Professor Strawman and the Right-Wing Fantasy Circus: a review of “God’s Not Dead”

God’s not dead, but if he had to sit through the movie currently in theaters by that name, he might wish he were. A cinematic romp through stereotypes, caricatures, and gross generalizations, “God’s Not Dead” is one of the worst movie experiences I’ve had in a long, long time.

I suppose I should give a spoiler alert here, though it’s hard to imagine spoiling a movie already so thoroughly rotten.

For those who haven’t seen its comical trailer, “God’s Not Dead” is about a heroic Christian college freshman named Josh who defies his maniacal philosophy professor (Kevin Sorbo) by refusing to write and sign “God is Dead” on a piece of paper in a bizarre opening assignment, earning him the course requirement of defending the antithesis: that God exists and is very much alive.

I’ve taught college classes, and Sorbo’s class bears little to no resemblance to reality, but then neither do the myriad other caricatures throughout the film. Indeed, that is really all this film is: a Christian Right exercise in stereotyping all manner of God haters and God deniers.

There’s an anti-religious, vegetarian reporter who ambushes one of the Duck Dynasty crew to get him to admit he kills ducks when he hunts them (a very strange scoop indeed). She ends up with cancer and of course converts.

Her corporate tycoon boyfriend, played by Dean Caine, cares only for himself and his success, going so far as to ask her if their discussion about her cancer diagnosis can’t “wait till tomorrow.”

There is a Muslim girl who removes her hijab, has secretly converted to Christianity, and listens to Franklin Graham surreptitiously on her iPod before she is found out by her traditional Muslim father, who of course beats her and kicks her out of the house. This disturbing scene (which the filmmakers attempt to mitigate it by showing the father’s remorse) counts as one of the most offensive in the movie’s many stereotypes.

That scene cuts directly to an equally stock portrayal of a Chinese student’s father, who warns his son (who of course tested out of his math and science classes – or just “science” in general, I guess) to leave all the God talk alone, since “you never know who might be listening.”

Josh’s blonde Eve-like temptress of a girlfriend, with whom he has been since he was twelve, apparently, tells him to sign his professor’s “God is Dead” statement and move on. They break up and we never see her again.

But of course the most absurd caricatures are of college professors in general, led by the unbelievably villainous Sorbo, who has his faculty colleagues over to sip merlot to classical music while snobbishly condescending to his Christian girlfriend (they also unsurprisingly break up).

Sorbo opens his philosophy class by declaring they are going to “bypass debate”—even though debating philosophical positions is the entire point of the discipline of philosophy. Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist, is treated as though he is an academic philosopher (he’s not) and the professor’s students apparently read his mass paperback “The God Delusion” as though it’s an academic text (it’s not).

In the fantasy land in which this film is set, people who are not Christians are bad people, because, as Josh sums it up, “With no God there is no reason to be moral.” This is a place where Muslim fathers beat their daughters if they step out of line, where the Chinese are all paranoid anti-religionists, where liberals or vegetarians or intellectuals or whatever target du jour the film is serving up are merely “angry at God” because of personal letdowns.

In the film’s “You can’t handle the truth!” moment, Josh goes personal on the professor, and gets him to scream that he “hates” God because he “took everything from me” (God failed to listen to his prayers as a 12-year-old boy when his mother was dying) – again, a standard evangelical rationalization as to why anyone believes any differently from them. In fact, the existence of anything other than conservative evangelical Christianity is absent from the film. There are only really two types of people: good people (evangelical Christians), and people who are bad (Muslims, Darwinists, Chinese, atheists, reporters) until or unless they convert.

The film can’t be bothered by nuance or complexity, like the (actual) philosophical arguments against theism, not to mention the myriad arguments and positions for it; no, all theists are apparently the same, and all believe in the same sort of God: a supernaturally intervening, sovereign and separate deity. It’s as though the entirety of 20th-century theology never happened.

The shocking though not surprising final “twist” of the film sees Sorbo’s character killed after a flash of lightening and peel of thunder (yes, really) in a hit-and-run by Caine’s character (yes, Superman runs over Hercules with his car)—a revenge fantasy saved only by the fact that Sorbo (finally!) accepts Jesus, thanks to an intervening minister and missionary who, lovable as they are, take advantage of the situation to score a conversion.

