The Invention of Lying – Movie Review

The Invention of Lying

(Review by Stacey Tuttle)

As we prepare for our Legacy of Darwin conference, I have been thinking about what it would really mean to the world if there were no god. I say “god” not in reference only to the God of the Bible, but to ask: what if there were no god at all? What if evolution is true and there is no intelligent, creative force, no god, no “man in the sky” at all? What does the concept of a god do for society? Imagine my surprise when I saw movie, The Invention of Lying, and discovered that it addresses just that!

Even though the title is The Invention of Lying, it might equally be called the Invention of God. Here is where I am going to “spoil” the movie for you and give a brief rundown—but I encourage you this: whether or not you plan to see it, be educated about it. I believe this is one of the most significant movies for the sake of quality dialogue (especially with non believers) to come along in years. Don’t miss this opportunity!

As I said, this movie is far more about the invention of a god (as a product and invention of lies) than it is about the invention of lying itself. But to understand that, I need to give you some of the basic premises, assumptions upon which this movie is built:

  1. No one is capable of lying. There is no “deceit, flattery or fiction”. (Example: their movie industry is made up of documentaries, because fiction itself is a “lie”.)
  2. Telling the truth assumes telling everything that comes to mind. There are no filters, no restraints. It’s extreme verbal vomit. This is not a case of Wonder Woman’s magic lasso which compels people to tell the truth in response to questions asked. It’s more like a young child who tells embarrassing secrets at inopportune moments because he lacks understanding of any sort of social etiquette and/or appropriateness.
  3. No concept of a god of any sort exists in this world—presumably because that would be a lie and there is only truth in this world.
  4. If there is no flattery, fiction or lying and no god, then everyone is reduced to very shallow, superficial and generally unkind thoughts. There is no dreaming, no idealism, no wishing or hoping. There is no concept of anything but the absolute here and now – hard core reality. There is not even basic kindness, as kindness is assumed a flattery, erego it doesn’t exist. Therefore, the constant verbal vomit is a litany of shallow, juvenile comments – mostly centered solely around people’s looks and genetic makeup.

One man, Mark Bellison, discovers that he is, for some inexplicable reason, capable of lying. He wields his lies to accumulate money, get women to sleep with him, garner success at work and even to find love (although he does draw the line there eventually, wanting to be truly loved for who he is not and based on a lie). This part of the movie smacks of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. Mark’s findings echo those in Ecclesiastes: everything is meaningless.

As his mother is dying, she confesses a great fear of death. In a desperate attempt to comfort and bring peace to his dying mother, Mark invents “the man in the sky” and eternity— a place with no pain, full of love and happiness, where everyone lives in a mansion and is reunited with loved ones. Remember, this is a world where no one has ever heard of a lie – there is no word in the language to even describe a lie. So, when his conversation is overheard, of course it is immediately taken for truth. This eventually makes its way to all mankind who are desperate for hope. (Note: the movie definitely tapped into man’s innate need for eternity and a maker. Amazing how that is assumed in any scenario.)

Here are some of the main points of Mark’s statement to the people about god and how he works.

Mark’s Statements What the Bible says

                         There is a man in the sky who controls everything.

Colossians 1:15-20 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

See also Job 38 and following where the majesty of God, his might and control are described.


                        There is not an eternity of nothingness when you die – instead you get to go to a great place

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”


                        Everyone gets a mansion

John 14:1-3 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me [Jesus]. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

                        All the people you love will be there

John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.” Heaven is not for everyone you love – it’s for everyone who loves Jesus.

                        Free ice cream for everyone

Matthew 4:4 “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” If man doesn’t live by bread alone, certainly ice cream is superfluous. What a petty thing to peddle as a key perk in heaven. God offers so much more to us than free ice cream.

Ephesians 2:6 -7 “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:20-21 “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”



                         If you do bad things, you don’t get to go to the good place, you have to go to a bad place.

                        o Note: at this point the people immediately want to know how bad is defined and how bad is too bad to go to the good place. Answer: you get three strikes and you’re out.

No one is perfect. In fact, Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. All have sinned – this doesn’t say you get three strikes, then you’re out. It says you’re out before you even begin because ALL have sinned. And sin gets you death or, the “bad place” as the movie calls it, according to Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So, it’s true that if you do bad things you go to a bad place. In fact, all humanity is destined to go to a “bad place” because of their sin. However, the good news is that, in the second half of that verse, God gives us a gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ so that you don’t have to go to the “bad place” because of your sins.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Your sins earn you death, but your good works don’t earn you heaven. It’s the good works of Jesus which are given freely to you that grant you heaven.


                        The man in the sky decides who lives and who dies and where they go. He is responsible for all the bad things

                        o At which point people get angry and accuse the man in the sky of being evil, a coward and hiding in the sky and doing bad things to humans

I Peter 5: 8 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

I John 3:8 8He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”

Galatians 1:3-4 “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.”

