I finally got to see God’s Not Dead on Saturday night along with Jeremy Beahan, Justin Schieber and Dave Fletcher (3/4 of the Reasonable Doubts guys). I had very high expectations for the movie to shatter the unintentional comedy scale and I was certainly not disappointed. I had a blast, though admittedly it was partly because of the company I was in. There are spoilers below, so stop reading if you don’t want to see them.
For the handful of people who don’t know what the movie is about, it’s basically one of those idiotic right wing chain emails turned into a script. It seems to exist solely to reinforce the stereotypes of atheists held by the dumbest fundamentalist Christians in existence. It’s a Jack Chick tract sprung to celluloid life. Every atheist in the movie is not just a bad person, but an astonishingly evil person. The Dean Cain character is so unrelentingly evil that Emperor Palpatine would tell him to tone it down a notch.
The Dean Cain character’s girlfriend finds out she has cancer and she tells him at dinner at a fancy restaurant. His response: “This couldn’t wait until tomorrow?” He then dumps her on the spot and when she says she thought they were in love, he tells her to grow up and that love is just something we tell people to get what we want. Because as we all know, this is how atheists act. The girlfriend herself is a ridiculous caricature, a left-wing blogger who ambushes people and asks them stupid questions to make them look bad.
The professor, played by Kevin Sorbo, is such a straw man that it wouldn’t have been any more ridiculous if they’d given him horns and a pitchfork and shown him eating a baby. He walks in on the very first day of class and tells the students that they have to sign a piece of paper saying “God is dead” and if they don’t, they’re going to fail the class. One Christian student — in a class of 80 people in the United States of America, which is about 70% Christian, there’s only a single Christian — says he can’t sign it because he believes in God. The student bears a strong resemblance to Billy Zabka, which is appropriate since the whole movie seems like a Christian remake of the Karate Kid. The professor is John Creese, attempting to intimidate the student. At one point I leaned over to Jeremy and said, “Sweep the leg, Johnny!”
No one in the movie makes a good argument, either Christian or atheist. The student relies on the same old tired arguments, including claiming that the Cambrian explosion created all the animals found on earth pretty much in their modern form in a geological microsecond. That’s a ridiculous lie. The professor offers nothing but appeals to authority (“Stephen Hawking says the universe created itself. You think you’re smarter than the greatest scientist in history, Mr. Smarty Pants?”). And when the student finally gets him to admit that he does believe in God, he does it by repeatedly yelling “Why do you hate God?” at him. Very compelling.
I think the movie should be turned around. Someone needs to make an atheist version with an atheist student and a Christian professor. And the student will break down the professor at the end in a dramatic climax in which he says, “Why do you have an imaginary friend?” loudly and repeatedly. Yes, that would be equally moronic. But I loved this movie. It was worth a million laughs precisely because it was so absurd and inane.
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