With its fantasy world backdrop, sympathetic talking animals and extravagant battle scenes, the new movie, The Golden Compass, may resemble C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. But parents be advised, this film — which is very intentionally being marketed toward children — is nothing of the sort.
The Golden Compass was created with the benefit of a multimillion dollar budget and big name actors such as Nicole Kidman, Kevin Bacon, and Sam Elliot. It opens December 7, and promises to be action-packed and visually stunning in the epic tradition of Narnia or The Lord of the Rings.
But upon closer review, it becomes abundantly clear that both this movie and the man behind it have a very certain anti-Christian axe to grind.
Based on the first of three secular humanist children’s books by avowed atheist and British author Phillip Pullman, The Golden Compass provides the opening “down with God” salvo in the author’s His Dark Materials trilogy.
Pullman leaves little question as to his books’ central theme. “I don’t profess any religion,” he is quoted as saying. “I don’t think it’s possible that there is a God; I have the greatest difficulty understanding what is meant by the words ‘spiritual’ or ‘spirituality.’”
Ironically, Pullman’s confident pronouncement that there is no God appears to take an exclusive backseat to his hatred for the very God he denies. “My books are about killing God,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald in a 2003 interview. And in the trilogy’s final offering, The Amber Spyglass, he does just that — he knocks off the Almighty in a delusional fit of grandeur.
Pullman’s books drip with moral relativism, that deceptively sweet, yet fruitless nectar of the secular humanist. His portrayal of God — which is clearly intended to personify the Christian church — is that of an evil authoritarian who spitefully stifles human creativity, arbitrarily punishing mankind for very naturally and properly entertaining base impulses with unfettered license.
In a telling and pivotal moment in the series, a former nun named “Mary Malone,” who is a central character, poignantly reflects upon her realization that God does not exist:
“There’s no one to fret, no one to condemn, no one to bless me for being a good girl, no one to punish me for being wicked. Heaven was empty. I didn’t know whether God had died, or whether there never had been a God at all.”
And isn’t that what atheism is all about, really? Our fallen desire to have, “no one to punish [us] for being wicked.” If we can convince ourselves that there is no God, then we escape accountability for what we do, or so we believe. It’s not so much a-theism as it is anti-theism. In fact, atheism is every bit a religion as any other. But in the church of the non-believer, the high priest is cloaked beneath the vestment of pseudo-“science” and parishioners worship at the altar of moral anarchy.
Still, like so much else in our culture, Pullman's aversion to God would appear to boil down to sex. Mary Malone explains that her desire for sex was her primary purpose for abandoning the God in Whom she no longer believes. “And I thought: am I really going to spend the rest of my life without ever feeling that again? … And I took the crucifix from around my neck and I threw it in the sea. That was it. All over. Gone. … So, that was how I stopped being a nun,” she recounts.
Author and attorney David Limbaugh sums up the anti-theist condition succinctly:
“It seems the most militant ‘anti-theist’ these days are either arrogant scientists or unrestrained licentious types whose main obstacles to faith are not intellectual, but moral — and that moral obstacle seems invariably to be sex … sexual perversion, while perhaps not the worst sin, especially when compared to pride, for example, seems to be the one galvanizing the modern opponents of God.”
Psalm 14:1 tells us, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.”
With The Golden Compass, Phillip Pullman shares his heart with us — a heart that says, “There is no God.” And he clearly wants to influence your child’s heart as well. This movie’s creation — or chance materialization, take your pick — has a specific agenda. It is clearly targeted toward unsuspecting children with the furtive goal of enlisting the next generation of “fools.”
But do as he will, the loving God Whom Pullman rejects is bigger than all that. He’s so big, in fact, that He gave his only Son for you, me, and yes, Phillip Pullman.
Just the same, I think I’ll spend my eleven bucks somewhere else.
Matt Barber is founder and editor-in chief of BarbWire.com. He is an author, columnist, cultural analyst and an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. Having retired as an undefeated heavyweight professional boxer, Matt has taken his fight from the ring to the culture war. (Follow Matt on Twitter: @jmattbarber).