“The Unbelievers” out in two days

You’ve certainly heard of the documentary movie “The Unbelievers,” which follows Larry Krauss and Richard Dawkins around as they travel from place to place, giving talks and having public conversations. It will be in theaters in two days. You can find the movie’s website here, which has a bunch of information and photos like this one:

Picture 4

(Memo to Krauss: lose the red sneakers!)

And here’s the official trailer for the movie. They even had Woody Allen there, right behind that sign:

Finally, Monday’s New York Times has a description/review by science writer Dennis Overbye, which is surprisingly positive given the soft-on-faith slant of NYT science writers (except for Natalie Angier, an out atheist, and Carl Zimmer, who keeps quiet about what he believes). Overbye’s piece, “Intellectuals on a mission,” includes some laudatory remarks like these:

[Dawkins and Krauss] make an engaging, if contrasting, couple. Dr. Dawkins, perhaps the world’s best-known atheist after the success of his books “The Selfish Gene” and “The God Delusion,” cuts a dapper figure, often in a suit and flowery tie, a shock of silver hair falling across his forehead. “Science is wonderful; science is beautiful,” he says in that irresistible English accent. “Religion is not wonderful; it is not beautiful. It gets in the way.”

Dr. Krauss, the author of “A Universe From Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing,” is more rumpled, peppery and casual; his wardrobe often features red sneakers. He comes across as a tireless fount of ideas and quips, with a puppy-dog enthusiasm for science and the spotlight, dancing on the stage in one affecting moment and eager to provoke. At one point, Dr. Krauss asks his companion which he would prefer: “a chance to explain science or destroy religion?”

He is blessed with a professional’s sense of comedic timing.

. . . You don’t need to know much about biology or physics to follow what amounts to highlight reels of the speeches the scientists gave, although an explanation by Dr. Dawkins about why there was no “first man” or “first rabbit” could be worth the price of your ticket.

Evolutionary change is simply too slow and imperceptible for humans to notice, he says, adding, “Nobody ever goes to bed middle-aged and wakes up and says, oh no I’m old.”

(In fact, I have a deep fear that this will happen to me!)

Overbye notes, though, that the movie doesn’t present arguments from The Other Side (the side that claims that New Atheist are strident!), and that there was criticism of Krauss’s book for not telling us where the laws of physics came from (well, we don’t know, though Krauss’s book did ignore the question of where a quantum vacuum comes from). Overby also allows that that Krauss and Dawkins are “preaching to the choir” on their tour. Those are all fair statements. But one is not: Overbye throws in a totally gratuitious remark by an unfortunately-named Vatican astronomer:

George V. Coyne — an astronomer, Jesuit priest and former director of the Vatican Observatory, now a professor of religion at Le Moyne College in Syracuse — wrote in a 2000 book on religion and the evolution of life, for example, that the success of modern science has trapped many of us into thinking of God as explanation, thus the notion of finding the “mind of God” as the ultimate goal.

But he wrote, “We know from Scripture and from tradition that God revealed himself as one who pours out himself in love and not as one who explains things.” God, he goes on, is primarily love: “Even if we discover the ‘Mind of God,’ we will not have necessarily found God.”

This has virtually nothing to do with Overbye’s piece.  The “mind of God” trope came from Hawking, not Krauss, and Krauss doesn’t mention it in the article. Further, Father (gulp) Coyne’s blatherings are the usual metaphorizing of Sophisticated Theologian™. He’s simply wrong that God doesn’t explain stuff, for the Big Man does it all the time in His revealed word.  He explains how to behave, he explains why he kills people, he explains where life came from (wrongly, of course), and he explains through his son (who is also Him) why Jesus had to come to earth and get crucified.  What Father (gulp) Coyne is trying to do here is immunize God against the need for evidence.  And what is this pablum about “we know from Scripture and from tradition“? Tradition doesn’t tell us anything: it’s just authority without evidence. Since when did “tradition” become “evidence”? In fact it’s not, for different people’s traditions tell them different things about God (a Baptist, for instance, will surely argue that God explains things). This inter-faith dissent about what God is and does is a sure sign that scripture and “tradition” tell us nothing.

The Los Angeles Times gives the movie a generally positive review, but echoes the New York Times in saying this:

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.

