Baba Brinkman in “Rap Guide to Religion,” his solo show at SoHo Playhouse. Credit Rudy Miller
You know what would make Baba Brinkman happy this weekend? If just one winner would get up at the Oscars and make an acceptance speech that began not with an expression of gratitude to God but with “I want to thank Charles Darwin.”
Seeing “Rap Guide to Religion,” Mr. Brinkman’s very funny, very educational solo show, directed by Darren Lee Cole at the SoHo Playhouse, is like attending the best TED talk ever, but with musical breaks.
The first few minutes, an aggressive rap number, are jolting. I have nothing against rap as an art form. I have nothing against white Canadian rappers. But I felt assaulted, even when the lyrics distinguished themselves by rhyming pagan with Carl Sagan. Luckily, most of the show is talk — smart talk — and it proved itself worthy the minute a Rick Ross rap lyric was applied to the plight of the American nonbeliever.
Mr. Brinkman, who also wrote “The Rap Guide to Evolution” and a hip-hop “Canterbury Tales,” is with antireligionists like Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, but he focuses on why religious belief exists at all, what needs it fills and what its real effects are.
“Your brain is a promiscuous explanation seeker,” he observes, and the existence of a supreme being theoretically explains everything. Aided by video — including clips of Fergie (a Grammy-winning God thanker) singing “My Humps” — Mr. Brinkman delves into theories of mind, the statistical connection between suffering and belief, and a study that showed that many people would rather hire a convicted rapist than an atheist to babysit for their kids.
No self-respecting 2015 satirist can do 90 minutes without alluding to the Charlie Hebdo attacks. But not every polemicist explains how religion developed during the hunter-gatherer stage of human history, how we’re heading back that way, and how Facebook and Uber may save us all.
A version of this review appears in print on February 17, 2015, on page C2 of the New York edition with the headline: Why Humanity Created God.