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DVD Review: The God Who Wasn’t There

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I finally got around to seeing The God Who Wasn't There, and I thought I'd share my impressions in case others hadn't heard of it or were trying to decide whether it was worthwhile. In case you haven't heard of this film, here is a reasonably accurate synopsis from Netflix:

Borrowing the lively approach of documentaries such as Fahrenheit 9/11 and Super-Size Me, ex-Christian fundamentalist Brian Flemming's expose shines an unflinching spotlight on Christianity and the existence of Christ. Flemming interviews religious experts and Christians of varying backgrounds, ultimately asserting that Jesus Christ is more than likely a fictional character based on legend and that Christian doctrine is rife with contradiction.

I was really looking forward to this one even though I was surprised to discover that the film's running time was only a little over an hour. My initial impressions were not particularly positive, as the first ten to fifteen minutes of the film were little more than a collage of obscure movie clips relating the Jesus myth. I was reminded more of Schoolhouse Rocks than Fahrenheit 9/11. The poor production quality, awful music, and odd narration made me feel like I was watching a bad student film.

To say that things improved from this point would be an understatement. Once it got going, I was pleasantly surprised by the turnaround. The interviews with Richard Carrier, Sam Harris, and others were outstanding. It was almost as if the director thought that viewers would be bored by these interviews and felt a need to add bad music, B-movie clips, and even cartoons to entertain. This was a bad decision, as the interviews were the highlight of the film and really made it worthwhile.

Where the director deserves the most praise is his structuring of the argument presented in the second half of the film — that Jesus was likely a fictional character and there are many compelling historical reasons to doubt the veracity of the Bible. The data presented here are not widely known and difficult to refute.

The bonus features on the DVD include extended interviews with most of the scholars interviewed in the film. The interviews with Harris and Carrier were reason enough to buy or rent the DVD. The director asks the very questions I would like to ask and received outstanding answers. I become more impressed with these guys with every interview I see.

In summary, this is a film that should be seen by all atheists and agnostics. Despite its flaws, it is likely that you will enjoy it. Of course, I think it would be great if most Christians would see this film, too. More than any film I have seen in the past few years, this is one I am dying to loan out to anyone who I can get to watch it.

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About vjack

  • Guppusmaximus

    We all know that Michael Moore is some fat, rich M-F’er whose great at editing and his documentaries can be torn apart very easily,so, if Mr. Flemming’s work is anything like his sh!t then I wouldn’t deem him to be credible about anything. Not even a McDonalds Menu…
    I’m not a religious fanatic but I am somewhat Christian, so I would love to see this flick.

  • Guppusmaximus

    *BTW*… I do like your reviews, sorry if I seem so negative

    -Peace & Welcome to BC

  • http://none William Howerll

    I believe this film hit home, Jesus has been a myth from the first christians. Isiah 9 says he was coming , and there are other passages that anticipate his showing but none of them say he is a live human being. When you try to find actual history of Jesus walking on earth, they all harken back to the gospels and if you have no faith in his being on earth as alive person. The gospels only cover heresay things and leave it to you to have “faith” that it was real, I downloaded the video on Bearshare.com

  • Joan Bias

    This film is brilliant. See it.

    Anyone looking for a concise, well-argued approach to modern morals and the unfortunate state of the world must read End of Faith by the superb Sam Harris. Anyone who’s interested in the “Islamofascist” thread would be intrigued by Harris, too.

  • Linc

    Frankly I thought that the film lacked in any real substance The “facts hard to disprove” are equally as hard to prove. In fact just marginally harder to prove than disprove. Now I’m both a thinker and a Christian, so I cut against the grain of the commonday christian that this movie depicts, because the “commonday christian” picked on by this movie is one who has neither an understanding of the lies brought about in the world, not do they have the firm understanding of the apologetics in hard evidence. The factuality of the bible cannot be brought into question when considered under its required pretexts. The Christian faith in its early years was under a form of arrest by Judaism, as Judaism had ties into the legal areas of the day which Christianity did not. There exists in hard evidence more fact and proof that Jesus Christ existed than Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonapart, Joan of Arc, Atilla The Hun and even Ghengis Khan. The evidence to support this is not only firm, it’s irrefutable and forms the basis not only of the beliefs of Christians worldwide, but also forms a factual history of the world. This film is cleverly constructed with the exception of the collaged boredom at the beginning. The interviews contained no evidence whatsoever, however included much information was that not only unproven, but in fact unprovable. A fool follows without considering what he’s being told, a wise man investigates studiously to verify what he’s been advised. This is a quote from the bible (in Proverbs). I’m sorry that many Christians don’t follow this as they should. It doesn’t surprise me that non-christians don’t follow it.

    As to the terminology of Atheist Vs Agnostic: the term “Atheist” means that there’s no theology to confirm or deny the existence of a deity. Agnostic means a lack of gnosticism, meaning that the events in fact cannot be proven. Agnostic doesn’t mean a searching person, it means a person who doesn’t believe any facts exist. People just seem to get the two terms mixed up. Neither means searching. Both mean stubborn and mean that you don’t want to search for belief that you will find nothing.

    And that’s the saddest truth of all.