Comedy, not drama, is supposed to dabble in simplistic stock characters, but this film purports to take itself seriously. It would be only laughable if it didn’t also provide a disturbing window into the narrative fantasy in which fundamentalists live their lives. That “God’s Not Dead” is not presenting Sorbo as an outlying anomaly at a particularly bad and strange college is made clear during the closing credits, when the filmmakers note that the movie was “inspired” by dozens of court cases (all dutifully listed) involving poor Christians targeted by their evil universities. There is even a solicitation to contact a legal advocacy group if you yourself are facing discrimination.

But consistency and reality are not a part of this world, or of this worldview. This is not the reality the rest of us live in, but it’s disturbing that it’s the reality these folks (and the many flocking to this movie) do live in. The rest of us are perplexed by conservative Christians who are outraged at being supposedly targeted at colleges while being simultaneously outraged that they’re not allowed to discriminate against LGBT people.

But that’s because they have The Truth, and the rest of us do not. So anything in the service of that Truth—even inaccurate, offensive stereotypes—is fair game. I guess Jesus enjoys his lies with a side of popcorn.


Don M. BurrowsAbout Don M. Burrows

Don M. Burrows is a former journalist and columnist who is now completing his Ph.D. in classical studies, with a graduate minor in religious studies focusing on early Christian literature. A former Christian fundamentalist, Don is now a member of the United Church of Christ and contends most firmly that the Bible cannot be read or explored without appreciating its ancient, historical context. Don lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two young children. Don blogs at Nota Bene and can also be found on Facebook.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Amy Hoag

    Even though I wasn’t sure exactly how the plot went down I had the feeling that it was like this. I can’t stand these “Christian” movies that paint all non-Christians with the same brushstroke. I am very nervous when there’s a Christian message in a movie because it never seems to be about the same faith I practice… I like movies that let the movie goer draw their own conclusions and don’t hit you over the head with their message… Guess what? I am a Christian and they don’t speak for me!

    • http://thethreews.wordpress.com/ Ken Leonard

      The best portrayal of a fictional Christian in recent years has been Shepherd Book from “Firefly.” The man has a past, takes action to help people, and loves and consoles everyone he meets. A bit shaken by Inara at their first meeting, but that was Mal’s setup. Other than that, he supported everyone, and befriended Jayne.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      Films like that have two types of people good (conservative evangelicals) and bad, everyone else. They paint a f one dimensional fairy tale existence That doesn’t even exist for the target audience. If it did I’m pretty sure they’d loathe such a life of black and white with non shades of grey, much less other hues

      • Giauz Ragnarock

        “They paint a f one dimensional fairy tale existence…”

        There is futuristic racing in these movies? I’m reconsidering seeing GND now.

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

          I think I typed that on my smart phone, which loathes disqus. and invents typos just for the hell of it, and to make me look like a moron.

          ..But now that you mention it, a Tron-like race scene, probably would add some life to films like these, if it was of Fast and Furious quality, even better.

  • Guest
  • Cranky McPants

    If your faith is so tragically shallow that you have to paint everyone else in simplistic caricature and stereotype, then frankly, you aren’t defending much of a faith to begin with. What they have done, essentially, is to demonstrate that their version of faith cannot survive in the real world.

  • http://latitudinarismus.blogspot.com/ Timothy McPherson

    I haven’t seen the film at all. However, one thing that has disturbed me is the fact that after seeing the movie, hundreds of my Facebook friends started posting or tweeting “God’s Not Dead.” (I understand that to be a pivotal scene in the movie at a Newsboys concert.)

    My problem with that is that God does not need to defend himself. He does not need for us to tweet that he’s not dead, as if this absolves us from further responsibility of proclaiming the Kingdom of God. “I posted that God’s not dead! Now I can continue living my saccharine-coated life.”

  • Jack Washington

    I think the professor may be on point, however, as simplistic as the film is, it does stimulate thought about countering arguments from the Atheists!

    • Bryan Richards

      Without giving any theist a leg to stand on… anyone that is inspired to counter by this movie is going to be blindsided when encountering people that refuted their own beliefs (most atheists).

