Linda LaScola and Andy Thomson discuss “Caught in the Pulpit:Leaving Belief Behind”


Linda LaScola discusses the book she co-authored with Daniel Dennett, Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind, with Andy Thomson, Trustee, Richard Dawkins Foundation. 

Written By: RDFRS


  1. I still can’t understand how anyone can believe this god stuff, in the first place. I must be a hardwired skeptic. I see it in my daughter, Elizabeth. She refuses to take instruction from anyone about anything. When I ask her where she learned something, she always replies—”I taught myself” or “from me”. I tried to teach her how to hold a pencil when she was 2.5 years, she would not let me at all. Just like her dad. It is embarrassing to be taught something.

    She wanted to skate this year, so I took her to the rink downtown. I asked her to hold my hands and I would lead her around the ice. No bloody way, she told me she knew how to skate and ordered me off the ice. She just watched everyone, then skated, no problem.

    Her sister, Catherine, loves to learn and tries to show me that she can do what I tell her. Two very different people. I wonder if it is a natural rejection of authority that leads to my inability to grasp how anyone can follow this nonsense. It does get in the way. Any push back on anything from anyone, drives me insane.

    • In reply to #1 by aquilacane:

      She refuses to take instruction from anyone about anything. When I ask her where she learned something, she always replies—”I taught myself” or “from me”.

      That’s both good and bad. The good part is that she is assertive and self-confident. The bad part is that there is a possibility that over-confidence can lead to arrogance and the ill-founded belief that she can learn anything by herself and become close-minded. Sometimes we need to listen to what others can teach us because it’s impossible to learn everything by yourself.

      There’s nothing embarrassing about being taught something provided the person doing the teaching has a respectful and caring attitude. And that’s a notion that is essential for a child to acquire. Otherwise, she might learn it in a far less pleasant way at the hands of uncaring strangers (her fellow students, co-workers, her boss, etc..). It’s good to be confident but one must also learn to be humble in the face of knowledge and people more knowledgeable than ourselves.

      Also, I was rather compliant to authority as a child. That didn’t prevent me from doubting and questioning religion and developing critical thinking. And it certainly didn’t prevent me from learning a lot of things. I think it was my enthusiasm for science and reading that did that. I cared more about the knowledge itself than how I acquired it (from myself or from others).

  2. @aquilacane:There are two parts to skepticism: being critical of what others proclaim, and being critical of your own ideas. In my experience, most people are actually critical of what others proclaim, but very few apply the same critical thinking to their own ideas. The result is that running away from one belief can lead them right into another one. So you might for example see adherents of ‘alternative’ ‘medicine’ telling others to think for themselves.

  3. To Aquilacane (Comment 1) But I bet that Catherine, very different from her sister, will in her own sensible way, also reject religion quite well. She will perceive that willingness to learn from her mother doesn’t preclude thinking for herself too and recognizing nonsense when she sees it.

  4. I agree this is very interesting and professionally done. But, as many have pointed out, among the religions, the most significant danger to the extension of civilized behavior at this time is posed by Islam, the only religion where apostasy is punishable by death. One would hope more attention and efforts be made towards imams (and would be ex-Muslims in general)

  5. I was recently told that up to 70% of ministers have lost the faith. They continue because they need to get to retirement, a financial decision I can respect. Also, they understand that many parishioners who attend regularly get a feeling of support from the Sunday services. This whole movement is on the wane and not a moment too soon, but it is going to be a long moment.

    I knew in my own heart that had finally lost the faith during a recent dream. Some tragedy happened and a woman in the dream was praying. I noticed her and told myself, “She still needs this, while I am free from this need.” When I dreamt it, I knew it had sunk into my deepest inner self. Took a long time, as I am 65. People like Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens helped me through the realization, and I owe them my sincere gratitude. I am much better off dealing with life as it is, and am no longer reliant on another dimension which only complicates and confuses the reality of the situation. Also, as an added benefit, I am no longer so afraid of death as I once was because of that whole hell thing, pretty scary stuff. I joke with people now that when I die I am going to be really angry about not being alive. WTF!!!

  6. I just finished watching both parts again and wish to thank Linda LaScola and Andy Thomson for a great interview. Very informative and interesting, and sincerely non-judgemental. Congratulations, and keep up your good work.

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