on April 13, 2016
This movie embarrassed me as a student of philosophy and as a theist. The story and writing are weak and the movie overall is cliched, but what really bothered me is how badly the arguments both for and against the existence of God were given. the combative tone and trial nature of the philosophy classroom in this movie is not only absurd, it is insulting. I'm giving it two stars instead of one only because it at least attempted to present and make relevant important topics of discussion that are being largely ignored by today's culture and especially youth. Overall, this is movie should be seen as a cautionary tale of how not to make a film of this kind.
on September 23, 2015
SPOILER ALERT: This movie was awful. I am a Christian. The teacher (Kevin Sorbo) starts by telling people to write on a piece of paper God is Dead. This would be a violation of people's constitutional rights. Then, Kevin continues to be horrible. Is dying at the end of the movie and rather than comfort him, these religious zealots, very Biblically litigious, are ramming the sinners prayer down his throat to make sure he gets saved. Kevin did an okay job acting (with a poor script) the rest was very low quality. Would NEVER suggest anyone see this.
on June 2, 2016
The philosophy professor lacks the basic skill set of logic and reasoning which are the basis of fundamental philosophy. The professor just relies on his personal anger towards God to hold his position, Even as a Christian, it is hard for me to agree that this is a good way to deliver the message, Philosophy is philosophy, and religion is religion. If you have those two things mixed up, not much else will help you.
on September 9, 2014
I was going to keep my silence, but cannot hold it any longer. My wife and I rented this movie and decided to watch it together after both kids were shown it at church camp and said they liked it. T-shirts were given out. This thing was really promoted. But I had a feeling about this movie. I hoped my suspicions were wrong. Many Christian films are lacking a bit in production quality or have sappy acting and dialogue, but I can overlook much of this if there is a good story, a good moral. Some films are really quite excellent. My wife and I are both Christians, but after 20 minutes we had to shut this movie off. Neither of us could take it any longer. It represents much of what is terribly wrong with politically charged Christianity today. I went ahead and read what the rest of the plot is, no surprises... its not a journey I am willing to take when so much of the plot, dialogue, and characterizations amount to lies and straw-man arguments. Jesus said the truth will set you free. This movie does not uphold the truth so much as erode away at it, or heap so much bitterness and twisting of facts as to make it wholly un-palpable. It is basically a conglomeration of Facebook-style posts or email forwards you typically see from fundamentalists that tend to demonize non-believers, college professors, Muslims, etc., while picturing Christians as innocent and terribly persecuted. It does not seek understanding, It does not help those who want to follow Jesus be more like him, or follow His teachings... instead, it really violates some basic principles of the Gospel. It seeks to indoctrinate us for an imagined war that is being waged in the minds of ultra-conservatives and fear-mongers in the political arena. It seeks to divide and tells lies, in order to get Christians angry and politically motivated. No thank you.
on April 3, 2016
As a Jew (living in the U.S.) I found this movie pretty damn disturbing. Overall, "God's Not Dead" is uncomfortably similar to "Birth of a Nation," in too many ways: the way both films portray the majority culture as small, oppressed rebels and the minorities as powerful villains; the evil black caricatures in "Birth of a Nation" are played by whites in blackface, the evil atheists in "God's Not Dead" are played by evangelical Christians; and of course, the fact that this movie has a massive following of bigots who truly believe the world is as it's presented here, just as with "Birth of a Nation" when it came out.
The way the "non believers" in this movie so easily see the "errors" of their ways by the end is both hilarious and disturbing as well, because when you're from a (real) religious minority in this country, you learn from a very young age that you're going to spend the rest of your life having to watch out for Christians who see themselves as Josh, and you as Professor Raddison/Martin/etc. This movie brought back memories of a Christian who stalked and harassed me in high school, trying to "save" my soul from being the wrong religion. How about more movies teaching people to respect other's beliefs, not encourage the harassment that minorities put up with regularly from Christians trying to "save" them.
This movie could also be an interesting sociological study for how different minority groups become acceptable targets as time changes. What if "God's Not Dead" had a Jewish character who was portrayed in the same manner as the atheists or Muslims? Can you imagine that? I can: the situation with the Muslim girl is parallel to a plot twist used in a few works back when antisemitism was acceptable; a pretty young Jewess secretly wants to be a good Christian, but her evil Jewish father won't let her (Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice," and "The Jewish Maid" by Hans Christian Andersen). The atheists are portrayed as having no morals and hating Christianity, exactly how Jews were typically portrayed in Christian literature for centuries. Naturally most evangelical Christians aren't quite "brave" enough to show the "errors" of Judaism in a movie in this century, but they'll gladly do it with Muslims and Atheists, who, unlike us Jews, are still acceptable targets. There is a reason Jews have a history of siding with other minority groups. While you "believers" are making daily efforts to remember how Jesus suffered, we're remembering everything you did and do to us in Jesus's name.
