The Agenda with Steve Paikin: Rise of the New Atheists?

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About the video:

As the documentary "The Unbelievers" premieres at Toronto's Hot Docs Festival, two of the men featured in the film: professor Richard Dawkins and physicist Lawrence Krauss sit down with Steve Paikin to tell us why indeed, they don't believe.



The Agenda with Steve Paikin

Daily current affairs show offering in-depth analysis and intelligent debate on issues of concern in the rapidly changing world around us.

Written By: Steve Paikin
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    • In reply to #1 by McCourt:

      At what point does the supposed novelty of the “New Atheists” give way to the more accurate title: “Current Atheists”, I wonder.

      I guess that makes the Vatican—”the same old Catholics”

  1. Given the duo of Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins, I would never have even imagined anyone suggesting that Krauss would be considered the “charming one”.

    Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

  2. Professor Krauss and Professor Dawkins seem to me to form an irresistible team. If they were to continue their co-operation I think they could do a lot to push critical thinking still further into the mainstream. (Not to say that they owe us that, of course.)

    • In reply to #3 by Lapithes:

      Professor Krauss and Professor Dawkins seem to me to form an irresistible team. If they were to continue their co-operation I think they could do a lot to push critical thinking still further into the mainstream. (Not to say that they owe us that, of course.)

      They do go well together.

      It’s that yin and yang thang they got goin’ on.

      It’s a superb example and resource for young people, many of whom would otherwise look only to religious figures for direction and meaning in their lives; to have available to them such rational wisdom and knowledge to draw on and inspire them as these two men have to offer.

      These guys must be changing many lives; yes, in the right way.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I look forward to seeing the film. Does anyone know where one could view it now?In reply to #3 by Lapithes:

      Professor Krauss and Professor Dawkins seem to me to form an irresistible team. If they were to continue their co-operation I think they could do a lot to push critical thinking still further into the mainstream. (Not to say that they owe us that, of course.)

  3. I think that the Agenda is a great show. Steve Paikan is a great host and moderator. However, I got the sense that he sides with the theists. Something about his attitude towards the answers were not characteristic of his usual approach. I think he was internally conflicted.

    May just be me.

    • In reply to #7 by BananasForEveryone:

      I think that the Agenda is a great show. Steve Paikan is a great host and moderator. However, I got the sense that he sides with the theists. Something about his attitude towards the answers were not characteristic of his usual approach. I think he was internally conflicted.

      May just be me.

      No, no, it’s not just you. Steve Paikin is a very able, knowledgeable intertviewer with one significant blind spot. Science.

  4. I really enjoy Richard and Lawrence together. They’re a good team and complement each other well, IMO.

    I think Richard is the charming one and Lawrence is the funny one, so yeah, don’t know how the interviewer defines “charming.”

    I would like to thank both men for doing what they do. They make it easier for me to be an atheist in a southern US state — and trust me — it ain’t easy! Thanks guys!! Keep up the great work!

  5. Come on. Everybody knows Lawrence Krauss is the evil one.

    Very good interview, lead by a tough and smart interviewer. I could feel LK and RD a bit uneasy at the beginning. Sure, they agree on many things. But let’s not forget that old believer’s joke : Lock 4 atheists in a room and you’ll soon get 5 different points of view. Indeed, there are many ways of not believing. All atheists are different. We are very good at discussing for hours about something we all agree doesn’t exist.

  6. It is a shame that they were kind of forced into pushing science as the alternative to religion. It would have been nice to hear them say that atheism is more inclusive than just pro-science.
    You can get fulfillment from literature, acting, history, sport, movies etc etc without the need for religion.

    i.e. you don’t have to be interested in science in the slightest to be atheist.

    • In reply to #13 by conmeo:

      It is a shame that they were kind of forced into pushing science as the alternative to religion. It would have been nice to hear them say that atheism is more inclusive than just pro-science.
      You can get fulfillment from literature, acting, history, sport, movies etc etc without the need for religio…Well it’s nice to know that there is someone that has no interest in being educated is an atheist. Science and religion ARE incompatible. Having no interest in science and getting “fulfillment from literature, acting, history, sport, movies etc etc” seems pretty shallow and code for New Age.

  7. The Christians have famous people who would convert by the thousands, like Billy Graham.

    It would be nice to have some sort of process that could undo the damage just as quickly. But I get the impression, Christians usually undo their faith quite gradually.

    When I watched that March Of Reason video, it became even clearer, the folk we have to get to are subnormal IQ, reminiscent of the banjo boy in Deliverance. They have an extremely self-centered view of the universe. So far we are talking primarily to high IQ people. We need a low IQ strategy as well.

    A low IQ strategy might revolve around showing them how their behaviour is contrary to Christian teaching. Basically threaten them with their own hellfire. Christianity can be thought of as a sort of arthritis of the mind. Any limbering is a step toward health.

