Cause to celebrate!


I surprise myself. I actually have two positive things to say about the movie, God’s Not Dead.

First, the projection was excellent. The last time I wrote about the workings of the theater, I described the amazing elaborate old-timey gadgetry to show a movie print. That’s all gone now, replaced by a modern digital movie projector. Crisp, bright, reliable.

Also, the movie itself was an elaborate exercise in projection. The academics were all portrayed as dogmatic and authoritarian and rather stupid — even the debate which was supposedly the core of this movie consisted of the Christian protagonist and atheist professor exchanging rounds of quotes from their respective corners. Dawkins says this, but Lennox says that. Hawking asserts X, but Strobel trumps it with Y. That may be how dopey Christians argue, with dueling authorities, but sorry, that’s not how philosophers discuss much of anything.

It was also implied that all of the students at this university were atheists, or apathetic enough about religion to blithely agree with the statement that God is dead, as part of the filmmakers’ martyr complex: this straw America is populated almost entirely with godless unbelievers. Here I am at a secular state university, and even here, that’s simply not true. Most of my students are religious, although probably not to the degree that the hero of the film is.

The second bit of praise, though, is for the fact that this is the most profoundly anti-Christian movie I’ve ever seen. I left the theater filled with contempt and loathing for Christians.

You know, most of us atheists are able to respect believers as human beings — I can appreciate that they’re just as intelligent, just as capable of living a productive life as I am, but that they’re simply burdened with years of indoctrination. Not this movie. In the hands of whoever wrote this drivel, Christians are dumbasses. It has to set up a whole universe made of straw. All the atheists are callous, cruel, vindictive people, while the Christians are pious and sincere. A first year college student is knowledgeable enough to out-argue a philosophy professor…and every argument he makes is well-worn idiocy dredged from the bowels of people like William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, and C.S. Lewis, larded with bad quotes from Hawking or Dawkins, or good science mangled and distorted. It was little more than a Big Daddy style fantasy in which a Christian student can regurgitate tired, facile nonsense and send the godless professor reeling back in confusion and anger.

Really, the arguments for Jesus are: 1) the universe had a beginning, 2) life had a beginning, 3) there had to be a god to start things, and 4) how can you be moral without Jesus telling you what to do? And every time the professor would try to put the kid in his place by telling him that some other Big Name said otherwise, and how dare the credential-less punk disagree with them? It was appalling. I shall look forward to the young students who optimistically believe they will be able to crush the atheists with their brilliant strategies lifted from God’s Not Dead. This movie is setting up a lot of Christians with feeble assertions that will be so trivial to destroy — I fear my opponents have just been made stupider.

I would just like to thank Hunter Dennis, Chuck Konzelman, and Cary Solomon (the writers) for sabotaging the brains of another generation of proselytizers. You make it so easy for us.

But all that vapid noise was just the white bread foundation for the awesome mountain of fecal matter that would top this shit sandwich. I am going to tell you about the ending. You shouldn’t care — you don’t need a spoiler alert for a movie that is rotten from the first few minutes. This was the part that had me gawping in disbelief; it was the fate of the atheist professor that had me convinced that Christianity is actively evil.

He is crossing a street when he’s hit by a car and killed.

Not right away, though. He’s hit right in front of a car containing two missionaries, who get out and run to his ‘assistance’. Somehow, they are sufficiently knowledgeable about medicine to be able to tell that he’s going to die, and only has a few minutes left to live. So, with smiles on their faces, they tell him he’s going to be facing God in heaven in a few minutes, and that he must accept Jesus into his heart. It was my nightmare, that the last, brief, passing moment of life is spent with smug stupid assholes quoting Bible verses and pressuring the dying to affirm their superstitions, which is obviously the most important thing he could do.

See, projection. I just wish whoever made this film could imagine lying on their deathbed, when an atheist barges in and starts yelling that they are about to cease to exist, and there will be nothing forever, and slaps them a few times ordering them to reject God right now. That’s not going to happen, but of course all they can do is project their authoritarian proselytizing impulse on other. And of course, since this is the Christian straw universe, our atheist professor accepts Jesus with his dying breath.

After which, the two smiling missionaries tell each other that they have “cause to celebrate”. A man just died. They want to celebrate. They’re going to Disneyland!

Fuck me. All I felt was hatred. That was despicable.

I’ve got to start carrying a knife now. Just so all you Christians know, if I’m in a fatal accident, and I’m lying in the street dying, and you’re not running over to stop the bleeding or otherwise physically help me, and you try to pull that prayer-and-conversion shit on me, I’m going to stab you. I’ll have nothing to lose, and you sure as hell don’t deserve to continue living. I don’t like violence, but I will make an exception for this one possible circumstance.

Now I know a lot of Christians aren’t like that, and that there are many who are also appalled at this wretched excuse for a movie. You can have another reason for disliking it: it has hardened the heart of an atheist even further against your religion.

Christianity is barbarism, evil, and gibbering insanity. Thanks, God’s Not Dead. When your religion is extinct, then I’ll have cause to celebrate.

Comments

  1. says

    Honestly, you cannot imagine how viscerally I reacted to the fucking arrogance of that death scene. Just a warning: if you want to get banned here, just try to defend that abomination.

  2. ChasCPeterson says

    And? The rest of the crowd?

    dredged from the bowels…larded…mangled and distorted.

    ew.

