Thursday, June 15, 2006

Making secular propaganda

Daylight Atheism reviews the new Da Vinci Code movie, and continues to express mixed feelings on the subject. Here's how he finishes up:
In the long run, will The Da Vinci Code be a good thing for atheism? Certainly, to the extent it fosters competing views on the origin of Christianity and weakens the influence of rigid, unbending faith on society, it will help our cause. But in the long run, it is not solving the basic problem of faith being used as a basis for decision-making, only adding another alternative to the multiplicity of faith systems already in existence. What we really need is a movie that draws on the same narrative themes to teach the virtues of skepticism and the value of decision-making based on evidence.
Honestly, do you really think a movie is going to bring intelligent thinking to the American public? Given the current available fare, one suspects that stupidity is inherent to the genre. Books work better. We should seriously consider a Gideon-esque campaign to put copies of Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World in hotel rooms across the nation. I think Sagan's general promotion of reason is preferable to something out of Bertrand Russell. The great thing, though, is that it would be impossible to miss the contrast. The campaign would be subtly anti-religion while the overt message would be positive, pro-reason.

On the other hand, someone might try a movie modeled on George Orwell's 1984. 1984 is a wonderful book because it presents easy-to-hate bad guys who are defined by their opposition to reason. As I've said, we wouldn't have to look very hard to find models for the villains. Somewhere in there, we'd have to slip in this quote from Adolf Hitler: "We stand at the end of the Age of Reason. A new era of the magical explanation of the world is rising."


neuralgourmet said...

We need the equivalent of Chick Tracts. 1 single idea expressed in a short, easily digestible chunk in comic form. Of course, the ideas we generally espouse are a little more complicated than Jack Chick's and build upon previous ideas. Jack Chick has the entire culture working for him and he can assume a general awareness of Christian theology and mythology.

Hallq said...

Huh? We already have Chick Tracts, and isn't Jack Chick a wonderful spokesperson for atheism?

Seriously, though, that isn't a bad idea. The FFRF already does "nontracts", getting down the idea of one simple idea to a pamphlet is a good strategy.

neuralgourmet said...

I just like comics. ;-)

See, I wasn't even aware of the FFRF nontracts. I still think putting something like that into comic book/chick tract form would be useful.

The problems of course would be
1) cost -- but I see several ways of mitigating that. The first would be to require people/orgs to buy a case of antitracts at a time and another would be to also have the antitracts available for download as PDFs. That way they can print them theirselves. Hopefully donations could be solicited too.

2) Would atheists really distribute them? Most atheists aren't exactly the evangelical types.

The Ridger, FCD said...

Books might work better, but the truth is, more people watch tv than read, and more people watch movies than read a book.DaVinci has made $193,501,251 so far, which at $8 a show is 24,198,906 people who've seen it. In less than a month. It's sold around 30,000,000 as near as I can find out - and that's in three years.

The Ridger, FCD said...

And yes, I realize some people may have seen it more than once, and many people have lent their copies of the books to others, so ticket sales and copies sold don't equal individual viewers and readers. But still.