The Unbelievers

July 15, 2013

image02The  Wikipedia entry for the “new atheism movement” reads as follows:

New Atheism is the name given to the ideas promoted by a collection of modern atheist writers who have advocated the view that “religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises.”

This is not a terrible definition, but it is not particularly good either. What’s unfortunate about it is that it is defines “new atheism” in terms of its negative goal of criticizing or rebutting religion and religious ideas. But new atheism also has a positive goal, which is to promote secular values, such as a commitment to reason, science, and critical thinking as well as a sense of fascination with the natural beauty and complexity of the universe. This positive goal is in fact the most important aspect of new atheism, for while Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, and Dan Dennett, have each spent a good deal of time debunking religious ideas, they are most effective and most influential when they argue, not against religion, but for a naturalistic understanding of the cosmos and our place in it. The new atheists’ critique of religion should ultimately be seen as following from their commitment to rationality and science, not the other way around.

Two of the most prominent new atheists — Dawkins and Krauss — have recently teamed up to produce The Unbelievers, a documentary which exposes their recent efforts to promote these secular values around the world. A short, but friendly and informative interview with Dawkins and Krauss is shown below. It is refreshing to see how their views can be so well received when they are not forced to defend themselves against the attacks of demagogues. The film will no doubt be worth watching.

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