The Princess Bride, “True Wuv” and The Existence of God

download (1)My wife claims to have watched The Princess Bride every afternoon after high school.  She, like many red-blooded Americans, love the movie due to its wit, warmth and witness to “true wuv.”

As a former aspiring filmmaker, I love the movie because of the brilliant script by the greatest screenwriter of all-time William Goldman (who also penned Harper, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, All The President’s Men, Marathon Man, Misery, etc.). Goldman is a master and the movie is yet another example of how to make a brilliant film (as opposed to 90% of what comes out of Hollywood).

If you have never seen the film (shame on you!) it is a fairy tale told by a grandfather to his sick grandchild who is home from school.  It is about a woman, Buttercup, who is engaged to marry a corrupt prince intent on starting  war after her “true wuv (see the movie) is assumed dead after being hijacked at sea by the “Dread Pirate Roberts” who supposedly never leaves a person alive.  One day a mysterious man, who may or may not be Buttercup’s long-lost “true wuv” shows up and rescues the Princess Bride from a gang of colorful kidnappers.  The ensuing adventure is a lot of fun and even appropriate for whole families to watch (surprising given that Mr. Goldman drops more F-bombs than in a sentence than has been unloaded at a Hollywood comedy club over a decade!).

As a pastor there is another reason to love The Princess Bride, it points to the existence of God.  How? Glad you asked.

Love, “true wuv” that is (sorry, I can’t stop using it) makes no sense within a purely naturalistic worldview.  If atheism is true then we are nothing but material beings who simply follow whatever is accidentally programmed in to our DNA.  Like all other animals we should care about what atheist philosopher Patricia Churchland calls “The Four F”s”: feeding, fighting, fleeing and the crude F word for reproducing.  But one need only listen to Top 40 radio (not that I recommend it!) for a few moments to see that we believe in true love.  We believe in a deep, emotional commitment for life to one person.  But if we are nothing but animals we shouldn’t care about such things.  We should want to drop our partner whenever they threaten our basic needs and seek to reproduce with as many partners as possible! Now, of course, there are frat boys and middle-aged dudes with open collars and gold chains who hang around sports bars that fit this description but we generally look down upon this behavior or are outright grossed out by it. We believe in love and we believe it is more (and must be more) than just animal instinct that keeps us with another for life with all of its ups and downs.

Yes, there are some animals that “mate for life,” like some penguins and some gibbons.  But when a gibbon cheats on its partner (and they do), the other gibbons don’t listen to Taylor Swift songs or power ballads while crying in the dark!  We experience true heartbreak and even pain and sometimes outrage when others suffer a broken heart.  We believe in love, “true wuv” (last time, I promise) and it is evidence that we are more than material, which means we live in something more than a material universe.  It means we are complex creatures that point to an intelligent designer who wants us to feel perhaps to point us to an even great love than romantic love.

But then that, ‘Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” is cool too and that points to justice, which if are just material beings…well, that’s enough for today.  You get the point.

Next week, “Beauty, Edward Scissorhands and the Existence of God.”  Until then, grace and peace.


6 thoughts on “The Princess Bride, “True Wuv” and The Existence of God

  1. While writing a paper for my graduate psychology developmental class covering the topic of marriage, the unconventional opening at the top is a quote from The Princess Bride (have to cite it which is how I stumbled on your highly amuzing article. My quote is “Mawage. Mawage is what bwings us togethwer todaaay. You can imagine my excitement when I kept reading wuv throughout your article.
    Anyway, I am very interested in how you just have and will continue in helping others understand that God is everywhere including secular movies. You see, I have had my fair share of explaining why I will watch horror movies although people know that I am a Jesus freak, or explain why Tim Burton films are my favorites (particularly The Nightmare Before Christmas) when they cannot see the beauty let alone a God message in them. I am particularly looking forward to the next article covering Edward Scissorhands and the Existence of God.

  2. Heh. The Argument From Meaning, introduced by Westley. Who’d a thunk?

    It occurred to me once that all the things that make life worthwhile are immaterial: love, truth, justice, commitment, courage, wisdom, family ties… none of those things are material. So maybe I’ll write a book someday called “Can’t Buy Me Love.” The refutation of Materialism, introduced by Paul McCartney? You showed me the way…

  3. I love The Princess Bride. It’s one of those melodramas, as with many, that insert a “christ figure” into the message and story. In Princess Bride, Wesley is the christ figure as he’s kind of nondescript farm boy at first, full of love and humility. He goes off to find his fortune but PROMISES he will be back. Why? True love! But along the way, Wesley is presumed dead! Buttercup is crushed and only agrees to marry Humperdink (the evil prince) because she thinks Wesley is dead. And Wesley does come back, only his bride Buttercup does not recognize him at first and only until he says, “as you wish” her eyes are opened and she finally recognizes her beloved Wesley was indeed alive. And even though his enemies (Humperdink and co.) did everything they could to get rid of Wesley and Buttercup they were unsuccessful. Wesley won out and got his bride back. There are many comparisons to Jesus and the Church in this movie.

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