Thirty Authors Discuss God

I’m too sick, and my head too fuzzy with medication, so instead of attempting to construct coherent sentences, I’m going to let thirty others, who are known for their eloquence, speak about a subject that comes up in this blog every now and again… religion, and its counterpart, skepticism.

Dr. Jonathan Pararajasingham, a British neurosurgeon, created a series of videos regarding the debate between belief and atheism. The first two videos feature academics and theologians discussing both belief and disbelief, with the aim illustrating his central argument that “the more scientifically literate, intellectually honest and objectively skeptical a person is, the more likely the are to disbelieve in anything supernatural, including god.”

In the third video of the series,  which I came across on this site, Dr. Pararajasingham compiled video of thirty renown authors discussing atheism. My favorite has to be Ian McEwan (starting at 9:28), although Douglas Adams and Christopher Hitchens are pretty outstanding, too.

Here are the authors included in the video, in order of appearance.

1. Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Science Fiction Writer
2. Nadine Gordimer, Nobel Laureate in Literature
3. Professor Isaac Asimov, Author and Biochemist
4. Arthur Miller, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Playwright
5. Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate in Literature
6. Gore Vidal, Award-Winning Novelist and Political Activist
7. Douglas Adams, Best-Selling Science Fiction Writer
8. Professor Germaine Greer, Writer and Feminist
9. Iain Banks, Best-Selling Fiction Writer
10. José Saramago, Nobel Laureate in Literature
11. Sir Terry Pratchett, NYT Best-Selling Novelist
12. Ken Follett, NYT Best-Selling Author
13. Ian McEwan, Man Booker Prize-Winning Novelist
14. Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate (1999-2009)
15. Professor Martin Amis, Award-Winning Novelist
16. Michel Houellebecq, Goncourt Prize-Winning French Novelist
17. Philip Roth, Man Booker Prize-Winning Novelist
18. Margaret Atwood, Booker Prize-Winning Author and Poet
19. Sir Salman Rushdie, Booker Prize-Winning Novelist
20. Norman MacCaig, Renowned Scottish Poet
21. Phillip Pullman, Best-Selling British Author
22. Dr Matt Ridley, Award-Winning Science Writer
23. Harold Pinter, Nobel Laureate in Literature
24. Howard Brenton, Award-Winning English Playwright
25. Tariq Ali, Award-Winning Writer and Filmmaker
26. Theodore Dalrymple, English Writer and Psychiatrist
27. Roddy Doyle, Booker Prize-Winning Novelist
28. Redmond O’Hanlon FRSL, British Writer and Scholar
29. Diana Athill, Award-Winning Author and Literary Editor
30. Christopher Hitchens, Best-Selling Author, Award-Winning Columnist

(And sorry for the awkward grammar, I blame the pills for the cough).

5 thoughts on “Thirty Authors Discuss God

  1. Personally, I fall most closely in line with Terry Pratchett’s POV, but I also love Douglas Adams’ puddle analogy. The McEwan quote is also good. Coincidentally, the discussion I had with my students today followed a similar rationale, but we were discussing teaching and education. The basic idea was that students generally feel alienated in courses where teachers hold all the cards or in which the teacher has all of the answers, but they feel much more engaged when there’s an honest sense of exploration, when the teacher admits to not having all of the answers. McEwan’s argument suggests that humans might be more engaged with exploration of ideas and mysteries, and with life in general, if we didn’t have recourse to the idea of the unknowable, inexplicable will of God.

  2. McEwan does stop us in our tracks. His argument is compelling and really very thoughtful. I also dipped into Tariq Ali, Pinter and Hitchens. His mind goes 1,000 mph doesn’t it?

  3. I Believe that God is the the aspiration of human mortality to immortality: The measure of our spiritual coherence. Human mind without the age old fundamental set of immutable principles is too dangerous, for his own good. Fear of something larger than life is real. Discernment between good and bad, is beyond science and in as much as we would like to believe that good or bad are minor concerns for humanity, more and more our collective actions prove the need for spiritual guidance. Thanks for the post!

  4. So much to talk here… but I’m in worktime, so I confess I couldn’t even watch the full video… but, being a Portuguese speaker, I was happy to find Saramago among them! =)

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