Comedian Stephen Fry has the classic British intellectual voice, much like philosopher Bryan McGee. It turns out that he knows something about philosophy, and this clip is a shortened version of a longer video called “The Importance of Unbelief.”
A more gentle version of George Carlin, Fry’s views appear heartfelt while partaking of serious irony. He claims that in order to properly appreciate our present lives, “even if it isn’t true, you must absolutely assume that there is no afterlife.” Choosing his positions to argue as much for their rhetorical audacity as anything else, he argues for polytheism in favor of monotheism, and he treats the issue of the divine presence in nature by referencing the life cycle of a parasitic worm. He seems an apt voice to add to the new atheist debates, at least as amusing as Dawkins and much moreso than Sam Harris. This clip is added to our collection of 250 Cultural Icons.
Mark Linsenmayer runs the Partially Examined Life philosophy podcast and blog. He also performs with the Madison, WI band New People.