In 2009 we asked novelist Christopher Brookmyre to comment on his current work and ideas that have influenced him…

Which of your own ideas have you been thinking about most recently?
I keep returning to the inescapable absurdity whereby certain irrational beliefs are regarded as laudable, indeed as grounds for reverence on the part of thier adherents, while others, almost indistinguishably similar, are considered grounds for ridicule and possibly psychiatric intervention. Thus a stated belief in God or Allah gets you invited to address MPs, but a stated belief in Dionysos or Baal would get you invited to address some men in white coats.

What idea of someone else has made most impact on you recently?
The concept of the heat death of the universe, the anticipated Dark Era in which the temperature reaches absolute zero, as outlined in physicist Michio Kaku’s book Parallel Worlds. Debate exists among physicists as to whether even an artificial form of intelligent life can survive in these conditions, as it might take trillions of years to process a single thought. And you thought you were getting slower with the years.

What is the most important book/ article of ideas that everyone should read and why?
The War for Children’s Minds by Stephen Law, which is an impassioned argument against authoritarian (and especially faith-based) schooling, defending a liberal, philosophy-based educational ethos against conservative charges that teaching children how to think instead of what to think will lead to moral relativism, anarchy and the collapse of civilisation as we know it.

Further information

Christopher Brookmyre is the author of many crime novels. He was a journalist before becoming a full time novelist with the publication of Quite Ugly One Morning. His latest book is A Snowball in Hell. He is also known for his views on football and is President of the Humanist Society of Scotland. He appears at the Bristol Festival of Ideas in a panel debate about ‘Atheism and Meaning’ on 12th May.

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