I was listening to a lecture about dating. The woman being interviewed stated specific things she looks for in men and gave an example of what she doesn't like. A guy had picked her up on their first date in a limo, took her to a very nice restaurant, and they ended up making out in the limo. He pushed her head to his crotch. She was immediately turned off, wasn't that impressed by the excessiveness of the date, and left the guy hanging...well pitchin' a tent.
When I talk to people who are in organized religion, I feel like that woman. Though there are times that I feel effeminate, but that's for another post.
I had worked for the USPS as a temp, and some of us were talking about the possible existence of UFO's. Another temp, a Christian, raised his head from the mail bin and said they absolutely do not exist. I asked why not? He said the Bible said so. I've only read snippets of the book, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't say UFO's do not exist. I'm also sure it doesn't even have UFO in it.
But, hey, I write about creatures that look satanic, so who am I?
I'd watched GOD'S NOT DEAD, directed by Harold Cronk, and I knew this movie was made by people who preach to the choir for the people who are in the choir. And in no way in Hell am I one of those people. Shit! I said Hell. Well...typed it. Twice!
I watched it because I'm curious about a lot of stuff, including the entity, force, or whatever people call God. The basic premise of the movie is that a philosophy professor challenges a Christian student to prove the existence of God. The professor, played by Hercules, Hercules—Kevin Sorbo—had stated to the class that God is dead, and the student wouldn't accept it. Challenge accepted!
Since we're supposed to be convinced that God does exist in the form that the Bible professes, there are two problems with the film.
First off, the student's argument for God's existence seems compelling. And the argument against is less compelling, a little manipulating, but that's OK.
The professor lost his belief in God when he witnessed his mother succumb to cancer. He prayed but God didn't save her. The student then rebuts and states sometimes the answer is no.
Uh...all right. So if I slapped you, then it's fine because sometimes I feel like slapping someone. I'm not God, so you say. But aren't we created in the image of God? See how I manipulated that? See how stupid that sounds?
Part of the professor's argument is Stephen Hawking, who claims in his book The Grand Design that the universe needed to be created so it created itself. The student then argues that that doesn't make sense. He uses this example (paraphrasing): It would be like claiming spam is the best tasting food because in all of history no food had tasted better. That statement proves nothing, professes the student, and he is correct. Creation vs Spam. Good points of reference to make when trying to prove God's existence.
The student then does some clever manipulation of words, which I'll spare you, and moves on to his next statement: Creation happened because God said it should happen.
I don't see how that statement is different than what Hawking claimed. Both suffer from the same failure, circular reasoning, as argued by the student in regards to Hawking's logic.
In other words, you can't use the word to define that word. Define the word square:
Square - it's a shape in a form of a square.
Spaghetti - an Italian dish in the form of spaghetti.
What makes the student's arguments compelling is his ability to manipulate our thinking much like a magician makes us look at one thing while he's doing another. And this is what I hate about organized religion. It's not the religion. If anything, all religions have similar goals, to give humans basic core values to live by.
But when people manipulate religion into something else, it pisses me off. And these people think they're so high and mighty they don't see that their own priests are committing atrocities like the molestation of boys.
Twisting of words, an evangelist most powerful tool, is the first problem with this film.
The second goes hand in hand with the first: vilifying those who oppose religion, in this case Christianity. The philosophy professor is the obvious aggressor and evil weasel antagonist. And we have the student's girlfriend who gives him an ultimatum, choose her or choose to accept the professor's challenge. Fine. He chose the challenge.
Hell to tha NO! He chose GOD.
Gawd, seriously? But the professor isn't the only one who was villainified. I know. That ain't a word. Neither was ain't and now it is!
We have a Muslim father who beats up her daughter who secretly listens to Christian music on her iPod. Is the iPod GOD approved? Then we have Superman—Dean Cain—who plays a highly insensitive douche that breaks up with his girlfriend when he finds out she has cancer. All are cartoonish in their villainous villainified ways.
I love Fruitvale Station. It's the story about a black man who was wrongly shot to death by a police officer at a BART station on New Year's Eve. Part of the genius of that film is that the police were not vilified. Because that's not what the story is about. It's about the last day of Oscar Grant's life, a remembrance of him as a human being.
So too should Cronk have focused on the debate instead of trying to manipulate us into the final answer that God does exist. History shows that forcing and manipulating an idea upon a people doesn't bode well. And the fact that Rotten Tomatoes has a score of 17% is a reflection that his manipulation hasn't gone unnoticed. And to be fair, many Christians didn't review the film well, either.
Had Cronk focused on the debate between student and teacher, even in his manipulating ways (Spam anyone?) it would have been more interesting and engrossing. All that other stuff—for gawd's sake, leave Superman out of it—just magnified his forced hand in the film. And he'd only do that if he didn't feel confident that he could convince people outside of the choir that God exists. Otherwise, why force the subject in the first place?