An Interview with Steven Colborne: The Philosophy of a Mad Man

Feb 7, 2013 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) Steven, first of all tell us about where you grew up and where you were education and who has mentored you?

I was born in Cambridge and grew up in a town called Abingdon in Oxfordshire. I had a fairly standard state school education, but I achieved highly in my GCSE’s and A-Levels. At the age of 18 I moved to London to study a BA (Hons) degree at the University of Westminster. I studied Commercial Music, as music at the time was my major interest. Around the same time I graduated, my mother passed away after a long and grueling battle with cancer. Her suffering inspired me to ask important questions about the nature of God and the meaning of life, and so my interest in philosophy and spirituality was kindled. More recently I have undertaken postgraduate studies in Philosophy and Religion at Heythrop College, which is the specialist theology and philosophy college of the University of London.

Philosophy isn’t all about qualifications of course, much more important is a fervent desire to explore life’s big questions. Anyone can have a passion for philosophy, regardless of background or education.

My greatest mentor was not an educator, but a psychotherapist. His name is Tom Warnecke and he helped me to find emotional maturity and to learn how to live with honesty and integrity in a difficult world.

2) Do you believe that God suffers? If he or she were a Supreme Being, what would be the point?

I believe it is likely that God suffers in two ways. Firstly, in my view God is all that exists (God is omnipresent) and therefore everything is an expression of God’s own self. There never has been and never will be a free being with whom God can interact. God is eternally alone. Secondly, existence is part of God’s nature. Therefore it is impossible for God to ‘switch off’. For all eternity God must live with the certain knowledge that there will never be an ending.

I believe that these two problems – eternal loneliness and necessary existence – may amount to a kind of “hell” for God.

3) Many people, like Anthony Storr believe solitude and isolation to be a good thing- why would God complain? Besides, does he or she not have a son and Holy Spirit in the triumvirate?

I am not a Christian these days, and I don’t believe in free will. I believe it is logically inconsistent to believe in divine omnipresence and human free will, as most Christians do. Everything that God creates is under the present moment control of God. Therefore, even if there were a Son and a Holy Spirit, the existence of these persons would not make God any less lonely. God is the cosmic puppeteer, and existence is God’s theatre. There is never anything ‘free’ with which God can interact.

In terms of loneliness, I suppose I am describing the craving for company and interaction. I agree that being alone can be a good thing, but there is also a negative side to loneliness that God might experience.

4) How would cancer be an expression of God’s own self?

I believe that humans experience joy and suffering to reflect God’s own predicament. If God experiences a kind of hell in the way that I have described above, then perhaps He gives us hellish experiences so that we get a taste of the real thing – of what ultimate reality is like for God. I also have a hope that God never lets suffering get too much for any individual. In light of the fact that God could, if He so chose, inflict eternal hellish suffering on everyone, it seems that God chooses to be much more merciful.

5) Does God sleep? Rest? Does he or she need sleep or rest?

No, I don’t think so. I think that part of God’s nature is consciousness, and there is never a break from it.

6) Many philosophers- Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Camus, and Beckett have all dealt with human suffering. How is your perspective different?

I have never encountered other philosophers talking about God suffering in the two ways that I have described. Of course, it is perfectly possible that others might have had similar ideas, but not to my knowledge. I believe I offer the most reasonable explanation for human suffering that I have ever found.

7) Can there be meaning in suffering as Viktor Frankl has pointed out?

Yes, I think it is obvious that although we suffer God is always working with great care in our lives to work out a delicate, complex, and meaningful plan.

8) Do different cultures have a different perspective on suffering- perhaps India vs. England?

It seems that there are many different perspectives on suffering across different cultures. Many cultures believe in human free will, which means that suffering is often seen as the result of good or bad choices that we make. In India the importance of meditation and enlightenment show that there is a focus not on God’s mercy as the solution to suffering, but on achieving peace through personal striving and struggling to achieve higher states of mind. This kind of spiritual struggle is deeply flawed I think – it is much more ‘enlightened’ to acknowledge that God is in control of all our experiences.

In England, there are of course various perspectives. Many atheists believe suffering is a natural part of the evolutionary process, while religious people tend to focus more on questions about God and free will. Christians tend to say that God is love and they dispute the fact that God is responsible for everything rather than just the good stuff. This means they have serious problems trying to understand what causes suffering.

It seems that in philosophy in general there is a lack of a real sense that we understand suffering, and I believe I offer a perspective that can help.

9) Now tell us about this book “The Philosophy of a Mad Man“. Where can readers learn more?

The Philosophy of a Mad Man is my first book release. It is in two parts. The first part discusses my spiritual journey (which includes ‘shaking meditation’, two episodes of psychosis, and other kinds of spiritual exploration), and the second part expounds my philosophy, covering subjects such as free will, states of consciousness, reality, time, and the meaning of life. It is written in a clear and simple way (no complex terminology) so hopefully it offers an enjoyable reading experience and some deep insights into the human condition and the nature of God.

10) Do you have a web site and what would we find there?

I do indeed. My online home is http://www.stevencolborne.com/. There is plenty of information about me, a ‘quotes’ page which serves as a good introduction to my thinking, and an online store where you can buy books, essays and articles, videos, music, and other items related to me and my philosophy. I also have a philosophy blog which is at http://www.perfectchaos.org/.

 

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