The Antitheist’s Bible – Extract 4 (a dissection of religion)

‘Aah, Kathy – another construct from our distant past. The personification of evil,’ I called after her as she disappeared through the door. ‘I think we can do without that one as well. Surely we must realise by now that the universe is immense and we’re nowhere near the centre of it! The Devil is just another control mechanism.’ I followed her into the dining room to join Liz and Tobes at the table, bringing the bottle with me. I plonked it down next to the one Liz and Tobes had opened.

‘So what is going to be the basis of this book of yours?’ Kathy asked disparagingly, seating herself and looking across at me. ‘What are you going to put in it?’

‘I’m going to tell the real stories,’ I said firmly. ‘I’m going to pull religion apart and dissect it, tell it like it is.’

‘Enough,’ said Liz, scowling at me. ‘I can see what you two have been up to.’ She took the Jay off Kathy, took a small puff and passed it to Tobes. ‘Let’s talk about something else.’

‘I am going to write the Antitheist’s Bible,’ I assured Kathy.


It was a time of change. I could smell it in the air.

I stood out on the balcony of my office like some patriarch surveying my land. That was how I felt. Below me the boys were out at lunch playing football on the field or gathering in small groups. It was hot; one of those rare July days when everything conspired to create the perfect English Summer day. There had not been a lot of them so far this year. The grass was still vivid green and the trees shimmered against a deep blue sky in which the billowy white clouds only served to punctuate the welcome heat and emphasize the swathes of blue.

I had all the windows open to allow the breeze through. It made the temperature extremely agreeable. I liked summer. I always thought that our ancestors were nuts to have left Africa. The papers rustled on my desk. Voices drifted up from the boys below. It was orderly and pleasant. In the distance, through the trees, the old church was bathed in sunlight. Idyllic. Everything felt right with the world.

My gaze wandered over to the common land beyond the fence. There were little signs of the modern world intruding, no evidence of the town. We might all be marooned in time. I watched the boys as they played so intently. They were so alive. They would grow and leave here but they would always take some of it with them just as part of all of them remained here in this place. We all shaped our surroundings. We influenced what was to come after.

This was my legacy. I had built this. I knew that it wasn’t and I hadn’t; not really. There was no one man or group of men who could claim as much. To an extent we are products of our day and age. This school would have existed without me and would go on existing after I’d gone. I was just passing through. I’d made a mark, a mark that would soon fade away.

Behind me Channel four reached the news bulletin. Another bomb had gone off in Iraq killing 50. The fools were killing each other over the interpretation of some mediaeval text. Sunni against Shia just as it had been Catholic against Protestant, Hindu against Muslim. I felt a wave of anger surge through me. We just had to mess it up, didn’t we? What the world needed was the power of education.

Yet, for all the madness out there, this place was like a bubble of sanity. For thirty five years I had striven to infuse tolerance, respect and empathy. I had fought for responsible actions and promoted fairness and justice. I had championed equality. It had been my life’s work. In my view the world had to grow more sane and intelligent to have a future. We were approaching a global population of seven billion people. We had technologies that could unleash nuclear missiles, fearsomely vicious chemicals or biological death. It was my belief that we either grew up and solved problems with intelligence or died in ignorance and superstition. It looked to me as if ignorance and superstition were winning.

Below me, on that field, were the young men who I knew also believed in fairness and justice. I knew that because we’d often argued it through in class. They filled me with optimism. They were the new world. They were also the proof that my philosophy could work. They were free, happy and full of vitality. They were a vindication. For thirty five years I had fought to instil my ideals into this place and here it was in operation.

On this summer day it felt like the perfect culmination of all that effort. This was a scene of harmony and happiness.

Yet this was the time of change. I could feel it. My deputy was champing at the bit, eager to take over. I had become old but there were still many things that I wanted to do and so little time. There was a life outside of this. I looked out over that peaceful scene stretched out below me and knew that I would have to leave it to run its course. I had steered it as far as I could and had to be satisfied. It was time to move on.

Yet I was reluctant to let go. There was still work to do.

