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Film / God's Not Dead

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

There are a few sub-plots, too, such as: an Arab-American girl named Ayisha, who is afraid of her Christian faith being discovered by her father; a pair of missionaries suffering chronic car issues; Amy Ryan, an atheist blogger who discovers she has 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.

A sequel titled God's Not Dead 2 was released in April 2016 (the trailer can be found here) followed by God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness in March 2018.


God's Not Dead provides examples of:

  • Ad Hominem: Radisson does this after Josh's first speech by simply choosing to namedrop Stephen Hawking, rather than actually debate him, and then asking if he thinks he's smarter than him. Then in the second debate, Josh does the same thing, since Stephen Hawking feels philosophy is "dead" (Tu Quoque).
  • 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.
    • Most likely completely unintentional, but Josh as well. He dated his girlfriend for six years, she gave up going to two other colleges just to stay with him, but he coldly dumps her when she gave him the opportunity and she was telling him to do something, then never mentions her again or shows any signs that he misses her. It seems like the film tried to portray her as this because she was trying to get him to stop advocating for God in the debate, but her warning that Radisson would destroy his future was later revealed to be 100% true until averted by the ending.
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  • Appeal to Authority: All Radisson does to challenge the Cosmological Argument is to name-drop Steven Hawking, and makes no attempt to dispute any part of the actual argument. Odd behavior for a professor of philosophy, particularly since Hawking is not a philosopher (he's even said "philosophy is dead", as Josh points out) and many rebuttals to the Cosmological Argument exist that you'd think he would know about. Josh also does this with his moral argument for God's existence. The only thing he says to support this is quoting the well-known "If God does not exist, then everything is permitted" line from The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (it's really "if there is no immortality, then everything is permitted", but gets commonly misquoted).
  • Appeal to Consequences: Josh's moral argument for God's existence amounts to this, along with a mere assertion fallacy: he states that without God, there's no objective standard for morality, while not actually showing this at all.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Josh, after pushing Radisson for an explanation for his militancy, asks him "How can you hate someone who doesn't exist?"note  By the way, this is an extremely illegal debate tactic.
  • Artistic License – Religion: The filmmakers clearly do not understand Islamic views on women's dress. While more conservative Muslims do think women should cover their faces, there is no way that Aisha would then wear a top that shows her bare arms and cleavage. That entirely defeats the purpose, keeping them covered.
  • Asshole Victim: In the sense that both Josh and Radisson are out to defeat the other during the debate, and they're both a pair of assholes. Sadly, only Radisson gets killed off at the end.
  • As You Know: A lot of Info Dumps are delivered this way, most notably the backstory of Josh's relationship with his girlfriend. Which actually ends up being completely pointless, seeing how they break up by the end of the first act and don't reconcile.
  • Author Tract: The film is a very good example of Christian propaganda, as its antagonist is basically the "atheist professor vs. Christian student" meme made into a film.
  • Bastard Boyfriend:
    • Radisson, dating one of his former students. He belittles her, insulting her intelligence and faith constantly.
    • Dean Cain only considers his relationship with his girlfriend like a business deal, won't help her unless it suits his needs, and dumps her immediately after she tells him she has cancer.
    • Josh comes off as one when he tells his girlfriend that god is the most important person in his life, not her. She dumps him, but he gets upset about that. So what did he want? To be with her but still ignore her?
  • Beard of Evil: As if the viewers didn't realize already the atheist Professor Radisson was the antagonist, he sports one of these which he regularly strokes while being smug.
  • Being Good Sucks: According to Marc Shelley, his mother was a generous and kind-hearted woman her whole life but is now stricken with dementia while he himself is proudly a jerkass affluent businessman who dumped his girlfriend just for testing positive for cancer as he's assured his wealth will attain him another girl. Marc asks his mother why is this so, and his mother replies that Satan exists as well like God does and that Satan gives strength to atheists as a reward for forsaking their belief in God. Though they both overlook that dementia or wealth and morality have nothing in common, implying that Marc himself also believes in karma and God.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Professor Radisson and Josh Wheaton combined. They both believe that God does exist, but selfishly want the philosophy class to take their own side (misotheism or Christianity) on whether God is all-loving or negligent/cruel and uncaring. The two are quite corrupt, as they are reduced to using fanatic tactics such as attacking each other's credibility and flaws rather than arguing why their own side is so much stronger.
  • Big "WHY?!": After failing to change Radisson's mind with Powerpoint presentations explicitly detailing how much his religion "triumphs" over atheism, at least in his own opinion, manchild Josh gets reduced to just demanding "Why" over Radisson's refusal to believe in God.
  • Black-and-White Morality: One of the major criticisms of this film. It portrays all Christians as good honest people who only want to do good, and everyone else who doesn't believe in Christianity as horrible people that just want to destroy Christians because they hate their faith.
  • Broken Aesop:
    • The whole reason that Josh is debating Radisson is because his preacher told him if he was to write "God is Dead" he would be turning his back on God, and God will forsake him for all eternity if he did that. However at the end when "God" kills Radisson, the same preacher tells Radisson if he converts now after having already turned his back on him he will be saved, a complete 180 from what he told Josh. So that means there was absolutely no reason for Josh to do the debate in the first place.
    • The death itself was supposed to convey the "there are no atheists in foxholes" cliché, showing how an atheist will turn to God in the face of death. This "aesop" is broken because it was already made very clear that Radisson was not an atheist.
    • It seems that the whole message as to why an atheist should believe in God is solely because of tragedy, as no atheist becomes a Christian in this film because of facts, logic, reason or even anything good, thus practically telling Christians to hope that an atheist suffers a terrible loss just so they can see the good of God. Which is also broken in the sequel because it portrays the atheist parents as completely uncaring to the fact that their son died.
  • Butt-Monkey: Amy. She gets diagnosed with cancer and has a boyfriend who's Made Out to Be a Jerkass. What's his reaction to hearing Amy has cancer? Break up and find another girlfriend, because Screw the Rules, I Have Money!.
  • By "No", I Mean "Yes": When Professor Radisson asked Josh due to his statements if Josh believed that a moral atheist is impossible, Josh says no, he doesn't believe that, but his description afterwards essentially states yes, a moral atheist is impossible.
  • 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. However an interesting take as for a cameo they take up a good portion of the ending to the film. Some critics have joked they believed this entire film was an excuse just to have a Newsboys concert.
  • Chewbacca Defense: Pretty much Josh's debate tactic. He doesn't have to prove God exists, he just has to make a class believe he might exist because one cannot prove he doesn't exist.
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: It is hinted that Josh and Ayisha get together after the concert, despite never interacting at all up to that point.
  • 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 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. Yet this is kind of mitigated by shots of the students acting like this is the first time they have ever heard of God as Josh goes through his speech as well as the pastor blatantly stating that absolutely none of the other students had ever gone to church.
    • Somehow the Newsboys and Duck Dynasty have been following everything that has been going on in one philosophy class. Apparently it was even big enough to mention on the local news despite this fact never being shown. But yet, despite being that big the school board itself seems to have never heard about it.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Amy's boyfriend. He doesn't try to hide from it, either. Did we mention he's an atheist?
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Radisson has one, naturally, which is his mother dying of cancer.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The main plot line in the film turns out not to be about Joshua taking any sort of transformational journey, but rather an adaptation of the Prodigal Son parable with Radisson as the main character (and indeed, Kevin Sorbo is listed as the film's top star). Except the Prodigal Son wasn't killed to spark his reform.
  • Downer Ending: Even the fundamentalist Christian protagonist gets one. Sure, Josh gets some people to believe in God, but by the end of this film, Josh lost his girlfriend of six years, Radisson is killed, Mina doesn't realize that Radisson was killed coming to apologize to her, Martin probably put his entire family at risk because of his newfound belief, Amy is likely to die a painful death from cancer very soon, Ayisha has been disowned and is now homeless, and Dave and Jude never got to go to Disney World. If it wasn't for the upbeat music, one would realize that because of Josh everyone is a lot worse off.
  • 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 band mates says of drummer Duncan Phillips "and gets only the drummer."
  • Easy Evangelism:
    • Radisson 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. Although it is a little downplayed in this case, as he'd been intending to reconcile with his Christian former girlfriend beforehand, and he appears to have already been reconsidering his view after he found the letter his mother wrote to him begging him not to lose his faith while she was dying.
    • The same goes for the atheist blogger Amy, who converts when she discovers that she has cancer.
    • Martinnote , and by extension the entire class as the film portrays them as having never heard of God while having lived in America, converts to Christianity simply because of Josh's speeches.
    • Ayisha, who has most likely been raised Muslim her whole life, is suddenly a Christian with no clear motivation as to why.
  • Egocentrically Religious: Josh's girlfriend shows shades of this when Josh states that he wants to do God's will, and she replies that God wants him to be with her.
  • Empty Shell: Dean Cain's and Radisson's Girlfriend's mother, who spends just most of her days just in a blank state and has no clue she has eaten the same meal for a week.
  • Evil Stole My Faith: Radisson's (and theorized by Josh, most atheists) main reason for not believing is this. Though he prayed for her, his mom still died of illness.
  • False Dichotomy: You can either be a happy Christian or you are a smug, angry, selfish, obnoxious, and unhappy person.
  • Flat Character: Aside from believing in Jesus, what else do we really know of Josh? Radisson gets a more fleshed out character than the main character.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: There are multiple stories all happening at the same time, most having nothing to do with the main plot. It becomes especially jarring when you realize that absolutely none of the plots are connected to each other in any way, and Josh defending God does essentially very little within the film. Sure some characters might be related to each other, dating one another or going to school together but overall you can say only one's plot connects with another, that being Martin becoming a Christian because of Josh's speech. Aside from that you might as well be watching several different Christian movies at the same time.
  • Generic Guy: Aside from being a God-loving Christian, we know virtually nothing about Josh.
  • A God Am I: Professor Radisson claimed he is his class's god.
  • Gretzky Has the Ball: Both Radisson and Josh use very underhanded to downright illegal debate tactics. Justified though since neither is a professional debater, it's not a formal debate, and there's no moderator to rein them in.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Radisson. Radisson thinks religion is the enemy of reason and that it demands too much obedience from people, as while he forces students to obey and adapt to atheism.
  • Hitler Ate Sugar: The film seems to imply that atheism and Islam are pretty much the same: they both harbor many adherents who are intolerant of Christianity. While that point is true enough, it's a sure bet that the Muslim father would be far more or at least as enraged by Radisson than by his daughter. Many atheists would also have the same animosity toward Muslims as they would towards Christianity (and many Christians toward Muslims as well).
  • Holier Than Thou: Josh flat out states that only Christians can be good people. Despite stating he doesn't believe that atheists don't have morals, his speech afterwards states that only people who believe in God have morals.
  • 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: Radisson 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". Apparently he's trying to make a Problem of Evil argument (i.e. that suffering like this would not be allowed by an all-good, all-powerful God, thus one does not exist) though it's not very well explained. But in the end we see that he's not a true atheist, he's a misotheist (a person who believes a god does exist yet harbors contempt for that god).
    • The left-wing blogger, Amy, who is snarky regarding 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. It is also hinted that his hatred of God and the idea of love is because his mother was a good person that worshiped him and now is essentially a mindless vegetable most of the time.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Josh. At the beginning Josh admits he isn't fully sure there is a God, then spends all of his time in his debates trying to get everyone to be 100% certain there is a God. For being a "Good Moral Christian" he sure doesn't show it: using screwed up logic, insults, snide remarks and badmouthing Radisson just as much as the "Evil Professor" he is supposed to be morally above and fighting against does.
    • Josh is upset that Raddison dismisses his Christian beliefs. Josh then goes about completely dismissing every other view aside from Christianity.
