An Atheist’s Sunday

6 May 2008

It wasn’t planned this way but, while the church pews were filling up on Sunday, I found myself indulging in an orgy of atheism. 

I had a day at home, by myself, and planned to do (whispered) ‘housework’.  Not my favourite occupation but I decided that the ironing would be a bit more pleasant if I put a DVD on.  I’d picked up a few at the library and “Inherit The Wind” looked like a good choice.  Spencer Tracy won an Oscar for his role playing a lawyer defending a science teacher in America (in the 20’s or 30’s?) who had the audacity to teach evolution, Darwin style, in his classes, in a state where it had been actually banned in favour of the  biblical creation theory.  This was based on a true story, by the way.  (And, of course, it’s all being revisited lately with the court cases surrounding the teaching of “Intelligent Design” or creationism by another name).   Thoroughly enjoyed it, got angry and got through a load of ironing.

Then, what should I find on television on Sunday evening, but “Enemies of Reason”, a documentary created and presented by Richard Dawkins.  Here he cast his very secular eye over the world of soothsayers, mediums, spiritualist churches, astrology, water dowsers et al.   Next week, he’s looking at alternative medicine.   By the way, why is it that when spirits communicate with the living, they only use their first initial?  “I’m talking to someone whose name begins with G.  Does anybody know someone who’s recently passed over with the initial G?”  Why doesn’t the spirit just give his full name and date of birth (or date of ‘passing over’), to avoid any misunderstandings? 

I just find it all laughable but it’s quite frightening really as vulnerable recently-bereaved people turn to these charlatans to try to make some sense of what they’re going through.  And, just to add insult to injury, money often changes hands too.

I like the story of Houdini,  who was absolutely sure that this was a load of bollocks.  He asked his wife and friend to meet up on the anniversary of his death for 10 years and, if it were possible for the dead to speak to  the living, he would try to contact them.  Funnily enough, after his death, he was never heard from again.




  1. I enjoyed the program, but I find Dawkins terribly arrogant, and his unthinking belief in scientism and science as the only saviour of mankind rather irritating.

  2. I think that there needs to be someone who is an outspoken and sometimes aggressive advocate AGAINST religion and like things, given the often aggressive and vocal advocates FOR religion who abound by the thousands!

    Loved the program.

  3. I’m all for some opposition to religion, but agree with M-H that the apparent absolute belief in Science (I’m sure it has a capital S for Dawkins) is disappointing! (And he is v arrogant).

    There was a good interview with him on a BBC Radio4 programme – or maybe the Guardian book podcast – hang on – here you go:

    Quite a good one, I thought.

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