This week’s buzz features the first ever atheist television channel, a new book about the origin of atheists, and more from everyone’s favorite philosopher of science/comedian—Michael Ruse.
Atheist Television Channel Coming July 29th!
What kind of content will Atheist TV broadcast? American Atheists President David Silverman explains what we can expect:
For the first time, atheist video content—from firebrand speeches, to stand-up comedy, to documentaries, to real science-based educational programming, and more—is now available to atheists worldwide, on the air and all in one place. Atheist TV brings consistent, quality, superstition-free programming for children and adults, on the air and on-demand, right from your regular television.
Ronan Farrow interviewed Silverman about the new channel. In the segment, Silverman makes the dubious claim that atheists make up 20% of the world’s population.
If Atheist TV featured brilliant atheists like Massimo Pigliucci, Michael Ruse, and Vlad Chituc, I’d be very excited. (And for all I know, they might.) Unfortunately, given American Atheists’ track record, I’m not terribly optimistic. I worry that Atheist TV will look like an atheist version of Christian televangelist channels.
I’m hoping they prove me wrong, though. If they don’t, we’ll always have Rust Cohle from True Detective.
Stanley Hauerwas on Left Behind
Jonathan Merritt interviewed theologian Stanley Hauerwas last week on the end of times and the end of his life. Hauerwas gave a great response to a question about the influence of Left Behind and rapture theology:
My reaction to the “Left Behind” series is one of amusement and pathos. Pathos because so many people have misunderstood Christian eschatological convictions and turned them into speculative accounts of the so-called “rapture.” I take it to be a judgment against the church that that kind of speculation has gained a foothold.
Hauerwas might consider the popularity of rapture theology a “judgment against the church” now, but he’ll sing a different tune once Nic Cage’s Left Behind hits theaters.
Dawkins and Krauss AMA
Dawkins filmed another video of himself reading his hate mail:
Did another hate mail reading but it’s not yet published. Lovely young woman sat beside me playing sweet music on the cello as I read. Laughter is the best responds [sic] to hate.
If you haven’t watched the first few videos of Dawkins reading his hate mail, you’re in for a treat.
Krauss had some interesting advice on being a better communicator: “[T]alk about what excites you and do not hide your excitement! :)”
Atheists: The Origin of the Species
Michael Robbins wrote a review of it for Slate:
Spencer’s account too often trades depth for breadth, but one of his most trenchant themes is that it is more proper to speak of atheisms and of various species of atheist. (One wonders, therefore, why his subtitle adds a definite article to Darwin’s title.)
This point is a good one. There are many different kinds of atheism—it’s not monolithic. It’s worth reading the entire review.
I’m reading Spencer’s book now; I’ll post my take in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.
Michael Ruse, an atheist philosopher of science, had a great interview with The New York Times last week. Ruse’s name makes me think of Seal’s classic song, “Kiss from a Rose.” In the interview, Ruse actually starts talking about a rose. It blew my mind.
For real, though, he has some great answers. I liked his strategy for responding to bad forms of religion:
I don’t think you are going to counter the bad just by going over the top, like in the Battle of the Somme. I think you have to reach out over no-man’s land to the trenches on the other side and see where we can agree and hope to move forward.
I love Ruse’s intellectual honesty—he has harsh words for some of Dawkins’s arguments—and willingness to work with believers toward common goals.
Ruse has a book coming out in January, Atheism: What Everyone Needs to Know. I’m looking forward to reading it.
(If you missed Ruse’s jokes last week, check them out!)