The movie “God is Not Dead” is about a stereotypical do-nothing-wrong, goodie-two-shoes Christian student who is forced by an equally stereotypical cold-hearted and mean-spirited atheist to admit that “God is Dead” in a philosophy class. I’ve watched this movie twice — once because I had nothing better to do (Netflix is a wonderful time waster) and once more to actually make sure the morals and meanings of the story were what they presented themselves to be throughout my first experience.
Now, let me start off by saying the movie starts off interesting enough. The idea of oppression of thought, incredibly interesting throughout the opening scenes of the story. College student Josh Wheaton needs to take a philosophy class, and he ends up in Jeffrey Radisson’s seemingly strict and closed-minded lecture hall. But, as the movie progresses from opening scenes to the meat of the story, the entire movie can thus be described in four words: Atheism is fucking bad.
Professor Radisson immediately portrays himself as a bully — on the first day of class he uses his clout and audience to require that each student within his course sign a statement that claims that “God is dead”, hence the title of the god-damned movie. He threatens to fail any student who refuses, which brings a dilemma to the goodie-two-shoes do-nothing-wrong Jesus-is-the-only-thing-that-matters student known as Josh Wheaton, who throughout the entire movie plays with the cross hanging from his neck as he tries to search for guidance in the Stalag Luft III of faith known as University.
According to the movie, Radisson has been doing this for years — an impossible feat for anyone, as that would mean no complaint had risen from students, family, faculty, or administrators. This concept would be impossible, which sparks a light that Josh Wheaton is the first “real” believer to walk in the doors of the Hell portrayed as Professor Radisson’s classroom. If Radisson’s arrogant, ignorant, bullyish ways of getting his point across don’t permanently soil his image to Christians around the world, the stereotypical “WE ASKED CHRISTIANS WHAT THEY FEEL ABOUT ATHEISTS AND TURNED HIM INTO A CHARACTER” persona gets worse. He has a girlfriend, whom he started dating when she was one of his students, that he constantly belittles and berates in private and in public. Of course, this leads her to “turning” to Christianity to find the strength to get out of the “abusive” relationship.
So, we’re not even 1/3 of the way through the movie, yet this guy seems like a terrible person. Of course he would, though. The point was to make this guy look and feel like a snob. This movie was directed towards a Christian audience, why would the atheistic antagonist have a heart?
Well, he does have a heart (albeit a rather cold one). Radisson allows his Christian student (Josh is the only student who doesn’t immediately sign the literal worthless sheet of paper for an easy grade) three consecutive class sessions to prove the statement wrong. Now, Josh doesn’t want Radisson in charge of determining when the statement has been proven right or wrong, so he requests that the classroom act as a peanut gallery turned jury.
The concept here is that Josh believes in bias. He “knows” that his fellow classmates must be Christians, but merely signed the statement for that easy grade. So, he’d rather hear when he’s right from a group of closeted Christians than from an educated and respected philosophy teacher. The point was to get Radisson to accept the argument, not the classroom of zombie characters without names or interesting personas. But, if there is one thing this god-forsaken movie got right, it’s the portrayal of students who show up for a grade. In fact, a joke was made towards the beginning where a student leaves the classroom after Professor Radisson informs them that his class is not an “easy A”.
Josh falls terribly on his face the first day, citing the Big Bang as evidence that God created the universe by using Genesis, quoting “Let there be light”. It’s your typical extremist religious opinion of “I can cite my claim as the evidence” that most of the people watching the movie eat right up.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t honestly care what people believe in. If people feel as if they need to believe in a certain deity or belief system, so be it. Just don’t cite claims as evidence, please. That does not work in philosophical arguments, which Radisson makes clear throughout the event.
However, Radisson doesn’t refute the point…how do I say this…correctly. He focuses on physicist Stephen Hawking (note: Stephen Hawking is not a philosopher, and Radisson mistakenly cites his own claims as evidence as well instead of bringing up the fact that Josh Wheaton literally has no idea how an argument works), and brings up the theory of spontaneous creation — he brings up that he, along with Hawking, believes that the universe exists because of it. The day ends with Radisson, the dick that his character is set up to be, taunting Josh — “Do you think you’re smarter than Stephen Hawking?”
The second day, Josh comes back with a zinger. He basically uses Radisson’s hero Hawking against him, citing the physicist as stating “philosophy is dead”, claiming that the entire class they reside in shouldn’t actually exist if we went with the words of Radisson’s argument. This is when Radisson grows a fucking brain in the argument, claiming that Hawking is a physicist and not a philosopher. But why would there even be a day two if he had said that on day one? The plot has to go on for at least another hour, damnit!