    But all that vapid noise was just the white bread foundation for the awesome mountain of fecal matter that would top this shit sandwich.

    Open-faced, then?

    Gravy, or no?

  3. says

    I absolute agree that that ending sounds awful and that the movie sounds terrible. However I hope you will reconsider your plans to murder asshats who try to convert you while you are dying on the street. I can’t see what you hope that killing them would do for the world or for the cause of atheism. Also you have a lot of atheist readers and they might respond to this article in an unfortunate way. I absolutely understand the impulse, but it’s wrong.

  4. mineralfellow says

    This is absolutely nothing new. I’m a bit surprised that any self-respecting movie theatre would be willing to spend precious time showing this sort of thing, but the same general sort of movie was being made all the way back in the 70’s. I remember watching some of the old ones at my university’s BCM — including one where a nonchristian guy devilishly tries to trick a christian girl into giving up her virginity by acting the way she wants, saying the things she likes, and attending the events she likes. She is ‘saved’ at the last moment.

    When I was in the Christian circles, sometimes the arguments would not sound perfect, but literally everyone around would affirm that it was great. And it is truly a different way of thinking — the epistemology of fundamentalists is based on the idea that some variation of the Holy Book + a set of great leaders/prophets is the absolute truth. So, any Christian literature has to include a bible verse in it if it is making an argument, otherwise it is not grounded in “truth.” So, when you start with the idea that you MUST use an authority to have validity, and you have no contrast to test your ideas against except other similarly-minded believers, the only conceivable result is that you have this kind of production that is completely out of touch with reality, because the believers can’t get into the mind of someone who doesn’t believe.

    There were a lot of things that were bothering me about Christianity before I left (ultimately, I left because I couldn’t find a reasonable way to distinguish the spiritual experiences that I had from the spiritual experiences of people who were members of religions I knew to be false). I attended several mission trips, including going to Panama City Beach during Spring Break to “witness” to college students. It was called “Beach Reach.” I think this is still done. The idea was that, in the morning, we (the group of 100-200 christian students/ministers) would give out free pancakes. In the evening and all night, we would give free car rides to anyone who wanted it. And the point of this was to initiate contact with people in order to bring up the conversation of believing in Jesus. In a way, we were identical to a lot of the students there — guys would go out at night trying to meet girls and then try to convince them to have sex; we would meet people of both genders and try to convince them to accept Jesus. And I was good at it. We didn’t officially keep score, but I personally led 12 people through prayers of conversion. The whole group got a few hundred. But each one was treated as though it were just a number. No real concern for the people there — just convince them to pray this prayer, then they are at least safe from hell.

    And that is the attitude in general. I have tried to talk to my believing friends about this from time to time, but it doesn’t register with them what I mean. And you see this at every level — the “religious right,” which you would expect to be compassionate, is in reality cruel and heartless to the poor and disenfranchised. Also, many of the cruelest kids in school were in little cliques that all went to the same church. The cruelty is somehow a part of the belief.

  5. sw says

    I can’t help but respect PZ more now, knowing he had the fortitude to sit through such a steaming pile of crap like God’s Not Dead. I’ve tried twice so far, and have twice turned it off in disgust after 15 minutes. Genuinely, congratulations for not walking out of the cinema, that takes guts.

  6. rorschach says

    I’d like to know what the good citizens of Morris made of the movie, were they enjoying it? I can’t imagine showing a movie like that anywhere other than Iran, Saudi-Arabia or the USA without people leaving the theater in droves, or not turning up to watch it in the first place.

  7. greg hilliard says

    craigmcgillivary #5
    Because PZ wants to go out with a smile on his face!
    Of course he could decide he believes in reincarnation. Perhaps he’ll come back as Godzilla.

  8. anteprepro says

    The knife line of this post had me a bit jarrred, partially because I was expecting the punch line was that PZ would prefer ending his life more quickly with that knife rather than dealing with one last inane outburst of self-important religious bafflegab. At the risk of “tone trolling”, I am going to have to say that I was put off by the “I would kill in this circumstance” joke, but that is because it mostly sounds horrible out of context, since I also understand that it is supposed to be in the morbid tone of the movie itself. Don’t they also text some shit while the professor is dying in there in street too? And it ends on a joyous, rapturous note, as this text chain letter spreads?

  9. Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy says

    Think of it as attempted deterrence: PZ has warned smug Christians on notice that it may not be safe to inflict their preachings on a dying stranger. With luck, that might make the self-righteous and self-interested a little less likely to abuse dying strangers that way.

  10. frog says

    PZ, I urge you to just stab them in the foot or something, perhaps while saying, “Get the fuck away from me, you pious asshole.” That will leave them well enough to warn their friends that preaching to dying atheists will not be appreciated.

  11. rorschach says

    Pepper spray might work too, and might be easier to wield for the dying unbeliever.

  12. chigau (違う) says

    I’m with PZ.
    If I were dying in the street and some god-botherers tried that on me,
    I would revert to my pagan roots and take some sideboys with me.

