Russell Brand vs. Stephen Fry on the existence of God

March 11, 2015 • 2:20 pm

I don’t know much about Russell Brand save that he is a comedian, was married to Katy Perry, and has a reputation for both anti-capitalistic views and being fairly intellectual for a show business personality. But I don’t know how justified that reputation is. Judging by this YouTube video, in which Brand defends God against Stephen Fry’s recent attack on the Abrahamic God on Gay Byrne’s television show, Brand isn’t all that thoughtful.

Although he uses a lot of big words, Brand’s arguments for God’s existence are scattered and unconvincing. They include the ubiquitous “fine tuning” argument, the fact that science can’t answer “why questions” (so what?), that there must be a Big Consciousness behind all our little consciousnesses that unifies them, and that everything is connected.

In other words, Brand’s tirade in this video is a mixture of Deepak Chopra and John Haught. Oh, and there’s a little atheist-bashing at 9:20 when Brand implies that atheists would have a hard time justifying helping their fellow humans, and that we must have some spirituality to “save the planet.”

I don’t really want to dissect this 10-minute video further, as it’s just an incoherent rant, perhaps fueled by SUBSTANCES. But whatever nascent respect I had for the man melted away after I saw this:



99 thoughts on “Russell Brand vs. Stephen Fry on the existence of God

    1. Religion preys on the needy and on the weak of mind. A lot of members in the local pentacostal church have been depressed, alcoholics, druggies or a combination of that. An organisation that offers redemption and consolation is quite tempting. And I have seen that a lot of those people are happy and have friends again. Still, I think it’s false consolation and secular organisations like sports clubs or humanist organisations can also provide a social circle without the ‘woo’.

    2. I didn’t find God. Although I’m not yet fully ‘reformed’ either. I can’t see any way I could get past the total lack of evidence for a god(although I can definitely see the potential psychological benefits). I can’t even imagine what conversion would entail.

  1. I wouldn’t use the words “fairly intellectual” for Russell Brand . Maybe “barely intellectual”.

    1. Oh, I think he’s pretty smart, just poorly educated – so no intellectual discipline. He had a pretty shitty childhood, and left school early to study media arts and acting, but nothing “academic”.


  2. He wrote ‘My Booky Wook’. How on earth he got away with a reputation for intelligence after that puerile gambit, I’ll never know. x

  3. I made it to the three-minute mark. Considering at least two and an half of those minutes was Stephen Fry, that’s much less impressive than it might otherwise seem….


    1. Yes. I made it about there before certain Pavlovian key words and phrases, ‘human value systems’, ‘can it ever explain the why’, ‘flaws in received(?) physics’, ‘within the infinite’, ‘my consciousness emanates’, forced me to switch off before my brain melted.

      Certain people seem never to have read any counterarguments to their own position, perhaps in Brand’s case for psychological reasons. When he starts talking about ‘certain people need to believe…’ he unwittingly gives the game away.

      I don’t think he’s in the slightest bit interested in what’s true, not when it comes to the nature of reality. When it’s about judging whether the traffic light’s red or green he doesn’t throw his hands up and say ‘well, I defy the normative western, colonialist, materialistic paradigm that suggests my senses can be trusted – who’s to say that the light says red? In fact I’m going to walk into the road right now because I will not be bound by-‘(gets hit by truck).

      If people like Brand lived by their own professed beliefs they wouldn’t last 30 seconds outside their front door before falling down a manhole or walking into a canal. And cherry-quoting a load of disparate intellectuals(the majority of whom are themselves atheists) whilst he garbles empty sophistry in the manner of a sixth-form new-ager doesn’t lend much support to claims that he’s an intellectual comedian.

      I feel a bit more sympathy for Brand than some(a lot of people in the media write him off out of hand) – he’s not stupid, and his views on politics, whilst probably being misguided, are at least opening up a discussion, but his views on science and religion are just asinine. There are some genuinely intelligent British comics out there, but unfortunately for Brand they tend to be atheists like Fry. It’s a pretty atheistic artform.

      1. I agree, Russel is a bit irritating, bad informed on many subjects, not very critical of his own views. Maybe even a bit dishonest, but he isn’t stupid and I don’t find him that boring. After seeing this video I would have sworn he’s an atheist making fun of other atheists. But maybe he’s serious or it’s just for the money, who knows.

    1. I should have said Brand is an idiot who has swallowed a dictionary.

      And is not worth wasting time on.

  4. Russell Brand, even after being an English citizen, criticised Canadian Prime Minister.

    How much stupider can you get?

    1. I don’t want to defend this guy but I’m German and also critisise a lot of international leaders.

  5. Don’t you think the whole thing is just acting, mocking the great woo masters? Maybe not as funny as intended, but just sarcasm. Or I’m looking for the hidden meaning in vain.

