Biblical violence in film

From the Last Temptation of Christ (1987)

From the Last Temptation of Christ (1987)

Dr. Hector Avalos, Professor of Religious Studies and advisor to AAS, has recently published a scholarly and peer-reviewed article about portrayals of biblical violence in film, titled Film and the Apologetics of Biblical Violence in the Journal of Religion and Film.

In the article, Dr. Avalos shows that most films with biblical subjects are very conservative in their approach to biblical violence. Films minimize, maximize, or exclude certain incidences of violence as found in the bible, seemingly in order to portray religious figures in the best possible light, rather than following the biblical stories exactly.

From the conclusion:

Our typology is merely a starting point for further explorations into the complexity of how biblical violence is addressed. Certainly, it may need to be refined to accommodate gradations of minimization and maximization, in particular. But it is clear already that the depiction of biblical violence is actually quite conservative insofar as it seeks to protect the moral superiority of biblical characters. Filmmakers still depict the Bible’s main characters as justified and bearing higher ethics in their use of violence. Even films that have radical portrayals of Jesus’s sexuality ( The Last Temptation of Christ ), will not violate the image of a benign and non-violent Jesus. The best explanation is that, despite all the seeming religious radicality of modern film making, validating and justifying violence by biblical heroes is still the reigning paradigm.

Weekly update

Dr. Hector Avalos, advisor of AAS, will is present a special lecture and discussion for AAS members and affiliates titled “How to Fight Intelligent Design and Win” at 7pm on Thursday 9 April, in 1414 Molecular Biology on the Iowa State campus. Parking behind Molecular Biology is free after 5:30pm. This is a great opportunity to ask Dr. Avalos questions about intelligent design and more. RSVP at the Facebook event, feel free to invite your friends.

Please join us in the same room at 6pm to discuss AAS’s VIESHEA First Amendment Day booth. We need ideas for signs, handouts, and phrases or quotes to be placed in the Iowa State Daily. I’ve posted more details at Feast on the First Amendment – Planning.

In other news, AAS received $300 from GSB towards our Superstition Bash and 10 Year Anniversary Celebration. This event is going to take a lot of planning, so please step forward to help make it a success! I’ve posted more details at Superstition Bash is funded!.

Why Intelligent Design Is Not Science!

Robert M. Hazen, a Clarence Robinson Professor of Earth Science at George Mason University, and a scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Geophysical Laboratory, spoke to a full-house crowd in the Sun room Thursday night. The event, which was recorded by C-SPAN, was sponsored by the following: the Lectures Committee, the Dept. of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology, the Dept. of Chemistry, the Dept. of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences, the Dept. of Mathematics, the Dept. of Philosophy and Religious Studies, the Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology Interdepartmental Graduate Program, and the Atheist and Agnostic Society.

This event was part of a seminar offered at Iowa State titled “The Nature of Science: ‘Why the Overwhelming Consensus of Science is that Intelligent Design is not Good Science” for more, see the ISU Daily article “Intelligent Design opponents willing to debate – New spring seminar to explore reasoning behind opposition.”

In photo from left to right: Dr. Jim Colbert, Dr. Michael Clough, Dr. Hector Avalos, Dr. Robert Hazen, Eric Lindstrom, Mark Jacobson

Intelligent Design: Science or Religion?

It was standing room only Thursday night, when Dr. Avalos and Dr. Patterson critiqued Intelligent Design Creationism and a recent book by Dr. Gonzalez.

Arguments that the universe was intelligently designed fail to identify anything substantive about that designer, two ISU professors said in a presentation Thursday — a failure they said destroys the scientific validity of those arguments.

Hector Avalos, associate professor of religious studies, and John Patterson, professor emeritus of materials science and engineering, both said advocates of intelligent design — which purports that design of the universe by an external agent can be detected in nature — don’t represent anything new in science.

The lecture, sponsored by the Atheist and Agnostic Society, attracted about 150 people who heard Avalos, who teaches in the humanities, and Patterson, a scientist, offer their critiques of “The Privileged Planet,” a book published this spring and co-written by Guillermo Gonzalez, assistant professor of physics and astronomy.

The Great Debate

Besides being the AAS’s largest event ever, the debate set a historic record for the largest attendance for a debate at Stephens, and, therefore, Iowa State University.

The Iowa State Daily reports: Some people had to be turned away from “The Resurrection of Jesus: Fact of Fiction?” debate Thursday after Stephens’ capacity of 2,700 was reached.The debate may be freely downloaded in audio form here: (Debate.mp3). More audio files are available on our resources page.