Overbye at the NYT also uses the simile of “rock stars”.  I can’t help but think that that demeans the serious intellectual and social purpose of Krauss’s and Dawkins’s travels. Perhaps someone should have said something about the crowds turning out for love of science, and, especially, for love of public atheism. It takes Dawkins to note that the impressive success of Krauss’s and Dawkins’s tour reflects the thirst of closeted atheists for public affirmation of their disbelief.

87 Comments

  1. gbjames
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    sub

  2. Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    (Memo to Krauss: lose the red sneakers!)
    :)

    • Dominic
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      He wants to sneak up on creationists – why not wear red ones?!

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      I wonder, does Krauss hassle Jerry about his boots?

    • Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      I personally have a soft spot for red sneakers, having worn them through most of grad school. I did take a lot of flak for that, though.

      • Marta
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        Me, too! I have the same pair in pine green.

        I like a bit of whimsical styling from people who do serious thinking for a living.

        A line must be drawn, of course. One should not allow one’s sartorial adventures to include the wearing of underpants on one’s head.

    • Larry Gay
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      I rather like the obstreperous streak in Krauss. I find his informal style appealing and his argumentation reminiscent of Feynman. Let Lawrence be Lawrence. If he starts wearing a headscarf I will probably start advising him on his wardrobe.

    • Posted December 11, 2013 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      According to my boy’s big book of documentary film producer knowledge, wearing red sneakers communicates to the audience that the fellow is ‘avuncular’.

    • Notagod
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

      Memo to Krauss: keep the red sneakers for as long as you like them.

      • Cliff Melick
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

        +1.5

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        :) I think he has a bunch of sneakers. He’s to sneakers what Jerry is to cowboy boots.

  3. gil
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    i have 2 interesting points:

    what if we will find a self replicat watch with dna?iiiiis this kind of watch is evidence for evolution or design?

    2)can a car evolve in a close room?if we will close a room for bilions years a bacteria in the room can evolve in the room into a human that will make a car= a car evolve in a close room? think about that

    • Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      You posted this silly think before. Neither point is interesting.

      • gil
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

        so a self replicat watch need a designer or not? im not understand.

        • Notagod
          Posted December 11, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

          Could a Jeebus evolve into a crispy biscuit?

        • John Scanlon, FCD
          Posted December 11, 2013 at 10:43 am | Permalink

          No I don’t think you are.

          If the watch tells the time for the benefit of a distinct lineage of replicators (e.g. commuters, or boxing referees), it would be like a horse that developed a saddle and stirrups for the benefit of riders. Such things are not known to evolve by natural selection (because genes are selfish), but could possibly be produced by an intelligent designer through artificial selection or more sophisticated genetic technologies. The designer, of course, would have to have evolved first.

          • gil
            Posted December 11, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

            so what about self replicat robot(ape from material prespective?). evolution can e xplain that this robot or even watch evolve because so or so. i dont think that this watch will be a problem for evolution to explain. like now the evolution try to explain anything we see in the nature. but the question is if this explain is ture or not.

            • Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

              On the slim chance you’re not a troll, evolution only applies to populations of organisms which reproduce with an inheritance mechanism that mostly but not always copies the genetic information intact from parent to offspring.

              Evolution does not address how such populations arise in the first place; a separate field of study (abiogenesis) addresses those questions.

              Your examples, if they existed, if I’m making sense of your Engrish, would evolve over time with subsequent generations. Each generation would be slightly different from the preceding one, and, over time, those changes would tend to favor individuals more likely to thrive in their particular environment. Assuming, of course, they didn’t go extinct. Give them enough time — hundreds of generations, generally, at a minimum — they might (or might not) diverge into two similar species, each similar to each other and the original, but sufficiently different that they no longer interbred (for whatever reason). Likely, early on, they do still interbreed, but just not as often, and they do so less and less (and less successfully) with each successive generation. Given enough time, that branching will continue indefinitely, and the far-distant cousins will accumulate enough differences that they only superficially resemble each other.

              You’ll note that, nowhere in any of that, did I address where the original population come from; again, that’s the question of abiogenesis.