The only positive thing about this film is that it's hypocrisy, disturbing content, and poor quality are hilarious. But even that is hampered by the knowledge that so many people take this film and it's "message" seriously.
If anyone is a fan of Tommy Wiseau's "The Room," you might give "God's Not Dead" a go for some funny parallels between the two movies, particularly their use of cancer as "drama."
To those who think the world actually works as it does in this movie, step outside your safe zone and listen to what real Atheists, Muslims, Jews, etc. have to say about their own beliefs. You may be surprised to find that we don't want to "oppress" you, we just want you to leave us alone.
on March 31, 2015
I'll preface this review by saying when I saw some of the trailers, I found the premise of the film somewhat interesting: a student challenging a professor about the existence of God. However, the problem with this film is less about its core premise and more about its nearly insufferable rhetoric which overtakes much of the story. The first sign of trouble occurs at the very beginning. In "God is not Dead", at fictional Hadleigh University, Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo) insists in an introductory philosophy class his students sign a statement which unequivocally states God is dead, meaning that God never existed. The idea is that he can't get on with his lectures unless the idea of God's existence or non-existence doesn't need to be debated. If a professor at a public university, and probably many private accredited universities, forced his or her students to sign a statement that God did not exist, that professor's tenure position would be in jeopardy. From the start, the premise has already been tainted with a rather ludicrous plot device. (And let's not forget that at private Evangelical universities, like Bob Jones and the like, students are taught unequivocally that not only does God exist but use religious texts in many non-religious courses.) The main plot of the film is that Josh Wheaton refuses the professors' insistence of signing the statement. So Wheaton must try to prove that science can't disprove the existence of God, which at first seems an interesting challenge. However, as we'll see, the rhetoric of Wheaton's arguments shift during the course of the film.
The film actually has several story lines interacting at once. There's Wheaton versus Radisson, Wheaton and his girlfriend, Professor Radisson and his Christian girlfriend, a young woman dating a ferociously materialistic businessman, a local pastor and a Christian from an African country have bad luck getting a car to run to go to some kind of religious retreat, and a female college student who is Islamic and learning about Christianity in secret. And there's even a Chinese student in the class intrigued by the debates about God.
As the story unfolds, many of the supporting characters become stereotypical and shallow as if they were lifted from the latest daytime soap opera. Each of them intentionally hurt the "good characters" who are all trying to either be good Christians or find God. Wheaton's girlfriend disowns him because he's decided to take the professor's challenge. The professor becomes more callous and confrontational towards Wheaton as the debate moves on. We learn at one point, the professor has personal reasons why he's an atheist. Then the father of the Islamic girl finds out about her interest in Christianity, and he reacts in a way you might expect of a film trying to propagate a particular religious point of view. And the woman dating the businessman finds out she has a major health problem, and he dumps her like spoiled food at a restaurant.
However, the most disappointing moments were not in the first debate offered by Wheaton but in the second and third debates. (The most disturbing and offensive was the abusive Islamic father.) In the first debate, which I thought was the strongest scene of the film, Wheaton offers a very good case why science can't disprove the existence of God. Science may not prove the existence of God but it can't disprove it either. Fair enough. But in the second debate, I noticed a shift in Wheaton's rhetoric. Now, the debate was about proving the existence of God, which seemed at odds with the premise of the film and the point of the debate. And in the last debate, Wheaton offers the evangelical position on evil. His debate is no longer about debating the existence of God, it's about answering religious questions from a Christian perspective. And then the professor and the student are debating about why religion is a good thing. And then how the pastor who can't get his car started resolves is so ridiculously silly and contrived, I couldn't believe it. Oh brother, give me a break. The final scenes become overly preachy. Almost insufferably unbearable.
This film is not simply a story about a student debating about God in a philosophy class. The film is a sermon disguised as entertainment. I could buy some of the first act, although the abrupt break-up of the girlfriend seemed out of left field. However, by midway, I realized that this film is really Christian propaganda. In Acts 2 and 3, every scene was carefully written, scripted and acted in such a way to reinforce the Evangelical position of the filmmakers. This is a very lousy way to make a film. I was particularly disappointed in the portrayal of the Islamic father who goes crazy when he finds out his daughter is learning about Christianity. This is actually quite false as Islam has always embraced the learning about other religions, but the film propagates that traditional Islamists are against reading other religious texts. Telling me a story about Christians is one thing. Preaching to me about Christianity through a story is another, and that's not why I watch narrative films. Obviously this film was designed to convert people. Much better films with religious themes include "The Blind Side", which was a true story about real Christians, "The Nun's Story", starring Audrey Hepburn, based on the true story of a Belgian nun during the rise of Nazi Germany on the eve of World War II, and "Fiddler on the Roof", about Jews in Russia on eve of the Revolution. "God is not Dead" is not about real people or real situations, but just a forgettable contrivance that will only be applauded by those who already have a religious agenda. Huge disappointment.