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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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  • http://twitter.com/Cafeeine Cafeeine

    I don’t mind the idea that Cap’n America believes in a God. In either film, you never see him engage in any religious activity, go to church or pray. If anything, he takes the idea that Thor & Loki exist and call themselves gods in stride. He bears all the hallmarks of a nominal, cultural christian, the type that learned about god as a kid, internalized it and went on with his life.

  • Stuey

    Thank you. I couldn’t hear what Hulk said after “playing” with Loki. Everyone in the theater (including myself) was laughing to hard to hear it.

  • James Winter

    Wow! Are seriously trying to look at this in a athest perspective? God is real and people like you are just followers going with the modern day crowd. Stephen Hawking may be smart in some areas, but not in religion and Christianity.
    And making the comparison of the Hulk as an atheist is so lame!!!! It’s a movie for crying out loud!!!! Don’t throw in your athesistic trash!When there talking about Loki and Thor as gods the author was just make a fun/fictional story about them. Just sit back and enjoy the movie don’t try to analize it! :)

  • Jose R Castro

    I think there is more: Loki is the villain and he is a God whose plan is to rid humanity of it’s “freedom of thought”, he believes humans where born to serve (kneel!) and is a personificarion of the “bully in the sky”. Thor is a good guy but not important in the plot (no sense of humor, shallow character), he obeys both captain america’s and iron man’s instructions, he also is put to fight against hulk and iron man showing that the god is not above the humans. And in the end, it’s the human scientists that save the day.

    • dangeroustalk

      Excellent commentary!