More used to testing the validity of rumors, myths, movie scenes, adages, Internet videos, and news stories, Mythbusters hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman are staunch atheists and have spoken about their problems with religion and people that believe in God.
In an interview with The Paul Mecurio Show, in which the special effects experts discussed their lives and how they got to be where they are today, the pair touched upon their dismay and confusion that in this day and age as many as 80% of Americans are religious.
Adam Savage was the first to broach the subject, saying: “I’m at least a third generation atheist, and it’s not that I reject religion it’s just that I don’t have any use for it. I do think that organised religion has perpetrated some of the worst crimes on humanity that have ever been recorded.
“To me one of the worst things is when you have people rejecting actual scientific data in favour of the things that their faith tells them. If you want to believe that God was the first guy to trip the domino that led to everything we have, I have no truck with that, that’s fine, I have no problem with that. There’s nothing I can say to that, it’s not provable or disprovable, so if that comforts you that’s fine. But if you tell me that the Earth is 6000 years old then I’m ready for a fight. There’s nothing useful about that!
“You get on a plane and you fly somewhere, and the reason that plane gets you there is because of people who actually did critical thinking about a set of discreet experiments and put two and two together in order to make this impossible, thin bubble of aluminium that actually pressurises and takes you from one place to the other. You can’t both reject evolution and know that your plane is going to keep you alive. The two are mutually exclusive.”
While Adam and Jamie’s different style often find them at loggerheads on Mythbusters, they find themselves completely in sync with each other when it comes to religion. Jamie continued the criticism of religion saying: “I have a fundamental problem with the very concept of it. I mean, faith as I understand it, and belief in things implies that you don’t require any kind of evidence or rationale behind it. It’s like you’re accepting something without question, and I don’t understand why anyone would want to do that.
“It opens up a Pandora’s Box: Things like personal responsibility go out of the window! It’s like, ‘I’m doing this or I think this and I’m behaving this way because of something that doesn’t necessarily have to be ethical or make sense’. Ethical according to who’s standards? I think there are certain kinds of fundamental ethical things like compassion or knowing cruelty is a bad thing, these don’t require a God to be able to get behind. But if you have a God, all of a sudden you have a licence to break some of those fundemental things.
“I can make a rational argument as to why someone should not be cruel or unethical in society, yet if you have some sort of way that legitimises ignoring some of those things then I think that’s a really horrible thing.”
Jamie and Adam are also part of the Skeptics Society and are members of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), a non-profit foundation set up challenging people to prove the existence of God or any sort of paranormal abilities (e.g. telepathy, spiritual mediumship etc). One of their primary aims is to educate the public and the media on the dangers of accepting unproven claims.
Speaking about the foundation Adam said: “Right now one of the biggest issues that the JREF has is outreach to a new generation, and one of the reasons that the amazing meeting is held in the summers in Las Vegas is so that teachers who are a key part of our critical thinkers and teaching new generations can actually attend.
“One of the other issues is sort of the front page of the JREF for the past several decades has been the ‘James Randi challenge’, in which he has offered $1million to anyone who can demonstrate a paranormal ability, and to date nobody has collected the money. The terms are almost always identical: Somebody is allowed to perform the thing they say they can do, whether they can read a newspaper blindfolded or they can find water by dowsing, they’re allowed to do it in the way that they normally do it , and they they are required to do it under precise laboratory conditions. And nobody has yet succeeded in achieving any of their quote-unquote paranormal abilities under the laboratory conditions.”
However while they are both firm believers of not accepting facts without solid evidence, Adam is open to people trying to dispel his disbelief about paranormal abilities, saying: “I would love to find out that it’s possible, I would absolutely love to find out that it’s possible!”
You can see Adam and Jamie in action by tuning into Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel, and you can hear the full interview with The Paul Mecurio Show for free by clicking here and visiting iTunes.