It seems clear that the devil, aka Satan is responsible for bad things. However, the good news is that Jesus came to destroy Satan’s work and to rescue us.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”


                        Mark quickly points out the man is also responsible for good things too

                        o The crowd then concludes: “So, he’s kind of a good guy, but kind of a prick too”

James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”



                        The man in the sky makes up for the bad stuff he does by giving people an eternity of good stuff, as long as they don’t do bad stuff

Ephesians 2:1-5 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

Clearly – people are saved despite the “bad stuff” they do. The “eternity of good stuff” is a result of God’s great love and mercy, not a penance for the bad things which happened to us on earth. Frankly, how much better! To think we get eternity simply because we are owed it somehow, versus we are given eternity because He loves us—it’s a significant difference.


                        The people want to know how Mark knows these things. His answer: “The man in the sky told me.”

The great thing about Christianity is that it is not dependent on one man’s revelation/claims. The Bible is supported by historical evidence, a multitude of eye witnesses. Take the gospels themselves – 4 eye-witness accounts of Jesus’ life. Christianity is not so flimsy as one-man’s word. There are some great resources which look at the validity of Jesus and the Bible – two well known books are listed below.

                        McDowell, Josh, New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Thomas Nelson, Inc, Publishers, 1999

                        Strobel, Lee. 1998. The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus. Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan.


Clearly, this movie assumes that even the idea of god is an invention of lies. The irony is that, even in this fictional movie world where there is no concept of god, the people still long for it. Dr. Craig Smith writes in The Search, “The basic fact that humans yearn for contact with, and knowledge of, the divine, is undeniable. In this sense, we must acknowledge that religious yearning is a basic desire of the human race.” He says that he had a psychology professor “that believed from his own clinical experiences that the desire for God was so basic to human existence that it belonged on Maslow’s Hierarchy, the standard psychological model of human need which identifies those things necessary for human beings to be stable and productive.” He goes on to explain that humans have basic desires because they have something designed to fulfill that desire. We desire air, there is air. We have thirst and hunger, there is water and food. Therefore the desire for god indicates that there is a god to fulfill that desire. So, even in a movie that says that god is an invention of lies, the basic desire that humans have in that same movie for a god belies that premise.

According to the Bible, God IS truth. First, In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life”. So according to the Bible, if you take God out of the picture, there is no truth. It is impossible to have a world where only the truth is told if there is no God. Second, Satan is the father of lies. So, in this movie when “god” is an invention of lies, it follows suit that the god he invents is a lie. Christians may be offended by what is said about god and religion in this movie – however, I must point out two things. First, he is not speaking of Jesus. Whether or not the writer/director/producer wanted to be speaking of the God of the Bible, the god he describes is nothing like what God truly is. Second, the god that is represented by Mark Bellison’s list of rules is sadly much like the god many people today appear to serve. It should be an eye opener to Christians to think through the way they represent Christ to the world. In truth, I would say that his slightly cartoonish representation of religion is fairly accurate for many of the religions in the world. This is where Christians have a great opportunity to discuss how Christianity is so different from the religion pictured in this movie. Rather than simply take offense at what is portrayed, let’s listen and learn. Let’s do some self-analysis to see if we have given the world any reason to see Christianity and God as portrayed in this movie.

Another point of contention with this movie: it would appear that the main character is set free in a number of ways due to his ability to lie. Additionally, his lies appear to set others free as well. For example, his lying to his dying mother about the after life set her free to die in peace. However, this is completely opposite what the Bible says. John 8:32 says, “The truth will set you free”. If this movie was truly a world where only the truth was told –the people in this movie would be the most free. The fact that they are enslaved to depression and hopelessness indicates that there is a fundamental lie in the world as they know it. (I would say, namely the absence of the truth of God.)

Finally, I would like to go back to the beginning of this article where I questioned, “What if evolution is true and there is no intelligent, creative force, no god, no “man in the sky” at all?” In The Invention of Lying the world is remarkably shallow. There is no value placed on love, kindness, generosity, hope…all that is valued is the immediate present and the physical. At first this seemed odd. Telling the truth does not require shallow thinking. However, when we find out that the movie doesn’t just presume truth telling, it also presumes god is a lie, therefore non-existent, it does follow that all thinking would be superficial. Without a god, there would also be no soul and no higher purpose to life. All that remains is genetic code and selective breeding to improve the race. All that remains is Darwin’s theories of evolution. Where is the place for higher, deeper thinking? The irony is that the writer, who seems determined to say that god is a lie, clearly doesn’t want to live by the rules he has created and in the world that results. If he was really committed to this evolutionary world, than it would follow that there would be no value to “true love” and Anna would marry for a better genetic match. However, he has love triumph over natural selection. (Forget the little thing that the Bible says God is love – so without god there should also be no love.) The truth is, you cannot create a world where you erase the concept of god entirely and consistently. It doesn’t work, for “in him all things hold together” (Col 1:17).