A member wrote me a note saying that he couldn’t watch Ray Comfort’s The Atheist Delusion for more than a few minutes without suffering gastric distress. He said he would skip the December meeting to avoid having to see another minute. While I empathize with the difficulty of watching this movie, I still think it’s worth our while to take it all in.
My reason for suggesting that we watch this movie is that the arguments proffered are the same arguments that people engage in across the Thanksgiving dinner table with ‘conservative’ relatives. I thought this would be an interesting way to brush up on our critical thinking skills and maybe learn a science tidbit or two. This movie presents the same arguments that persuade many people (a majority?) to agree with notions like “Let’s teach to the ‘controversy’ ” when the topic of Evolution comes up at a school board meeting.
I fear that films like The Atheist Delusion are persuasive to people who are just too busy living their own lives to bother to know the finer points of chemistry, biology, natural selection, embryology, vacuum fluctuations, inflation and big bangs. Although I don’t have direct empirical evidence, I think our nation’s alarming political turn in favor of (among other things) the religious, the ultra right, and scientific illiteracy speaks for itself.
This film is technically well produced, emotionally charged and raises relevant topics like ‘fine tuned universe’, evolution by natural selection and the core apologetic arguments for Christian theology. If you stick with it, it demonstrates (even though it is scripted and heavily edited) the emotional appeal of traditional Christian dogma (sin, redemption, punishment, hell, reward, eternal life, etc) which is a component of theism that we atheists dismiss without fully realizing its power.
I certainly agree that the IS difficult to watch (I’ve watched it twice). It is my hope that this video will prompt some discussion about critical thinking, logical fallacies, the power of emotions and techniques of emotional manipulation, some actual science pointers from those with a technical background, and why this movie and others like it appeal successfully to of our fellow (voting) citizens. In short, I anticipate an interesting discussion.
We are banking on being able to stream the movie at Irish Embassy, but on the off-chance that we are thwarted by technology, it would facilitate the discussion if you took the time to at least fast forward through it at home. See it here: (running time 62 minutes) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChWiZ3iXWwM
You could even play a drinking game, taking a shot everytime you recognize the commission of a logical fallacy! (Disclaimer: You’ll be wasted in just minutes!)
The whole group benefits when more people participate, so I hope you’ll be able to attend.