    • Willie Robertson seems to be one too. When he first appears, he asks Amy to understand that he is not propagandizing religion on Duck Dynasty because he and his family openly preach and pray to Jesus, saying that viewers who don't like it can just change the channel, though at the Newsboys concert he pressures the attendees to text at least 100 people whoever they know "God's not dead" regardless of if that person believes in a god or not. Because of Willie's campaigning, Martin decides to send that same message to his father, who is an atheist.
  • Informed Ability: Radisson is claimed to be a philosophy professor about to be awarded tenure, essentially the highest position in teaching. From his actions he seems to know absolutely nothing about philosophy. In reference here to the specific issue of the film, for instance, there are many arguments against the existence of God he would no doubt be familiar with, likely having argued for them at least in print, yet he uses none of them. The idea that a first-year student would beat a professor in their field of study during a debate is dubious (it would be true if their views were reversed too of course).
  • Informed Attribute:
    • It is stated that Josh and his girlfriend have been dating for years, but the speed with which he leaves her over one small argument makes it appear they have only been dating for a week.
    • The film states that this is a serious debate between atheists and Christians. There is virtually no debate for the first two arguments from Josh. Josh essentially goes unopposed in his statements aside from a few snide comments from Radisson. Only the third has any sort of debate between the two.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Many of the arguments Josh tries to use in his debates pretty much are this, as atheists have debated and debunked all of them multiple times. So as to not start a Flame War, one example is how Josh tried to debunk a theory that "evolution doesn't jump". Josh does this by shrinking 3.8 billion years into the span of one day to show that evolution did jump in only a few minutes with that example. He leaves out that those few minutes are around 400 million years and that anything would look like a jump if they were to shrink 3.8 billion years into the span of a day.
  • Irony:
    • This film gives the indication of Christians being a minority of sorts, with atheists pushing their viewpoint on to them. Christianity is the majority faith in the US, and fundamentalist Christians have often been accused of forcing their religion on others, with atheists being the minority. Added to this is the fact that most Christian universities won't even accept a student or teacher into the school without them declaring that they believe in Jesus or God (the same thing the film has an atheist do, though there are no known cases of that) and several states legally bar atheists from holding public office (these laws have been ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court, but nonetheless nonbeliever politicians have faced legal challenges under them, and in any case are unelectable in most areas).
    • In a broader sense, the movie's portrayal of Christians as a minority being bullied by mean atheists is undercut by the movie's very existence: God's Not Dead is, after all, a moderately successful feature film created by Christians that pulls no punches in portraying every atheist character in the most negative light possible. It takes a special kind of script to claim victim-hood while simultaneously uniformly slandering those it points out as the aggressors.
    • One of the things that angers Josh is when Radisson calls religion a virus. But the end of the movie tells everyone to send a text "God's Not Dead" to everyone they know in a way very similar to how a virus spreads.
    • Then there is the Businessman's dementia-stricken mother's sudden clarity of speech, where she tells him the Devil would make one's life a paradise on earth so as to trap their souls, despite the Paradise on Earth being something God did by creating Eden for Adam and Eve (if the "devil's work" is centered around Ignorance Is Bliss, as in human pawns feeling elated while being kept in the dark [concerning reason and truth], the irony points double).
    • Josh's last name might be a reference to Wheaton College, a Christian institution where students and faculty are expected to affirm a statement of faith and educational purpose that includes "God created Adam and Eve, distinct from all other living creatures." All while this movie starts off with how a college shouldn't force you to go against your beliefs.
    • Josh Wheaton's name is spelled a lot like the famous atheist Joss Whedon.
    • Josh claimed that he didn't want to drop Philosophy 101 because it would mess up his schedule. What does Josh do outside of Philosophy 101? Rent more than ten books all related to Christianity and start reading them all to prepare for his argument to challenge Radisson. This is clearly a detriment to his study schedule since he has at least two other classes (for credit requirements).