  13. anteprepro says

    In a World, where Atheist Professors dominate the classroom, One Christian Child will stand up and say no more! The Atheist Professor may have his Atheist Authorities and his Book Larnin’, but there are Christian Books too, and they are Out for Blood. From the visionary minds that brought you “Send this movie to five of your friends and you will find the man of your dreams” and “Make Money Fast”, comes a tale of an underdog, overcoming the odds and the Overgod, smiting the infidel. “The feel good movie of the century”, claims Pat Robertson. “I laughed so hard at the ending that I nearly saw Jesus myself”, exclaimed Sarah Palin. The American Family Association gives the film 9 dead heathens out of 10. Come and see the movie that everyone is talking about. This sprummer, “God Ain’t Dead Yet”. But atheists are.

    (A Fundamentalist Production)

  14. anteprepro says

    People, people, can’t we just a peaceful, non-violent folk? I think it is clear that the solution to our problem is just equipping ourselves with a shit-ton of stun grenades.

  15. Sean Boyd says

    @12 anteprepro,

    …because I was expecting the punch line was that PZ would prefer ending his life more quickly with that knife rather than dealing with one last inane outburst of self-important religious bafflegab…

    But how would PZ get into heaven then? From the xtian point of view, he’s better off stabbing someone else, because that at least allows the possibility of forgiveness. Offing himself quickly, not so much.

  16. says

    The audience was about 50-60 people, mostly older. They seemed to enjoy it, laughing & having a good time. Fuck ‘em.

    And sorry, but that ending, and the casual contempt it assumed Christians ought to have for a human life & mind, filled me with anger. Seriously, I came out of that theater in a painfully wrathfully state of mind.

  17. fmitchell says

    It was God’s will that the movie hardened your heart. (ducks)

    While I’m not on board with the knife, I approve the sentiment. When I’m on my deathbed or death-asphalt, and some holy roller enjoins me to accept Jesus, I’ll beckon him closer, fumble for his face, and shove him as hard as possible onto his ass. (Same for a “her”. I’m not sexist.) Maybe the effort will end me before he gets up for another run. Strangling the bastard with his own necktie, crucifix pendant, or dog-collar is another option.

    As many times I’ve been at a hospital over the past decade, I haven’t been in one since I had my tonsils out as a kid, and I’d sooner keep it that way. The part I dread most is not indifferent nursing staff or being poked full of holes; it’s the chance some well-meaning but oblivious chaplain won’t take a hint. Epicurus has yet to be gainsaid, yet I, millennia later and gravely ill, must fend off some ignoramus’s browbeating like a plague ship fighting off boarders.

  18. raven says

    Now I know a lot of Christians aren’t like that, and that there are many who are also appalled at this wretched excuse for a movie.

    A lot?

    Maybe a few. Hmmm, maybe one or two. And no one knows where they are.

    The death scene was just Pascal’s wager. It ends with the atheist philosopher meeting Brahma. Who tells him he was doing OK until the very end but doesn’t hold it against him too much because he had a head injury and was being badgered by xians.

    The missionaries are now scheduled to be reincarnated as tapeworms.

  19. whheydt says

    Re: fmitchell @ #25…

    You could threaten to rise from your bed to defenestrate any godbothers that won’t leave when told off.

    In actual practice, all you really have to do is use your buzzer to summon one of the nurses and tell said nurse that the godbother is (a) bothering you, (b) he is to leave immediately, and (c) he is NEVER to be permitted in your room again under ANY circumstances. The hospital staff will see to it.

    Probably also helps to make sure that the “Religion?” line on the admitting form says NONE in a firm hand.

  20. raven says

    My friend’s parents are ahead of PZ.

    They’ve both died which is sad but not that much because they were very old, closing in on 100. They were both Catholics.

    In their wills, they both said they wanted nonreligious funerals. One said he was an atheist. Which is surprising for what appeared to be lifelong Catholics.

    I had to update my medical info recently. I noticed that I had left the space for “religion” blank. It was none of their business and not relevant anyway. Then I scrawled in large block letters Pagan. Fortunately, I’ve been to Pagan funerals and they are far superior to the xian ones.

  21. mikeyb says

    One of the biggest myths is that Christians are surrounded by a godless secular society like Pilgrims progress or something, kinda like Obama is a socialist. Would be nice if either one had an ounce of truth, maybe things would change.

    The deathbed conversion thing is also a standard trope. Recall the infamous myth of Darwin’s deathbed conversion by Lady Hope.

    But Deathbed conversions have also been a standard way Christians in the past have been able to have their cake and eat it too. Hamlet’s father wanders in darkness not because of his life, but because his brother poisoned him and didn’t give him time have his last confession and deathbed conversion, i.e. if he had done the same things and had a conversion, it would be OK. It just makes deathbed conversions just like conversion itself into a magic incantation, which it is when you really think about it. I believe gods son died on the cross to save me from my sins, the power of my belief saves me; if that’s not a magic incantation, I don’t know what is.

  22. loopyj says

    PZ – I’m curious (but only curious enough to watch the hilarious trailer, and Cult of Dusty’s summary, which is NSFW for some serious potty-mouthing), does Professor Atheist Douchebag actually explain ‘God is Dead’ within any sort of historically or academically honest philosophical context? And what is that subplot with the young Muslim woman all about? (And why is she wearing a hijab up over her face? And did the screenwriters/wardrobe people not think it strange to put a woman in hijab but leave her in short sleeves?)

  23. John Pieret says

    our atheist professor accepts Jesus with his dying breath

    Oxygen depredation to the brain.

