Writer, psychologist and “accidental theologist” Lesley Hazleton explores the vast and often intimidating arena in which politics and religion, past and present, intersect.

Why you should listen

Lesley Hazleton has written about the history of the Sunni/Shi’a split as well as books on two of the Bible’s most compelling female figures: Mary and Jezebel. In her book The First Muslim, she took a new look at the life of Muhammad, the founder of Islam. In researching the book, she sat and read the full Koran again -- exploring the beauty and subtlety in this often-misquoted holy book. Her newest book, the just-published Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto, asks what we mean by the search for meaning, invokes the humbling perspective of infinity, reconsiders what “the soul” might be, and celebrates agnosticism as a way to rise “above the flat, two-dimensional line of belief/unbelief to create new possibilities for how we think about being in the world.”

What others say

“Very interesting perspective. Her talk has motivated me to read and learn more about the Koran and make up my own mind rather than get second hand information filled with hate.” — Alan Klein, commenting at Informed Comment, juancole.com

Lesley Hazleton’s TED talks

More news and ideas from Lesley Hazleton

Live from TEDSummit 2016

A legacy that will outlive us: Notes from Session 1 of TEDSummit

June 27, 2016

TEDSummit is a gathering of TED’s tribes — our speaker community, volunteer translators, TED Fellows, TEDx organizers, partners and  more. In Session 1, we shared mainstage talks that sparkled with optimism for humanity — now and deep into our unknown future. Ideas that stand the test of time. TED’s curator, Chris Anderson, opened TEDSummit with a throwback […]

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Live from TEDSummit 2016

A meditation on the soul: Lesley Hazleton at TEDSummit

June 27, 2016

What is a soul? Lesley Hazleton, an “accidental theologist,” prodded the TEDSummit audience with this provocative question, tracing the cultural, religious and societal origins of a remarkably intangible human hallmark. The body and soul used to be considered two equal physical entities — in fact, Descartes theorized the soul was located in the brain’s pineal gland. Meanwhile, […]

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Live from TEDGlobal

The doubt essential to faith: Lesley Hazleton at TEDGlobal 2013

June 12, 2013

A few years ago, Lesley Hazleton, self-described “accidental theologist,” found herself waking each morning with the same question: What happened to Muhammad the night he received the revelation of the Koran? An agnostic Jew, Hazleton was writing a biography of the man who stood in the desert outside of Mecca in the year 610 at […]

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