A new movie starring Dawkins and Krauss

A new movie, “The Unbelievers” (Facebook page here) follows Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss around the world as they promote science and reason and go after religion at the same time.  According to a post at the Richard Dawkins Foundation, the movie includes, among others, these talking heads:

Ricky Gervais
Woody Allen
Cameron Diaz
Stephen Hawking
Sarah Silverman
Bill Pullman
Werner Herzog
Tim Minchin
Eddie Izzard
Ian McEwan
Adam Savage
Ayaan Hirsi-Ali
Penn Jillette
Sam Harris
Dan Dennett
James Randi
Cormac McCarthy
Paul Provenza
James Morrison
Michael Shermer
David Silverman

Here’s the trailer for the movie, which has already passed 112,000 views in ten days:

I’m curious to hear Richard’s answer to Krauss’s question, “Richard, what’s more important in some sense: if you had a choice—to explain science or destroy religion?”

That would be a tough one for me. How do you think Dawkins answered? And how would you have answered if you possessed Dawkins’s proficiency at explaining evolution as well as his enormous public profile as an atheist?

And if anyone’s seen this, weigh in below.

105 Comments

  1. gbjames
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    I would destroy religion. This would enable expanded acceptance of science.

  2. Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    If I “possessed Dawkins’s proficiency at explaining evolution as well as his enormous public profile as an atheist,” I would first destroy religion,; then, teaching and accepting science would follow.

  3. truthspeaker
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Explain science. Religion will only be destroyed when people voluntarily leave it. Explaining science helps some people do that.

    • Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink

      Exactly my thoughts. I’ve seen some non-religious evolution deniers; they don’t know enough science for evolution to make sense to them.

      • gbjames
        Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        Those guys are pretty rare. A multiple amputee could count them on his remaining phalanges.

        • Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

          No, not really. There are a LOT of uneducated atheists who don’t “get” evolution; I’ve known more than one. To them: “if we came from apes so why are there still apes” is a legitimate question.

          • gbjames
            Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

            Not “getting” evolution is very different from denying it. Being a evolution denier is not simple ignorance. It is active rejection of evidence when faced with it. That is very different from not knowing much about the subject or just having bad reasoning skills, both of which are amenable to education.

    • Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      That answer kind of ignores the question. If the question was “which would rather: explain science or try to destroy religion but fail,” then the answer is obvious. But that wasn’t the question.

    • Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      That’s what I would go with.

  4. Somite
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Either way you win. Explaining science destroys religion and destroying religion would allow science to flourish.

  5. marycanada FCD
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    I would find a way to explain science that makes it interesting and welcoming. Especially when talking about origins. I assume that religious belief would slowly disappear.

    • gbjames
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:23 am | Permalink

      Problem is that the assumption is often wrong. Usually it just leads to religion dodging, retrenching, and demanding unwarranted respect.

      • darrelle
        Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

        Your right, that is often the case. But destroying religion all at once in some specific campaign pretty much meets the definition of impossible, in the real world. I think to start to argue your position successfully you would have to first propose some methods of destroying religion.

        That is basically what this discussion amounts to, How can religion best be destroyed. The choices so far mentioned are “teach science better and hope that does it in the long run” or “just destroy it (by some undisclosed method).”

        • gbjames
          Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

          The method for “destroying” religion is sketched in a response to #8, below.

          The comments on this page are primarily responses to the question “If you had a choice…” Questions about strategies for accomplishing this or that are important, but not really to the point.

        • darrelle
          Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

          Well I see you pretty much answered that down below, gbjames. While I agree 100% on opposing religion, that is not what I interpreted “destroy” to mean in the OP quote.

          I never understand the tension between the “lets teach science more / better” proponents and the “lets oppose religion directly” proponents. It approaches certainty that both of those things have some efficacy in reducing religious belief, and both can, and in my opinion should, be pursued at the same time. I guess that would be my answer to Krauss. Both.

          • gbjames
            Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink

            Well, yes. I think most of us here would advocate both. That is the life’s work of Dawkins, Kraus, Jerry, and others.

            The controversy, such as it is, arises when some people (accomodationists) express the opinion that confronting religion is a bad thing.

        • muuh-gnu
          Posted February 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

          > pretty much meets the definition of impossible, in the real world.

