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We acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation - the custodians of the country in which we meet - and acknowledge their Elders, past and present.

The God Desire

David Baddiel [UK]
Chaired by Simon Longstaff
Sun 25 August 6:45pm
Sun 25 August 6:45pm
An atheist understanding of religion. The John Caldon Provocation.

In his book, The God Desire, comedian and author Baddiel asserts that humanity’s desperate need for meaning and moral guidance will always lead to some imagination of God. For Baddiel, who experiences the need himself, the very urgency of the desire for God proves His non-existence. Because God is so wanted by us, we have projected Him (whatever version that might be) into being. As someone who embraces his Jewish identity, but without any belief in the actuality of a supernatural deity, he argues for an atheism which is both absolute and fundamental but also understanding of the human need for religion. Love it or loathe it, Baddiel’s bold thesis compels us to confront uncomfortable aspects of the human condition and the role of spirituality in our lives. 

David Baddiel appears exclusively in Sydney at FODI.
I very much do believe that God doesn’t exist, but the desire and need for God and the stories that surround that tell us about what it means to be human.
David Baddiel

David Baddiel [UK]

David Baddiel is an accomplished comedian, author, screenwriter and television presenter. He began his career as writer and star of numerous hit UK TV comedy shows and in 1992 he performed at the UK’s first ever comedy arena show at Wembley. His song about football, Three Lions, has been a UK no. 1 a record-breaking four times. Also an award-winning author, David has written ten hugely successful children’s books, alongside four critically-acclaimed novels, and in 2021 he released the Sunday Times Politics Book of The Year – his polemic Jews Don’t Count, which has changed the whole conversation around modern identity politics and antisemitism. David followed the book with a TV documentary on the subject that aired in 2022. David’s most recent book, The God Desire, was released in 2023 and explores his keen desire to believe in a deity and why this very desperation to believe proves his atheism correct.


Simon Longstaff

Simon Longstaff began his working life on Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory of Australia. He is proud of his kinship ties to the Anindilyakwa people. After a period studying law in Sydney and teaching in Tasmania, he pursued postgraduate studies as a Member of Magdalene College, Cambridge. In 1991, Simon commenced his work as the first Executive Director of The Ethics Centre, a role he continues today. In 2013, he was made an officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for “distinguished service to the community through the promotion of ethical standards in governance and business, to improving corporate responsibility, and to philosophy.” Simon is an Adjunct Professor of the Australian Graduate School of Management at UNSW Sydney, a Fellow of CPA Australia, the Royal Society of NSW and the Australian Risk Policy Institute.

This is the inaugural John Caldon Provocation, an annual event at FODI to honour the legacy of businessman John Caldon and his special brand of curiosity.
John Caldon (1947-2021) – investment banker and entrepreneur, early director of Macquarie Bank – ignited debate, discussion and reflection on most topics he took an interest in.
A person of insatiable curiosity, generosity, he mastered detail in diverse fields, from ancient history, politics, poetry, art and philosophy, to hypothecating investment deals.
Caldon’s personality, drive, ambition, and creative approach to financial innovation made him see potential in people and in deals. At Macquarie Bank from 1984-1998, he was one of its most successful, early stars, fostered and coached talent. For many, his mentoring, nurturing, and inspiration set him apart. He then applied this genius and innovation to establishing a successful wholistic TV company with his life partner, Lyndey Milan. It encompassed TV production, distribution, business and explored new ways of doing things.
You must attend a minimum of 3 different sessions to complete Festival Multipack. Learn more
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25 August
General Admission
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