    • Psycho Gecko

      I haven’t seen the movie, but by all the reviews, it seems to contain a large number of what we call PRATTs. That stands for “Points Refuted A Thousand Times”. These are not good arguments to make, and attempting to use them against us will only show that you have not actually thought all that much about your side and are instead just parroting talking points you heard from people who also don’t know what they are talking about.

    • Psycho Gecko

      In other words, if you haven’t bothered to seriously consider our position, why should we seriously consider yours?

  • Just a moment

    I haven’t seen the movie myself, and based on this article I now don’t know if I ever want to, but there’s one point he makes about college classrooms and professors that I do take a small exception to. Although I agree that the film probably presents a gross exaggeration of a situation that might develop–a professor basing an entire student’s semester and grade on arguing one personal bone of contention–I once had an English professor spend at least half of the first day talking about how religion had done little for him and posing to the class, “Raise your hand if you ever got anything out of church.” Of course no one did–who would?–but I thankfully had the opportunity to drop the class like a hot potato. While I never felt particularly threatened by that professor or any other professor that sneered at “the Christians” on campus, and while there were many professors who you knew were atheist or agnostic who were very open, I nevertheless have a hard time dismissing this scenario outright.

    • Don M. Burrows

      With any profession, there are going to be examples of people doing their jobs poorly. The problem is that anecdotal examples like yours get turned into a grand narrative about the higher academy in general, and it’s clear this movie was playing to that narrative. I’ve also had a conservative professor once (yes, really) go on an anti-gay rant, but I knew it was because he was simply a nut.
      The other problem is that often, conservative evangelicals seem to think that even the imparting of information that goes against their understood worldview is “persecution,” even if said info is accepted scholarship. We can’t change what is fact or consensus scholarship simply because it might contradict someone’s ideology. That would run contrary to the entire point of a university in the first place.

    • Margaret

      Students are naturally hesitant to talk about religion in the classroom. I’m taking a Biblical Archaeology course this semester and the professor will regularly ask questions about Christian beliefs as a Socratic method of teaching. Questions as simple as “What happened on ‘Good Friday’?” leaves the class awkwardly speechless. And I know there are Christians in there, I’ve seen the VBS t-shirts and the cross and ichthus necklaces, but they all fall silent. All in all, there’s a double standard. When non-Christians are outwardly vocal about their beliefs and try to convince others of the same, it’s called intolerance or persecution. When Christians do it, it’s called “evangelizing”.

      • Psycho Gecko

        When you say Biblical Archeology, I’m curious if they’re trying to differentiate between what they say and what Archeology itself has found regarding the events the bible claims occurred.

  • TheStudent

    My dad texted me after he saw the film with all caps “GODS NOT DEAD.” My only reply was, “Well, I agree.” The hype in this new form of evangelicalism today is to build up the people in rallies, duck dynasty meet and greets, or movies like this to one moment where they then all burst out in joy then move along with their lives feeling great about themselves. My problem is that christians today are fantasizing reality with images they believe are true but are not, such as this movie. As a college student, I couldn’t agree more that the professor described is nothing like any professor I have ever met. While there may be professors who do not accept anything but something similar to their own opinion, it occurs to me that overall, any professor is willing to listen to your opinion and if they respond with the opposite opinion it is usually to challenge the student to have a good stance on their opinion, not berate them. I have a problem with the TV and movie God, because I’m pretty sure he is dead.

  • Isaac O’Casey

    “God’s not dead, but if he had to sit through the movie currently in theaters by that name, he might wish he were.”

    No, but he might wish he were if he saw how strongly Christians hate each other. We seem to disregard Jesus’ prayer to his Father, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of the may be one…”

    There are two fundamentalists: The conservatives and the liberals. Both adhere dearly to their beloved doctrines.

    • http://johnshore.com/ John Shore

      There’s only one kind of Christian who won’t fight for what’s right: a Christian who knows he’s wrong.

      • Bryan Richards

        hence why wars and infighting are so prevalent. especially amongst people of faith.

    • Moe Sizlak

      Fundamental conservatives are militant my friend and that is based in fact and reality. Just check out all the militias in the US. They are all conservative ‘Christian’. Granted, liberals have their radicals here and there but militancy isn’t part of being liberal or progressive. Also, most liberals are Christians and even non believers generally don’t don’t hate or disavow the idea of God nor would they ever make a movie this idiotic.

