Soul Surfer

Last weekend my daughter asked me to take her to the movie Soul Surfer. I was a little wary of the religious aspects of it since she’s still working through her own beliefs, but it wasn’t a bad movie for a 14-year-old girl working through depression regardless of religion. The story of determination and hope outshines any messages of faith it had so I think it’s a decently positive movie for nonbelievers as well. The times they touched on religious belief may be comforting for believers and eye rolling for nonbelievers, but for this nonbeliever they didn’t try too hard with the attempts to associate real world events and human strength to a godly purpose. I think it’s a story about believers without necessarily trying to spread belief. I know I would have hated watching this movie for myself but maybe I’m less critical because I did it for my daughter.

If you don’t know it, it’s a movie based on a true story about a surfer that survived a shark attack but lost an arm. The family rightfully thanked the friend’s dad for what he did to save Bethany more than they thanked their God for saving her. It saddens me when believers give all of the credit to the supernatural and don’t give any credit to the efforts right here on Earth. If you’re going to believe in gods then I still expect you to acknowledge the efforts of humanity since I’ve never seen the gods work without our “help.” Even when it comes to the inevitable question of “why bad things happen to good people?” the answer is the same as you’d get from any human with or without religion. Sometimes things just happen and there is no reason we know for it. They try to suggest that there was tie to an unknown purpose and possibly that was to serve as an inspiration to others. However, the inspiration we can get from Bethany’s strength is for anyone to be inspired by without or without gods.

It was the challenges faced by Bethany and how she dealt with them and overcame them that was the topic of discussion for us. We talked about depression being my daughter’s shark or maybe even her arm loss. We talked about how something that seems so hopeless and terrible at the time can be overcome and there really is a reason to continue living and continue working to be better than our current conditions. We talked about how Bethany and my daughter both have help along the way to survive but ultimately it was Bethany’s strength, determination, and desire to do more and better that made her the better person she has become. Not once did our talk bring up god, religion, or anything supernatural because it wasn’t necessary for the conversation. Not everyone needs such things to give them hope. My daughter felt a little hope and a little happiness to see a fellow teenager girl overcome and triumph. It was a good moment and I hope things like this can provide some amount of help while we work through overcoming her depression. The movie may not have touched my “soul” but it was a nice moment with my daughter that through her it touched my heart. I wish for Bethany’s strength for my own daughter and anyone else that needs it.

4 thoughts on “Soul Surfer

  1. I’m suppressing my excitement. I almost can’t believe it. It’s like we are soulmates, only I don’t want to marry you. I am a freethinker, and atheists have been the closest thing to my peer group, but, if you start talking about adopting beliefs unproven by science, as being, yet another form of religion, they call you “troll”. Well, I have a relationship with Dave Silverman at American Atheists, and BarryDuke at the Freethinker, but they eventually began to delete my posts, as time after time I decimated them in debate. I was a little ornery at times, as I caught them twisting bible interpretations, quoting false scientific facts, and misrepresenting polls results. I made it clear that lies make the whole movement look like televangelists.

    But, I really do believe that the unity of atheists, agnostics, and humanists will reshape the planet, but, atheists generally consider agnostics as mentally weak for not making the leap of “FAITH”.

    But, the correct answer to the question, “Is the universe an accident?” is “I don’t know”.

    But, If you have any doubt about where I stand, look for my posts on “The Freethinker” or Google “NeoWolfe”. AA still has a classic debate.

    I like this site, I like what you have written, and I promise to help in any way I can to help you ascend this endeavor.


  2. The beginning of high school years a lot of kids begin to shape the minds. You seem pretty open do you have any tips or hints on getting through life in general? I’ve had a lot of angst and break downs this whole year. Is it self confidence that leads us through or belief and faith. Just some open ended questions.

  3. Self confidence, belief, and faith are all important I think because they’re the things that help motivate and move us to be better than the status quo and overcome the obstacles in our way. The difference between a theist and a “nonbeliever” or freethinker is what we believe and where we put our faith. I believe in the power of myself and humanity. I believe in the importance of truth and humility in our claims of knowledge for everyone to accurately operate in this universe. I believe in my own abilities to reason and do what is best for myself, my family, and the communities I belong to and care about. I put my faith in myself first and foremost since I’m the only entity I can rely on 100%. I also put faith in others as much as is justified by who they are and how we’ve supported each other in the past. I do have a certain amount of faith in humanity as a whole regardless of what individuals believe and I have a certain amount of faith in this country and our laws that give us a common ethic.

    My tips and hints for life in general is friends and families. The key to religion is that it gives you ready-made friends and frameworks for families to integrate with a common bond of kindness. God is just the nonsense and ceremony surrounding that community building and bond. These are things people crave and need as support but we can have that in a non-religious world as well. Use your real friends and family since they can do a lot more for you than some invisible friend in the sky that wants to send you to hell if you don’t believe in it.

  4. Aloha! I just saw your entry re: Soul Surfer. I saw Soul Surfer four times and I LOVED it! I really connected with Bethany and her story. The reason is, we both had to overcome loss of a part of our bodies at a very young age. For her it was her left arm ,for me it was my right eye. We also both relied on our OHanas, families to get us through it. But even more than that, we relied on God and His love for us to get us through it. I don’t think of my visual impairment as anything but a blessing. It gives me the opportunity to see with my heart. That’s the best source of sight God could have given me. “If He brings us to it, He’ll bring us through it..” I believe this with all my heart. Even more than that, I’ve seen God do this for me countless times in my own life. I’m proud of Bethany for being so open about her faith. I’m the same way. I’m respectful about it, but I try to share God’s love with everyone I come in contact with. I’m glad your daughter liked the movie as well! The book was amazing too!

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