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

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Comments (13)
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  • 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.

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