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The Atheism Tapes - DVD

Jonathan Miller , Richard Denton    NR (Not Rated)   DVD

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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Six Challenging Conversations Aug. 8 2008
By Kevin Currie-Knight - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
Jonathan Miller's "Atheism Tapes" consists of six 30-minute interviews with various scholars regarding religion and atheism. The interviews were to provide material for Miller's BBC documentary "Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief," which is regrettably not available for sale in the US.

Before offering my thoughts on this DVD set, here is a brief descriptioni of the interviews.

**Richard Dawkins (Cambridge zoologist and atheist): MIller and Dawkins talk about what led Dawkins to disavow belief in God in light of the theory of evolution and why he thinks religion is a dangerous mindset.

** Daniel Dennett (American philosopher and ahtiest): Dennett ruminates on why religion should be studied as a naturalistic phenomenon, like any other belief and why the theory of evolution is simulteneously elegant and threatening.

** Colin McGinn (British philosopher and atheist): Miller and McGinn discuss why reasons for believing in God are unsatisfying and why it may be best not to believe. In this, they discuss whether morality can be rooted in natural principles.

** Denys Turner (Cambridge theologian and Christian): Miller and Turner argue over whether there is evidence for God's existence, whether anything can be said about God (if it does exist), and whether atheists are simply "dodging the quesiton" of explaining how something can come from nothing.

**Steven Weinberg (American Cosmologist and atheist): Weinberg talks about whether physics/cosmology gives good reasons for believing in God, why physcists don't seem to care much about the quesiton, and why Weinberg - a physicist - does.

**Arthur Miller (American playwright and atheist): I confess not to fully understand what the point of Miller's interview being included here was. He talks about a wide variety of things, most having to do with his impressions of America's recent resurgence of religious thought coupled with patriotism. He also talks about being an atheistic jew and what (if anything) that means.

I delighted in these interviews (with the exception of Arthur Miller's whose inclusion I see as not adding much to the discussion). In contrast to videos like "The four Horsemen," where four prominent atheists sit in a disucssion and agree with themselves, these mano-a-mano interviews were very informative, polite, and never redundant. All the innterviewees talk about different things and all add something quite different to the mix.

I will say that the novice or anyone unschooled in at least elementary philoophy will probably not take to this film one bit. Excepting Arthur Miller, all the interviewees are academics and speak like academics. (The easiest to understand may be McGinn, who seems the most laid-back of the bunch, followed by Dennett.) And since these are 30 minute interviews, the watcher without a keen interest in the subject will proabbly find themselves somewhat bored. (More directly, the film is slow-moving.)

For those with some interest in atheism (atheist and believer alike) this is a worthwhile set to see or own. Miller is a good interviewer, both steering the conversation and letting the interviewee free to expound. The interviewees are all articulate (with the possible exception of very "postmodern" theologian Denys Turner) and quite the opposite of the "angry atheist" caricature. Anyone who pays attention to the interviews will come out more knowledgeable than before they sat down.

All in all, I reccomend this DVD set to anyone curious about atheism and the reasons disbelievers have for their disbelief. Next step: Hopefully Miller's similarly masterful "Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief" will be released on DVD
68 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jonathan Miller: Atheism Tapes and A Rough History of Disbelief April 17 2008
By Steven A. Brumley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
When you watch "The Atheism Tapes" by Jonathan Miller, be sure and find a copy of "A Rough History of Disbelief" also by jonathan Miller. It is also know for some strange reason as "A Short History of Disbelief", but "A Rough History of Disbelief" is the correct title. At the time of this writing, (you should probably check), "A Rough History of Disbelief" is not available on DVD. Which is backwards because "A Rough History of Disbelief" came before "The Atheism Tapes". (Shame on you BBC ).

The Atheism Tapes are 6 video recorded conversation with well know atheists who explain their point of view on the subject of atheism. These recording were meant to be included in some form in the documentary of "A Rough History of Disbelief" but due to time constraints they were not included.

These recorded interviews were so good, that Mr. Miller and his producers decided to make and release these interviews as, "The Atheism Tapes".

I have seen The Atheism Tapes by Jonathan Miller and they are my favorite DVD on the subject of Atheism. Jonathan Miller is a well educated man that speaks plainly, easily and clearly about the subject of Atheism. He does not believe in God but he is not preachy about the subject when he talks about it. You can tell he is thoughtful and genuinely wishes to understand how how people can believe so firmly in something that has never been show to exist.

I would highly recommend them for all people to watch. Atheists should watch it to see how others atheists think about the subject. Those that "believe" can watch it and learn what atheism is all about, not what they have been told which may be wrong.
50 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even for believers June 3 2008
By Zeno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
No idea has any true merit without its being tested, and though the idea of faith is not based on facts, acknowledgement of facts-- clear and undistorted-- is necessary nonetheless. As much as science is villified, when done properly and tested according to rigorous methodology, it offers evidence for all manner of scientific, medical, and technological progress; who can really doubt that, despite occasional drawbacks-- our lives would by-and-large be significantly worse without it?

For those with little background, these tapes are easily understandable, and whether you agree with the scientists and philosophers presented here or not-- the ideas they present make for provocative viewing. There is interesting history in these interviews; interesting philosophy; and interesting debate.

Should you still choose to believe, even after viewing Dr. Miller and his interviewees, at least you will also know the reasons why others choose not to-- and that their lack of belief does not make them immoral, selfish, and without hope. (They are often just the opposite, in fact.) There is nothing more empowering than having an open mind; and nothing more oppressive than having a closed one. Faith is ultimately a feeling, after all; but having that feeling doesn't mean you should abandon thinking as well.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Truth Uncovered Aug. 7 2008
By Nancy Stiffler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
"The Atheism Tapes" are truly an eye opening experience for all, whether you are already an Atheist, or don't really know or a firm believer in God, these tapes will surely give you some very interesting insights into the beliefs and scientific rational thought behind why one might be an Atheist. I highly recommend this film to all; the speakers interviewed are both highly intellectually stimulating, as well as extremely good humored. This movie even from a non-Atheist point of view is something I regard should be viewed by all especially those who are not Atheist. It is always good to challenge your own beliefs so that you can truly understand and know if those are the beliefs right for you and "The Atheism Tapes" does precisely that. The interview with Arthur Miller is especially good and very thought provoking, if nothing else you should get this collection just to watch his interview, it is extremely intellectually stimulating. Again don't let the title of this film disswayed you in any way, it is an extremely thoughtful film for all.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb June 1 2009
By Kansasbabe - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
As an admirer of Richard Dawkins, I look for more and more of him speaking, giving interviews, or asking questions of his own. These tapes have such a variety of personalities that every interview stands well on its own. Having two discs is a prize! These are very well worth the money.

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