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New Documentary Chronicles Road Tripping Scientists Promoting Reason 674

Posted by Soulskill
from the which-one-is-the-sidekick dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Dennis Overbye reports in the NY Times that two years ago Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss set off on a barnstorming tour to save the world from religion and promote science. Their adventure is now the subject of The Unbelievers, a new documentary. 'If you think a road trip with a pair of intellectuals wielding laptops is likely to lack drama, you haven't been keeping up with the culture wars,' writes Overbye. The scientists are mobbed at glamorous sites like the Sydney Opera House. Inside, they sometimes encounter clueless moderators; outside, demonstrators condemning them to hellfire. At one event, a group of male Muslim protesters are confronted by counterprotesters chanting, 'Where are your women?' 'Travelogue shots, perky editing and some popular rock music, as well as interview bits with such supportive celebrities as Woody Allen, Cameron Diaz, Sarah Silverman and Ricky Gervais, shrewdly enliven the brainy — but accessible — discourse,' writes Gary Goldstein in the LA Times, 'but mostly the movie is an enjoyably high-minded love fest between two deeply committed intellectuals and the scads of atheists, secularists, free-thinkers, skeptics and activists who make up their rock star-like fan base.' The movie ends at the Reason Rally in Washington, billed as the largest convention of atheists in history. Dawkins looks out at the crowd standing in a light rain and pronounces it 'the most incredible sight I can remember ever seeing' and declares that too many people have been cowed out of coming out as atheists, secularists or agnostics. 'We are far more numerous than anybody realizes.'"
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New Documentary Chronicles Road Tripping Scientists Promoting Reason

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  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Tuesday December 10, 2013 @08:49PM (#45656571)

    And how many Muslims do you know? Most Muslims also know when NOT to use religion.

    The statistics from Britain, where something like 30% Muslims want the UK to become a SA-like theocracy, speak a little different. Or are you suggesting that the majority of Muslims in other countries is less extreme than those living in the relatively liberal UK?

  • by Daetrin (576516) on Tuesday December 10, 2013 @08:51PM (#45656587)
    "two years ago Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss set off on a barnstorming tour to save the world from religion and promote science."

    That is exactly the wrong way to do things. I'm not going to argue whether it is reasonable or not to believe in both science or religion, because regardless of that if you frame an argument as A is wrong and B is right then everyone who already believes in A is going to get defensive and angry and be even _less_ likely to accept B.

    If that's not actually a misrepresentation and he's actually approaching the perceived problem by trying to bludgeon the opposing side into adopting his beliefs then he's doomed to failure, and the whole things is really just a "feel good" tour for atheists to feel superior about their "enlightened" beliefs.
  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Tuesday December 10, 2013 @09:02PM (#45656667) Journal

    And how many Muslims do you know?

    In the thousands ?

    And I am not kidding.

    Of the people that I know many of them are Muslims.

    Many of them are very bright, except for one thing - you just can NOT discuss religion (or faith) thing with them.

    Unlike the Buddhists or Christians or Jews where you can have civil discussion, or even debates on matter pertaining to whether if there is a "God" or matter such as "If the different religion worship the same God" or the very act of suicide bombing killing the innocent can be call "a service to God" ... you just can't have such discussion with the Muslims.

    My background being from a Communist country (during the time I left China it was VERY ANTI-RELIGION) I can see the point from *both* the anti-religion standpoint and from the "God is my savior" standpoint.

    I can have civil discussion with the Jews, with the Buddhists, with the Hindus, and with the Christians, in matters that I outlined above, but so far, the Muslims just can't discuss it civilly.

    For them, anything that "threaten" and/or "weaken" their "belief in Allah" is "blasphemous" --- and in the discussion, I certainly never even have the thought of "weaken their faith" at all, but the Muslims just don't take it kindly if anyone DARE to question their religion.

    That is why I say, if those two scientists are REALLY SO CONCERN of the negative effect religion might do to human civilization, they should stop proselytizing in the street of Los Angeles or Sydney.

    They should go to Saudi Arabia, or Yemen or Egypt or Tunisia or Iran, and try to make their point across to the Muslims.

    Anything short of that they are preaching to the choir.

  • by cusco (717999) <brian.bixby@gma i l .com> on Tuesday December 10, 2013 @10:15PM (#45657115)

    I don't think that the intent is to convert the religious 'true believers', they're lost causes. There are an awful lot of people in the world, in all cultures, who have lost their faith in religion and feel alone and perhaps frightened of a life without the familiar restrictions. I live in Seattle now and there are plenty of non-theists here, but I used to live in Michigan and Florida and Peru. It can be a scary thing to grow up in a place where children are taught that atheists worship Satan and commit atrocities because they have no morality. These are the people that I hope this movie reaches.

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Tuesday December 10, 2013 @11:20PM (#45657489)

    You're both wrong in some sense.

    Science cannot prove an absence - you cannot prove that there is no monster in Loch Ness, because maybe it's invisible or can fly or something else that lets it circumvent the rather exhaustive searches of the lake. But it can disprove specific claims - for instance, the "Doctor's Photograph" has been disproven (or rather, proven to be fabricated).

    A scientific theory (explaining *why* something happens instead of just *what* happens) cannot be "proven" in the mathematical sense, but it can be disproven. Newtonian gravity has been proven wrong, for instance. However, for casual usage, you can say that a certain theory has been "proven", either in that a specific experiment was consistent with the theory while being inconsistent with others (eg. "the 1919 eclipse proved General Relativity" is a valid statement with this subtly different definition), or that the theory has been found consistent with a large number of experiments ("General Relativity has been proven correct" is not a valid usage of the technical term, but for casual usage is perfectly fine).

