If you want to get to the nitty-gritty on something it means you want to get to the heart of the matter, the essential substance, the crux. If you have seen the movie “Noah” or have read the many reviews of the movie (favorable and unfavorable), you may be increasingly confused about how to evaluate the movie and how to engage your friends in conversation about it, especially if you are trying to commend the God of the Bible to them. You want the nitty-gritty.
I would like to recommend Dr. Brian Mattson and Brian Godawa to you. Their blog posts on the “Noah” movie are thorough and insightful and will help you understand the themes and imagery in the film and the variety of sources Director Darren Aronofsky used in making the film. When we come to understand that the Bible is not his text, we will all be better equipped to articulate and unpack the movie for our friends.
Here are the blogs and podcasts that should be required reading/viewing for Christians who see the movie and want to talk about it with others:
“Sympathy for the Devil” by Dr. Brian Mattson
“Keep Handling the Real Thing” by Dr. Brian Mattson
“The Real Issue” by Dr. Brian Mattson
“Interview with Brian Godawa” on Dead Reckoning Show
“The Subversion of God in Noah” by Brian Godawa
The Rabbit Hole is a metaphor for the conceptual path which is thought to lead to the true nature of reality. A journey down this path begins with a choice: the red pill or the blue pill. Choosing to take the red pill simply means you have decided to search for the truth of the matter. For those not familiar with this terminology, it refers to a critical scene in the movie The Matrix. Neo is given a choice, whether he desires to know the truth about reality by taking the red pill or whether he would rather go on living in the deceptive world of the Matrix by taking the blue pill. You can view the scene here. This scene illustrates a truth about our own lives. Each of us is offered this same choice in life, whether to pursue the truth about Ultimate Reality or to remain in a world of self-deception. You might ask why anyone would choose the blue pill?
Why Take the Blue Pill?
The apostle Paul points out that many people prefer living in a world of self-deception by suppressing the truth that is evident within them (Romans 1:18-23). Every person has evidence for God’s existence through creation and conscience, but many choose to exchange this truth for a lie. There are many reasons to suppress this truth, but at the root of them all is the belief that autonomy from God is the highest good. This preferred ‘good’ is a self-deception because the truth is “it is He who has made us and not we ourselves” (Psalm 100:3). If you are interested in reversing the effects of this false belief and the effects of the blue pill, there is a way back. At the beginning of the Matrix scene, Trinity advises Neo to be honest. Honesty is a difficult task when you have made a habit of suppressing the truth. The first step is to bring truth back again as your primary goal of inquiry. I suggest the book i told me so by Gregg Ten Elshof to help with this.
The Force is Strong in You
The force (of self-deception) is strong in you. (Yes, I just embedded a reference to Star Wars in the overall reference to The Matrix) What does it mean to be self-deceived? According to Ten Elshof, “We are self-deceived whenever we manage our own beliefs for the sake of some goal other than the truth.” (Kindle 49) What does it look like to bring truth back as the primary goal of inquiry?
I recently read the conversion story of a French atheist (see the article here), who chronicled his own journey down the rabbit hole. His initial step was actually a prayer experiment. Guillaume Bignon writes,
So I picked up a Bible to figure it out. And at the same time, since I’m a scientist, I figured there was at least one experiment that could be carried out to dis-confirm the belief that God exists: I thought “if any of this is true, then there is a God who exists right now and presumably cares greatly about this project of mine”, so I started to pray in the air as an atheist “If there is a God, then here I am, I’m looking into this, why don’t you go ahead and reveal yourself to me. I’m open.” Well, I wasn’t, really, but I figured that shouldn’t stop God if He existed.”
You might not think this half-hearted prayer from a skeptic would amount to much, but it was the first crack in dismantling a life of self-deception. Guillaume describes how God had been pursuing him through a relationship and other providential circumstances. Guillaume responded to these circumstances by picking up a Bible and deciding to engage in a ‘prayer experiment.’ His story illustrates what Ten Elshof means by bringing truth back to the primary goal of inquiry. In Matrix terms, Guillaume took the red pill.
Take the Red Pill
To take the red pill not only means to pursue the truth about Ultimate Reality, but it also means to pursue the truth in all the big questions of life, such as:
- What is the nature of material reality?
- What does it mean to be human?
- What is the human condition?
- What is the solution to the human condition?
- How do we know things?
- Is there an afterlife?
- How do you decide what is right and wrong?
If you choose to embark on this Truth Quest, you will soon discover that different worldviews have different answers to these important questions. For example, Ultimate Reality for atheists is the material universe, for Muslims it is Allah, for Jews it is Yaweh, for Christians it is the personal Triune God, for Hindus it is impersonal Brahman, and Buddhists do not have a concept of god at all.
But do not assume that truth cannot be known simply because there is a plurality of answers to the big questions of life. There must be a way to evaluate competing answers for their truth-value, or what would be the point of the Truth Quest? Here are four objective criteria (from JP Moreland blog post here) that will help in your investigation:
1) Facts about Creation
A religion’s concept of God should be in harmony with the following facts: (1) the existence and beginning of a finite universe, (2) the order and fine-tuning of the universe, including the existence of biological information, (3) the existence of finite minds such as our own, and (4) the existence of objective moral law and the equality of human rights.
2) The Human Condition
A religion’s diagnosis and solution to the human condition should account for the fact that human beings share the following: (1) we experience threefold alienation — we feel alienated from God, from other people (including those they love), and from ourselves; (2) we experience deep shame and guilt; (3) we desire personal life after death in which our loves and ideals may continue to be a part of their experience; (4) we desire that our individual lives have meaning and purpose; (5) we desire a life of beauty and drama, to be a part of something big and important, to be part of the struggle between good and evil; and (6) we experience the need for help and empowerment to live a life of virtue and character.
A religion’s origin and success should appeal to divine activity. In other words, it should not be merely the result of human intellect or philosophical wisdom. There should be supernatural explanations for its origin and success.
Choose the religion that gives the fullest account of the life and person of Jesus Christ. Most religions make some claims about Jesus, so you might as well begin with the one that has the most information, which is Christianity.
Where Does the Rabbit Hole Lead?
Of course, this pursuit of Truth is more than simply believing true propositions about the most important topics in life. It is that, but much more. After all, if we are persons made in the image of God, having self-consciousness, rationality, and free will, we have the capacity to have a personal relationship with God. On the Christian view, the pursuit of Truth ultimately leads to a Person. Jesus Christ claims He is the Truth. This is different from claiming to tell the truth or lead people to true beliefs. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). In other words, Jesus is the way back to God. And the great part about all of this is that if you seek Truth and Reality, you will surely find Him (Hebrews 11:6, Deut. 4:29). The choice is yours.[Top]