it with the requisite level of energy so that I know what you’re trying to say. If, however, you’re suggesting that my years as a Christian weren’t “authentic,” because you’re still a believer and I’m not, that’s fine. I’ve heard that argument time and time again (though staunchly believing something and never seriously questioning it is no more an indication of genuine faith than simply being stubbornly closed-minded, as BOTH result in lifelong belief). What’s troubling though, Chuck is that you’re “really not concerned with what I believe,” and I’ll tell you why. It’s this; if your walk with God is “genuine” and your faith in Jesus is “authentic” (unlike mine, as I think you’ve indicated), then you’ve had Jesus literally IN your heart for decades. This presence of the Son of God literally inhabiting your heart and changing it, molding it, transforming it into HIS boundlessly loving nature, day after day, year after year, would no doubt transform you into one who loves like HE does, and not merely like “Chuck” does. (These are of course the basic principles about the journey of the authentic Christian life here on earth, in which you are doubtless aware.) Yet strangely, here’s what we find; you’re “not concerned with what I believe.” What’s more, in contrast to your indifference to my the state of my soul and my spiritual fate, you wasted no words in letting me know you “were there and still am.” In essence, you don’t care about my relationship with Christ because my moral character is clearly inferior to yours, and because your spiritual fate is completely secure. Consequently, you can’t be ruffled, challenged, or remotely concerned.
            Sadly, Chuck, this is not how Jesus behaved nor called his followers to behave. Unequivocally, you should be deeply concerned about my spiritual fate and earnestly trying to be loving toward me to the best of your ability. Yet you’re not. Not remotely. You’re glib, haughty, sarcastic and superior. Traits which tell me you don’t have a “real” relationship with Christ, and that you don’t truly “know” him.
            You want to know why I stopped believing in the Bible, Chuck and stopped being a Christian? It’s because people like you don’t actually change as a result of being a Christian. There’s no transformation, no profound change, and therefore no actual Jesus really “living” in the hearts of people like your self, no matter how much people like you prefer to think of yourselves as having

          • Stefatropolis

            Pt II
            done so. Despite DECADES of being an avid and ardent follower of Christ you’re no more loving than anyone else I might run into, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Agnostic or Atheist. Because your level of love is in no way superior to anyone else’s, there’s no reason to believe a phenomenon has occurred wherein Jesus has literally “entered” your heart and spiritually “changed” it. Consequently, Christianity is therefore not real. Yeah, you’ve stayed the course, Chuck, and you’re still a Christian. A Christian who doesn’t care what other people believe because your fate is taken care of. I don’t believe in what you believe because of people like YOU, Chuck. Christians everywhere just like YOU. Now go and enjoy being right, superior, glib, sarcastic, and believing your level of love for others is proof of Jesus and his transformational power.
            Christians like you are the mediocrity that disproves Christianity, Chuck.
            THAT’S why I don’t believe anymore.
            Think on that for a while (if you’re up to it).

          • Chuck

            Sorry Stef! Let me reword: HA! I’m really not concerned with what you believe about my method of child-rearing, Stef. I was there (in our home) and still am. You weren’t. I would say, “read into that what you will,” but you’ve already knocked that out of the park! For all to see. I’ll make no attempt to defend myself to you; however, I am sorry that somewhere along the way someone really offended you, but that’s no God’s fault.

          • Stefatropolis

            Marvelous, Chuck, leave it up. Because naturally I stand by everything I said about you. In the future just do a person the favor of trying a little harder to be articulate so the entire strength of your argument doesn’t rest solely on a person’s misapprehension of your failure to express yourself clearly. …”for all to see.” Priceless.

          • Logan Potts

            What I am mostly confused about is how Chuck can say that he taught his kids to think for themselves… but obviously they grew up in church and was told “the truth” (sin, hell, heaven, Jesus, how to live ones life) It’s impossible for them to not be biased… Btw, Amy did hit it on the head. I grew up very devout southern Baptist… the whole shebang… Sunday.. Sunday nights, Wednesday night, choir, VBS, Venezuela mission trips, RAs, Youth Group, I’ve seen the newsboys in concert actually…and I remember how I thought and viewed the world… and the more I learned.. the more I read… and trust me when you go from being a devout Christian your whole life to not believing in a God.. it isn’t because it’s “easy” or “fun” or because “god let you down” It’s because you really put it together… who translated the bible.. what was it’s relevance then… is it now? Why? (and if you think the bible was never edited for political purposes doing it’s thousands of translations you’re ridiculous) Does that make sense.. does history support it… What is fact… How do they know that? After really looking at a much bigger picture than just you.. your family… your church.. what your state believes.. what your peers believe.. but think about what the world believes… what the facts are? Faith without PROOF is mere superstition. Of course my grandfather who is a southern minister.. and my dad who is writing his third volume of poems that “God” sends him… are totally tolerant to my beliefs… But it is people like you that make it obvious that God doesn’t exist to me. It’s the “I know something you don’t know, and it’s life and death, and I’m right because I know what’s good for you and you need to be like me and all of the people I know… and I want to tell you how to live your life” I feel sorry for people who think that the only people with Jesus in their hearts can truly love another…

      • Diane Phillipa

        As an atheist we don’t need your blessing for anything. In fact its a totally arrogant type of statement that comes because only you think you can be right. As a atheist I have no issue with someone being Christian I would never patronise you for your belifes.

  • Carstonio

    Who scripted the film, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins? Their series Left Behind is filled with similar outlandish straw men.

    Silverman is right that media like this panders to fundamentalists’ fantasies of righteous victimhood. The Slacktivist blog uses the term “persecuted hegemon” for this mentality. To such folks, persecution is when a society refuses to treat their religion as the norm or default. I’ve never heard of non-Christians getting offended by store clerks wishing customers Merry Christmas, but I’ve heard many stories about fundamentalist customers getting huffy when clerks wish Happy Holidays.

  • nwcolorist

    I haven’t seen the movie, but watching the trailer, I was reminded of the movie “The Legend of Billy Jack” from the early 70’s. Simple characters, all black and white situations, the script painfully trite. While the highbrow crowd will sniff at it, it will probably appeal to a segment of the public. Be interesting to see how it does financially.

    • Doug Wilkening

      I too was reminded of the 1970’s, but more along the lines of the blaxploitation genre that was popular during that decade. Films that pandered to the attitudes and values of a specific, well-defined target audience, not at all intended for viewing by non-members of the target demographic. God’s Not Dead is basically a christiansploitation flick, of which there have been quite a few examples recently. I think it has accurately tapped in to the psyche of its target audience. I’m surprised that it’s doing as well as it is, but then in the 70’s everyone was surprised to see mainstream theaters drawing large African-American crowds.

