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David Baddiel: The Reluctant Atheist

Does the very intensity of our desire for God to exist prove God’s non-existence?

David Baddiel would love there to be a God. The comedian and bestselling author has spent a lot of time fantasising about how much better life would be if there actually were a supreme being – which for him would be some kind of Superhero Dad who chased off Death. Unfortunately for him, there isn’t. Or at least, that’s Baddiel’s view, and it’s the starting point of his new book The God Desire.  

In April 2023 Baddiel came to our stage at The Tabernacle in Notting Hill, London, to argue that it is the very intensity of his, and everyone else’s, desire for God to exist that proves God’s non-existence. As he explained, the idea of God offers us narrative – fulfilling our need to structure the chaos of our existence. It offers us meaning, allowing us the belief that our lives matter. And above all God helps us confront the terror of death. Anything so deeply wished-for, Baddiel will contend, we will inevitably make real.

Baddiel was joined on stage by comedian, actor and film-maker Richard Ayoade and theologian and broadcaster Ben Quash for a conversation that tackled this most ancient and fundamental of questions: is our need for there to be something greater than ourselves anything more than just that – a need?

Advance praise for David Baddiel’s The God Desire

A hugely heartfelt, funny, kind, fascinating, human and clever book.’ – Alain de Botton

Magnificent. Breathtaking. And shockingly rare … another one-sitting wonder.’ – Stephen Fry



David Baddiel

Comedian, author, screenwriter, television presenter whose new book is The God Desire .

Comedian, author, screenwriter, television presenter and Jewish activist. Following the publication of his bestselling polemic Jews Don’t Count, David has been at the forefront of tackling antisemitism in the media, sport, and more broadly, the progressive left. The book became The Sunday Times Politics and Current Affairs Book of the Year, 2021 and enjoyed critical acclaim in the UK, Europe and US. In 2022, Jews Don't Count was adapted into a documentary for Channel 4. David's varied career spans over thirty years. As a stand-up comedian, he performed to a Wembley crowd of 12500 in the UK's first ever arena comedy show in 1992 and was credited with turning comedy into 'The New Rock n Roll’. His television credits include creating and starring in The Mary Whitehouse Experience, Newman and Baddiel in Pieces and Fantasy Football. More recently he has created and presented several acclaimed documentaries, including The Trouble with Dad (Channel 4), Confronting Holocaust Denial (BBC2) and Social Media, Anger and Us (BBC2). David has published ten hugely successful children's books as well as four critically acclaimed adult novels.   

Ben Quash

Professor of Christianity and the Arts at King’s College London

Professor of Christianity and the Arts at King’s College London, and frequent broadcaster on BBC Radio. He works principally in the area of Christian theology, with a longstanding interest in the 19th-century background to modern theology, 20th-century systematics, philosophical theology and Christian ethics. He is fascinated by how the arts can renew people’s engagement with the Bible and Christian tradition, and he has written or recorded essays for numerous exhibitions in London, as well as Berlin, Cheltenham, Chichester, New York City, Oxford, the Venice Biennale, and Washington DC.

Richard Ayoade

Multi-award winning comedian, actor, writer and director

Multi-award winning comedian, actor, writer and director. The success of Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place (which he co-wrote, directed and starred in) was followed by his BAFTA award-winning role in The IT Crowd, and numerous other TV credits including The Mighty Boosh. Ayoade wrote and directed the BAFTA- nominated film Submarine and wrote and directed The Double starring Jesse Eisenberg. He presented Travel Man and The Crystal Maze for Channel 4 and has released three books, Ayoade on Ayoade and The Grip of Film and Ayoade on Top.


Speakers are subject to change.