Critiquing unrealistic characters, situations in “God’s Not Dead”

Luke Van Der Male

God’s Not Dead, directed by Harold Cronk, convincingly defeats an atheist
professor who doesn’t exist. Nor does the atheist professor represent
any nontheist position fairly. The first thing the Kevin Sorbo’s atheist
professor does is force everyone in his introductory philosophy class
to claim that “God is dead” on threat of failing. 

No one thinks this is a good idea, and already the secular community
has responded indignantly that they’d be as outraged by this behavior as
any Christian group. This is indicative of how unrealistic this movie’s
atheist characters are, because it misrepresents nontheists both
emotionally and intellectually. Then, in a hasty afterthought, it throws
up some “legal cases where University Students and Campus Ministries
(sic) were condemned for their faith.” These 36 cases improve not at all
on the original caricature of atheism.

Yet is it possible that an atheist professor may want to move past
traditional arguments about the existence of God? Maybe, but for one,
this is a terrible way to avoid the God question, and for two, it
fundamentally comprises the core of any decent upper-level educational
system: free inquiry. 

By preemptively quashing student’s doubts on the subject, you tell them
their doubts aren’t relevant or worthwhile in the classroom setting.
This is a precise inversion of the truth. The only salient point of the
matter is that accusing an atheist of doing this and implying it
reflects on secularists in general is nothing but a straw man. 

The strategy of the straw man here is to present an opponent somewhat
similar to the real one but different enough to be easily mocked.
Afterwards, proceed to spend the money you saved on screenwriters on an
end movie appearance of the Newsboys.

The intellectual paucity of Kevin Sorbo’s atheist professor is seconded
only by Trisha LaFache’s blogger-reporter and her softball questions.
The movie’s dramatic height comes from the professor claiming that the
universe can come from nothing. I’ve never this heard in any debate, yet
it’s the only question that stumps the hero-Christian. No one even
mentions more common philosophy-class questions, like why do bad things
happen to good people if there is an omnipotent loving God? The only
intellectual use of the classroom scenes in this movie is to see how
much of this plot was lifted from Christian chainmail.

The professor’s inevitable undoing comes from his being accused of
merely hating God, rather than disbelieving in him. This, in itself,
shows how little the movie cares about actual nontheist’s emotional
states. The average atheist just doesn’t care about God, there’s likely
not a tragic backstory showing such hatred. But hatred or no, it does
nothing to undermine any argument. Everybody hates Joffrey from Game of
Thrones, but no one claims he exists.

The cases in the credits do nothing to correct the movie’s myopia.
About half of them concern Christians being denied the right to
discriminate against gay people in professional settings, and in most of
them the Christians win the case. But it’s important to admit this
movie isn’t meant to persuade anybody in the median of the God

This movie will be shown across private Christian schools countrywide
in a huge academic pat on the back. So if you like this movie and that’s
what you’re into, I say enjoy the unquestioned life. Otherwise, feel
free to join some real nontheists for a viewing and discussion of the
movie on Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. in Mackinac C1-112.

[email protected]