Roger Ebert, atheist till the end

February 20, 2010

One of the world’s truly great cinema critics is dying. In all likelihood, Roger Ebert doesn’t have much time left. But is it true that there are no atheists in foxholes, no unbelievers on their deathbeds. Well, if Ebert is any indication, the answer is no:

I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear, he writes in a journal entry titled “Go Gently into That Good Night.” I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.

There has been no death-row conversion. He has not found God. He has been beaten in some ways. But his other senses have picked up since he lost his sense of taste. He has tuned better into life. Some things aren’t as important as they once were; some things are more important than ever. He has built for himself a new kind of universe. Roger Ebert is no mystic, but he knows things we don’t know.

I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.

Ebert takes joy from the world in nearly all the ways he once did. He has had to find a new way to laugh — by closing his eyes and slapping both hands on his knees — but he still laughs. He and Chaz continue to travel. (They spent Thanksgiving in Barbados.) And he still finds joy in books, and in art, and in movies — a greater joy than he ever has. He gives more movies more stars.

Thank you, Mr. Ebert, for your lifetime of work, for your inspiring words, and for your grace at this late hour. You’ve touched millions of people and when you do finally reach that undiscovered country, you will not be forgotten.


Eugenie Scott and Roger Ebert talk ‘Creation’

January 14, 2010

Two days ago, I briefly posted my positive feelings for the new biopic about the life of Charles Darwin, Creation. Now Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education provided a lengthier review, also very positive. And although he’s holding an official review until the film’s official release, Roger Ebert also wrote about the film here.


News From Around The Blogosphere 12.3.09

December 4, 2009

1. Men may be doomed by their sperm -

Men carry the seeds of their own destruction in the genes present in their sperm, research suggests.

Scientists working on mice have highlighted a specific gene that, although carried by both sexes, appears to be active only in males.

They believe it allows males to grow bigger bodies – but at the expense of their longevity.

2. Roger Ebert gives both creationists and New Agers the thumbs down – Ebert is growing awesome in his own age. First, he panned both the style and the science of Ben Stein’s awful mockumentary last year. Then earlier this year he wrote about his atheism. And now he’s done it again. This is up there with your review and follow-up remarks regarding The Brown Bunny.

3. Age of Autism has removed their entry with the controversial Thanksgiving image – But it’s still available thanks to Google’s cache. Suck it, Handley, Crosby, Wright, Stagliano, and the rest!

4. NY state senate says no to gay marriage –  Wow, this is disappointing. It’s New York, dammit! Home of Greenwich Village and Broadway. How is it possible that NY can’t pass gay marriage?

5. Dating site ‘True’ screens out “marrieds & felons & atheists” – I think Friendly Atheist nails all the obvious questions that come to mind:

How exactly do they screen for atheists? For that matter, how would they know who’s married or a felon? They’re assuming a lot of honesty in these online profiles…

6. Rick Warren doesn’t just know the mind of ‘God’ but the mind of every atheist -

“People become atheists because of hurt, then seek intellectual arguments to validate their desire to live without God.”

That’s an interesting hypothesis there, Rick. Care to back that little gem up with demonstrable evidence.

7. Religious classes count for GPA in Poland -

The Constitutional Tribunal has ruled that grades awarded for religion classes in school can count towards a pupil’s grade point average.

Two years ago the Democratic Left Alliance asked the Tribunal to look into the case, believing that it was discriminatory towards schoolchildren who came from atheist families or who had other beliefs.


Ebert gives religion 2 thumbs down

April 18, 2009

I suspected it after Roger Ebert gave his devastating review to the Ben Stein mockumentary Expelled, but then again plenty of religious people accept the science of Evolution. But now Ebert has more or less officially come out of the closet as a secular humanist (the secret codeword for atheist in these atheist-phobic times):

Catholicism made me a humanist before I knew the word. When people rail against “secular humanism,” I want to ask them if humanism itself would be okay with them. Over the high school years, my belief in the likelihood of a God continued to lessen. I kept this to myself. I never discussed it with my parents. My father in any event was a non-practicing Lutheran, until a death bed conversion which rather disappointed me. I’m sure he agreed to it for my mother’s sake.