      By the way, what is the conservative vs liberal doctrine because honestly, I have never heard of either. I know the definition between the two but I am unfamiliar with any particular doctrine. I’m not wanting to argue but I would like some clarification to your post. Thanks.

      • Andy

        You’re painting with a pretty broad brush there.

    • Benny King

      Conservatives believe in selfishness, liberals believe in support for community and for any marginalized member of society. Yep, definitely one and the same thing. Or you’re a conservative that is trying to appear moderate and don’t know what you’re talking about.

      • Isaac O’Casey

        You’re mistaken, Christians support community and marginalized members of society. You’re absolutely right that liberals care for the marginalized but isn’t it a little snobbish to assume conservatives don’t equally care for the marginalized? What is it that makes conservatives so selfish?

        • Bryan Richards

          by support you mean not listen to them, push them to the brink of suicide and over, especially lgbt groups and atheists… only support community for those inside the community, etc.

          christianity has been on the wrong side of any “difficult” moral issue for the longest time. i wonder why people still try to use it for morals at all.

          • Isaac O’Casey

            Bryan, I’m sorry we’ve twisted Christianity into something it was never intended it to be. You’re absolutely right that some Christians choose not to love those Jesus would have loved. Like I said, it wasn’t intended to be this way. Remember when Jesus saved the woman accused of committing adultery? In the eyes of the Pharisees she was the worst of sinners and inferior to them (like some today view the lgbt groups and atheists). Jesus, however, chose to defend her. In his day he was on the wrong side of the difficult moral issue and it cost him his life.

            The type of Christian your post speaks of is by no means the majority. Often the media picks up on these sort of Christians and makes them seem like the exemplar. Certainly there are too many Christians who can’t seem to love their lgbt or atheist neighbor, but we cannot let this poison the whole well.

          • Bryan Richards

            Either way you look at it, the bible shouldn’t be used as a moral source. Christians fail the test of time, every time. Wrong side of practically every important moral issue that hits society. Abortion, slavery, women’s suffrage, right to vote for women and blacks, marriage, euthanasia, sex, etc. the list goes on. the bible is very clearly not a source of morality but an authorship of confusion.

            when someone can make the bible say what they think it says, then it is clear it is duplicitious at best or murky and completely undecipherable otherwise. use reasoning and conscience instead of a bronze age book of mythologies, it’ll get you much further.

          • WANNABEaSERVENT

            the are many groups that the world calls Christians but there is really only one group. the majority of catholics arent Christians because they believe salvation by works same with mormons.the only true Christians are people who believe the entire bible is true wich says we are not peoplearent saved by anything they do but only God can save them. so nobody can do anything to be saved accept God saved you and repent. and i dont know why any Christian would speak openly to non Christians about a certain sin when it doesnt matter because sin is sin and if you dont accept Jesus Christ as Savior your’e doomed to burn anyway!!!

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Yeah….right.

          • Andy

            Welp, he convinced me. I’m off to repent.

  • http://limpingtowardsgrace.com/ James Jarvis

    “With no God there is no reason to be moral.” Do the film makers have any idea how ironic that statement is when one of the villains is a Muslim who beats his daughter. Not only is that an offensive stereotype Muslim=bad person it you take take it at face value it totally destroys the God makes you moral argument.

    • rtknight

      But these people think only THEIR god is the true god, therefore without their particular brand of Christianity there can be no morals.

      • http://limpingtowardsgrace.com/ James Jarvis

        True, I don’t know how many times I’ve been told “obvious you can’t believe in God if you disagree with me.”

        • DonRappe

          I’ve also been called a liar by an atheist who realized he didn’t know more science than I do when I claimed to be a believer. (That was the day I was wearing my red bandana as a jock strap.)

          • Andy

            He or she might have thought something like, “you can’t be very knowledgeable about science if you believe in God.” Ah, stereotypes. Wonderful things, aren’t they?

        • Andy

          I think what they might mean by that is, “you don’t believe in my god.”

          • http://limpingtowardsgrace.com/ James Jarvis

            And since there is only one God, who just happens to be the one they believe in, I can not believe in God at all.

          • Andy

            Something like that.

    • Ellen K.

      They don’t really believe that God makes you moral, or that God saves, etc. They believe that asserting the right beliefs about God makes you moral, saves, etc. No room for an actual relationship with God. And muslims, of course, are even worse that us Catholics as far as not having the right ideas about God.

