Devout Sceptics

Devout Sceptics. Conversations on Faith and Doubt with Bel Mooney - Hodder & Stoughton. Price £10.99 in UK

Writer and broadcaster Bel Mooney has compiled a selection of transcribed conversations taken from her BBC Radio 4 series Devout Sceptics. Scientists, writers and politicians talk about their thoughts on God, faith and religion.

Bel Mooney questions her guests about their personal experiences as they grew up, and she explores her fascination with "the roads people take towards faith or doubt."

The conversational tone, retained by transcribing the spoken word rather than re-working the texts for publication, gives the book an enjoyable and involving quality. Mooney's guests reveal and reflect upon their very personal views, which are thought provoking and challenging. Exploring themes such as the sense of the numinous or the meaning of a soul, the conversations examine the human need to search for meaning and to make sense of the nature of existence. Mooney claims that, "in a sense this book adds up to a celebration of doubt as a positive force."

The guests give highly interesting perspectives informed by their diverse life experiences. BBC Correspondent Kate Adie has witnessed mass destruction and death in her career. She is drawn to reflect on what the terms soul and miracle mean to her and on the meaning of life after death.

Politician David Owen was a European Union Co-Chairman of the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia. His blind clergyman grandfather had the Bible in Braille on the walls of his study. In contrast to his grandfather's influential quiet faith he discusses the problem of evil and the way society deals with it.

Writer and actor Meera Syal draws on her Hindu and Sikh roots and her childhood experiences in the Wesleyan Methodist church of her small Midlands village. She reflects of the nature of God and the spiritual void in British secular society. Her life experiences have given her a perspective on the nature of endurance through sadness and difficulties.

Devout Sceptics, makes interesting reading and through its challenges it encourages a personal examination and meditation on the questions of faith and religion. Bel Mooney encourages this examination: "May the conversations never cease, as we try to make sense of who we are and why we are here, even in the darkest times."

First posted: LONDON - 10 March 2004 - 386 words

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