    • Another towards the Muslims is the film showing Ayisha being forced to go along with religious rules imposed by her father. Too many forms of irony to list on that one.
    • The film slanders Muslims by showing the father disown his daughter and kicking her out of the house for changing her faith. The irony being that Christians (and other devoutly religious people) are guilty of this as well.
    • Lastly, using the same arguments in the debate scenes, one could just as validly validate the possible existence of other cosmic entities and deities one might believe exist. But for some reason, everyone in the movie forgot (or chose to ignore) that and instead focused their belief on the god of Christianity exclusively.
  • It's All About Me: Josh may come across as this. He didn't want to change his class despite being warned because it would have messed with his schedule, he wouldn't agree to something because it went against something he believed in rather than because what the teacher was doing was wrong, and he broke up with his girlfriend since she told him to do something.
  • Karma Houdini: The driver who hits Radisson near the end of the film with his car and speeds away from the scene of the accident is never brought to justice. Seems strange that a Christian movie would allow someone to get away with one of the Ten Commandments scott free.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: For a professor of philosophy and an atheist, Radisson knows very little of either.
  • Jerkass:
    • All of the atheists.
    • Josh as well. He uses a private conversation with Radisson where Radisson tells Josh about the death of his mother and why he became an atheist. And Josh uses that to browbeat Radisson during their last debate, screaming it at him till he causes him to break. That is just an extremely low blow. Our hero everybody.
  • Long List: To drive its agenda home, it ends with a scrolling list of about two dozen court cases involving people successfully suing colleges for religious discrimination, followed by a message encouraging viewers to do the same thing.note 
  • Meaningful Name: The main character is named Joshua, one of the translations to Jesus. Did you expect this film to be subtle?
  • Mood Whiplash: From Radisson's death and conversion immediately to Willie Robertson's text campaign.
  • Moral Myopia: When Raddison uses screwed-up reason, insults, and badmouths Josh he's an evil, stuck-up atheist. When Josh uses screwed-up reason, insults, and badmouths Radisson he is a good moral Christian standing up for God.
  • My Car Hates Me: The missionaries' car does not start, neither do all their rental cars until the end.
  • Nay-Theist: Radisson is revealed to actually be one, rather than an atheist, when he admits to hating God near the end.
  • Not So Different: Both Josh and Radisson use very similar tactics against each other during the debate. It is just not as noticeable since Radisson is so over-the-top villainous and Josh is clearly meant to be portrayed in the right.
    • Also, both Josh and Radisson are Bastard Boyfriends who go through a break-up with their respective girlfriends because of religion/irreligion.
  • Offing the Offspring: Ayisha's father looks like he's going to do this after throwing out his daughter, but ultimately doesn't.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: Radisson's dinner with his colleagues seems to be framed like this. With how this film has portrayed atheists by this point, the fact they now look like an evil organization isn't much of a stretch. The fact that the sequel flat out makes atheists look like a Nebulous Evil Organisation doesn't help.
  • One Degree of Separation: Josh is in Radisson's class, Radisson is dating Mina, whose brother is Mark, who is dating Amy. Yet despite several of these characters having several of their own subplots, most of them never overlap as noted in Four Lines, All Waiting.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: The logical concept behind proclaiming God to be dead. Turns out, there's more in belief's corner than blind faith in "primitive superstition" as Radisson put it.
  • Politically Motivated Teacher: Radisson, as he tries to force his atheism on his students.
  • Plot Hole:
    • The movie never explains how Josh is able to make extremely detailed PowerPoint presentations for his "debates" in such a short amount of time, especially when all of his time training is just him reading his Bible.
    • Also if this debate was big enough to get on the news to the point the Newsboys, Duck Dynasty, and the entire town is aware of it, there is absolutely no way the school wouldn't have put a stop to this blatantly illegal act from Radisson.
