It’s been a great weekend. I’ve watched 3 movies in the last 48 hours — An Unfinished Life, Stealth, and The Island. All three were totally different movies — drama, sci-fi, and high action (maybe the last two are both sci-fi action, but still). Different actors, different directors, different producers. But what I found interesting was something all three movies had in common… A blatant, and unnecessary-to-the-plot, swipe at God.
In “An Unfinished Life”, Robert Redford plays a hardened cowboy, who resents the life he feels was thrust on him by his daughter-in-law when a car accident killed his son but left her alive. After decades of pain-turned-bitterness, he lives alone with his friend and ranch-hand, until his daughter-in-law and the granddaughter he never knew he had come back into his life. At one point, out of nowhere, he makes the comment that he’d specifically want to shoot-on-site anyone that comes around “peddling their view of God. There’s no excuse for that [beep].”
Similar comments are made in both “Stealth” and “The Island”, painting the idea of God as foolish, and painting God Himself as mean and judgmental. Both movies being science-fiction, it seemed clear that the authors felt above this childish idea of the possiblity of God, and resent the way God is broadly defined in the culture.
And why shouldn’t they? More often than not, God is portrayed as some kind of judgmental, angry monster — just waiting to pounce on my mistakes. If that were God, I wouldn’t be too thrilled either. If God really were the way he’s painted in most Catholic schools and most movies, then I could understand their aversion, which is becoming the norm in culture today. More and more people are considering themselves too sophisticated, too smart, too busy, too whatever to need God anymore. Hollywood seems committed to relegating God to monster status, as evidenced by these few movies. And worst of all, most people who call themselves Christians are absolutely nothing like Jesus. Maybe that’s why the world finds them so unattractive … which is really said, since they found Jesus irresistible.
The truth is that there really is a God. A billion pieces of evidence point to that, but you have to have faith to see it. Many reject God, because they claim there’s no proof. There’s no proof the other way either. Nobody can put the origin of the universe or the theory of the existence of an eternal soul in a test tube. But logic, and a boatload of circumstantial evidence, support the theory that God exists — way more than refutes it.
The Bible passes more literary, historic, archaeological and internal-consistency tests for authenticity than any other book in history. These are standard tests used on all ancient manuscripts, both secular and religious — #2 is Homer’s “The Odysee”, btw. There are piles of extra-biblical texts that backup the Bible’s claims about Jesus. Archaeologists have dug up proof after proof of Biblical events (haven’t found one that doesn’t match up yet).
And then there’s the questions without answers that face the atheist… If we evolved from nothing by chance, then why is the world so beautiful? Why colorful sunsets when gray would have done just fine? Why do we love, when animal instinct would have worked for procreation? Why can’t we reproduce even the simplest parts of the human body in isolation and ideal lab conditions, when the claim is that they evolved by themselves with no help? Why do we assume there was a designer every time we lay our eyes on something complex, but our human bodies (more complex than anything else we know) are assumed to have required no designer? Why can the Bible (written by 60+ people over 1,600 years from cultures all over the world) not only have one unified message but speak so well to my 21st century heart? Have just two friends who grew up on the same street as you write a book about God, and see if it comes out even close to as consistent and coherent as Scripture. If all the universe came from an infinitely dense particle in a big bang, then where’d the particle come from and what caused it to explode? Why are identical twins so different, even days after birth, if there’s no soul?
I could go on and on. Movie after movie quips about the kid who asks the science questions that stump the priest in Catholic school. Ask some of your biology- or physics-loving friends some of these questions, and see where that goes. It just doesn’t make sense to remove God from the world. There must be something. But the truth is that most people don’t think about this stuff anymore. Too busy, too distracted, too lied-to by a culture with an agenda (no restrictions of any kind on what I call “freedom”), too absorbed into the TV, too lazy, too wealthy and comfortable … too self-sufficient to need God, etc. Most people who go to church do so like it’s a club that meets on Sunday morning — there’s no sense of coming into the presence of an all-powerful God who loves them and wants to personally relate to them each day.
And if anything is to blame for the culture wanting to relegate the church to passe, useless and make-believe, it’s the church — which has done this to itself. The more the church pulls back from really engaging God and living out real faith, the more the world will pull away from who they perceive God to be. Remember, if you claim the name of Christ, then you’re the only Jesus the world’s going to see.
So, the question becomes, what will happen to our nation as it sinks further and further into godlessness? It’s scary to think about, but it’s becoming very real.