              We don’t have a solid picture of how life arose on Earth, but we’ve got a pretty decent fuzzy picture. It’s not enough to know exactly what happened, but it’s far more than enough to rule out all sorts of possibilities — just how you can tell that an out-of-focus picture is of a person (and not an unicorn), but it’s not clear enough for you to tell if it’s a man or a woman, let alone if it’s anybody you actually know.

              Cheers,

              b&

              • gil
                Posted December 12, 2013 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

                hi. we can test the claim that small steps over time= big steps. we can check if there is any steps from one system to another in small steps. so: is there a step wise from a self replicat material to a car? what is the worth in half a car? i think its the same with biological systems.

              • gbjames
                Posted December 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

                There are some great mysteries in the universe that remain unsolved.

                One of the more difficult is whether trolls who use shift keys are actually a different species from those who lack the ability. If you crossed a Shift-capable troll (Trollus shiftie) with a Shiftless troll (Trollus shiftlessicus), would the offspring be viable?

                Nobody knows.

              • Diane G.
                Posted December 12, 2013 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

                “If you crossed a Shift-capable troll (Trollus shiftie) with a Shiftless troll (Trollus shiftlessicus), would the offspring be viable?”

                Impossible to do, because they self replicat.

        • Posted December 11, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

          I declare thee either a kook or a troll. Probably the latter.

          • gbjames
            Posted December 11, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

            99 to 1 odds for a troll pretending to be archie the cockroach.

        • Richard Olson
          Posted December 11, 2013 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

          gil just keeps on cracking himself up here with the spelling/grammar schtick, and generally having an all-around big time playing the atheist’s today.

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      When will you give us the interesting points?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      gil has been copy/paste trolling this nonsense all over the bl*gosphere since August. It’s ignorant trolling & nothing more.

      • Richard Olson
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink

        ‘self replicat watch with dna?iiiiis this kind of watch is evidence for evolution or design?’

        A replicat watch, gil, is evidence of Ceiling Cat.

    • Kevin
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Hi gil,

      You might have mental problems. First, work on your English skills, starting with spelling. Second, identify, clearly what sort of experiments you are proposing and then state them clearly so others can understand. You might have something worth discussing, but, at present, it is indiscernible from basura (Sp.).

      • gil
        Posted December 12, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        we can check if there is any steps from one system to another in small steps. so: is there a step wise from a self replicat material to a car? what is the worth in half a car?

        • Posted December 12, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

          I’m having a bit of trouble making sense of your English.

          However, a close parallel of your last question is, “What is the worth of half an eye?” — a very famous and interesting question.

          If you’ve got a bit of time, Richard Dawkins answers that very question with a wonderful demonstration in the Christmas Lecture he gave a quarter century ago:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dw4w1UsOafQ

          Richard is an eloquent and engaging presenter; you’ll be hard pressed to find a better answer to that very question.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • gil
            Posted December 14, 2013 at 9:19 am | Permalink

            hi ben. i well know the senario of prof dawkins. but actually the minimal eyespot in the earth contain 200 proteins. so its not minimal at all. see here for more problems:

            http://creation.com/did-eyes-evolve-by-darwinian-mechanisms

            • gbjames
              Posted December 14, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

              Sometimes the word “troll” can be spelled with only three letters.

              • Posted December 14, 2013 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

                Ayup.

                Gil, you wanted to know how something complex (half a car) could evolve into something even more complex (a whole car). I gave you an even better example: how a complex-but-primitive eyespot could evolve into something as sophisticated as the modern human eye.

                Now you’re just moving the goalposts. You’ve at least tacitly acknowledged that the barely-functional eyespot was the precursor to modern human eyes, and now you’re objecting that those eyespots themselves couldn’t possibly have evolved from something more primitive. Guess what? The same way: from nerve bundles that, yes, are still complex, but not as complex as eye spots.

                Next, of course, you’ll put those goalposts on rocket sleds and want to trace the evolution of nerves all the way back not just to abiogenesis but to cosmogenesis.

                Sorry, but we’ve all played that game before. It is a logical necessity that our knowledge must reach its limits, and it is a certain bet that your psychological pathology will cause you to insert your favored gods into the resulting gap. And when we figure out what fits in said gap, just as we’ve figured out what fits in every other gap we’ve filled, you’ll just move the goalposts again and again and again.

