‘I used to be an atheist until I realised I am God’

AC Grayling: ‘How can you be a militant atheist? It’s like sleeping furiously’

In his new book, The Good Book: A Secular Bible, the philosopher sets out his manifesto for rational thought. He talks about why religion angers him, the power of philosophy – and his mane of hair

Decca Aitkenhead

AC Grayling with his dog Misty.

AC Grayling with his dog Misty. Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi

In the unholy trinity of professional atheists, AC Grayling has always tended to be regarded as the good cop. Less coldly clinical in tone than Richard Dawkins, less aggressively combative than Christopher Hitchens, Grayling approaches the God debate with a gently teasing charm that could almost – but should never – be mistaken for conciliation. "Yes, I’m the velvet version," he chuckles.

So he insists that his new book does not belong in the same canon as Dawkins’s The God Delusion and Hitchens’s God Is Not Great. "No, because it’s not against religion. There’s not one occurrence of the word God, or afterlife, or anything like that. It doesn’t attack religion, it’s a positive book, there’s nothing negative in it. People may think it’s against religion – but it isn’t." But then he says, with a mischievous twinkle: "Of course, what would really help the book a lot in America is if somebody tries to shoot me."

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