New Atheists Ruin Movie for Catholics.

Though its trailer gives no clue as to its true agenda, this venomous supposed comedy is set in a world where lying is unknown and every word spoken is accepted as truth and where — not accidentally, the screenplay implies — God does not exist. Until, that is, failed documentary screenwriter and all-around loser Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) spontaneously discovers the ability to deceive.


That quote is from a movie review in The Catholic Spirit Dot Com.

Have a look:

Has anybody seen it?

(Hat tip: Virgil Samms)

Comments

  1. #1 José
    October 2, 2009

    I’d like to see it, but I’m not allowed to go to the movies anymore. I hope the movie doesn’t get Golden Golden Compassed.

  2. #2 mr P
    October 2, 2009

    This movie “is set in a world where lying is unknown and every word spoken is accepted as truth and where — not accidentally, the screenplay implies — God does not exist.”

    Sounds about right to me….

  3. #3 Stacy
    October 2, 2009

    I really wanted to see it before – but now … after reading that review … I MUST see it!!

  4. #4 tonyc
    October 2, 2009

    favorite(!) quote from that review:

    Mark works out a ludicrously simple-minded creed which he proclaims at his doorstep, a latter-day suburban Moses with a pair of pizza boxes taking the place of the tablets of the Law.
    The main tenets of Mark’s freshly minted religion concern a “man in the sky” who controls and directly causes everything that happens — including both disease in individuals and large-scale natural disasters — and who rewards good deeds and punishes evil, though three serious sins per lifetime are forgivable. His credulous listeners accept his teachings with pathetic eagerness, but obsess about the smallest details.

    Sounds just like religion to me!

    I wonder why the reviewer thinks this is ‘simple minded’, while his own creed is not?

  5. #5 Matthew
    October 2, 2009

    While the above-cited review makes me just as angry as I’m sure it does you all, the sort of comments I’m seeing here only serve to justify the caged animal-like ferocity of this writing. Is the appropriate response to someone demonizing your views to simply demonize theirs in return? The only reason that the religiously zealous write this sort of thing is because they feel threatened–threatened by the secularization of our youth, who will inherit their formerly devout society. Threatened, essentially, by what SHOULD come to pass: the subsiding of witch hunts in favor of careful reason. That said, when you pile on the attacks, it’s only going to make that caged animal all the angrier. Just my $.02.

  6. #6 tonyc
    October 2, 2009

    Matthew: I don’t think it is at all true that our society (western) was ever particularly ‘devout’. Sure, we all had the trappings of devotion. We had expectations of church-going, and tea-with-the-vicar, and babies being christened, and pastors saying eulogies over the dead. But I’d challenge you to find any real devotion in the majority of people, beyond a ‘rub blue mud in the belly’ observation of social behaviors.

    Outlier groups (such as the majority of the crowd at Pharyngula; of those folks who attended the recent ‘value Voters’ conference) are not the majority, despite the column inches and hours of airtime that we seem to attract.

  7. #7 Matthew
    October 2, 2009

    Tony, correct me if I’m misinterpreting your remarks: I’m sure you’d acknowledge beyond your curt, dismissive observation that that depends on one’s definition of “devotion.” A fine line separates ritual from belief in a higher power, to be sure, but to assert that even among the particularly zealous that there was no “devotion” to “good works” seems a bit crude. In fact, it’s that kind of patronizing for the sake of waxing axiomatic that gives some the impression that there actually exists a solidified atheist “community,” and that community is highbrow, erudite, and exclusive rather than inclusive. You and I know better, as you yourself suggest that there are fringe groups on both sides and not much else. But the point I’m trying to make here and in the above post is that your rhetoric has repercussions, no matter how proud of your independent thinking you may be.

  8. #8 Stephanie Z
    October 2, 2009

    Matthew, what attacks?

  9. #9 the real meme
    October 2, 2009

    Mathew, would you have him quash his originality for the sake of pushing a platform then? it seems to me that in itself would defeat the platform.

