The Atheism Tapes

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Storyline

The Atheism TapesAs part of the making of the documentary series A Brief History of Disbelief, Jonathan Miller filmed conversations with some very distinguished minds.

In this ground-breaking series, neurologist turned playwright and atheist Jonathan Miller interviewed six of today's leading men of letters and science.

New York Times best-selling author Richard Dawkins, Philosophers Daniel Dennett and Colin McGinn, playwright Arthur Miller, theologian Denys Turner and physicist Steven Weinberg discuss their personal intellectual journeys and offer illuminating analyses of non-theism from a wide range of perspectives.

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Comments and User Reviews

  • Achems Razor

    Continuation of a "Brief History Of Disbelief"

    Some uptake of the cosmological argument, among other things.

  • Joe_nyc

    True. Excellent continuation.
    It's hard not to envy such men with great minds!

  • iain

    There is a problem in his arguments (Richard Dawkins that is). He makes some pretty big assumptions. Mostly in that he seems to believe people do not always deserve Gods wrath, and that in dealing out wrath God is going against his own characteristics. The bible states we are all evil, and therefore we do deserve all of Gods wrath. No contradiction there.

  • Epicurus

    there is contradictions in god claiming to know everything, to be all loving yet still create creations he knows will be evil. also there is no crime which we can morally justify a punishment of eternal suffering. when the punishment outweighs the crime it is a little hard to claim moral superiority. so no Dawkins is correct.

  • http://www.paltalk.com Cosmic Cop

    Mythology … and the Campfire Story’s Continue. God in today’s time is still being Molded into what Humans need in a God = “Father Figure for the Insecurities of our Human Nature”. But in Reality, God’s Definition = Creator of all things, is an Impossibility. Logic shows the concept ends in Infinite Regression. Which Proves the Logic for a creator = Something had to Create us, isn’t Logical, isn’t there, doesn’t exist, is PROOF against God… As humans we have been creating and destroying Gods since our ability to have thought. Our history of mythology proves this. Concepts of things there is no evidence for (or logic for), is the evidence / Logic, for its none existence… Until > “where did God come from” be answered. God doesn’t answer anything… I will remain an Atheist due to lack of evidence, or Logic for one. There is no point in discussing anything else until we prove God. Then we can discuss what it is the invisible Sky Buddy wants from us. Until then. Death is the evidence for the end of your life’s.

  • http://hollynairn.co.uk Holly

    really thought provoking stuff. enjoyed greatly, but maybe a feminist point of view could have added something to these arguments?!

  • Hugh

    The problem with all of the arguments I've heard thus far in this doc is that they are "reasonable".
    Religion is the anti-christ of reason.

  • Bob

    Feminist view??? This has nothing to do with gender, it would not matter if this was discussed by males or females. In a quest for truth, truth must be objective - not of a different nature for men and for women.

  • Riley

    yes, a hot chick spouting metaphysics would have been a welcome relief ;)

    this was an excellent doc - based upon it, checked out the bbc series which was its source. my daughter, a highly intelligent young atheist, was privileged to hear some first-rate white men lay down the case for a sceptical, pragmatic approach to an understanding of the world, sans
    nonsense.

  • Truth

    the philosipher at the beginning of the documentary is confused... i dont blame him because he was a christian where you have the original sin and a human as divine of course he would be confused and he would think it is wrong... he also says that he wishes it was true because it is by nature that people believe there is a God. I wish he would study Islam and read the Quran so that he is enlightened and embraces the true religion and lives in peace with himself.

  • post-theist society

    Islam is SO FAR from anything that could be construed as truth. seriously, let's come out of the dark ages and into the light of NOW..

  • Philosopher²

    If there is not a perpetual observer that is yourself which carries on after physical death, then I postulate that there was never anything to begin with. Without the perpetual observer, there must also be no space, no time, no duality, no locality, no singularity, no observers and no actors. If I truly do not exist after "death," then logically there is only total lack of "I" throughout all cartesian coordinates and their infinite sub-coordinates as well. In the atheist universe...I am, I was and I will be far, far, far less REAL than any dream character I have ever encountered while in REM sleep...LoLs. @_@ I love atheism in a way because of its grand absurdity.

