On Dec. 7, 2007, the movie “The Golden Compass,” based on the first book in the fantasy trilogy entitled “His Dark Materials” by atheist Philip Pullman will be released in theaters throughout the world. Pullman wrote his fantasy trilogy because he was so upset by the Christian evangelism of C.S. Lewis in his wonderful series of Christian tales entitled “The Chronicles Of Narnia.” Pullman is an avowed atheist who has dedicated his life to undermining Christianity and the Church among young readers. The film’s release is only another example of a culture spiraling away from faith, a culture into which we must step in and declare truth.
Pullman represents God as a decrepit and perverse angel in his novels, who captures the dead in a “prison camp” afterlife. As one fallen angel tells one of the novel’s young heroes:
The Authority, God, the Creator, the Lord, Yahweh, El, Adonai, the King, the Father, the Almighty – those were all names he gave himself. He was never the creator. He was an angel like ourselves – the first angel, true, the most powerful, but he was formed of Dust as we are, and Dust is only a name for what happens when matter begins to understand itself.
When the hero finally finds this “god,” he is ultimately described as a “demented and powerless” creature that “could only weep and mumble in fear and pain and misery.” The boy then kills this “god” by breaking him out of his crystal cell, thereby evaporating him. The only “god” in this universe is matter.
Meanwhile, the Church is depicted as an organization bent on power, control and the torture of children by cutting. One-character notes of the Church:
Killing is not difficult for them; Calvin himself ordered the deaths of children; they’d kill her with pomp and ceremony and prayers and lamentations and psalms and hymns, but they would kill her.
One heroine in the story who turns from the Church did so when she realized “there wasn’t any God at all and … the Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that’s all.” Instead, the Church just kept her from finding love, thinking freely and pursuing bodily pleasures like sex. As she notes:
“I’d made myself believe that I was fine and happy and fulfilled on my own without the love of anyone else.” Later, she says, “I knew what I should think: it was whatever the Church taught me to think. … So I never had to think about [science] for myself.”
There is no heaven in this universe, just a dank and dreary “prison camp” afterlife. Pullman thought Christians’ positive view of the afterlife, like C.S. Lewis’, was a “celebration of death.” One of the characters the story’s exploring children run into in this hell pursued spiritual things while on Earth, and regrets it:
They said that heaven was a place of joy and glory and we would spend eternity in the company of saints and angels praising the almighty, in a state of bliss. … And that’s what led some of us to give our lives, and others to spend years in solitary prayer, while all the joy of life was going to waste around us, and we never knew.
The children in the story ultimately discover that true wisdom is doing what is right in their own eyes, becoming their own gods. As one of the heroes says:
“Don’t tell me. I shall decide what to do. If you say my work is fighting, or healing, or exploring, or whatever you might say, I’ll always be thinking about it. And if I do end up doing that, I’ll be resentful because it’ll feel as if I didn’t have a choice, and if I don’t do it, I’ll feel guilty because I should. Whatever I do, I will choose it, no one else.”
“Then you have already taken the first steps towards wisdom,” said Xaphania.
The result of this “wisdom” is a focus on bodily pleasure over eternal truth. Although ambiguous as to what exactly happens, at the end of the novels the two children pleasure each other bodily and finally experience true joy.
The world of Pullman’s series mechanically mirrors that of C.S. Lewis. While “The Chronicles Of Narnia” starts with Lucy going into the wardrobe to get to Narnia, Pullman has Lyra going into a wardrobe. But, what Lyra finds is not the supernatural world, nor a world where God rescues His creation, like Narnia, but rather a world that ends in dust, where the highest meaning can be found in pleasuring each other, and God is just a sniveling old man who doesn’t know what he’s doing.
Pullman’s world is a sad, animalistic universe. Since this is the only world there is, the trilogy ends in hopelessness. Love is not selfless giving, because that would be useless in a materialistic world. Love instead is the lust of pleasuring each other. In Pullman’s world, there’s no hope of eternal life where the lame and the blind and the deaf and dumb can walk and see and hear and talk, where the old are made youthful. There’s no heavenly banquet, there’s no loving God, there’s no order, and there’s no peace.
The logical consequences of Pullman’s atheism can be found in the lives of the leading atheists of the 20th century – Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot – men who killed millions of their own people and had no respect for justice or love. Ultimately, it is a road that only leads to meaninglessness and murder.
We urge people of faith and values not to corrupt their children with the odious atheistic worldview of “The Golden Compass.” Instead, there are plenty of good movies this Christmas, such as “Enchanted,” that will build and not destroy values.
A society shaped by the materialist and godless ethic promoted by films like “The Golden Compass” is a society without hope. If there is no God and no eternity, if all that exists is matter, human life loses all value. Sex becomes the ultimate form of pleasure we can achieve, and unlimited autonomy from other people while being our own gods becomes the goal. A society like this will destroy itself.
Note: To learn the truth about “The Chronicles Of Narnia,” please read Dr. Ted Baehr’s book “Narnia Beckons” available at www.movieguide.org or by calling 1-800-577-6684.