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The Bible : A History - Creation - Comments

chalkers's Avatar Comment 1 by chalkers

Absolutely flabbergasted by this.

Total misrepresentation of the 'new atheist' position.

Used the most 'strident' parts of RoAE out of context, it feels, since they were talking about creation and not the atrocities in the bible.

Starting off saying the creation account was a literary piece of fiction only to defecate on the scientific, evidence based account of creation.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 23:07:00 UTC | #434835

scoobie's Avatar Comment 2 by scoobie

Yes, Jacobsen is obviously suffering from some sort of mid/late-life crisis in which he's desparate to come to terms with the meaning of his own existence. Or something.

He is unmistakeably of the impression that atheists cannot appreciate art, music or literature. He also evidently has almost no scientific knowledge on the subject (though admittedly more than that nutter preacher who obviously gets his from answers-in-genesis), otherwise he'd be well aware of the majesty and beauty of the scienfic explanation of creation and how much that outclasses the crappy little Genesis version.

Quite a lot of what he said simply didn't add up and I spent a lot of the time yelling at the TV.

But he's obviously not an idiot either and some of it was quite piercing. He would totally cut the crap in one segment then wax lyrical and barmy the next. Very strange!

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 23:22:00 UTC | #434837

en0tjh's Avatar Comment 3 by en0tjh

Chalkers - Likewise, i'm gob-smacked. His problem with the new atheists seemed to be that they don't attempt to understand what religion is about. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! Has Jacobson actually read or listened to any of the new atheist arguments?

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 23:26:00 UTC | #434839

sihair's Avatar Comment 4 by sihair

The only way to fully reconcile religion with science is to concede that Science is God. Accept that the Bible, Koran and the like are nothing more than man-made instruction manuals for the masses, written at a time when the knowledge of science was minimal.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 23:30:00 UTC | #434841

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 5 by Mark Jones

In the program Polkinghorne scolds Dawkins for thinking that a creationist is a 'typical religious believer' and says that is a straw man. But it's plain that creationists *are* typical religious believers, even if many theists aren't of a mind with them. But, nonetheless, what difference does that make? RD is obviously aware of Polkinghorne's reasons for believing (a version of fine-tuning), and finds it lacking in credibility too, so why bring up the creationist point? I guess to once again accuse Dawkins of lacking nuance, and to add to that myth a little more. Jacobson laps it up, like the myth-lover he is.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 23:31:00 UTC | #434842

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 6 by Mark Jones

Jonathan Sacks; "Religion is the redemption of solitude".

Get in the sack!

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 23:39:00 UTC | #434844

reggiedixon's Avatar Comment 7 by reggiedixon

I watched it with a strange feeling of incredulity, how did Channel 4 not insist on editing it so that it at least was consistent in its own rather bizarre terms? The only sense came from AC Grayling whilst Jacobson tried to shout him down. My main feeling was that Jacobson is trying to convince himself that the Bible is true in any shifting sense he can cling on to - the programme shifted between the "Its allegorical", "No its literally true", "No its about faith", "Atheists don't understand what it is they don't believe", "Certainty is bad either way" so many times I lost count. I kept yelling at the TV "Show me the evidence".
I simply don't accept that someone who claims not to believe any of it can be so blind to what they are doing so the conclusion must be that its a pretence of unbelief as a device to appear more persuasive.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 23:41:00 UTC | #434845

rsharvey's Avatar Comment 8 by rsharvey

This was an absolutely infuriating program. Howard Jacobson is outraged for all the wrong reasons. I hate when atheism is described as a mirror for the 'arrogant certainty' of religion.

Firstly, there is nothing evil about certainty in itself - it is the repercussions of your beliefs that make them dangerous. Atheism doesn't carry any of the dangerous baggage inherent in dogma. To feel nearly certain that there is no god does not have particularly dangerous implications - certainly when compared to the beliefs that apostates or homosexuals or abortion doctors should be murdered.

So Jacobson's major charge appears to be an aesthetic one (the constant references to "mere facts" etc). He seems unconcerned that the certainty of religious belief is a cause for a huge amount of the suffering and injustice in the world.

Intellectually though, it is impossible to argue that a certainty in disbelief is equatable to certainty in a particular factually unsupported assertion. To firmly hold the position "I don't believe anything without sufficient evidence" is not the same as saying "I'm sure that a man was born 2010 years ago who was the incarnation of the creator of the universe and everything".

This is a petty, childish sort of agnosticism - an argument from lazy wish-making.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 23:41:00 UTC | #434846

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 9 by Jos Gibbons

If/when I watch the program I'll offer opinions on it. For now, I'll review the text provided.