  • merv

    Some of these men seem to take on the peculiar idea that they must eradicate the idea of God from the human mind.I have no problem with the individual asserting his disbelief in God. But I do suspect and history have provided some evidence, that men who discard the idea of God have a nasty habit of taking the role upon themselves.

  • http://arrachetachemise.qc.ca Socratease

    This documentary, and with the the original it supplements, are probably the most important things posted on this site and possible every recorded by BBC.

    Incredibly devoid of fluff. So refreshing.

    As someone who totally didn't need any new argument for atheism( Coming out of Islamic social background, studied years in theological studies on the big three + eastern faith as a passtime in college and university---then on to pure and applied studies to the liberal arts, doing a masters in philosophy now) , this was pretty much a distilled view of all the things I mostly already knew, but had made now, crystallize now in my mind by people vastly more eloquent than I am.

    Any people who are actually interested in the idea of Religiosity or Disbelief ought to watch these two documentaries in their entireity.

  • Mac

    philosopher, clearly you are the center of the universe. congratulations! lemme know how you achieved that feat.

  • Albert Couillard

    Here is the problem I have with atheists. They do not believe in God because there is no tangible proof of the existence of Him/Her. In fact, some have said they have traced the belief in a god to psychological and physical and chemical reactions in the brain. Fine. So is the feeling of love, actually so is any feeling. Thus the feeling of love should be discarded as merely a chemical reaction in the brain, with no more significance than the need to go to the washroom. No one actually loves anyone because it is a feeling but, as we have already seen, all feelings are nothing more than chemical reactions in the brain. This all feelings cannot be accepted as legtimate.

  • Eric

    Hey Albert, we actually have reason to believe love exists! lol

  • Barely There

    i know that consciousness exists
    i know that we all love, fear and hurt
    and yet we can never get inside one another
    we can never know eachothers pain , love , fears , emotions
    but yet we dont deny that they exist in eachother because we have experienced them ourselves and we assume that we are all the same
    i personally have had a few telepathic experiences
    ill give an example--im not religious--but i cant deny that something is going on --other than physically
    one new years at a friends house with people i had never met we played a game of balderdash-i think thats what its called
    anyways --- how it works is we were given a word "barda" or something like that and we all had to make up a meaning for it ---and of course on person knows the real meaning---so we all get a chance to say what the word means--i wrote down "a cambodian word for morning" and the girl accross the table from me wrote down "a saying in cambodia that means good morning"
    we both made the same answer up and we were sitting FAR away from eachother--i forget what the actual answer was but--thats obviousy more than a coincidence and it makes mehave to question that there is something energetic rather than tangible goin on ...and ive had many wierd little things happen---just thought id share

  • Barely There

    @-- 6:58 min of 3 of 3 -- did anyone notice that the atheist says--"that satisfies a deep craving in the human soul" ?
    a little ironic --but clearly he cant escape the fact that we are all more than just physical

  • http://www.unlockthejourney.blogspot.com Nate

    @ Epicurus4

    I hear Dawkins bring up the issue of a contradicting bible a lot and there's something he's overlooking. He says that we were given sin by God, which sets us up to be evil. He says that if God where a loving God, then why would he make evil? But what kind of world would it be if that option wasn't there? We would be like robots, not consciously aware of anything because we won't be willing to take chances or make mistakes given our divinely purified minds. We can not deny that we have free will, it's obvious in our ability to make choices whether they be good or bad. The bible states that God has given us this free will. True, the option to sin or not was given to us in that moment, but God didn't create sin, He hates it, instead I think it came as result of giving us free will. That option of sin was placed in front of us that we may show our true love for God. Think of it as a father and a child; the father doesn't want the child to (place sin here), but for that father to experience true love from that child, the child would have to make the decision himself to choose his father over the sin before him. God doesn't want a forced love from his creation, He wants us to choose Him for ourselves.

    So I'll have to say I disagree with Dawkins on this subject, as is my freedom of choice to do so.

