Ironically, hearing Stephen Fry publicly articulate my very thoughts in his response to Irish TV presenter Gay Byrne’s question: “What would you say if you came face-to-face with God?” on Byrne’s show THE MEANING OF LIFE, gave me immense hope for the future. It’s
folks like Rev Ian McNie who accused Fry of “spiritual blindness” that persuade me to feel any sense of pessimism about the future of mankind.
Why some people who believe in god think that atheism equals “no hope” is beyond me. I once had a friend ask me how I could go on living in a world without god. I told her I had no problem with it at all. I’m just thrilled to be a conscious part of the universe. I don’t need a mythical figure to give my existence meaning or to free me from the “terrors” of existential thought. I welcome the discussion, the imagination, the not-having-the-answers. It inspires me to ask questions, to seek, to look within. NOT believing in god and allowing myself to be open to all the other possibilities out there isn’t hopeless, it’s endlessly hopeful. And exciting!
My friend’s response was that she’d rather believe in something that turned out not to be true because, true or not, it comforted her. That’s fine. But I don’t personally find that at all comforting. Mankind’s ability to live in denial and act horrendously in the name of that belief is pretty much one of the more frightening and disquieting aspects of human existence, for me. I’m with Fry on this one. The universe is a far most incredible place to me without the biblical story of god, which seems pretty clearly to have grown out of a combination of fear and control. Not that it doesn’t also serve good purposes, but it does so through simplifying to an almost childish extent that which is, to me, far more thrilling in its actual complexity. NOT having the answers to the universe, to existence –where the fuck are we? What’s going on out there?— stirs me to the core of my being. I wouldn’t trade it in for any puerile explanation bound by the limitations of the human brain to decipher and fathom.
“The moment you banish him [God], life becomes simpler, purer, cleaner, more worth living in my opinion.” -Stephen Fry
You can watch THE MEANING OF LIFE interview with Stephen Fry here:
And if you never heard Stephen Fry’s epic speech at the Intelligence Squared Debate, you may want to watch it now. It’s one of my favorite things ever.