What does it mean to struggle with the idea that there is no God when your life has been devoted to preaching that there is? This is the quandary clergy find themselves in when they go from believer to atheist while they are on the job. Marin Gazzaniga’s play — based on interviews of clergy by Linda LaScola for a Tufts University study she conducted with Daniel C. Dennett — explores the mental anguish and struggles of seven clergy, interviewed privately in hotel rooms around the country, as they reveal personal feelings they’ve never shared. The audience is led on an intimate psychological journey as these individuals struggle with a taboo subject: what’s at stake if you publicly say you don’t believe in God. In hearing their stories, we are challenged to re-examine deeply held assumptions about religion and belief.

In this special event, part of SFI’s 2017 Community Lecture Series, actors presented select scenes from Gazzaniga’s play, followed by discussion with cognitive scientist and philosopher Dennett (an SFI external professor) and Michael S. Gazzaniga, a cognitive neuroscientist (and the playwright’s father), about what brain-mind mechanisms might be at work in religious belief — and the implications for individuals and society. 

Watch the video (1 hr 34 min)

Generous underwriting from Thornburg Investment Management, with additional support from The Lensic Performing Arts Center, makes this series possible.

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