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Author Topic: The God Who wasn't there, a movie  (Read 1981 times)

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Offline DemonessOfDeathValleyTopic starter

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The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« on: August 23, 2014, 09:08:15 PM »
I just watched a documentary on Netflix called, The God who wasn't there. I didn't care for this film and it's not because I happen to be a woman of faith. Here is why this film irritated me. Please note, the purpose of this thread is not to debate the existence of Christianity, any other religion or if God exists.

First off, let me say that I do not force my beliefs on others. I will answer the question 'what religion are you' honestly and openly. That said, I will not try to convert anyone nor do I condone radical actions in the 'name' of any religion. If someone finds solace and comfort in their faith of choice, that is their business and therefore, not my place to judge them if they choose something different than what I happen to believe.

What irritated me about this film, was not that the maker chose to become an Atheist or that he set out to prove to the viewer that God does not exist or the Bible is wrong. What irritated me, was the way it's presented. Often times it's a very irreverent and downright disrespectful presentation that greatly offended me. Not just because I believe that the Bible is true, but because it seemed like a mockery.

I support freedom of speech and no, I don't believe that something should be censored or suppressed only because it 'might' offend someone. But when making a documentary, can't the viewpoints be made without......poking fun...at someone else's beliefs? Can't someone make a film that presents both sides in a respectful light?

Anyhow, I just wanted to get that off my chest.


Offline Sabby

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2014, 02:13:47 AM »
You ask (and rightly so) for your views to be tolerated and your choices to be respected. That is reasonable. Beliefs, on the other hand, are not due any respect. Respect is something to be earned, and clearly the creator of this documentary does not think Christianity has earned his/her respect. I haven't seen it, so I can't comment on whether or not the documentary shows respect to your choice, but as for the belief itself, the author owes no respect.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2014, 07:20:34 AM by Sabby »

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2014, 11:25:23 PM »
You ask (and rightly so) for your views to be tolerated and your choices to be respected. That is reasonable. Beliefs, on the other hand, are not due any respect. Respect is something to be earned, and clearly the creator of this documentary does not think Christianity has earned his/her respect. I haven't seen it, so I can't comment on whether or not the documentary shows respect to your choice, but as for the belief itself, the author owes no respect.

The problem is that, while you have a point in theory, how do you separate the two? Where do you draw the line between, say, "this belief is irredeemably stupid" and "people who believe this are irredeemably stupid"? Particularly in the case of faith-related matters, where said belief is a much more integral part of self-identity than, I dunno, believing that oranges taste delicious.

Offline Sabby

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2014, 11:36:42 PM »
Yeah, it's nearly impossible to separate the two, so I don't even try to. If I believe that a certain belief is stupid, then it's impossible not to also call the believer at least partly stupid for believing it. This is inescapable, just as it is inescapable to condemn someone when pointing out that they are committing a sin. "Hate the Sin, not the Sinner" doesn't work.

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2014, 10:32:46 AM »
But when making a documentary, can't the viewpoints be made without......poking fun...at someone else's beliefs? Can't someone make a film that presents both sides in a respectful light?

That would depend entirely on the documentary maker and their intent.

Is their intent to inform the general public on both sides of an issue? If so, then they may well be able to present the story from a neutral standpoint.

Is the intent to shape public opinion, the promote one viewpoint over another? Then presenting from a neutral standpoint will work against them.

If the documentary maker is working to an agenda, to promote view A or denigrate view B, then the documentary is going to present things in exactly that manner. They want to convince those with no opinion one way or the other that their viewpoint is the correct one to hold.

Offline As Day Fades

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2014, 02:34:13 PM »
If the documentary maker is working to an agenda, to promote view A or denigrate view B, then the documentary is going to present things in exactly that manner.
This.

I've not seen the movie in question, so I can't comment on the style of poking fun therein. I don't know if it's 'simply disrespectful' mocking or if it's joking in effort to make a point about it. The latter, if done right, carries validity. It's an entire style of getting someone to look at something in a different way.

The thing is, to many people, the Bible is not worthy of respect.

Offline Mathim

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2014, 03:01:18 PM »
Yeah, it's nearly impossible to separate the two, so I don't even try to. If I believe that a certain belief is stupid, then it's impossible not to also call the believer at least partly stupid for believing it. This is inescapable, just as it is inescapable to condemn someone when pointing out that they are committing a sin. "Hate the Sin, not the Sinner" doesn't work.

This.

I know people like to say "Well, they call themselves believers in the same religion as me, but we're totally different" fails to take into account that one can easily interpret a holy book in so many different ways that it is perfectly true to say that it firmly condones worldwide peace and love, and also perfectly true to say it also condones genocide, slavery, intolerance and bigotry. When you ask someone from the outside of your faith to look at you and an extremist differently, you have to understand that the reasons you and the extremists share faith in the same thing are the same, and the only reasoning that separates your more liberal view on it from their extremist view is...nothing that would fall under the dictionary definition of rationality. You can't just get a free pass for just being chill about the whole thing when you still fall back on an irrational system of belief to shape your world view.

