chapter  1
22 Pages

Science, stories and the self: a conversation between

ByRaymond Tallis, Rowan Williams

Raymond Tallis (RT): Rowan, it’s a really great privilege to talk to you today. What

I’d like to do is to explore our different positions, particularly focusing on the unresolved business, as it were, that we both have. Perhaps I could state where I think I’m coming from as opposed to where you’re coming from, in a very simplifying way. I imagine you’re coming from somewhere definite – from a definite position in relation to your beliefs. I have the fantasy that I’m coming from nowhere, as it were, that I’m not committed to any set of beliefs. I am an atheist, and therefore reject religious explanations of the kinds of creatures we are, of how we should live, where we’re going to and so on. But, unlike most atheists, I am equally opposed to a naturalistic account of what we are, particularly a scientistic naturalism that says we are essentially explicable as biological organisms. I find naturalism much more threatening, actually, than supernatural beliefs. So that’s why I imagine I’m coming from nowhere, but of course what it means is that I’m bringing to the party all sorts of unacknowledged prejudices and assumptions that I am sure, and I hope, you will expose and explore.