Category: Atheism


Pleased to see that How To Suck At Your Religion is one of the most popular cartoon strips at the ever reliable Oatmeal. I love this part:

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THE LITTLE BOOK OF ATHEIST SPIRITUALITY by André Comte-Sponville (Penguin Books, 2007 – translated by Nancy Huston)

I chanced upon this slim volume at the excellent Judd Books in Bloomsbury (a highly recommended source for bargain books if you are ever in this part of London).

I hadn’t heard of the book previously but it proved to be an inspired and inspiring purchase. It makes the case for atheism in a concise and intelligent manner whilst maintaining a tolerance for those who believe in God or some other supreme being.

André Comte-Sponville addresses this question from an overtly philosophical perspective so it is cogently reasoned with numerous quotes about faith and belief from heavyweight thinkers like Nietzsche, Kant, Spinoza and Wittgenstein.

These are not just chosen to make the writer look smart (although he plainly is!) but to illustrate that the big questions – ‘Can We Do Without Religion? ;  ‘Does God Exist?  – are far from new and can be answered in numerous ways.

These questions are the titles of two of the three chapters in the Frenchman’s guide for the perplexed, the third seeks to respond to the query: Can There Be An Atheist Spirituality?

Needless to say, his answers to these three points are, respectively, YES, NO and YES. Continue reading

THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH by Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus, 2014)

flanagan2Richard Flanagan’s brilliant Booker prize-winning novel is a big book in every sense.

On one level it is an account of the horrors surrounding the construction of the Burma railway line near the end of the second world war. At the same time, it documents an ill-fated romance between a successful surgeon, Dorrigo Evans, and his Uncle’s young wife, Amy. Yet to describe this book as a historical romance would be well wide of the mark.

The Tasmanian author spent 12 years working on a novel he was clearly born to write. It is dedicated to his father who died the day it was completed. Continue reading

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THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING directed by James Marsh (UK, 2014)

The doctors who told Stephen Hawking that he only had around two years to live must be feeling pretty silly. They obviously weren’t counting on the man’s superhuman willpower or what the love and dedication of a good woman can do.

In some ways Hawking’s story is like one of those Sci-Fi movies where a brain is alive when the rest of the body is dead. In Cold Lazarus, for example, Dennis Potter’s final play for television, a preserved head is tapped for the brain waves it generates.

In the recent movie, Transcendence (a turkey by all accounts) starring Johnny Depp, there is a similar theme of a scientist’s brain surviving the death of his body.

Hawking’s case is different in one crucial respect, however. The fact that he has still been able to father three children is proof that his ‘muscle of life’ is unaffected by the motor neuron disease. Bizarre tabloid reports of him attending sex clubs and enjoying the attention of lap dancers also shows that his sex drive remains high. Continue reading

KubrickPlayboy magazine isn’t the most likely place to find words of wisdom about the meaning of life. However, Movies.Com have unearthed a 1968 interview with Stanley Kubrick  in which the great director was asked why life was worth living if he felt it was purposeless.

His answer was that we have to find our own meaning rather than put faith in the highly unlikely possibility that there is a God overseeing all we say and do.

Let’s face it, if there is a deity, the history of mankind provides ample proof that S/He is not a benevolent being.

Rather than this giving cause for despondency, Kubrick argues that we must accept our mortality and draw strength from it. He said:

“The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent; but if we can come to terms with this indifference and accept the challenges of life within the boundaries of death — however mutable man may be able to make them — our existence as a species can have genuine meaning and fulfillment. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light”.

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