This article first appeared in the Review column of the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL, volume 32, number 04 (2009). For further information or to subscribe to the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL go to: http://www.equip.org/christian-research-journal/
Angels and Demons, Ron Howard’s recent movie based on Dan Brown’s novels, is another Christophobic, slanderous attack on faith and reason. The movie, which features an anti-religious zealot posing as a pseudo-intellectual professor, attacks those who have strong faith in God, Jesus Christ, and the biblical accounts of God’s interaction with His creation.
For example, although the movie’s dialogue has some positive statements about faith in Jesus Christ, the person making many of these statements is the real villain, a mad clergyman who is the most conservative Christian in the movie. The movie ultimately conveys the impression that Christians throughout history are mostly a bunch of well-meaning but bumbling fools, with a few really bad guys and hypocrites thrown in.
Both the book and the movie promulgate the erroneous belief that science and religion are always at odds. In upholding this view, the movie clearly subscribes to an atheistic definition of science that denies the existence of God.
For example, the movie falsely alleges that the Catholic Church executed four scientists for their scientific theories. However, as Professor Thomas Lessl of the University of Georgia notes in his article “The Galileo Legend,” only one scientist was put to death by a public authority before the twentieth century—chemist Antoine Lavoisier, executed during the French Revolution. Lessl adds that the secular, anti-clerical, leftist tyrants of the French Revolution also closed the nation’s Academy of Science.
The movie also claims that the Catholic Church condemned Galileo as a heretic because of his view that the earth revolved around the sun. However, Lessl and other major academics have proven that Galileo was put under house arrest by church officials for theological and political reasons, not because of his scientific theories. In fact, opposition to Galileo and his theory about the earth revolving around the sun was actually started by some science philosophers and academics of his day who favored scientific theories of Aristotle and other pagan philosophers that Galileo and other Christian scientists rejected. Thus, the church did not start the persecution of Galileo; it was started by “science” itself!
As Jeffrey Burton Russell explains, these phony historical incidents are examples of the attempt, by anti-religious bigots in the scientific community, to create the false idea of an “eternal war between science (good) and religion (bad) throughout Western history.”1 To the contrary, as journalist George Sim Johnston notes, it was actually the theological worldview of medieval Christianity that “made modern science possible in the first place.”2 Adds Johnston, based on his extensive review of the writings of such modern philosophers of science as Stanley Jaki, “It was the insistence on the rationality of God and His creation by St. Thomas Aquinas and other Catholic thinkers that paved the way for Galileo and Newton.”
Truth, morality, and science have no intellectual or logical foundation on which to stand without a firm faith in the existence of an all-powerful, omniscient, eternal, transcendent, and bene volent personal God. This logic tells us that, since such a Creator God must exist, then the miracle of Jesus Christ’s physical death and resurrection can be empirically tested and historically confirmed. This is exactly what history, archeology, geography, and ancient written documents, including extrabiblical documents, have proven.
It is time for Christians to counter lovingly but firmly the slanderous attacks against their faith in the mass media instead of ignoring them or, even worse, acquiescing to them. “The Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:24–26 NIV).3
—Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder
Ted Baehr, J.D. and L.H.D., is founder and chairman of The Christian Film and Television Commission and publisher of Movie guide: The Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment. Baehr is the author of numerous books, including The Culture-Wise Family with Pat Boone (Crossway Books, 2007).
Tom Snyder, Ph.D., is editor of Movieguide and author of Myth Conceptions (Baker Books, 1995).
1 Jeffrey Burton Russell, “The Myth of the Flat Earth,” The American Scientific AffiliationConference, August 4, 1997, at Westmont College.
2 George Sim Johnston, “The Galileo Affair,” The Catholic Education Resource Center,http://catholiceducation.org/articles/history/world/wh0005.html.
3 For more information and a complete review of the movie Angels and Demons, please visitwww.movieguide.org.