  24. says

    As a college professor myself, I was quite amused by the utter lack of realism in the depiction of higher education. The movie was right out of bizarro-world delusional Christianity, with characters portrayed as caricatures out of their nightmares. Quite amazingly unselfaware. And where did Professor Radisson get that awesome office? And how much material are his students supposed to read between classes? Hume, Descartes, and Russell? Hilariously unrealistic. More here.

  25. Sven says

    Imagine a movie that portrayed a Jew as a villain in a blatant, nasty, antagonistic, Nazi-drawn stereotype. It would (rightly) be panned by critics and audiences alike across America.

    Why is it okay to do this to atheists, but nobody else?

  26. gardengnome says

    PZed;

    That was a tour de force in the art of put-down, not to mention cinematic criticism. A sheer delight!

  27. John Pieret says

    pocketnerd @ 31:

    So, let’s see … PZ goes to a movie that has a totally unrealistic ending and he posits an equally unrealistic response, if he is somehow put in the same situation … and he’s the unclassy one?

    They threaten someone with eternal pain and suffering and he threatens them with a pocket knife in the hands of a dying man and he’s the villain? Quite beyond the fact that you are deaf to satire/parody, are you so insensitive to the relative threats involved?

  28. mikeyb says

    Sven, what about that loathsome piece Passion of the Christ that Mel Gibson made a killing on – hooked nosed evil Jew and the like, with a representation of a Jewish Satan to boot and very few critics panned it.

  29. gardengnome says

    MikeyB is right. That whole deathbed confession thing is a sort of ‘get out of jail free’ card – it’s just a shame if you don’t see the train coming!

  30. rorschach says

    God-bothering troll

    Nah mate, just a slymer coward sneaking in a few insults while the blog owner is asleep.

  31. carole says

    Wait, no, Newtron has just proved that God’s Not Dead.
    Be upstanding everyone!

    Thanks for the review PZ, and loopyj for the summary.

  32. Ichthyic says

    Honestly, you cannot imagine how viscerally I reacted to the fucking arrogance of that death scene.

    now that’s the kind of film rating I take to heart.

    It tells me I really not only don’t want to see this film, I SHOULDN’T see this film.

    why give myself heartburn?

  33. says

    All the atheists are callous, cruel, vindictive people…

    You know it’s got to be bad when even the Christian review web sites take the time to comment on it::

    Other Negative Elements: Pretty much everyone who’s not a Christian in this story is villainized for being mean, abusive, grouchy or narrow-minded. Several such sinners are condemned to either death or terminal illness, as if they’re being punished for their attitudes.

    The story is sometimes melodramatic. And there are moments of implausibility that emerge as the list of non-Christians behaving badly lengthens.

  34. Ichthyic says

    Now I know a lot of Christians aren’t like that, and that there are many who are also appalled at this wretched excuse for a movie.

    A lot?

    Maybe a few. Hmmm, maybe one or two. And no one knows where they are.

    No-one? I do…

    *looks for posts from Heddle*

  35. Ichthyic says

    You know it’s got to be bad when even the Christian review web sites take the time to comment on it::

    …and yet were still “forced” to give it a 4/5 rating.

  36. Ichthyic says

    Another own goal by Peèzus

    something tells me irony is simply beyond you.

    …and that if allowed to, you would be happy to demonstrate that for us… endlessly.

  37. Ichthyic says

    Murdering an otherwise-healthy, otherwise-sane religious guy

    otherwise sane?

    debatable.

  38. Alex says

    The Reasonable Doubt podcast has an entire episode devoted to the film, which is kinda entertaining.

  39. woozy says

    f I’m in a fatal accident, and I’m lying in the street dying, and you’re not running over to stop the bleeding or otherwise physically help me, and you try to pull that prayer-and-conversion shit on me, I’m going to stab you. I’ll have nothing to lose, and you sure as hell don’t deserve to continue living. [emph. mine]

    So… the arguments that only religion and our fear of retribution are the only things keeping us moral were true after all? If we are dying and not going on living with any more consequences then we will resort to killing whomever we please, just like the christians said we would? What other christian arguments were true as well?

    I’m sorry. I realize you’re in a bad mood and with really good reason, and I know you were kidding (and seriously Chiagu, I sincerely hope you were not serious) and Lud knows I’ve engaged in many a commupence fantasy myself, but it really wasn’t as funny as it probably seemed at the time you were typing it. I actually found this pretty jarring and …. well, to be honest, creepy.

  40. Ichthyic says

    fuck me people, don’t turn this into another “rusty knife”.

    that is all.

  41. rorschach says

    fuck me people, don’t turn this into another “rusty knife”.

    But fuck me, they are trying.

  42. Ichthyic says

    So, worse than a believer then.

    a deluded narcissist mockery of a believer.

  43. Ichthyic says

    …I’m just burnin’ doin’ the Newtron Dance….

    Whoo oooh
    Whoo oooh
    I’m on fire
    I’m on fire

    And it’s hard to say
    Just how some things never change..

  44. procrastinatorordinaire says

    Hold on, so PZ kills a man who was trying to save his eternal soul; doesn’t that make the missionary a martyr to his faith ensuring him an eternity of bliss with Jesus? If Christian theology is correct, PZ is doing the man a favour. Is it a bad thing to die and go to Heaven?

  45. Maureen Brian says

    No! No! No!

    As we have already established, it stops the Christian claiming to have achieved a death-bed conversion of PZ and then using that in an attempt to discredit everything he’s ever said. It’s been tried before, you know.

