Visitor: One of my peers recently told me about this movie on the internet about "Zeitgeist." Here is the link: http://zeitgeistmovie.com/main.htm. I searched your website hoping to find an article on it but nothing came up. It seems to me like just another ridiculous occult trend, like the Da Vinci Code, that's going to spark a lot of initial interest but then fade. But it bothered me that my peer said that this movie would be powerful enough to make me an atheist. I would really like to see a refutal of this by someone a lot more educated than myself. One day I'd like to be on your end, though, getting e-mails from people asking me to help them refute the next up and coming occult fad.
Response: The movie is right to point out that atrocities have been commiitted in the name of religion. It is interesting to see that if we are merely swamp gas, as an atheist would acknowledge, that the person who believes this would want to promote it with such missionary zeal to others. Why they would care what other swamp gas believed is a mystery. The movie at one point says nothing is "Bad or Good per se" ... then I suppose that theism is also not bad or good so why should he care whether we are in the "now" or not? If they think there is not "bad or good" then is not their rant against religion itself meaningless?. On the one hand they say there is no bad or good, but then they make a movie to tell us how bad religion is for the world. Confused? You should be because there is not a shred of consistency about it. It seems the producer does, after all, believe in a dogma. The danger of this movie's position is that they erroneously think of their own position as not a position.. is not a belief, is not a dogma is not itself a religion. It like when Oprah demanded that her audience accept that Jesus could not possibly be the only way and rather, she said, all ways are acceptable. Is that not also a dogmatic statement? A firm belief that beliving in one way is bad and that we MUST accept that all ways are equal? This is the height of self-deception. Dogma cannot be avoided and the producers of this film also have presuppositions or strong beliefs as to what is good and bad, or they would not bother making the film to try to convince others. Any hope they have of changing someones mind to think like them is actually a belief in morality, in something outside themselves - that there is a way to live that is better. If they say slavery is wrong, violence is wrong, torture is wrong, racism is wrong, how do they know this if they are merely swap gas, and more importantly, why should they care? They show all these frightening images as if their position is not just as religious and dogmatic and that they are exempt from such atrocities. The greatest danger lies when a group convinces itself it is the only one out there who isn't promoting a view. We all should know by now that this is the height of absurdity.
The movie is is right to point out that religious institutions are corrupt and there are people who want to control the world. There will always be people like this who will use religion to gain power. In fact, no human being should think they are above this or exempt from this. Ironically, however, the producers of the movie are also promoting a VIEW, a belief about what they think would make a better world, a world without religion, as John Lennon once sung about. Oddly enough, as the film rails against religion, they don't seem to be able to do so without promoting their own. From what I saw they seem to be claiming that they have the truth, thus destroying the very notion they are trying to promote. You cannot, on the one hand, zealously say that all institutions are corrupt and then simultaneously exempt your own institution or belief system. Religions indeed have been just as corrupt as every other institution, because of the human element. It is not Christianity itself that is corrupt or the belief it produces but that there are human beings involved.
We believe there is a way forward though. As Tim Keller says, the "grace narrative" says that I am not better than anyone else, in fact there may be atheists out there who are more moral, in many ways, than I am. It is grace that makes me to differ ... God's mercy, not because I am more moral - thus we contribute nothing and have nothing to boast of. But the "moral improvement" narrative, onthe other hand, says that I am better than these other people because I am more moral. Religion and irreligion are both equally guilty of this. So the answer, we believe, is to understand and connect with the grace narrative which oppresses no one, believes no one is less than you but that all persons are made in God's image and all equally flawed, including you, including me ... especially me, and that we are in awe that God would even condescend to save someone like me.
True Christianity is like many tribes living on a island where everyone on the island is dying of a fatal disease. Someone from the outside by boat comes to one of the tribes on the island and gives us the cure for it. Stop eating a certain herb and drink this medicine every day for the rest of your life and you will live. Because we care about others on the island we take it to them as well and give them the cure for which we must also take each day. Recognizing our own need for this while giving it to others, means there is no anger or superiority over others but that love is our motive. It is when religion or irreligion thinks we are better than others or superior to others that wars and hatred starts, so it is not because of religion but because of bad religion that these things exist.