By Dr. Ted Baehr and Dr. Tom Snyder
“Angels & Demons,” Ron Howard’s new movie based on author Dan Brown’s series of novels featuring a fictional anti-religious zealot posing as a pseudo-intellectual professor, is another Christophobic, slanderous liberal attack on faith and reason.
Though the movie tones down the hero’s knee-jerk atheist attitude against the historical Christian faith of Protestants and Catholics, it still manages to attack those of us who have strong faith in God, Jesus Christ and the biblical accounts of God’s interaction with His creation. In other words, the movie still reflects Dan Brown’s false anti-Christian, secular humanist worldview.
For example, although (unlike the book) the movie’s dialogue has some positive statements about faith in Jesus Christ, the person making many of these statements turns out to be the real villain, a mad clergyman who also is one of the most conservative Christians depicted in the story. Furthermore, when confronted by these various statements about Jesus Christ, the hero keeps his agnosticism. In fact, the movie’s ultimate impression is that Christians throughout history are mostly a bunch of well meaning but bumbling fools with a few really bad guys and hypocrites included in the bunch.
Also unlike the book, the assassin henchman of the mad clergyman in the movie is not a rabid Muslim as he is in the novel, but a very lapsed Catholic. He is not killing for Allah, but for money.
One of the biggest lies fostered by both the book and the movie, however, is the lie that science and religion are always at odds. In making this point, the movie clearly takes the side of an atheist definition of science that denies the existence of God.
For example, the movie alleges that the Catholic Church executed four scientists for their scientific beliefs or theories. It also alleges that the church condemned the astronomer/philosopher Galileo as a heretic because of his view that the earth revolved around the sun.
Both of these allegations are false!
First, as Professor Thomas Lessl of the University of Georgia notes in “The Galileo Legend,” history records only one scientist put to death by a public authority before the 20th Century – chemist Antoine Lavoisier, executed during the French Revolution. The secular, anti-clerical leftist tyrants of the French Revolution also closed the nation’s Academy of Science.
Second, several major historians, including David Lindberg, Stillman Drake and Jeffrey Burton Russell, as well as Prof. Lessl, have proven that Galileo was put under house arrest by church officials for theological and political reasons, not because of his scientific theories and research about the earth revolving around the sun. Until Galileo started ridiculing and mocking people (including Pope Urban VIII) who did not accept all of his theories, the Catholic Church did not try to officially condemn him, as long as he kept out of the fields of theology and biblical hermeneutics. Thus, it wasn’t until Galileo began talking about theology and the Bible in a mean-spirited way that some church officials decided they had had enough!
In fact, until that time, many of Galileo’s chief opponents were scientists, such as the scientist Horatio Grassi, who disputed Galileo’s false theory about the nature of comets. In reality, therefore, the opposition to Galileo and his theory about the earth revolving around the sun was actually started by some science philosophers and scientific academics of his day. These nascent scientists rejected Galileo’s theory because they accepted some of the false scientific theories of Aristotle and other pagan philosophers that Galileo and other Christian scientists believed were false. In fact, the wide acceptance of these false scientific theories by the respected pagan philosopher Aristotle had led many people in Galileo’s time to distort various Bible passages so that they agreed with Aristotle’s pagan views.
Thus, the church did not start the persecution of Galileo. It was started by “science” itself!
As Dr. Jeffrey Burton Russell writes, phony historical incidents like that of the four executed scientists and the Catholic persecution of Galileo for his scientific beliefs 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” (“The Myth of the Flat Earth,” The American Scientific Affiliation Conference, Aug. 4, 1997 at Westmont College). “This vast web of falsehood was invented and propagated by the influential historian John Draper (1811-1882) and many prestigious followers,” Russell writes.
Russell believes these historical lies are a slanderous attempt to defend Darwinistic Evolution. Be that as it may, as journalist George Sim Johnston notes, it was the theological worldview of medieval Christianity that “made modern science possible in the first place” (“The Galileo Affair,” The Catholic Educator’s Resource Center). Adds Johnston, based on his extensive review of the writings of such modern philosophers of science like 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.”
Consequently, contrary to what “Angels & Demons” says, the Christian church, in neither Catholic nor its Protestant incarnations, never declared Galileo’s scientific theories as heretical. Nor did it execute four scientists for their scientific theories.
For some reason, however (most likely our dumbed-down education system and the constant attacks on Christianity by the mass media), too many people believe the kind of specious, fallacious and mendacious science and history spewed by movies and books like “Angels & Demons.” People are open to the claptrap theories that writers like Dan Brown and filmmakers like Ron Howard push because they have been fooled by the lies and myth conceptions against Jesus Christ and His followers spread by their enemies.
And, too many Christians believe Dan Brown’s lie in the movie that Christianity “is flawed, because man is flawed.” The Christian faith comes from the Bible that is inerrant, and the Bible reports on Jesus Christ who is sinless. If Jesus Christ had sinned, then he would not and could not have been a flawless sacrifice for our sins, and all of us would be under judgment. The Good News of Jesus Christ that turned cowards into fearless, faithful apostles was and is that Jesus Christ gives us the free gift of salvation by paying the penalty for our sins. He is flawless. His Word written is without error and flawless and even His Body, the true church is in God’s eyes redeemed from the flaws of this world by His perfect loving sacrifice for our sins. Man did not invent Christianity. God, who is Jesus Christ, gave us Christianity to give us freedom from our sins. This is great news.
It is time for Christians to counter lovingly but firmly these slanderous attacks instead of ignoring them or, even worse, acquiescing to them.
You don’t have to murder somebody to know that it’s wrong to murder. And, you don’t have to read or see “Angels & Demons” to realize that Dan Brown and Ron Howard are grinding an ax, not only against the Catholic Church and Bible-believing Christians, but also against Jesus Himself.
“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.”
– Paul, 2 Timothy 2:24-26.