“God’s is not dead” in 13 quick points ⇒ James Bishop article on the Movie “God’s is not dead”

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Read apologist James Bishop’s review of the movie God’s Not Dead posted in his blog James Bishop’s Theology and Apologetic. As an apologist of faith-doctrine, James tries to raise some point from the movie he considered logical and justified to see the movie for the people still on hope to believe the Christian doctrine.

However, his article failed to talk like the critics and it’s tough when you write an article on a priori basis, which is the common phenomenon we usually see any debate between the Atheist and Theist. James is not exceptional or out the fence. Nevertheless, his article is interesting for its detail narrative pattern and annotation… he tried to included as an apologist of Christian doctrine, since the apology is advancing on the non-argumentative logic! Now, let come to his key notes of the critics. I include some fragment and short quotes from the points to trail the narrative. The readers could easily go to the main article for detail.

The writer sorted his article on three segments and named it as criticism from the perspective of…

a. The Good Side; b. General Reception and c. My Critiques

The first segment he raises seven points to justify the movie is a must-seeing event for the public. He treated these point is as positive depiction of theism and Christianity from the theological perspective of God and the theories:

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“1. The obvious positive is that the film stands up for the Christian faith. This, I believe (as an apologist), is a necessity in a culture where so many diverse, conflicting worldviews battle for supremacy. This fact would surely be one key variable as to why the film has proven to be quite a success….

2. The film very importantly focuses on life’s most important question, that of God’s existence. So much rides on God’s existence. Meaning, purpose, moral realism, rationality and a host of other significant existential questions are ultimately decided on whether or not God exists. Even Richard Dawkins saw this when he penned that “The question of whether there exists a supernatural creator, a God, is one of the most important that we have to answer” (2). But what about the Christian religion? …

3. I think that the acting was relatively decent. I didn’t feel that it was too wooden, bad or weird. …

4. I would argue that the film well captures fundamentalist atheism; it just obviously misplaces it (more on this below). Professor of Philosophy Jeffery Raddison, an obnoxious anti-theist of whom is the films antagonist, claims that God is just a “big man in the sky,” that he is “dead,” a “myth” and a malevolent “celestial dictator.” These are quips that are commonly espoused by fundamentalist internet atheists as well as in several well-known New Atheist books. Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens would clearly come to mind. The point being is that the film captures the common quips and propaganda so widely spread within atheists camps.

5. Ultimately the film has a powerful story, or at least it tries to have one. Obviously it centers on God’s existence but it also includes the themes of human vulnerability, terminal illness (cancer), tragic accidents and death. These are powerful aspects to the human experience. …”

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Second segment of his article the author try to narrate the General Perception of the movie by including its box office response and with some comments on behalf of the movie:

“Other than achieving a 4.5/5 on Amazon the reception has been poor. Todd Van Der Werff, in one if his pieces, writes that “Even by the rather lax standards of the Christian film industry, God’s Not Dead is a disaster. It’s an uninspired amble past a variety of Christian-email-forward bogeymen that feels far too long at just 113 minutes” (3). I think that Todd is being a little bit unfair as I don’t think The Passion of the Christ, or Miracles from Heaven, or several other Christian industry based films, can be simply called “lax.”  … The Alliance Defending Freedom, for instance, endorses GND, “I believe Christians should go see this movie because it will strengthen their faith and help them question situations about how they stood up or backed down for their faith. It will also encourage them to share their faith more” (6). Another commentator believes that GND is ”a tremendously entertaining film that leads to God, not in addition to its quality but through its quality” (7),”

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Third is the main segment of the article where the author sorted some points to justify the movie to see:

“1. An obvious critique is the clear generalizations and stereotypes. I would argue that there is some truth to these stereotypes as a stereotype is not necessarily a false view. Stereotypes are generally just easier to “box” and categorize certain people, races and cultures within our minds. For example, the only Chinese people in the film are Martin, a student, and his businessman dad back in China. However, the Chinese do, in general, tend to be more serious than other cultures and the film plays on this. Martin evidently never smiles once prior to his conversion to Christianity. He is also always contemplative, undecided, and cold. There are obvious connections with Martin’s place in the film and the real persecution of Christianity back in China. …

… There is Misrab, the father of college daughter Ayisha of whom also has a smaller brother. Point being is that these Muslims are presented as getting around in an old, aged Toyota, and the dad is presented as being very oppressive. He forces Ayisha to wear a burka wherever she goes, this is because, according Ayisha, her “father he is very traditional.” Ayisha is, however, secretly a Christian. One day her brother discovers this (he walks into her room uninvited and sees a Christian sermon on her phone) and subsequently informs the father, Misrab. Misrab is outraged, strikes Ayisha, and kicks her out the house. This is not an unrealistic picture. This happens. In fact, in Islamic theocracies such as Syria and Afghanistan these, and worse, things happen to many, many people who do not submit to Allah’s will and to the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings. However, it would be amiss to associate such behaviour with all Muslims, which is a view that the film seems to support. …