    As you don’t seen to go to Hell for a lifetime of bearing false witness any more then it’s important to insert the knife at just the right moment.

  46. Ichthyic says

    …Roof caved in on
    All the simple dreams
    And to get ahead your heart
    Starts pumping schemes

    I’m just burnin’ doing the Newtron dance.

  47. Ichthyic says

    Why is PZ Myers so despised in the community

    why are you such a self-fellating narcissistic fuckwit?

    such complex questions. surely it will take years of ….

    oh hell, fuck it..

    And it’s hard to say
    Just how some things never change
    And it’s hard to find
    Any strength to draw the line
    I’m just burning doin’
    The Newtron dance
    I’m just burning doin’
    The Newtron dance

  48. says

    Hyperbole, as defined on Wikipedia: Hyperbole (/haɪˈpɜrbəliː/ hy-PUR-bə-lee;[1] Greek: ὑπερβολή hyperbolē, “exaggeration”) is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally.

    Sound familiar? Anyone? Anyone?

    Everyone needs to stop focusing on PZ’s moment of hyperbole due to being (as he noted) incredibly angry and focus on how godawful (pun intended) this movie clearly is. That ending…I’d be ranting and raving if I’d seen that too. I knew the movie would be bad, but I never imagined an ending as horrible as that.

  49. Cuttlefish says

    PZ, how dare you say this movie isn’t like the real world? It was inspired by real-life stuff that happened to one of the writers (the asian character in the movie).

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/cuttlefish/2014/04/09/revisionist-history-in-gods-not-dead/

    Ok, in real life he was an insecure atheist foreign student who got preached at by a Christian prof, which inspired him to write about a Christian student being challenged by an atheist prof, but that’s totally the same thing!

  50. says

    Think of it as attempted deterrence: PZ has warned smug Christians on notice that it may not be safe to inflict their preachings on a dying stranger.

    Stand Your Ground does not necessitate actually standing. It’s comin’ right at us!

    —-

    And a special good morning to the sick fuck who would weaponize a confession of abuse by a victim of abuse as a pseudo-rhetorical device in a fake comparative argument in order to be an obnoxious fuckwit. Why bother acting as if you had any point, why not just drop the buzzwords and express your hatred and bigotry without the convoluted attempts to act like you are responding to any topic at all? (Also, the PZ-worship gig is getting a little old. Try something new.)

  51. carlie says

    mineralfellow at 8:

    I attended several mission trips, including going to Panama City Beach during Spring Break to “witness” to college students.

    And just to give everyone a fascinating glimpse into the internecine battles of the fundamentalists, my people thought that the people who went to Florida for those spring break mission trips were “soft” because they were going somewhere fun and doing fun things in the name of proselytizing. My group thought that it didn’t really count unless you were having personal hardships yourself – I went to inner city Chicago and slept in a room where there was ice on the inside of the windows at night and one guy couldn’t wear his coat because it was gang colors and we’d get shot, dangit! (so we were told). That’s real mission work! It was all about the personal experience for us; the people who were “saved” didn’t count except insofar as we personally felt that it was a sacrifice on our part to be there. I can’t even tell you the number of arguments between groups that were “people on the beach still need Jesus” and “no you have to go where life is hard or it’s not showing God you mean it” going around and around. Which is vile. We were vile. (in case you’re wondering, the groups in question were Campus Christian Fellowship and the Baptist Student Union)

    Also, many of the cruelest kids in school were in little cliques that all went to the same church. The cruelty is somehow a part of the belief.

    mineralfellow, have you ever watched the movie “Saved!”? I think you’d like it. It’s sort of like Heathers, but with Christians and no mass murder.

  52. carlie says

    And you see this at every level — the “religious right,” which you would expect to be compassionate, is in reality cruel and heartless to the poor and disenfranchised.

    And I’m so glad that people like PZ are pointing it out for what it is. It’s an “emperor’s got no clothes” situation. More, it’s an “the emperor not only has no clothes, but he’s walking around waggling his dick in everyone’s face and laughing at them” situation.

    And sorry, but that ending, and the casual contempt it assumed Christians ought to have for a human life & mind, filled me with anger. Seriously, I came out of that theater in a painfully wrathfully state of mind.

    They threaten someone with eternal pain and suffering and he threatens them with a pocket knife in the hands of a dying man and he’s the villain? Quite beyond the fact that you are deaf to satire/parody, are you so insensitive to the relative threats involved?

    Again, yes. This can’t be stressed enough. We’ve been conditioned through the pervasiveness of Christian culture to look at a movie ending like that and shrug. It is heinous to think that a “good ending” is someone getting cut down in the prime of their life but that’s ok because Jesus.

    This is where a “civility is the most important” mindset gets you – you get shocked and offended at someone frustratingly bursting out a hypothetically violent thought but not at the person who really thinks it’s a good thing to get hit by a car and killed if it makes you believe in Jesus. Seriously. That’s not just a movie plot. There are hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people who would say that literally, being in a tragic accident that tortures and then kills you when you’re young is a better outcome than living a long full happy life and dying peacefully in your sleep of old age if the tragic accident makes you turn to Jesus in the moments before you die. Think about that, really think about it. Let it sink in past the glib “Oh, that’s just what Christianity is” brushoff. That is what they honestly and truly believe. Think about the kinds of conclusions that leads you to. Think about the way that makes you view humanity and our actions. It is terrible. Not “your grandma makes you go to church when you visit” terrible, it is a truly awful misanthropic way to go through life, and they try as hard as possible to convince everyone else to be just like them, and for the most part, they’re winning.