  • KillerOfTheSun

    @ Nate

    The biblical god did indeed create evil..for everything comes from god is this god exists.Isaiah 45:7 states god creates evil. Also free will cannot exist if an omnicient diety exists,for this diety already knew of our actions before we were created.If that's the case and god is eternally perfect,then everything is already pre-determined and not subject to change since change means something isn't already perfect.So in essence if this biblcial god exists then everything comes from god for it is the creator of all things.Which means god did create sin and knew of the ramifications of sin and allowed it to continue and destroy mankind in the process making the biblcial god immoral by that premise.

  • Oshman

    Thank you Nate excellent explanation.Killer of the sun. Yes everything is predetermined and written because God knows and can forsee what would happen. There is a path that everyone shall lead however there is always freewill you have choices and the freedom to do whatever you will. You have a choice option A would lead to so and so and option B would lead to so and so and so on...

  • Sarah

    Albert Couillard
    "Here is the problem I have with atheists. They do not believe in God because there is no tangible proof of the existence of Him/Her. In fact, some have said they have traced the belief in a god to psychological and physical and chemical reactions in the brain. Fine. So is the feeling of love, actually so is any feeling. "

    Utter false analogy. Love is an emotion, something you feel. God is a being. Their are actions you may have you know yourself are the direct result of love, and actions other people take that only can be described by love (sacrificing oneself so a loved one can survive).
    But god is one of many answers, one of many possibilities. Since their is no evidence of him/her, he is ruled out in favor of more likely causes.

    Anyway, way to go bravo. (Un-sarcastically) you hit emotion right on the head. All it is are chemicals, but those chemicals exist right? We've proven their origin.

  • docugeek

    albert couillard & sarah: it is inescapable that god exists only in the mind of the believer, as with any emotion. as such every individual experiences and defines it differently. that is not to say it doesn't exist. however, organised religion's anthropomorphisation of this emotion and the folklore and superstition that accompany it undermine the grand amibtion of these feelings through forced co-ersion and suppresion (nay, oppresion). i am not religious, but i believe in something, and if it has to have a name i will call it atheism.

  • John

    docugeek my friend, you're stupid. "atheism" isn't a belief, and you just admitted you believe in "something".

  • Izzy

    Should have been called the Darwinism tapes.

    These so called intelligent men do not believe in GOD because they can't explain or see it! But they do believe that our universe and the living come from NOTHING? doesn't that contradict their idea of God?

    Monotheism religions have been separated by people. God has only one message. Religion of peace. All acts of evil are done by criminals not religions. You can't imply that atheists are all men of peace can you?

    The fact is. 1 minute left to death I have a 50/50 chance. I was either right about a creator or wrong. Whereas atheists(Darwinists) lose either way.

  • Sammi79

    If there is a god, why does he want me (and others) to be atheist?

    @Izzy, how do we atheists lose? what do we lose? If god was revealed to me after my death I would accept him then (assuming against all common sense that there will be a 'me' to do the accepting after my own death) and he would accept me also, no? If he revealed himself to me now, I would change my mind. What would change yours?

    If you need 'god' to be the 'cause' of existence (of anything as opposed to nothing) then answer : what caused your 'god' to come from NOTHING?

    Also I feel the people interviewed in this doc are very intelligent - a physicist - philosophers - a theologian - a biologist - a playwright (high artist) these are some of the most intelligent people I have ever heard speak and their chosen proffessions in fact require it from them.

    Peace is a truly a noble idea, one we should ALL strive for for ALL. For it to really happen people need compassion, logic and reason. Compassion is simply common sense. Denying the validity and the findings of the tools of logic and reason holds peoples development back, damages their ability to be indiscriminately compassionate and is just plain backward.

    Religions of the world all suffer from the idea that scientific arguments (and proven facts) are just theories and are less or no more valid than relgious ideas therefore undermining the tools of Logic and Reason. Result - No peace.

