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The Avengers and Atheism

If you are a geek like me, then you went to see Marvel’s The Avengers this weekend. It was a fucking awesome film. But what does it tell us about religion and what interesting things should atheists take away from the film?

On the surface, there are two references to gods. The first was when Captain America was about to get in the middle of a fight between Thor and Loki. Black Widow warned him that they were “like Gods.” The Captain responded by saying that there is only one God and that he doesn’t dress like that.

Christians may look at this and say, “See, Captain America believes in God!” I look at it and say, “See, Captain America believes in God. This is how far we have come since WWII, the idea that there is a God is ‘old fashioned.’ Captain America doesn’t know who Stephen Hawking is and that is why he still believes in ancient superstitions. How quaint.”

The second reference to god in the movie is when Hulk picks up Loki and smashes him against the ground repeatedly. As he pulverizes Loki, he exclaims, “Puny god!” This of course is what all atheists do. We pick up the concept of god and smash it against the ground with reasoned arguments… repeatedly. 😉

But what else is there to learn from this movie? We can learn a lot actually. While the movie starts off with our heroes already being heroes, there is a moment in the movie where they really own up to being heroes. This is a journey we all can take and it doesn’t require a god. To be heroes, we don’t need to be a god like Thor, have super strength like Captain America, or be zapped with gamma radiation like the Hulk. Half the heroes in the movie are people with no super powers at all! More than half if you count Nick Fury, Agent Hill, and Agent Colson. Plus, Pepper Potts has no power and she contributed at least 12 percent to the team.

There is also a great deal of pro-science in the film and even a scene where Tony chastises the other heroes for not reading up on the latest science. Science itself is responsible for three of the heroes: Iron Man, Captain America, and the Hulk. Okay, the Hulk was a mistake of science, but there is still a scene where Tony puts a positive spin on that to Bruce Banner.

At the end of the day, The Avengers is about people helping other people. It isn’t about praying for some deity to perform miracles.

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