This was so satisfying. It was hard to leave it behind not quite finished. But then it could never be finished, could it? But I knew that it would change and it would no longer be mine.

Yet change was coming. I could sense it; and I had a feeling that it wasn’t going to be just to do with work.

I looked at the clock. Lunchtime. Time for soup.

The Antitheist’s Bible – A novel – Extract from the beginning.


We’d all come back from a walk through England’s glorious countryside, over the green rolling hills of the Southern Downs, trailing along a river bank swathed in a mass of wildflowers through which the butterflies danced and bees busily droned from blossom to blossom. We’d wandered lazily through a hot morning with the sun scorching our faces under an unremitting blue sky – four old friends together.

Nothing could be more delightful than the perfect English summer day when it happened. You could not count on it to happen too often in this unpredictable climate. We’d found a picnic bench outside a pub overlooking the old weathered rock walls of a mediaeval castle and basked in the weather and company, swigging a cool beer, idly talking, laughing lots and picking at a pub meal.

Throughout the entire walk we’d been catching up on news, reminiscing and sharing views. That’s what old friends did. I’d outlined my thoughts on my book. Writing was one of my passions. It infuriated Liz. She saw it as one of my obsessions. Something else I wasted endless hours on. She despaired over the way I could not relax and live in the moment. Even on a beautiful day, walking through the most beautiful scenery, my mind was flitting through the interior of my head while the world slipped by. I only had to have an audience and I could not help but let fly, to allow all that storm of pent-up ideas to gush out. Kathy and Tobes had made the mistake of appearing to listen. It seemed to me that they liked the idea but saw nothing original about it. In their view, it had been done to death. Nobody would be interested. But it had caught their imagination to an extent, more than most of my fanciful literary concoctions.

Kathy and I were sitting in the front room, on the floor, our backs against the sofa, a glass of Merlot in one hand. We were passing a spliff back and forth, contemplating infinity and arguing about religion. Standard fayre for a Sunday afternoon.

‘So what would you say to some evangelical redneck who believed the world was formed by god four thousand years ago?’ She peered at me with a cheeky, quizzical look, daring me to rise to it. ‘You know Oph, some brainwashed American, brought up in the Deep South who was taught that every word of the bible was the absolute word of god, huh Oph?’

Now available as paperback, hardback and digital kindle:

The Antitheist’s Bible – another short extract (don’t buy it yet – I’m rewriting it! – It’ll be out soon in new improved format)

I am presently rewriting the Antitheist’s Bible (a novel that is anti all organised religion). Enjoying it.

Here’s a little extract:

Some say that life is a journey into the mysterious unknown. I’m not so sure about that. My observations lead me to believe we are creatures of habit. It takes dynamite to get most of us out of our comfort zones and the rut we have worn into our existence. Mystery and the unknown rarely come into the equation.

The trouble is that for most of us life has a habit of getting in the way of our plans. Life goes by. We happily slip into routines. Every day the sun comes up, the alarm rings, we get up and go through more of the same. We know what pattern the day takes. We know what is going to happen next week and the week after. We have our watches, diaries and calendars to plan the future. We watch the wonderful programs in which physicists prove that the universe is not how it appears, matter is not solid, space and time are bent, we are but holograms, while psychologists demonstrate that our perception and memories are a million miles from reality. We are enthralled. Yet the sun still comes up and each day is the same as the next.

But then it changes.

We are confronted with a different reality. A close friend dies, you lose your job, you move house, you become ill, there is a fire, a burglary; it could be a number of things. Life changes. Some changes are minor, some temporary. We are thrown and have to adjust.

The amazing thing is not that we are so thrown by things but how quickly we adjust to the new situation and build in our new routine.

We are creatures of habit. We search for new patterns. That’s what we are programmed to do; we search out the patterns; we hunt for the relationships. It is hard-wired into our brains. It is the product of evolution. It is the very reason we are so successful. Our ancestors survived because of how they found the patterns and relationships; were able to determine the seasons and migrations, the habits of predators and prey. That is what they have bequeathed to us.

Yet within that gift lies our Achilles heel.