Atheist Hopes for Brokeback Mountain Moment

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Steve Walsh on the CNN religion blogs reports that New atheist movie ‘The Ledge’ evangelizes godlessness. The film is written and directed by outspoken atheist Matthew Chapman. Apparently, Chapman wants to make an an atheist character into a
Hollywood hero with a Christian being the bad guy. Chapman is pushing for a form of atheist evangelism or at the very least a wider acceptance of atheism.

“My hope was to make an emotional appeal,” says. He hopes it’s a “Brokeback Mountain” moment for nonbelievers.

Chapman believes that a successful film with an atheist hero will influence people to more readily accept atheism in the way he believes Brokeback Mountain has help with the acceptance of gays and lesbians. Brokeback Mountain seems to have come and gone other than a bad joke here and there or a reference from someone like Chapman.

Atheist Evangelism

What I can’t understand is why some atheists unbelief in God is so great that they must evangelize others in hopes they too will not believe. Why is it some important for others to not believe in something that atheists do not believe exists anyway? Is there an underlying threat? The reason may be found in Romans 1.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. (Romans 1:18-19 ESV)

God is the one atheists’ push back against. Atheists like Chapman, for example, can’t escape God. But maybe if he evangelizes enough people into unbelief he will find more comfort? I don’t know exactly what type of acceptance Chapman is seeking by attempting to appeal to the masses. Maybe it is as simple as the article states that Chapman’s “mission is to help create a more positive image for atheism.”

What would a more positive image for atheism look like? Would it be the acceptance of people giving speeches saying “I want to thank me” and “Praise me I did an awesome job”? I think we all ready do that here in America. We also have people who thank God with their lips while honoring Satan with their lifestyles.

And he thinks atheists get a bad rap?

Acceptance

Not to belittle Chapman’s mission since the article does state that “a recent Pew poll found that 61% of Americans say they are less likely to support a presidential candidate who does not believe in God.” I wonder which “god” this poll had in mind? So he feels singled out. I get that. I might be more comfortable voting for a Mormon over an atheist in relative terms, but that doesn’t I am completely comfortable voting for a Mormon.

So I don’ t have a comforting answer for Chapman about people rejecting his worldview. I do have to wonder though why he is putting a Christian against an atheist an an evangelistic effort to a Nation that is all ready less accepting of his worldview.

While these 61% of Americans are more likely to support a candidate who believes in God, does Chapman think the Christian worldview is readily accepted? Consider how Christians are portrayed in movies, the very medium through which Chapman is reaching out. Cultural Disconnect Portraying Christians in Film By Chuck Colson highlights some examples (if needed). It is not as if the barrage of movie hero characters are great Christians seeking to help others for the gospel. Nor do most of the actors playing these heroes go around taking about the gospel in real life. Rather, the heroes (and movies themselves) portray the underlying values of the culture which essentially denies God in deed while allegedly affirming Him in faith.

Atheists and Christians

If this film seems like it is a decent production I may see it. Surely, it won’t convince me to stop believing the gospel of Jesus Christ. But it will give an interesting insight into the mind of Chapman and those who agree with him. Or the movie could just be another movie that poorly portrays Christians.

I will be able to relate to this movie because I’m like Chapman in many ways.

The primary way atheists are like Christians is that they are both made in God’s image. Of course, Chapman would not admit this, but no matter how well or poorly this movie is done, Christians should be able to relate to it. Christians are in the world just as Mr. Chapman is in the world. This movie may give Christians another opportunity to engage atheists of Chapman’s stripe.

One of the differences between atheists and Christians is the ability for each worldview to account for the other. Though the atheist relies on theism in order for their worldview can not account for Christianity. On the other hand, Christians can admittedly account for atheism. Not that Christians readily accept the their atheistic arguments for not believing in God, but that sins like pride affect their understanding as in Psalm 10:4 where it is revealed that on account of pride one thinks “There is no God.”

One Christian answer to filmmakers like Chapman is not to lay down and say live and let live. Christians should fight with the gospel knowing they have the only worldview that can account for rationally engaging Chapman and the like. Ultimately, the gospel is all Christians have and even with Christ we struggle. Christians expect criticism and challenges to the gospel just as Scripture says.

So all we can do is engage the culture pointing objectively outside ourselves to Jesus Christ for in Jesus “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV)

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tagged as , , in apologetics,Culture,heresy,morality,relativism

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joe Blackmon July 8, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I have heard, and I don’t know how true it is, that atheists feel like helping people not believe in God is a way of pulling them out of the pit of ignorance. The see themselves as liberating some poor, deluded soul from the shackles of fairy tales to seeing life as it really is. So they see themselves as the hero of the story.