          No, actually it would be pretty simple: have teachers tell kids that their parents are lying to them and that god doesn’t exist. Repeat. Repeat. And repeat.

          Simply stop dodging around and start treating religion like any other mental illness.

          Within a single generation religion would be gone.

          Of course influential religiots have injected provisions into laws that prevents the state from doing exactly that and allows parents to brainwash their kids, but that is the answer to the initial question as of how to eradicate religion: Get the kids.

          If parents are legally allowed to homeschool kids solely to prevent them from losing their religion, you cannot win at all, other then out-breeding the religiots and then democratically changing the laws to prevent homeschooling and other ways of organized childhood indoctrination.

          • darrelle
            Posted February 20, 2013 at 9:52 am | Permalink

            And you have convincing evidence to support your claim? I think you are overly optimistic.

    • Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Science IS interesting and welcoming. Religion is not interesting; it’s fear mongering.

      • marycanada FCD
        Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        That’s not what I was getting at. There are many who do not find science interesting. One of the reasons may be that they find it difficult to understand. Another reason may be the way it is taught.

        • Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

          Another reason: Science is hard.

  6. wads42
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Trying to explain science to the religious mind merely invites them to reject it, or try to modify and absorb and Christianize it; therefore destroy religion first,-destroy! exterminate!

  7. Gary Graham
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    I’ve heard Dawkins answer similar questions in other venues. His answer would sound like this: I am interested in truth. I support whatever promotes our discovery of truth about our universe and ourselves in that universe. Science seeks truth, religion, for the most part seeks to justify the status quo and to support its own “received wisdom”, whatever that is. If we continue to support science and science education, religion will, for the most part dry up and blow away.(actually that last part is a Clint Eastwood line, but I couldn’t resist).

  8. Ayn Bland
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    I can understand the concept of “explaining science.” But what does “destroying religion” actually mean? Magically (ahem) making it disappear?

    Explaining science already does “destroy religion,” though the destruction is slow and incremental. Think of all the natural events that God All-Smitey was responsible for before the Enlightenment and the mushy, do-nothing Deist clown that remains today.

    • gbjames
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      “Destroying religion”, to me, means relentlessly pointing out that religious beliefs are false, that religion is a force for ill, and that people have no right to use their religious beliefs to influence public policy or education.

      Teaching science is good. Avoiding an explicit challenge to religion is not.

  9. tbolland
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    I think that if science ( a description of the “how” of the workings of the physical world) is capable of ever being fully explained, then it would render religion as unnecessary. That, of course, relies on the ability of people to understand the explanation itself– so I think education is the ultimate answer. This is ,I think, central to Dawkins’ mission.

  10. mrclaw69
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I would say his answer would be “to explain science”.

    Dawkins has *always* said that science is his real interest and his primary concern. Repeatedly he’s said that – vile as the history, texts and actions of religions are – his real issue is whether they are true and to what extent they interfere with scientific progress.

    I think the real question is “is it possible to effectively explore and promote science without trashing religion in the process?”

    I’m sure Dawkins’ answer to that would be “no” – as would mine.

    • gbjames
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      If the question was which he would RATHER do, I’m sure you are right. But that wasn’t the question. I am willing to wager that Dawkins answer to which is MORE IMPORTANT will be “destroy religion”.

  11. Markus Koebler
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Science is the best antidote to religion I know of. The moment one embraces science, religion’s sway over the mind is on its way out.

  12. Anita
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    It’s almost impossible to destroy a person’s inner belief from the outside. It’s better to explain and inform about science first, in my opinion. The person who is willing to listen and understand will automatically be weakened in what was earlier only their belief. Unfortunately, there are too many people around who will never listen, think and question. We’ve better concentrate on the ones who are.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted February 19, 2013 at 4:01 am | Permalink

      It’s almost impossible to destroy a person’s inner belief from the outside.

