The Invisible Things

Articles in Apologetics

The God Who Wasn’t There, Part 1

with 12 comments

Beneath the popular current of The DaVinci Code controversy (which I have addressed in several articles) is another attack on the Christian faith, this one more of a grassroots effort, not sheltered by the guise of fiction, but overtly labeling itself as a factual documentary which exposes the “truth” about the Christian faith. This “documentary” is called The God Who Wasn’t There, and was produced by Brian Flemming and distributed through a network of “guerilla-style” operatives who attempt to plant the DVD and other literature on church grounds and other Christian gathering places (I mentioned this project briefly in an earlier post called ‘The War on Easter’).

The basic premise of The God Who Wasn’t There is that Jesus never existed, and that fact, among many others pertaining to the traditional Christian faith, is a fabrication without any historical basis. Now, I must initially state that such a claim is so fantastic and on the extreme fringe of scholarship in theology, religion, history, and other fields as to be simply incredible and not worthy of discussion. However, and as I think the DaVinci phenomenon illustrates, we seem to be at a point at which we are more likely to extract truth from incredible sources, especially fictional ones, rather than those which exist to provide it. In other words, entertainment seems to have a more authoritative voice in our society such that outrageous claims and simply erroneous statements slip by and are taken as reliable while they cleverly hide within a seductive narrative context. To be fair, this is not exactly the sort of context in which The God Who Wasn’t There is presented; as I said before, it clearly intends to be a documentary. However, it is one with a particular agenda which provides a substantially skewed portrayal of just about every known fact pertaining to Christianity, yet its growing popularity suggests that many are convinced by its claims. In my next few posts, I will be examining some of the major issues related to this documentary and its distorted portrayal of the Christian faith.

The first portion of The God Who Wasn’t There is essentially a barrage of ad hominem (or "against the man") attacks against the Christian faith, mentioning the Galileo controversy (which I addressed in an earlier post called Valid and Invalid Conclusions from the Galileo Controversy), and several notorious individuals who have associated themselves with Christianity. In particular, Flemming mentions Charles Manson, Pat Robertson, Dena Schlosser, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, David Koresh, and then concludes, "So, I guess it’s kind of a mixed bag." I assume that at this point, the intention is for the viewer to have developed a distaste for Christianity based upon the provided roster of Christian “spokespersons” known for being insane, homicidal, publicly outrageous, and controversial. Yet, attacking individuals for various reasons says nothing about the veracity or the value of the Christian faith.

Augustine of Hippo is known to have said ‘One must not judge a philosophy by its abuse.’ Flemming’s use of Charles Manson as an example of Christianity is an obvious distortion of what Christianity actually is. It would be obviously ridiculous to say that, regardless of whether it is true, Christianity teaches white supremacy and homicide. Additionally, it would be incorrect to conclude that if Charles Manson, an admitted killer, claims to be a Christian, Christianity must be a lie or a failure. What Augustine means to show is that a proposition, or in this case a systematic faith, can be true regardless of how people respond to it or whether people even believe it. Needless to say, we cannot know how sincere any of these people are in their claim to be Christians. What Flemming is doing is establishing a distorted version of Christianity by intentionally selecting a list of notorious figures to represent it, likely hoping to build a strong foundation of resentment and anger upon which to build his weak historical case.

Ironically, while Christianity does not logically establish a basis upon which to behave as someone like Charles Manson has, Atheism cannot logically support the derivation of objective morality and thus can lead to such behavior. In fact, the most notorious crimes against humanity in the 20th century have been committed under the auspices of atheistic regimes like those of Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mau and Pol Pot. I am not saying, of course, that an atheist cannot live a moral life. Many atheists do live a moral life, yet they do so by adopting a system of morality from some external source which does not fit within the scheme of atheism. Thus, what I am saying is that atheism as a philosophy cannot account for a moral law and thus opens the door to such atrocities. If there is no God, then there is no moral law objective enough to which we must be accountable. If there is no objective moral law, then there is no logical reason why Stalin, Hitler, et al should have acted differently. On the other hand, Manson, though he may claim to be a Christian, committed acts which represent a clear rejection or diversion from the teachings of Christ, and thus cannot be a credible representative of the teachings of Christ.

