Review by Jim Edwards –
If I had to pick one movie today that every Christian teenager should see, this is it. This movie reveals the truth of God’s existence using non-biblical scientifically derived information and some of the consequences of believing otherwise in the here and now. This movie also provides excellent examples of Christian apologetics in action in current realistic situations. The setting is a university campus where Josh, a Christian and away from home freshman, is trying to fulfill part of his liberal arts requirements for his prelaw bachelors degree. At his first Philosophy class, his rabidly atheistic professor attempts to coerce the entire class into agreeing with him in writing that God is dead and actually never existed. A short list of the lies he uses, pervasive within our culture today, you may recognize:
• A supernatural, all-powerful, benevolent being, God, is a myth and never existed.
• Everything attributed to God is superstition or can be explained now by modern science and reason.
• Intelligent people and the most well known philosophers past and present agree there is no God; therefore you should too.
These unsubstantiated assertions, along with the promise of positive effects on their course grades if they go along with him and negative effects if they don’t, are effective; everyone except Josh writes that God is dead and signs their name. For those of you who think this is a far-fetched possibility, take a moment and visit crossexamined.org/youth-exodus-problem/. This and other Christian apologetic ministries have compiled statistics that indicate 75% of Christian youth leave the church after high school with the most often cited reason being intellectual skepticism regarding their faith. They simply are not prepared for the critical thinking necessary to stand up to the real challenges they will face similar to those portrayed in this movie.
When Josh won’t go along, citing his Christian beliefs, the professor then tries to get him to put those religious beliefs in a box disconnected from the reality of life and the class. When that doesn’t work he uses threats of a bad grade and character assassination to try and force Josh to agree. Josh could have accepted his doom but instead uses the professor’s arrogance by persuading him to agree to let the class, instead of the professor, decide whether God exists or not. The professor requires Josh to prove God’s existence. Josh will have three 20-minute periods during class to present his case. Immediately the professor starts to try to bias the class against Josh and continues to verbally abuse him and God. Young people should remember that personal attacks and coercion aimed at winning an argument are signs of a weak argument, are not Christian responses, and are unnecessary when you have the truth on your side.
Immediately Satan attacks. Josh’s long time girl friend is totally against his attempting to defend God. She is focused only on her small selfish plan for a successful and comfortable life she believes will follow higher education, and marriage to a successful professional man. Ultimately she breaks up with Josh when he will not abandon his defense of God. Her idol is more important to her than both God and Josh. But God blesses Josh by protecting him from the consequences of being unequally yoked with an unbeliever warned about in scripture (II Cor. 6:14). Josh remembers a quote from C. S. Lewis, “Risk is necessary to know what we believe.” The enemy tries to use the fear of being alone to get Josh to agree with him, but Josh’s real relationship with Christ allows him to believe he will never be alone if he truly believes in Christ. Josh also finds an ally in a local pastor who encourages him by pointing out the peril of his classmates in denying God’s existence (Matt. 10:33) and that his defense might be their only opportunity to hear the truth.
Josh chooses to be part of God’s big story and the way of humility, which always requires we look to the interests of others, rather than our own small selfish story and the way of pride.
Josh’s First Defense
Josh wisely chooses to establish God’s existence by pursuing the inference of the best explanation acknowledging that absolute proof of God’s existence or non-existence is not possible. Given that all his classmates had put their belief that God doesn’t exist in writing, he wisely appeals to atheist scientists’ discoveries about our physical universe since these facts would more likely be accepted by unbelievers than appealing to Scripture. But knowing that Scripture attests to the reliability of revelation from the creation (Romans 1: 18-20) he could be certain these facts would also reveal the truth. Mainstream scientists, both theist and atheist, overwhelmingly agree to the fairly recent scientific discovery that the universe had a beginning. He then points out that this revelation was long ago included in the written revelation from the God who claims to be the creator of the universe and the author of that written revelation. This revelation in the first verse of Scripture certainly infers the divine nature of Scripture.
Josh then has to deal with a challenge attributed to Richard Dawkins, an infamous atheist scientist: If God created the universe then who created God?” Josh wisely points out that this is a trick question since it assumes a created God, which is contrary to Christian belief of a self-existent God. The folly of assuming everything must be created leads to an infinitely long chain of creation, which ultimately leads back to the infinite. He points out that Dawkins is seeking to replace God with naturalism as the creator without addressing where naturalism comes from. He concludes that the God of the Bible is the best explanation for why there started to be something instead of nothing. Also, he points out that you do not have to commit intellectual suicide to believe there is no dichotomy between the revelation from Scripture that God created the universe and what science has discovered by studying the universe we live in.
Next Josh must face more ridicule, arrogance, and unsubstantiated assertions from the professor and a challenge attributed to Steven Hawking, another famous atheist scientist. Hawking states that a universe with the law of gravity is essentially self-designing and not requiring a creator. Josh is unprepared to respond to this challenge but wisely chooses to state his intention to persevere in God’s defense and respond at his next class opportunity. Josh’s example here is one that is essential to an effective Christian apologetic; never resort to unsubstantiated assertions or deceptive or uncharitable tactics that are the hallmarks of the enemy. Always have faith God will provide the true answers you need and give yourself and Him time to do so.