Coffee House The Spectator Podcasts

Podcast: Atheism’s crisis of faith, whether Cameron ‘ does’ God and holidaying in Athens

16 April 2014

8:58 AM

16 April 2014

8:58 AM

Is atheism in trouble? On this week’s View from 22 podcast, the Spectator’s Douglas Murray and Freddy Gray discuss our Easter cover feature on the return of God. Why has atheism hit the intellectual buffers? Can Britain still be considered a Christian country? Is the church losing the argument against government policy on matters such assisted dying? Should atheists be worried by the loss of Christian values in our society? And, with church attendance in free fall, is it not religion that’s in decline?

James Forsyth and Fraser Nelson discuss the role of religion in politics. Why is Ed Miliband’s atheism less controversial than other past Labour leaders who were non-believers? Why does David Cameron occasionally ‘do’ God? Are his party and supporters bothered by his attitude towards religion?


Plus, Channel 4’s Paul Mason explains why Athens is the place to visit for a holiday this Easter. With excellent nightlife and restaurants, he argues that it’s all kicking off in the Greek capital.

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Show comments
  • Kelvin Benjamin Adcock

    Atheist don’t wanna be judged for their beliefs. Yet they poke fun of everyone else’s. Atheist have an open mind. They only believe in what they see. They don’t want anyone to shove what they call religion down their throats. Yet they want you stop believing in God, because they think it’s stupid. I’ve never seen a religious atheist, but I have seen Christian scientists. Who is really close minded here? Your so called none conformity is just another belief system trying to get everyone else to comply. Stop pretending it’s not. Practice what you preach. Oh yeah. None of you are preachers. Rules don’t apply to you. You want the world to revolve around yourselves. Sorry. All Christians are liars and hypocrites. If you have it all your way. Everyone would hate each other. The world would be in chaos. You embrace hatred. Christians aren’t perfect, but I have yet to see an atheist forgive a murderer, or a rapist. No they’d serve justice by murdering the murderer or rapist. Thus doing the same thing you hated them for. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    This essay is based on such a false premise: Unlike those dog-collar vampires, Atheists don`t go around prothletising; aka as imposing their views on others. However, the gullibility of those that wear their religious beliefs on their sleeve is exposed, and their credibility on a whole range of issues called into question.
    Jack, Japan Alps

  • Cogra Bro

    Saying you are not religious doesn’t mean that you don’t think of yourself as a Christian. For many people, being religious involves going to Church and praying a lot. Most Christians don’t do this.

  • Bonkim

    Religion has no role in politics and vice versa.

    • Cogra Bro

      Yes they do . They belong to the group who subscribe to the set of beliefs called atheism. Thinking that atheism is a sort of absence of belief is a fallacy.

      Atheism isn’t the default position for people.. Theism is. We are programed to believe in the supernatural.

      • Bonkim

        Excellent, I am sure you will inherit the earth. For me I will stick to my Voodoo doll and sharp pin to ward off your evil eye.

  • peter feltham

    And when you discovered Ms Miller’s ‘thumb in the pie’ was it GOD who advised you to do your damndest to sweep the whole dirty episode under the carpet Mr Cameron.Or did you momentarily place him to one side.

  • Patonback

    What a hypocrite!. All David Cameron has done since he came into office with the Lib Dems as his sidekicks is attack Christian beliefs and fail to support many Christians deeply held convictions regarding marriage. Now he wants them to reassert themselves ?. I am not making a judgement about the rights and wrongs of Gay marriage here, but the double standards in picking out what part of Christianity he and his government are prepared to support. He clearly has lost the plot.

  • Grizzerly

    When my daughter was very small, she had an imaginary, invisible friend. She soon grew out of it. Religion is for those who have not grown out of their imaginary friends.

    • Kitty MLB

      You do not have to be religious and attend church to believe in God.
      Some religions, such as those who use it as a shroud to hide behind whilst
      they murder prove that some religions can be the enemy of God.
      But we do not know everything, no one can prove that God doesn’t exist,
      just like they cannot prove what happened before the big bang.
      God is hope for the human soul, without it you are a empty shell.

      • Korgarath

        Eh no one can prove any characters in stories don’t exist either. Does it mean we should start worshipping superheroes and dragons? Probably not, because we have more common sense than that nowadays, the caveat being the age and amount of followers of religious tales mean that some deluded fools still believe they should be given credence today.

        As for the hope and empty shell comment – says you. I think the crutch of God represents weakness and feeble mind. I have belief in myself, I do not need to blame my problems on or attribute my successes to a fickle sky-wizard.

