God’s Not Dead (But Apparently Christian Philosophy Is)

Jason Micheli —  March 24, 2014 — 4 Comments

profileThe big news from the Box Office returns this weekend wasn’t that the Muppets turned out to be not very wanted at all.

Instead, the Monday morning news from Hollywood is that ‘God’s Not Dead,’ the little Christian movie that could (thanks to pre-selling tickets to evangelical churches and their youth groups) came in 5th place in total ticket sales.

God’s Not Dead. 

Apparently neither are Dean Cain’s (Superman) or Kevin Sorbo’s (Zeena) careers. They both star in the movie though you might not notice since they’ve aged beyond all recognition.

God’s Not Dead perpetuates the apocryphal yet pervasive myth of a Christian student at a secular (ie, godless) college going toe-to-toe with his atheistically evangelical philosophy professor. As a perfect homage to evangelical paranoia, the film features cameos of Phil Robertson’s (Duck Dynasty) son and daughter-in-law.

While it’s true I’ve not viewed God’s Not Dead nor could anything induce me to view it, in ham-fistedly critiquing a film I’ve not actually see I’m merely participating in a time-honored evangelical tradition.

Reportedly, in God’s Not Dead the protagonist (believing student) sets out to prove to his amoral atheist professor (Kevin Sorbo) that God does in fact exist.

To which the Source and Ground All Being replies, after metaphorically smacking HIS Almighty forehead: ‘Sigh.’

God’s Not Dead.

Dean Cain is not dead.

Kevin Sorbo is not dead.

But evidently for Christians the discipline of philosophy has rigor mortis.

Certainly the sub-discipline formerly known as metaphysics.

Thus far, all the critique of the film on the internet has centered around pushback that God’s Not Dead trucks in a mythic stereotype of the Christian experience on college campuses.

Thus far,

I’ve not seen any Christian critique that the argument of the movie- the argument within the movie- shit, the very assertion in the title of the movie, relies upon a logical fallacy that is

A) not good philosophy

and

B) is certainly not Christian.

The reviews of God’s Not Dead, pro and con, merely confirm that both believers and non are clueless as to the ancient definition of the word ‘God.’

If you can ‘prove’ it

(either in the negative or the positive)

by definition

IT’S NOT GOD.

Christians should know that already.

So…for you beginners out there:

God is not a being within the universe.

God is not a part of the world.

God (big ‘G’ is key) is not a god.

God is the infinite mystery who utterly transcends the world God has made.

As much as it runs counter to Christian pop: the world makes no literal difference to God.

This is what Genesis means it says that God created the world ex nihilo, out of nothing and hence exists apart from everything. God did not have to create the universe, and if God had chosen not to, God’s glory and being would not have been diminished one ticket stub.

Here’s the cold, hard, metaphysical math:

God + the world < God alone.

God + everything that will ever be < God alone.

God + the World = God

God – the World = God.

God + (a) = God

(a) = the World, You and Me

a = 0

The world does not add anything to God; it does not change or affect God. Ultimately it does not make a difference to God. God is God, in infinite glory, majesty, and love.

Because God is not a being within the world but “Being” itself.

Thus, the assertion ‘God’s Not Dead’ is both true, not true, and unremarkable.

It’s true in that, as Existence Itself ‘God’s Not Dead is a necessarily true statement. It’s like saying ‘Existence is Not Non-Existence.’

It’s not true in that, as a Being outside, beyond, transcendent of the created universe, any god whose existence you could (dis)prove, by definition, is not God (see: Bush, Burning).

It’s unremarkable in that as Being Itself God is the most obvious thing of all.

Sadly, what’s proven stone, cold dead by films movies like God’s Not Dead is the Christian intellectual tradition it purports to advocate.

For its box office success, God’s Not Dead relies upon the scandal that colleges oppose Christian belief.

The true ‘scandal’ that bubbles to the surface whenever evangelical students hit sober-thinking college campuses is how little their church-sanctioned God-talk corresponds to ancient ways of Christian speech.

College disciplines such as philosophy and metaphysics and theology expose the extent to which American evangelicals anthropomorphize, even idolize, God.

The campus ‘scandal’ revealed in God’s Not Dead is that the god worshipped, defended and ‘proved’ by the film’s protagonist is merely a god.

Not ‘I Will Be Who I Will Be.’

 

 

 

Jason Micheli

Posts

4 responses to God’s Not Dead (But Apparently Christian Philosophy Is)

  1. Jason, this is at least the third recent post where you’ve made this argument. I encourage you to get out of the philosophy books and into the Bible. I am disappointed that the god you’re describing is not the God Christians worship, who is revealed in the Bible and in the Son. God is love. But God also gets angry, weeps, rebukes, forgives, judges, etc. The world and mankind are very important to God; that was the point of the Son’s incarnation. I’m sure you would agree that we can’t selectively endorse the verses we like while ignoring or misinterpreting others that are relevant to the issue.

    I hope you are not building this inaccurate portrayal of God to support some kind of argument that God doesn’t care what a person’s sexual orientation is. Let’s give that issue a rest, please.

    • Hi Jean,
      I’m not for selectively endorsing or prohibiting single verses certainly nor am I attempting to build some sort of stolid sexuality argument. There, I believe, two ways of thinking about God. One that adheres only to the bible. And another, more ancient, way that looks to both philosophy and the bible. The God of ex nihilo and the God of philosophy have determined my own understanding. It’s not everyone’s but it’s not a-bibilcal or a-Christian. Actually, I’ve got most of Christian history on my side. It’s a history that’s recently forgotten by Christians but nonetheless I’m not going to cede that my is the ‘Christian’ vantage.
      I will, however, try to do a post sometime outlying in more detail where Christian philosophy and theology intersect/part ways.

      • Excellent Jason. How we think about God is very important, because, as His image bearers, how we think about God influences how we see ourselves and other people. Equally important, our study of God should be transformative, not merely informative.

  2. “The true ‘scandal’ that bubbles to the surface whenever evangelical students hit sober-thinking college campuses is how little their church-sanctioned God-talk corresponds to ancient ways of Christian speech.” This!

Leave a Reply

Text formatting is available via select HTML. <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.