Giving Humanism a voice: An interview with Stephen Fry

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Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry. Photo courtesy Fry and British Humanist Association.

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Acclaimed actor, comedian, author, and activist Stephen Fry speaks with RNS about why he decided to narrate a new video series for the British Humanist Association and how Humanism informs his approach to life.

  • Frank

    Leading people astray at every turn.

  • steve

    Great article.

  • RogerC

    Leading people AWAY from blind faith is a very good thing – naturally, those who are mired in the vice of faith describe the direction as “astray”.

  • Frank

    Nothing blind about most peoples Christian faith.

  • Elisha

    I’m bothered by the use of the word, ‘humanism.’ It seems connected to the idea that “Man is the measure of all things.” Besides the sexist use of the word ‘man,’ the adage is the very definition of the word ‘anthropocentrism.’ We share this planet with a multitude of other beings, may of whom are being destroyed because we believe we are the measure of all things. If we continue to make a list and put ourselves at the top of it, we will ultimately, I fear, destroy not just those further down the list but ourselves as well.
    Not sure of what would be the best word, but ‘humanism’ sends the wrong message, in my opinion.
    I like your website. I check in here daily.

  • Larry

    Most people’s faith.

    But yours is both blind and mentally deficient. 🙂

  • Philip

    “And they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and they worshipped and served the creation rather than the Creator.” Romans 1:25.

  • Dave

    Rationalist. See:

  • Atheist Max

    ‘ATHEIST’ is a fine, honest and wonderful word. But it doesn’t describe activism as ‘HUMANIST’ does.

    But Stephen Fry is right that it sounds harsh particularly to those who give no thought to religion.

    God is not a real thing even religious people admit it. They say he is ‘beyond time and space’ which is a great way of saying God isn’t real. But we often must keep this to ourselves for the sake of humanity.

    When an old priest acquaintance of mine was dying in a hospital the only thing I could do to help ease his suffering was to join him in long prayers because that was his request. He did not know that I was an Atheist.

    I joined him in prayer because it was the HUMANE thing to do – not because I believed in the prayers.

    Being Humane is doing the right thing under the circumstances. Humanism has done more for people than any religion ever could. The Samaritan was a humanist – why ask for more?

  • Chris

    Well that’s me put in my place. Thank you for your independent and well-argued thoughts.

  • Samuel Tilling

    Basically broken down you’re talking about chaos theory!

  • Felicity

    The word Humanism comes from human and humanity!!!What should we call it
    “Personism” ???!!!This is political correctness gone mad!!!!! What matters is the ideals and principles of being Humanist,which I am very proud to say describes me.Peace and love to everyone ,whatever your belief.As long as you wish no one harm !!!!!!

  • Frank

    Poor Larry. Reduced to playground jibes. So sad.

  • Frank

    It’s not his fault you lack wisdom.

  • steve church

    Faith is, by definition, ‘blind’. part of its definition is that it’s belief without evidence. There’s a spectrum. At one end there’s (blind) Faith. Next to it sits Belief. Then comes Empirical Knowledge (i.e. knowledge based on evidence). Finally, there’s ‘Necessary Truth’ (e.g. ‘Either it’s raining or it isn’t.or ‘2+2=4’), in other words, truths which are logically self-evident and don’t require any evidence to be so.

  • Samuel Johnston

    “As long as you wish no one harm”.
    Wishing is not doing. Actions have consequences, regardless of intent. Therefore, the content of belief will matter if action is the likely result. “Do unto others”….. is not the same as “Do no harm”.

  • Jeremy Rodell

    It took me about 25 years to realise that “humanist” was the word to describe what I believed, and that there were plenty of other people – good, interesting and thoughtful people – who thought the same.

    These short videos are a wonderful way to help others in the same position.

  • Jeremy Rodell

    Humanism is simply a positive worldview based on our shared humanity. While most humanists are atheists, atheism alone is just a denial of what some others believe.
    It is only “sexist” to the same degree that the word “human” is sexist (or “woman”!).
    Nor is it “anthropocentric” when one of the defining features is emphasis on science and evidence to tell us about the universe. That means accepting we’re evolved animals on an insignificant planet in an insignificant part of one of billions of galaxies in a universe (which might turn out to be one of many).
    I’m happy to be called a humanist.

  • Epi
  • Kevin

    Calling it “trite” is a typical way religious folk run from the truth. The “ramblings” in the link are just that. Typical theo-babble. The fact that Faraday was a Christian does not detract in any way from the argument about the scientific method. Quite the opposite. He is famous for his contribution to human understanding in his scientific work, not in his religious ideas. (Now if he had discovered electromagnetic induction in the Bible, that would be different!) I hear this fallacy so often. I say: Brilliant video. Rather trite truth that fallacious obfuscation!

  • Kevin

    Typo. I meant to say: Rather trite truth than fallacious obfuscation!

  • charles

    Sounds like you have been reading Plato’s Republic.

  • charles

    The existence of a supreme being can neither proved nor disproved. The known universe functions and excludes any interference from outside. Saying that a supreme being exists beyond what is known is contradiction of terms.

  • James

    Ah. It is written..we MUST be wrong. Lol. Do you people EVER question anything? Or does the thought terrify you too much? You would rather forsake independent thinking in favour of the comfort of blind faith. The fact that the bible has a line ‘predicting’ the downright obvious and inevitable, means nothing. As an argument against Humanism (which exists as much as humans exist, whether we label it ‘Humanism’ or not) it has no weight. Humanism is a wonderful thing, and shares many values and principles inherent to any decent human being, religious or not. To criticise it too strongly would be to criticise your own humanity.

  • Simon

    Frank – you’ve got the first comment. This is your chance to persuade us of your views. Tell us why you believe what you believe!

  • Alan

    Religion is on it’s way out, mostly due to better education of the populous and our much improved ability to explain the World we live in (thank you scientific method!).

    It appears by some comments here that more effort is required to educate people and teach them to stop being so superstitious and adhering to mystic views.

    It’s time for the human race to stand on its own merits and stop laying this responsibly at the feet of your imagined god.

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