  • Moe Sizlak

    I refused to see this movie just because I have two degrees and know that NO professor would demand anyone affirm or deny their faith. They wouldn’t even waste the breath on the conversation. Sadly, I live in the southeast US and this movie is a hit here and people (idiots) at my wife’s baptist church (she is not an idiot an is leaving that church thankfully) love it. Granted at this particular baptist church, their collective IQ is lower than that of Forrest Gump and they don’t realize how much they actually hate God. Anyway, what can you expect from a movie producer that has to hire pseudo actors like Sorbo and Cain. They had their day and like Kirk Cameron and one of the Baldwins are desperate for a paycheck. Every has been actor seems to turn to ‘Christian’ movies when their day is done. Pathetic.

    • RMcghil

      That’s funny, since I spent two years in a dept. where every single professor made it clear at least once that Christians had no business in higher education. The older TAs warned the new ones that the “born again students are a problem” and to just accept that they’re going to be failing these students because they insist on making conservative arguments in their essays.

      • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

        There does sound like some prejudice there, yet, I wonder if these professors also wanted their students to think critically, and to demonstrate knowledge of the subject, not attempt to turn everything into a attempt of defense of religious dogma.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/ Dan Wilkinson

        I’m really interested in what school and department this happened at.

      • WatchingFromOverThere

        What I found was that some fundamentalist students were incapable of critical thinking, that they were afraid to move beyond the talking points that they had been brought up with. If a student refused to engage an opposing viewpoint in an intelligent matter instead of just repeating slogans, then the professor would be justified in giving a poor grade.

    • Simon James

      Hate Christianity often?

    • DonRappe

      Hey, wait a minute! Nobody plays Hercules and Superman better than Sorbo and Cain. I don’t think we should dump on them just because they like to earn a paycheck. Not to mention the captain of the starship Andromeda. It may be telling that actors who are good at playing mythic characters were chosen for these parts.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

    The philosophy class i took, challenged us on the topic of ethics, taking two quite different points of view on things like suicide, abortion, capital punishment, and then asked us to pick which essayist made the stronger case for their side. It was one of the best lessons for critical thinking I’ve ever had..

  • Gloria

    I have not seen the movie. I believe it would depend on the cultural context for both the Muslim and the Chinese scenarios. If they are in America “permanently”, then I don’t know why they would be concerned; but if they are in China, or just on a temporary visa, they may have reasons to be concerned. In the Islamic context, I don’t think the daughter would get off “so lightly”, but it depends…..

    • Setsurinvich

      a kid with a cantonese last name wouldnt have these kinds of problem as hong kong has religous freedom and plenty of christians

  • http://www.popdose.com/ DwDunphy

    The question I want answered is whether we’re seeing movies like “God’s Not Dead” and “Heaven Is For Real,” movies you’d expect more on Lifetime TV than in theaters, because of some unmet (still) spiritual hunger in America, or because it is mid-term election season while a Democrat is in the White House.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/ Dan Wilkinson

      A bit cynical? :)
      How ’bout because there’s money to be made with them?

      • http://www.popdose.com/ DwDunphy

        That would suggest that we’ve been getting movies like this steadily for the past few years. We haven’t. We’ve had more in the first quarter of 2014 than in 2010-2013 combined. That’s not cynicism. That’s benchmarking…

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

          Seriously? The original Left Behind, there was two of those. Fire proof, There was another Left Behind like film that came out about the same time as Left Behind that was just as lousy….Oh yeah, they were called The Omega code films.(I saw the first and it was horrible)..In fact since 2000, there has been an explosion of christian themed films, usually geared towards evangelical audiences. Few make it mainstream, and most don’t make a lot of money.

          In 2014 there are 7 films either already released to slated to be released later this year. In 2010 there were ten films, 2011, there were 8, 2012, there were six, 2013, seven. Interesting that one of the most prolific years in this century was in 2009…25 films. 2006 comes in second. No other year has come remotely close.

          The amount of films being released in this genre has dropped way off. They are expensive to make, and are geared to too small an audience to make much in the way of profits. And they are usually pretty awful, which always limits viewership.

    • James Walker

      I would think the backers of these films are very much aware of the political cycle. Whether that’s the primary consideration in the release timing, who can say?

