Atheist Film Festival 2011: The Nature of Existence Review and Trailer

“Every mystery of human existence…explained in one movie!” proclaims the film’s poster advertisement.  This film certainly asks many questions about the existence of humans, but doesn’t provide any solid answers — a plethora of opinions, but no answers.   It is the film equivalent of the world religions class I took at Santa Barbara City College.

Roger Nygard, the film’s ‘creator’ (pun-intended), is experiencing a sort of mid-life existential crisis; instead of enrolling in the city college class, he has the luxury of traveling the world to ask adherents of each religion the questions you could find in a textbook or google.  Evangelists, Mormons, Jews, Christians, Druids, Taoists, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. are given the chance to stand on their very own soapbox to proclaim their deeply held beliefs.

Although this film seems to hold a slightly cynical perspective, it does not provide an answer.  Although Nygard appears to be open and curious to other ways of living and believing, the editing of the movie tends to poke fun of the interviewees.  I found myself laughing along with the others in the theatre, but I suppose I had some slight guilt about it, or felt that perhaps Mister Nygard should have some slight guilt about it.  Everyone interviewed spoke with the utmost sincerity and passion concerning their viewpoints on the world and religion.  I can’t speak for them, but many of these people may not have agreed to speak if they knew about the atheist agenda of mocking other’s beliefs.  Atheists are capable of being just as militant in their convictions of non-religion as any practicing religion.

Perhaps it is unfair of me to attend an atheist film festival and be shocked that the audience and films are making light of organized religions.  Allow me clarify: this is not a bad film, it is entertaining and informative – two key components for any documentary.  The Nature of Existence makes rather substantial claims: not only to provide an explanation for everything, but also to change your perception of everything.  It just seems a tad over zealous is all.

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