The Unbelievers DVD review

The Unbelievers
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Comments (15)
  1. Christopher Copeland says:

    I found the documentary to be quite shallow, boring and narcissistic. Tow of the biggest narcissist’s around . . . Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss. The documentary basically follows these to around on their “magical mystery tour” as they speak to each other in front of cheering audiences. I was really unable to discern in this film any sort of argument as to why belief in God is unreasonable and why we should be unbeliever’s. It is pretty much one sided. There is never any attempt to bring in people from the other side of the issue to join the conversation.
    The basic argument I got from the film was that the “most brilliant” scientists by a wide majority do not believe in God and because of that belief in God is unreasonable. Totally faulty research which is not true.There is a massive amount of professional journals, academic writings of their colleagues who are relies believers and credible and outspoken scientists. Why were they not in the film? The whole documentary is basically Dawkins and Krauss (and their co-stars) saying that “religion needs to be ridiculed with contempt.” How scientific is that. We all know what happened when Dawkins and Krauss tried to debate William Lane Craig. Total embarrassment.

    1. Greg Jameson says:

      Thanks for your comment, Christopher. Ad hominem attacks (Dawkins and Krauss are “narcissists'”) are no substitute for actual criticism. What part of their argument is “shallow” or “narcissistic” – or is that automatically the case because they don’t share your particular supernatural beliefs? You may wish to consider that the film is called ‘The Unbelievers’ – it’s not about giving the religious a voice. Why should it be? It’s up to the religious to make their own cases for their extraordinary claims. Presumably the few religious scientists didn’t make it into the film for the same reason. What is faulty about saying that the vast majority of members of the Royal Society don’t hold supernatural beliefs? You can find a handful of leading scientists who hold some belief in the supernatural (they are usually deists rather than theists) but they are very much the exception; and their scientific papers are not related to their personal supernatural beliefs. There is no peer-reviewed research positing the existence of a god. You use quotation marks to say that Dawkins and Krauss state: “religion needs to be ridiculed with contempt.” Where in the film do either of them say this? That’s a straw-man argument. What they say is that religion should not be treated with any more respect than any other human endeavour from politics to art; and both are careful to target religion rather than its adherents. Since religion has a malign influence on society, they are entitled to put forward that view. As for William Lane Craig, it’s only Christians who find that particular snake-oil salesman impressive. Dawkins has stated many times that he won’t debate creationists, because whilst it may look good on their CV, it wouldn’t look good on his. Krauss has debated him, but since Lane Craig isn’t educated in science, he had to rely on semantics.

    2. SteveHiggs says:

      I’d have to agree; the documentary really was very boring, narcissistic, and shallow. And as an Atheist, and a person who has all the books and considers himself a fan of both of these guys, this film just felt like a big waste of money. I felt like I was duped into helping fund their tour. And I didn’t even get any decent arguments out of it.

      As you said Christopher, this film is absolutely one sided. This point is even literally expressed in a scene where we annoyingly only hear Dawkins’ side of a lengthy phone conversation. What is the point of witnessing a debate if we don’t get to hear the other’s points!?

      I don’t exactly believe the other side has any valid, rational, interesting or thought provoking points, but at least give them the mic to try! Lets hear the best they’ve got. By understanding the other side better we can build better arguments or perhaps structure our responses in ways that are better understood. Take that away and we’re left with frustrating scenes, or meaningless scenes that are simply boring to watch, and seem to ooze narcissism like you’ve mentioned.

      One of the most frustrating issues I had with the film was the absolutely terrible editing. Full of lengthy blurs and dissolves, coupled with scenes of breakfast being eaten or waiting back stage. Absolutely none of this material was valuable to the viewer and seemed like a large portion of the film really. Also, what the hell was with that tone that played so many times throughout; it became very annoying. Maybe it was to signify a new town or location or something, but it was very frustrating.

      The whole thing felt like a project some amateur film student put together after learning some new tricks with a camera. I wanted to shake somebody! Get over yourself and give us some damn content. I was expecting so much more from these guys and instead was left with an empty, frustrating film.

      1. Christopher Copeland says:

        Thanks Steve . . . even though we disagree it was nice to hear I wasn’t wrong about the film. I knew the boys when they were younger and even though I disagree with the material . . . I was rooting for them as film makers. As a follower of Jesus . . . I to have read the books and have had lively discussions with my atheist friends. But come on . . . this was Krauss and Hitchens . . . I was expecting way more.

        1. SteveHiggs says:

          Krauss and Dawkins 😉 I can only wish it were Mr. Hitchens, now that would have been an outstanding film! Dawkins is smart but Hitchens really knew how to hit home with an idea.

          Anyway, I’m glad films like this can bring together people of different opinions and start these conversations. It’s always been my understanding that that is the entire point of these two writing their books and promoting reason across the world. I only wish the film itself had more of it to build from. Cheers man.

