A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Matter of Faith, a 2014 Christian-themed movie, attempts to prove that creationism -- the belief that the Bible is true word-for-word and that the earth is only 6,000 years old -- is science and should be taught alongside college science classes with evolution, possibly replacing evolution all together. Fervent Christian fundamentalists here purport to debunk the science behind evolution, and mock teachers who adhere to research and radiometric dating showing the earth to be more than four billion years old. The drama vilifies a biology professor, painting him as a bad person because he advocated for the firing from the science department of a professor who taught creationism. A non-Christian college student is also vilified because he thinks a Christian girl is "cute" and because he is planning to "make his move" on her.
What's the story?
In A MATTER OF FAITH, devout evangelical Rachel (Jordan Trovillion) goes off to a secular college, rather than the religious institution her father (Jay Pickett) preferred, because she wants to become a pharmacist. That degree requires taking biology class and evolution plays a large role in the curriculum. Professor Kamen (Harry Anderson) teaches bio with verve and humor, and the movie poses him as a devil of temptation because devout Rachel gives his ideas some consideration. There is concern that under his influence Rachel's faith might be eroding. Since going to college, she hasn't found a church yet, nor has she picked up her bible. She chastely dates a boy but a devout student named Evan (Chandler Machoca) seems to feel that her virginity and thus her devotion to Christ hangs in the balance. He warns her of the boy's overheard intentions to "make a move" on her, as if such intentions were unusual, unexpected, or the work of the devil. Moreover, she is shocked and doesn't believe Evan. At the same time, when he hears she is being taught evolution, rather than creationism, in a biology class, her father confronts her professor. The movie climaxes when father and professor debate creationism versus evolution. A devout professor (Clarence Gilyard), who was fired for teaching creationism years back, also takes to the podium and attempts to debunk the science behind evolution. The movie is structured to promote the conclusion that, based on the sheepish look on the bio professor's face, God and creationism win.
Is it any good?
Adherents to fundamentalist Christianity may enjoy this movie but others should give it a pass. Nobody who believes in evolution is going to be swayed by this movie and its arguments; those who believe in creationism will feel validated but won't take away much else. It would have been nice if the movie had tried to show how the two opposing viewpoints could coexist, but it has a very clear agenda and sticks with its views. Cliched plotting detracts from A Matter of Faith's messages.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how A Matter of Faith shows how people of different religions believe different things. Do you think that any one religious belief should be imposed on those who have other beliefs? What about on those who don't believe at all?
Do you think that religious beliefs should be taught in science class? Why or why not?
Do you think that it's possible to believe in God and also support the evolutionary model for the creation of life?