  • CroneEver

    I taught history at the university level for years, and while I knew quite a few atheist/agnostic professors – and we had friendly debates in the hallways or offices – I never know any professor who required a statement of disbelief, or refused to allow debate. In fact, most of the time we were trying like crazy to get our students to talk and debate and argue. But the myth is out there: higher learning will make you lose your faith! Didn’t do it to me, but probably my faith (Christian, non-denominational) isn’t the “right kind”.

    • Bryan Richards

      highly depends on the type of learning and if it is then applied to faith. it is likely a good portion of why 95% of the NAS are non believers/atheists.

      • DonRappe

        Is there really a study of this? I would be interested.

        • Bryan Richards

          http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html

          personal belief at only 7% and the rest either disbelieve or are agnostics (which if they were honest about it would lack belief because they lack knowledge)….

          • DonRappe

            Thanks. It appears to me that this survey would characterize most Unitarian-Universalists, Buddhists, Hindus and people whose Christian theology rules out superstitious beliefs (I include myself here) as unbelievers. This may account for the lopsided percentage. Clearly, Einstein’s famous belief that the Old One does not play dice, would not get him included.

          • Bryan Richards

            I’m not exactly sure how christian theology rules out anything supernatural… and buddhists may not believe in a god, but still believe in supernatural things like reincarnation.

            Einstein held an atheistic concept called spinoza’s god (just a renaming of the word nature as god), hence the confusion surrounding what he thought on the topic.

            Unitarian universalists also express personal belief in a god of some sort and would also be included in the 7%. Buddhists probably wouldn’t though… but I fail to see how a christian does not express belief in god and would not be included in that 7% (if they didn’t they would be in an extreme minority of all christians).

          • Andy

            Bryan: he said “superstitious”, not “supernatural”. I don’t think most people would agree that you can be a theist and reject all things supernatural. If so, I think it’s an issue of semantics. I myself am skeptical about many things called “supernatural” but I still call myself a theist (most of the time anyway). And I’m not superstitious (except while watching sports, when reality goes out the window, but I digress) either.

            At the risk of nitpicking, there is debate as to Spinoza’s position. Some call him a pantheist, some call him an atheist. Either way, Einstein affirmed he was an agnostic and not an atheist (yes, I know you can be both) and took issue with people who classified him as such.

            Also, a number of Buddhists are so less in a religious sense and more of a philosophical sense, or possibly just a spiritual one. There are some who are theistic, some atheistic, and some probably neither. And one of the tenets of Unitarianism is accepting people of any faith or none (indeed, that may be their only tenet; I’m not sure), so not all of them believe in a personal god.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            That study sampled about 1000 people, twice, a century apart, and used those 1000 people to make that claim? How many scientists are there out there? How many in each field? 1000 scientists is hardly an extensive representative of the science community at large.

          • DonRappe

            While 1000 is a respectable sample size, I suspect that questions using loaded terms such as “immortality” or “existence” are then being broadly interpreted.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            Agreed.

          • Bryan Richards

            depends on the people being surveyed…. with regards to the NAS a turnout of 500 is a significant sample size.

        • http://patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/ Dan Wilkinson

          Pew also had a good study on science and belief. Their survey showed that 51% of scientist believe in God or a universal spirit or a higher power, while 41% don’t believe in any of those things. http://www.pewforum.org/2009/11/05/scientists-and-belief/

          • DonRappe

            I suppose I know about a dozen physicists, some of which should be considered world class.The Pew results correspond well with my intuition of their beliefs.I am inclined to regard professors who fast for Yom Kippur or Ramadan or who openly affirm that they are Hindus as believers. Also, Roman Catholics or protestants who keep Christmas in a spiritual way.

          • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

            I have a brother who is a physicist. He is a Christian.

          • http://patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/ Dan Wilkinson

            I actually think it’s more interesting what philosophers believe about these sorts of things, and in that case the breakdown is: atheism 72.8%, theism 14.6%, other 12.6% (via http://philpapers.org/archive/BOUWDP.4.pdf). Of course we also have to be careful we’re not engaging in argumentum ad populum.

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

    Thanks for this helpful review.