      That’s a good point – the old “you cannot reason a person out of a position that they did not arrive at through a process of reasoning” argument. What you can do, and what Dawkins does do, is to repeatedly and relentlessly demonstrate that the “logic” of religion is erroneous, the claimed facts are false, and the claimed benefits are lies. You might not succeed in changing the mind of the diseased target (diseased in the same sense as the ants with their brains short-circuited by fungus, shown here recently), but you’re likely to influence onlookers. At the very least, unconvinced onlookers will have no doubt that there is disagreement with the opinions of the religious. For some, particularly the brainwashed children of the religious, that is a revelation in itself. Being allowed to dissent and to disagree is a very large part of the battle, which the religious cannot permit without signing their own intellectual death warrant.
      I suspect that Dawkins would prefer to concentrate on the science, and by promoting the scientific method he guts religion anyway. Ultimately, in a world with the scientific method, religion is dead anyway, so effort diverted from promoting science to speeding religion to it’s inevitable death is, to a degree, wasted effort.
      € 0.02

    • muuh-gnu
      Posted February 19, 2013 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

      > It’s almost impossible to destroy a person’s inner belief from the outside.

      Religion is nobody’s real inner belief. It is a group dynamics phenomenon to signal group affiliation, like waving a banner or singing an anthem.

      It is a case of:

      “How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?”

      “Four.”

      “And if the group you want to belong to says that it is not four but five and otherwise threatens severe social isolation—then how many?”

  13. mknine
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I would explain science. In my opinion science is a vaccine against irrational thinking and would itself neutralize religion. Whereas just destroying religion could leave you fighting against alternative or new forms or irreason, because you haven’t educated people or taught them how to think critically.

  14. h2ocean
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I would say promoting science as I think you get more utility out of it. I think slowly but surely science is eliminating religion, and has the capacity to eliminate other forms of superstition and pseudoscience, such as homeopathy, astrology, etc.). If you could just make religion disappear, there would still be a host of other nonsense around. I think a good understanding and appreciation of science does away with all of it.

  15. Diego
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Wait a minute “explain science or destroy religion”? The results in the premise are skewed, assuming they’re both certainties. Simply ‘explaining science’ doesn’t insure the public comprehends what you are endeavoring to explain, but ‘destroying religion’ assumes that you are effectively eradicating it.

  16. Notagod
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    If christianity wasn’t given undue respect within a society, explaining science would destroy religion. If christianity wasn’t given special governmental status and funding It would die of natural causes from the explanations that are the result of honest scientific inquiry.

    Given the two choices I would pick destruction of religion because explaining science isn’t able to remove, by itself, the undue special treatment given to christianity by governments. My preferred method of destruction would be to deny the special treatment given to religion. However, I would find most any method short of violence mostly acceptable with preference given to honest approaches and I would find deception and manipulation to be distasteful approaches.

    Given the two choices I think Richard would choose the destruction of religion because he is aware of the problems imposed on societies by the undeserved special treatment given to religions by governments and the harmful and unhealthy reliance of societies on the manipulation and deception inherent in religion.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted February 19, 2013 at 4:08 am | Permalink

      Worrying that you started on a question about “destroying religion” with talking about Christianity, as if that were the only religion.
      I forget whether you’re in America or not, but possibly in itself this is a clear indication of the relative hold of Christianity in America versus Dawkin’s Britain. Here, (evangelical) Christianity isn’t that much of a problem – just the occasional nutter in the town centre screaming his lunacies and being ignored or spat at by the population – while vigorous Islam is perceived as a much more dangerous problem.

      • Notagod
        Posted February 19, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

        I’m USian, though not so proud of the society as to proudly claim two continents to my credit. :) Not suggesting you are wrong there as it seems almost all the rest like it that way. So, yes, you are correct, that is attributable to my bias.

        In my conversations with christians I find that they tend to disregard criticism of religion as if christianity was separate and not included in the criticism. I feel the need to point to It specifically in order for them to realized, when they tell me they are doing church stuff, I don’t find it to be honorable it’s more like they are telling me that they are going to abuse children. Thus, I kind of use religion and christianity (including muslims) interchangeably and I regard my use of the terms in this way as sloppy but, I prefer not to allow the christians to think they are escaping from the criticism. Since I have no credibility the sloppiness doesn’t create a net loss, except if it got to the point that it reflected poorly on our community.

        Thanks for the criticism. Maybe I should put some thought into reworking in order to avoid the confusion. What I really want to say to all damned god religious is that ALL of their religions are sucking way too much.