  • Sharon Fratepietro

    Wow! The trailer confirms what is said in this article. Good piece, awful movie.

  • David

    Dear nwcolorist: You state, “…volumes of information available supporting the existing of God” As someone who has an evidence based world view, I’m genuinely interested. Kindly share just one small bit of that evidence. (Kindly make it observable, testable evidence.)

    • D S

      In other words, provide evidence within the narrow terms that I deem acceptable and then maybe, just maybe, I’ll consider it.

      One can’t help but wonder even if God were to suddenly appear in an atheist’s midst whether that would be good enough. I’m guessing probably not.

      • John Childs

        Sadly enough I know someone who that happened to and has been institutionalized ever since.

      • Matthew Lane

        “In other words, provide evidence within the narrow terms that I deem acceptable and then maybe, just maybe, I’ll consider it.”

        LOL & by “narrow terms” you mean we only accept evidence as evidence & we don’t accept either subjective conjecture, presuppositional statements, begging the question or appeal to majority as evidence.

      • Arturis Dentalis

        “Kindly share just one small bit of that evidence. (Kindly make it observable, testable evidence.)”

        “In other words, provide evidence within the narrow terms that I deem acceptable and then maybe, just maybe, I’ll consider it.”

        Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me? Observable, testable evidence is not IN ANY WAY an unreasonable request, especially for such a monumentally massive claim like ‘there is a god and he’s the god of this particular book’.

      • Diane Phillipa

        The reality is there is no evidence that God exists. However the difference is I would be wiling to convert on verifiable proof. However it would seem that regardless any proof on the non existence God would not have the same result for you. That is the difference between people of faith and atheists I would become a believer if any such real proof is provided. ‘I am prepared to be wrong’

    • nwcolorist

      The Bible clearly states, throughout the Old and New Testament, that faith in God is the number one criteria for salvation. If we tried to prove the existence of God by scientific, empirical tests, faith wouldn’t be necessary. Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born both of water and the spirit (John 3).

      Since materialists don’t regard the spiritual world as valid evidence, it follows they can never believe in God.

      • Herb Silverman

        This is a classic example of circular reasoning: How do I know there is a God? Because the Bible tells me so. How do I know the Bible is true? Because it’s written/inspired by God.

        • randumfaktor

          @nwcolorist This is the only type of reasoning available to organizations whose very existence is founded on claims which cannot be verified. I am mystified by the variety of beliefs across all such organizations. There are such fervent believers making conflicting claims with such deep passion and (unverifiable) personal stories of why their beliefs are true. They can’t all be right, but they could all be wrong.

        • Chuck

          How do you know there is no god?

          • Amy

            I can’t speak for Herb, but I’ll answer your question for myself. I do not *know* there is no god. I do not *believe* there is one. There is a difference, and the definition of atheist/atheism doesn’t require (or even address) knowledge of no-god, rather it’s a matter of belief. Some atheists simply have a lack of belief in any gods, some believe there are none. I’m sure there are some that would say they know there is no god, but most wouldn’t say that. Most, myself included, would say there has not been evidence presented to sway our belief to the existence of a god, but we ARE open to real (testable, repeatable) evidence and would happily change our minds if/when presented with such.

            Knowledge of god and no-god falls into the territory of the a/gnostic label. Because I don’t know whether there is a god or not, I identify as agnostic. But because I don’t believe there are any gods (including, but not limited to, the Christian god), I additionally identify as an atheist. In addition to god-belief (or lack of, in my case), I also have a particular set of values that informs how I live my life, interact with others, etc. That label, humanist, is what I feel best defines me overall because it addresses what I consider the most meaningful part of my life – how I actually live it – and not just one belief.

            By the way, how do you know there are no unicorns?

          • Chuck

            Unicorns? No concern one way or the other. But, I see that atheism / agnosticism is the expression of your faith, but I think a poor choice on your part because you’ll never have the “real (testable, repeatable) evidence” you require in the domain of faith…Christian or otherwise.

          • Amy

            You’re an atheist, too. I doubt you believe in Zeus or Thor or VIshnu or Isis, etc. (How do you know they don’t exist?) I just happen to believe in one fewer gods than you. You’re right that there will not be “real” evidence, and THAT is why I don’t believe in any gods. It’s really as simple as that.

          • Chuck

            You got that I’m an atheist from that post? That’s an interesting conclusion on your part. Zeus, Thor, Vishnu, Isis? Hmmm. They do exist as much as Ichabod Crane exists; in the pages of literature. Jesus/Emmanuel/Jehoshua, however, actually walked this Earth in 1st Century Palestine. By the way, I’ll bet you (and most, if not all, of the other skeptics here) do believe in something for which you don’t have evidence. In fact, you accepted someone else’s word on it, despite the fact that YOU can’t verify (test or repeat) it.

          • Amy

            For me and many other atheists, your god exists in the exact same place as Ichabod Crane; in the pages of literature. Jesus of Nazareth may have been a real person and have walked the earth – what Reza Aslan says in his book “Zealot” resonates with me – but there is no evidence that he was anything other than that; a real person. I have doubts that he was the Jesus that most Christians envision, and I certainly don’t think he was divine.

            Yes, you are correct. I do accept some things for which I personally don’t have evidence. I have accepted someone else’s word on it, but they CAN verify it, and it has undergone peer review where it has already been verified. Therefore, the existence of the evidence is not in question. That does not apply with “evidence” for the existence of divinity. I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but it sounds like you may be building a strawman.

            I think our discussion really comes down to I’m not buying what you’re selling. Sorry. And the truth is you haven’t even presented anything novel. It’s the same ol’ stuff over and over that we always hear. It’s boring. Please come up with something more interesting.

          • Stefatropolis

            Chuck, What Amy meant was that you’re an atheist in regard to Zeus, Thor, Vishnu, etc. Where THOSE Gods are concerned, you fail to believe in them, therefore, where they’re concerned, you’re an atheist. Secondly, the Biblical God ALSO exists in the pages of literature, just like Ichabod Crane. Lastly, yes, Jesus existed, but that doesn’t mean he did any of the things the writers of the Gospels claim. I could write a book about how Obama came back from the dead and ascended into Heaven, and a thousand years from now everyone could believe it, but that doesn’t mean my story is at all legitimate simply because it “refers to a historical person”, “someone who lived”. For the love of the God you believe in, Chuck, think.