          1. Christopher Copeland says:

            Steve . . . I agree that we should be able to get together and discuss views even when we disagree. CS Lewis and Tolkien had completely different view and theology and yet were close friends. My bad . . . it was Dawkins. I get those two mixed up. Greg . . . thanks for clearly up some things about your review. Would love to someday sit down with the two of you and have a beer!

          2. Greg Jameson says:

            Sounds good, Christopher 🙂

      2. Greg Jameson says:

        Hi Steve. Rule number one of reviewing and any form of structured criticism is to ask yourself: “What is the artist trying to achieve here?” The second question is: “Do they succeed?” Personal prejudice about what *you* think they *ought* to be doing is utterly irrelevant. The film doesn’t hand a platform to religionists because it’s a rock-style documentary about two men’s world tour advocating reason and science. It’s not, and was never intended to be, a science versus religion debate. There are literally hundreds of such debates on YouTube that you can watch if that’s what you want. You may as well criticise the film for not explaining the best way to skin a crocodile: it’s just not within it’s remit. As for the clip of Dawkins on the phone, that forms part of a montage showing Dawkins and Krauss following the treadmill of endless signings, talks, chat show appearances and media interviews to convey something of the reality of daily life for these men – Dawkins sitting alone in the latest forgettable nondescript hotel bedroom – that is the artistic purpose of that clip. Not to explain why belief in god or gods is intellectually untenable. Personally, I thought the clips from the public and private talks of the two men are anything but shallow. As I say in my review, my personal preference would have been for even more – but don’t forget that film is a fast-paced medium. In such media, presenting pithy, punchy moments about science and reason was the correct approach. Long scenes of public talks are better suited to other media.

        1. SteveHiggs says:

          Greg, forgive me, but, we’re typing in the comments section here. I’m not a professional movie critic nor a writer for this site. Rules for offering an opinion are not high on my list here. Assuming I can deliver a coherent point, I’m happy.

          I am however within the target audience of this film. I was promoted to in teasers and trailers, I pre-ordered the film, and sat down excitedly the day it came out expecting the same brilliant calibre of work that I’ve come to expect from both of these guys.

          “How to skin a crocodile” would have likely been more informative. But it would have been a completely different topic than these two normally cover. You can see that right? As a fan of their work, as someone familiar with their writing styles and their lectures I was fairly confident (enough to pre-order the film) that the kind of film I was going to get was not going to be about skinning a croc. Yet that’s just what it felt like; a completely different kind of film than I had expected. Empty of that real meaty discussion or even damn good lecture points, lacking in those eye opening revelations… The film gave me nearly nothing of what I had come to expect from these folks. Was it unreasonable to expect those things? Can you see how this film might feel empty to someone who was expecting those things?

          You’ve got your ReTweet by Krauss who noted your review was good. I’d be pretty happy with that. Just understand your readers may not have enjoyed the film quite as much 😛 I suppose I really should have simply written my comments in an iTunes review or something. My bad.

          1. Greg Jameson says:

            Hi Steve, no you’re entitled to comment here, just as I am to respond! I was explaining to you why I gave the film a good review, because it achieves what it sets out to achieve. I was not asking you to write a comment as if it’s a review. Have you watched the extended interviews and the extra features? More than an hour’s further talk there. Personally I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect a documentary film purposefully about two scientists’ world tour to offer as much sustained intellectual argument as their books. If you want that – read the books! I feel you have misunderstood the intention of the film, but you are quite entitled to dislike it.

          2. SteveHiggs says:

            Greg, quoting the rules of how I should format my response didn’t make it seem that I was welcome to comment the way I want to. You may have your format for a review but I have a stream of thoughts on the matter and so that’s how I’ll be expressing it.

            You say I have misunderstood the intention of the film. Perhaps that is so. But if it is, I don’t believe it is my fault, or perhaps it’s better to say that I believe many others will experience the same confusion.

            If this film was to be a different kind of presentation from these two guys, a different kind of expression of their thoughts or their processes then it stands to reason that it could have been advertised more clearly. Yes, I jumped in with my pre-order expecting what I’m used to seeing from them, and yes it turned out very different from that expectation. I believe that will be a common experience since they didn’t outright explain how this is not like other media produced/featuring these two guys.

            Even still, misunderstandings aside, the slow speed of this film with its monotonous scenes left me frustrated. That’s just not a common feeling when I watch these two.

          3. Greg Jameson says:

            Hi Steve. My apologies if I didn’t make myself clear. I wasn’t quoting rules for you or any other commenters to abide by, I was explaining how I tackle a review and why I reviewed the film favourably. Thanks again for posting your thoughts.

    3. vacmancan says:

      Sweetheart, you have imaginary friends that don’t exist. How can somebody be nice to you????? You “simpel-folk”are so cute. thank you

  2. drdov says:

    I’m a fan of Krauss
    Dawkins…..not so much

  3. vacmancan says:

    How can I get a copy???????

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