Sunday, November 23, 2014

"The Unbelievers": Equal time for doubters, especially at communion

The brief 2013 documentary feature (at 76 min) “The Unbelievers”, directed by Gus Holwerda, offers scientists Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss, traveling our planet and establishing the case for science and reason, and for a willingness to not take religious doctrine too seriously.  Yes, it’s better for the world if most of us are apostate.
The film takes the position that religion, at least fundamentalism, wants to close off all discussion. 
I can recall taking communion at MCC Dallas back in the early 1980s, and one of the communion prayers was “I am a believer, not a doubter.”  The individualized communions tended to get personal.  I’m been on the receiving end of quite a bit of proselytizing.  The Mormon church probably does a good thing in getting young men to do service, but then this service amounts mostly to recruiting people into the faith.
And we’ve heard a lot recently about the rhetoric from ISIS and radical Islam, that “unbelievers” or “apostates” are enemies.
In earlier times of civilization, religion was “all people had” as a source of wisdom.  Now, we find that the human brain is able to come up with the mathematics that explains the universe.  No other creature can do that (maybe the orca could if it lived on land and could see and contemplate the heavens). 
Yet, life is uncertain and hard for “most” people, and religion confers a sense of purpose, and a sense of finality and meaning that transcends ordinary justice.  No wonder some people will fight for it.
The film has some embedded remarks in black and white cameos, especially Woody Allen, at the beginning and in an extensive epilogue (in a relatively short feature).  Much of the film seems to be shot in Australia. Stephen Hawking speaks at least once through his computer.  

The official site is here. The film is available on Netflix instant play. Gravitas Ventures offers the film on YouTube for $3.99 rental.  

Picture: The Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC, last night (personal photo). 

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