    • Also, this film seems to take place in four consecutive daysnote . College classes don't usually work like that, as they are spaced out by days (often working like Mon-Wed-Friday, Tues-Thurs, Mon-Wed, Mon-Friday or just one day a week). This is done because the classes can be quite long sometimes, where a two-three hour class is the norm. Alhough there are some classes that are every day of the week, those classes are usually an hour or less. It is highly unlikely this applies to this class, as even with how pompous Radisson is, it is doubtful that he had Josh take up half of his class every day.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: When Raddison uses screwed-up reason, insults, and badmouths Josh he's an evil, stuck-up atheist. When Josh uses screwed-up reason, insults, and badmouths Radisson he is a good moral Christian standing up for God. Josh is the protagonist, of course.
  • Quote Mine:
    • Josh actually does this in his first debate when he tried to show that the Bible is true by claiming the phrase from Genesis 1:3 quote "Let there be light" coincides with scientists' theory that the Earth and the Universe was created by the Big Bang, which is usually described as a flash of light. He conveniently left out Genesis 1:1-2 which is as quoted: "1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters." This would have completely destroyed his side of the argument as the Bible states that the Earth was formed before the light came (i.e. the Big Bang in his argument).
  • Right Behind Me: After school ends, Ayisha is waiting on the curb for her father to pick her up. She is then approached by a Caucasian girl telling her that she shouldn't be forced to wear a niqaab. Ayisha removes her niqaab from her mouth to talk to her and states that her father is making her for religious reasons. Then suddenly her father pulls up in the car and honks for her attention, forcing Ayisha to immediately re-don her niqaab and come to him.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The film uses a long list of court cases at the end to show that everything that happened in this film is going on in real life. However if one actually looks up the court cases they will find none of them parallels this plot. Most are cases of Christians suing schools after getting in trouble for denying rights to students because of their Christian faith.
  • Senseless Sacrifice:
    • Josh's girlfriend gives up going to two other better colleges for their relationship, only for them to break up days after starting college.
    • Radisson's death as well. As at that point he was coming around, about to make amends to his girlfriend and possibly even Josh, and it was already hinted at him returning to Christianity. So there was absolutely no point for "God" to kill Radisson to force him to convert on his deathbed.
  • Serious Business: The movie seems to act as if this "debate", taking thirty minutes, taking place in three separate periods, in one philosophy class, somehow proves God exists. The fact that somehow Duck Dynasty, the Newsboys, and essentially the entire city is aware of it simply drives this home.
  • Skewed Priorities: In Radisson's letter from his mother, she mentions her love for her son once but mentions her love of Jesus four times.
  • 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.
  • Spoiled Brat: Most likely completely unintentional, but to some Josh can appear to be this as the film goes out of its way to establish the main reason he is going against Radisson in this debate is because his teacher goes against something he personally believes in and completely ignores the fact what Radisson is doing is blatantly illegal.note  Because of that it appears that Josh is doing all of this because he disagrees with his teacher and wants his viewpoint to be viewed as right, rather than "fighting against the evil professor". Then him breaking up with his girlfriend because she told him not to go through with this debate makes it appear he is breaking up with her because she won't let him have his way, which isn't helped by the fact that it sounded like he had her give up going to two better colleges to stay with him, yet broke up with her when she wanted him to do something for her.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: After Amy surprise interviews Willie Robertson and his wife, one of her first questions is why his wife isn't "barefoot and pregnant".
  • Straw Character:
    • Radisson, the main antagonist of this film, serves as this: he constantly comes across as 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, as if It's Personal. To add insult to injury, he turns out to be a Hollywood Atheist, more precisely a Nay-Theist, 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 militant leftist professors who have nothing better to do than manipulate the minds of the young.
    • Amy's journalist questions are clearly meant to portray her as this, along with being a straw liberal/vegetarian, etc.
  • Straw Nihilist:
    • Considering the film dishonestly presents nihilism as synonymous with atheism, Radisson looks to be the greatest example in all of fiction. "Life is really a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying NOTHING!" What's especially absurd is that someone as smart as Radisson should have remembered that Shakespeare obviously didn't take that statement at face value, since he put it in the mouth of a Villain Protagonist who was clearly going insane.