Wow, wrong in sentence 1.

atheistic fundamentalists
The New Atheists aren't fundamntalist because they don't consider any text literally inerrant. "Fundamentalist" is no more applicable a technical religious term than "jihadist".
a no less intolerant certainty of their own
Even if their "cheerleader" RD does reference PROBABILITY in an entire chapter and its title in the TGD and frequently elsewhere. What's so intolerant about "evidence please" or "no more privileges" or "think more carefully about your choice of words"? Is that really no less intolerant than suicide bombers, homophobes, or people who go to great lengths to diminish the legal rights of women, or kill them?
They misunderstood the nature of religion
Oh not this nonsense again. They make claims that are absurd on the face of the evidence - like a human-loving being created the entire universe just for us, and invisibly replies to prayers despite the laws of nature (and many studies that show prayers have no effect) - and the only other component of religion, literally the only one, is behaviours of two types, behaviours "justified" by their beliefs and demanding special privileges while they do it. Criticising the belief bit first doesn't mean we're unaware of the other two; if the beliefs fail, the rest is a tragic nonsense, so they'd better back up the claims you make about reality. NOW.
those who dismiss [Genesis] as childish nonsense
That includes (insufficiently) many theists, especially clergymen. I thought we were talking about atheists - specifically, "fundamentalist" ones. If they agree with the least absurd opinions to be found amongst theists, they can hardly be seen as particularly extreme in the views, whether you prefer "fundamentalist" or some other similar extremism-implying insult as a label for them.
[Jacobson seeks] to reach a way of readin the Creation story that explain why it continues to stir the imagination even of unbelievers like himself
For the same reason Star Wars does - it's a (potentially exciting) story that deals with aspects of human nature. Oh, one more thing: you keep mentioning
the Creation story
Oh, so only the Abrahamic one counts? Sod the rest, eh? You arrogant, narrow-sighted, "moderate" twit.
the Natural History Museum in London, a temple to Charles Darwin
No, it just doesn't lie about him and contains a statue of him. There are many statues in the world with no religious connotation, and their locations are not temples.
[the opening words of Genesis] do our hearts good to hear
Do they? What good? Information? You yourself recognise the words are false.

Sun, 24 Jan 2010 23:46:00 UTC | #434848

Quine's Avatar Comment 10 by Quine

Comment #454281 by rsharvey:

I hate when atheism is described as a mirror for the 'arrogant certainty' of religion.
It's just typical childhood behavior as seen when one child on the playground calls down another for some indefensible behavior and the response is "same as you!" The religious have no defense for belief without evidence (and they know it), so all they can do is misrepresent Atheism to try to muddy the waters.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 00:04:00 UTC | #434850

ARodgers's Avatar Comment 11 by ARodgers

I've not watched to documentary but I guess it is filled with the same drivel as this article I read today.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 00:09:00 UTC | #434851

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 12 by God fearing Atheist

Just viewed it. Wanted to strangle the bugger. He doesn't believe it, its a myth, but its beautiful poetry/literature. But then he slips in "Goddidit". Then it is back to attacking Dawkins for reducing everything to scientific certainty. Dawkins is arrogant, dogmatic, and doesn't appreciate the poetry/literature (which copy of TGD has HJ got?). Grayling tells him the literature/poetry are important, our emotions are important, our relationships with other people are important. But, oh no, these cold hearted new atheists want to reduce everything to emotionless scientific certainty ... and, and, and "Goddidit", well did something, not sure what, because that would spoil the poem, or sommit.

HJ told of the rabbi who said to the atheist "I don't believe in the god you don't believe in either". Ok - hypothetical-rabbi, please explain exactly what "God" means to you?

And as for the priest/cosmologist - why does he think his hypothesis that god set up the parameters of the universe and lit the blue touch paper is less likely to make Dawkins smirk than any other religious woo-woo?

Mary Midgley didn't understand "selfish gene" was a metaphore back in the 1970s. She might have learned by now that scientists can do art. Never mind.

In summary - a "Smoke and Mirrors" show.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 00:16:00 UTC | #434853

Kmita's Avatar Comment 13 by Kmita

New atheists don't try to understand religion? What a thing to say. Especially considering that if he was paying attention he'd know that there's nothing new about new atheism. Why accuse one side of not understanding when right off the bat you demonstrate your own inability to understand their position? You just make yourself look silly.

Nietzsche is generally regarded as an old atheist right? Noam Chomsky was born only 28 years after Nietzsche died. Chomsky has said that "the Bible is probably the most genocidal book in the literary canon." How is this vastly different from some of the lines Dawkins has put out there? Yet it is unlikely the religiots will declare Chomsky to be a new atheist, and even if they did it just makes it all the more clear that the term is fatuous.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 00:30:00 UTC | #434856

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 14 by Border Collie

Couldn't watch it here in the US. Maybe it'll be on YouTube in the near future. But, why wrestle with the old and new testaments when there are better things to spend one's life wrestling with?