                You and your ilk have cried “WOLF!” so incessantly that the word has lost all meaning coming from your lips. Worse, that’s all that you ever have to say, rendering your every word equally meaningless.

                Come back when you’ve grown up to the point that you no longer talk to your imaginary friends or are frightened by the monsters under your bed. Then we might be able to have a meaningful conversation.

                Cheers,

                b&

  4. Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Does “in theaters” mean only Los Angeles and NYC? That’s what it appears from the website.

    • Randy S
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      I’m wondering the same… been waiting for this for a LONG time…

    • TJR
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      Wouldn’t it make more sense to show them in cinemas rather than theatres?

      • Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        ?

      • Posted December 12, 2013 at 10:59 am | Permalink

        Places to see movies (films?) in the US are often called “movie theatres”. As I recall, this terminology is not shared by other English speaking countries other than Canada.

  5. Dominic
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    If Richard Dawkins is wearing a flowery tie it is a good bet it was painted by his wife Lalla Ward. Listen to him on Radio 4 this moring (Midweek magazine style programme) repeated tonight in a shorter version & I suppose on the ‘listen again’ –

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qrpf

    • gbjames
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:26 am | Permalink

      Yes. He is wearing one of those Ward-painted ties in this interview on CSPAN’s After Words. (A penguin tie.)

  6. John Hamill
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Both scripture and tradition explain to Fr Coyne what physically happens during the consecration of the eucharist. In fact, god explains exactly what happens during transubstantiation, in ways that are testable by scientists like Fr Coyne.

  7. muggleinconverse
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Explaining science *will* destroy religion. Eventually.

  8. darrelle
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Well, no Tomatometer rating yet, but it has a Rotten Tomatoes User Rating average of 100% based on 447 ratings.

    I am very interested to see the movie, and even more so the public’s, press’s(?) and critics'(?) reaction to the movie.

  9. thompjs
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Dr. Coyne, perhaps you could send Dr. Krauss a pair of your cowboy boots for Christmas?

    • gbjames
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Red ones!

      • thompjs
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 10:07 am | Permalink

        Red ones might be the only ones he would wear.

  10. TJR
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    “God is love”?

    Try telling that to the Amalekites.

    Oh, hang on…..

  11. moarscienceplz
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    “a totally gratuitious remark by an unfortunately-named Vatican astronomer”

    Would that be the flip side of the Coyne?
    ;-)

    • TJR
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      “Maybe love and hate are just the same side of two different Coynes”
      – Stephen Fry

  12. francis
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    //

  13. James Walker
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    As the aforementioned Woody Allen (or rather, his character) says in “Deconstructing Harry”, “Tradition is the illusion of permanence.”

  14. Posted December 11, 2013 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Nobody ever goes to bed middle-aged and wakes up and says, oh no I’m old.

    Curiously enough, that sorta happened to me just this past Tuesday.

    I was sitting in on the monthly meeting of the Tempe Transportation Commission when the chair noted that only one of us was under 40 and that we should probably suggest to the City Council and Mayor that they should think about appointing some younger members — especially since the Millennials are leaving the car in droves. And then I realized that, not only was I in the over-40 crowd, I might not even be the youngest of the over-40 crowd.

    How the fuck did that happen?

    I sure don’t feel middle-aged. Hell, it feels like it was only a few years ago that I escaped college. Okay, maybe several years — but it can’t really be close to two decades, now, can it? That’s simply not possible.

    b&

    • Richard Olson
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      How’d it happen? Why ask why?

      You are at the point where you notice the treadmill seems to be accelerating. This perception is just that, an illusion — only a trick of consciousness. Unfortunately, as far as the brain is concerned, this illusion might as well be the real deal. The governor on your sense of time passing is now permanently uninstalled.

      For many, an occasion like this one marks the point at which perception of one’s personal mortality begins a perpetual cycle of periodic and unexpected reassessments. Each occasional future instance of redefinition follows ever more closely upon its predecessor, each succeeding prognosis is inevitably ever more grim.

      Haveanice daay.

      • Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        And a merry Christmas to you, too!

        b&

      • Marta
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

        I’m regretting that invitation I sent you to my Christmas party.

