Sunday, January 22, 2012

30 writers speaking about religion

Speakers 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

I've always been a reader - as far back as I can clearly remember, anyway. So perhaps this interests me more than most people. I value books and I value authors, even when I don't agree with them.

I agree with these authors, for the most part, at least. I'm poorly read in modern fiction. I haven't read most of these authors at all. But I value thinking, I value writing, I value their profession.

At the same time, it doesn't matter what 30 writers think. Or 300 writers. Or 3000 writers. This is interesting, but the truth isn't a matter of majority rules. Even smart people can be wrong.

So I don't agree with them because they're authors, and I don't agree with them because of what they say here. I'm not even sure I do agree with them, not all of them, not from the brief comments in this video. I have my own reasons for what I think, reasons based in logic and evidence, and it really doesn't matter who agrees with me and who doesn't.

But when we see atheists - even schoolgirls - facing hatred and discrimination in America, I think it's useful that people see how common atheism is.

Most atheists who deal with the public, at least in an overwhelmingly Christian America, are careful to hide their non-belief, for fear of the consequences. (Atheists in Muslim countries have even more reason to stay hidden.) So I think it's especially important that admitted non-believers become well-known as such.

These days, atheists know they're not alone. That's a lot different than when I was a kid, and I want to do what I can to keep it so.

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