I was on the BBC Nolan Show this morning opposite Peter Lynas of the Northern Ireland Evangelical Alliance. The exchange is on AudioBoom (see below). The discussion was about Stephen Fry’s interview by Gay Byrne on RTE – part of which was re-broadcast at the start of the discussion (and is featured in the AudioBoom).
Peter Lynas at one point asked me how, as an Atheist, I could explain the ills of the world. I didn’t really get the opportunity to answer. Many of the ills are caused by humans inflicting their world views on others through war or persecution or terrorism. But natural phenomena – disease, pestilence and natural disasters – cannot be explained as such. These things afflict people who are often born in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Science, reason and investigation have sought to reduce the riskiness of living in this world. We live in safer houses, travel more safely, and have eradicated many of the world’s nastiest diseases and pests. As non-believers we seek to explain the world through logic rather than with the idea of original sin or the concept of a god or gods. Secular charities, like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, seek to make the lives of people in some of the world’s poorest countries better through better medicine, mosquito nets and pesticides, and greater availability of birth control.
One of my favourite quotes is from the late, great physicist Richard Feynman who once said, “I think it’s much more interesting not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong.” I agree.
A link to the discussion is below.