Question of the Week- 5/9/2017

May 9, 2017

Stephen Fry is an incomparable voice for reason, with a wit and skill with language that is rarely matched. What is your favorite Stephen Fry quote about religion, atheism, life, the universe, and everything?

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7 comments on “Question of the Week- 5/9/2017

  • A bit long but…

    On what he would say to God were he to meet him, February 2015 –

    Host: Suppose it’s all true, and you walk up to the pearly gates and you are confronted by God. What will Stephen Fry say to him, her or it?

    Stephen Fry: I’d say, bone cancer in children? What’s that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world in 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.

    Host: And you expect to get in?

    Stephen Fry: No, but I wouldn’t want to. I wouldn’t want to get in on his terms. They’re wrong. Now if I died and it was Pluto, Hades, and if it was the twelve Greek gods, then I would have more truck with it. Because the Greek were… they didn’t pretend not to be human in their appetites, and in their capriciousness, and in their unreasonableness. They didn’t present themselves as being all seeing, all wise, all kind, all beneficient.

    Because the god who created this universe, if it was created by a god, is quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish. We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him? What kind of god would do that?

    Yes the world is very splendid, but it also has in it insects whose whole life cycle is to burrow into the eyes of children and make them blind. They eat outwards from the eyes. Why? Why did you do that to us? You could easily have made a creation where that didn’t exist.
    It is simply not acceptable.

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  • Fry destroying any vestige of reliable authority of the Catholic Church in the Intelligence Squared debate with Hitchens debating Archbishop John Onaiyekan and MP Ann Widdecombe on the motion “The Catholic Church is a Force for Good in the World”.

    “…The truth is complicated. It’s hard…. What is the point of the Catholic Church if it says [of slavery and of the existence of limbo] oh, well we couldn’t know better because nobody else did?….Then what are you for?!

    The best part is Widdecombe’s incessant and panicked gibbering off camera, throughout his points. I suspect she smelled sulphurous flames for her growing failure to contain the truth.

    Oh and earlier defining moral relativism as “thinking”.

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  • “There are young men and women up and down the land who happily (or unhappily) tell anyone who will listen that they don’t have an academic turn of mind, or that they aren’t lucky enough to have been blessed with a good memory, and yet can recite hundreds of pop lyrics and reel off any amount of information about footballers.


    Because they are interested in those things. They are curious.

    If you are hungry for food, you are prepared to hunt high and low for it. If you are hungry for information it is the same. Information is all around us, now more than ever before in human history. You barely have to stir or incommode yourself to find things out.

    The only reason people do not know much is because they do not care to know. They are incurious. Incuriosity is the oddest and most foolish failing there is.”

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  • I will also refer to that splendid Inteligence squared debate with Hitch by his side:

    Catholic Church is obsessed with sex. We aren’t – we have a healthy attitude. We like it, it’s fun, it can be dangerous – it’s a bit like food in that respect, only even more exciting.
    The only people that are obsessed with food are anorectics and the morbidly obese. And that in erotic terms is the Catholic Church in a nutshell.

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  • Per the post above, everything Stephen said in response to Gay Byrne’s questions on the Meaning Of Life programme. What a joy to see Stephen on this programme, and what a wonderful intellectual and accessible discussion.

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  • My favorite interview of Stephen Fry is the following, mainly because it packs into ten minutes some of his most important, basic thoughts for clear, rational, effective thinking:
    Stephen Fry on Political Correctness and Clear Thinking

    In the 2009 Intelligence² debate Stephen Fry delivered a splendid speech (probably the one Phil Rimmer refers to) in which he argued against the motion that the Catholic Church is a force for good in the world: Stephen Fry on the Catholic Church

    What I most like about Mr Fry is his recognition that reality and life are messy and very complex, ever requiring much searching and cognitive effort to gain reliable information about things and an accurate understanding of how they work. Opposing the tyranny of rationalism (in its original eighteenth-century sense) with critical empiricism, he accepts the provisional but ever ameliorable character of our knowledge, which is in fact at the heart of the now well-established scientific method, and he stands against all forms of untested doctrines and dogmas. In his Intelligence² speech he shows his openmindedness and tolerance towards people of religious faith while he proceeds to lay bare the oppressive and harmful character of the Catholic hierarchy’s ancient mission to impose its superstitious dogmas on societies. He is in short an extraordinarily well-informed and very wise man making a valuable contribution to the efforts being made to improve our world.

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