    • Kevin
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Coffee filters, that is the number I have used. Those are the only thing that give me a sense that life is moving past me. I too am in the young 40 crowd though I do not feel old. How did that happen?

      Many Americans walk, behave, feel older than they are. They supplant hope with dread or they have churned life into low gear and think that’s where life goes…down.

      You definitely are not in that category.

      • Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        40, 50 and even 60 is young!

      • Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        What’s a bit disturbing to me is that I’ve noticed a few friends the same age who’re starting to look…well, not old, exactly, but not exactly young, either.

        I sure don’t feel middle-aged. And I don’t feel dread, except vaguely and impersonally about the usual sorts of things completely out of my control related to politics and environmental catastrophe and the like.

        Strange.

        b&

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

          My dad is always saying how people look old and that he feels old. I always say, “that’s because you *are* old!”

          • Posted December 11, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

            My Mom just turned 79 a week ago. And, yeah, she ain’t no spring chicken anymore…but all the other people her age I know are old, and she’s still much more of a “retiree” than an old person.

            b&

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted December 12, 2013 at 12:03 am | Permalink

          Well, I was officially 30 for a long time. Which is to say, I decided that I *felt* like 30 inside (even if I couldn’t quite run around like a 30-year-old). In fact, I was 30 for as long as it took me to get to 30 in the first place. I eventually gave that up when it became too hard to maintain the fiction. Now if anybody asks, I am – like the Pythons – just f$#^$#in old.

          What is disconcerting is the number of people the same age as me going off and dying or coming down with various diseases of old age – how inconsiderate of them.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, I have a terrible habit of thinking that everyone is my age and I’m always disappointed when I learn they’re 10 years younger than me at least. I totally feel like I woke up old and when I heard Dawkins say that, I tried to think up a cheeky answer.

      • Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        That, and “kids these days” look so young. I could swear that most twenty-somethings are really teenagers….

        b&

        • gbjames
          Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

          Just wait.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted December 11, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

            I read somewhere once that the older we get, the younger we think others are – some sort of bias. When my doctors have interns with them I can’t believe how young they look (they are in their 20s). I’ve always looked younger than my age so people don’t usually realize that I’m the age I am so I make sure to tell new people I report to because it nips age bias in the bud early on.

            My dad is in his 70s but he looks like he’s in his 50s.

    • Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Starting yesterday, this is the last year I’ll be able to say I’m “fortysomething”. I thought “Yippee! I’m still here!”

      • Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        Oh, you young ones are so entertaining! ;)

      • Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        Hippo birdie two ewe!

        b&

    • Posted December 15, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      Something similar happened to me at a conference in LA last month: One of my thirtysomething colleagues noted that I was old enough to be her father … OK, so I’m in my second half-century, but you don’t have to rub it in!

      /@

  15. Kevin
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    Being a fellow physicists, I have to stand in solidarity with Krauss: he can wear whatever the hell he wants. We do (should) not care other people think about us. Although boots almost always trump shoes and red is not a color I choose to wear.

  16. Sastra
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    But he wrote, “We know from Scripture and from tradition that God revealed himself as one who pours out himself in love and not as one who explains things.” God, he goes on, is primarily love: “Even if we discover the ‘Mind of God,’ we will not have necessarily found God.”

    I call equivocation here. The Vatican astronomer has flipped between “we assume God exists because it is the best explanation for X” and “we assume God’s purpose is to explain X to us.” That’s not quite the same thing.

    Yet he’s still using God as an explanation. “God” is the hypothesis which explains how we know from scripture and tradition that God has revealed Himself. It is the best explanation for this knowledge.

    Of course, as Jerry asks — “What knowledge?” And even if we substitute the word “believe” it’s still either question-begging circularity (“we believe God revealed Himself because God revealed himself”) or just pathetic (“we believe God revealed Himself because books and traditions are reliable” … or maybe even “we believe God revealed Himself because we believe it.”)

    When making statements in public, I think it’s a wise strategy for atheists to use the word “love” as quickly as possible. Fit it in somehow. Beat the theists to it and take away their trump card. We said it first; now you’re just going to be copying us. “Love. Atheism is about love.”

    Throws the little weasels off balance.