Offline Remiel

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2014, 06:52:51 PM »
I didn't want to comment on this topic until I had seen the video.  I managed to track down and find the video on YouTube.  Here, at least at the time of this posting, is the video in its entirety.

I thought that filmmaker Brian Flemming definitely had an agenda--in the same way as, perhaps, Morgan Spurlock did when he created his documentary Super Size Me.  Here, Flemming attempts to persuade his viewers that Christianity is based ultimately on myth, not facts, and that those who believe in it are as mistaken as those who believe the sun revolves around the earth, just as Spurlock set out to demonstrate the perils of fast food.

I did think this film did raise some good points, particularly about the similarities and parallels between the Crucification and the human sacrifice myths and stories that had existed long before the time of Jesus.  And I'm not sure how factual his assertion was about the Apostle Paul failing to acknowledge Jesus Christ's humanity; I would like to hear a Biblical scholar respond to it.

The fundamental problem is that the debate of theism vs. atheism is not something that can be argued in an intellectual debate, in the same way that can, say, climate change.  Christians cannot prove that God exists, and atheists cannot prove that God doesn't.  All anyone can really bring to the table on the issue are what we can and have observed in our present universe, and what clues we can decipher from the historical record.   And this would be fine, except that the whole question of whether God exists, and our personal opinions on the subject, are so internalized, so endemic to our psychological make-ups, that they essentially become indistinguishable from our own self-identities.  For example, my mother is a Christian, and has been so all her life; there is absolutely nothing I can say or do to get her to question her faith; believe me, I have tried.  She is absolutely convinced that Heaven exists, and so does Hell, and that the way to achieve redemption is to believe in the Holy Spirit and the divinity of Christ, and that anyone who says otherwise has been deceived by the Devil.  I love my mother; and I think she is a good person, but I do not share her view.

I can certainly understand why you were offended, Demoness.   The film certainly does seem to take a condescending tone.  Mr. Flemming's motive becomes apparent in the last twenty minutes of the film; he was raised by fundamentalist Christians and was brought up to believe their faith, and now, as an adult, feels an obligation to disprove and debunk.   What you have to understand is that people like Flemming see Christians in the same way as we now view pre-Galilean civilization: namely, wrong.  Those who believed the earth was the center of the universe weren't any more or less evil than anybody else; they were simply mistaken.

And I think that's the key to reconciliation, which is what I would say to rebut what others have said in this thread.  You can believe that someone is dead wrong about something without devaluing their worth or qualities as a human being. 

« Last Edit: August 25, 2014, 06:54:40 PM by Remiel »

Offline Remiel

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2014, 06:58:22 PM »
As a post-scriptum, I would suggest an intellectual exercise.  Knowing what you know about human nature, if I were to say to you, "I can't believe you think this way.  What are you, stupid?"  would I be more likely to:

A. Encourage you to examine your own belief system and consider alternate points of view, or

B. Entrench you even more firmly in your beliefs?
« Last Edit: August 25, 2014, 07:00:46 PM by Remiel »

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2014, 07:06:28 PM »
It may not entrench you more firmly in your beliefs, but you're likely to give less credence to anything you hear from someone insulting you.

Offline Remiel

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2014, 07:08:24 PM »
Either way, you're going to be less inclined to listen to what I have to say.

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2014, 07:10:58 PM »
I'm sorry, did you say something? I was busy ignoring you :P

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2014, 08:21:13 PM »
Goes back to something a superior court judge told someone in court. 

"If you want to be heard you need to speak the language of your audience.  Telling someone, in this case me, that they are stupid might just make them think you are."



Offline DemonessOfDeathValleyTopic starter

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2014, 08:37:36 PM »
Remiel, I would like to thank you for wording something a thousand times better than I can.

As I've said, I am a Christian. I happen to follow the beliefs and such of that faith. Why? Because in times of trouble it gives me comfort and praying makes me feel better. The cross I wear is like a worry stone. When I feel alone I can talk to what I believe to be higher power. I was raised by a Christian mother and a Pagan father. For many years I didn't know what I was. I chose to become a Christian after doing quite a bit of research.

I guess what upsets me so much, is that someone who's intention is try and 'make' me question my faith by telling me that my beliefs are stupid or irrational or basically discount everything I believe in just because it's not something they agree with, will only make me tune them out. However, someone who civilly presents their opinions and possibly scientific evidence to back up said opinions is likely to get me to listen.

In the end, whether it's Christianity, atheism, paganism or any other faith/belief that someone chooses, it's that person's choice. And no matter who believes it or who doesn't, no one deserves to be insulted or bullied just because of their faith or lack there of.

Offline Remiel

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2014, 09:57:22 PM »
However, someone who civilly presents their opinions and possibly scientific evidence to back up said opinions is likely to get me to listen.

And that's the key here.  We humans are very easily emotionally invested in our opinions; we hate being told that we're wrong.   It's easier to swallow that pill if we're told, "look, I think you're an intelligent person, but I just happen to think you're wrong about x."

However,  I have no doubt whatsoever that God is real for you, just as he is for my mother.  Say what you like, but the human brain is a mysterious thing, and psychologists still haven't mapped out its complexities yet.  There are documented cases of Buddhist monks exerting supreme control over their bodies through meditation to the point of ridiculously high pain tolerance.  And that's just one example.   

My question to my fellow atheists is this: if religion provides someone hope in an otherwise hopeless situation and comfort when all seems bleak and grey, why would we want to take that away from them?

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2014, 10:26:40 PM »


My question to my fellow atheists is this: if religion provides someone hope in an otherwise hopeless situation and comfort when all seems bleak and grey, why would we want to take that away from them?

With the proviso that I am not trying to speak for your fellow atheists (the closest label I've found for my own beliefs is Modern Deism), I suspect the underlying reasoning is because they honestly believe, wholeheartedly, that that person's life can only be improved by being freed from their superstitions and religious beliefs. The atheist looks at themselves, sees how happy they are, and convinces themselves that opening the eyes of that person to the 'truth' is beneficial - the person may think they're happy and content as they are, but this only shows their ignorance of how much better it could be. They have the other person's best interests, as they see them, at heart.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2014, 10:30:43 PM by TheGlyphstone »

Offline Sabby

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #16 on: August 26, 2014, 02:48:49 AM »
In the end, whether it's Christianity, atheism, paganism or any other faith/belief that someone chooses, it's that person's choice.

Atheism is not a belief system.

Offline Shewolf

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2014, 02:08:38 AM »
"If you want to be heard you need to speak the language of your audience.  Telling someone, in this case me, that they are stupid might just make them think you are."
That

and This:

And I think that's the key to reconciliation, which is what I would say to rebut what others have said in this thread.  You can believe that someone is dead wrong about something without devaluing their worth or qualities as a human being.

+ infinity :-)

Offline Shjade

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2014, 10:39:28 AM »
Atheism is not a belief system.

She didn't say it's a belief system, she said it's a belief. Which it is. You can't prove atheistic statements any more than you can prove christian statements; you can only believe in them.

Offline Sabby

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #19 on: August 27, 2014, 10:45:01 AM »
It's not a belief. Atheism at it's core is a rejection of the God claim. Think of being asked if you'd like todays special at McDonalds. Saying "I'm not sure" would be comparable.

Offline Shewolf

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #20 on: August 27, 2014, 11:33:51 AM »
Atheism at it's core is a rejection of the God claim.

Beliefs do not necessarily include a God.



Offline DemonessOfDeathValleyTopic starter

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #21 on: August 27, 2014, 12:23:55 PM »
Regardless of whether Atheism is a belief or not. What I was trying to say is, is that someone can prove their point, no matter what sort of beliefs, religion or lack there of that they hold without being intentionally offensive.


Offline Iniquitous

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #22 on: August 27, 2014, 12:34:47 PM »
From my experience, there are some out there that cannot discuss religion and beliefs without resorting to condemnation and insults. It is my belief that the reason for this is because they get frustrated that they cannot convince those that are religious to stop. It's easy to carry on conversations about your beliefs with those who are of a like mind (preaching to the choir as it were). But it is a lot harder to carry on a civil discussion with someone who disagrees with you. And that frustration is made emotional - and once emotions are involved, all discussion ends.

And both sides of this topic are guilty of it.


Offline DemonessOfDeathValleyTopic starter

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Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #23 on: August 27, 2014, 09:00:14 PM »
Iniquitous Opheliac, I agree completely with that. So many times people that hold different opinions/beliefs than myself (on a variety of topics) have become very emotional and sometimes rude when trying to 'convince' me to come to their way of thinking.

I don't really care for conversations in which the person with an opposing view seems as though they're attempting to 'convert' me. Anyone who presents their view in a civil manner will get me to listen. But once the pointless 'I'm right, you're wrong' stuff starts, that usually just escalates into an argument...I'm done.

Online Sethala

Re: The God Who wasn't there, a movie
« Reply #24 on: August 28, 2014, 02:04:28 PM »
My question to my fellow atheists is this: if religion provides someone hope in an otherwise hopeless situation and comfort when all seems bleak and grey, why would we want to take that away from them?

Because, to many people, an uncomfortable truth is preferable to a comfortable lie.  In the mind of atheists, belief in a god is just belief in a lie, no different than believing in Santa or the tooth fairy.  To them, convincing someone to give up their faith is not much different than a Christian person trying to save someone's soul by converting them to Christianity.

However, someone who civilly presents their opinions and possibly scientific evidence to back up said opinions is likely to get me to listen.

This statement (particularly the bold part) actually sets up a red flag for me, because it treads very close to the constant shifting of the burden of proof that anyone trying to debate for atheism has to watch out for.  I won't bog down this thread with trying to explain the null hypothesis unless someone else asks for it, but if you're unsure why this is an issue, would you mind discussing it over PMs?

Beliefs do not necessarily include a God.

No, but usually they include a belief in something, not a rejection of a belief in something.