    Regards,
    Sam

    By the way brilliant documentary, many arguments covered here and in a gentle non excitory fashion. A banquet for thought.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/J-F-DAmours/583886465 J-F D'Amours

    i think you don't understand what he meant the fact of believing that there is no god IS a belief and it's called atheism a for not and theism for god-religion, it is not a religion it is a belief, a personal opinion about god

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/J-F-DAmours/583886465 J-F D'Amours

    so if you can take whatever option you want it is not determined your explanation does not work the meaning of predetermination is that the choice is already made either you want it or not

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/J-F-DAmours/583886465 J-F D'Amours

    i don't see why you conclude that love is not legitimate your personnality that is also in your brain but memorized and formed by all the beliefs, the stimuli and the genetics you got from your parents is very real and creating those feelings when you see the people you love and it does not stay in the brain it stimulates some parts of your body it is very legitimate we just understand a little more from where it comes that's all

  • http://twitter.com/RaiderDuck Joel Eagelston

    If you were right about a creator, then were you right about WHICH creator? Remember that most religions believe that all members of other religions are damned to a fate even worse than that of non-believers.

    If you are right about the creator, then were you right about HOW he/she/it wants to be worshiped? For instance, Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists each believe the other is damned to hell. Yet, each believes itself to be the ONLY way to heaven. They can't both be right.

    Lastly, atheists (of which I am not one) do not believe that life came from nothing. Please take some time to actually learn the arguments you're trying to discredit.

  • gladius

    God's wrath? Why does an omnipotent being need to feel anger towards anything? I one has all power then nothing can ever be a threat to it or incite that being to anger (wrath).

  • Scott Harrison

    Religion was invented to control people When religious beliefs began to diminish they invented laws instead. Its also a good excuse for war.

  • 0zyxcba1

    Bad people will behave badly.
    Good people will behave well.
    However, it takes religion to make otherwise good people behave badly.

  • JoeyMack

    Your comments about Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists are 100% incorrect. Just wanted to point that out.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1002456105 Carl Jodoin

    Brainwashed, If the Bible would state to jump over a bridge would you do it. The worst is that its probably yes, you'd go the heaven right?

  • msnam

    Let's assume you are right. however how do you know you chose the right religion? Believing to creator doesn't gaurantee you the HEAVEN, right?
    As you and other religious folks believe anything outside of your circle of thought is doomed to hell, aren't you? Your religions principles call people with different beliefs infidels.

    So it comes down to reason and logic to find the best or most correct religion. by chance? I don't think so.
    As soon as you reason with your GOD, creator and all the scripts to figure that out you see all are nonsense and against the simplest laws and evidences of the existence and universe.
    So you will give in and rest assured that the idea of GOD is nothing but manipulating intellectually immature human beings.

  • msnam

    It seems your GOd is so into Tom and Jerry cartoon, man. What a m***n GOD who has been waiting for billions of years to create us after vanishing most of the animals over the course of history for a couple of times, and then f*** with us and finally burn his toys in the hell. lol I really love such a smarty pants GOD or maybe whoever invented him.

  • petethedestroyer

    seems like these guys have never heard or read William Lane Craig...

  • http://twitter.com/deldiabloloco steven johnson

    I never believed it GOD and as far back as I can go - my parents sent me to sunday school where I spent time recruiting others into the church. Great fun turning them to go to church. But I never belived... I took great joy making others believe... this was fun for me at age 14. I remember this well. But I have always followed the immutabel laws of human evolution, and even my teacher thought I was crazy...

  • http://twitter.com/deldiabloloco steven johnson

    Meaning is a thought you think, when you are about to think a thouhgt you have never thought before!

  • http://twitter.com/deldiabloloco steven johnson

    Come on you thinkers think! you will never remember what I just said!

  • http://twitter.com/gsuku Gu'an

    Theologian Dennys Turner made quite a sophisticated argument (in comparison to most other theists) that there is anything at all implies something outside this universe. But then he skirts the fact that, with such an outside being, the question merely changes to include this universe+being, and eventually, ends up as an infinitely recursive argument that neither supports the existence of an *all powerful* god nor is an end-all answer for a scientific universe. This is just a philosophical equivalent of Godel's incompleteness theorem in mathematics.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/EZLQYB6VIJTIRASK6TJHH72FDE Robert

    ... and maybe I have a 50/50 chance of getting a gift from Santa if I truely believe... lol I think I'll choose my time more wisely

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/EZLQYB6VIJTIRASK6TJHH72FDE Robert

    Thats not atheism. Its agnosticism.

