Russell and Fry

Russell, speaking to God, said: “You didn’t give us enough evidence.”


He was asked, why are you not a Christian? Russell: “Because I see no evidence for any of the Christian Dogmas. I’ve examined all the stock arguments for the existence of God and none of them seem to be logically valid. You can’t believe in anything that isn’t true, either something is true or it isn’t.”


Some people seem to believe a religious code helps them to live their lives with very strict rules, the rights and the wrongs. “Yes, but these rules generally are quite mistaken; I think many of them do more harm than good. They would probably be able to find a rational morality that they could live by if they dropped this irrational, traditional taboo morality that comes down from savage ages.” 


Are we, the ordinary person, probably not strong enough to find our own personal ethics and we have to have something imposed on us from outside? “Well, I don’t think that’s true, what is imposed on you from outside is of no value whatever.”


When did you decide not to be a Christian? “I never did, but between the ages of 15 and 18 I spent all my spare time thinking about the Christian dogmas and trying to find out if there were any reasons to believe them, and by the time I was 18 I discarded the last of them … I was just engaged in the pursuit of knowledge.”


How about the atheists and agnostics who are converted just before they die? “It doesn’t really happen as often as religious people think it does. Religious people, most of them, think it’s virtuous to tell lies about the deathbeds of agnostics.”

Stephen Fry on atheism and God. 

“Atheism has quite a bad press, I’d rather describe myself as ‘humanist’. I don’t believe in God, I could believe in ‘gods’; but monotheism is a really gastly thing. To say that there is one God? Who said that? What? Why? 


I love how when people watch the absolute, phenomenal, majesty and bewildering beauty of the planet - i.e. on Attenborough - and somebody next to you says, “and how can you say there’s no God, look at that!” And then five minutes later you’re looking at the cycle of a parasitic worm whose job it is to bury itself into the eyeball of a little lamb and eat the eyeball from the inside while the lamb dies in agony. 

Now, you can’t just say there is a God because the world is beautiful. You have to account for bone cancer in children. You have to account for the fact that almost all animals in the wild live under stress with not enough to eat and will die violent and bloody deaths. There is no way that you can just choose the nice bits as proof that there is a God and ignore the true factor of what nature is.”


“What mankind has done historically is to say, what I don’t understand in nature is God. God was absolutely everything a thousand or two thousand years ago, we understood nothing about the natural world, so it could all be God. And then as we understood more, God receded … so suddenly now He’s barely anywhere, he’s just in those things we don’t understand … it’s such an insult to humanity.”


“If there is a God He’s certainly capricious, and certainly not all-loving. The greatest insult to humanism is to insist that we need a God for a moral framework. The idea that we don’t know right from wrong but that we have to take it from words put down in a book two, three, four thousand years ago and dictated to pot-headed, neurotic desert tribes, is just insulting.” 


“If there were a God he would want us to be better spirited than to take his word for everything. If he gave us free will, would he really want us to say, ‘no I have to abide by everything that is written in this book. All the laws of circumcision, and of eating, and what to do with menstruating women, I’m going to obey what’s written down there, I won’t think for myself, because that’s not required of me. 

Oh, come on: That’s. Just. Not. Good enough.”


“I have no quarrel with individuals who are devout and who have faith; I don’t wanna mock them … but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna be told by them what to do with my body or damned if I’m gonna have the extraordinary battles won by the Enlightenment of four hundred years abnegated by a new Dark Ages.”

If there's a God ... he is intolerably cruel. A monster ... “Bone cancer in children?!? How dare you! How dare you create a world with so much misery that's not our fault. It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil; why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who created a world which is so full of injustice and pain.”