        What about Muzzlchrists? I guess muslims would still think they were escaping intact? Maybe Muslimchrists? Would that cause both groups to feel mostly properly recognized? To me they are the same invasive weeds with the same root structure only with slightly different leaves. They can mate and produce viable offspring so they aren’t properly different species as separating them into muslim and christian groups would suggest.

        This short video with Bill Maher might illustrate the problem of someone trying to disregard criticism when the subject is approached generically (or even when approached specifically it seems).

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted February 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

          No real criticism intended – it was more that the implicit equation of “religion” with “christianity” sounds really weird on this side of the Pond.
          “Muzzichrists” ? You’ve lost me there. I don’t know that term. Is it somehow related to the way that I occasionally describe all of the “religions of the book” as being Jews, merely differing in the relatively minor point of who the most recent major prophet was. Orthodox and maybe Reform Jews think it was some guy in about 500BCE ; Christian Jews think that Jesus Christ (assuming that he existed) was a Jewish prophet (and son of the Abrahamic ghod too) ; Mohammedian Jews (Muslims) think that Mohammed was a prophet of the Abrahamic ghod ; Mormon Jews (I’m quite flaky on their theological details) think that some guy called Joe Smith was a prophet (though I’m not sure if it’s of the Abrahamic ghod).
          Where L.Ron fits in there, I’m not terribly sure. But it would only take a medium-sized theological sledgehammer to get him to fit.
          There’s a schism amongst the Mohammedian Jews over the prophetic status of some guy, but I’m off to the movies soon and don’t have time to work out a barb about it. It’d probably get me shot for apostasy next time I’m working in the Gulf though. (That’s another TransPondian linguistic trap : “the Gulf” to a British oilman such as I is the Persian Gulf, not the Gulf of Mexico which an American (or Canadian) oilman would interpret.)
          In the words of Marvin, it gives me a headache thinking down to that level.

  17. Roo
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    I LOVE that James Morrison is randomly in this movie! I love him but didn’t know he had anything to do with skepticism until seeing this, what a small world!

  18. Chris Quartly
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    We already know that better education leads to a reduction in religiousity, so hopefully explaining science will destroy religion in the long run anyway :)

  19. Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Destroy religion. Easier to explain science after that.

  20. krzysztof1
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    128K hits is impressive, certainly; but it pales in comparison to the >1 billion hits of “Gangnam Style”! Perhaps that is the way it should be. . . .

    • gbjames
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Hey… no fair. Gangnam Style got a head start!

  21. Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Explain science. Not believing in made up stories is a logical consequence of thinking in a scientific way. Conversly understanding science is not necessarily a benefitial side effect of giving up one’s erroneous beliefs. In any case, understanding science is so much more important.

  22. Ludo
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Explain science. But that is not enough: children should be enabled at an early age to learn to distinguish between ‘scientific’ and ‘mythical’ thinking. I think that “religion” would then automatically lose much of its grip on people.
    But I also think that religion will always remain attractive for a certain group of people because it does not require any intellectual curiosity or effort. A religious worldview usually fits on one single A4 sheet and is easily memorized.

    • Ludo
      Posted February 19, 2013 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      Correction: please read ‘magical’ instead of ‘mythical’.

  23. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    The risk is with ‘destroying’ religion that you may find it replaced by some other extreme loony tunes woo. Explaining science has its own checks and balances to steer away from woo.

    • gbjames
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Like the risk of eliminating disease is that you might still fall off a ladder.

      Sure. Let’s have safety education. But let’s not postpone ridding the world of AIDS.

    • muuh-gnu
      Posted February 20, 2013 at 12:11 am | Permalink

      > The risk is with ‘destroying’ religion that you may find it replaced by some other extreme loony tunes woo.

      Thats a pretty bold claim. I guess you have no empirical evidence whatsoever to back it up.

      Several former communist states in eastern europe have pretty successfully eradicated religion and today, several decades later, it is neither coming back nor it is being replaced by something else. It is just gone.

      > http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/sep/22/atheism-east-germany-godless-place

  24. raven
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    if you had a choice—to explain science or destroy religion?”

    Easy. Explain science.

    Religion is doing a great job of destroying itself. All we can do is cheer them on and give them a little poke every once in a while.

    When religion gets small enough, it will go drown itself in a bathtub while ex-religionists cheer.

