Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Invention of Lying - a movie for angry atheists

Last night, my girlfriend and I went to see The Invention of Lying, starring Ricky Gervais of the sitcom The Office in Britain, and Jennifer Garner, among others with smaller roles, such as Philip Seymour Hoffman. The movie started off with promise, looking like it would be a fun and entertaining. However, it wasn't long before an atheistic theme became obvious.

I will not give any major spoilers, but I will give you my thoughts on this movie. Very quickly into the movie, we realize the premise: people are in a world where they are unable to lie. In fact, people are brutally honest about everything and do not keep secrets. When Ricky Gervais goes to see Jennifer Garner for a date, she clearly tells him he is fat, not very attractive, and because of these things combined with his financial situation, she will probably not date him again. She also mentions certain vulgar things she will be doing.

Ricky's life seems rather dull and uninspiring. He is doing poorly at his job, and of course, everyone lets him know. He ends up getting fired and doesn't have enough money to pay for rent. He goes to the bank to get everything he can. The teller says the system is down, and asks how much he has in his account. Since lying doesn't exist, everyone believes everyone else no matter what. Ricky makes history when he asks for $800 instead of the $300 he actually has. When the system comes back up, it shows he only has $300, but since lying is not possible and the concept doesn't even exist, the teller apologizes and gives him the $800 he asked for, attributing the discrepancy to a computer glitch. This is the beginning of his lying.

Now that Ricky's character has discovered this ability, he abuses it. He lies about many things to get what he wants, such an enormous mansion, which probably took no more than telling the vendor that he already paid for the house. The movie was going along fine, until Ricky's mother is dying in hospital. This is where the atheistic themes come in. His mother is terrified with death. Ricky, out of desperation and to put her mind at ease, tells her that when she dies, she will not just go into nothingness, but will instead be sent to a place where she is reunited with dead family members, where everyone is happy and gets a mansion, where all our desires are fulfilled. His mother dies in peace.

News spreads about this place that Ricky spoke about with his mother and soon hundreds of people had gathered around his house to find out more. Out of desperation, seeing the crowd would not leave, Ricky took a couple of pizza boxes and wrote out 10 things about God. He brought out the boxes like Moses with the tablets containing the 10 commandments. This was an obvious poke at monotheism and religion in general. He then proceeded to talk about God and Heaven. They did not say God though, instead they mockingly said "the invisible man in the sky". Someone asked if the "invisible man" lived in the clouds, and Ricky said no, he's above the clouds, then someone asked if he's in space, and Ricky said, no not that high. Then he said the place you go when you die is the best place imaginable and you get the best mansion.

Then Ricky went on to answer questions. The questions were very childish and the answers were all made up. There was the obvious implication that someone just invented heaven and God and everyone just wanted to believe him. Then atheistic arguments against the existence of God came out. Some people asked if the invisible man in the sky caused their relative to get sick, or if he made a natural disaster happen. Ricky responded in the affirmative. Then everyone got really angry at this invisible man in the sky. But Ricky calmed them down by saying this invisible man also does all the good stuff too, and like dumb animals, the crowd was appeased.

The implication of the movie was that everyone there was super gullible and didn't ask any real questions and just believed whatever they heard. It was implied that Christians are like that as well. Only Ricky seemed to have any ability to think on his own and not appear to have an IQ below 50, and he was the only one who didn't believe in the invisible man in the sky.

There were other elements of mockery. For example, the church had a sign saying something like it was a quiet place to go to imagine the invisible man in the sky. The "pastor" wore what looked like a cross, but was actually a silouette of Ricky holding his arms out with the tablets in them. The pastor started the marriage ceremony and gave a very naturalistic view of marriage saying things like do you want to be with this person for as long as you feel like it, do you think your genetics match, etc.

If this movie wasn't atheistic enough, near the end, Ricky goes to visit the grave of his mother. He laments the fact that he created this big lie and that all these gullible people believed him. He then says she's not in heaven, she's in the ground. Later, he tells his friend that he made up all this stuff about the invisible man in the sky and that in fact there is no man in the sky.

The basic premise of this whole movie is that those who believe in God are doing so for irrational and emotional reasons, based around their fear of death and the afterlife. They are presented as stupid, unintelligent, and extremely gullible. Atheists are presented as being intelligent and not bound to a false hope that's based on nothing but desire. Ricky is seen as a man whose eyes were opened, who was freed from the oppression of a lie, who "knows the truth". He's not a sheep who is ready to follow anywhere he's told to go. He uses his own brain, makes his own decisions.

Of course, the truth is much different. The fact is atheists are afraid of judgment, or Hell, and they do not want there to be an afterlife because that would mean they must adhere to a moral code. Without judgment, we can live any way we choose, treat others in any fashion, and feel no regret for anything. There are no schools or hospitals or any great monument erected to an atheist. Without true believers, the world would be a much more desolate place. It is kind of ironic that atheists are so vitriolic against theists, even though without theists, the world would be much more bleak.

I give this movie 1 out of 5 stars. I would have given it 0, but there was a funny scene where the main character said that in heaven, you could have any flavour of ice cream that you could imagine. A man in the crowd became very upset, because he said he imagined a flavour of vanilla and skunk! Now that I said the only funny part, there's no reason for you to see this movie.


  1. I'm a Christian and I found Invention of Lying really funny and wasn't offended by it in the slightest. I didn't think it was trying to convey a message that God is a lie because I didn't see the parallels of the world in the movie to our world. The world in the movie is totally different. It's all surface. They only believe what's right in front of them. To THEM, God didn't exist because He couldn't be seen. Faith didn't exist, just like fiction didn't exist. That doesn't have anything to do with our world and trying to apply it to such is a huge stretch.

  2. I just saw this movie before I read this,and I agree. It is a atheist movie with many parrallels to the christian faith. Even a blind man can see this and how obvious it is.

  3. You seem to think that what you beleive yet cannot prove is the only beleife that is right, and no one is entitled to their own opinion or beleifs. this seems very judgemental.

    I beleive that Christianity leaves judgement up to god. Does it not? I for one am not a follower of any religion and a floower of all religions.

    I do not beleive or disbeleive in an all mighty being, though I choose, if this being does exist, not to give a name.

    Aslo i don't beleive anyone was trying to hide or diguise the views on religion put forth in this movie.

    I enjoyed the movie, and took from it more understanding on other peoples views of the world and society.

    To be clear I don't mean any of my comments as an attack on anyones oppinoins or beleifs.
    I respect your right to your own views on life and the world. I just wanted to share a bit of my own views for you consideration. And hope that wichever Almighty being you may beleive in would look graciously upon me for doing so.