Tuesday, April 29, 2014

God's Not Dead...or is He?

Just before Easter I saw the movie "God’s Not Dead." At this time of year there are a plethora of films relating to the Bible – “Noah’s Ark” is another one that comes to mind, but I have yet to see it. I thought “God’s Not Dead” would be interesting as it attempts to debate the existence of God...a debate that has raged on since Old Testament days. Even Abraham, the father of Judaism and Christianity had his work cut out for him. Not only did he have to convince his people that God existed, but to follow him to an unknown land, where their future was gravely uncertain. Then and now, no proof exists and no movie, book or religious leader can elucidate the truth. Faith has always been, and will likely always be the only path to God, even if people return after near-death experiences believing they have met with the divine.

The problem with such movies is not the debate itself – questions and discussion are valuable tools for growth and learning – but when a story is woven together with clich├ęs and stereotypes, there can be no debate or even discussion. Kevin Sorbo, who played Hercules for many years, takes on the role of a college philosophy professor who bullies his students into declaring in writing that ‘there is no God.’ Only one student stands up to him and refuses to comply. This sets up the conflict: With contempt, the professor tells the student that if he can convince the class that God exists in three twenty minute lectures, he will pass the course. If not, he will fail and compromise his entire future.

Unfortunately, anyone who has the vaguest curiosity about this question will likely lose interest at the get-go. The good guys are believers and the bad guys are atheists. Hmm, is there no such thing as a good atheist? The characters are all so one-dimensional that it is impossible to empathize with them or believe in their transformation. A poor script cannot carry a movie, so even if the acting had been wonderful (which was not the case) the movie couldn't possibly succeed. Guess what happens? Not only does the student convince the entire class that God exists--in sixty minutes, but he also convinces his ornery professor. (Sorry for the spoiler.)

As for the topic? It’s current, it’s important and it’s interesting. But if people really want to delve into the question of God’s existence they should do some of their own research or join an open-minded church. There are hundreds of thousands of books written on this subject and they go a lot deeper than ‘free will’ or ‘God having a role in evolution.’  I would love to see a film that tackles this topic with depth and intelligence. In the meantime, I’ll just continue watching clever and fun films like “The Grand Budapest Hotel!”