‘God’s not Dead’ (trailer) is a bad movie and really wasn’t worth the time I took to watch it, though my brother and I got a few laughs out of it. I guess I can only hold this against the movie so much, its not like it held its cards close to its chest. The movie is about a young Christian university student who attends a philosophy class. The professor starts the class by declaring god is dead, a pronouncement to which our protagonist refuses to acquiesce. The professor therefore issues a challenge – give evidence for god. Based on the trailer I though that the plot would center on the debate itself. I wasn’t expecting the arguments to be very good, but I think I would have enjoyed the movie far more if that had been the focus. Instead the debates were short and mostly consisted of ‘gotcha’ sophistry. The rest of the film mostly focused on evil atheists being mean to nice Christians, and the Christians inevitably one-upping their prosecutors (often with the aid of pseudo-miracles). It all ends with a rock concert, and (spoilers) the evil philosophy professor getting run over by a car (don’t worry though, he gets time to convert before he dies).
The movie does bring me back around to one of my favorite topics: how should we converse with people who disagree with us, and to what end? It is a tiredly true truism that there are some people who are just not worth talking to – take what you can from their points, but don’t try to share yours. Unfortunately for those looking to do work upon the world, I’m inclined to say that the dogmatism of these people is fundamentally ingrained with many of the worlds problems. I don’t here mean to pick on Christians specifically. Atheism has its share of dogmatists, there are dogmatist scientists, there are dogmatists on the left and on the right. By my characterization, dogmatism is a common aspect of those who lack autonomy – those who let the world rule them. Dogmatism is such a problem because it is probably the fundamental barrier that stops people from understanding each other.
As I’ve previously noted, one of the biggest challenges in overcoming dogmatism is recognizing it in ourselves. If we accuse others of not changing to our side because they are dogmatists, we have really said nothing at all. To bend an analogy I have heard said of evolution, we all build our belief boats at sea because we never have a solid foundation to build upon. Since we can never objectively ground ourselves we can never push against the beliefs of others without being pushed ourselves. That all being said, at a certain point we must take a stand or go insane.
So, the problem. The people whose opinions cause the most harm are dogmatists, but changing the minds of dogmatists is mostly a futile task. The only real ‘solution’ that I have come up with on this ‘problem’ is that we should really focus on improving our own beliefs, and others will do as they will.
Let me know what you think,
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