    In regard to “Is the appropriate response to someone demonizing your views to simply demonize theirs in return?” I think it is exactly what happens day in and day out here at sciblogs–and I would agree that this approach leaves no quarter and causes a black/white paradigm in every discussion. It’s almost as if original thining on any topic becomes marginalized–but the crux ( no religious intention here) of the problem is that original thinking is good science–so how funny it is that these discussions lack it, and discourage it!
    Original thinking: Linnaeus, Darwin, Einstein, et al. Dogmatic Sciborg thinking: PZ, Brayton, Zuska, Isis, et al

  10. #10 llewelly
    October 2, 2009

    Wait. PZ, the new atheist, and Isis, the Catholic, follow the same dogma?

  11. #11 Pierce R. Butler
    October 2, 2009

    the real meme @ # 9: It’s almost as if original thin[k]ing on any topic becomes marginalized…

    Almost, the same way a blog posting is almost like a peer-reviewed journal paper.

    But of course it’s not at all that accusing online atheists of demonizing everyone who differs even slightly from their “dogma” is almost like demonizing aforesaid atheists, is it?

    NB: the local strident atheists regularly call for evidence &/or new rationales (aka “original thinking”) from believers. The problem seems less one of demand and more, well, supply-side.

  12. #12 Left_Wing_Fox
    October 2, 2009

    Here’s a review from a critic whom I rather respect:

    http://www.flickfilosopher.com/blog/2009/10/100209the_invention_of_lying_review.html

    Enjoy!

  13. #13 Greg Laden
    October 3, 2009

    Matthew, there is another explanation for the base nature of the comments you see in this thread. A combination of utter disdain for religion and the very religious and a sense of humor. No one is trying to make them (them = the ilk of the cited reviewer) like them, change their mind, or do anything specific. They are seen as irredeemable fools and hopeless as an ally or, for that matter, anything but an enemy. There is no possibility of reconciliation, so why not just tell them to fuck off and then make fun of them if one feels so moved.

    Or at least, that’s what this comment thread looks like to me.

  14. #14 Matthew
    October 3, 2009

    And that’s why I don’t usually read your blog, Greg (although my fiance does, and for reasons unknown is fond of posting finds on Facebook).

    Preaching to the choir is mental masturbation, whether it’s being done by rabid, self-congratulatory zealots or rabid, self-congratulatory skeptics. I don’t see it as an academic pursuit to tell someone to fuck off based on their firmly entrenched beliefs, and–correct me if I’m wrong–I thought this was supposedly an exploratory blog about science and culture, not a Perez Hilton forum. Mentioning “science and culture” in your header would seem to imply that you have something to say about either one rather than milking cronies for their applause.

    But as long as you feel comfortable in your diary-writing, circle-jerking pulpit, hiding behind the word “science” as if it somehow makes you any better than the “irredeemable fools” you decry, well then I’m sure it’s all worth it to add absolutely nothing to the conversation, reducing everything to a matter of “They’re beyond help, and I’m beyond reproach.” I just wouldn’t invoke science or academia while doing so. But that’s just me.

    The funniest thing, perhaps, is that you excerpt The Catholic Spirit’s reprint as if to show how ridiculous it is to see malevolence in the idea of telling the truth… when in fact you yourself are far more concerned with fueling malevolence than you are making pertinent, truthful observations.

  15. #15 Jeremy
    October 3, 2009

    lol

    Matthew’s last comment is definitely one of the more entertaining responses I’ve seen.

  16. #16 IanW
    October 3, 2009

    @Matthew -
    “While the above-cited review makes me just as angry as I’m sure it does you all, the sort of comments I’m seeing here only serve to justify the caged animal-like ferocity of this writing.”

    You wrote this in comment #5. The previous four comments had essentially said this:
    “I’m not allowed to go to movies”
    “Sounds about right to me”
    “I must see it”
    “Sounds like religion”

    And this is caged animal-like ferocity? The only “ferocity” here is your unsupported claim.