    Another strategy is to go after the professional Christians. Expose them. Convert them. Out them. They are the ones who whip the rest into line. They are the ones most vulnerable to argument, since they are most familiar with the bible and its problems.

    Another strategy is to hammer on the corruption and hypocrisy of the Catholic Church. This has been killing them. Go after the TV evangelists and megachurches exposing their fraud.

    When I was a teen, my mother forbade me to have anything to do with Christians. Of course I snuck out and visited various churches, to be very unimpressed. Today Christians will forbid their children to have anything to do with atheists. This of course will make them google “atheists”. Though RDF will not come up immediately, Dr. Dawkin’s name is everywhere. Christians can no longer isolate their children.

    • In reply to #14 by Roedy:

      They have an extremely self-centered view of the universe. So far we are talking primarily to high IQ people. We need a low IQ strategy as well.

      A low IQ strategy might revolve around showing them how their behaviour is contrary to Christian teaching. Basically threaten them with their own hellfire. Christianity can be thought of as a sort of arthritis of the mind. Any limbering is a step toward health.

      I kind of agree but their book is such a messed up mish-mash of contradictory ideas that their beliefs are all individual. Christian teaching is so multifaceted that you can’t nail it down. I think hitting them with making them admit to what they actually believe may be more effective (and perhaps what you meant). Eg. why was it okay for God to ‘harden the mind’ of the Pharaoh when he was of a mind to allow Moses people to go and then kill all the first born of every family after having twisted his mind? Things like that. I think the horrors like that in the old testament are the easiest target as they are foundational and the best the theists seem to be able to come up with is that basically the early Jews were so barbaric that God had to improve their moral code gradually. This may make sense of why the Jews in general behaved badly at that time, but it doesn’t explain all the horrible things god did and ordered done. Most Christians I know are simply unaware of what is actually in the bible being a very big book and in places very boring, their reading of it therefore is very limited.

      I’d actually like to see a biblically accurate TV series where we see the pettiness and nasty treatment of women children being graphically eaten alive by Bears for laughing a prophet for being bald, talking snakes and donkeys, a literal ladder to heaven, it’d be great.

      • In reply to #19 by Reckless Monkey:

        In reply to #14 by Roedy:

        They have an extremely self-centered view of the universe. So far we are talking primarily to high IQ people. We need a low IQ strategy as well.

        A low IQ strategy might revolve around showing them how their behaviour is contrary to Christian teaching. Basically threaten t…

        There should be the atheist version of the bible movie. I’ll kick in.

  8. These lads are great, polished and unpolished at the same time. I can’t help but think the underlying force in religion is the fear of non-being, non-existence. It’s just too much to handle, so we need an ‘out’ to cope. What better way than to package life than as a divine message humans must be taught, and when applied correctly the gift of an eternal reward depending upon the sincerity of your efforts. It is indeed hard to stand naked in front of the universe without existential brainwashing but my, what a view! The more I study, read, listen, learn and strive to understand the world as it is the more I respect I have for these men, and science and free thinkers alike.

  9. Why should they be asked why they don’t believe? Should not the question be, why do other people believe? The zero evidence claims of religion beg more why questions than the rational evidenced based rejection of religion.

    • I agree. It’s like asking adults, “Why don’t you believe in Santa Claus? When did you stop believing that a fat man in a red suit can slide down the average chimney after flying through the air with eight magic reindeer? And what’s wrong with believing that?”

      In reply to #20 by aquilacane:

      Why should they be asked why they don’t believe? Should not the question be, why do other people believe? The zero evidence claims of religion beg more why questions than the rational evidenced based rejection of religion.

      • In reply to #23 by Sue Blue:

        I agree. It’s like asking adults, “Why don’t you believe in Santa Claus? When did you stop believing that a fat man in a red suit can slide down the average chimney after flying through the air with eight magic reindeer? And what’s wrong with believing that?”

        But that’s just a caricature of a Clausian’s theological position. Nobody really believes that Santa Clauss is a fat man in a red suit. He should be understand as the universal force of givingness inherent in us. If we are, as aclausian’s like Dawkins’ and Krauss insist, just mechanical robots then where does this desire to give presents come from ?

        Michael

  10. I think I understand where the interviewer is coming from when he says that Krauss is the charming one, and Dawkins more serious. If you look at the two from a pov of a religious person, which is still the majority of the population, and you hear them talk about religion, Dawkins will come off to them as more angry, grating, and less charming because the things he says feel more like an attack. Even if you are on the fence, it feels like an attack because it’s not just attacking one belief; it’s attacking the entire foundation of what you believe. It’s why people start crying and yelling at you when you question their faith ( my aunt is well known to have near break downs when we start discussing this stuff). My aunt would immediately see Dawkins as the worst offender, as someone who’s insulting her and everything she believes in, while Krauss perhaps comes off as less angry, less attacking, because he would rather meet her in the middle somewhere.