  53. says

    Oh, right, the Muslim subplot…it added nothing to the movie other than confirming that it was written by delusional Christian wackadoodles.

    Attractive young woman (like everyone in this movie, they are all clear-skinned and have perfect teeth) is seen being taken to school by her father (an exception: a big guy with stereotypically semitic features — he looked like the villain in a few Chick tracts) who orders her to cover her face. As soon as he leaves though, she takes it off…because she is (ta da!) a convert to Christianity.

    Later the father lectures her on how much he loves her and just wants her to worship the one true god, which is Allah. Gasps from the audience at this unimaginable perfidy: how dare a person tell another person that they must follow their dogma?

    Later still, her brother rats her out and her father storms into her bedroom and discovers her blissed out, listening to Franklin Graham sermons on her iPod. He immediately throws her out, and briefly wraps his hands around her throat, as if he’s considering strangling her. Instead, he just slams the door on her. Disowning and hating your children if they leave your faith is apparently something Muslims just do.

    At the very end of the movie, she’s at the Christian Rock (I haven’t even said how awful the soundtrack to this thing was) concert where the performers give a shout-out to the Hero who triumphed over an atheist professor. Ex-Muslima fawns over Hero. He has a new girlfriend, yay!

    There was also another subplot that meant nothing much involving a student from the People’s Republic of China — that sinister nest of atheists — who is so convinced by the Hero’s drivel that he texts his incredulous father that he now believes in god, and goes to the Christian Rock concert with Hero. He has a new best friend, yay!

  54. gijoel says

    I think I’d just repeat Voltaire’s last words. The funny shades of purple their faces would make would be a pleasurable way to step into the great oblivion.

  55. throwaway says

    Thanks Mara. I was thinking the exact same thing when I hit the comment link, knowing full and well that there had to be someone reacting to PZ’s violent revenge fantasy equally fictional person. As for the judgment about the person not deserving to live due to them being an opportunistic fuckwit attempting to instill their equally fuckwitted beliefs: eagerly preying upon a dying, fearful, and traumatized person tends to make me feel the same damn way. If put in that position I would do ANYTHING not to have my last moments spent with such a spiritual decomposer only ever eager for the beam of light that will shine upon them for their “good deeds”. Fuck them. They deserve the worst of hyperbolic ire.

  56. says

    listening to Franklin Graham sermons

    That was another unrealistic aspect of that weird movie. Imagine being weak-minded enough to find Franklin Graham persuasive.

  57. robertfoster says

    Thanks for the critique. Another thing to cross off my bucket list. At least the film didn’t end with the atheist prof being led to the ‘Light’ where he was welcomed by a blonde, blue-eyed Jesus. I guess that would have been a Roma Downey kind of ending.

  58. David Marjanović says

    Ah, I see the pitizen has been disappeared. Too bad. Now we’ll never know if their groupthink makes them believe that a brainwashed 12-year-old child is evil forever, or if they reached that conclusion by using their own brains.

    Imagine being weak-minded enough to find Franklin Graham persuasive.

    I’ve never heard of him. Can someone summarize what his sermons are like?

  59. borax says

    @73, Franklin Graham is Billy Graham’s son. His sermons are so hateful and bigoted that many of Billy Graham’s biggest fans can’t stand his son. The guy is a horrid shit-weasel.

  60. HappyNat says

    From the description of this terrible drek of a movie at least it sounds like they at least acknowledged people exist outside of the USA. If a piece of shit formulaic christian movie shows more diversity than your “Global” Secular Council, you might be doing something wrong.

  61. U Frood says

    God is clear in His Word, and His standards never change.

    Except when he relaxed those restrictions on eating pork, and dealing with women during their periods, and stopped demanding animal sacrifices and when he moved the holy day from Saturday to Sunday.

  62. says

    @U Frood

    God is clear in His Word, and His standards never change.

    Except when he relaxed those restrictions on eating pork, and dealing with women during their periods, and stopped demanding animal sacrifices and when he moved the holy day from Saturday to Sunday.

    That’s the minor stuff. How about how he went from polytheism to monotheism and back to some sort of weird polytheism so obtuse that 99% of the people who practice it can explain it? Or how about what happens to you after you die, or the locations of heaven (sky) and hell (under a volcano), or whether he hates everyone except a certain little tribe? Or the immortal soul vs. the divine vapor vs. the resurrection in the flesh and the status of earth as the lowest shell in a series of divine emanations? Or the date of the second coming?

    Sorry, need to take a deep breath and go to the farmer’s market now.

  63. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Is Kevin Sorbo some kind of religious nut?

    Because mum is just watching a movie about some poor teenager whose dad is a drunk, mum is dead and he takes care of his sisters. Just as I entered the room the scene was:
    *at the cemetery*
    Sorbo’s character: “Did you think about asking Him?”
    Kid: “Not you too!”
    Sorbo: “It’s everyone’s choice, the way we talk to Him….”
    … bla, blah, didn’t listen to more bullshit.

    Or maybe he just can’t get any good roles, and Christian movies are all that he can get.