          • Matthew Lane

            “Jesus existed”
            Jesus MIGHT have existed. There’s no first hand evidence in the historical record to demonstrate that he existed, not that it would have made him the messiah even if you could prove such a human being did exist, an the stories are just exaggerations.

          • nwcolorist

            Historians generally believe that a man named Jesus, who headed a religious group and was executed, did exist in first century Palestine. Two of his disciples, John and Matthew, knew him personally and wrote about him. The historian Tacitus speaks about him. Gibbon discusses him and his followers. The historical documentation of Jesus is as good, if not better than that of Socrates.

            The issue is not whether Jesus was a real person, but whether he was the Son of god, as he claimed to be. That’s where the dispute have always been.

          • Matthew Lane

            No they don’t. See historians as a professional field have to demonstrate that something is real before they can believe in it & there is no evidence at all that such a human being every actually existed as a historical figure.

            As for Matthew & John being evidence for the existence of Jesus, that’s the equivalent of saying that Spiderman must have been a real person, because Mary Jane Watson & Aunt May met him. If they also happen to be fictional characters then they can’t vouch for the historical validity of anyone.

            As for Tacitus, it DOES NOT speak of jesus, it speaks of the cult of Christianity. Gibbon lived more than a thousand years after the supposed death of jesus, so has nothing of merit to add. As for the historical documentation for Jesus, there is not a single verified piece of extra-biblical text from or about jesus from a first hand source…. Where as Socrates not only wrote profusely on many topics (many of his writings survived), people have written about him, during his life time, by people who met him.

            History: You need to learn some.

          • Diane Phillipa

            There is evidence that Jesus the man walked the earth. The rest is pr spin.

          • disqus_e0X3EigZfk

            I believe in a Flying Spaghetti Monster god….He/she exists, he/she has a web page….written by he/she!

          • Stefatropolis

            Chuck, atheism and agnosticism aren’t faith-based positions. They are the failure of a faith-based position to take root or be adopted. A failure to believe something does not necessitate a belief in the opposite. What I mean is, the failure to believe God exists does not mean one believes God DOESN’T exist. Just like not being convinced of alien life based on current evidence means one believes extra-terrestrial life does not exist. This is true in many, many walks of life. Imagine if I told you a certain city was the capital of a particular state. Imagine you thought I knew little about geography; you would disbelieve that I definitely knew the correct answer, but you’d still allow for my answer to perhaps happen to be correct. There’d be no need to decide that city isn’t the correct answer simply because I might be wrong. Atheism is like that; we don’t know if God exists, we just think Religions aren’t compellingly correct. Atheism is actually quite moderate and accepting, and not nearly as negating as we’re portrayed in religious circles.

          • Chikkipop

            That one? Again?

            Why would someone have to *know* that an odd claim was false in order to be skeptical of it?

            You say below that you have no concern one way or the other about unicorns, but that’s not the point; what position do you take on their existence, and do you feel you have to know with certainty in order to take that view?

            Claims which would upend our understanding of the world ought to have some verification. Usually it is said we need “extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims”, but how about ANY evidence!?

            If you can provide none, and must resort to asking how we *know* your claim is mistaken, we’re justified in dismissing it.

          • Stefatropolis

            Chuck, an atheist is simply someone who doesn’t possess the belief that God exists. They’re not convinced or persuaded. Many, many atheists, such as myself absolutely accept the limits of their own knowledge and therefore are fine if a creator or a “god” exists, they just don’t believe “yes, definitely, absolutely” there is one. I even accept that the Biblical God may exist, but I absolutely don’t believe it because the Bible doesn’t make a sufficient case. (By the way, I was raised Catholic and was a Born-Again Christian until I was 22. I haven’t prayed in 23 years and my life has been quite lovely.)

          • Diane Phillipa

            There is no evidence , verifiable evidence. There is no evidence for the existance of unicorns , fairies, gnomes, angels, demons, talking snakes, Thor, Zeus, dragons, Xmen, Spiderman, superman, middle earth Frodo, Vampires, God and a whole host of supernatural beliefs. I

          • Trent Tyler

            How do you know that Yahweh doesn’t have a superior God that created him?

            Answer that, and you’ll have my answer for your question.

      • allinthistogether

        Why would a real God require that you have faith in it in order to reach salvation? What kind of petty God would base other beings’ salvation on such a requirement – only cult leaders use that kind of heavy stick to enforce loyalty. Faith in god as a requirement for that god’s favor is a concept that is clearly human in origin, and beneath the dignity of a god that is worth having faith in. The best way to assess a creator god is to study their creation. So far, our planet and accessible universe doesn’t provide compelling evidence of a god that can come to earth, die and be resurrected, and even less so provide evidence of “eternal life.” So we need to continue the research and studying the evidence – god doesn’t require any rush to jump to un-founded/unprovable conditions. Not knowing is just fine.

        • nwcolorist

          “Why would a real God require that you have faith in it in order to reach salvation?”

          Because faith is something that everyone is capable of. It’s available to anyone, regardless of mental, emotional, or physical issues. No need to memorize a list of rules, run a mile under eight minutes, or hold your hand over a flame. Simply believe.

          • Brian Westley

            I can’t make myself believe things.

            By the way, is there any downside to not believing?

          • Diane Phillipa

            So if I simply believe in Unicorns then that is okay? I have faith therefore Unicorns exist?

        • Brandon Roberts

          Because anyone can have it. and it’s not asking too much. and no i’m not trying to convert you I don’t care what you believe or not it’s your own buisness.

          • John Childs

            Smug.

          • Brandon Roberts

            oh yes answering a guy and confirming i couldn’t care less whether a guys an atheist oh so smug

          • Thomas Hobbes

            That’s not an answer to the question. When I ask “Why should I look left and right before I cross the street” the answer is not “Because you can and it is easy to do” but “Because there may be a car coming and run over you”. Now could you please answer the question?

          • Brandon Roberts

            o.k i can’t be 100% sure so you may want to find another source after this one. but my guess is because he just wanted us to know his love for us. and remember it always. and i know that’s a cheesy cop-out but it’s the best i can do. i wish you a happy life. bye.

          • Vinícius Osório

            Did you use that example because of the scene in the movie? ’cause that’d be pretty funny.

