A few weeks ago a guy named Jeff Bethke posted a short spoken-word piece on YouTube entitled "Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus". It unexpectedly became a minor sensation, gathering over 19 million hits. I can understand why some people are critical of it, but I can also understand where he is coming from; so much of what is called "religion" today is misguided or even hateful.

That's why I appreciate this video called "Religion – Why Isn't it Working?" by David Nasser, who was raised in Iran until his family was forced to flee the country. This 17 minute video is a powerful exploration of the subject of religion in the world.

When Ben Stein's Expelled movie was released, it was criticized by some skeptics because they thought that the crew had used duplicitous methods to conduct their interviews. Whether that was the case or not, I do not know, but it seems as though the newly released Religulous movie (starring Bill Maher) not only used extremely deceptive tactics to secure their interviews, they also needed to sneak past security to do so … see here:

Sad that they had to resort to such tactics … sadder still that such a movie was made at all. I'd love to see a serious film depicting the religious excesses in North America done with charity and made with the purpose of making things better … but this is clearly not such a film. One review mentioned Maher as being the "Michael Moore of religion" (due to his pseudo-documentary style) … not necessarily a compliment, there.

Everyone else is writing a blog post about the most recent mockumentary so I figured I should too … until I read this great post on Boston Bible Geeks (HT: Tektonics) about the movie, which already sums up a lot of my thoughts about the movie pretty well:

Seriously Maher-ulous, Part I

I have not seen the movie and don't plan to, given what I've heard about it. Maybe once it's on TV but I don't really want to support this kinda thing.

I do have one comment though … think about what would happen if a group of Christians made a movie like this mocking Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. The Christians would be blasted in the media as being intolerant and bigoted. Why then is it totally acceptable for Maher, an atheist, to do the same thing? Could it be social & media bias against anyone deemed as being "religious" (and, I'd say, Christians in particular)?

Yesterday I stumbled upon this interview, which was not included in Richard Dawkins' "Root of All Evil?" movie. Here Dr. Dawkins interviews Dr. Alister McGrath, who currently teaches at Oxford University, the same school as Dr. Dawkins. Dr. McGrath has earned two PHDs from Oxford, one in molecular biophysics, and the other in theology. Here it the interview (provided by Dr. Dawkins himself) in its entirety:

You can also download the video in .MOV form (88mb)

Dr. Dawkins comes off relatively well in the video. Although he refers to some of his critics as "fleas" on his website, he does seem to have a certain respect for Dr. McGrath. It was refreshing to see an exchange between a prominent atheist and theist done in a respectful manner, but I would have much rather seen a real discussion between the two, instead of Dr. Dawkins posing all the questions (and his own views) with Dr. McGrath continually forced to be on the defensive.

I must comment that, although I thought Dr. McGrath handled the interview quite well, I don't entirely agree with some of his responses. There were just a couple times where, as I watched and listened, I thought "No, no! I think I have a better reply than that!" While it no doubt seems rather presumptuous of me to disagree with someone like McGrath who holds two PHDs and has published dozens of books and academic articles, nevertheless I'll try to make a few follow-up posts to this entry where I give my own responses to some of Dr. Dawkins' questions.

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