30 Renowned Writers Speaking About God & Reason

This past summer, Jonathan Pararajasingham, a neurosurgeon in London, created a montage of 100 renowned academics, mostly all scientists, talking about their thoughts on the existence of God. (Find it in two parts here and here.) Now’s he back with a new video, 30 Renowned Writers Speaking About God. It runs 25 minutes, and it offers as much a critique of orthodox religious belief as it does a literary tribute to humanism and rationalism. Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Salman Rushdie (who kindly tweeted us this weekend), Margaret Atwood, Philip Roth — they all make an appearance. The full list of writers appears below the jump.

And, before we close, let me say this. Whenever we post videos like these, we get the question. Why the occasional focus on atheism/rationalism/humanism? And the simple answer comes down to this: If you cover writers, academics and scientists, the thinking skews in that direction. Yes, there are exceptions, but they are in shorter supply. But if someone pulls them together and makes a montage, we’ll likely feature it too. H/T RichardDawkins.net

Note: As you may have noticed, we have been experiencing intermittent outages over the past couple of days. Our host, Dreamhost, has been stumbling more than we’d like. So we’re figuring out alternatives and hopefully making a move soon. Our apologies for the inconvenience!

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

by | Permalink | Comments (13) |

Support Open Culture

We’re hoping to rely on our loyal readers rather than erratic ads. To support Open Culture’s educational mission, please consider making a donation. We accept PayPal, Venmo (@openculture), Patreon and Crypto! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (13)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Jan Fischer says:

    Fascinating! It is amazing to me that infinitesimal persons on this unfathomable earth whose very birth was determined by forces other than their own, should have the gall to stand up and say, “I know there is no God” by the power of my own reason. Your reason is flawed by thousands of factors and it has no authority to declare God real or imaginary. God is not religion. Religion is man-made and we could well live without it. God is real, not because you say he is or is not real, but because HE said it and he has the authority to declare it. You would have no reason (or imagination, or language or science) without God. When men trust in their own reason apart from God, they become fools. Only death will reveal what what is real to them because their hearts are hardened and they will not listen to the truth.

  • Brian says:

    Jan,…you’re defeated by your own argument!

  • Bob says:

    Jan, you say that god is real because “he said it”?

    Wow–I must’ve missed that announcement.

    Well, you can have your own beliefs–but you cannot have your own facts. The fact is this: all gods are imaginary.

    Good luck with your delusion!

  • Beckie says:

    “Only death will reveal what what is real to them because their hearts are hardened and they will not listen to the truth.” Umm Jan, when I’m dead, I don’t think I’ll care. But I don’t know for sure, cuz I’ll be…dead. Revealing truth after death seems stupid.

  • Dee says:

    i love your posts! keep them coming :)

  • Jan Fischer says:

    Truth, that is the reality of all things, is available to anyone right now, as we walk in the light of life. Some acknowledge the truth and some flee from it into the darkness. Jesus, who is both God and man, said that men flee the light and hide in the darkness, because the light exposes them to scrutiny and shows how far they are from the truth. Plato discusses the same idea in his “Allegory of the Cave”. People love to stay in the cave of their ignorance because to come out and find that what they thought was true is false is too painful and revealing and hurts ones eyes and senses. When one of those who has lived in the cave of the lies, finds his way up to the top and realizes that the pain of seeing the truth is replaced by unutterable joy and the knowing of the Truth of the real world, he wants to return to the others and share what he has learned. They hate his message and try to kill him. They are living death and they don’t know it and they will defend their ignorance rather than change their thinking and come to see the light. Jesus is the light of the world. God says to Moses, when he complains to God that he does not want to be the messenger to those in the darkness, “Just tell them that ‘I AM’ sent you’, that is “I am that I am”; the highest authority. There is none other than God. “I am God and there is none other” King of Kings and Lord of Lords” is his name. Religion is human and unnecessary;a relationship with God is essential, not only for life after death, but life right now. Peace.

  • Hanoch says:

    I have never posed “the question”, but the answer given is not very satisfying. It is certainly fine to address the topic of theology on a website dedicated to culture and education. It is also fine to do so through “writers, academics and scientists”. But if the point is to educate (rather than indoctrinate), it strikes me as a disservice to readers to neglect the arguments of the writers, academics, and scientists (to say nothing of outstanding theologians) who have offered remarkably powerful challenges to those who profess the atheist position. This stuff is not hard to find.

  • Jan Fischer says:

    I rest my case. Reason without God is meaningless.

  • James says:

    Good one. An hourlong montage representing a wide swathe of opinions on the divine… from noted atheists to, well, other noted atheists.
    It’s funny that for hundreds of years you guys bitched about religious exclusion and dogma, and then as soon as you accede to dominance you immediately begin enshrining your dogma and excluding your opponents from discourse. A Sam Harris or a Richard Dawkins burns with an ideological dislike of dissent as fiercely and purely as a Torquemada or a Salem town council ever did. Ah, the woes of an embittered and embattled petty intellectual.

  • Pseudonym says:

    Just to be clear, I’m totally cool with videos of atheists talking about their opinions. The only one of these videos that I personally objected to was this one, which was a mismash of crackpots misidentified as respected academics, and respected academics quote-mined.

  • lois says:

    Hanoch and James…thank you for adding your two cents..you both offered more sense than the 100 combined “intellectuals”.

  • Jack says:

    I suppose everyone wants others to believe as they do. I CHOOSE to believe in God. Because of that choice I have had a very good and rewarding life. if in the end there proves to be no God, I will still have had a good and rewarding life because of my belief. But if I choose to not believe in God and in the end there is a God. Whoooops!!!!

  • Lawrence Alex Fay says:

    First off, I agree with the Socratic Dialogue that” an unexamined life is not worth living.” That being said, I commend all that remain teachable, yet have a belief one way or another, from empirical evidence, reason, historical data, personal impact, etc. my belief, which should not be confused with the idea of faith, has been suspended until further research enlightens. I supposed that would categorize me as an agnostic like Bertrand Russel. However, I did not say I completely agree with him. On the contrary, I would like to think a benevolent God existed and played a fundamental role in our lives. Yet, one is not much of a meticulous researcher of the subject without taking into account both arguments. Furthermore, I must say that Christian Apologetics, like C.S. Lewis, have themselves provided thoughtful counter-arguments to anti-theists that I find intriguing and persuasive. I will quote Lewis so as not to misrepresent him and to add substance in this endless debate. In “Mere Christianity” Lewis declares,” Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that is has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. “. The other I leave to you to look up if interested and uninformed, Lewis’ argument from desire holds weight for my personal pursuit. Again, I must assert that I have suspended judgement.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.