          • Stefatropolis

            Brandon, “because anyone can have it”? If you lived in a country where all you had to do was believe Santa was real and you’d get to live in his toy shop after you die, and you found that ridiculous and absurd, could you make yourself believe it? Would you bother? No, because not only is it absurd, you couldn’t believe such a thing no matter how hard you tried. Now, suppose I came along and said, “Anyone can go to Santa’s toy shop after they die! All you have to do is believe. It’s not asking too much!” Would you suddenly and inexplicably BELIEVE?? Because someone who DOES believe that says it’s easy? Of course not. The Bible is filled with magical things NO ONE HAS EVER DONE NOR WILL DO; walking on water, raising the dead, changing water into wine, coming back from the dead, ascending into the sky, curing diseases through pure will, oceans parting, people living in fish for three days, angels appearing, a giant boat built by one old man that houses all the animals of the world, and on, and on, and on. The Bible IS as absurd as the Santa story. It IS that ridiculous. But YOU believe it. Don’t say it’s easy to believe when in fact it’s outrageously UNbelievable.

          • Brandon Roberts

            That’s a fair point. and to be honest i don’t think you can disprove it (not that i’m accusing you of that) because if god is the creator of the universe than he can do what would normally be impossible

          • Diane Phillipa

            And you have proof for that assertion a single talking snake is all you need. Can you indicated to me where I might find one of these reptiles?

          • Brandon Roberts

            oh no i wasn’t saying i have proof. nor was i saying it’s easy to believe. but i have what may be an explination. that animals could have been able to talk in the garden of eden which would explain why eve was not alarmed. and i don’t blame you for wanting proof it’s not an unreasonable thing to ask.

      • John Childs

        Sounds like that would really appeal to a self centered bigotS who think they know the truth about the unknowable and supernatural and how deserving they are of “everlasting life” and the demise of those who don’t share their peculiar belief system. Some I personally know even cry when they think about their loved ones and unbelieving friends standing for eternity in a sea of fire for eternity sentenced by a “LOVING GOD. LOL.

      • Jake Mono

        Faith in God really means taking the bible’s word on anything, including what God we are believing in and the need to have faith in it in the first place. At this point, it’s a question of why we’re not believing some other religious text (the bible really does a poor job of making itself seem like the infinite wisdom of the creator of the universe, especially in the old testament) or not just concluding that belief in any god or gods has no practical purpose in our life.

      • disqus_e0X3EigZfk

        Pure bullshit.

  • qxe

    This sad, sad movie is basically a hideous Jack Chick tract come to life; a ridiculous “After School Special” based on a straw man email forwarded by your fundamentalist grandmother. It contains about as much reasonable thinking as any show ever featuring Glenn Beck.

  • Brandon Roberts

    yes. this is what some christians think atheists are like but you have to remember this is a movie for christian audiences. if you know your going to get offended by it (no offense not trying to be cold or calloused) don’t watch it yes it’s basically a smear piece against atheists and if you just take it as a movie. it still probaly sucks p.s i’m a christian but i don’t care what other people want to believe as long as they don’t force there views down everyones throat

    • Arturis Dentalis

      I don’t think many will be offended. Amused maybe :).

      • Brandon Roberts

        o.k that’s good. it’s definitely the funniest comedy of the year:)

  • anamericanundernogods

    They don’t know that the fast rising Islam denounces Jesus
    as the Son of God.
    What they are doing to non-believers will happen them by the ever
    rising Muslim population.
    A good example is England or France that Muslims run their country.

  • Doug Wilkening

    Seriously, is anyone here not sophisticated enough to know that every film and every TV production today targets a specific demographic? What, exactly, did you expect of a film that specifically targets an Evangelical Christian audience? Did you expect a producer pandering to that audience to make an atheist a sympathetic character?

    I went to see God Is Not Dead because my wife wouldn’t give me any rest until I agreed to go. I thought it was basically a Christian youth group movie that had maybe a little bit better production values and a little bit better character development (I’m comparing it to youth group indoctrination movies). I was frankly quite surprised to see it selling well to a mainstream audience beyond the Christian youth group crowd, and I’m not quite sure what to make of that.

  • John Childs

    Thank Herb for sacrificing his time so that others may never have to waste their own. If I had to watch it to save the sanity of mankind my review would be set up like the ten stations of the cross, bleeding head, getting beat to keep me on task etcetera. In the end drooling and tied to a chair I would have solemnly said “It is finished”. I’m sure in a dramatic finale my brain would have exploded leaving pudding all about.

    • Arturis Dentalis

      I know where you’re coming from, but I’m actually downloading this right now so I can enjoy it the same way I enjoyed The Room – one of those unintentionally hilarious films that will brighten up anyone’s day.

  • David

    Faith is believing that something is true in the absence of evidence.

    • randumfaktor

      Santa Claus. The tooth fairy. The Flying Spaghetti Monster. Bigfoot. Alien abduction. Crop circles. The Long Island medium. Ghosts. Rich Republicans create jobs. All gods of other religions that are not your own.

      • Arturis Dentalis

        “Rich Republicans create jobs.”

        I let out a big belly laugh at that, nice one.

        • nwcolorist

          Sad to say, the Tooth Fairy can’t save your life in an emergency. Believing in the Son of God can and does. You can believe that a stick of dynamite is your god and carry it around with you for protection. But sooner or later it will fail you–in a big way.

          Someday, when your in a quiet place, ask yourself why after 2000 years the Christian faith is the largest religion on earth, and still growing.

          • Arturis Dentalis

            “Believing in the Son of God can and does.” Saying it doesn’t make it so. I wonder how many millions of Christians believed in their god in an emergency and died anyway.

            ” ask yourself why after 2000 years the Christian faith is the largest religion on earth, and still growing.” The same reason Islam is still growing – people obviously don’t have enough confidence that their offspring will accept religion as rational, mature adults so they indoctrinate them into it when they’re children instead.

          • nwcolorist

            Yes, Christians suffer and die unexpectedly, just like others. We don’t know God’s plans for us, except that they are ultimately for our own benefit..

            But for the believer, as strange as it seems, to endure pain can be a path to a more challenging, but richer and more rewarding life. And dying is simply going to a more beautiful place.

            As for being a mature, responsible person, give us a break. The Soviets thought they had it all worked out, a rational plan for the human race, and it didn’t have anyplace for religion in it. How many tens of millions died before their Utopia collapsed. We’ll never know the exact numbers, or the pain and suffering they went through.

          • Arturis Dentalis

            So believing in the Christian god can and does save one’s life in an emergency _sometimes_, but we can never know when he will, even if Christians pray their heart out? In which case it’s almost as if he isn’t intervening at all and prayers have no effect, funny that.

