August 1, 2006

Have You Seen "30 Days" on FX?

I finally got around to watching an episode of Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days. I loved Super Size Me but had so far been unable to coordinate my schedule with the show's airing or remember to record it. The episode I saw involved a Minuteman living with a family of illegal immigrants. As you can imagine, the family put a human face on the plight of immigrants and helped the houseguest broaden his mind. Despite the over-the-top sappiness, it was watchable.

Now I hear that they are planning to do a show involving an atheist moving in with a family of evangelical Christian. Interesting idea, but I think they might have it backwards. Did it not occur to the show's producers that this should have been the other way around (i.e., an evangelical Christian living with atheists and learning that we aren't Satan incarnate)? If the show involves an atheist changing Christian minds, this will be so unrealistic that it will be laughable. On the other hand, a show in which an atheist becomes more accepting of conservative Christian beliefs (my prediction) would be a big mistake. Why? Oh, just because these beliefs happen to be false.

In the show about the immigrants, it worked because the Minuteman was able to maintain his beliefs with some expansion of them. He came to realize that there were two sides to a complicated issue. Frankly, I don't see how this can work in the atheist-Christian show. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised, but I am anticipating a message to atheists about being more tolerant of Christians. In contemporary America, this is the last thing that needs to happen.

How can I say this? The value of a belief is based on the evidence in support of the belief. This is how knowledge works; truth claims are evaluated through reason. There is no evidence to support the core components of Christian doctrine. Maintaining a belief in the absence of supporting evidence is not rational. Intelligent Christians acknowledge this but then resort to faith. But faith is not a valid method for acquiring or verifying knowledge. Only reason can accomplish these goals. Why should anyone be tolerant of irrational beliefs? That they might make someone feel better temporarily is insufficient.

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