The first portion of The God Who Wasn’t There, while trying to establish an atmosphere conducive to belittling and debunking Christianity actually backfires and reveals the subjectivity and personal angst of the filmmaker himself. Sadly, this is very common in the church and should serve as a convicting reminder that our works should be indicative of our faith, and will be how the faith is represented to those who are on the outside looking in. While this issue is obviously a logically flawed and illegitimate means of building an argument against the Christian faith, it does show the profound cost of poor stewardship of the church throughout history. We must be compelled to look to the example of Christ and act accordingly!

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12 Responses

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  1. da vinci code never states the idea that god is not there, it only gives the impression and an idea that Jesus followed his jewish rituals as a man on earth

    robin

    May 26, 2006 at 10:56 pm

  2. Hi Robin,

    Thanks for your comment. I think you may have misunderstood my introductory paragraph, which mentions the current popular controversy surrounding The Da Vinci Code. I merely mentioned it to introduce The God Who Wasn’t There, a privately produced documentary which takes a much more radical approach to Jesus ‘scholarship’ than Dan Brown did in his research for The Da Vinci Code. Other than the introduction, there are no other comparisons between the two projects.

    Thanks,

    CB

    CB

    May 27, 2006 at 4:12 pm

  3. Hi,My name is John from Melbourne Oz.
    I quite like theses references:

    Real God Is The Indivisible Oneness of Unbroken Light

    1. http://www.dabase.net/noface.htm
    2. http://www.realgod.org

    The Secret Idenity of the Holy Spirit of God

    3. http://www.dabase.net/proofch6.htm

    Jesus & The Teaching of Truth To & About Man

    4. http://www.beezone.com/AdiDa/EWB/EWB_pp436-459.html#jesusandtheteaching

    5. http://www.aboutadidam.org

    John

    June 6, 2006 at 7:34 pm

  4. Hi John,

    I wonder on the basis of what authority to sites like these claim to be true. From reading through some of these resources, they all seem to simply ‘offer an alternative’ to the organized religions that exist today somewhat arbitrarily. However, the philosophical grounding of truth must be in a transcendental source- something which is entirely non-contingent (like God). Even the Urantia book, which sounds quite a bit like the information you have linked to, claims to have originated in the conference of celestial/angelic beings (though the complete lack of any sort of proof for this claim should lead one to reject it).

    So, aside from a human desire to make God in our own image, on what basis should anyone lend credence to this information?

    Thanks,

    CB

    CB

    June 12, 2006 at 11:27 am

  5. Good points. I am interested to see what you think of the film’s Jesus Myth argument.

    Personally, I love outrageous documentaries that prove the craziest things. Sadly, as I learned when I shown part of an Alex Jones documentary to my student, if something is on TV and has a voice over, people think it is true.

    Quique Trujillo

    July 30, 2006 at 5:09 am

  6. A myth is a myth is a myth. By any other name, it would be as silly.

    zenballwizard

    October 12, 2006 at 8:04 am

  7. I’ve seen the video and after years of extensive research, I agree with almost everything stated in the video. I am an ex-Christian. There is in Reality, not a single shred of historical evidence for Jesus as depicted in the Bible. There is no historical contemporaneous attestation for Jesus from any of the meticulous scribes and “historians” known to have been in the area at that time. The quotes in Flavius Josephus and Seutonius are often cited by Christians, however these have been long debunked as forgeries and hoax. The life of Jesus is archetypal and aligns with many several god-man myths. The symbols of the gospels are clearly Piscean and are of an astrological bent. Besides this, all one has to do is look at the history of Christianity and see what it has produced. Murder, War, Genocide, Inquisitions, Bigotry, denigration of women, proponents of slavery, hundreds of sects that do not agree and 15 different Jesus Characters. Jesus the Jew, Jesus the preacher, Jesus the sage…etc. Clearly this religion needs revision and belongs in the realm of myth. It is literal -mythic level stuff for spiritual newbies.

