Friday, 17 May 2013

A Point of View

I keep catching the last few minutes of John Gray's A Point of View on BBC Radio 4. Today's broadcast was a fascinating discussion of the difference between Patricia Highsmith's (frankly terrifying) view of the world as expressed in her Tom Ripley books and Dostoevsky's view of the world as expressed in Crime and Punishment.

Gray is an atheist but what we might call a sympathetic atheist. Here's how he described his own relationship with religion in a Spectator interview:

I don’t belong to a religion. In fact I would have to be described as an atheist. But I’m friendly to religion on the grounds that it seems to me to be distinctively human, and it has produced many good things. But you see these humanists or rationalists who seem to hate this distinctively human feature. This to me seems to me very odd. These evangelical atheists say things such as: religion is like child abuse, that if you had no religious education, there would be no religion. It’s completely absurd. 

His discussion of Walter de la Mare and the limits of materialism was also very interesting. I don't agree with everything he says but his sympathy for religion and his sympathetic readings of literature certainly mean that he opens the way to an interesting debate.

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