  64. Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought says

    Ah, wiki answers:

    Sorbo believes Hollywood has limited his career because of his conservative political and Christian views.

    (via wiki, source is an interview for FOX)

  65. says

    The bleeding-in-the-street conversion attempt isn’t at all unrealistic. When I was in hospital, outcome in doubt, multiple tubes in my body, frightened and exhausted, a pastor of my acquaintance came to visit. I told him I am an atheist and he still insisted on praying over me in Jesus’ name. I was in no condition for an argument, let alone physical battle. I couldn’t raise the strength to say “Get the fuck away from me, you asshole”.

  66. tbtabby says

    That ending inadvertently exposed two of the sickest things about Christianity: That it doesn’t really have much in the way of morality, since you can be as evil as you like and still get into Heaven by kissing God’s ass, and that it devalues human life, telling us that nothing we do in this life maters except kissing Gods ass and the only thing to look forward to is something that happens after we die. Bleah. I’m embarrassed that a bought into it as long as I did.

  67. says

    @48: That plugged-in review’s criticism is pretty weak tea — “non-Christians are stereotyped as nasty” is lower down the “Naughty” list than *references* to alcohol, sex, and expletives like “dork”. 4/5 rating for portraying Josh as the hero standing up under persecution and inspiring others to do the same (never mind that the premise that drives the whole flick is ridiculous). And of course, the young ex-Muslim woman’s out-casting is all about persecution of converts to Jesus, not about just a specific instance of the wider phenomenon of Muslim families rejecting (or worse) daughters who stray from Islam. (Note: I’m aware this is by no means universal among Muslim immigrant families, and in fact may be rare. I really don’t know). And let’s not mention the LGBT youth similarly disowned by their good Christian families — no, *we* poor innocent Christians are the ones getting screwed over, and bravo on this film for telling it like it is!

  68. says

    Cross posted from the Lounge, and offered as an update on the craven and obnoxious Franklin Graham:

    Rabid rightwing religious dunderheads do like meetings and conferences where they can all swim in likeminded synaptic sludge. The Family Research Council just sponsored another conference, “Watchmen on the Walls.” Franklin Graham was one of the featured speakers.

    I can’t tell for sure, but I think Graham is inviting us to chop off his head:

    […] he told the assembled pastors that they needed to be willing to have their heads chopped off for speaking the truth that gays are bound for hell.

    “Are we going to be cowards because we’re afraid?,” Graham asked the crowd. “Could we get our heads chopped off? We could, maybe one day. So what? Chop it off!”

    Graham went on to assert that he loves gays “enough to care to warn them that if they want to continue living like this, it’s the flames of hell for you” and he will continue to do so because he will one day have to answer to God and does not want to be found to have been a coward who refused to preach God’s laws […]

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/graham-pastors-need-be-willing-get-our-heads-chopped-opposing-gay-rights

  69. gazza says

    First time post as I just enjoy reading PZs opinions. But had to say how surprised I was to see this film in some mainstream chain cinemas in the UK. There is absolutely no history in my aged memory of evangelical films in UK cinema. I wonder how they got their foot in the door of the distribution networks, how much that costs?

    There surely can’t be a market for this type of film over here? One of the fascinating aspects of reading PZs blog is seeing the cultural difference between the US and UK on religion! We really don’t ‘do’ religion as far as 90% of the population is concerned no matter what people may label themselves in surveys here. So how did this crap film end up here?

  70. unclefrogy says

    you know when I am on my death bed having my past go round and some zealot preacher comes to save me I might just let them pray and speak low and get them to lean in close to hear my prayers and then spit in their ear!
    like vultures they are.
    uncle frogy

  71. says

    Digital projection is indeed excellent for watching shitty pseudodocumentaries. It’s never been cheaper to have a propaganda screening room in your own house. You do have to have access to a large white wall though.

  72. Menyambal says

    Several people have noted that the movie really makes Christians look bad. I agree, and want to add a bit.

    In the scene where Hercules dies, the predatory preachers are indeed awful, and their motives unkind. But they also give their entire religion a black eye in a way nobody has addressed.

    See, all the dying guy has to do to get into Heaven is to believe. He doesn’t have to perform any acts, like do penance or pay money or perform good works, he just has to believe. Belief is all there is to it, and they showed that on the big screen. Religion is nothing but belief.

    Well, I don’t know exactly how it was played, as I will not be seeing the movie, but whether acceptance or belief, it wasn’t anything but a mental condition, and nothing physical had happened. Except, of course, the predators hearing him and them accepting him into their little group. Which is again a matter of their belief.

    See, they probably just wanted to see Hercules accept their religion so that they could feel validated. Said validation is a theme in the movie, as the kid’s argument is partly just that Christianity isn’t an entirely stupid thing to do. But they can’t really know that the dying demigod was sincere—they just believe that he was—and that they know exactly what is going to happen when he gets to Heaven. So another level of arrogance, there, for those two.

    And how could anyone know if another person is sincere in their religion?

    Me, I’m gonna do the death-bed conversion thing. Any preacher that shows up will get my fervent hand and my apparently heart-felt pledge. The shame of it will die with me, and just maybe I will wake up with Jesus. (There, you tone-troll critics! Is that better than PZ’s knife?)

  73. ck says

    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought wrote:
    <blockquote

    Sorbo believes Hollywood has limited his career because of his conservative political and Christian views.

