The God Who Wasn’t There has been the subject of a bit of buzz both in the mainstream media and on the internet. Simultaneously out this month in limited release in theaters and on DVD, it is Brian Flemming’s attempt to show that Christianity is predicated on a man/god who never existed. It is a thought-provoking and highly visual exercise. Ultimately, though, it falls short.
While Flemming takes a look at the historical record and the extensive similarity between the story of Jesus and prior myths and gods, the film ultimately comes across as a former fundamentalist Christian striking back at doctrines he was taught. There are a variety of interviews with distinguished scholars and authors, including Sam Harris, who wrote the bestselling The End of Faith. These more analytically explore the question of whether there was a historical Jesus than Flemming’s return to the fundamentalist school he attended, the scenes which close the film.
Undoubtedly controversial, particularly in today’s America, the film’s premise is worthy of exploration and discussion. Still, that premise would have been brought into clearer focus had Flemming spent more time exploring the historical record and comparative mythology. Yet despite these failings, The God Who Wasn’t There is a thought-provoking film and the DVD extras make it a worth a few hours of time.
To you, I’m an atheist. To God, I’m the loyal opposition.
Woody Allen, Stardust Memories