    “Is the appropriate response to someone demonizing your views to simply demonize theirs in return?”

    Another florid claim. It’s just a movie. Nothing is being demonized from what I see, yet once again your language takes flight from nothing. If believers feel demonized from something as tepid as this, then they’re seriously insecure, which speaks volumes about their faith.

    “The only reason that the religiously zealous write this sort of thing is because they feel threatened–threatened by the secularization of our youth, who will inherit their formerly devout society.”

    You speak for billions? I didn’t realize you were so powerful. But let’s pretend you’re right for a minute. These billions feel threatened by even a whisper that there is no god or that their faith is baseless, yet somehow, this omnipotent god of theirs offers them no support, no protection, no solace, so once again, the believers are forced into doing their god’s work for him? And what kind of god is this again?

    “Threatened, essentially, by what SHOULD come to pass: the subsiding of witch hunts in favor of careful reason. That said, when you pile on the attacks, it’s only going to make that caged animal all the angrier. Just my $.02.”

    I don’t see a lot of careful reason in your comment. I see a flare-up based on four previous comments which didn’t do anything you claim they did.

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    October 3, 2009

    Matthew 14 (I’ve got to look that up and see what it says!) We are all fisher’s of men, but i am a fisher of trolls, as it turns out. You will notice that in my comment, to which you reply, I said nothing in support of the position I described. I just described it. My actual view of the matter is much more nuanced. I think there is room for a lot of ways of doing things, including having fun at the expense of those you have a hard time respecting, and who are so often busy making your life harder than it need be.

    But there is also room for other kinds of dialog.

    Including, I suppose, you telling me what I should blog/not blog and how/now how I should do it! (But it is terribly annoying to most of my readers. They’ll probably rip you a new one on that account).

  18. #18 Stephanie Z
    October 3, 2009

    Matthew, the only venom and smugness I see in this thread, top to bottom, come from the review excerpt and from you. I don’t know what blog you’re reading, but it isn’t this one.

    IanW covered the first comments you condemned quite well. tonyc responded to the substance of your first comment with an historical observation that has quite a bit of merit, given the periodic waves of revivalism that have swept the country, and you decided he was being dismissive. You ignored my request for more information on what you found offensive in the comments. Greg pointed out that some people are impossible to reach, and you dismissed his entire blog as unscientific masturbation. What you had to say about your fiances opinions and tastes is probably something best discussed between the two of you.

    Frankly, the only appropriate response to your first two comments is, “Where is your blog in which you bring harmony and understanding to fruit between those of all religions, Mr. Know It All?” You’ll note (or at least, everyone else will, so you probably should) that no one responded that way. The smug, self-congratulatory atheists who so offend you by their existence went out of their way to engage with the substance of your comments and ignore the fact that you sound like a retired school teacher with a perfectly manicured lawn and your belt pulled up just under your chin.

    I don’t know what’s got you so cheesed off, but it’s quite clear to everyone reading that the problem is something you arrived with. Unless you’ve got something to say that’s relevant to anything that’s actually happened in this thread, perhaps you should take your issues and go somewhere where people can help you with them.

  19. #19 El Guerrero del Interfaz
    October 5, 2009

    Well, let’s wait for reactions to Amenabar’s Agora, the tale of Hypatia and her cruel assassination by a crazed mob of christian talibans. Mainly probably because he does not insist on this bit of christian barbary but on her quest for knowledge and enlightment, the real enemy of religion…

  20. #20 davery
    October 6, 2009

    Just to answer Greg L. question, I saw the movie this weekend last and it was very funny, if a bit obvious. There is a scene in the middle involving pizza boxes that had me giggling for days.

    Though I didn’t notice, my wife felt that about half of the theater got very quite at this point when the movie rammed home its secular point with fairly blunt satire. There is no doubt that Mr. Gervais (an avowed atheist) new exactly what he was doing with this movie. It is squarely directed at religion and religious view, most specificaly Christianity.