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24 April 2007

Jonathan Miller's "Atheism: A Rough History of Disbelief"

Unique, and apparently to air on PBS next month, as "A Brief History of Disbelief." One hour each. Show descriptions taken from the Information Clearing House RealPlayer pages, listed below.

From a press release:

A Brief History of Disbelief is a deeply intelligent and rational journey through the highly divisive topic. The series is presented by the Independent Production Fund, executive director Alvin Perlmutter.

Written and narrated by acclaimed British intellectual Jonathan Miller — author, lecturer, TV producer/host, director of theater, opera and film, and neurologist — A Brief History of Disbelief originally aired on the BBC in the U.K. It was the first-ever historical look at the controversial topic on television. And contrary to what many Christian fundamentalists today consider America’s founding principles, the first presidents were actually skeptical of religion. A Brief History of Disbelief traces the history of the first unbelievers in ancient Greece through the role of disbelief in America’s founding to its flourishing today.

"Jonathan Miller visits the absent Twin Towers to consider the religious implications of 9/11 and meets Arthur Miller and the philosopher Colin McGinn. He searches for evidence of the first 'unbelievers' in Ancient Greece and examines some of the modern theories around why people have always tended to believe in mythology and magic."
"With the domination of Christianity from 500 AD, Jonathan Miller wonders how disbelief began to re-emerge in the 15th and 16th centuries. He discovers that division within the Church played a more powerful role than the scientific discoveries of the period. He also visits Paris, the home of the 18th century atheist, Baron D'Holbach, and shows how politically dangerous it was to undermine the religious faith of the masses."
"The history of disbelief continues with the ideas of self-taught philosopher Thomas Paine, the revolutionary studies of geology and the evolutionary theories of Darwin. Jonathan Miller looks at the Freudian view that religion is a 'thought disorder'. He also examines his motivation behind making the series touching on the issues of death and the religious fanaticism of the 21st century."

The Atheism Tapes
. The full interviews with six thinkers in the series (some better than others): Arthur Miller, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Denys Turner, Colin McGinn, and Steven Weinberg.

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