The Atheism Tapes


The Atheism Tapes

"The Atheism Tapes" is a 2004 BBC television documentary series presented by Jonathan Miller. The material that makes up the series was originally filmed in 2003 for another, more general series, " ", but was too lengthy for inclusion. Instead, the BBC agreed to create "The Atheism Tapes" as a supplementary series of six programmes, each consisting of an extended interview with one contributor.

The programmes

All six programmes were conducted in the form of interviews; the synopses below are summaries of the interviewees' responses to Miller's questions.

Also interviewed were Richard Dawkins, Arthur Miller and Denys Turner.

Colin McGinn

English philosopher McGinn speaks about the various reasons for not believing in God, and some of the reasons for. He gives a thorough treatment of the ontological argument. In addition, McGinn draws an important distinction between atheism (lack of belief in a deity) and antitheism (active opposition to theism); he identifies himself as both an atheist and an antitheist. Finally, he speculates about a post-theistic society.

teven Weinberg

He talks about the effectiveness of the Design Argument, both in the past and today. He also discusses the reasons that people become religious, including the varying influences of physical and biological arguments against religion. Miller connects this to a higher likelihood of biologists being non-believers than physicists, which Weinberg finds surprising.

Weinberg goes on to distinguish between harm done "in the name of" religion from that done "by" religion and states that both of these are very real and very dangerous. He goes on to discuss the difference between religious belief in America and Europe, and about how he doesn’t like the "character" of the monotheistic God. He ends by saying that science is very definitely corrosive to religious belief, and that he considers this a good thing.

Daniel Dennett

American philosopher Dennett explains why he called one of his books "Darwin's Dangerous Idea", and why many of Darwin's contemporaries, in particular, considered Darwin's theory of evolution to be dangerous. He goes on to deal with the question of consciousness (i.e., is the consciousness/soul distinct from the body), talking about Darwin's rejection of the soul and the possible origins and psychological purposes of a belief in an immaterial soul.

Next, he talks about his Christian upbringing and how he became an atheist. He goes on to ask why it is thought rude to criticise religious belief, and suggests that it is due to the influential status of the religions in question. He finishes by wondering whether we could live effectively in a post-theistic world.

External links

* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/documentaries/features/atheism-tapes.shtml The Atheism Tapes] The official BBC page for the series
* [http://deitywatch.007sites.com/index.php Transcripts] of the programmes
* [http://www.colinmcginnblog.com Colin McGinn's blog]
* [http://www.secularphilosophy.com Secular Philosophy]


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