  • Dan Packard

    For all the people who think this situation doesn’t happen or is completely fictional, I had almost this exact same thing happen to me in my Introduction to Philosophy class at The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. On the first day of class, the professor (actually a doctoral student who was teaching the class as TA), said substantially, “there is no such thing as God. During the first week of class I’m going to prove to you that God does not exist. The rest of the class will go on from there. If you don’t like it, you can leave.” So, the premise of this movie is not fiction. I stayed in the class and I got a B.

    • Psycho Gecko

      So then this story didn’t happen to you. As in, it wasn’t a professor, it was a student who probably got chewed out by his professor afterward. And he never made you sign a statement saying your deity was dead. And there was no big debate between you and the student. And you don’t know if the student had a girlfriend. And the student wasn’t killed at the end. And you didn’t rush up and try to convert him rather than give him any medical help or call an ambulance.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      So a student…which is a TA, tried a self serving tactic, and obviously got nowhere with the class in his proof that first week. I’m sorta surprised that no one raised their hand and quipped. “Wait, is this religion 101? Because if it is, I’m in the wrong class.”

    • DonRappe

      I think this is close enough to the stereotype to make a valid point. I recall when my freshman sister told me her history teacher told the class that Jesus never existed. While I understand this to be vaguely possible, it is far from a historically accurate statement.

      • Andy

        I would think he or she is obligated to teach history as it is (or as much as is the consensus), not as he or she she sees it. I have consistently heard that most historians agree that Jesus of Nazareth most likely existed, and all of my teachers that mentioned him over the years I took history referred to him as such. To this day I don’t think I know if any of them are/were Christian, because they didn’t talk about it.

        This is no different from a biology teacher teaching Young Earth Creationism in his or her class. It’s completely inappropriate.

  • Walter Bernhard

    So the Religious Reich has made another moronic propaganda film for their constituents to drool over. What else is new?

  • Psycho Gecko

    I bet if I had a list of those cases that supposedly “prove” the events of this adapted Chick Tract, I would probably find they had little, if anything, in common with the events of the film. It’s awful easy for them to make some unsubstantiated claims for an audience that doesn’t care to fact check them.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      Maybe someone can tell me, as I honestly don’t know, having little experience with them, other than encountering them sitting on the toilet paper holder of a resturaunt bathroom, or hidden between the pages of a magazine in the doctor’s office, always placed covertly, like its a secret….Like “look, I am going to tell you something that’s going to change your life, attempting to scare the shit out of you, by using tawdry stories with unhappy endings.”
      What is the appeal of Chick Tracts?

      • James Walker

        they are easy to read, in comic strip format and they appeal to the common fears and stereotypes of the fundamentalist crowd.

        • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

          well that splains why I don’t get the appeal.

      • http://limpingtowardsgrace.com/ James Jarvis

        Strangely enough some atheists collect them. I must confess I find them to be something of a guilty pleasure. Chick Tracts hit the perfect trifecta of bad art, bad writing, and bad theology. They are so badly done that they parody themselves. What Calvin and Hobbes would call secretly ironic. Or to be all postmodern about it self-deconstructionism works of unintentional art. :)

  • DonRappe

    For myself, my philosophy professor at UChicago was an Aristotelian and a Roman Catholic. I learned more about critical thinking from him than from any other. My chosen fields were physics, mathematics and education. I believe he worshipped at Saint (doubting) Thomas the Apostle church which is located on the campus.

  • Andy

    Welp, I wasn’t going to waste my time watching drivel like this, but in case I was ever considering otherwise, you’ve reinforced my intention. Ugh, this caricature is simply nauseating.

  • WatchingFromOverThere

    Kevin Sorbo’s father was my eighth grade science teacher, and the family attended the mainline Lutheran Church where my father was pastor, so some of the evangelicals and fundamentalists on the town’s Facebook pages have been touting the movie.
    However, all I had to do was read the synopsis, which had a professor threatening to flunk anyone who disagreed with him, and I knew the movie was nonsense. I am a former college professor, and if any professor flunked a student for mere ideological disagreement (as opposed to shoddy work or unexcused absenteeism), the student would go to the college’s Academic Affairs Committee with a complaint, and the administration would censure the professor.
    A graduate school friend who is an academic and a Southern Baptist agrees with me.
    But the local zealots say that the ridiculous plot doesn’t matter. Sigh!