Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

What Would Happen If?

Writer and priest Malcolm Doney argues that imagination is central to human existence, development and preservation.

Writer and priest Malcolm Doney argues that imagination is central to almost every decision we make. For Malcolm, conscious, imaginative thinking is essentially the basis of what it means to be human.

Malcolm draws upon the story of Jesus who himself left no written manifesto. In his physical absence, Jesus' followers were left with the imaginative project of living lives modelled on his. They had to re-imagine a new life without him.

Malcolm explores the work of Nobel Prize winner Peter Medawar, historian Yuval Noah Harari, as well as poets John Koethe and Emily Dickinson. Using this diverse array of sources, Malcolm reveals that imagination is vital to the progress of science and lies at the beating heart of music. He concludes that ultimately, imagination is fundamental to empathy and at the core of that most life-giving command "love thy neighbour as thyself".

Presenter: Malcolm Doney
Producer: Jonathan O'Sullivan
A TBI Media production for BBC Radio 4.

30 minutes

Last on

Sun 2 Jul 2017 23:30

Music Played

  • Emile Pandolfi

    Pure Imagination

  • Michael Levy

    Hurrian Hymn

  • Joseph Haydn

    The Creation, Part 1 No. 1 Die Vorstellung des Chaos (The Representation of Chaos)

  • Joseph Haydn

    The Creation, Hob.XXI/2, Part I: 7. And God said, Let the earth

  • Mavis Staples

    You Are Not Alone

  • Jackson Browne

    About My Imagination

  • Brooklyn Duo

    Pure Imagination


Title:                Memories of a City

Author:            Orhan Pamuk

Publisher:        Faber and Faber


Title:                Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Author:            Yuval Noah Harari

Publisher:        Harvill Secker


Title:                The Limits of Science

Author:            Peter Medawar

Publisher:        Oxford University Press


Title:                Creation Myths

Author:            John Koethe

Publisher:        Harper Perennial


Title:                The World is Not Conclusion

Author:            Emily Dickinson

Publisher:        Harvard University Press


Title:                Grammars of Creation

Author:            George Steiner

Publisher:        Faber and Faber


Title:                Poetry and Religion

Author:            Les Murray

Publisher:        Carcanet Press


Title:                A Splash of Words

Author:            Mark Oakley

Publisher:        Canterbury Press


Title:                Mystery and Manners

Author:            Flannery O'Connor

Publisher:        Farrar, Strauss and Giroux


Title:                An Experiment in Criticism

Author:            CS Lewis

Publisher:        Cambridge University Press


Title:                Design by Nature

Author:            Maggie Macnab

Publisher:        New Riders


Title:                The Gleam of an Heroic Act

Author:            Emily Dickinson

Publisher:        Harvard University Press