The second-biggest problem with the recent film God’s Not Dead, just behind its devotion to errant Western philosophy, is its inability to accurately depict the beliefs and behaviors of most modern “New Atheists”, the film’s primary target in evangelization. God’s Not Dead represents a shameful case of preaching to the choir. It has no clue what the New Atheists and the secular left actually believe, and this ignorance rears its ugly head in almost every scene.
The key to good evangelism is the evangelist’s ability to empathize with the heathen he is trying to convert, in his ability to see his opponent not as an opponent, nor a prize to be won nor a statistic to be enlarged, but as a person. A good evangelist becomes “all things to all men”, as St. Paul says. This principle of empathy is key to virtually any conflict. Sauron is defeated in The Lord of the Rings because he has no empathy, i.e., he cannot conceive that anyone would want to destroy the One Ring. Mainstream feminists don’t know how to deal with rapists because they cannot empathize with the criminal mind. Bad evangelists are bad evangelists because they don’t understand what their opponent actually believes.
The “villain”, so to speak, of God’s Not Dead is Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo, the Coolest Person in the World). The film would have you believe that modern atheists are flagrantly immoral people, who flaunt their hatred of God proudly for the world to see. The absurdity of hating something which one doesn’t believe to exist is a point in itself, but that is not the extent of the film’s errors. For example, Professor Radisson cites Horseman of the New Atheism Richard Dawkins with the likes of Friedrich Nietzsche, Ayn Rand, and Jean-Paul Sartre in his list of great atheist philosophers. Well, Dicky Dawks (as we call him here) might be good enough for the YouTube comments section, but he’s not good enough for Philosophy 101, and one expects that most professors, even those with wacky agendas, are aware of this. Pop-philosophers like the Dawks are cheap imitations of the real things, and any credentialed professors would know this.
The same mistake is made with respect to the infamous Stephen Hawking, another pop-culture expert who really has no authority in the philosophical field (nor, for that matter, in his chosen field of study, physics). No modern philosophers give a Flying Wallenda about the opinion of Stephen Hawking, and even in the scientific field he is rarely listed among the top scientists of the day. And yet Professor Radisson quotes both Stevy Hawks and Dicky Dawks as if they were Aristotle and Plato respectively. But hey, the Christian apologetics in the movie are geared to the lowest common denominator anyway, so I guess they figured the same approach was acceptable for atheism. Why use Thomas Aquinas when you have Lee Strobel? Why use Anton Lavey when you have D-Day and H-Hour?
The film also makes the mistake of pinpointing a tragedy as the impetus of the professor’s atheism. Most atheists, even if they have had a traumatic experience with religion, will not cite this as their reason for its rejection. Most reject God on purely rational grounds, or at least claim to. Shouting, “Why do you hate God?” gets you nowhere. When St. Paul taught the Greeks, he came to them on their own terms, telling them about the “Unknown God” to whom they prayed (just in case, ya’ know?). He used Hellenistic philosophy in his letters to the Romans and the Corinthians, to explain the God of Israel to them in their own language. Demanding that the pagans hear the Gospel the way you want to preach it is not preaching the Gospel, it’s lecturing.
But perhaps the biggest error of the movie is its shocking impersonalism. It treats atheism and the secular left as political forces to be combatted, not people to be evangelized with love. It sees them as a dragon to be slain, not beggars all to be rehabilitated. Whenever a moral issue becomes politicized, you’ve lost all hope of ever solving it. Practicing homosexuals will never give up “The Lifestyle” if the people trying to convert them won’t stop babbling about the Lavender Mafia and the Gay Agenda. Similarly, atheists will never come to know God as long as they are treated like miserly cranks who have somehow betrayed their country (this movie is full of patriotic hoo-ha) instead of people. Take note Culture Warriors! Hopefully
you’ve we’ve hit rock-bottom with this embarrassing piece of propaganda.