Did I start calling myself an agnostic or an atheist? No, and I still don’t. I avoid that because I don’t want to provide a category for people to apply to me. I would not want my convictions reduced to a word. Chaz, who has a firm faith, leaves me to my beliefs. “But you know you’re one or the other,” she says. “I have never told you that,” I say. “Maybe not in so many words, but you are,” she says.

But I persist in believing I am not. During in all the endless discussions on several threads of this blog about evolution, intelligent design, God and the afterworld, now numbering altogether around 3,500 comments, I have never said, although readers have freely informed me I am an atheist, an agnostic, or at the very least a secular humanist–which I am. If I don’t believe God exists, that doesn’t mean I believe God doesn’t exist. Nor does it mean I don’t know, which implies that I could know.

Let me rule out at once any God who has personally spoken to anyone or issue instructions to men. That some men believe they have been spoken to by God, I am certain. I do not believe Moses came down from the mountain with any tablets he did not go up with. I believe mankind in general evidently has a need to believe in higher powers and lives not limited to the physical duration of the body. But these needs are hopes, and believing them doesn’t make them true. I believe mankind feels a need to gather in churches, whether physical or social.

I’m reminded of an old clip that surfaced on Youtube a while back of a Siskel (a Jew) and Ebert (raised Catholic) outtake where they joke around (with NSFW language) about Protestants and president at the time, Ronald Reagan:


Roger Ebert thanks Bill O’Reilly

April 9, 2009

This is apparently Eberts response to hearing that O’Reilly included the Chicago Sun-Times on his list of newspapers he considers shameful. He begins:

Dear Bill: Thanks for including the Chicago Sun-Times on your exclusive list of newspapers on your “Hall of Shame.” To be in an O’Reilly Hall of Fame would be a cruel blow to any newspaper. It would place us in the favor of a man who turns red and starts screaming when anyone disagrees with him. My grade-school teacher, wise Sister Nathan, would have called in your parents and recommended counseling with Father Hogben.

Yes, the Sun-Times is liberal, having recently endorsed our first Democrat for President since LBJ. We were founded by Marshall Field one week before Pearl Harbor to provide a liberal voice in Chicago to counter the Tribune, which opposed an American war against Hitler. I’m sure you would have sided with the Trib at the time.

I understand you believe one of the Sun-Times misdemeanors was dropping your syndicated column. My editor informs me that “very few” readers complained about the disappearance of your column, adding, “many more complained about Nancy.” I know I did. That was the famous Ernie Bushmiller comic strip in which Sluggo explained that “wow” was “mom” spelled upside-down.

And here’s a great highlight:

That newspapers continue to run your column is a mystery to me, since it is composed of knee-jerk frothings and ravings. If I were an editor searching for a conservative, I wouldn’t choose a mad dog.


Ebert gives Darwin 2 thumbs up

February 17, 2009

A few months ago, Roger Ebert gave a much delayed review of the creationist film, Expelled. He gave the film a very bad review. Ebert showed in that article that, while not an expert in Evolution, he understands it pretty well. So on Darwin Day he published an article on Darwin and evolution. It’s a pretty good read.


Roger Ebert doesn’t give Ben Stein his thumb, but rather the finger

December 3, 2008

Apparently people (who am I kidding, it’s the creationists) have been accusing Roger Ebert of not reviewing Ben Stein’s mockumentary Expelled because Ebert’s in leaque the evil dark lords of Evolution.

So Ebert decided to finally review the film. And well, he didn’t quite care for it, to put it mildly. This is a truly awesome demolishing of Stein’s silly, little propaganda film and well worth the read.

The mighty Ebert has spoken.


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