A couple of days ago while looking for some cheap entertainment I found a two-part Channel 4 series called "The Root of All Evil?", a documentary on religious extremism around the world. Usually those kind of documentaries are a pretty safe bet: you know the positions beforehand, sometimes you even learn a bit, and they don't annoy you like bad movies do. Perfect bedtime entertainment.
Boy was I in for a surprise.
Because they fed me what I least expected: Atheist propaganda.
Yeah I too thought that this was a contradiction in terms. Now I know better.
"Why should scientists tip-tope respectfully away? the time has come for people of reason to say enough is enough! Religious faith discourages independent thought, it's divisive, and it's dangerous!"
"It looks lovely, doesn't it? inoffensive and gentle. But isn't that the beginning of the slippery slope that leads to young men with rucksack bombs on the tube?"
"At Lourdes, in southern France, the assault on the senses appeals to us not to think, not to doubt, not to probe. [...] If you have the delusion that you're Napoleon it must be a fairly lonely feeling because nobody else agrees with you. [...] But these people here, thousands of people, all have exactly the same delusion. And that must give wonderful reinforcement to their faith."
I have to disclaim here that I've only watched the beginning of the first episode, and it may well be that this tone is merely a setup for an insightful discussion -- but I'm not sure if it's worth the time to actually find out. I have no patience for propaganda from either part of the spectrum.
After all, one of the best improvements the Internet brought into our lives is the ability to skip commercials.
You can download the films at mininova.
Update: 2006-03-16: I've now watched both films and have nothing to add except that Richard Dawkins in a number of ways is quite a bad interviewer (which is a pity since most of the time is spent interviewing people), and he fails miserably to get his point across without sounding just as monkey-brained as his interview partners. The films create the impression that Dawkins and Channel 4 were attempting to add a counterpoint to the intelligent design discussion -- their arguments are similarly flashy and void of actual insight. I'm not sure this adds anything insightful to the discussions -- but I guess sometimes shouting matches do entertain.