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 00:37:00 UTC | #434859

Tawn's Avatar Comment 15 by Tawn

Seems to me that Jacobson is one of these people who can't stand polarisation. You know the type - they always want to be the peacemaker in any argument and take the middle ground, whatever that is.

He sees two opposite ends of a dispute. The creationists and the Atheists and thinks that being a moderate (of some kind, he realises he isn't a believer) is the wise and sensible position to take. 'Oh those foolish extremists..'. It doesn't seem to occur to him that one side may be right and the other side wrong - he wants the middle ground, whatever nonsense logic he has to engage with.

It also doesn't occur to him that he actually shares more in common with the new atheists than the 'moderate' believers. Dawkin's shares his passion of art, literacy etc.. and sees the bible as a great creative work. It seems to be that Jacobson is nothing more than a victim of the mud-slinging that has gone Dawkin's way. He doesn't want to associate with the new atheists because they're the 'bad guys' (along with the creationists I guess, but he did seem to have more anger towards us - which I think is due to his internal conflict)

The culmination of this hour of desperate soul searching and unwillingness to represent Atheists in a fair light leads him into a belief system (or something) which makes even less sense than a Creationists understanding of science. The result is a position more absurd, more (logically) extreme (God exists and doesn't exist at the same time) than either side of this ongoing conflict. He is out of his depth and really shouldn't be the one telling us about stuff he knows very little about. Decide what you think, then come back and talk!

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 01:07:00 UTC | #434864

Logicel's Avatar Comment 16 by Logicel

New atheists don't try to understand religion.

Why should we?

Goodness, the apologists and appeasers for the supernatural keep insisting this crapola is special. If it is not seen as special then it is not the crapola's fault, but the fault of the clear-minded people who can identify crapola accurately.

It is not even special crapola. It is plain vanilla crapola, your ordinary run-of-the-mill crapola like drinking too much, eating too much, watching too much TV, hogging the spotlight, going for a manicure daily, spending a load on bottled water, regarding a 'Pet Rock' as the next hot thing, etc. It is excess.

Religious beliefs are excessively extreme. They exist because we have the ability to do this kind of thing, not because they have any irreplaceable value or that they are true. Religion simply hijacks our propensities.

You want to ooh and ah over your 'special' crapola? Then keep the loo door closed, please. I am not interested in inspecting your merde.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 01:10:00 UTC | #434865

Dave Porter's Avatar Comment 17 by Dave Porter

"they misunderstand the nature of religion, in particular the function of the Creation Myth"

Which is what, to keep people ignorant and feed their church coffers?

Does it seem the author is basically saying that to understand the nature of the universe and science that we are the ones becoming evil? What B.S.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 01:24:00 UTC | #434867

Paine's Avatar Comment 18 by Paine

Wtf? The clip is "not available in your area". Is it viewable in the US?
I don't think Channel 4 is publicly funded by UK residents and so they have no reason to be like the BBC and restrict viewership of their clips.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 02:38:00 UTC | #434873

msloane's Avatar Comment 19 by msloane

Video not available in my area, however bemused by expressions about "...finding a path between..." a myth and what evidence shows. If he doesn't believe in creationism, and does accept the scientific explanation, then there simply is no path.
Mr. Jacobson just needs to square it off in his head that when he reads and enjoys the biblical account of creation he is reading a work of historic fiction (as he himself seems to understand). There's simply no basis for trying to find a path between that and a scientific theory.
He might as well try and find the middle ground between Pooh Bear and the Grizzly Bear.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 04:24:00 UTC | #434880

chewedbarber's Avatar Comment 20 by chewedbarber

From Isaiah,

19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land, and if ye shall not, I shall cut off more than the head of your dick.

That's biblical inspiration.

Ok sorry, fine -- one of the few and worthy verses,

17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 04:25:00 UTC | #434881

InYourFaceNewYorker's Avatar Comment 21 by InYourFaceNewYorker

Bla, I can't view it in America!

I'm really tired of "atheism is a religion." These people forget that if we're presented with evidence, we'll change our views. Oh wait. They have a very different idea of what constitutes evidence...


Mon, 25 Jan 2010 05:59:00 UTC | #434892

Irat's Avatar Comment 22 by Irat

You know, in the Russian internet community, there was this joke that got repeated (something about an accordian), as if it was original, and from this, the semantic range of the word "bajan" (a special type of accordian), grew to mean "a joke that is presented as if original, but has in reality been presented many times before." Those who present these "accordians" are forever damned to shame (this is one of those jokes with some small truth to them).
Anyway, I propose we make a name for this type of article, that completely misrepresents what "atheism" is. "Accordian" is too soft.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 06:33:00 UTC | #434898

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 23 by Enlightenme..

