First off, I’d like to note that I love Answers in Genesis, and I’ve used their site for research more times than I can count.
Second off…AiG??? I thought we were tight?! Like baseball and America, chocolate and happiness, pork chops and applesauce, pyromaniacs and matches?! Why’d you go and make a nonsensical post about God’s Not Dead?
In case you didn’t realize it yet, I strongly disagree with AiG’s view of God’s Not Dead. Roger Patterson wrote a review that pointed to what he believed to be the unbiblical nature of God’s Not Dead. In this post I’ll be adding a few of his points, as well as my response.
Being a natural skeptic myself, I tend to take issue with the idea that reason should not be held in high regard. I’m not cold hearted, but let’s just say that C.S. Lewis’s factual and pointed manner makes a deeper emotional connection with me than Beth Moore’s warm and fuzzy encouragement. Both are beneficial, and everyone has their preferences, but that’s the truth. I’m more apt to cry reading Ravi Zacharias than I am watching The Passion of The Christ.
I can be naïve, but not to the point of believing that Christians don’t have their seasons of doubt. I’ve had my share of those seasons, and remembering those moments make me thankful for sound reasoning. Maybe I was guilty of little faith, maybe I’m that annoying kid that constantly said, “nuh-uh”, to the unmitigated madness of those trying to convince me, flawed in my ability to “believe like a child”. But alas, I’m His annoying kid. We’ve often confused the biblical calling for childlike faith with the idea of simplistic faith. But as one apologist put it, we should believe like children, and haven’t we all been shocked by the number of questions children can ask?
So, to start, below is an excerpt from Patterson’s article:
“In the first debate, Wheaton boldly declares to his classmates, “We’re going to put God on trial!”
Think about that for a moment. A college freshman is going to place a group of teenagers who are willing to sign away their souls to please a philosophy professor they don’t even know as judge and jury over the omnipotent Creator God of the universe.
While Wheaton sought counsel from a pastor on his decision, he might have done well to consult his Lord who plainly said when He was tempted in the wilderness, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Luke 4:12, ESV). Only a fool thinks he can sit as judge over the Judge of the universe.”
Alrighty. First, let’s break down the verse used. In Luke 4:12 Christ is quoting Deuteronomy 6:16, which, like in the wilderness, was a warning not to taunt God for proof of a divine revelation when he has sufficiently given them proof already. In Deuteronomy it gives a comparison, “as you did in Massah”. So, let’s follow the breadcrumbs: In Exodus we learn that Moses named Massah as such because it signifies “temptation”. The children of Israel were taunting God, giving ultimatums. He had already proven Himself to them time and time again, but they still taunted Him by demanding food, water, cattle, etc. in return for their devotion. If their needs were not met, they attempted to threaten the Almighty God by saying they would no longer believe. Coming to the conclusion that the Lord is not among them out of anger, not sound logic or lack of belief.
Example of such taunting: “Mommy, if you don’t give me a cookie you won’t be my Mommy anymore.”
Affirming their acknowledgment of existence in the very threat itself.
So what does that have to do with the above issue that Answers in Genesis has with the movie? Well, they’d have a legitimate point if Wheaton had said, “We’re going to put God on trial. Everyone sit here, if God’s real, he’ll drop Arby’s roast beef sandwiches and curly fries on all of our desks.”… But he didn’t make such an audacious request, he simply wanted to expose the factual evidence already given to an audience that had never sought out the evidence. Putting the evidence for God on trial, not God Himself. If they have issue with his verbiage, that’s fine, but the rest of their argument falls flat because the actions that went along with “putting God on trial” were no different than their own.
Let’s be honest, the real issue for Patterson is that the Movie didn’t proclaim from the rooftops that the earth is young. With all due respect, all other points were just excessive – and faulty – nitpicking.
Robertson continues with the following:
“In approaching the issue in this manner, Wheaton ignores the truth of Romans 1:18–32. The people sitting in those seats and even the professor know God exists. The existence of God is not the question—whether they are willing to bow to Him as King is.
Wheaton could have agreed to the debate and used the Word of God as his foundation, as Jesus did in the wilderness temptation, but he chose to appeal to reason—the reason of fallen men and women whose minds are blinded by the god of this age.”
Reason is the modus operandi of the mind. Biblically, the mind is not merely a physical tool that keeps us alive, it is part of the soul. The bridge between a presupposition and a stable hypothesis is reason; however, there is nothing beyond a hypothesis to be found anywhere but in the Word of God. Wheaton’s foundation was the word of God, the issue is that, once again, he didn’t specify young earth creationism in his dialogue. It’s foolish to dismiss an entire movie and not help promote it simply because it encourages kids to think, but doesn’t clarify that they need to think exactly as you do. I would even go so far as to say this makes them as guilty as the atheists that claim audacious absolutes.
Wheaton’s goal was to open them up to the idea that a God exists, to make them think, not to appease the young earth creationist ideals, or the theist evolutionist ideals.
At the end of the movie all of the students proclaim that “God’s not dead”, but only one student gives his life to Christ. I would venture to guess that the majority of those in classrooms across America have at some point in time heard the gospel, yet walk away from faith because they were offered absolutely no reasoning. He used the bible to prove his point, he just didn’t articulate AiG’s exact position. Once again, he didn’t advocate for young earth creationism or theistic evolution, he simply asked people to think with an open mind.
I also take issue with their assumption that Atheists are simply lying about their belief in God. I would argue that while God writes His laws on the hearts of all men, it is possible that they have developed a suppression of knowledge.
Example: “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting.” – Romans 1:28
God didn’t suppress their knowledge. They, and the world, in an act of free will built presuppositions that suppressed or belittled the existence of God. So, I could argue that what God’s Not Dead encouraged was not only belief in the existence of God, but they mainly wanted to bulldoze down the presuppositions built by man. It’s the idea of intuitive knowledge vs. beliefs built on human perception. Most atheists are not simply liars that actually believe in God but just aren’t telling anyone because they enjoy being deceitful. We won’t encourage them to think openly by vilifying their intentions. They’ve suppressed their intuitive knowledge like Pharaoh suppressed his intuitive knowledge of what was right in Exodus.
We can see that atheists exercise their biblical intuitive knowledge daily by attributing worth to human life, that doesn’t mean they have conscious awareness of their intuitive knowledge. SO, from that standpoint, it is quite logical to assume that no, their conscious awareness is not in the know that God exists. Yet, their anger towards a God that their conscious awareness claims doesn’t exist is indicative of the fact that intuitive knowledge is present, but deeply buried under the presuppositions of societal views on God. So yes, AiG, the existence of God is the question.
Additionally, if everyone knows about God, why does their site exist? To simply educate believers, or to encourage reasoning from both believers and unbelievers. I’ve always thought it was both.
“In other instances, the Christians endorsing the movie are happy to accept the big bang and biological evolution as proof of God’s work in the universe.”
Huh? No, I’m happy to continue researching scientific findings knowing all the while that whether the earth was created yesterday, or 7 billion years ago, the only way it happened is through God and God alone. I’m also completely thrilled if a movie has the power to make students mull over the creator of the universe, regardless of when He demanded there be light.
Ultimately – and in my opinion – and certainly AiG and I would disagree as to whether or not it agrees philosophically with the bible, but the goal of the movie was neither to promote evolution nor creation, but, by Wheaton’s own admission in his opening statement, prove that modern philosophy cannot disprove the existence of God. Plain and simple. Ergo, the title of the movie. And again, in my opinion, mission accomplished.