    • Diane G.
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

      The atheists in the audience might be doing spit takes, though.

  17. Diana MacPherson
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    I saw the Unbelievers for its debut in Toronto in April and I thought it was pretty good. Both Dawkins and Krauss came and answered audience questions and the place was packed. When I was standing in line to get in (I came early to get a good seat as you bought your tickets in advance but admission into the theatre was general with no assigned seating) someone asked me what was going on and when I told him he sorta looked like he didn’t understand but wasn’t going to ask me to clarify. There were a lot of people lined up around the building and many that came without tickets, hoping to buy some (and I think they started standing in line in the morning).

    At the end of the film, there are several celebrities speaking about atheism. My favourite was Sarah Silverman because I had the exact same reaction as she did to what she was describing!

    • Kevin
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

      What was she describing?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        She was reacting to how they treat women in Israel, esp at the wailing wall. Her sister was actually arrested there (her sister is a rabbi).

    • merilee
      Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Lucky you! I guess it was part of Hot Docs? Any idea when it’s going to (re)-open in Toronto?

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        Yeah it was Hot Docs. I think they’re working on how to distribute the movie whether it’s on Netflix, iTunes, etc.

        • Merilee
          Posted December 11, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

          Thx:-)

  18. Owen Recognizance
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    20 or 25 years ago in Boston there was a group called ‘Composers in Red Sneakers’ who put on concerts of new/avant garde music. If you showed up wearing red sneakers, you got in free. I have no idea if that has any bearing upon Dr. Krauss’ choice of footware, but he did attend MIT at around that time.

  19. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    “their rock star-like fan base.”

    As if the popes and imams and buddhas don’t have fan bases that behaves like rock star fan bases. Though Beatles _were_ greater than “Jesus” the pope idol.

    Krauss’s book did ignore the question of where a quantum vacuum comes from

    I don’t know what the “quantum vacuum” refers to since I haven’t yet read that book. Maybe it is the particle physicist’s quantum vacuum of particle fields and low energy gravity (semi-classical physics).

    But I have seen paper that describes how universes, with vacuums that can be approximated thusly through inflation and after, can arise from a “quantum void” with a process analogous to particle pair production. And that quantum void can be understood, it seems to me.

    As I understand it the unique quantum void consists of two parts, quantum physics acting on action in the mechanics sense. I.e. the quantity that incorporates every constraint of the environment for a system. (Making particles follow geodesics, say.)

    Part 1: Action arises out of Noether’s theorems of symmetries/conserved charges as they transform by a diffeomorphism. (I.e. continously.) As action describes how all systems with physical laws (symmetries) transform, the void as a quantization of generic action describes all possible physics of systems.

    Part 2: Quantum mechanics is unique. It minimizes the number of variables (no hidden variables). And I’ve seen somewhere that it minimizes the number of parameters as well.

    Moreover, there are papers that describe that it is the physical realization of probability, i.e. all possible pathways of all possible configurations of a system (all histories). E.g. classical probability describes systems with an approximation, as being taken discontinuously between states before and after by a continuous process. While quantum probability properly describes such systems with a diffeomorphism between incoming and outgoing state, a continuous transformation between.

    So we have a min-max principle at hand, the largest possible outcome of systems by the smallest possible physics applicable to systems. [Try to push magic into _that_ (non-existing) gap!]

    As for why systems are possible – why would they be impossible?

  20. Jimbo
    Posted December 11, 2013 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

    The “rock star” simile is a slight. One never hears Rick Warren or Joel Osteen called the “rock stars of Christianity.” But if we’re in a generous and equanimous mood, we can tolerate Dawkins and Krauss as rocks stars so long as Warren and Osteen are cult leaders. Hold aloft your lighters for an encore, non-believers!

  21. Posted December 12, 2013 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    NY Times “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.”
    This comment has quite made my day, as it has now solidly placed me in the category of being a rock star.

  22. Merilee
    Posted December 12, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    One hopes they might be scared shiftless…

  23. Matthew Rhodes
    Posted February 18, 2014 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    How can the “other side” even be in the discussion when they have nothing but silly stories of miracles that in the 21st century are comical. As my hero says “Religion, together we can find a cure”


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