But, that brings me to another point. Scientists, and to some extent philosophers, require evidence. They don’t listen to authority just because of namesake or previous endeavors. They desire physical and daunting evidence. Radisson, if his head wasn’t so far up his own ass, wouldn’t have made the mistake of relying on “intelligence.” It’s an ego that controls this atheist, not reason; just as most Christians tend to believe. It’s a Nietzsche complex — “how could I be so wrong, I’m super smart!”
This is when the Christian audience starts to cheer. The atheist is left speechless, but the crowd remains pretty indifferent — in fear of failing the philosophy course they tend to stay mindless and silent shadows in the back of the class. The second day ends with the Professor confronting this child — a damn student — and yells at him. How dare he have the audacity to embarrass him in class. He threatens to fail Josh, threatening that he will never become a lawyer (his dream position for some reason never really expressed throughout the movie).
Josh asks the Professor why on earth he’s such a sad and pathetic excuse for a man (in short; why are you an atheist, Professor Radisson?) Then comes the sob story: his mother died when he was twelve years old, despite his prayers to God. Thus, the philosophy professor hates God for killing his parent. His prayers didn’t work, so God must not exist.
On the final day, Josh basically blows the lid and asks the Professor how he could hate a God that doesn’t exist. Radisson has absolutely no idea how to respond. Real atheists, not the straw men stereotypes that are invented by most Christians, don’t hate God. They just don’t believe in him. For example, would an atheist hate Santa Claus? Would an atheist hate the Tooth Fairy? The argument here is that Radisson considers himself an atheist because he hates God, not that he doesn’t believe in God. Which is entirely false; this would make the Professor an anti-theist, a misotheist at that.
This is when the student — the student mind you, not the Professor who is in charge of the damn class — asks the crowd that had remained silent the entire movie to choose a winner. They all agree, in unison, that God is not dead, forcing the angered and unhappy Professor to leave in a rage.
Now, the movie doesn’t have just one simple story line. Three other distinct stories go alongside the main plot, even though they happen to be drier and less important than the main point of view circulating around Josh Wheaton. There’s a weird and awkward side story involving a pastor and some missionary who want to go to a theme park but can’t because their car doesn’t work. A girl from a HORRIBLY stereotypical Muslim family gets the tar beaten out of her by her father and is forced out of her home because of her faith. A snide, self-centered, bitchy diva who cares only about herself journalist (who happens to be atheist) develops cancer and loses everything important to her.
In short? Pastors are great, Muslims are evil, atheists are dicks.
And that’s when the truth comes clear: the whole fucking movie is an advertisement/commercial for a Christian rock band, the Newsboys, who make an appearance at the end. They convince the mean-spirited yet depressed journalist to become a Christian to get hope through her final days.
The movie ends with the Professor, who was dumped by his abused girlfriend mere moments after the tragedy that went down in his classroom, getting run over by a car. Yay! A happy ending for Christians! The Pastor from the side-story happens to be nearby, and in the Professor’s final moments he manages to convert him. Not out of reason, and not out of belief. The Professor, in his final moments, converts to Christianity out of fear.
Yes, the most EFFECTIVE WAY to convert atheists (according to the movie) is not by reason or evidence or seeing the light. The movie makes the idea that personal tragedy, fear, and death are the most important reasons to convert to Christianity. This inspires Christian viewers to pray that atheists contract cancer or die painful deaths in order to finally see the light. The journalist converts out of fear of dying; the Professor converts out of fear of dying. We never see an actual ending for the Muslim chick. We never see an actual ending for the Christian student. They’re all seen rocking out at a Newsboys concert as the credits start to roll.
The movie is ridiculous in nature. Christians and Muslims and Jews and Atheists alike would be appalled to hear about a local professor forcing opinions like that on students for a grade. In fact, this is completely noticed by the fucking movie’s SEQUEL (which either came out recently or comes out sometime soon, I can guarantee you I won’t be watching it) that focuses on a TEACHER that has to go through a court case after talking about GOD. So, the atheists get away with it and the Christians don’t, eh?
At secular universities, students and teachers openly discuss and debate controversial religious topics — but we never see a teacher allowed to openly oppress specific belief systems and deities (let alone fail students if they disagree!).
Overall, the concept of the movie is completely intended for those who believe the political MYTH that Christians in America are being persecuted by the evils of other faiths (the stereotypical Muslim father in the movie) and atheist liberals (the Professor). True reason and logic is not actually involved in the movie, and it turns to be a circlejerk of “God is great and works in mysterious ways” which is endorsed and supported by a Christian Rock Band.
Oh, by the way, guess who plays a role in the contradicting sequel of this movie? Mike Huckabee.