Would you rather be the author or one of the characters?

Here’s my column for the Freethinker for this month. It’s another wallop at that idea that religion alone can give people [a sense of] meaning.

The most obvious flaw is that it’s not at all clear how God does a better job of providing “meaning” than anything else does. How is that even supposed to work? How exactly is it more meaningful to be a character in a story someone else creates rather than the protagonist of the story you create? How, that is, is that more meaningful to us, as opposed to the people who administer the story?

It’s easy to see why priests and mullahs find that story rich with meaning: it makes them important characters, who shape and guard and share the story. But that would apply to anyone who came up with a colourful fantasy about super-humans in the sky who have a Plan for human beings. They’re like rival screenwriters and producers, competing for whose story gets to be a film or television series that grabs the imagination of millions.

And we’re the audience. It seems quite a lot more meaningful to be ourselves the authors and producers and show runners, wouldn’t you say?

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