God is dead? He seemed fine in yesterday morning's prayer time!
By Ken Marrero
Despite dire warnings of the immediate and irreversible demise of the Almighty should I dare to see The Golden Compass, two friends and I took the plunge this weekend. I'm happy to report that God seems none the worse for wear. He was His usual chipper Self when we talked the next morning morning.
Which brings me to my point. What in heaven's name is there in this film to object to? Don't get me wrong, I'm all for a good boycott when it's needed. I'm even a multi-task capable boycotter. I stayed away from all things French until they recently elected Sarkozy as their President. All of that while maintaining my years long commitment to not see The Last Temptation of Christ or Brokeback Mountain. My family homeschools our 5 children and none of them has ever spent even 30 seconds in a public school as a student. I can do Politics, Religion and even toss in Education and not even break a sweat.
But in order to justify a boycott, it's usually helpful to include some of the material that is deplorable enough to trigger a nationwide response. I've yet to see it from Phillip Pullman's work. There's the quote making the rounds and attributed to him that "I want to kill God in the minds of children…. I want them to decide against God and the Kingdom of Heaven." It's not been sourced anywhere that I've seen. The closest I've seen is this quote from The Sydney Morning Herald:
The notion that his books might kill God is implausible at best and not borne out well by the plot of the movie I saw. To be fair, I've also heard that more open anti-religious sentiments from the books were edited out of the movie. So I'm reading the books to make sure. Even so, I find the entire conversation a bit odd.
In fact, far from making the case for atheism, I find a fair amount of overtly Christian symbolism in the movie and what I'm hearing about the books. There is an alternate universe from which a substance enters the universe of the story. This substance, called Dust, transforms those whom it touches. Pullman's own description of dust according to the Sydney Morning Herald is "the totality of human wisdom and experience." Christians also believe there is another reality, more real than the world we currently occupy, from which wisdom and experience have entered this world to transform those whom they touch.
Pullman describes a struggle between those heroic souls who seek to expand the influence of Dust and those who would oppose them; those who hold on to their little kingdoms of me established for their own profit and promotion. These villains, whom Pullman links to the church, know full well the value of Dust and yet oppose it since it threatens their rule and authority. As a Christian, that sounds far more descriptive of the World and its systematic opposition to and persecution of the Church than the other way around.
The very tools Pullman uses are problematic as well. In his story we have other worlds, contact between them, spirits, specters and all manner of supernatural concepts and creations imbued with respectability and authority in order to debunk the notion of other worlds, contact between them, spirits, specters and all manner of other supernatural concepts and creations. Doesn't seem like a particularly well thought out argument. He's saying he wants us to believe that all this first group of stuff is just real enough to convince us that all this identical second group of stuff couldn't possibly be real.
In its final analysis, any promotion of atheistic ideology, subtle or not, will hit the same wall that atheism itself hits. It is intellectually bankrupt. Atheism posits definitively that "There is no God." How silly! The most anyone can say with intellectual integrity is "I have not yet seen enough evidence to convince me personally that God exists!" Others claim to have seen enough evidence for them - fine. But the fact that atheists have not does not mean the evidence does not exist or that this afternoon, that most persuasive missing tidbit won't make its appearance. Even if it never arrives, or more probable, if it is never recognized for what it is, it does not prove atheists are right. You cannot prove that God does not exist.
Most atheists, once having come to the conclusion He does not, become just as dogmatic in defense of their untenable conclusion as any Christian is of the premise that He does. I suspect Pullman falls into this group. At its root, atheism is as "religious", as "Christian", a position as any other addition of men to the revelation of God. As such, it's doomed to the same inglorious end at His glorious appearing.
Thinking God's existence is a bit too settled a matter to be called into question because a writer penned a scene that ends "… this is where I kill God" …
Ken Marrero is a staff writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.