Saturday, May 05, 2007

A Brief History of Disbelief

I heard about this series, narrated by Jonathan Miller (to be aired on PBS), on one of the most popular science blogs Pharyngula, but was unable to find it actually on our television listings. But if you don't mind viewing the series in 10-minute segments in an embedded YouTube window on another Blogspot blog, then here it is.

The objective of the series is to describe the origins of the lack of belief and to uncover something of the complex story of modern atheism. As Miller states in the first episode, the history of disbelief can only be understood in the context of belief. He begins with one of the most tragic and ironic terrorist incidents in modern history - the attacks of 9/11 in which Muslim fundamentalists decrying the secular imperialism of the United States attacked the godless nation in a bloodbath of technology and fanaticism in the name of Allah.

The irony is that within just a few miles of the twin towers, one finds quite another America, not a secular oasis, but a land of Christians whose belief is every bit as fundamentalist, if not as rabidly violent, as that of those who flew the airplanes that day.

Miller is reluctant to call himself an atheist. I understand why. It's simple really. How can one give a name to something that rarely even occupies one's thoughts? It is only because of recent events, like 9/11 and other religiously motivated acts of terrorism, that Miller feels it necessary to explore his disbelief while so many around him continue to talk about their religious beliefs.

I look forward to viewing the series, especially Miller's take on the resurrection of disbelief in the 15th and 16th centuries as a result of religious divisions (the Reformation) rather than the scientific discoveries of that period. Should be interesting.

1 comment:

beepbeepitsme said...

Hey. Thanks for the mention. :)