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The God Who Wasn't There
The God Who Wasn't There
Actors: Richard Carrier, Richard Dawkins, Alan Dundes, Sam Harris, Robert M. Price
Director: Brian Flemming
Genres: Special Interests, Television, Documentary
NR     2005     5hr 20min

Bowling for Columbine did it to the gun culture. Super Size Me did it to fast food. Now The God Who Wasn't There does it to religion. Holding modern Christianity up to a bright spotlight, this eye-opening documentary asks ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Richard Carrier, Richard Dawkins, Alan Dundes, Sam Harris, Robert M. Price
Director: Brian Flemming
Genres: Special Interests, Television, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Television, Religion
Studio: Beyond Belief Media
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen - Full length
DVD Release Date: 08/23/2005
Original Release Date: 06/06/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 06/06/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 5hr 20min
Screens: Color,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 9
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Don't Pay Attention to the Critics!
R. BAKER | 11/13/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The reviewer who felt "let down" by this DVD and who worried that it was "teasing Christians" is either totally clueless or is engaged in a subtle attempt to discourage viewership.

I was impressed by the manner in which the director laid out his case for the non-existence of a historical Jesus. The information comes from scholars, researchers, and amatuer investigators, and is all available elsewhere, but this DVD brings the ideas together quickly and concisely. He then engages in a series of short interviews with those same scholars, researchers, and amatuer investigators, essentially allowing them to state their part of the case directly. (More in-depth interviews are available in the special features section of the DVD).

Equally illuminating are the interviews with believers in Jesus, who are allowed to make their own statements of belief without interruption. The fact that none of the believers were able to demonstrate any knowledge of the known history of Jesus or the early church demonstrates just how effectively Christian leaders have been able to divert attention from these controversial issues.

But the most compelling part of the film is the ending, where the director (a former evangelical Christian himself) visits the fundamentalist school he attended as a child and interviews the current president of that school. I won't reveal the dramatic ending to that interview (and to the film) but it truly tied everything together (the history, the controversy, and the impact on individuals today).

If you are a big fan of the Rev. Pat Robertson, (who just advised the people of Dover, PA., that they are no longer entitled to God's protection because they voted out a school board that supported teaching "Intelligent Design" in science class), then don't get this DVD. For anyone with an open mind on the subject, even if you are already aware of the intellectual arguments against the existence of Jesus, this DVD brings focus and a human context to the debate."
Entertaining, but will mostly preach to the choir
David J. Miller | Philadelphia, PA | 10/14/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"In much the same way that very few right wing Republicans ever saw Moore's 911 film, few fundamentalist Christians will ever see this film. Which is unfortunate - everyone should challenge their faith from time to time. After being involved with bringing the Weekly World News' Batboy to off-Broadway glory, Flemming chose the logical next step for his career - making a film presenting evidence that Jesus was and is a fictional character. Much of Flemming's supporting source material has been around for decades (and usually centuries) though he presents numerous interviews with current scholars of varying prestige (from graduate students to respected university professors, though they all have books to sell). Flemming does not interview any scholars opposed to the Jesus-myth, save for the educated director of the fundamentalist Christian elementary school he attended as a child. Interestingly, it is this point that seems to be the underlying reason Flemming chose this project - to revisit his fundamentalist past and reaffirm his conversion to becoming an "Atheist Christian" as he calls himself in a Christianity Today interview. The DVD contains the film plus two full length commentary track interviews, exactly 66:06 minutes of extended interviews, and extensive slide show galleries with web content. Supporting documentation for the film's facts and quotes is rather limited, but as this is a DVD, there is hardly any way to include footnotes (the film's website does provide further supporting content though). Like all documentaries, the film manipulates its audience a bit, presenting a couple New Testament excerpts that seem to suggest that the Apostle Paul thought Jesus was never on earth (Hebrews 8:4, not written by Paul and presented in an unknown translation) and that Jesus wanted people killed in front of him (Luke 19:27 NIV, the last line spoken by a character in the parable of the three servants, not Jesus himself). The film does a much better job of presenting the "Jesus myth" as a parallel to other mythical heroes; the Oedipus and Dionysus myths for example have an abundance of similarities with the Biblical life of Christ and of course predate Jesus by centuries, so the scriptures would seem to be derivative of those myths. This argument is difficult to refute and Flemming presents the argument and common (though weak) refutations in a comical way. Overall, the film is entertaining but the sarcastic tone and content itself are unlikely to convert any fundamentalist evangelicals into raving atheists. On a final note, the trippy soundtrack is excellent and is freely available online, check it out."
***** 10 stars - new insights even for long-time atheists
David Mills | Huntington, WV | 05/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I found this DVD both richly entertaining and extremely informative. Having been an atheist myself for over thirty years now, I considered myself knowledgeable on the subject matter of this DVD. Yet I was surprised - and quite delighted - by how much new insight I gained from this superb documentary.

