Film: God's Not Dead

What Do You Believe?

God's Not Dead is a 2014 movie about Joshua, a college student who has joined a philosophy class with the firmly atheistic Professor Radisson. Radisson demands the students to write the words "God is dead" with their signature, to get a passing grade. When Joshua refuses, he offers him the chance of having a debate about it, and is determined to humiliate him.

There are a few sub-plots too, such an Arabic girl Ayisha who is afraid of her Christian faith being discovered by her father, a pair of missionaries suffering chronic car issues, Amy Ryan an atheistic blogger suffering cancer, and the girlfriend of Radisson whose faith drives a wedge in their relationship.

Compare and contrast with The Ledge, the polar opposite ideological equivalent film.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Anti-Villain: Ayisha's father, while ultimately one for Disproportionate Retribution, clearly loves his daughter and, it's implied, goes through something of a My God, What Have I Done? in the end.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "How can you hate someone who doesn't exist?"
  • Author Tract: The film is a very good example of Christian propaganda, as its antagonist is basically a distilled conglomeration of the most "Love to Hate" spokesmen for militant aithiesm.
  • The Cameo: Willie Roberston from Duck Dynasty fame makes a couple of appearances in the film, he was presumably included after the main filming was completed, when his father, Phil, caught the media's attention for his pro-Christian and anti-gay remarks.
    • The popular Christian band "Newsboys" shows up for the Grand Finale.
  • Contrived Coincidence: While it's possible, it's incredibly unlikely that Josh would be the only Christian, or the only person who believes in a God of any kind, in a classroom of 80.
    • Justified Trope in that Josh himself notes that it would've been easier to just keep quiet and go with the flow; it's implied that some of the students may have gone that route.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Amy's boyfriend. He doesn't try to hide from it, either.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Near the end, after Radisson reads a letter from his late mother, he decides to try to reconcile with his girlfriend; but then he gets hit by a car and dies.
  • Dumb and Drummer: During the appearance by the Newboys, one of his bandmates says of drummer, Duncan Phillips "and gets only the drummer."
  • Easy Evangelism:
    • Raddison converts as he's dying, mostly to push the "There are no Atheists in Foxholes" message that, deep down, Atheists will believe in God when death is staring them in the face.
      • Actually downplayed in this case, as he'd been intending to reconcile with his Christian former girlfriend beforehand.
    • The same goes for the Atheist blogger Amy, who converts when she finds that she has cancer.
  • Egocentrically Religious: Joshua's girlfriend shows shades of this when Joshua states that he wants to do God's will, and she replies that God wants him to be with her.
  • Hollywood Atheist:
    • Radisson's only reason for his atheism is because he hates God because his mother died of cancer.
      • Interestingly enough, the film seems to be trying for a Reconstruction of this trope: Raddison himself tries to use the story of his mother to justify himself to Josh when the two of them are alone, by noting that "many of the greatest atheists were once Christians".
    • The left-wing blogger, Amy, who is snarky of religion until she gets cancer and at the end asks to "know God".
    • Amy's boyfriend is an atheist who admits he has no morals and gloats about his perfect life.
  • Magical Negro: Reverend Jude.
  • My Car Hates Me: The missionaries' car does not start, neither do all their rental cars until the end.
  • Offing the Offspring: Ayisha's father looks like he's going to do this after throwing out his daughter, but ultimately doesn't.
  • Politically Motivated Teacher: Radisson, as he tries to force his atheism on his students.
  • Straw Character: Raddison, the main antagonist of this film is an over-the-top atheist who's filled with hatred towards the perfectly decent Christian lead. As the movie progresses, he becomes more and more over the top. To add insult to injury, he turns out to be a Hollywood Atheist who is bitter about his mom dying. The film ends with him getting hit by a car and converting as he dies. Also a walking cliche about liberal professors who have nothing better to do than manipulate the minds of the young, as though college were nothing more than a liberal re-education camp.
    • The end credits make an effort to justify his portrayal, via something of a bibliography of Real Life incidents on college campuses.
    • To his credit, Josh himself makes a point in his last presentation to disassociate "typical" atheism from Raddison's attitude of "anti-theism", noting that most atheists would probably be content to "live and let live" with Christians.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Professor Radisson shows intellectual prowess during debates, but also shows a very large ego threatening Joshua's education and career over his religion.
    • Amy's boyfriend dumps her when he learns about her cancer, and brags to his mother that he has a good life despite being cruel and she has dementia even though she was a kind person.
  • Take That: Generally against Atheists, but also against Liberal college professors.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Radisson met his girlfriend when she was a student of his class.
  • Tears of Remorse: Ayisha's father cries these after throwing her out of the house.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Radisson has one after Joshua repeatedly presses if he hates God, declaring that he always hated him since his mother died.
  • Whole Plot Reference: The story has a lot of similarities with the Chick Tract Big Daddy.