  • Dimehead

    I''m sure they did, and laughed hard at it. Watch Christopher Hitchens debate/destroy him on youtube.

  • Dave Germain

    The thumbnail for this video in "search" is a picture of Charles Manson with a Nazi tattoo on his forehead, from a History Channel Show "Cults - Dangerous Devotion."

  • blank21

    God's existence is only a mystery to the non believer. Those who do know God don't question it. God does only exist in the heart and mind of the believers, they are the ones whom Gods kingdom rests on. This is why you could never know, you already believe you found the answer. Even Gods people can only boast that they are not worthy, because believers are human just like you, the only difference is that true believers have been put on the right path with God while non believers have not been put on any path but are still seeking. Maybe one day you will realize that the only inescapable thing is God and that one day you have to account for your entire life, no deed is hidden whether good or bad.

  • AntiTheist666

    “Those who do know God don't question it”

    How right you are! Because if they really did question it they would come to the conclusion that it’s all nonsense. Non believers don’t need dirty dogma to foul the way of their enlightened paths. Your god only exists in your mind, an imaginary friend on steroids.

    The Crucified One

  • docoman

    I agree with blank21 on one sentence he typed, the rest were rubbish.
    " God does only exist in the heart and mind of the believers, they are the ones whom Gods kingdom rests on."

    As he said, God is only in the minds of the 'believers'. That is the only place God resides, and his 'kingdom' relies, or as blank21 put it rests, on those beliefs.
    If there was no belief, shazzam, no God. That makes sense to me.

  • http://oldfox.info/ Terry "OldFox" Seale

    I like the Dali Lama. He went into a pizza place and said, "Make me One with Everything."

  • NX2

    And the clerk replied: " On it's way, will take some time though. if i make you one with nothing is that good enough, for starter?"

  • Michael Jay Burns

    or, "sorry we are fresh out of something"

  • Michael Jay Burns

    I think that was the deli lama

  • Michael Jay Burns

    When an American Christian asks “do you believe in God?” he is asking about the “In God We Trust” entity referenced on his currency, i.e. the Capitol G deity of “the people of the Book”.

    When an atheist hears this question he takes it as “ does your world view include any element of the supernatural?” to which he replies “NO”

    The atheist answers in a way that directly addresses the issue and rejects it and all its kin with one word.

    When the agnostic hears this same question he takes it as “does
    any sort of supernatural entity exists?” to which he answers
    “probably not, but since I cannot eliminate all possibilities I have to say “maybe”.

    The agnostic avoids the issue that was actually raised.

    I confess that I also once took that line of least resistance.
    “But I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now."

    Colin McGuin’s use of the word “atheist” to denote those who have rejected supernaturalism, is entirely consistent with my own and I
    advocate for its broader adoption.

    In closing, my example of American Christians was chosen because they are the people I have had the most exposure to on this
    topic. I’m sure that the observation generalizes to a much broader cohort. For those self-proclaimed "agnostics" who take offense to my observation I say “if the shoe does not fit do not put it on.”

  • http://oldfox.info/ Terry "OldFox" Seale

    Sorry I don't get it, nx2. Are you bringing my silly joke into the metaphysical discourse?

    I have a thought, if some people will refuse to believe in anything unless it can be proved with measurements, dimensions, weight, or timed then they are excluded from believing in non-physical reality such as thoughts, dreams, ideas, composers inventing a melody in their heads, playwrights imagining dialog in their heads, poets running through compositions in the imagination, Einstein catching a "spark" for relativity while riding a trolley.

    Are these not things that can be believed?

  • http://oldfox.info/ Terry "OldFox" Seale

    I've heard this before, and I've said this before. Several religions were invented by people who had no one to control. It was hijacked and then used to control masses of people.