    • 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!: Against atheists, leftists, Muslims, and pretty much anyone who is non-Christian.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Radisson met his girlfriend when she was a student of his class. And boy does Radisson love to remind us about that.
  • Tears of Remorse: Ayisha's father cries these after throwing her out of the house.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: At no point during Dave and Mina's conversation at the restaurant do they even acknowledge the presence of two very appetizing-looking untouched cheeseburgers on the table. It's a little distracting.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailers make this film out to be a film about a serious debate between different beliefs. The film however is nothing short of Christian propaganda. Though the trailers also emphasize that Radisson is obsessed with denouncing Joshua.
  • Training Montage: An interesting play on this trope, as Josh has one when he readies himself for the debate. It has him go home and read the Bible.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Josh constantly states how absolutely no-one wants him to do this debate as the film's way of showing how oppressed he is for believing in Christianity, all the while throughout the film everyone is giving him unwavering support, aside from his girlfriend and his parents (but since they are never seen we only have his word that they are against it and his girlfriend had a good reason to try to get him to stop).
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Pastor Dave. He might have had good intentions, but his actions caused Josh to risk his girlfriend, his family and his future by essentially guilt tripping him to accept the debate, he consoles the now homeless Muslim girl how to do without rather than offer her a place to stay, and by the end of the movie we have one death, one person dying of cancer, at least one broken family and a converted Chinese guy who puts his entire family at risk by texting "God's not dead" to everybody in his phone book.
  • Villain Ball: It's hard not to smack your forehead when Radisson outright says that he hates God in front of his entire class. Are we to believe that a genius (if only a superficial genius) and a professional would ever be so base as to confess to something as irrational as hatred in front of a group of people whom he genuinely wants to persuade? It's far more likely that Radisson would flatly deny any misotheism and instead say something like: "What I am against is people who frighten others into believing by telling them about an imaginary monster" — leading Josh to point out that if Radisson didn't have all that hatred, he would never call God a "monster." (while this is true in Radisson's case, it's possible to call an entity-even if they believe it's fictional-a monster without also hating it). The fact is Radisson holds this ball the entire movie, as he never uses the countless arguments against Josh's extremely weak defenses, choosing to act either overly emotional or simply name drop various famous people.
  • Villain Has a Point: At the end despite Josh getting Radisson to admit he hates God, Radisson tells him that this doesn't prove anything and he hasn't proven God exists. Which is correct. Everything Josh has stated over the course of the lecture has not given any actual proof. One could say he simply sought to put on a good case for God's existence, a.k.a. a God of the Gaps argument,note  which was arguably his actual intent — but this is negated as they treat it as 100% fact that God does exist. He also makes a fair point by noting that free will can't explain natural evil (e.g. disasters caused by weather events), a standard counterargument to this, which goes unanswered by Josh.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
  • Voodoo Shark: Radisson's death via hit-and-run seems like a bizarrely pointless and cruel way of shoehorning in a deathbed conversion scene, especially when the film sets up what would be a much more logical scenario: have Amy's cancer eventually kill her, but not before she's persuaded to accept Jesus. Or for Radisson, have him reconcile with his girlfriend and God at the same time.
  • The War on Straw: This film shows everyone who isn't a Christian in the most negative light possible all while the Christians claim victimhood and that they are oppressed.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: This film dishonestly portrays atheists as unable to love.
  • White Anglo-Saxon Protestant: Josh.
  • Whole Plot Reference:
    • The story has a lot of similarities with the Chick Tract "Big Daddy". One review explicitly describes it as this. Ironically, the film would be criticized by the group Answers in Genesis (which promotes the Young Earth view of creationnote ), which felt that some lines leaned a little too close to promoting theistic evolution, choosing instead to endorse the film A Matter of Faith; produced by the veteran Christian film production duo of brothers Dave and Rich Christiano.
    • Also, the film takes inspiration from a supposedly authentic, but actually proven fictional, story of a young Albert Einstein humiliating his atheist college professor who was arguing God doesn't exist.


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