    (via wiki, source is an interview for FOX)
    Why do I suspect he’s simply become picky and entitled, and thinks that he can refuse any role that doesn’t glorify his religion or himself without consequence to his career?

  74. says

    Or, it could be that he’s not getting any parts because he’s a ham overactor who only got work in the first place because of the way he looked shirtless and he’s aged out of that niche.

    Also, everyone will be calling him “Hercules” until the day he dies and the overly typecast don’t get good roles. He needs to take a bit part playing a tanssexual bipolar alien channeler or something, the way everyone from Brad Pitt to Gene Hackman did when they wanted to break out of a typecast.

  75. parasiteboy says

    I wonder how closely “A Matter of Faith”, the christian movie with Harry Anderson, as the professor who has to defend evolution, will follow the big daddy cartoon.

    On that note, I’m moving to Iowa, where I may teach intro biology (possibly to non-majors) and was wondering if anyone had a good link or two that addresses the arguments in the big daddy cartoon. I would not be surprised if I ran into some of those arguments in Iowa and I don’t want my lack of knowledge to be misinterpreted by students that science doesn’t have the answers.

    Any help would be much appreciated

  76. HolyPinkUnicorn says

    It was also implied that all of the students at this university were atheists, or apathetic enough about religion to blithely agree with the statement that God is dead, as part of the filmmakers’ martyr complex: this straw America is populated almost entirely with godless unbelievers. Here I am at a secular state university, and even here, that’s simply not true. Most of my students are religious, although probably not to the degree that the hero of the film is.

    This too was my experience in college a few years ago. Students were only religiously apathetic in the sense that getting up on a Sunday morning was asking a little much, though they still had plenty of religious tattoos and jewelry. It was also quite openly diverse in religious beliefs, but not in a lack thereof–numerous religious clubs making a name for themselves, lots of Muslim students wearing hijabs, as just two examples. By comparison the tiniest club on campus was probably the atheist/humanist one.

    Admittedly this was not Brigham Young or Bob Jones, but we still allowed a regular street corner-style mouth-breather on campus once a week, bible in hand and head up ass. This guy was more of a silly freak show when walking between classes than anything else, but I saw him every semester I was in school.

    My sense of students’ religious beliefs was that they were more tolerant, “big tent” ones than in generations past, albeit still with the same hateful reading list. So students could counter-protest Westboro Baptist Church showing up on campus one day, and then turn around and god bother fellow students on campus the next. And I look so far removed from a churchgoer to practically be Chick tract-worthy (maybe they were taking bets on me), but I’m sure having one more customer always helps.

    All that aside, this movie still sounds incredibly funny to me. The Christian right’s spokesman are some of the looniest and most hilarious z-list celebrities out there, it’s like an autobiographical satire.

  77. Ichthyic says

    Sorbo believes Hollywood has limited his career because of his conservative political and Christian views.

    HA! Sorbo got far more of a career than he ever deserved, given his acting ability.

  78. Ichthyic says

    The shame of it will die with me, and just maybe I will wake up with Jesus.

    Funny, but Pascal’s wager didn’t die with him. You just demonstrated it.

    so, no, the shame of it will NOT die with you… the rest of us will have to live with it.

  79. microraptor says

    HA! Sorbo got far more of a career than he ever deserved, given his acting ability.

    I think that calling what he does on screen an ability is stretching it.

  80. WhiteHatLurker says

    Is it not likely that the drivers of the car that killed Sorbo’s character were Xtians? Christians “martyring” atheists – and then celebrating their demise. (According to the clip.)

    @mineralfellow – I like your post.

  81. pattanowski says

    My wife of 20+ years just died from breast cancer which had metastasized to the brain. She lived a life of coherent, examined, loving and peaceful godlessness right to the end. During her last weeks, the tumor caused her to become increasingly confused and troubled. Mercifully she stopped reading the messages on her phone from Christians telling her not to worry because “God has a plan for us all, including you” or “everything happens according to His plan”..etc…. A few days before she died, during a time of extreme discomfort and distress, a close relative came by for a final attempt at a deathbed conversion. I started speaking reason and the Christian was tearfully driven from the house and then the yard. I told the relative that I had little doubt that they had good intentions and were doing what they thought was best in saving my wife from eternal hellfire, yet the person stated that they were just proclaiming the Truth of the True God. After mentioning a few obvious problems with this god, I asked if they would appreciate it if I tried to convert their (hypothetical) dying and confused spouse to Hinduism. I don’t think this relative ever really grasped the idea that it is wrong to take advantage of a confused and dying person in order to harvest another soul for Jesus. Or, for that matter, that it would be wrong to burn the poor woman for eternity just for not saying a little prayer while in a mentally compromised state of mind. (in fact, she was no longer able to speak)

    This movie inspires me to defend those in compromised positions from having to endure the Christian soul-vultures. It was not easy to offend that relative of mine after years of politely enduring the nonsense but I know it was right to remove the person from the room so long as the conversion techniques were being employed. My wife had been vocal about her positions on these things and I had to speak up for her when she was not able.

  82. chigau (違う) says

    pattanowski #102
    I’m sorry for your loss.
    Your wife was lucky to have you.

  83. says

    Pattanowski:

    My wife had been vocal about her positions on these things and I had to speak up for her when she was not able.

    That’s love. I’m sorry for your loss.