    • gbjames
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Religion is doing a great job of destroying itself.

      Wishful thinking. If it had been doing such a great job it would have evaporated long ago.

      • raven
        Posted February 18, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

        No.

        Look at the statistics from ARIS, Gallup, Pew, and the churches themselves.

        1. US xianity is losing 2-3 million members a year. Their intake of loot is going down.

        2. The RCC has recently lost a huge 22 million members.

        3. To take just one example, two different polls of the SBC show a retention rate of young people of 30%. They’ve lost members 4 years in a row and their own projections show them getting cut in half in a few decades.

        US xianity is dying according to the facts and data.

        • gbjames
          Posted February 18, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

          I not arguing about the welcome fact that US Xiainsanity is losing power. I’m saying that this is at least in part because of attacks on religion by GNU’s standing up and becoming visible. It isn’t happening all on its own. You want it to come back? Turn your back and ignore it.

          • Notagod
            Posted February 19, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

            Religion is doing a great job of destroying itself. All we can do is cheer them on and give them a little poke every once in a while.

            I like it! Sheep herding, with jesus sticks.

            • Notagod
              Posted February 19, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

              Sorry! I was attempting to reply to Raven’s comment.

      • raven
        Posted February 18, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

        For people who prefer to gather facts, Google works well. Don’t be afraid of search engines.

        Southern Baptist Membership in Free Fall | The Religious Post
        www. thereligiouspost. com/…/southern-baptist-membership-in-free-fa…

        Jun 28, 2011 – The Southern Baptists have been losing members for four years in a row. The more dedicated members are slowing dying and the youngest …

        • gbjames
          Posted February 18, 2013 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

          Thank you for the snark. Please reread my position.

          • raven
            Posted February 18, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

            Please reread my position.

            Not going to bother any more.

            You are lost and immune to facts and reason.

            It’s quite similar to religions. They persist for the exact same reasons by just ignoring data and facts.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted February 19, 2013 at 4:15 am | Permalink
        Religion is doing a great job of destroying itself.

        Wishful thinking. If it had been doing such a great job it would have evaporated long ago.

        [Hmmm, I wonder what inventive madnesses WordPress will have for nested [blockquotes]? Whatever.]
        Setting one religion against another – like dogs in a pit – is a relatively low cost strategy for bringing both religions into disrepute.

        • gbjames
          Posted February 19, 2013 at 5:54 am | Permalink

          Setting one religion against another

          Now THAT has been going on since the dawn of religion.

          • gravelinspector-Aidan
            Posted February 19, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

            Strictly since the dawn of the second religion. Probably. Maybe. Perhaps.

            • gbjames
              Posted February 19, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

              Was there ever just one?

              • gravelinspector-Aidan
                Posted February 19, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

                Hypothesis (1) : a religion arose ; at another time, a different religion arose.
                Hypothesis (2) : two religions arose simultaneously before any other religion had ever existed.
                I think that hypothesis (1) is more likely than hypothesis (2).
                I leave out the case of one religion successfully suppressing all others, world wide. That certainly hasn’t happened since the “discovery” of Australia, Tierra del Fuego and Easter Island by “the West”, and with at least three independent (?) religions in those three widely separated cultures, then we’ve probably got 3 or 4 simultaneously existing religions on Earth way, way back in to the dim and distant past.

              • gbjames
                Posted February 19, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

                I think it is more reasonable to not think of religion as a thing that appeared but as a complex of stuff that emerged. Kind of like how species don’t just appear.

                So my “was there ever just one” was shorthand for the notion that as this complex of ideas emerged among our ancient ancestors, there was no time where religion just was invented. There were always groups of people communicating about this and that, and some of this communication was oriented toward projections of agency. And from the “first” there would have been at least two people involved and each would have had a different set of “religious” notions. In that sense, at least, there would never have been only one.

    • raven
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      It isn’t easy to destroy religion from the outside.

      The Romans tried it with xianity and look what happened to them.

      It is however possible. Look what the xians did to the Pagans. It does require a huge number of dead bodies and lots of persecution.

      IMO, the price is too high. Don’t act like a xian. We are better than that.

      • gbjames
        Posted February 18, 2013 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

        Easy wasn’t the question. It was “which is more important”.