            “We don’t know God’s plans for us, except that they are ultimately for our own benefit..” Your god’s plan for me is to see me burn in hell forever for the ‘crime’ of scepticism in the face of zero empirical evidence of his existence, I’m failing to see how that’s ultimately for my own benefit, I’m
            not a masochist.

            “The Soviets thought they had it all worked out, a rational plan for the human race, and it didn’t have anyplace for religion in it.”
            Atheism is the rejection of theism. NOTHING MORE. Atheism =/= communism. You changed the subject instead of addressing my comment btw.

          • nwcolorist

            I was raised in a secular, humanist home, and became a Christian in my early thirties. My boys were raised in the church, but religion was never forced on them. The oldest is now a firm believer. The two younger ones have just started their professional careers and still like to party. I was the same at their age.

            A frequent reason I hear people give for rejecting Christianity is that they were forced to go to church as kids, or someone representing the church let them down somehow. A bad experience at a formative time in their lives turned them away. But why reject the message because the messenger screwed up?

            There are no guarantees, but the saying goes “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”.

          • Arturis Dentalis

            “I was raised in a secular, humanist home, and became a Christian in my early thirties.” Then I regard you as one of the very few true believers in religion, since you were given the extremely rare opportunity to actually choose your own religion as a mature adult instead of having it drilled into you as a child, as happens with most other people. The world would be a better place if more people were like your parents.

            “But why reject the message because the messenger screwed up?” Indeed, the message should be the only thing that matters, which is why I rejected Christianity myself – its message is extremely harmful. It’s not quite as harmful as Islam, but that’s only because Christianity has had time to be watered down over the centuries (something that can’t happen with Islam unfortunately).

            “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it”

            This is exactly the unhelpful thinking that results in the majority of people on Earth being religious. Your parents had enough respect for you to not force any one religion on you or give you a bias, and for that they have my upmost respect. Unfortunately you have not followed their example. You say you raised your boys within the church, but immediately say afterwards that religion was never forced on them!? Can you not see the contradiction there?
            By raising your children within the church you immediately give a bias to your religion, since
            a) children naturally think their parents know best, and
            b) Christianity teaches that non-Christians will suffer for eternity if they don’t make the right ‘choice’ – that’s not exactly going to give a young, easily-influenced mind much pause to think is it?

          • brewster101

            It’s actually not enough for one to be raised in a non-religious home (which is quite different from a non-believing home, there ARE plenty of believers whom do not attend religious services, belong to a church, or otherwise engage in overt religiosity). I was raised in a non-religious home. My parents never attended religious services. There were NO religious symbols or images in our home. The only Bible was the family Bible used to record things like genealogy (I never saw it used in my home for any other purpose). The few times I asked my mother about God, Jesus, or whatever, she gave me an answer that was consistent with the Christian narrative or tradition, but my parents never initiated such ‘teachings’. We NEVER said grace and I NEVER saw my parents praying. So how is it that before the age of eight years, I already believed there was a God, such an ethereal place as Heaven, that Jesus was a real figure, that the Bible contained God’s word and teachings, all per the (Judeo-)Christian narrative and tradition? Because the entire community which surrounded me was like a damned cult, including some of my extended family. Before the age of eight, I had heard or seen religious (Christian) references 10,000 times outside of my home (and sometimes in my home, on the television or whatnot, my father liked to listen to Paul Harvey). Every time I went to grandma’s, the home of some aunt or uncle, several childhood friends or classmates, or a few neighbors, there were images of Jesus, Mary, the nativity, or other religious images/symbols plastered everywhere. There were prayers, psalms, quotes from scripture framed and hung on walls, printed or stitched in tapestries and displayed on a table, even the coasters often had a ‘praying hands’ image or some other such Christian religiosity. When eating at someone else’s home, we had to say grace. They might be tuned into religious programming on television or radio. I attended some funerals and weddings that were heavy on the religiosity (Christian) sentiments and prayer. And of course, my childhood peers growing-up in these homes became a ‘source’ of exposure to it as well. Even my secular public school (in the 1970s) was not completely free of believing teachers who liked to sneak-in a little indoctrinating commentary or reference. And every single one of these 10,000 references to which I was exposed before the age of eight – every single one – was from the perspective of a believer. IOW, they assumed God existed, that Jesus was Lord Savior crucified for our sins, the Bible was divinely inspired, that all other religions were false, or the work of the devil. Never once was I exposed to a non-believing perspective, unless it was disagreement between believers (e.g. protestant v. catholic, Mormonism, etc.). I never got to consider until I was MUCH older the more fundamental question, is this all bullshit? Is there even a God to begin with? It was not enough that I was raised in a non-religious household that was NOT anti-religious, to prevent indoctrination when the larger community outside my door was overwhelmingly believing and unquestioning.

          • Sly Cotto

            “god” has never saved anyone in an emergency. Some people get lucky, others do not. Calamities befall people of all faiths every day. When they live, they may claim that “god intervened”, but where is the proof? And when they die, what does that say?
            Example: The “Miracle on the Hudson” plane that crash-landed on the Hudson River…
            A man landed that plane because he was a skilled pilot.
            “god” didn’t send “angels from heaven” to grab the wings and glide it gently to the ground…
            THAT would have been miraculous.
            Also, Islam is the second largest belief worldwide, and growing faster than Christianity… And if you separate Catholics from Protestants, there are more Muslims than either.

          • nwcolorist

            I’d like to see some reputable statistics on your statement that Islam is growing faster than Christianity.

            And by the way, both Christians and Muslims believe in God, the God of Abraham, that’s half the world’s population.

          • Sly Cotto

            I didn’t ask you for references… I did my own homework.

            Google.

            It’s your friend.

          • Diane Phillipa

            Give me one example where God has lifted a single finger to help a single human being. Claiming God did something does not make it so. In fact the opposite appears to be the truth. People of faith are destroyed every day on earth and god has not intervened once.

          • nwcolorist

            For an active believer, we see God’s hand working every day in around us. The non-believer would look at the same things and see only coincidences, anomalies, or dismiss the event in some other way.

            A person needs money to keep the house from foreclosure. The exact amount shows up in a totally random manner. A man is diagnosed with a cancerous tumor. The church prays over him. When he goes to the followup appointment, the tests now shows no sign of cancer. A person gets a vision of a unique event occurring. It later comes to pass just as visualized.

            To someone who is not religious, these kind of things are coincidences. But, when we hear about these experience on a regular basis, we begin to realize that there’s something to it.

