Thursday, April 3, 2014

God's Not Dead

"The fool hath said in his heart: 
There is no God."

That is the first verse of Psalm 14, which was one of the Psalms appointed for Vespers last night. What makes it rather odd timing is that yesterday morning I went to see the move God's Not Dead.

I'm not certain whether this really counts as Lenten reading, both because it's a movie and also because part of the reason I went to see it was because I was curious to see what Kevin Sorbo did with something other than Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. I had seen the trailer, and it looked interesting. The basic premise is that a college philosophy professor requires his students to write "god is dead" on a piece of paper and sign it. This is worth 30% of the grade for the course, so it's not surprising that most students just go along with what the professor wants. Refuse, and you'll have to ace the rest of the course just to get a C. But one Christian student does refuse, and the battle is on. The fascinating thing about the movie isn't so much the arguments for and against God's existence. Given how much this subject has been debated over the centuries, most of them are not new. For me the best thing about the movie was seeing all of the other characters whose lives touched the main protagonists: classmates, girlfriends, families, pastors, and others. It serves as a reminder that none of us lives--or believes--in a vacuum.

There's also something fundamentally wrong with the professor's demand--in addition to the immorality of demanding that his students believe as he does, instead of teaching them to think. If you are really an atheist, as the professor claims to be, you don't say "god is dead." For an atheist (or, according to the Psalms, a fool) there is no god, so his life or death is irrelevant.

As a Christian, I fall firmly into the "God is alive" camp, and I was lucky enough to attend a Christian college. (Chapel attendance wasn't mandatory, but the chapel was right there.) Today I would not sign a statement saying that God is dead. But what I would have done as a college freshman, especially after having been brought up to respect my elders and my teachers, is something I don't know. It takes tremendous courage to stand up against those who have authority over you, and I suspect that I didn't have it back then.

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