      • john

        My imaginary friend brought creation into existence. I suppose you have a better explanation?

        • Cogra Bro

          Personally. I think there is no better proof of the existence of God than the life, death and resurrection of Christ.
          The Gospels have been shown by modern scholarship to be pretty much historical.

      • NoSacredCow

        “I don’t think we’re here for anything, we’re just products of evolution. You can say ‘Gee, your life must be pretty bleak if you don’t think there’s a purpose’ but I’m anticipating a good lunch.” Dr. James Watson, American biologist

    • Cogra Bro

      But your daughter isn’t imaginary. Or is she? Some philosophers think we all are.
      And has she explained why there is something rather than nothing? And why two particles can be in two different places at once? And how there may be multiple universes in multiple dimensions at the of her nose?

      If she has managed to solve these problems I am sure her opinions are worth listening to.

  • Bill Sheehan

    Is atheism in trouble? Does God manifest in reality? If it does, then it’s a testable proposition and I’d expect compelling evidence that will astonish the scientific world and guarantee the discoverer at least a Templeton prize if not a Nobel. Atheism would be in real trouble. If it doesn’t, then how do you distinguish it from a figment of your imagination? Atheism remains the intelligent default position. It’s really just that simple.

  • DavidL

    Ever since I was a teenager, back in the 1970s, I have heard Church spokesmen rattling on about young people turning to Christianity, and alluding to a revival just around the corner. The 2011 census showed a precipitous drop in the number of people describing themselves as Christian falling to 59% (from 71% in 2001), and the number of people declaring themselves to have no religion rising from 15% to 25%. 81% of the non-religious cohort were aged 49 or under, as opposed to 57% of the Christian cohort. I can’t see any evidence of that changing.

  • dado_trunking

    Of course Britain is a Christian country – loads of Nigerians, Poles and Irish practice it.

    • andagain

      I wouldn’t be so sure about the Poles and the Irish. The Nigerians I grant you.

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        The lower the IQ, the more fertile the ground for spreading religious belief.

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Well you know what they say, “Practice makes perfect”.

  • Machina22

    While we’re on the topic of atheism: you people at the top of The Spectator do realise atheists read your magazine too, right? You keep running atheist attack articles, which is why I ask – you even published one article calling us all idiots (that’d be Toby Young’s from a few months back; I stopped reading his articles after that), which is a bit rich.

    When you’re not spinning for Cameron you’re trying to smear UKIP and drawing wilfully misleading conclusions from polls (the amount of times your politics column is phrased as if the Conservatives stand a reasonable chance of winning a majority at the next election makes me wonder whether the respective writers have even a basic knowledge of psephology), and I’m pretty fed up with you lot preventing comments on articles you feel might be a wee bit too controversial (Tony Benn’s death, Lee Rigby), or just completely dodging sensitive issues altogether (basically anything to do with Islam, which I presume is done out of sheer cowardice).

    All added together it’s making me genuinely question whether I should continue to effectively support this publication by holding a subscription any more.

    You’ve become such a spineless and ridiculously wet publication in recent years. If it weren’t for Rod Liddle’s regular column and Jeremy Clarke’s Low Life column the magazine wouldn’t be worth reading, and Coffee House is only worth reading for the comments section.

  • Mark McIntyre

    A crisis of faith – for Atheism ? – impossible !…
    Our ‘faith’ be simply reality – any unknown thing be ripe for exploring – with an open mind.
    That said – happy Easter – eggs and all !

    • Jackthesmilingblack

      Easter`s off, they`ve found the body.

      • Mark McIntyre

        Still worth celebrating – if only for the ‘drink’, eggs, ‘drink’, chochies, ‘drink’… !

        • Jackthesmilingblack

          I`ll drink to that.
          Can you Adam and Eve, they`re upped the consumption tax on imported alcoholic beverage from five to eight percent.
          Check out that Ballantines 12-year whisky. Never gives you a hangover providing you don`t exceed 200ml in one session.
          But at least Tesco “Gentleman James” beer is showing up in the local supermarkets where it`s being sold off for a song.
          Jack, Japan Alps

  • flashman21

    I was told by a high ranking Tory that because the conservatives where saved in 1990s by the guys, who moved into the party . Cameron’s pay back was to back gay married as journalist’s you guys know this but are no saying it which is a bit liam.

    • Grizzerly


      • flashman21

        sorry should say gays not guys