          • Arturis Dentalis

            “A person needs money to keep the house from foreclosure. The exact amount shows up in a totally random manner. A man is diagnosed with a cancerous tumor. The church prays over him. When he goes to the followup appointment, the tests now shows no sign of cancer. A person gets a vision of a unique event occurring. It later comes to pass just as visualized. More than once I’ve felt God’s hand protecting and guiding me through dangerous situations.”
            Guess what? Those are all false dichotomies. ‘I can’t explain it, therefore instead of putting it down to something that can’t currently be understood, I’ll jump from A to Z and say god did it’. You’d make a terrible detective :).

            “we begin to realize that there’s something to it.” No, your imperfect human brain, which evolved to identify patterns, is seeing patterns when there aren’t any.

  • Derrick Timko

    85% of Christians don’t read their bible book!!

    Strange Bible Quotes:

    Leviticus 25:44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

    Exodus 21:20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

    Genesis 19:33 That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.
    34 The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” 35 So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.
    36 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father.

    Deuteronomy 22:28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

    Genesis 19:8 Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

    1 Timothy 2:11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

    1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people. 34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

    Matthew 19: (Jesus Speaking) 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

    1 Corinthians 7:10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

    Numbers 31: (Moses Speaking) 15 “Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them. 16 “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the LORD in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the LORD’s people. 17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

    2 Kings 6:27 The king replied, “If the LORD does not help you, where can I get help for you? From the threshing floor? From the winepress?” 28 Then he asked her, “What’s the matter?”
    She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ 29 So we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him.”

    “But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them–bring them here and kill them in front of me” – Jesus Christ, Lk. 19:27

    “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” – Jesus Christ, Mt. 10:34-37

    I read the bible! Now I am a proud atheist!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mick

    Was a great movie . Obviously hard for some to put themselves in the shoes of others . How often do we hear and see caricatures made of people , especially conservative Evangelical Christians , religious Catholics. Academia is not the friendliest . Movie shows a Christian being quite selfish and drops her boyfriend because of it .Various people are portrayed as kind and some rude . Basically like real life . What the movie does do is show what its like to stand up for your beliefs in what once were Colleges that not only supported such beliefs , but welcomed them . Mr. Silverman has a much more acceptable view on a college campus . Suggesting it was an anti athesist movie is far from it , perhaps more of the dawkins and freedom from religion types .

  • Kurt Brewer

    Herb, what a well-written review. While I’m a little late to the discussion, this film has fascinated me as of late. I’ve had a number of conversations with friends–including a small group Bible study that I attend–about your article and have been sharing it copiously.

    Of particular interest to me is the Christian community’s (generally speaking) reception of this film compared to that of the new Noah movie. The Noah movie has been widely disregarded due to cries of textual “inaccuracy!” As if Aronofsky, or any director–Christian or otherwise–could somehow accurately and perfectly interpret into film every verse in Genesis 6-8.

    The same cinephiles calling for, even demanding, accuracy in Noah are not nearly as concerned for accuracy in the God’s Not Dead account. For example, Ken Ham (of Answers in Genesis) said of Noah “Ultimately, there is barely a hint of biblical accuracy in this almost two-and-a-half-hour film.” However, I couldn’t find anything in the AiG movie review of God’s Not Dead calling for an accurate picture of the campus classroom.

    Why are many Christians quick to condemn the movie Noah for it’s inaccuracy meanwhile celebrating the bold stand of a college freshman against his atheist professor? Perhaps because one movie is perceived as an attack on the Christian subculture by a “cultural enemy” and the other puts the “cultural enemy” on the defense. God’s Not Dead seems to play perfectly into the narrative that there’s a culture war to be won–and what better battleground than the secular college campus?

    Herb, I’d like to propose that we co-write an article a la your “Second Chance Bible” article. It’ll be a second chance God’s Not Dead of sorts. In it, a college freshman, who is a Christian, takes his philosophy professor, who is an atheist, to lunch. They respectfully discuss the issues, find common ground, and form a friendship. I don’t suppose anyone would come see our second chance screenplay and we wouldn’t make any money from it. But it’d be a much kinder narrative and much more accurate.

    • toddges

      The only thing right about Noah was the name. Oh, wait a minute; that wasn’t right either because the rest of it was not even borrowed from the Bible. Perhaps if Noah had a name like “Rick” then Christians would like it better. As of now, to Christians anyway, the name Noah implies a Biblical story. I think they were just disappointed because it wasn’t one. Spiderman 2 was in the theaters and Christians liked that one. It was not named after any Bible character so did not get their hopes up, only for a disappointing rude awakening.

  • Roger Tirazona

    Atheists are the new “commies”….

    • brewster101

      No we’ve actually been included among the Communist or Godless Pinko Commie label for quite a long time now. Nothing new about that.

  • Volker H

    Disclaimer: I am from germany, so first my english might not be 100% accurate, second I am an atheist as long I can think, third I can’t take this to seriously so my post won’t be either.
    Chuck is all over this place and complaining about the “opinions” of all the people posting here, like he needs to defend his god (his god, because someone stated it right, there are even other gods and he denies their existence [nothing to turn around here Chuck, I am saying this because you belive in your god which makes it obvious that you believe the other ones can't be "real"], but his god must be the one that existst, even if there is so much evidence in the other religions for their gods). But if I understood it right, a god is almighty and doesn’t need someone to defend him or is it her or it? Never mind…
    So what is all this hate about? I used Chuck here, cause as I mentioned, he is all over the comments, trying to dismantle all the others opinions and thoughts. For what reason? To make others believe this is stupid and christianity is not?
    Someone stated that there is so much hate between atheist and christians, and from my german perspective, this is so redicolous whats going on with those two groups in the US. In germany noone gives a shit about your believes, its what you believe and not a rule, law or even nature law. You are free to believe whta you want and that should be a minimum in a country of the free.
    I think this is the essential it breaks all down to. Believe. You can believe everything, noone can tell you what to believe and noone should. So you can believe the sun circles the earth or that there are unicorns and the easter bunny. But that still doesn’t make it right. Like no evidence against something doesn’t proove its existence. Its the other way around. Get into a room without air, run tests in there (in a suit with air) and then when there is no evidence for it, then get out of the suit and if you belive enough in air, then you should be fine cause then air should be there. ;-)
    Sometimes its just sad, that you need so much logic to explain a simple thing, a thing I realised when I was 6 or 7, that theres probalbly (yeah probably, we atheists just say there might be no god or its unlikely, but we don’t say there is no god) no god. Watch it, blasphemy following: If hes there, then hes kind of a real asshole if you look around in the world. Yes the devil does that, but god should be the boss (fallen angel, angels like gods employees) and he could do something, but he doesn’t. Blasphemy off.
    So this got more serious then intended, and Chuck, belive what you want, but maybe try some of the christian love. I thought this is for all, the bad, the ugly and the sinners, and atheist must be sinners.
    Stop Hating each other and start to accept each other, I am just mocking you because you steped forward. We here in germany got no problem with that, so why can’t you (US citizen)? Noone can tell whos right, thats all atheist say. But on each confrontation (take a look at Richard Dawkins confrontations with believers) its mainly the christians wo start a fight or just ignore the other sides arguments like a child. All of you should think more than feel in this discussions, cause its just your (atheists and christians) feelings that got hurt, hurt because you think someone questions your believes. There they are again, believes.
    So to come to an end, believe what you want, discuss it with each other and most of all, love each other
    Sincerly your atheist german
    blessings or greetings, what ever you prefer most…

