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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