Review by Jim Edwards –
[If you missed the part 1 review, it can be read here.]
In Part 1, Josh has been challenged by his rabidly atheistic philosophy professor to prove God is not dead because he refused to sign a statement that God is dead (actually never existed) as everyone else in the Philosophy 101 class had done. Josh is given three class appearances to make his case to the class and they will decide the answer.
Josh makes a compelling presentation in his first appearance but at the end the professor challenges him with a statement from atheist Steven Hawking, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. Hawking asserts that because of the existence of the law of gravity, the universe is essentially self-designing and doesn’t require a creator. Josh doesn’t have an answer but his faith is not shaken. He resolves to investigate the matter and address it at his next class presentation opportunity. Josh is right to have every confidence God will help him find a winning answer. By now his diligence in investigating the question has shown him that the professor is trying to use deception, misinformation, and unsubstantiated assumptions to make his case. Even if he may not have all the answers, knowing that he has truth on his side is powerful assurance that with God’s help he will find the answer he needs.
Josh’s Second Defense
Josh is prepared as he opens his second class presentation. He has wisely chosen to use the remarks of an equally prestigious science professor to respond to Hawking’s statement. John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, in response to Hawking’s statement points out that it contains three logical fallacies, which amount to circular reasoning, in effect using his conclusion as evidence for his conclusion. He further comments “Nonsense remains nonsense, even when spoken by famous scientists.” Although Josh doesn’t mention it, he has pointed out perhaps the greatest strength of the modern scientific method, peer review. In pursuit of the truth, assertions made by scientists are rigorously scrutinized by those most qualified and motivated to expose errors or deceptions, their peers. In the real world this is constantly ongoing, although the public is rarely aware of it. It takes time, and the transparency of the process is typically not uniform. Owing to media and publication bias, public exposure to the process of peer review is often one-sided nevertheless truth eventually comes out.
Having successfully defended his first assertion of God’s existence, Josh then takes on arguably the enemy’s most powerful, current deception regarding God’s existence: Darwinian evolution is responsible for all life on Earth, not God. Josh points out two fatal flaws in Darwin’s theory. First, evolution can only operate once there is life and Darwin never addressed how life began. Theories by other scientists about how non-life became living have been put forward and tested, but after decades of searching, the expected fossil or geologic evidence to show the necessary postulated conditions existed on Earth in the past have not been found. Even the oldest rocks on Earth do not show the necessary proposed chemical conditions for accidental spontaneous generation to work. Plus as Josh points out, it’s not even that simple. With the discovery of DNA as the required mechanism for reproduction of life and therefore the inheritance of Darwinian evolution modifications, even the first single cell organism suddenly became impossibly complex to occur by random accident.
Next, Josh points out Darwin’s concern that the fossil record did not match the results he would expect according to his theory of evolution. His theory would require numerous small changes over a long period of time in an ancestor before a new life form could evolve. But the fossil record indicates that a host of life forms with differing complexity and substantially different design appear all at once and change very little over even extremely long spans of existence, just the opposite of what his theory predicts. Instead of showing up in order of increasing complexity from oldest to newest as the theory predicts, life forms of all levels of complexity appear all at once without the time necessary to evolve and pass on new features and functionality. Josh then points out how much better the biblical account of creation fits the actual fossil record. He makes his point: When life’s beginning requires the supernatural and the evidence of past life doesn’t fit Darwin’s theory of evolution, the inference for the best explanation for life on Earth is God.
Josh’s Third Defense
The professor is feeling the heat and steps up his attacks on Josh with threats and character assassination. But through this process he learns the cause of the professor’s angst against God, the loss of a loved one when he was a boy. This knowledge shapes his last and final class presentation, the problem of evil. The age-old question about the problem of evil is why would a good God let it exist? Some say that since it does, God must not exist or at least He’s not the God of the Bible who claims to be good and to love us. Josh explains the answer is that God loves us so much He made us in his image, a defining aspect of which is free will. Evil entered and exists in the world because of our and our ancestors’ choices. God allows it temporarily so that our will is truly free while on Earth in order to choose to live in Heaven with Him forever. In the heated exchange that follows the professor ridicules the idea of it all coming down to a choice. From his perspective he is a victim, God is guilty of taking his loved one, and he hates God for it. Josh uses this admission to point out the fallacy of hating someone that doesn’t exist. The professor attacks the idea of choice with the core relativism position that there is no fixed morality standard. Josh counters with illustrations showing what life would be like if that were true and quoting Dostoyevsky “If God does not exist then everything is permissible”. He goes on to point out that in fact we live remarkably moral lives when compared to real anarchy. Josh has finished making his case and when he asks the class for their decision they vindicate him exclaiming, “God’s Not Dead.”
As the movie wraps up we see the many other stories interwoven with Josh’s throughout the movie being worked out by God. All who experienced difficulty and sacrifice find that God comes through for them all, the perfect picture of Christ’s love for us. In the closing moments the professor is the victim of a hit and run car accident. While he lies in the street dying in the rain, a pastor who witnessed the accident asks him to recognize the gift he has been given, the opportunity to change his final answer about God. He lives just long enough to accept the gift Christ offered him.
For those who want to be ready for God to use them, as He has directed in 1 Peter 3:15, this movie is full of excellent preparations. At the very close of the movie, don’t forget to notice the list of actual lawsuits resulting from persecution of students for their faith. This movie is an all too real reflection of our present culture.