God’s Not Dead

God’s Not Dead

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Above image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

Did you see the movie God’s Not Dead? I watched God’s Not Dead several years ago when it first came out. I returned a few days later to watch it a second time with my son and several of his friends. This time I took notes, as well as anyone can take notes in a dark theater.

If you have watched this movie or plan on watching it, then take a moment and read this. It will help explain some of the arguments used by both the atheist, Professor Radisson, and the Christian student, Josh Wheaton. This review (if you can call it that) is far from exhaustive in covering the logical fallacies and apologetic arguments, but it may be useful for the layman.

The Most Intelligent People are Atheists

The first argument Professor Radisson used when he walked into his philosophy class was to point to a list of famous, intelligent, if not brilliant, people who were all atheists. This is a logical fallacy called an appeal to authority. If you come up with a list of famous, educated, or influential people who support your cause, your cause must be essential and intellectually just.

Every year in politics, you see candidates endorsed by famous actors or actresses. They do this because the Hollywood spotlight holds a position of influence over us. If a famous actor or actress supports someone, more people will vote for that individual. Both the Republicans and the Democrats use a Hollywood face or well-known sports figure to promote their campaign. The fact that both sides take part in this should tell you something. It works.

Christians could also come up with a list of brilliant minds that believed in God or the Christian worldview. In popular culture, we have Tyler Perry, Ryan Gosling, Patricia Heaton, Chris Pratt, Denzel Washington, Mel Gibson, Martin Sheen, Angela Bassett, to name a few in the Hollywood circles. They all believe in God or profess to be Christians. We could also list those famous for their towering intellect. Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Pascal, Newton, and Mendel, to name a few.

Appealing to authority can be persuasive, but it does not make something true. Even if everyone I listed above thought that the world was flat, it would not be true. And when Professor Radisson shows off a list of brilliant and famous people that were, or are, atheists, it does not make atheism true any more than the lists I offered make Christianity true.

The prompting is that only intelligent people are atheists, but you can see that is not the case. The suggestion is that science trumps faith, and that science and faith are at odds. Or more specifically, that knowledge and faith are on opposite ends of each other. Many atheists and even some Christians believe the less knowledge you have, the more faith you need. Please give it some thought. This is obviously not true; the opposite of faith is unbelief, not knowledge, and the opposite of knowledge is not faith, but ignorance. Throughout history and today, brilliant minds have excellent reasons and evidence for their faith.

Atheists do not have the market on knowledge, reason, and science. In my readings on apologetics, I have found tremendous support for my faith in Christ. As my knowledge has increased, so has my faith/confidence. As Josh researched the Christian worldview, no doubt his faith also increased.

I want to address two apologetic arguments Josh Wheaton used in the movie. This will help those watching the film for the first time understand the philosophy behind them. It is also important for every Christian to be familiar with them because they commonly come up when talking to skeptics or atheists.

The First Cause

The first argument Josh brought up was the Big Bang Theory.

In 1929, Edwin Hubble noticed what he called a ‘red shift’ in the color of very distant galaxies. This turned out to mean that the galaxies were moving away; in other words, the universe was expanding. Why is this significant? If we dial back time a thousand years, the universe would be smaller than it is today. If we were to go back a million years, it would be smaller still. So we could go back to the beginning and find the universe compressed into a single point that science calls a singularity. What caused this singularity? We call that God. As Greg Koukl puts it, to have a Big Bang, you must have a Big Banger.

Just a few years later, Albert Einstein came to peer through the telescope at the Wilson Observatory to confirm, at least in his own mind, the findings of Hubble. Since then, science has continued to confirm this, and the Big Bang Theory is widely accepted in the scientific community. 

I know many Christians that have been uncomfortable with this, but it plays into the hand of those who believe in God. Simply put, if the universe had a beginning, it must have been created. For centuries, scientists believed that the universe had always existed, but Genesis says, “In the beginning God created…”

One form of the cosmological argument is called the Kalam Cosmological Argument, and essentially it states the following premises and conclusion:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Someone might ask, “Then who caused God?” but God is an uncaused, eternal being. He stands outside of his creation, much like the author of a book stands outside of his novel. Time is inexorably tied to our universe, and God stands outside it. He is not bound by his creation any more than Thomas Kinkade is bound to live in one of his idyllic country cottage paintings.

Professor Hugh Ross, who has written several books on cosmology and lectured at over 300 campuses, wrote, “Consider the way parents prepare their children to explore and relate to the world and the rest of humanity. Step-by-step, as the little one matures, father and mother allow the world of exploration and relationships to expand. Likewise, according to the Bible, God will allow his children to move beyond their smallish playground (planet earth) into the expansive realm (the new creation) he always intended for them to experience and enjoy.”((Ross, Hugh. “Why Such a Lonely Universe.” Why The Universe Is The Way It Is, Baker Books, 2008, p.78))

Problem of Evil

Another argument Josh addressed is the problem of evil. The argument goes something like this: how can an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God allow evil? David Hume put it this way, “Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”

Let me ask you, what is your purpose in life? If you hold a Christian worldview, you must understand that your purpose in life is not your happiness but to commune with God. This life does not end with our last breath but spills over and opens up a door to an eternal ocean of God’s presence and love.

The old woman in the nursing home toward the end of God’s Not Dead spells it out nicely when she says to her son, “Sometimes the devil allows people to live a life free of trouble, because he doesn’t want them turning to God.”1 Some of you may have the same experience I do when I say the times I have been the most active in prayer are when I have been going through difficulty. No doubt many of you have experienced the same thing. How many have cried out to God when encountering a sudden life-threatening experience? In times of difficulty, most everyone recognizes we turn toward God, but sometimes the answer is no, and we suffer great pain or loss. For many of us, this brings us closer to God, and a greater understanding of the purpose to our life.

Timothy Keller wrote, “For many years, after each of the morning and evening Sunday services, I remained in the auditorium for another hour to field questions. Hundreds of people stayed for the give-and-take discussions. One of the most frequent statements I heard was, ‘Every person has the right to define right and wrong for himself or herself.’ I always responded to the speakers by asking, ‘Is there anyone in the world right now doing things you believe they should stop doing no matter what they personally believe about the correctness of their behavior?’ They would invariably say, ‘Yes, of course.'”2

We are all free to do good, and we are all free to do evil. The same freedom allows us to do one or the other, but we could not measure evil without good. Without God, evil is just a behavior that some don’t enjoy, and it becomes a subjective feeling. 

Timothy Keller pointed out that without a grounding objective morality we get from God, then evil is just a point of view. If we each decide what is right and wrong, then evil is just a matter of opinion. 

Volumes have been written on the problem of evil, and it is one Christians should be familiar with because it can be one of the most challenging questions to answer when the suffering does not offer any rhyme or reason. 

See God’s Not Dead if you have not seen it. I would have enjoyed more classroom debate and apologetic arguments in greater detail, more character development. Still, it has raised awareness in Christians who might otherwise never have considered intellectual and philosophical arguments for their belief in Christ. 

Creative Commons License
God’s Not Dead by James W Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. God’s Not Dead. Dir. Harold Cronk, Perf. Kevin Sorbo, Shane Harper. Pure Flix Entertainment, 2014. Film []
  2. Keller, Timothy. The Reason for God. New York: Penguin Group, 2008. Print. []

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