Stephen Fry, a forthright atheist, left a television host baffled when he shared what he would say when confronted by God. The author and actor, who recently got married to his long-time partner Elliot Spencer, made a sequence of impassioned comments in an interview with Gay Byrne on his show “The Meaning of Life.”
The weekly show that delves into discussions about the purpose of life and afterlife released a short clip before its January 31 screening, showing Fry discussing God from an atheistic point of view.
“Suppose it’s all true, and you walk up to the pearly gates, and are confronted by God,” asked Bryne. “What will Stephen Fry say to him, her, or it?”
The 57-year-old Fry replied to that, saying, “I’d say, bone cancer in children? What’s that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world to which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right, it’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain. That’s what I would say.”
Byrne followed that question with, “And you think you are going to get in, like that?”
“But I wouldn't want to,” Fry insisted. “I wouldn't want to get in on his terms. They are wrong. Now, if I died and it was Pluto, Hades, and if it was the 12 Greek gods then I would have more truck with it, because the Greeks didn’t pretend to not be human in their appetites, in their capriciousness, and in their unreasonableness…. They didn’t present themselves as being all-seeing, all-wise, all-kind, all-beneficent, because the god that created this universe, if it was created by god, is quite clearly a maniac…. Utter maniac, totally selfish. We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him? What kind of god would do that? So, atheism isn’t not just about not believing there’s a God, but on the assumption there is one, what kind of God is he?”
Rather shocked by Fry’s response, Byrne said, that was the longest answer to the question he has ever received in the entire series.
Less than a week after Fry made his comments, the newly elected moderator designate of Ireland’s Presbyterian Church said he felt sorry for Fry, after hearing what he had to say about God being an utterly evil, capricious, monstrous maniac. Reverend Ian McNie, who was elected on February 2 to serve as the next moderator of the country’s 240,000 Presbyterians, said the following morning that what Fry said to Byrne only went on to confirm the truthfulness of the Bible.
“Because the bible says that the God of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers that they cannot see the light of the gospel. … He only confirms what the bible itself teaches and has been an asset to the Christian cause enabling us to know that the bible is true. … I felt sorry for the man that his understanding of life is simply confined to the here and now and that from his position of atheism there is no hope for the future. I did not so much find his remarks hurtful as just sorrowful that here was somebody who was so spiritually blind,” he said while speaking to the press in Belfast.
When questioned about Fry’s complaint that God alone allows evil to exist in the world, 64-year-old McNie said God had made a perfect world and it was only afterwards that man fell and imperfection took over.
Soon after, Fry was asked to comment on the reaction his interview with Byrne received and he immediately apologized for any offence that his comments may have caused.
“I don’t think I mentioned once any certain religion, and I certainly didn’t intend, and I know I didn’t, to say anything offensive towards any particular religion,” he said. “I said quite a few things that were angry at this supposed God. I was merely saying things that Bertrand Russell and many finer heads of the mind have said for many thousands of years, going all the way back to the Greeks. I am astonished that it has caused so viral an explosion on Twitter and elsewhere. I’m most pleased that it’s got people talking. I’d never wish to offend anybody who is individually devout or pious and goes about their religious ways, and indeed many Christians have been in touch with me and said that they’re very grateful that things have been talked about.”
Photo Credits: Five Pillars UK