This article was first written for the Reason Blog here.
Derren Brown’s recent TV production ‘Fear and Faith’ has caused quite a stir. He presents, in line with his naturalist worldview, a psychological answer to the questions of religious belief and experience. Here is a powerful statement he made at the end of his program:
‘I think the most honest answer to the question ‘Why do you believe in God?’ is ‘Because it makes me happy’. There is no reason to argue with that. We all find ways of making ourselves happy. And understanding religious experience as a human process is, to me, far more resonant and a more beautiful approach, because it is real and shows how astonishing we are, and what emotional riches we are capable of. We each live an extraordinary and improbable life.’
It’s so beautifully expressed isn’t it? Like many of my colleagues on this blog I’ll begin by agreeing with Derren. It seems quite obvious that he is right that we are capable of emotional richness, and that we live extraordinary and varied lives. He is surely also correct to say that we all search for happiness. In fact, I might go as far as to say that at root everything that we do is often either directly, or indirectly, aimed at achieving personal happiness.
Thursday, 4 July 2013
Sunday, 14 October 2012
(This is an article I first wrote for What You Think Matters: http://whatyouthinkmatters.org/blog/article/a-minority-among-other-minorities)
A few weeks ago I was invited to an event hosted by the local mosque where the renowned Yusha Evans was to teach the umma (Muslim community) of Brighton and Hove Da’wah. That is, to teach his fellow Muslims how to invite people to Allah. Or, to convert this into language that we understand; he was to train in Islamic apologetics and evangelism.
The flurry of excitement within the Muslim community was evidenced by the number of emails I received inviting me, more than once, to talks and training sessions Yusha was to give in Brighton. In addition I was even updated on his tour of the UK, in case I wanted to travel to Cardiff to hear him, which it seems my Muslim friends were intending to do.
Tuesday, 9 October 2012
Hi everyone, Jonathan just invited me to post this review of a BBC program I watched recently. A while back, Jonathan received an invitation to participate, to "engage in a genuine debate", and you will see why he is very glad he declined. The programme was interesting, but mostly horrible.
or, if that doesn't work
Admitted, a major thing that made it horrible was my fellow countryman from Ulster, a young man named Phil, who really was in a bubble of fearful isolation and pride yet somehow managing to hold authority over others through sheer confidence (pigheadedness). Yes, it happens. I know all about that. Dawkins is wrong, Northern Ireland is a lovely place, but yes sometimes conservative Christianity in the hands of an immature or egotistical person can have a really ugly side. Say no more.
But the main thing that was horrible was the pretence that this was about trying to encourage thought and 'debate', but it was really car-crash-tv, not a way to deal with anyone if you give a $#!+ about them. It was cruel. And the 'science' was a sham too. One good point Phil made was that they should have put the questions to creationist experts. It was a little bit unreasonable to throw 'facts' at kids without hearing another side. Isn't that the whole point of a debate: that there is another side to every argument.
I don't know why I am even bothering but lets look at some of the issues: