What Questions Would Stephen Fry Ask God at the Pearly Gates?

Sev­er­al years ago, an inter­view­er asked Stephen Fry to look back­ward — to reflect on his life and answer this ques­tion, “What do you wish you had known when you were 18”? What lessons would you draw in hind­sight?  Some of his answers includ­ed:

  • Don’t set goals for your­self, par­tic­u­lar­ly mate­r­i­al ones. They’re dis­as­trous and will keep you from becom­ing who you real­ly are.
  • Keep your ego in check. You’ll be bet­ter liked, and more oppor­tu­ni­ties will come your way.
  • Get out­side your com­fort zone by trav­el­ing to dis­tant lands and read­ing books in a serendip­i­tous way.
  • Be a giv­er, not a tak­er. It’s more reward­ing.

In the clip above, Gay Byrne, a broad­cast­er with RTÉ, now asks Fry to look for­ward and answer anoth­er ques­tion: Sup­pose there is a God, and you arrive at the Pearly Gates, what would you say to him, her or it? Fry, an avowed sec­u­lar human­ist, isn’t throw­ing God any soft­balls: Why cre­ate a world where kids have bone can­cer? Why cre­ate insects that bur­row into chil­dren’s eyes and ren­der them blind? Why cre­ate a world with so much pain, mis­ery and injus­tice in it? As he answers these ques­tions, and con­cludes that such a God (were it to exist) would be noth­ing short of mani­a­cal, Byrne’s face con­torts, reveal­ing his dis­com­fort. You can watch oth­er scenes from the inter­view here, and catch Fry’s ani­mat­ed primers on sec­u­lar human­ism here.

via The Dai­ly Beast

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stephen Fry: What I Wish I Knew When I Was 18

Stephen Fry Explains Human­ism in 4 Ani­mat­ed Videos: Hap­pi­ness, Truth and the Mean­ing of Life & Death

Free Online Reli­gion Cours­es


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Comments (10)
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  • Hanoch says:

    And if I were to play at this sil­ly game, I would guess G‑d would respond to Mr. Fry along the fol­low­ing lines:

    You arro­gant fool! I am respon­si­ble for all of cre­ation, in all of its unfath­omable com­plex­i­ty, and main­tain every aspect of its exis­tence at every moment. And you — whose intel­lect is so far removed from Mine as to make the mind of an ant and human appear rough­ly on par — deign to instruct Me as to right and wrong and how the uni­verse should work?

    How won­der­ful­ly iron­ic that this is the same man who dis­pensed the advice to “Keep your ego in check”!

  • Peregrine Plover says:

    “The Prob­lem of Evil” has been a sub­ject of philo­soph­i­cal dis­cus­sion for cen­turies. It has been described by Chris­t­ian philoso­pher Peter Kreeft as “the one seri­ous objec­tion to the exis­tence of God.” Every think­ing Chris­t­ian has had to grap­ple with the issues Fry rais­es. Nev­er­the­less, there are log­i­cal and (to me) emo­tion­al­ly sat­is­fy­ing answers to his ques­tions.
    Here is a five minute clip of William Lane Craig which could serve as a response to the clip you have post­ed.
    I am sure that Fry is sin­cere when he says that his life seems sim­pler, pur­er and clean­er when he ban­ish­es thoughts of God from his mind. But that does­n’t mean he is right, or that it is intel­lec­tu­al­ly sound for him to do so.

  • Mark says:

    If you must pre­sume to speak for GOD, don’t do it in the same breath as you scold some­one else for their “arro­gance.”

    Fry is exact­ly right, of course. The god of the bible is the nas­ti­est char­ac­ter in all fic­tion. If the bible is to be believed, she’s more like­ly to respond with some vari­a­tion of “wor­ship me or I’ll tor­ture you for­ev­er.”

  • Jim says:

    The Bible is a love let­ter from God to humankind describ­ing how he, despite our resis­tance and great per­son­al cost to him­self, pro­vid­ed rec­on­cil­i­a­tion between us and him. As was pre­vi­ous­ly not­ed, the prob­lem of evil and suf­fer­ing has long been debat­ed, and the Book of Job dealt with it ear­ly and at length. Whether intend­ed or not, com­menter Hanoch loose­ly para­phrased God’s response to Job, so I would­n’t say that this is speak­ing for God so much as rephras­ing God speak­ing for God.

    Yes, God wants wor­ship, but this is not out of arro­gance or ego. When viewed from a spir­i­tu­al per­spec­tive, it is because he is the only thing that has mat­ter-of-fact val­ue and a rela­tion­ship with him is the only thing that has eter­nal worth. This rela­tion­ship is nev­er forced, and every­one is free to choose whether to pur­sue it. When this phys­i­cal life pass­es away, those who have cul­ti­vat­ed such a rela­tion­ship will con­tin­ue to build it to ever greater degrees. How­ev­er, those who reject­ed the rela­tion­ship dur­ing the phys­i­cal life will be exclud­ed and will con­tin­ue to reject the only thing of val­ue in the spir­i­tu­al life.

    Per­haps, this is tor­ture, but it is a tor­ture of one’s own choos­ing hav­ing lost the only thing of real last­ing val­ue. It would be pru­dent to be absolute­ly sure about God’s exis­tence before dis­miss­ing him pre­ma­ture­ly.

  • BanZan says:

    Dear Inter­view­er, Mr. Gay Byrne, a good answer does not know quan­ti­ty, it does how­ev­er know qual­i­ty!

  • Dzinks says:

    So, you are basi­cal­ly say­ing that God does­n’t need to explain why he is such an ego­tis­ti­cal mani­ac (“how dare you ques­tion me?!”). Argu­ment from pow­er is all he’s got in your view? Fair enough, but he is still an ego­tis­ti­cal mani­ac, and since he has endowed his favoured crea­ture with a mind of it’s own, I’d say it is also fair to expect us to use it in our own ant-like way — and to use it on Him as well.
    Kneel, keep your head down and your mouth shut — what a nice Lord you have. Maybe you should keep HIS ego in check — which in turn will tone down yours as well.

  • Hanoch says:


    Where did I men­tion any­thing about the “need to explain”? The point — which you evi­dent­ly missed — was sim­ply that Mr. Fry, before hurl­ing his accu­sa­tions relat­ing to how the world should oper­ate, might want to pause and con­sid­er the lim­its of his intel­lect. That, it seems, would be the essence of humil­i­ty.

  • tern says:

    How dared Stephen Fry help to cre­ate the Black­ad­der 2 episode that blamed the vic­tim for the unde­served suf­fer­ing of school bul­ly­ing, by link­ing joke vil­lain­ous char­ac­ter to the receiv­ing, not the per­pe­trat­ing, of mis­ery in chil­dren? It’s not right. Why should I respect capri­cious mean-mind­ed stu­pid com­e­dy that tar­gets chil­dren for such injus­tice and pain for attrib­ut­es not their fault, in real schools after the episode’s every broad­cast? What’s that about? You could per­fect­ly eas­i­ly have cre­at­ed a world where that did not exist.

  • Cindy Cunil says:

    He is so wrong. It is because God loves us evil exists. How would we know what evil is if we did­n’t know what good is? How would we appre­ci­ate and know what light is if we did­n’t have dark­ness?!! The Bible is the Liv­ing Word of God. He gave us doc­trine on how to live this life. He gave us a choice a free will to choose to be good or bad.

  • Rainer says:

    Too much ambrosia, mate.

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