    Like television, it was not invented to control people, but has come to be used for the purpose of indoctrinating people to serve the servile society.

  • docoman

    As you admit, your opinion is based on your experience in the USA. Newsflah mate, the USA is not the entire world.
    That does not translate to everyone's experience, and you sure as sh1t don't know why everyone else chooses what they choose, or their experience with it.
    Stop telling me and other agnostics what and why we chose that particular label, you're not completely correct.
    I can agree with you on most things, except when you start to tell me why I chose what I chose. You don't know, that's the truth of it. You only know why YOU did.
    You make the claim it's the path of least resistance, so prove it. I've already discussed with you why that is not always the case, but here you go again...
    Once again, IF it was the path of least resistance, why do I have to argue my position with BOTH sides?
    Edit- have a look at our post histories, you'll find I've put up more of a 'resistance' to religious claims then you have mate.

  • docoman

    All those 'intangibles' you mention have supporting evidence. Your 'God' hypothesis doesn't. There is the difference.

  • Michael Jay Burns

    D-Man, as I said, if the shoe don't fit don't put it on. I have no idea what YOU think or how you came to think it.

    I'm thinking in political terms and I'm counting the "for-against-undecided" votes. When someone labels themselves agnostic - for whatever reason - they put themselves in the "undecided" tally. I think that many of those are actually "against" and I would like for as many of those (and I think you are one of them) to be counted with those whose basic views they share. We need the vote count. It matters.
    Perhaps the whole atheist/agnostic thing should be dumped and we all cut to the chase with Magic/Evidence or some palatable version thereof.

    I think that we really should be on the same side here. Sorry to have offended you.

  • Michael Jay Burns

    The issue, as I see it, are what are the rules that you choose to apply. Some have rejected magic and some have not.

  • docoman

    I agree mate, I'm much closer to being atheist then not. I've not seen any evidence that requires a 'god', I've seen much that makes one not necessary, none at all that requires a 'god'. You're probably right, its in the definition that is the problem.
    Magic/Evidence is very easy to choose... I'm right with you there mate. I like that distinction.

    As far as the numbers go for voting, I, and I think most agnostics, will vote in the logically sensible way. "Leave religious BS claims out of it, until there is decent evidence for some proof, fk off with the BS claims, both in politics and education" :)

    I'm not really offended by your thinking mate, I agree with 99% of your thoughts, I think I am a bit when I feel I'm told why I choose to think how I do. I didn't because its the easy way out. I'll argue till I'm blue in the face or worse (face to face) against religious claims. Hence my opposition to the 'path of least resistance'. There is no doubt that you are correct for many people, especially in the South USA, where religious nutters seem to have a home-ground advantage and it probably is the easy way out for many non-believers.

    I do reject all 28 million or so proposed 'gods' men have come up with. If you were to say 'some', or maybe even 'most' agnostics do it for that reason, I'd be quite happy, as I'm not one of those. I'm not easily intimidated or back down from a fight I feel is necessary. I've proven that to myself a number of times in my life.
    I do like reading your posts on here mate, and nearly always agree. :)

  • docoman

    lol, I'd heard the first part before, not your reply. :)

  • docoman

    Most of your posts on TDF have been a silly joke Terry. Even when you've tried to be serious. ;)

  • docoman

    No apology needed mate, if I took it personal that was my mistake. You are allowed to express your opinion the same as anyone else is. There was a really intelligent poster that used to post here, 'antithiest666' I was glad I could call a mate, that would agree with you, he and I had similar discussions. I fear he's not alive anymore, he was having health issues and hasn't posted here for a number of months now. I miss him :(

  • NX2

    Oh, if you like to take it into a metaphysical discourse, that's fine too. Actually, i was more referring to something in the line of Lawrence Krauss' lecture 'A Universe From Nothing' (available at TDF)

  • NX2

    Quite an interesting series!
    To put my two pennies worth in:

    I wont say that god does or doesn't exist, whatever god may mean to be, though it seems that a 'god image' is just as essential as a self image and a world view. Three images in the psyché where believe plays a role, in the ‘god image’ a more prominent one. Note that i call it a ‘god image’ because of a lack of a better word, it doesn't need to mean there has to be a god or a consequential religion in the image. It is to be understood as an image for providing meaning to aspects of life which cannot be rationally or factually explained, or for providing emotional comfort / support. Traditionally, and for some still, a god in the picture is sufficient, for some not so. However, if the traditional ‘god image’ is taken away, something needs to fill the gap or void. And to quote Daniel C. Dennett: “But what will it be?”. That, to me, seems like an interesting discussion.