    Robert

    May 23, 2008 at 12:03 pm

  8. Robert and the rest of you unbelievers are very lost and it is real sad. If Jesus is just one of your so called many god-man myths you mean to tell me you have never had the intelligence to wonder why this one Jesus stands alone amongst all of your so called god man myths, none of the others caught on so why Jesus and Christianity? why would a man named Paul turn from being a Christian hater and persecutor to a hated Christian who was persecuted himself? You actually think that Christianity became the world’s largest religion just by chance?, surely you jest. You are lost and have bought into the lies that you have been fed with no proof. Furthermore Jesus was the son of the living God, God himself in the flesh but you question how can Jesus be 15 different characters as you call it? Even a regular human being can be a Pianist, a singer, a plumber, etc. all in one but you can’t see how Jesus could be many different things? You make no sense and the falsity of your claims is obvious. Last but certainly not least I am going to tell it just like it is, you are of your father the devil and I rebuke you in the name of Jesus the Christ, the son of the living God. All of that foolishness that you claim was started by Christians is a blatant lie. Christianity does not teach bigotry, Christianity adamantly preaches love, love the neighbor as thyself is just one of the many scriptures that preach love for all mankind in the Bible. then you say Christianity preaches the denigration of women which is another lie, what Christianity does teach is that a woman should be submissive to a good man however the Bible also clearly states that a man is supposed to love, cherish and RESPECT WOMEN. You need help and you never was a real Christian, you were not a Christian because your daddy or your grandmother was. Being a Christian is having a one on one relationship with Jesus Christ something that you obviously never had.

    Erik Murray

    February 6, 2009 at 11:00 pm

  9. […] The God Who Wasn’t There, Part 1 « The Invisible Things "Flemming’s use of Charles Manson as an example of Christianity is an obvious distortion of what Christianity actually is. It would be obviously ridiculous to say that, regardless of whether it is true, Christianity teaches white supremacy and homicide. Additionally, it would be incorrect to conclude that if Charles Manson, an admitted killer, claims to be a Christian, Christianity must be a lie or a failure. What Augustine means to show is that a proposition, or in this case a systematic faith, can be true regardless of how people respond to it or whether people even believe it." (tags: faith christianity logic) […]

  10. i think we are living in dangerous and exciting times. i have NO EDUCATION, as you see by my spelling!!! lol, anyways, this attack on christ and his way is just crazy. to prove GOD or jesus exists, or lived is impossible, BUT, as a christin, it is my faith that proves he is there, how can we describe the wind is there, we cant, but there are signs it does exits. i belive people like flemming need to grow up and deal with the issues of why they r mad at the christian faith, and stop beliving the lie of the devil who loves to through fuel on the fire. i have to prove jesus did live and still lives buy the life i live. life is about choices, and we must choose to live or die, to live is to live by GODS WAYS TO DIE IS TO LIVE THE WORLDS WAYS, i am sorry there r people who claim to be followers of christ, and do bad things, jesus said you will know my freinds by the fruit they produce, and the love they share for others, which begs the question WHAT IS LOVE? to me love is a choice, not a feeling, the devil is slick, but GOD is slicker!!! people like flemming will be ashamed in the near future when GOD will reveal himself through the outcasts of the world, eg drug addicts homeless people, whores, etc the day is comming when he will move, and still it will be a question of faith, is this real or fake, you will know them by the love they share!!! i have no education as i have said, but i am wise enough to see truth when i see it, attacks on the church will grow as we enter the last days, but i beleive GOD will give his people wisdom and grace to fullfill his will, which is to love people like flemming all the more, because they need it, and true love conqures darkness, thanks craig f strickland!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    craig strickland

    May 2, 2009 at 3:12 pm

  11. Hello. After reading your statements aboyt athism and how it provides no foundation for moral values I was compelled to reply. I am an agnostic, I am also I biologist. There is an evolutionary reason for the existence of moral codes. Without them, our species would not have been able to exist. As an atheist, your moral values are justified by the sincere interest in the betterment of society and the well-being of the members of your species. We do not follow moral codes just because some God will send us to hell if we don’t. Therefore, our following of moral codes is fueled by genuine “love” and not by fear.

    Eduardo Gonzalez Maldonado

    August 31, 2009 at 2:06 am

  12. […] see no reason hide this. I'm willing to bet that the documentary you're referring to is either The God Who Wasn't There or Zeitgeist. Neither movie is actually a documentary. Both are works of pure fiction presented as […]


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