The conference took a welcome break from new media last night.
Frank Cottrell Boyce gave a moving talk on his film script for the forthcoming BBC Drama, God on Trial set in Auschwitz.
Frank explained that it was not intended to be about the holocaust but finding an answer to the question of why God allows suffering. As he began writing the script he was sure he would find a resolution to the question. He places the characters in a prison camp facing the worst nightmare imaginable and in their last time before death they choose to put God on trial accused of breaking the covenant. The trial is a clinical and systematic examination of why God allowed these things to happen.
Point by point the film examines God's behavior. With the tense atmosphere of a courtroom (prison camp bunkhouse) they go into the often unpleasant details of suffering and exile experienced in the old testament, the slaying if innocents and so on. It's about humanity, people who have big ideas in their heads and histories, he explained.
In the film one character searches the back of his mind, believing that they must have committed some crime to deserve such punishment, "what could justify punishment like this" they ask. A man's children are dragged away to be killed, the father pleads for them, choose one the guard offers; where is love and free will here. Powerful concepts are examined – was Hitler a servant of God.
We only saw experts from the film and I suppose I shouldn't reveal the outcome though it shouldn't be a surprise. Frank describes it as a flipped version of the Prodigal Son.
We were treated to some humour at the expense of Prof Richard Dawkins. Winning the debate is not what matters, but in the debate we discover there is something much bigger. You have to challenge your faith, but in the end it doesn't matter what you think, all that matters is that God loves you.