Circa One, Circa Theatre
Saturday, March 10
It was, if you’ll pardon the pun, a spirited conversation. It was lively, funny and often irritating. For a start, Knox offers an easy lay-up assist to Spufford allowing him to slam dunk Richard Dawkins for no real reason other than to pick the biggest – and best? – opposition and attempt to lay him to waste. The problems with this are many, just as it’s suddenly problematic to seem like you’re at the defence of Dawkins. But the burden of proof is not with him and however clumsily he might have argued some of his points his frustrations are clear. Mocking them, or him, doesn’t accurately dispute his claims.
It was a shame because Spufford was a terrific orator, a lovely presence – thoughtful and deeply engaged with the subject. When Dawkins was mentioned near the end in a question, one Spufford couldn’t really answer, he chose to simply go ad hominem on Dawkins once again.
It’s not to suggest that this is the problem with religion – but it was one of the obvious problems during this talk.
Knox was difficult to grasp here. She seemed to want to put across a belief – whilst hiding in the back room. Spufford, a church-goer, married to a minister, had his stripes there clear for all to see. I’m not sure which was the best approach. But it was, in parts, a terrific conversation – not least because it was unscripted; feeling like a taping for a podcast that the audience had chanced upon. I mean this, of course, in the best possible way.
As I get older I’m far more lenient – my belief is simply one of whatever gets you through the day. The Dawkins brigade and other “hardcore” atheists are as frustrating as any born-again zealot. If you’re doing no harm to me – if a belief guides you in some way and is not a misguided, harmful, hateful propaganda then good on you. Good for you. And god for you. But there were moments in this talk where, Spufford in particular, seemed to talk down to anyone that didn’t believe, was certain his faith was something superior.
It felt like there were plenty of believes in the audience – I went along not as sceptic, as such, but certainly not as what you’d deem any sort of believe. Someone merely curious to hear an interesting conversation, to learn something. I’m not entirely sure I did learn anything, but that’s not (really) the fault of the talented, passionate and talented speakers.
I left in some bafflement though. Something didn’t quite stick, didn’t sit. I enjoyed that though.
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