‘God’s Not Dead’ Is Awful


As a philosophy graduate, the acclaimed movie God’s Not Dead has thoroughly vexed this writer. For those unfamiliar with the movie, God’s Not Dead is a tale of David versus Goliath in the towers of academia. The movie portrays a Christian freshman who stands up against a smug, atheist philosophy professor. The professor claims that “God is Dead” on the first day of class and instructs his students to write this statement on a piece of paper. One freshman refuses to write the statement. As a corollary, he must defend the antithesis “God is not dead.” In the end, the student wins the argument. In addition, it is revealed that the professor never disbelieved in God, he really just hated him. In essence, the movie is a recapitulated version of the fictional tale about a young Albert Einstein who illustrated to a smug, atheist professor that evil does not disprove the existence of God.

God’s Not Dead should be regarded as an intellectual embarrassment by Christians everywhere. To begin with, the movie is based upon a lie. Not once in this writer’s undergraduate career as a philosophy major did a professor ever proclaim “God is dead” and then expect students to appeal to his or her worldview. Philosophy is not about blindly appealing to the beliefs of an authority. Philosophy is concerned with rigorously analyzing an argument in an effort to determine whether certain propositions are valid or invalid, sound or unsound (Philosophy majors reading this should recognize the distinction between a valid argument versus a sound argument). Critically evaluating truth claims is not unique to Christianity but encompasses all domains in philosophy, including philosophy of mind, ethics and yes, philosophy of religion.

The problem with many Christians is that they attach their identity to their beliefs. If someone challenges their beliefs, within the Christian mindset, they are being attacked as a person. In secular universities—and more specifically philosophy departments—Christianity is treated as a truth claim among many that is upheld to the same standards of defense as any other truth claim. This is the market place of ideas. Taking offense to the slightest criticism made against faith reveals more about the person’s character than it does about Christianity.

Another vexing feature about the movie is that the atheist professor is smug and diabolical; whereas the Christian freshman is humble and amiable. These two aren’t just characters in a movie but a symbolic representation for how many Christians actually view the world. In reality, we all know that some Christians are good, other Christians are bad; just as many atheists are good and some atheists are bad. To make matters worse, the movie reveals that the atheist professor believed in God all along, he just hated him for personal reasons. This is the height of intellectual dishonesty. Apparently, it is impossible for many Christians to accept that some people can genuinely doubt the existence of God for reasons that aren’t grounded in an abusive childhood.

Most importantly, the movie reinforces the stereotype that philosophy is an atheistic discipline that is eager to destroy the Christian faith. Philosophy is an encompassing discipline that contains many branches. Might one’s faith be challenged in a philosophy course? Perhaps. By the same token, it could just as easily be strengthened. Philosophy is a fascinating subject. Yet the philosophy portrayed in God’s Not Dead is awful.

By Nathan Cranford


AV Club
Gods not dead

15 Responses to "‘God’s Not Dead’ Is Awful"

  1. Dave G.   August 9, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    “To begin with, the movie is based upon a lie. ”
    – You already start off on the wrong foot without adequately qualifying this position. Your clear objection to consider the question
    objectively disqualifies your credentials, and your preconditioning.
    Your visceral denial of God’s existence removes self recrimination without any moral absolute by rejecting God, dismissing his existence, otherwise it rips your self serving morality. Without acknowledging, or thinking you believe he exists, it allows you to be as rotten as you are without condemning you.

    You continue : “Not once in THIS writer’s undergraduate career as a philosophy major did a professor EVER proclaim “God is dead” and then expect students to appeal to his or her worldview.”
    It is a movie. It is the premise. It is therefore YOUR highly esteemed OPINION, based on YOUR limited exposure to philosophy, that this scenario ‘could never occur’, just because Gos was most likely COMPLETELY ABSENT from any discussion YOU ‘experienced’.
    Well, isn’t that the purpose of modern philosophy; to deny the existence of God, and spare you judgement allowing you to so whatever feels good without guilt. You sound like Kevin Sorbos’ of the Professor who so deperately wants to control his stidents choice in the question with Dean Cains’ character, who breaks up with his young girlfriend who tells him she is dying from cancer, and he so callously walks out on her.
    You need to see the movie again with an OPEN mind, not with defensive rejection going in. You have a closed mind, and have apparently never looked intellectually at the debate, and disprove it- because you can’t. So, why do YOU hate God ?

    Read more at http://guardianlv.com/2014/04/gods-not-dead-is-god-awful/#1IJppXeDHXFv3sd5.99

  2. Torrance McCarty   April 20, 2014 at 9:35 pm

    It may be that no one has ever required their students to do that, however it is just like the parables jesus told. They were not true, never happened, but there was a good message to them. In this case, the story line was not true, the events didn’t happen, but they were still giving out a amazing message. Also, it says that christians are offended while josh in the movie is humble in that circumstance, but not all are that easily offended, Jesus Christ was a humble amazing man, and in the bible in 1st Corinthians 11:1 it says, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” Thus we try to be humble. And god made everyone different so therefor, some of us may be “easily offended” as you put it, but we still try to be Christ like. No matter what, GOD LOVES US

  3. ReverandB   April 17, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    I have read reviews on other websites of Atheists attacking Christians for being fools, and believing in an imaginary being. My belief on Atheism is this. If they can produce a book written approximately 2000 years ago that can explain how stories in the Bible were just hokum, then I MIGHT have a little enthusiasm in their beliefs. Until then, they can rant and rage about “idiot Christians” all they want, but just wondering if, just maybe, they might get a surprise at life’s end?

    • wolfritter   May 7, 2014 at 2:30 am

      Well there’s the fact that Luke says Jesus was born the year Caesar Augustus declared a tax on the entire world and then in Matthew’s gospel Jesus was born during King Herod’s reign, except the only Roman census at that time happened in 6 AD and King Herod’s reign ended in 4 BC. The Roman histories never note the slaughter of the babes of Bethlehem or of Jesus arriving to have all the people declare him their King. The Romans were very anal about keeping very precise records. Then there’s the casting out the moneychangers which is also never noted by anyone else in history, which is surprising since at that time the temple area was roughly 34 acres and would’ve required quite the riot to expel all the moneychangers.

  4. SasoriTheOverlord   April 13, 2014 at 7:06 am

    “The movie is clearly about a bad philosophy teacher who hates God. I would imagine that the whole university setting is just a springboard to delve into theism vs. atheism.”

    This movie is “theism vs. theism” because “Hercules” here is still a god believer.

    “Atheists hate god” is just a strawman.

  5. T.K   April 5, 2014 at 7:28 am

    Obviously no one who has commented here agrees with your comments about this movie.i argree with all but one who commented here to this point so i won’t re-say what’s been said. I will say that when i read your comments i think “this is written by an atheist”. Are you? You talk about stereo types yet you stero type Christians in your article. Gods not dead is a movie and it’s an excellent movie, proven by the box office sales and comments on here. It’s a film not just for Christians to see. It’s a movie all can enjoy and get something from. If anyone questions life at all, go see this film.

    • eradifyerao   April 5, 2014 at 7:35 am

      T.K. just because the box office sales are blossoming for a movie, doesn’t necessasarily make the movie good, but it means it sold alot. I remember coming to the movie theatre for the October Baby movie, and the line was out the door, and can you guess who were most in line? (granted, this was in the Bible belt, God bless ’em.) But It does seem like this movie was inspired by a Newsboy’s song…

  6. Mike   April 1, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Honestly, at the end of the day it is a film. And as other have mentioned you sir are no film critic, this comes off as extremly amateur. No one cares you were a philosophy major, what does that have to do with a film? You are suppose to be un-biased and clearly you had motives for disliking the film as soon as you started it. Let the pros review films if you are going to approach it this way.

  7. Forrest   April 1, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    I believe that your comments are biased. Your statement that the movie is based on lies is in itself untrue. I may not be the case in every situation, but similar occurrences have happened in colleges around the country. If you were in fact brave enough, you would have mentioned all the case citations at the end of the movie before the credits.. By the way, I’ve seen the movie twice. I have studied philosophy and theology and found that there were true portrayals of people mentioned. For instance, Richard Dawkins is a devout atheist and certainly doesn’t hide his presuppositions. If you’re looking for the “truth” I suggest you read what the scriptures say.

  8. Todd Morton   April 1, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Did you watch the film credits at the end? Did you notice the numerous legal cases cited over the last 10+ years regarding higher academic institutions who have tried to limit & take away Christian expressions of faith on campuses? It then said something to the affect that these cases were the inspiration for this movie.

  9. Todd Morton   April 1, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    What? You can’t be serious! Oh, I get it! “APRIL FOOLS!”

  10. eradifyerao   April 1, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    I suppose I am a really “unorthodox” Christian, but I really like your article. I feel that the stereotyping of many (not all) Christians is a bit much, and the yet unexperienced encounter with this movie is a bit lack luster, adding little to serious Christian scholarship, but as you said, attacking a supposedly-secular academic subject. Having said this, I am prepared to eat my words if seeing the movie exposes something that brings out something I hadn’t thought of 🙂

  11. Karen   April 1, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Your comments come off as riff raff, blah blah blah. This film did what it was meant to do and that was to bring man kind to believe and be saved for eternity. It showed how easy it is to be caught up in our own selfishness, our own weakness, and our own ignorance. It is our obligation no matter what our religion is, we need to save others. The film showed exactly how easy it is for each and every one of us to impact people to believe.

  12. Luke Sargent   April 1, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    This movie isn’t about philosophy, philosophy teachers, or what philosophy teachers are supposed to do. I would never go into this movie expecting an accurate portrayal of what philosophy is, and how good professors teach it. I have taken philosophy courses, and I was going to major in it at one point.

    The movie is clearly about a bad philosophy teacher who hates God. I would imagine that the whole university setting is just a springboard to delve into theism vs. atheism.

    If this movie were about real philosophy it would put people to sleep.

    Logical calculus, anyone? Lol.

  13. John   April 1, 2014 at 10:02 am

    This is a rather biased review of a film, and an unfair one at that. Judge the film for the film itself, not your own personal beliefs. You walked into the movie already not liking it, what chance did it have? Are you a film maker? Screen writer? At all any type of professional in the film business? Then you should not be reviewing films, save that for the real critics please.


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