Just released on iTunes this month, The Unbelievers features Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss as they go about the media and conference circuit promoting scientific inquiry over absolute religious belief. They want us to question everything, so here the question must be would you pay to download this movie?
If you are looking for Richard Dawkins to explain evolution or for Lawrence Krauss to expound on how there can be a universe from nothing this film is not for you. The Unbelievers may wet the appetite to watch their discussions in full (see video below) and read their books. This film is promoting why and how they are moved to do what they do, and the success will be if it inspires you to do likewise.
The motivation is dealing with the misconceptions of science, that people have the right to have their intelligence questioned when important issues like climate change need to be discussed. Let alone the origins of humanity. Religion should not get in the way of scientific facts. In american public life atheists are put on a par with rapists. The extent to which an honest adequate public discourse can occur is the background when faith and science clash.
A key difference did emerge between Dawkins and Krauss. Richard suggested that if one idea of a faith was obviously scientifically wrong why not abandon the whole thing? Lawrence rather stressed freedom of private belief. For him it was people that wore their religion on their sleeves in public life were fair game – while Dawkins wanted us to question if someone really believed in something like a wafer turning into the body of Christ.
Rather than believing absurdities, there is a magic in reality which gives comfort and joy. Finding purpose by critical thinking for yourself. It is about seeing the negative, and the positive, in life the universe and everything and being charged up to live while you can.
For a film that is just over an hour, it dwells too long on hotel rooms, lobbies and receptions, catching cabs and the professors waiting to be interviewed. The conversations by the two men should be the central piece of The Unbelievers. Another time wasting scene is Dawkins being interviewed over the phone while he is in his hotel room. All I could make out was a drone at the other end, wittering on, before Richard spoke. The room itself was dark and grey, about as enlightening as that interview.
The black and white segments at the beginning and end of the film, with Woody Allen, Cameron Diaz, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Hawking talking – to name a few – were notable highlights. It might have made sense to have more of them inter spaced during the film. The star monologues were the real cherries on top of the cake to be had. When Harris, Dennett and Hirsi Ali speak at a conference it is a brief few seconds from them in comparison, were too short.
If I wanted to introduce Dawkins and Krauss to a new audience this is not the film I would use. Rather, it would be the conversation they had together on “Something from nothing” which you can watch below for free.
The biggest regret with the movie is the main challenges facing unbelievers – apostasy and blasphemy – are not covered in this film. Rather it is a congratulatory look for the stand that Dawkins and Krauss take on science against supernaturalism. One you may wish to applaud with £9.99. This is the interest two academic science professors have in challenging religion as unbelievers, rather than highlighting unbelievers in the world. Krauss stressing secular activism in the film for effective public policy in a democracy using science at the Reason Rally in DC is the rallying point at the end of the movie.
That The Unbelievers may inspire you to take part in such activism, as you realize it is not just enough to have Dawkins and Krauss talking about it. It needs you doing this, without hope of a film of your exploits nor plaudits, to make something happen.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog