I noted that Derren Brown wanted to conduct an experiment on how religious experiences can be explained by psychology.
I have also checked out Peter Rollins’ blog on this subject. He may be a closet atheist though he calls himself a christian atheist who shares a similar ideology that the whole idea of God may well be based on human imagination. It reminds me of a recent article about the psychoanalytic perspective of our beliefs in God, which I have blogged about here.
“Psychoanalysis offers a view of the human being as containing its own demons and angels in the unconscious. All the projected contents of the psyche are withdrawn from heaven and hell: one no longer grapples with the angel of God or with the devil, but with one’s own desires, fears and hatreds.” – Horrocks
I have finished watching the above video on the part 2 of the “fear and faith” series. I noted that towards the end, Derren Brown concluded that concerning why people believe in God, there is no answer to that, and we gotta find ways of making ourselves happy. He said that understanding religious experiences as a human process is to him a far more beautiful approach, and we each live an extraordinary and incredible life.
“The Four Stages of Spiritual Development” by M. Scott Peck came to mind, and I would say Derren Brown is probably straddling both stages 3 and 4 of atheism and mysticism, since he prefers to dwell in the realm of scientific and psychological scepticism and questioning instead of subscribing to the supernatural or superstitious forces, while at the same time he acknowledges the mystery and beauty of nature and existence.
I learnt from Wikipedia that “Brown was an Evangelical Christian in his teens, but became an atheist in his twenties. This is discussed by Brown in the “Messiah” special, and in his book Tricks of the Mind. In an interview with Professor Richard Dawkins, Brown explained he sought to strengthen his belief and provide answers to common criticisms of religion by reading the Bible and other Christian religious texts, but upon doing so found none of the answers he sought and came to the conclusion that his belief (in Christianity) had no basis.”
So it is evident that Derren Brown has progressed beyond Stage 2 of christian fundamentalism, which is great as I believe it liberates him to explore the fascinating world of the mind and psychology and art and mystery. I think whether or not he chooses to ascribe the mystery of life to God or divine or supernatural is perhaps not nearly as important as his capacity and willingness to help and empathise with others, as demonstrated in the first part of his series in helping others to overcome their fears and phobias, for ultimately love, compassion and kindness is all that really matters.
- Fear And Faith – Pt-1 Full (realrest.wordpress.com)
- Derren Brown Exposing Theist Faith Healing Scams (theageofblasphemy.wordpress.com)
- Derren Brown’s guide to overcoming awkward situations (boingboing.net)
- 5 Religious Leaders Who Gave Up the Faith and Became Outspoken Atheists and Agnostics (alternet.org)