    Personally, i find that trying to prove or disprove the existence of a god may lead to an interesting intellectual, philosophical, theological or perhaps esoteric discourse, but given the context above, is in the end quite irrelevant. From the arguments provided by Denys Turner, you can conclude the same, i think.

  • Michael Jay Burns

    The notion that it is somehow essential for a culture to have
    " an image for providing meaning to aspects of life which cannot be rationally or factually explained" strikes me as a bit of a reach.

    There are certainly cultures and individuals that do not have "gods" and I would contend that they are better off seeking to fill-in the acknowledged gaps of their knowledge with rational exploration rather than sleeping through the movie wrapped in metaphysical hog-wash,

  • NX2

    Agreed, it's not essential for a culture to have such an image, but that's not what i wrote. It's more the individual psychological need that i had in mind, on that level it seems essential, just as a self image or a world view is. Though nor on that level is a god in the image essential. Of course rational elements can be part of that image, but to assume that only rational elements would be entirely satisfying in terms of psychological need, that would be a mistake, i think.
    For instance, you could explain in a rational manner the death of a parent to a child, but would it be entirely satisfying for the child? I believe the same goes for many grown ups. Trying to battle that would already be a battle lost, no?

  • Michael Jay Burns

    I don't see a way to intercept " it seems that a 'god image' is just as essential as a self image and a world view." in a way other than as an "essential" assertion. I take exception to inserting "god" into the human equation in that context and as your further comments note it is not needed to advocate your essential position here.I suggest that your use of the word "god" here is ill-advised.

    As it happens I also disagree with your advocacy of irrationality generally.

    As I understand your position you think it better to incorporate fairy tales where the truth is painful. The problem with that analgesic approach is that while it might soothe the pain in the short run, analgesics tend to be habituating.

    I think that in this case the analgesic metaphor is apt and that meta-physical band-aides (e.g. religions) rapidly turn into blind-folds. In my view it is better to tell the truth as best it is known so as (to extend the medical metaphor) develop a healthy immune system. You say (to paraphrase) "give them hope" when really what you advocate is "give them dope"

    The truth may not set you free but it is far less likely to enslave you than the alternative.

  • NX2

    Perhaps ill-advised, yes, though i did wrote in my initial comment that i used it for a lack of a better word.

    I can agree with your stance on " give them hope, give them dope". I wouldn't advocate for telling 'fairy tales', though it can be done, not for soothing a pain but as a coping mechanism.
    To use the same example of the child, if the child isn't told any fairytale, it is very likely to come up with a fairy tale of his/her own. I think it's kind of necessary for going through a certain process. Later when the child grows up it might be able to laugh about it, seeing for what it really was, a coping mechanism. (That might of course be a more difficult thing to happen if a fairy tale was told rooted in religion.)
    In that sense, i don't think it is a good idea to not allow, or building a 'healthy' immune system. That would be suppression in my opinion.

    Now, If this perception above is transfered to the level of a religious culture, then it is easily understood that such culture might need to grow up. Though a religion doesn't only address the 'god image' (excuse me the expression) but also the world view and the self image. And with self image comes identity, often a hard nut to crack. As such, it takes a longer time for a culture to evolve.

  • Michael Jay Burns

    I'm sorry, I do not understand what you are saying. In the context of the documentary being discussed "god" refers to a something supernatural.

    I read your original posting as advocating some level of super natural explanation for the purpose of minimizing the pain of life. I oppose that notion on several grounds.

