• My Appearance on BBC 1’s The Big Questions Today

    It finally came to pass as the producers liked the cut of my jib when they phoned me to ask me about my views on free will; a sort of a test run to see if I sounded OK. I passed.

    The Big Questions is BBC 1’s flagship moral/ethical and religious programme which airs on a Sunday morning. Actually, they film two on a Sunday, the second one being a pre-record for the week later. Usually, each week, the program airs for an hour, with twenty minutes spent covering three different topics, one often political or topical with a slant open for debate within religious or atheistic paradigms

    It’s a great show in many respects, and one I feel the US could have since it opens up religious and philosophical debate between different faiths and none for the general population to watch, thus breaking down the barriers between belief and non-belief.

    However, the pre-recorded episode filmed this afternoon was entirely on free will for the whole hour. Unfortunately, it took place in York, which is the other end of the country to myself and required a long train journey there (thanks BBC!) and presently a long one back.

    There were some great front row guests, of which I was one. The format is an audience of about 40-50 and a front row of 12 “expert” guests of differing beliefs to get it all moving along. Here is a list of guests who were on the front row:

    Peter D. Williams – Catholic commentator

    Julian Baggini – atheist philosopher

    Owen Jones – left-wing political commentator and journalist

    Mark Mullins – evangelical pastor & lawyer

    Catherine Heseltine – Muslim Public Affairs Committee

    Ani Rinchen Khandro – Buddhist

    Anil Seth – neuroscientist

    Mike Pettit – Calvinist, founder Calvinism.org

    Clarke Roberts – University of York theologian

    Deirdre Bounds – Self-made entrepreneurial success

    Trevor Little – Satanist

    And me…

    The idea was to start off religious and go from there, moving through genetics and crime. Unfortunately, we never got to the punishment part of it, or even deeply into crime. As eve with these debates, you go around the houses and never get deep enough. We definitely needed to ground out some things and take some comments and claim to task. Hey ho.

    As far as it being my first television appearance, I was more than happy with myself – I didn’t seem too nervous and I easily held my own (though I did have to butt in a few times).

    Anyway, they said they would love to consider me for future shows, so that’s all good, right?

    Will let you know when it airs (next Sunday) and where, and when it gets on the You Tube, as my US readers will not be able to view the BBC iPlayer page.

    Category: AtheismFeaturedFree Will and DeterminismPhilosophyPhilosophy of ReligionSpeaking Engagements


    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce