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.