The Meaning of Life är ett program i den irländska tv-kanalen RTÉ. Programledaren Gay Byrne är ett av landets mest kända ansikten i rutan. Han träffar diverse kändisar, de flesta från Irland, och diskuterar djupa frågor. Många av gästerna är goda katoliker, andra är det inte. Bland de senare hittar man såväl new age-tokarna Deepak Chopra och Eckhart Tolle som ateisterna Bob Geldof, Maeve Binchy, Richard Branson och Richard Dawkins.
Den sistnämnde är ju (mest) känd för sin vassa tunga och skoningslösa argument mot vidskepelser. Men inte ens hans program har fått i närheten lika stor uppmärksamhet som det som sändes den 1 februari 2015.
Byrne avslutade samtalet med samma fråga som han ställer till alla gäster (och som de därmed kan förbereda sig inför): Antag att du dör och, i det aktuella fallet mot förmodan, finner dig stå inför Pärleporten och självaste Gud. Vad skulle Stephen Fry säga till honom, henne, den eller det?
I will basically, it's known as theodicy I think, 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.Den sista meningen finns inte med i det spridda klippet.
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'd say.
GB (påtagligt tagen): And you think you'd get in?
No, but I wouldn't want to. I wouldn't want to get in on his terms. They're wrong.
Now, if I died and it was Pluto, Hades and if it were the twelve Greek gods, then I'd have more truck with it because the Greeks were ... They didn't pretend not to be human in their appetites, and in their capriciousness and their unreasonableness. They didn't present themselves as being all-seeing, all-wise, all-kind, all-munificent; because the god who 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?
Yes, the world is very splendid, but it also has in it insects whose whole life cycle is to burrow into the eyes of children and make them blind. They eat outwards from the eyes. Why? Why did you do that to us? You could easily have made a creation where that didn't exist. It is simply not acceptable.
So, you know, atheism is not just about not believing there's a god, but, on the assumption there is one, what kind of god is it? It's perfectly apparent that he is monstrous, utterly monstrous, and deserves no respect whatsoever. The moment you banish him your life becomes simpler, purer, cleaner – more worth living in my opinion.
GB: That sure is the longest answer to that question I've ever had in this entire series. Thank you so much Stephen.
Well, there wasn't a thunderbolt was there.
Det kan tilläggas att Byrne inte vill diskutera sin egen religiositet just på grund av programmet:
If they knew where I'm coming from they might be tempted to edit or censor their own answers before they give me an answer. They might say, 'I know where Gay is coming from, I better not offend or insult his beliefs.' On that basis I don't let on what my thoughts are.- Gay Byrnes reaction [...], Independent 2 februari 2015