RELIGION
10/20/2014 05:23 pm ET Updated Oct 21, 2014

How A Near-Death Experience Inspired Bill Maher's Executive Producer To Write His Latest Play

One can only avoid life's big questions for so long.

And when writer Scott Carter finally faced those questions, the result was the creation of his new play, "The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord", which debuted at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles last weekend. The work explores the different biblical creations of the three men and imagines what would happen if their visions came together as one. Carter, who is also the executive producer and writer for "Real Time With Bill Maher", joined HuffPost Live host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani today to discuss what inspired him to dig into this deeper subject matter.

"I was a stand-up comic in New York decades ago and was sort of ignoring or being hostile to the notion of God and sort of delaying thinking about all of the big questions of life or a lot of them," said Carter. "And then I had a near-death asthma attack that put me into the hospital for about a week. When I got out, I thought, 'I need to be paying attention to these questions that I had been deferring.' So I shifted my attitude toward the mysterious and became open to considering all sorts of points of view and experiences that I'd heretofore sort of brushed aside."

As he decided which elements he wanted to become a part of his life, he came across information about how Thomas Jefferson decided to create his own version of the Bible, followed by Charles Dickens, and then Leo Tolstoy. The stark differences intrigued him, leading him to wonder what a conversation between the three men about proper faith would have sounded like.

"I loved them all," he said, explaining how he does not particularly align with one viewpoint over another. "You have to love them if you're going to spend a quarter century studying them. You both love them at their best, and then you try to earnestly judge them at what you may see as their worst. Ultimately, this becomes a portrait for me of humanity."

To hear more about Carter's creative inspiration behind "Discord", watch the full HuffPost Live clip in the video above.

CONVERSATIONS