What Stephen Fry would say if he faced god

This video of Stephen Fry has been making the rounds. He was being interviewed by Gay Byrne as part of an ongoing series for an Irish TV program called The Meaning of Life, with this episode to be aired on Sunday 1st February at 10.30 pm. Fry is asked that old chestnut about what he would say to god if, upon his death, he discovered that god existed and he was in his presence.

Believers seem to delight in envisioning this scenario, that we atheists will be mortified and regret our past casual dismissals of god’s existence and be fearful of being sent to hell for our insolence and that it will serve us right.

Fry was having none of it and it is fun to see Byrne’s facial reaction to what he says.


  1. Rob Grigjanis says

    I think people are reading far too much into Byrne’s ‘reaction’. He’s heard stuff just as supposedly shocking from Bob Geldof. “Fuck off Lord” gets a smile.

    I think this may be an example of the Kuleshov Effect in action.

  2. moarscienceplz says

    It is amazing how everyone assumes there can be only 2 scenarios in Pascal’s wager -- either there is no god or else there is MY god. I remember studying Greek and Norse mythology in school, and the way we all were so sure the stories of Greek gods and of Norse gods were works of fiction written by ordinary men, but the stories in the Bible had to be true, was quite interesting to me.

  3. grumpyoldfart says

    Hi Rob @ #1
    I think he could smile at “Fuck off Lord” because it was just a pop singer saying something rude, but Stephen Fry was making points for which Byrne had no answers. Byrne realised that he had no answers and that’s why he reacted the way he did.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    grumpyoldfart @3: Ah well, maybe you’re better at mind-reading than I am. Not sure what the fine distinction between ‘just a pop singer’ and Stephen Fry is. Geldof was making some pretty good anti-theist points as well. And Byrne is not some stereotypical old Irish Catholic bloke who gets stunned by blasphemy. Earlier in the same interview with Geldof;

    When it comes to the religion which they taught you – we were all brainwashed, let’s face it – did you chuck that on the moment, or was it a slowly dawning realization that you had been sold a pup?

  5. Rob Grigjanis says

    My point is that I hate lazy assumptions. Read about the Kuleshov Effect, and ask yourself what assumptions you might be bringing to the interpretation of a fleeting facial expression. What I’ve seen and read about Byrne runs totally against the idea that he was somehow shocked by Fry’s comments.

  6. John Morales says

    Rob Grigjanis, well, any speculation as to the cause of the reaction shots is predicated upon the editing.

    (This, after all, is an interview, not a story set to video)

  7. dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!" says

    Um, my previous post seems to have disappeared. Was it deleted? Is it not allowed to criticize St. Fry? I certainly hope not, as that’s not at all the atmosphere I’ve come to expect from this blog.

  8. Mano Singham says


    I have no idea what happened. I have looked in the trash and spam folder but there is nothing there from you.

  9. dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!" says

    OK, that’s a relief. It was short enough that I can recompose it, but I didn’t want to do so if the comment was unwelcome for whatever reason.

  10. dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!" says

    Mainly I just wanted to point out that in addition to being generally charming and well spoken on most issues, Fry has espoused a number of very unfortunate opinions (which pain me as a fan). To wit: his ridiculously ignorant and misogynistic comments on female sexuality, the casual transphobia displayed on QI, and most recently (and most shockingly to me at least,) his utterly revolting stance against Operation Yewtree.

  11. dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!" says

    Of course I’m a hypocrite because I’ll still watch QI when it comes back on.

  12. dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!" says

    Also, Mano, I apologize for even suspecting that you would have deleted my post. It doesn’t seem at all like the sort of thing you would do, which is why I why confused.

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