… Then there’s the reporter Amy Ryan and her wealthy businessman boyfriend. Both are literally cut from cardboard boxes. Amy always seems to be busy and is also, in one scene, paranoid about some Christians poaching ducks, of all animals. Her boyfriend, on the other hand, is a full asshole. The boyfriend has an elderly mother who is suffering from amnesia and he is incredibly indignant towards her. Almost as if everything is the mother’s fault. All he cares about his making money and being wealthy (as if this is a representation of all business people)…. my, as a reporter represents the media, who are thought to be biased against Christianity while living life without God, as her boyfriend does, leads to greed, nastiness and all bad things. The Christian victim mentality is everywhere. …

… And then there are the poor atheists. Professor Jeffery Raddison is presented as a bigoted atheist who forces his ideology on his philosophy students. Raddison has college friends who are likewise professors. All of them view religious belief as ridiculous and they always nod their heads in agreement with whatever Raddison says. How does the film clothe Raddison’s character? …

… Conclusion of these four combination on the film: “However, everyone else (from Chinese people to businessmen) receives the rear end of the stick. Evangelical Christian Michael Gerson, was right in saying that “The main problem with God’s Not Dead is not its cosmology or ethics but its anthropology. It assumes that human beings are made out of cardboard. Academics are arrogant and cruel. Liberal bloggers are preening and snarky. Unbelievers disbelieve because of personal demons. It is characterization by caricature” …

2.  The film is profoundly unrealistic and obviously depicts a false portrayal of reality. Yes, many Christians lose their faith in college (particularly because they’ve never actually known the evidence for their beliefs) and yes, some professors have an agenda against Christianity. However, it is incredibly unlikely that we will ever come across a professor of the likes of Jeffery Raddison. There might be an exception but it is incredibly unlikely. A professor may have a bias and this may come through in his teaching, but no professor would ever walk into a class, introduce himself as an atheist, and get everyone in the class to sign a piece of paper with the words “God is dead” on them. …

… Following this Raddison presents several names of scholars on a white board to the class. All of those names are, or were, atheists, and even Dawkins is on there… This doesn’t make sense. Why is Dawkins mentioned in a philosophy class? He was a biologist. Is Raddison that incompetent (at least that’s what the film wants you to believe)? It would be like a Christian professor of science being so blinded by his faith that he begins introducing several names of theistic scientists and then on top throwing in Ken Ham for good measure. Yet, somewhat charitably, the rest of the names Raddison presents are familiar philosophers of the likes Camus, Nietzsche, Russell etc. Secondly, this is odd because philosophy isn’t about atheism, although a part of it would include going through philosophers, past and present, who do hold to such a viewpoint. …

3. There is also just a bad take on atheists when it comes to debates. Yes, many atheists, like many theists, really do seem to be naïve when it comes to religious-atheism discussions and questions. But many aren’t, at least in my experience. Raddison is depicted as hardly being a competent atheist. Wheaton presents a persuasive argument from cosmology (more on the arguments in a bit) to the class. What is Raddison’s reply? A mere, roundly criticized, quote from Stephen Hawking. That’s not an argument. …

4. As far as I remember there are two (?) arguments presented in this film. One is the cosmological argument from the Big Bang, and the other being morality. My point being is that neither of these two arguments are presented via any deductive means, as say through the Kalam Cosmological Argument or the argument from Objective Moral Values and Duties. But this is hardly a treatment at all. The moral argument is a half-baked retort to Raddison (it does expose issues that atheists do have given their worldview) that is underdeveloped. The most we see is Wheaton’s argument from Big Bang cosmology (a sound argument but one that isn’t given justice in the film). However, this neglects several other arguments from Fine-Tuning, the Ontological Argument, from Jesus’ resurrection (odd since this film intends to promote a Christian agenda), and dozens more. The film, to do justice, should have at least tried to go for two or three solid theistic arguments. But it doesn’t.

5. The film is not really meant to be funny but it actually is on occasion. The film is evidently dealing with a serious subject and not trying to orientate itself in the direction of comedy. …

6.  GND also seems to force in divine intervention. The film is about God, but it being about God doesn’t have to make it a film like Miracles from Heaven (the really inspiring true story about how God dramatically miraculously heals a girl). But GND tries to fit this same formula in some way or another. …

James conclude his critics by the conclusion comment that:

“… However, I suspect that many will critique this film without realizing that it does have merit when it comes to presenting at least one, arguably two, arguments for God. These arguments are solid and persuasive, and I thus urge readers to consider them. Clearly GND is not the appropriate medium for that, but that doesn’t mean other mediums don’t exist.”

I think an articulate mind could find lot argumentative points against the writer’s critics from the above-mentioned words of his long article. These points perhaps treated by the reader to keep some values for logical argument against his clandestine advocacy for the movie.

I’m not very fond of religious belief or theistic approaches about God’s justification for human life, but I think there should be the space of debate, logical argument and lot of contradictory dialogue between the apologist of Theism and Atheism and it should have for the clarity and freedom of opinion and belief. Both of the parties are militant in their words and gestures, as we always used to see this in our daily life. James at least tries to talking on the background to a minimalist tone despite his naked biases of the movie’s intensity and his “Christian Almighty”.

To read more visit the author’s site:

 ‘GOD’S NOT DEAD’ IN 13 QUICK POINTS. on James Bishop’s Theology and Apologetics.

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