2 Christiane July 8, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Hi MARK,
Please know that the full verse 15 of Hebrews Chapt. 4 is written, this:
” 15 For we do NOT have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

A question: by truncating the verse fifteen, have you done the right thing?
or perhaps did you not realize that you left off a vital first portion of verse 15 in Hebrews 4, when you quoted it as this? :

“So all we can do is engage the culture pointing objectively outside ourselves to Jesus Christ Who is our “high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Can you clarify, please, as your truncated verse does rather change its meaning.
Or possibly correct what you did?
Thanks,
Christiane

3 Mark July 8, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Christiane,

Thanks for catching that. I did not mean to cut off and change the meaning of the verse. I meant to re-word that section and got distracted and forgot. 🙂

4 Doc B July 8, 2011 at 5:05 pm

“What I can’t understand is why some atheists unbelief in God is so great that they must evangelize others in hopes they too will not believe.”

Atheism has never been about not believing something. As hard as they try, other than in the legal system, nobody buys the line about simple non-belief or neutrality of belief. That’s why they’ve always been a self-defeating coalition. You can’t proselytize to non-belief.

5 Mark July 8, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Joe, that may be true. Even then why would they waste their time if this life is all they have? I suppose their time and resources used to rescue believers may give them a boost to fame and a better living making this life more worthwhile to them. I dunno….

BTW, for some reason your comment was caught in moderation. Weird.

6 Mark July 8, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Doc, I agree and I was attempting to answer within their own worldview.

Thanks for the comment.

7 Alex July 24, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Hmm. I have the same question: “What I can’t understand is why some theists belief in God is so great that they must evangelize others in hopes they too will believe.” What’s the difference other than position? If it’s perfectly alright for believers to evangelize, then why not the other way? Why must believers get rights to “free speech” and non-believers not?

I’m an atheist, and I don’t bother to “preach” to believers. I frankly don’t care what they believe, as long as they don’t treat me like scum of the earth for not agreeing with them. The fact of the matter is that I and vast majority of atheists I know are warm hearted people who believe in giving, charity, goodwill, doing good deeds. They believe that love as a very human emotion. They also have a high degree of morals and ethics, and I will put my morals and ethics up against any Christian, any day. I do pretty well in life as a person.

Sadly, Atheists are the new victims for bigots who just -have- to have someone to hate. The bigots can’t -openly- hate blacks, jews, gays or muslims anymore, and atheists are the only people they’re “allowed” to openly attack without an eyebrow being raised. I digress.

Mark, you said you’d go see the movie if you found out it was a good production. I’ll give you a big hint: You probably won’t like the movie. It has some of that nasty old S-E-X in it. The “F” word is in it a few times as well. The “Christian” in it is, of course, a straw man, as any movie producer can make any position in the world seem like a bad guy. That much should be obvious to any modern movie audience. However, the movie, to me, is a welcome relief to the tons and tons of media releases that play to the opinions of believers, and make non-believers out to be horrible people. Even STAR WARS did it.

I know that the release of this movie has turned much of the religious world on its ear. “What? A movie with an atheist as the good guy? Say it ain’t so!” it’s so. And it’s about bloody well time. You guys have had all the good press for … well … since the press was invented! One movie with an atheist for the good guy ain’t gunna end the church. They have too much tax-free money for that to ever happen anyway, no matter how many movies-with-atheist-good-guys are released, so RELAX ALREADY.

Oh, and another thing: You know how they say that many times people have friends who are “in the closet” about being gay and they find out after they’ve known them for years? Same thing with atheists. I guarantee it. You have ATHEISTS for friends that you DON’T KNOW ABOUT. Atheists are much better at staying in the closet than gays.

One final note for “Doc B” about the concept of “self defeating coalition.” There’s no conspiracy. So, um, coalition? Yeah, there are a small handful of activist organizations (like for any cause) that like to sue about 1st amendment violations. That’s never about trying to convince people to not believe in any gods. That’s about our tax dollars being wasted to promote a particular religion’s message when there are plenty of private, tax-free dollars already spent on that sort of thing. So before anyone accuses atheists of “conspiracies” then we have to first stop churches from handing out voter guides and telling parishoners who to vote for, lest there be any hypocrisy going around.

Have fun going to church next Sunday, I’m sleeping in.

8 Alex July 25, 2011 at 12:55 pm

How is that different from Christians trying to “save” someone from themselves by “freeing” them from this so-called thing called “sin?”

However, as posted earlier, I and most atheists I know don’t bother to preach to believers about their beliefs. All we want is to no longer be treated like pieces of excrement.

As far as we’re concerned, believers can believe any mythology they like. It’s fun to sit back and observer all the “major” religions (and some minor ones as well) assert to the world that they’re right and that other church over there is wrong and they’re all going to hell.

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