        I don’t think your examples of religions slaughtering each other are relevant. Nobody is advocating slaughter or persecution. What we are advocating is consistently confronting religion and exposing it for dangerous nonsense it is.

        • raven
          Posted February 18, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

          It doesn’t say that.

          You said it, not the opening post.

          Talking abut destroying religion without specifying a means assumes the religionists can read minds.

          Since they can’t, they usually assume persecution and mass slaughter. That is after all, how xianity has been spreading for 2,000 years.

          Xians learned a long time ago that it can be hard to convert people. But that doesn’t matter if you can use threats of death backed up by the occasional mass murders.

          • gbjames
            Posted February 18, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

            It doesn’t?

            I’m curious to hear Richard’s answer to Krauss’s question, “Richard, what’s more important in some sense: if you had a choice—to explain science or destroy religion?”

            Funny, because I just copy/pasted this.

            • gbjames
              Posted February 18, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

              Damn. Blockquote fail.

  25. Posted February 18, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    I would explain science – that is the tool that undermines and destroys religion. Sometimes it is a sledge hammer that directly and suddenly confronts and smashes a tenet of faith. Sometimes it is a little brush that gradually sweeps away the layers of dust of theology.

    Reason and logic will ultimately triumph over nonsense.

  26. Gordn Munro
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    If in the next 10^-35 second all humans converted to permanent non-theistic Unitarians would that do the trick?

    • gbjames
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Not if I have to be one of them, no. But otherwise, it would be progress.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted February 19, 2013 at 4:18 am | Permalink

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but Unitarians are religious of some sort? So that wouldn’t do the job.

  27. Jerome Haltom
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Same as most. Teaching science undermines religion. Teach science. The success of that will translate.

  28. Posted February 18, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    If I had a choice, to explain science.

    But the presence of religion in the world doesn’t allow that choice and explaining science alone is not enough to destroy religion.

    /@

    • gbjames
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      This is what I keep trying to express, without apparent result. It would be nice to just teach science. But religion is an impediment to that. And, while some folk think that religion will evaporate on its own, I don’t see how that happens. It hasn’t happened yet. Progress we’ve seen has been as a consequence of challenging religion, not ignoring it.

  29. Jiten
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    I would destroy religion by explaining science!

  30. Posted February 18, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    TROLL ALERT!

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      I removed the post, which was irrelevant to this discussion.

  31. morkindie
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    “if you had a choice—to explain science or destroy religion?”

    I would opt for destroying religion.
    Woo may raise it’s head in another guise, but religion has it’s hooks in society deep.

    There are plenty of people who explain science all the time, but with religion in the way, a lot of it doesn’t get through.

  32. Greg Peterson
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

    Yes, destroy religion. No good trying to plant a garden if the ground is all choked with weeds. In the lives of my friends and I who deconverted from Christianity and came to embrace science, events happened in just that order. It was THEOLOGICAL issues that resulted in doubting religion to the point of rejection; this enabled us to take another look at science, and what do you know? It had sensible answers to many questions all along.

  33. Samuel
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Id hope Richard would answer, being the quaint anti totalitarian that he is, that he would teach science and reason instead of taking the almost fascist low-road and destroying religion which we all know by now will probably never be totally destroyed.

    All we should and hope to do is teach science to the populous and making the general public more scientifically literate this in effect will enable the people to make better decisions thus I believe greatly diminishing religion and or other stupid beliefs.

    • gbjames
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      Fascist? Really?

      • Samuel
        Posted February 18, 2013 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

        The only way you can destroy a religion other than teaching science and reason is to rule it a crime or to persecute anyone who participates in a said religious ceremony or practice.Is that not the essence of a totalitarian regime?

        • gbjames
          Posted February 18, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

          That is rather unimaginative. Why not relentlessly point out the fallisies of faith? Why not take every opportunity to highlight the hideous consequences of religion in the lives of millions of people?

          • Samuel
            Posted February 18, 2013 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

            That hasn’t work this far…

            • gbjames
              Posted February 19, 2013 at 5:30 am | Permalink

              It has done more in ten years than more than a century of “just teach science”.

              It is a gigantic error to think that the only alternative to “just teach science” is “slaughter and fascism”.

