Faith in Film — The Invention of Lying


"The Invention of Lying" is a 2009 comedy from Ricky Gervais. It's an amusing movie, but not one that was particularly widely seen at the time. But it taps into something fascinating, especially when it comes to a view of God. And, naturally, it comes from an avowed atheist.

I'm sure you're asking yourself what we can learn of a view from God from a Gervais comedy. The man is famous for not believing in God. In fact, once when closing an awards show he was hosted, Gervais said, "I thank God for making me an atheist." He's also famously never married his long-time partner because of his religious beliefs — or rather lack thereof.

And in this film, the idea of God — more specifically who God is — plays a big part. Mark Bellison (Gervais) is a lonely man living in a world where all people know is brutal honesty. That takes a toll on him. But when he discovers he has the ability to lie, it changes his world.

One night, when comforting his dying mother, he creates the idea of heaven. It causes such a stir, that he's soon asked to share what he knows with the world. He tells them about "The Man in the Sky," which is his euphemism for God. And through his descriptions, we get a window in what Gervais — who co-wrote the movie — thinks of God, or rather why he isn't really a believer.

While that might not increase our theological knowledge, it's certainly a window into a certain kind of world view. When you can better understand that, it's easier to try and reach someone in that situation.

I also find it interesting that this film touches on a couple concepts — such as the power of hope created by the Gospel, particularly in this idea of heaven. Though it's something he doesn't believe in, it's an integral part of the story. And while he's sort of poking fun at the common societal visions of heaven, the film can't help but touch on the real desperation people feel in wanting to know there's more than just this life. And that's something powerful to consider.

Discussion Questions:
1. Did this film work for you, why or why not?
2. How honestly do you deal with the people in your life?
3. How do you see God?
4. What role does God play in your life? Did you identify in any way with the way people reacted to the idea of God in the film?

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