The latest Humanist Network News podcast features an interview with The Golden Compass author Philip Pullman.
Matt Cherry, the executive director of the Institute for Humanist Studies, is the interviewer.
Cherry: … When did you start identifying yourself as a humanist and why?
Pullman: Well, identifying oneself as anything, for a writer, for a novelist, is a perilous thing because then you find yourself acting as a spokesman for this cause or that cause. I have always tried to avoid saying “I am an agnostic”, “I am an atheist”, “I am a humanist”, “I am an anything else” because that way you are limiting the way that your books are received. And I don’t want to do that…
It’s a similar answer to the one given by Sam Harris, who does not identify as an atheist despite being one of the leading advocates of non-theism.
I wonder if it’d help or hurt their cause more if they did embrace a non-religious label, even if they don’t like being pigeonholed like that (or, as in Harris’ case, dislike the term on a philosophical level).
I think more people would be surprised to know the two men don’t identify with those labels than the other way around.
What does Pullman have to say about Christian groups urging a boycott of his film?
Pullman: … I think these people are…it’s ridiculous. It’s very absurd. They never learn. They never learn that if you want to draw attention to a film to make everybody curious to go and see it, then make a fuss about it. It always happens, every single time they try to do this. They never learn.
And the other thing they never seem to notice is that they are behaving exactly in the way I describe the religious authorities — who have got their hands on political power — as behaving. In other words, they are repressing arguments, they are repressing freedom of speech, they are trying to prevent people from understanding things; they are doing exactly what I describe in the book. It’s not surprising that they are creating a fuss. But I do wonder that they never learn that the result is always the opposite of what they claim they want.
Has Christian censorship ever actually worked in drawing attention away from a subject?