              If you were advocating “just teach reason” (where “teaching” includes directly addressing the catastrophic consequences of faith-following to humankind) I wouldn’t be challenging you. But equating GNUish attacks on religion with fascism can not stand.

    • Posted February 18, 2013 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      “quaint?” really?

  34. Dave
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    One of the things that’s always struck me about lists like the one at the top is the marvelously good company you’re in if you’re an atheist. Can’t really be said for the (prominent people on the) other side.

    • Posted February 18, 2013 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      Having just seen Jack Reacher, hearing Werner Herzog praise Dawkins and Krauss was briefly quite chilling… 

      /@

  35. Posted February 18, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Was PZ Myers snubbed? I don’t see his name in the above list and he doesn’t have an appearance in the trailer. It would be great to see him marginalized.

    • whyevolutionistrue
      Posted February 18, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      Let’s leave the FtB kerfuffles and the like out of this thread, please! That’s a sure recipe for a dogfight.

      • krzysztof1
        Posted February 18, 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

        Thank you.

      • Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

        I was just wondering, but fair enough.

  36. Posted February 18, 2013 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Dawkins is a scientist and he is better at that than at anything else. So explaining science should be his first choice, because the chances are that he will do an impeccable job there.

    Destroying religion is a likely consequence of increasing confidence in science.

    It is a two for one deal!

  37. Sam Salerno
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    Amazed to see the name Cameron Diaz in the line up. Finally a celebrity speaking out for Atheism?

    • Posted February 19, 2013 at 1:16 am | Permalink

      Hmm… so Cameron Diaz is a celebrity but, say, Woody Allen and Werner Herzog are not? Hmm…

      /@

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted February 19, 2013 at 4:26 am | Permalink

        Well, yes. Herzog is a famous film director, Diaz is as far as I know a dumb blond actor (or successfully plays one) and Woody Allen is … well, I’m not even sure what he does, but he’s famous for it. I don’t think that I’ve ever even seen a Woody Allen movie all the way through. Diaz’s movies I normally read though, and Herzog’s I watch.

  38. Posted February 19, 2013 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    Anyone else uncomfortable about Stephen Hawking being described as a “talking head”?

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted February 19, 2013 at 4:29 am | Permalink

      The only relevant opinion is Hawkins’. I’m certain that he’s done voice-overs (or had his voice synthesizer do voice-overs) for The Simpsons, and I think that I’ve seen his talking head appear in Futurama, as a talking head. If that’s true, I suspect that he’s cool with the idea.

  39. madscientist
    Posted February 19, 2013 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    I would bet of course that R. Dawkins goes for explaining science rather than eliminating religion. The demise of religion would be a mere side-effect to the triumph of human intelligence.

  40. el_slapper
    Posted February 19, 2013 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    Explain Science. More accurately, teach critical thinking, & defiance towards non-checked sources. Bible says this? Koran says that? Let’s see what we can check as true(Palestine was ruled by the romans in those times), what is not sure(Jesus Christ did exist), and what is plain bullcrap(when Jesus died, Jerusalem was invaded by zombis – Mat.27; 50-53).

    Once people are looking to both strength & weaknesses of the text, they begin to think otherwise. Maybe it will not destroy religion, but at least reduce its harm. I’m not sure I can think about a full eradication of religion, persistance of Cargo Cult comes to mind. Yet, diminushing its drawbacks is an healthy duty.

  41. Posted February 24, 2013 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    If asked this question only a few months ago I would’ve said explain science, then naturally religious people would be able to understand why their religious beliefs are silly. I always (naively) believed that if people who refused to accept evolution actually understood what it was (instead of thinking it meant that lizards spontaneously transform into birds and monkeys into humans), and knew how much evidence supported it, they would easily let go of their creationist beliefs. But then in my evolutionary biology class first year, we read Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True, and I was completely shocked when several of my peers STILL could not accept it. After that I was completely disillusioned as to how someone could so blatantly deny reality… Cognitive dissonance at its finest.

    Religion/creationism proliferate ignorance. Destroy religion and make way for science and knowledge.

    • gbjames
      Posted February 24, 2013 at 6:45 am | Permalink

      You are right. I remain surprised how many people here think that “just teach science” is how Dawkins will answer (or should answer) the question.


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