March 29, 2011

Forget Paul, Stick With Jesus

OK so the title may have been a little misleading. To be clear I mean forget Paul the alien not Paul the apostle.

A few days ago Paul hit theaters. This movie is brought to you by the same duo who brought us Hot Fuzz and Shawn of the Dead. Seeing the trailers I was conflicted. I enjoy a good sci-fi movie but I didn't care for the other movies made by these guys. In the end I skipped it. Which I guess I am grateful for. The trailers never showed that this movie has a strong anti-religious tone.

Paul through touch was able to convince a devote Christian girl, Ruth Buggs that God did not exist.

The movie seems to have hit on three main items as their proof for the non-existence of God;

1. Being made in God's image. Since Paul looked different than us, how could anyone be made in God's image?
2. The Earth is old, evolution is true. There is a scene where Ruth explains that the earth is only 4000 years old and could only be the product of intelligent design. Paul refers to this idea as a type of manure.
3. We only believe in God because we lack knowledge-Paul disproved God by opening the Ruth's mind to the universe, giving her more knowledge.

Let's see if we can't sort these out.

1. The first criticism is misinformed, but it is a common enough mistake so it is hard to blame anyone for it. The Christian teaching that we are made in the image of God does not mean that we in someway look like God. It means that we are in someway like God.

Being made in God's image means we can love, reason, and choose. It means that we have emotions, and we can understand logic. It means that we seek to be in community and we can understand the world around us. Being made in the image of God means all of those things and more. But what it doesn't mean is that God has two arms, two legs, and shaggy brown hair.

However if taken to means looks like, even that doesn't mean Paul, or any like alien would disprove God this way. Once you get passed his different colour skin, and face shape he more or less looks like us. If anything all this proves is we have a very difficult time imagining something truly alien.

2. The second criticism is another example of science vs the Christian faith. First off the bat, no Christian group I am aware of believes that the Earth is 4000 years old. Some Christians would say the world was created in 4004 BC, or about 6000 years ago. Other's that hold to a young earth view point provide a range somewhere between 6000-10,000 years. Of course when you are talking about the difference between 1 billion years old compared to X thousands of years the difference between 4000 and 10,000 isn't really important.

I Pray That This Is Only In The Movie
That There Is No Actual Person Walking Around Wearing It Right Now
I have already talked about this false dichotomy a few times now. So let me say again evolution being true or false is not a defeater for the existence of God. Neither is the age of the earth. There are a number of compatible Christian theories regarding creation and evolution.

3. God is not, and should not be used as a 'God of the Gaps'. This argument goes something like God exists in the unknown. Thus questions like why do we have a sense of justice, or why was the universe created can be answered with 'Because God...' so long as we cannot think of a better answer. Christian and Non-Christian alike treat God in this matter. First it is worth noting that given everything that we could know in the universe our knowledge base is still rather small. So our arrogance about how much we know is rather premature. Second even if we one day we do in fact know how the entire natural world works there is still no reason to believe that would in some way diminish God. I have found that the more I learn the more I am impressed by just how awesome God is.

In the end this movie wasn't really about proving God's non-existence. After all a few quick one liners with no one in the story capable to responding is hardly a debate. Instead it was propaganda. It was trying to show the world that Christians are stupid and we'd all have more fun if God was not real. 

I say, lets go out and prove them wrong on both accounts.