Staunch atheist Stephen Fry left a television host stunned when he explained what he would say if he was “confronted by God”.
The actor and author, who recently married his partner Elliot Spencer, made a series impassioned comments during an interview with Gay Byrne for RTÉ One’s The Meaning of Life.
The weekly show features discussions about the purpose of life, religion, and what happens after death. A clip released ahead of Sunday's screening saw Fry discussing his views on God from his perspective as an atheist.
“Suppose it’s all true, and you walk up to the pearly gates, and are confronted by God,” asked Bryne. “What will Stephen Fry say to him, her, or it?”
The 57-year-old replied: “I’d say, bone cancer in children? What’s that about?
“How dare you? How dare you create a world to which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right, it’s utterly, utterly evil.
“Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain. That’s what I would say. ”
Byrne’s second question, “And you think you are going to get in, like that?” only served to fuel his fervour.
"But I wouldn't want to," Fry insisted. “I wouldn't want to get in on his terms. They are wrong.
Stephen Fry's Finest Quotes
Stephen Fry's Finest Quotes
1/19 On Being Bipolar
"There’s a moment in the film where I recognised that this was the last moment we filmed before this wave of depression came over me, and I was idiotic or victim enough, or whatever one wants to call it, of this mad compulsion."
2/19 On Taking Cocaine At Buckingham Palace
"I take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly, to the owners, managers or representatives of the noble and ignoble premises and to the hundreds of private homes, offices, car dashboards, tables, mantelpieces and available polished surfaces that could so easily have been added to this list of shame."
3/19 On His Age
"I don't need you to remind me of my age. I have a bladder to do that for me."
4/19 On Swearing
"It would be impossible to imagine going through life without swearing and without enjoying swearing."
5/19 On TV
"I don't watch television. It destroys the art of talking about oneself."
6/19 On Happiness
"Having a great intellect is no path to being happy."
7/19 On Technology
"One technology doesn't replace another, it complements. Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators."
8/19 On Being On Stage
"You are who you are when nobody's watching."
9/19 On Education
"Education is the sum of what students teach each other between lectures and seminars."
10/19 On Creativity
"An original idea. That can't be too hard. The library must be full of them."
11/19 On Journalism
"Many people would no more think of entering journalism than the sewage business - which at least does us all some good."
12/19 On Love
"Love in all eight tones and all five semitones of the word's full octave."
13/19 On The English Accent
"A cut glass English accent can fool unsuspecting Americans into detecting a brilliance that isn't there."
14/19 On Being An Author
"I get an urge, like a pregnant elephant, to go away and give birth to a book."
15/19 On Homosexuality
"I’ve never wanted one extra gay person in the world, there are plenty of us around."
Susannah Ireland / The Independent
16/19 On Christmas
"Christmas to a child is the first terrible proof that to travel hopefully is better to arrive."
17/19 On Clichés
"It is a cliché that most clichés are true, but then like most clichés, that cliché is untrue. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will always hurt me."
18/19 On Smoking
"I think I have always linked smoking and sex. Maybe this is where I have been going wrong all my life."
19/19 On Homophobia
"Homosexuals are not interested in making other people homosexuals. Homophobes are interested in making other people homophobic."
"Now, if I died and it was Pluto, Hades, and if it was the 12 Greek gods then I would have more truck with it, because the Greeks didn’t pretend to not be human in their appetites, in their capriciousness, and in their unreasonableness… they didn’t present themselves as being all-seeing, all-wise, all-kind, all-beneficent, because the god that created this universe, if it was created by god, is quite clearly a maniac… utter maniac, totally selfish.
“We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him? What kind of god would do that?
"So, atheism isn’t not just about not believing there’s a God, but on the assumption there is one, what kind of God is he?”
Visibly staggered by Fry’s answer, Byrne said: “That sure is the longest answer to that question I ever got in this entire series.”