Anglican Samizdat

December 21, 2009

Atheists can be principled – when it’s convenient

Filed under: Atheism — David Jenkins @ 8:39 pm

And for Philip Pullman, it isn’t because it is hitting him in the pocket book:

Philip Pullman, crusader for atheism? Not when it might hurt him at the box office.

The problem with Philip Pullman is not that his kids’ books sometimes peddle subversive propaganda but that he seems to shift his position to suit the occasion.

Last week he was all over the papers insisting that the film The Golden Compass, which is an adaptation of part of his series of books, His Dark Materials, absolutely does not attract children to atheism. This despite the fact that he has been quoted as saying on the record that he is “trying to undermine the basis of Christian belief” and that he says currently on his website that he is an “enemy” of organised religion. He is, by the by, a leading light in Humanist circles (although he did read a lesson at one of his children’s church weddings).

The reason for his proclamation that the film doesn’t attract children to atheism isn’t known, but it’s notable that it comes shortly after the news that the rest of his books are not going to be filmed on account of bad box office takings… largely thanks to its boycott in America by religious types.

Back when Pullman was branding himself an atheist crusader, he admitted that he knew the controversy would lead to media coverage and that in turn brings book sales… But now he seems to be trying to have it all un-said when that same controversy leads, as in the case of the film, to a decline in profitability.

Watch out, Philip. You run the risk of appearing simply mercenary: neither a warrior for Humanism nor a simple story-telling artist, but a wind-up merchant and peddler of anything that’ll sell. That can’t be right, can it?

Dostoevsky was right, for atheists anything is permitted; self interest is all there is.


1 Comment

  1. My husband saw the first 20 minutes or so of the movie on an airline flight. He said it was dreadful.

    Comment by Kate — December 21, 2009 @ 9:31 pm

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