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Just the right approach to a controversial topic
on 21 January 2010
God Explained in a Taxi Ride was a delight to read over Christmas. Since Blaise Pascal, who thought that, on balance, the odds are in favour of believing than not believing, the wise conclusion that if God did not exist, we would have to invent him has been a controversial subject and so Paul Arden steps in and tells us what is what, throwing light on atheism, communism, creationism but always in a light-hearted way, on our level (i.e. 'not too much time to spare for a heavy volume or a ponderous approach'). Men have created God or rather several versions of God in their own image, and invented new beliefs to fill the void if they did not opt to believe. As he says, most religions are different ways of saying the same thing, we just misunderstand other people's approach, and are even prepared to go to war to attempt to prove that we are right.
I specially liked 'When things go wrong', 'You don't need a religion', 'An awkward parishioner', 'It ain't necessarily so' and 'The greatest story ever told', 'A cool religion' and the pithy advice to would-be suicide bombers.
The only chapter where I disagreed with Paul Arden was about 'Miracles'. The disciples were not roadies. The Master was in charge and told them what to do, not the other way round. He was the star but he was also the manager. He had the power. They did not. The mind has tremendous power to create visions, illusions and to change water into wine, i.e. to actually change material matters. I have not witnessed the miracle of changing water into wine but I have read that someone at present on our planet claims they can do it, using only the power of the mind. We should not underestimate Jesus' contemporaries. If all the miracles were conjurors' tricks, engineered between themselves, would they have left everything to follow him and be prepared to be tortured and put to death for bearing witness?
Just as disagreement makes for a more lively conversation, I found this stimulating rather than off-putting, and will buy the book for my son as a thank you for introducing me to Paul Arden by giving me 'Whatever you think, think the opposite' a few years ago. I have become a fan!
P.S. I liked the halo over the taxi and the Penguin sign. Wicked!