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Questioning religion

Cartoon from Goodbye God

© Sean Michael Wilson/Hunt Emerson

The murder of staff members at Charlie Hebdo would have been shocking at any time. As a small independent publisher that makes a point of carrying alternative perspectives on world events and has printed cartoons that some people have found offensive, it doesn’t take much imagination to put ourselves in the position of those journalists and artists whose routine meeting was turned into a bloodbath.

But it gives us particular food for thought given that we are now putting the finishing touches to an illustrated book focusing on issues related to religion called Goodbye God? Written by Sean Michael Wilson and illustrated by Hunt Emerson, the book starts off by arguing against the teaching of creationism in schools – something particularly widespread in parts of the US but which has also been creeping into British schools, particularly since the current government opened the door to religious-based free schools. But the book then makes a passionate case for science and humanism and against all religions, making free use of humour at every point along the journey.

Let’s be clear: this book contains no representation of the Prophet Muhammad. And it is even-handed in the way it deals with religions – as critical of Christianity and Judaism as it is of Islam, though it does concentrate more on these monotheistic religions of the book than on the multifarious Eastern religions.

But it does question the very foundations of religious faith. And it is firm in its contention that religion is a negative rather than a positive force in the world – the book has the overt backing of both the American Humanist Association and the British Humanist Association.

The prominent US scientist and campaigner Lawrence M Krauss, who has written a foreword for the book, emailed the writer Sean Michael Wilson shortly after the Paris tragedy to say ‘It is important not to be silenced by this’.

We at New Internationalist feel the same. 

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