    Much of this stems over confusion between a hypothesis and a theory. A hypothesis can be proven or disproven. Take the example hypothesis "with my computer as currently configured, clicking on "preview" followed by "submit" will cause data to be entered into a remote database". This hypothesis will be proven or disproven when I submit this post. This seems to be the usage you are using. However, a scientific theory cannot be proven, only disproven, as there may always be some circumstance that invalidates the theory. Using the example hypothesis "submitting a post to Slashdot will result in data being added to Slashdot's database", this may be disproven if my post somehow fails (if my incompetent ISP goes down again), but even if it succeeds, the theory is only "not disproven", not "proven". In this usage Hazem would be correct.

    In the context of religion, there are many claims that can be disproven. For example, the Shroud of Turin has been disproven (it was forged sometime in the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries). However, science cannot disprove the existence of a god (an omnipotent being by definition can violate the laws of physics). You may be able to disprove certain gods, if the religion commits to enough claims (I think we can safely call Zeus disproven, since we've explored Mt. Olympus quite thoroughly and have found no gods there), but long-lasting religions don't tend to have gods that can be easily disproven by experiment.

  • Re:Reason (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Empiric (675968) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @02:22AM (#45658319) Homepage
    But there are zero questions resolvable by faith.

    Wrong. Science requires faith in quite a few unprovable axioms, right at its core. Identity, that things are what they are, and are so consistently, being one.

    No science proceeds without starting with hypotheses, the plausibility of such ultimately being true being supported, at that point, only by the equivalent of faith. To avoid the common misrepresentation, "faith" does not mean "belief without evidence", that's simply an intentionally-false statement of what theists mean by it, made by atheists, to fit a pre-built argument. "Confidence in the face of incomplete information" is an accurate rendering of what theists actually mean.

    That's an opinion. The theist makes a factual claim.

    Either "rock is good" or "rock is not good" is a factual claim. One or the other is true, neither is provable.

    "The theist" can certainly hold the position that his belief is one of opinion, rather than fact. That is in reality the predominate stance.
  • Re:I'm an atheist. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Evtim (1022085) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @02:27AM (#45658335)

    You seem to be under the impression that the Russians by large are atheists. Or that the government still promotes atheism. Let me tell you something - religion is exploding in Russia. Big time, no, huge time!!

    They are incorporating it (again, just like during the times of the Tzars) in the their patriotic, empire-like attitude. "The third Rome" , have you heard that [Moscow]? The Russians see themselves as the sole protector of Orthodox Christianity. The Russian tourists that I meet in my country spend all their time visiting religious sites. They talk about it all the time. Just yesterday a Russian businessman offered to buy one of the largest old buildings in the capital of my country [it would cost a fortune] in order to make a museum of Orthodox Christianity.

    Tzarist Russia was a backwater, superstitious, low-educated, peasant-bashing, stupid and callous totalitarian hellhole. But man, were they religious! Now they come back to that state again, only at a different technological level.

    In the way the state uses religion to fortify patriotism and instill a sense of righteousness Russia and USA are the two sides of the same coin. This has to do with empire-thinking more than it has to do with religion IMO [although a successful argument can be made that that every religion is an empire and behaves like one]. In fact I am aghast that the religious folk happily accepts to be used in this manner by the sate. But then again, they probably like it because the state will, in turn, place special privileges for their religious institutions. Why are you, religious people, behaving like prostitutes, I often ask? Have you no shame? Some sensible people in the military of the US have complained that they were/are used as racketeers; where are the religious leaders that say "we don't want our fate to be used as political tool".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @05:49AM (#45658875)

    And your cognition of the events are reversed in many cases: you change the causality from what your PERCEPTIONS are, to what the known causality chain is.

    So your "out of body experience" isn't proof of religion since these visions can be produced artificially in people who never died at all.

  • Re:I'm an atheist. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Xyrus (755017) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @10:05AM (#45659713) Journal

    There seems to be some biological revulsion to homosexuality since since the visceral animosity to it cuts across so many cultures.

    Actually the Greeks an Romans didn't give a rat's ass what your orientation was. Nowadays it's an issue because the major religions make you into some kind of child-molesting hell-bound monster if you're gay.

    I think that, if anything, the Christian ideas of hating the sin while loving the sinner, not casting the first stone, recognizing that we're all sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God, and forgiveness can make treatment of homosexuals much better in societies based on Christian values than in other societies.

    But first they need to get around their own self-righteousness and hypocrisy, and somehow resolve the fact that their 2000 year old book of mythology might actually be wrong. I'm not holding my breath on that one.

    The earlier statement about most arguments against homosexual rights and freedoms coming from religion has some truth (even if sometimes they're attempts to hide simple revulsion), but it also true that most of the arguments for homosexual rights and freedoms come from Christian ideals. For example, one of the most successful arguments has been homosexual rights are similar rights for black people, and civil rights for black people - indeed even the elimination of slavery - had deep religious roots and motivation.

    No, they didn't. Those were all "modern" advances in morality. Sure some used religious justification but in the bible racism and slavery were all a-okay as long as you followed some rules. Oh, and women were some for of sub-human.

    "Hating the sin while loving the sinner" is just a bullshit way of justifying their actions. "Oh I don't think there is anything wrong with being gay. They're going to hell, but it's not like I hate them or anything." Whatever.

"Look! There! Evil!.. pure and simple, total evil from the Eighth Dimension!" -- Buckaroo Banzai

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