"HJ told of the rabbi who said to the atheist "I don't believe in the god you don't believe in either". Ok - hypothetical-rabbi, please explain exactly what "God" means to you?"

Will (real) Rabbi Johnathan Sacks' answer do?:

"Religion is the redemption of solitude".

Get in the sack!
(You forgot the feckin', Mark Jones)

Get in the feckin' sack!

A snippet of Dara was shown in the episode, as it happens.
And it was clear this was gonna be painful to sit through within the first minute when the false dichotomy of 'this creation myth true or false' was diarrhoea'd out.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 06:47:00 UTC | #434900

Flapjack's Avatar Comment 24 by Flapjack

I also found myself wanting to shout at the TV on several occasions.
Jacobson makes the schoolboy error of conflating myth and fictional literature with tangible fact.
He seems to think we're the ones who can't see the woods for the trees because we can't see beyond our "narrow scientific worldview" into the ramshackle halfway house of a bit of science mingled with the entire fiction section of Waterstones.
As I like to point out, Dodie Smith set 101 Dalmations in a real place called London and dalmations are a genuine dogbreed. It doesn't then follow that one dalmation can have a litter of 99 puppies without exploding or that there's a genuine person called Cruella DeVille who skins puppies to make furcoats. At that point it stops being a historical document.
Fiction is fiction, fact is fact. End of discussion. I think Jacobson has spent so long writing novels he can't tell the difference anymore. But anything's better than being one of those "strident new atheists" right?
And as for "Religion is the redemption of solitude"... I had no idea that my loneliness required redemption. What a pile of pretentious wank.
I also like the way that Jacobson attempts to argue that he doesn't recognise Richard's bully of the Old Testament by the simple act of conveniently ignoring everything in the OT from the Creation onwards.
In conclusion I wasted an hour of my life sat in front of the box waiting for Jacobson to make a point of any value.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 07:10:00 UTC | #434904

etteridge1's Avatar Comment 25 by etteridge1

I read about this program in the Radio Times (it's a TV listings mag. Oddly British I guess.)Along with many others here,I am drawn to any program concerning religion/science/Athiesm. It's cat nip for me normally but I resolved to not watch it on health grounds (blood pressure), financial grounds (The TV very well may become broken) and relationship grounds (My poor wife couldn't take much more of me shouting at Channel 4 or the BBC actually).
And reading the comments here, I'm quite glad I didn't. There are some things just too proposterous in this life.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 07:19:00 UTC | #434908

Rawhard Dickins's Avatar Comment 27 by Rawhard Dickins

Jacobson set off on the wrong foot from the word go. Just how many errors of logic can you shoe-horn into one program?

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 08:24:00 UTC | #434920

Nozzer's Avatar Comment 28 by Nozzer

Like others above I found myself shouting at the t.v. He seemed to be on side so often but then would take such an accommodist view it was astounding.
One thing I recall is "faith assuages sorrow but at what cost to reason". Is this some allusion to scripture? However, I reckon A.C. Grayling pwned him on the steps in "Darwin's temple".

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 08:44:00 UTC | #434924

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 29 by Nunbeliever

The thing most religious or semi-religious (as I would call Jacobson) is that an evergrowing group of people just do not give a shit about bronze-age myths. They seem to think ALL atheists are former christians who act out in childish rebellion.

How hard can it be to understand that these particular myths from the middle east, to many atheists, are no different from ancient myths from Greece, Egypt or northern Europe. I think Jacobson should pull out his narrow-minded head from hiss a**!

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 09:20:00 UTC | #434932

sbooder's Avatar Comment 30 by sbooder

I found it rather distasteful and cheap, the tactics used by Howard Jacobson to bias the viewer’s attitude towards the question.
As this first episode was about the Creation story, I find it outrages that he quotes RD from TGD on his total description of God, not just the Creation story, while only talking to the religious about that very point.
His phrases about Atheists were divisive, Militant, Fundamentalist and so on. Where with the religious he was soft and forgiving, which shows the respect he gives religion over reality.
He goes out of his way to speak to many more believers than to those who do not believe, in actual fact he speaks to only one atheist (A C Grayling).

To wield the power of a program on television, and state you are coming from the middle ground; suggests that you are impartial. Nothing could have been further from the truth with Howard Jacobson; he is out to show Britain that we atheists are nothing more than cold bitter uncaring Scientists, that we care nothing for the beauty of the world, music, art or literature. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Shame on you Howard Jacobson, you have been highly dishonest.

Mon, 25 Jan 2010 09:51:00 UTC | #434943