BBC - Atheism: A Rough History Of Disbelief - 1: 1 - 3 genre: Hip-Gnosis

The planned airing by PBS of Jonathan Miller's BBC three part series called Atheism: A Rough History Of Disbelief created a stir among evangelical groups in the United States. A spokesperson for the conservative group Concerned Women for America called the series "demagogic and propagandistic". Peter Sprigg, a vice president at the Family Research Council suggested PBS is "revealing their bias against Christianity, against traditional faith."

I find it interesting that people of faith apparently feel threatened by a program that is, for the most part, a historical account of Atheism. Generally, the problem I find with people of strong beliefs...whether that is religious or non-religious...is a compelling need to silence the opposition.

I'm not sure why so many people resist spirited critique, reasoned debate, and robust dialogue. If I believe something, I want to know why I believe it and I want to make sure I have properly vetted those beliefs. The only way I know to achieve that goal is to have put my beliefs to the test, to have listened to the arguments made in opposition to those beliefs, and by keeping an open mind to the possibility that I may be wrong.

If I were to identify the primary objection I have to some people of faith, it is centered on the prevalence of absolutist thinking...which I see as an affront to the proven benefits of the scientific method. When science supports a hypothesis, it doesn't forbid the exploration of alternate hypotheses or the expansion or modification of those that have, for the most part, been substantiated. Some of those who hold faith based beliefs prefer that their beliefs are never contested, amended, or refuted...regardless of the data presented.

I find that troubling but it also strikes a sympathetic chord...in that I realize the attraction behind so many of humanity's faith based beliefs. I accept the sincerity of those who hold these beliefs, but I am troubled when the idyllic fulfillments that these beliefs provide are subsequently translated into a near obsessive need to negate anyone and anything that might raise doubt. I see that as the catalyst for an emerging pathology.

Anyway, over the next few days, I will post five additional entries that will contain the remaining clips of the entire series. I think they have merit. Feel free to offer your own thoughts and insights.

Episode One - Part One

Episode One - Part Two

Episode One - Part Three

Daniel DiRito | May 24, 2007 | 11:34 AM
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Comments

1 On May 25, 2007 at 9:44 AM, Jim Martin wrote —

I was struck by the epitaph that Beatle George Harrison chose. "He died at peace and knowing God."
I feel that leaves out much more than it says, but I feel it reflects my inner beliefs also.
I feel that I know God, but what I know is private and I am secure in that position. I feel no need to proselytize or convince that my beliefs are the one true way. There is no one way.
Now, that being said, most people would consider me to be an atheist as my beliefs do not follow the tight constraints of the religious mind.
What people of religion need is to believe in something and they achieve it from the external when God resides inside.
As is usual, I can't quite put it into words, George said it just right. I live at peace,knowing God.

2 On May 25, 2007 at 12:08 PM, Daniel wrote —

Jim,

Thanks for sharing your thoughtful comments.

You make an excellent point when you suggest that there is no one way...which is the one thing I find most troubling about many of those who profess their religion and faith.

While I don't believe in god, I truly understand why others do...and I am content to allow them their beliefs without judgment or animosity.

In many ways, I feel I have a greater appreciation for faith than many of those who profess it. I grew up Catholic and attended Catholic schools and at the point that I concluded that god didn't exist, I literally had to train myself to cease believing and praying.

In doing so, I let go of the promise of faith because I couldn't square those beliefs with the "truths" I felt were staring me in the face. All too often, people conclude that non-believers are callous and stoic creatures who drool at the opportunity to deny god...nothing could be farther from the truth. The decision to not believe is often a process of loss...one that is not made lightly.

In the end, all of humanity struggles with the unknown...and we all do the best we can to reconcile ourselves to the fact that we lack all of the answers. We're all the same in that regard though I'm afraid we spend far too much time looking at our differences.

A good heart will always be a good heart...whether or not it embraces or rejects the precepts of faith. I think we would be better served to remember that.

Thanks again for commenting and keep up the good work at The Impolitic.

Regards,

Daniel

3 On October 5, 2008 at 6:37 PM, Tim G. wrote —

yes, this series is just a historical account. You learn the evolution of the ideas, the names of the big thinkers, etc. There is no attempt to persuade or berate theists. It's not like a Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens screed.

It's very Western-centric, so you don't get much on Islam in the Middle East, which is a shame. Christians may feel that they are being unfairly targeted for criticism.

But history is history. Facts are facts. This documentary isn't anything people should be afraid to watch.

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