Richard Dawkins’ Documentary The God Delusion Tackles Faith & Religious Violence (2006)

The very title of Richard Dawkins’ 2006 book The God Delu­sion was intend­ed to pro­voke, and the Oxford evo­lu­tion­ary biol­o­gist has seem­ing­ly done noth­ing but, since tak­ing his stand against reli­gions of all kinds, par­tic­u­lar­ly the big monotheisms that claim most of the world’s inhab­i­tants. Dawkins infu­ri­ates the­ists on the right with his self-assured claim that “there almost cer­tain­ly is no God” and skep­tics on the left, who charge him with sex­ism and racism. Even jour­nal­ist and jour­ney­man intel­lec­tu­al Christo­pher Hedges—no friend to author­i­tar­i­an reli­gions—accus­es Dawkins of the same kind of intol­er­ance as Chris­t­ian, Jew­ish, and Islam­ic fun­da­men­tal­ists.

Mean­while, thou­sands of peo­ple who may or may not fol­low Dawkins’ every inflam­ma­to­ry tweet cred­it him with giv­ing them the courage and con­vic­tion to walk away from faiths they found oppres­sive. In that regard, he’s accom­plished his goal, and his Richard Dawkins Foun­da­tion con­tin­ues to advo­cate stren­u­ous­ly for “sci­en­tif­ic edu­ca­tion, crit­i­cal think­ing and evi­dence-based under­stand­ing of the nat­ur­al world in the quest to over­come reli­gious fun­da­men­tal­ism, super­sti­tion, intol­er­ance and human suf­fer­ing.”

If you’ve some­how missed Dawkins’ mes­sage amidst the furor over his method, you can get caught up rather quick­ly with the film above. Titled, like his book, The God Delu­sion, the film com­piles the two 45-minute episodes of a doc­u­men­tary series pro­duced for BBC 4 called Root of All Evil?, first broad­cast in 2006 as a com­pan­ion to the book. (The pro­duc­ers chose the title to cre­ate controversy—Dawkins has called the notion of any one thing being the “root of all evil” ridicu­lous.) In his intro­duc­tion to the film, Dawkins pro­pos­es to explore “a world increas­ing­ly polar­ized by reli­gion,” and to find out why faith has such a grip on the human mind.

Sur­vey­ing regions from America’s Mid­west to Israel, the film “takes a hard look at the very con­cept of faith: how it behaves like a kind of ‘brain virus,’ infect­ing gen­er­a­tions of young minds, how it per­pet­u­ates out­dat­ed and dubi­ous moral val­ues.” Why, asks Dawkins, should reli­gion “demand, and usu­al­ly receive, our society’s respect”? It’s still a ques­tion worth ask­ing, even if you don’t like Dawkins’ answers, or Dawkins him­self.

You can find The God Delu­sion in our col­lec­tion of Free Doc­u­men­taries, part of our larg­er col­lec­tion of 675 Free Movies Online.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Unbe­liev­ers, A New Film Star­ring Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Wern­er Her­zog, Woody Allen, & Cor­mac McCarthy

The Ori­gins Project Brings Togeth­er Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Bill Nye, Ira Fla­tow, and More on One Stage

Grow­ing Up in the Uni­verse: Richard Dawkins Presents Cap­ti­vat­ing Sci­ence Lec­tures for Kids (1991)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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