    Taking the most salient example, death, I think the better course is to educate the child to the reality of birth, maturity and death - i.e. the natural cycle of living things. The death of a pet provides the opportunity for such lessons. After a few fish, a hamster or two, a bird, cat, and dog the child will understand this basic reality and will incorporate it into its "self image" to better understand his or her place in the natural world.

    I call supernatural explanations "fairy tales" and feel strongly that teaching such hogwash only weakens the mind.

    It may well be that I simply did not understand you. The word "god" is almost always the worst choice when dealing with anything vague.

  • NX2

    Well, i 'm sorry to hear that, it seems like i fail at explaining myself properly.
    You really do seem fixated at the "god" word, though i never meant to describe a supernatural entity with it, but explicitly the psychological processes consequent to believing in such concept. And by taking away such a concept doesn't imply the disappearance of those psychological processes. I just use "god" because that's what those processes are historically related to. Perhaps, i should call it the 'irrational image'?
    I totally agree that the best thing to do is to educate a child about the reality of birth and death, all i am saying is that initially it's not sufficient to only incorporate rational elements. (And neither do i mean to incorporate a "god")

    I 'm quite convinced i 'm describing a valuable ground for atheism, at least from a psychological perspective.
    I hope this might explain my position a bit more, and i hope it's at least clear that i 'm not against atheism?

  • Michael Jay Burns

    You are quite correct to note my sensitivity to "the 'god' word" I do not see any way to separate it from supernaturalism.

    I am from a place where the "god" brand of supernaturalism is in open war with science for the minds of our children. Their minions occupy virtually every political office in the state (Texas) and they are aggressively pressing their anti-secular agenda. They recently lost a major battle when school book publishers refused to print their "Intelligent Design" poisoned biology text books for national consumption. They do not believe in education, they believe in indoctrination.

    So, you see my opposition to anything that strengthens the perception that there is any such thing is a "god" is not based on abstractions but on political reality.

    You strengthen the hand of my enemies - and the enemies of reason everywhere - every time you bandy that term about. Your use adds to its credibility and you implicitly buy into that supernatural worldview whether you mean to or not.

    I do not agree with your basic premise that irrationality should be an element of anyone's world view. I suggest that a "not as yet known" or even "unknowable" category serves the function far better and carries far less baggage. The alternative is to fill in the blanks with fairy tales.

    We will simply agree to disagree I suppose.

  • NX2

    Well, i guess it's best to agree to disagree, though i can understand your point of view.
    Let's leave it at that.

  • terrasodium

    To the best of my abilities to question the ordering apriori basis of societies I can find only two, that being coersion or consent, trying to reason through the uses of either of the two lead me to other apriori questions of why and or how, if I ignore the why then the how becomes easily available and can be answered by a carpenter or a plumber or mechanic of any sort. with this in mind I would like to ask how society would or will develop consent among the educated or indoctrinated masses if you fail to gain the consent of a minority or majority of the body politic.and should we ban the question of why from our lexicon of use in study of the natural world?

  • Michael Jay Burns

    "Why" implies volition, i.e. it attributes intent and planning to the subject of the question.
    It therefore applies only to some percentage of the actions of human beings. In the vast majority of cases it is a non-sense question.

  • terrasodium

    could it then be intent and planning should be reserved for only the minority of cases and volition be coersed out of society if it doesn't aliegn with a majority of sensual questions?

  • Michael Jay Burns

    I do not understand your question. Perhaps I should expand on my statement so as to removed as much ambiguity as I am able.
    WHY asks for motive. We have reasonable grounds to attribute motive to humans and to a lesser degree to some animals (e.g. wolves hunting prey). But the WHY question is often asked where there is no apparent actor. The vast majority of things occur as the consequence of natural forces. Asking why in those cases assumes either a supernatural entity or that the Universe itself is sentient, all planning and omnipotent (which may be a distinction without a difference).
    May I ask if English is your first language?

  • Maxine Godfrey

    please attribute the source of that paraphrased statement -- Prof. Steven Weinberg. give credit where it's due. but, boy, is it ever true!