  11. I also agree that the denial of Professor Dawkins’ charm was unjust. I think I would agree with his response that–NB: I’m giving an interpreted paraphrase–much of it is really down to social conditioning (the interviewer has likely heard much negative criticism in that direction–as we all likely have–from “offended” people). That is, even if it is true that he watched the documentary (which I have yet to, I should mention for the sake of transparency), I suspect he came into it with a preconceived view of the professor; and those pre-conceived views are really very difficult to shake.

  12. I keep hoping that they will LINK belief in Gods with belief in the afterlife. Frustrating, because it seems like a critical point. Harder to disprove a God, because they’re always invisible. Way easier to disprove the afterlife, because after 10 billion experiments (dead people), no one has been able to contact us to give instructions to scientists to prove the afterlife. 100 thousand years, 10 billion experiments, all coming up negative for the existence of an afterlife. Sam Harris may not be as charismatic, but he points out the link that may eventually shock the “faithful” back to the harsh reality. Religion exists specifically and ironically because we have absolutely NO proof of the afterlife.

  13. Why is it that not everybody is moved to tears by the greatness of the universe we live in? I think it has to do with not being able to free oneself of the worries of everyday. If you have the privilege to free yourself a bit from that, then you’re on the way to appreciate the world you live in. And it takes some IQ and some effort too, I guess.

  14. Media ‘journalists’ seem curious about Atheists while remaining infinitely incurious about the bombastic claims of religions. Perhaps if they had to courage to discuss on TV the silly superstitions that currently get a pass, then Atheism would be widely seen as the only logical choice for truth-seeking minds. It comes down to courage again, doesn’t it?

  15. sylvia is a saint compared to you lying vultures….

    THE CULTURE INDUSTRY – THE IDEOLOGY OF DEATH

    youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=X0Hez25fFrg

    HOW WE WON THE JAMES RANDI MILLION DOLLAR PARANORMAL CHALLENGE

    deltamachine.atspace.cc/

    my.alliant.edu/ICS/icsfs/skeptical-inquirer-cover-jan-feb-2013.png?target=4a3b9ed0-f5df-4fd6-a99e-bd803800e02f

    WORKS BOTH WAYS!

  16. sylvia is a saint compared to you lying vultures….

    THE CULTURE INDUSTRY – THE IDEOLOGY OF DEATH

    youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=X0Hez25fFrg

    HOW WE WON THE JAMES RANDI MILLION DOLLAR PARANORMAL CHALLENGE

    http://ideologyofdeath.tumblr.com/

    my.alliant.edu/ICS/icsfs/skeptical-inquirer-cover-jan-feb-2013.png?target=4a3b9ed0-f5df-4fd6-a99e-bd803800e02f

    WORKS BOTH WAYS!

  17. Thank you, Mr. Dawkins and Mr. Krauss for giving me the wonderfully logical elements of reflection on the hideously absurd doctrine of the Christ The Redeemer. In the insignificant smallness of my fatherly consciousness, I would still never consider torturing my most virtuous son, sacrificing him to death, so that the sins and mistakes made by all my other naughty children be forgiven. That is calling God the most hideous, heartless, mercyless, evil farther ever! Blind faith is truly the root of all evil!

  18. “Seduce or full armed attack,” shows that atheists have really nothing to contribute, since they have no stand alone message that anyone can to take to heart. As a Christian I have no problem with ateists and all the people, who have no faith, offering it no thought at all. I hope they would experience the greatness of having a Chistian faith, and if they are truly interested, I will share my faith. The interesting thing is these people are the right atheists, simply because they never give a God a single thought. God is the only thing atheists like these two gentlemen and other atheists talk about, so what would they be without God? Nothing, which is my point- they have nothing to offer, but their vanity. Since Dawkins uses Nazi references against his opponents, he has truly lost the argument. I refer to Goodwins law.

  19. LK and RD shouldn’t worry about preaching to the choir. I first picked up the God Delusion while I still had my delusions, however faltering they were – all RD and RK have to do is issue it as a challenge: Think you faith is strong? Read this book. Worked for me.

  20. I think that the Agenda is a great show. Steve Paikan is a great host and moderator. However, I got the sense that he sides with the theists. Something about his attitude towards the answers were not characteristic of his usual approach. I think he was internally conflicted.

    May just be me.

    [Link to own blogsite removed by moderator]

    • In reply to #61 by Hans van den Bos:

      Where can I see the documentary “The Unbelievers”?

      It’s like a tease. We’ll keep doing interview after interview promoting the documentary, but you can’t see it anywhere. The first rule of PR is to time promotion with release, not half a year beforehand.

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