  • ChrisK

    Great article. GO Herb Silverman! But if you want to hear a WILDLY funny, descriptive and insightful review of GND (as long as you don’t mind a little bit of gloriously ‘blue’ language), then please do yourself a favour and check out ‘Scathing atheist’ podcast (I THINK the April 3 episode).

  • nwcolorist

    I think it can be agreed that Albert Einstein is the greatest scientist of the modern age. He believed in God, and when challenged about it explained that as a boy walking into a library, he saw tens of thousands of pieces of literature, books, newspapers, pamphlets, etc. all arranged neatly on shelves row after row. That could not have been done, except by rational planning and organization.He said the physical world exhibits the same characteristics.

    Isn’t it logical to think that, just as there’s someone in charge to organize the library, there’s also someone, a being, or power, at work to the earth and universe?

    IMO, it takes far more faith to believe that our world just randomly assembled itself than to believe in God.

    • Sly Cotto

      If a complex universe requires a creator, how much more complex would the creator have to be, and from what or where did IT originate?
      Did it “poof” itself into existence?
      What did it use to create the universe?
      What are the “supernatural” explanations of existence of matter?
      “goddidit”???
      What a cop-out.

    • http://batman-news.com George

      Your an idiot. That is what passes for logic? You could never have a useful opinion.

      • nwcolorist

        It was Einstein who made the analogy. You’re calling him an idiot. Apparently you know more than him . And name calling usually means a lack of knowledge and small vocabulary.

        • http://batman-news.com George

          I will disagree with Einstin and actually everyone of any intellect knows more today than he did. Thank you Einstin for your contribution to science. But we can not be great at everything. Your limited world view and the culture at the time colored your response to the question of god. I dont blame you. But you are not a proof of god.

        • PR8ZS8N

          Einstein did not believe in a creator. And the universe was not randomly assembled. Do some research (preferably outside of your church’s library). And are you seriously trying to tell me that you find it easier to believe that the universe was created by an invisible person who lives in some unseen and unobservable realm that defies the laws of physics and time? And who created him? And the him who created him? I’m sorry, there’s science, and there’s make-believe, you believe whatever you and your church like. I’m more honest and humble than that.

          • nwcolorist

            Einstein most certainly DID believe in a creator. His famous statement that “God doesn’t play dice with the universe ” speaks to that.

            And to believe there is no intelligent being behind the creation of the universe does take a great deal of faith. It’s like having a tornado pass through a junkyard and when the dust cleared seeing a spotlessly new 2014 Lexus LS 460 assembled and running with the keys in the ignition.

          • brewster101

            There is plenty of reason to conclude that later in his life, Einstein was all but an atheist and only refused to call himself an atheist because he did NOT like the crusading anti-religious fervor or the arrogant certainty of many prominent atheists in his time. But if you would like to have Einstein believing in some Almighty God Creator, then fine, whatever. There can be NO question that Einstein completely rejected the Biblical God and the Bible itself as having divine origin. He stated that from the age of 12, he concluded entire tracts of the Bible were at best apocryphal fictions intended for children to read, ridiculed adults who believed they were literally true, and no subtle or artful interpretation had ever persuaded him to reconsider this. Einstein fully endorsed Spinoza’s God; he did NOT believe in a “personal” God that hears prayers or grants special personal favor or intervention, or otherwise concerns himself with the affairs of humanity. And finally, he firmly rejected the Bible or scripture as the basis for, or authority on, morality. This God in which you like to have Einstein believing was completely UNLIKE the God imagined by nearly all of those Americans to whom you erroneously refer as ‘sharing’ Einstein’s belief. Indeed, Einstein ridiculed most beliefs and narratives of ALL religions, which he referred to as “childish superstitions” and the Bible as “pretty childish”. As for his analogy (which Einstein called a parable) of a child in a library, this could be interpreted to mean that, due to humanity’s limited knowledge and understanding (analogous to the position of a child), it is possible that we mistakenly see the universe as being highly organized and well-ordered, when in reality, it is full of chaos, disorganization, and randomness, and we won’t understand this until our immature knowledge reaches a more advanced state or position.

  • Scott Plumer

    Great review. It’s sad that the film didn’t even get atheism right. An Atheist would never say “God is dead,” because believing God was dead implies God was alive to begin with. A film that is based on a faulty premise from the start does no one any favors, most of all the audience it’s aiming for.

    • toddges

      You would have to see it. He was quoting Nietzsche, who WAS a real atheist but also very concerned regarding global morality. He used to say “God is dead” all the time. The movie illustrates and tries to address his concerns when he said it. I feel a little sorry for the film-makers because the audience, especially the atheists, are so uneducated in their reviews. It’s like they slept through half of it.

  • acct066 *

    Thanks for this review. As a Christian professor at a (public) research university, I was also disturbed by the scene where the students are required (at threat of their grade) to sign the pledge — surely something that would not be tolerated at any legitimate university and plays on the worst fears some Christians have about higher education.

    What’s perhaps more frustrating, though, is that there is the seed of a very interesting movie here, one that touches on something very relevant to our cultural moment. I work with undergrads as a teacher and advisor, and I get the sense that these sorts of “big” religious questions are taking on a new urgency for many people in this generation. To put it more academically, atheists/agnostics/unbelievers are claiming a more visible place at the table of American religious pluralism, and this is an issue that this generation feels some rightful “ownership” of, whether they are religious believers, non-beleivers, or — as so many claim to be — spiritual but not religious. They care about it, they’re interested in it, and they want to talk about it.

    And from a Christian perspective, this film raises the idea that the most authentic kind of Christian apologetics/witness cannot happen in a classroom, through the medium of analytic philosophy or legalistic debate; it has to happen closer to the heart of people’s lives, their personal histories, their emotions and hopes and fears, and must be informed by love. This is also a zetigeisty idea (at least in my circles!).

    Yep. This film *could* have explored these ideas with complexity and nuance and ambiguity and drama, but it didn’t. I’m looking forward to watching “Christian” films that do. I have a hopeful feeling they’re coming soon … The fact that this film has very solid production values (despite the script) is an encouraging sign.

  • http://jbmaverick.wordpress.com/ Jack Maverick

    “Real atheists… don’t hate God any more than they hate the Easter Bunny”
    That’s quite true – however, it’s been my experience that such “real atheists” are few and far between. What is much more commonly found is people claiming to be atheists, but whose actions seem to reveal them as much more people who are mad at God rather than people who don’t believe he exists (i.e., an inordinate amount of time spent in angrily ranting character assassination of God, rather than in statements/discussions of their alleged disbelief in Him).
    Hell, they probably hate the Easter Bunny, too. :)

  • http://jbmaverick.wordpress.com/ Jack Maverick

    “As dogmatic as the fictional Professor Radisson is, he at least gave ample class time to a student who had a different opinion.”
    Now THERE’s the really unbelievable part of the movie, as the Christian world view and/or mention of God are regularly suppressed on university campuses.
    “the day before I was to speak, I was disinvited”
    I am genuinely sorry to hear this, however the infinitely more common case of “disinvitation” at universities involves those holding a Christian or conservative viewpoint.
    “it reflects poorly on an academic institution that allows only one point of view”
    Oh, you mean like all the institutions that bar even the mere mention of “intelligent design” theory? Or perhaps you’re referring to all the universities where anything less than wholesale endorsement of the homosexual community’s agenda would be forbidden as “hate speech”.

  • Josh Igbinijesu

    Is the guy who wrote this an atheist that’s carefully avoiding certain parts of the film. Because, as a person who’s actually seen the movies, I can say this guy has done a poor job of reporting it.

  • Ben Thompson

    To be fair, the ending is meant to point to silver linings in the midst of tragedy. That even though this person died, he did something good in the last moments of his life, or at least attempted to depending on your viewpoint. No Christian I know came out of that movie with the perspective that atheists must be beaten within an inch of their life to be saved. The lesson, from a Christian perspective, is that there is no situation in which God cannot bring about good things, and that Christians should be prepared to do good, no matter where they are. But you are right that the movie portrayed this lesson in a pretentious and vindictive manner and tone instead of building bridges of communication and compassion.

    I felt as I was watching the movie that the tone was equivalent to the man who screams in confidence, “I am more humble than you!”

  • Soren

    Well… I’m an atheist, and I hate God. But as a character, the same way I hate Lord Voldemort or Joffrey Baratheon. Yeah, come to think of it, God is just a cosmic Joffrey Baratheon.

  • http://www.ingovogelmann.com vogelmann

    I have to fully agree on this review. Watched the movie without having read the plot. Actually, I thought this would be about a deeper look in a philosophical way, a personal drama, stuff like this. But this is PURE Christian propaganda of the worst kind.

    Definitely the worst movie I saw in 2014. Actually, I haven’t seen it all, I have to admit. I had to switch it off after 4/5 in, I couldn’t stand this bullshit anymore.

  • Mackenzie Dotson

    I don’t understand what is meant by the phrase: “myth that Christians in this country are being persecuted”. I have faced a lot of ridicule, coarse joking and being excluded because of my faith. People judged me, wouldn’t listen to me and tried to make me feel guilty for my beliefs. I considered that to be persecution. What is persecution to you?

  • KD

    After watching it again, I do see how its portrayed as stereotypical. I don’t think it mattered what race certain roles played. For example, the Asian boy could’ve been in the Muslim girl’s role and that would be seen as stereotypical. Being controlled and abused can be in any family, doesn’t matter what race. The movie should have shown other families going through something like this as well but it didn’t. Many ppl are voicing out how Christians are really the “bully” and this movie is one sided. I’m not Christian but this movie we are all talking about is a Christian movie. I think this movie could have been better. But in the end, its just showing how ones faith can overcome anything. I’m catholic who had sought help for my illness from a monk. And there is nothing wrong with that. The debate over religion vs science is everlasting. All religions have something in common and its the fact that they believe in a higher power. Christians can be bullies, so can atheist. Why? Because we are only human. Everyone can say they don’t care what other ppl believe in but in reality we do in a way. Because ppl talk, look at the reviews in this movie. Instead of some “bloggers” or “critics” spilling their beans about the movie, do something productive in your life. I know I should. But after reading some comments I just had to speak up. In the end of this movie, the professor dies. Before he dies, he does accept religion in his life. When you have no one to turn to, only then will you turn to something or someone even greater. When you are dying from an illness and no medication or technology can save you, all you have is yourself and your beliefs. Religion does play a major role in who we are. And to me, this is what I saw in the movie.

  • Lovlie Heart

    Okay I see your small points but as you say Atheist being unhappy and christian being happy go-lucky people. Noted as you pointed out that an atheist can be happy as in the rich man with a great job and the go-lucky christian well the preacher did not seem very excited he seemed very unhappy. God puts people to tests the rich man was not to be played has evil he was played as lost like he had all this money and should be happy but just lacking something and he would have a happy ending he would go home to his pent house and grand job and the preacher was unhappy cause he had none of that rich man excitement but God was trying to show him the excitement in the work of God’s hand. Now I’m not one to bash on someone’s religion that’s not my job seeing as though you seem happy. But why angry why do you seem angry? You write this article as if we, as Christians, are bashing you, as an atheist, when the movie was to lead others to Christ or at least give some hope of heaven.
    Do you really feel as though we were but on this earth to live through hell and good day and bad and good people and up and down days to just in the end die. Everything has a purpose and if we are here what is our to just breath then die. when you pick up a pencil what is its purpose? Do you stick in you ears? Is that why it was made? No! It was made to be written with! so, what were we made for? Now i know your gonna come up with something but can you trust in your gut that, that your logic is any better than mine? I may be young to you and you may think that it is stupid to have faith in someone you can’t see. But you have faith that the air will be there when you need to take a breath right? Can you see air? Cause if you can I would sure love to see that also i believe it would be beautiful. Just think about it. -E