For example, I did not previously realize that the Pauline Epistles make no reference at all to the virgin birth, to Mary and Joseph, to Bethlehem, to Herod, to *any* words allegedly spoken by Jesus, to anything pertaining to Jesus' earthly ministry, nor to any of the miracles Jesus supposedly performed. Paul mentions only the cruci-"fiction," resurrection and ascension, tales handed down to Christianity from older mythologies, as Brian Flemming powerfully demonstrates here.

Better than any other source I've seen, this DVD explains how the time-gap between Jesus' alleged death and the writing of the Gospels lends credibility to the assertion that Jesus probably never existed. Moreover, even if Jesus did exist, the stories surrounding him, such as the slaughter of the innocents, have no historical corroboration and therefore lead an objective viewer of this DVD to conclude that the Gospel accounts couldn't possibly be true (whether or not Jesus existed).

This documentary was also extremely funny where appropriate. When Brian Flemming summarized the highlights of Jesus' career, the footage running in the background - along with Flemming's casual manner of speaking - left me laughing more boisterously than I have since watching the original Monty Python episodes. What was especially funny was that Flemming's summary of the Gospels was perfectly on-target and did not distort scripture in any way. The DVD therefore succeeded in showing that the Bible, when viewed objectively, is truly laughable.

I also thoroughly enjoyed this DVD because I got to see video of individuals whose writings I have admired for years, such as Bob Price, Sam Harris, and Richard Carrier. People sometimes come across differently on camera than they do in print. But all of the extended interviews on the DVD showcased the intellect of these scholars as impressively as their books.

The physical production and packaging of this DVD are equivalent to anything marketed by Sony Pictures or Warner Brothers. I was expecting to receive a one-off DVD with an adhesive label. But what I received was a highly professional product in every sense of the word. My enthusiastic compliments to Brian Flemming and to everyone who participated in this important project. I hope that additional DVDs will be forthcoming.

David Mills
Author of "Atheist Universe"

Opening the door . . .
Craig A. Milliman | Perry, Georgia USA | 11/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"In ten years of teaching world literature at the college level, I have learned that very few Christians from the most casual liberal believer to the most devout fundamentalist know anything at all about the early years of the Christian religion. While this film lacks the scholarly depth for which I had hoped, it does open the door to the beginnings of Christianity and to the sources of its sacred texts. I suspect many viewers will be surprised to learn what even casual Biblical scholars have known for many decades: that the Gospels, which come first in the New Testament, were not written by companions of Jesus; that the oldest of the Gospel stories is Mark; that Mark could not have been written before 70 AD, and was probably written much later, perhaps ca. 110 AD; that the letters of the Apostle Paul (a number which were not actually written by Paul), were most prbably written in the firs century, beginning about 20 years after Biblical dates for the Crucifixion; that Paul never met Jesus; that none of the Biblical epistles say anything of Jesus' life on earth. The film does not settle the question of Jesus' existence, but I doubt that it was intended to. Consider it a solid introduction. If you don't like the facts stated in the film, read the scholarly literature, which backs up all the evidence in the film, though thus far most scholars have stopped short of asserting that Jesus was a myth. It's a good film; I would recommend it to anyone the least bit interested in Christianity."