    1. No attempt at mockery, I’m afraid. This is typical of the utter bollocks that Brand has been spouting for years. Most recently he’s been applying the same thought processes to UK politics. And people listen…….

  6. He is miss and hit, mostly miss. He got foxes number but in all fairness no where near as well as Jon Stewart. He has positioned himself as a man of the people…John Lyndon on Russel brand

    He also stuck his nose into Irish issues with similar nonsense. If we don’t pay Russel how do we reduce the faecal coliform counts in our rivers!

    1. Fox hate him, and continue to call him an atheist to increase the negative opinion of him in their audience. He used to be what they called a “rabid” atheist.

      I feel a bit sorry for him. He’s obviously extremely clever, but has never found the right way to focus his mind. He has all this stuff going on in his head, and he doesn’t know what to do with it. In the meantime, it’s a bit irritating for everyone else.

  7. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I didn’t know this guy was such an imbecile; I too thought he was an intelligent lefty. Oh well, another dipshit to avoid.

    1. Intellectual lefty sadly does not bring to my mind positive thoughts these days, though many of my heroes are intellectual lefties, the phrase conjures, more often than not, images of postmodernists, postmodernists being a title which does sort of fit Russell Brand.

  8. PCC! I just watched our beloved Philomena Cunk in a youtube piece entitled “Philomena Cunk End of 2014 Wrap Up which is, of course, HEELARIOUS, but she does a real send up of Russell Brand . . . well worth watching (as well as such gems as her comment on “12 Years a Slave,” in which she bemoans the fact that she’d not seen “1 Years a Slave” or “2 Years a Slave,” concluding that it was not necessary to make the movie because America is no longer racist: “if you’re black in America, you can be anything, so long as it’s President or shot.”

    1. His day job seems actually to be making ranty videos. Perhaps he should branch out into something lower-profile?

  9. I love me some stand-up comedy, have a particularly raucous (and sometimes vicious) sense of humour, and am particularly keen on much British comedy — especially the really abstract stuff. That being said, I’ve never understood Brand’s appeal. I find him boorish and stupid. As I get older though, I keep finding more and more comedy produced by the youth market to be pretty idiotic, and not in a good way. Just shallow and dull.

  10. Brand’s veins are coursing with The Fellowship, his white knuckle abstentionist ride. If he lets go of something godly he fears he may go off the rails. And it can’t just be true for him.

  11. I don’t like Brand in the slightest. This video of his is stupid, but his political stuff is downright dangerous.

    The problem is that he is half-right. He has hit the problem pretty much bang-on, but his solution (not voting) is moronic and absolutely counterproductive.

    I’ll admit that for 20 years I was that moron too, I did not vote as a matter of principle – no-one on the ballot represented ME. Contrary to what my friends – and mother – think I have grown up a bit over the past few years.

  12. I have little desire to find out more about Russell Brand, but I do definitely get a Deepak Chopra Wannabe-wibe from him.
    I got hooked on Charlie Brooker´s shows (Screenwipe, News Wipe & Weekly Wipe), mainly because of Jerry who posted about the lovely Philomena Cunk, and in those series I´ve seen, from time to time, references and jokes being made at Brand´s expense.
    Rather mild jokes, I think you could almost use a Deepak Chopra Random nonsense generator to encapsulate his brand of postmodern gibberish.

  13. Russell Brand may be wrong about religion but he’s not an idiot by a long shot. I don’t know why he has to be so disparaged.

    1. Agreed. I find him endearing and sincere. And he’s not on drugs! He’s been clean for over ten years (not that there may not be some after effects).

      I found one of his older “spiritual” discourses quite sweet, until he got into the goddy stuff. It’s the judgy, hateful ones I can’t stand.

      And he is misguided on the voting bit: 180° off the mark.

    2. Going against the grain here – he’s smart and funny. It doesn’t really bother me if he says daft things about deities and politics. Google “youtube brand clarkson”. He provides an excellent analysis of the latest Clarkson scandal.

  14. This is a joke, you get that right? Russell Brand is a well known atheist.. Thought it was rather clear that this was supposed to be satirical..

    1. Nope, I didn’t know that, and if it’s a joke, then a. everybody missed it and b. therefore it wasn’t enough of a joke to be obviously satirical. It’s effective only if you KNOW he’s an atheist!
      Well, as Emily Litella said. . . never mind!

      1. This, from wideepakia: “…during an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in October 2010, Brand talked about his love of Transcendental Meditation (TM). This love of TM was reaffirmed in a 2013 New Statesman editorial he wrote: “Through Transcendental Meditation, twice daily I feel the bliss of the divine….. I connect to a boundless consciousness that has no palpable relationship with my thoughts, fears or desires.”

        The only reason I summon up the effort to call out this illegal bowler is because, like other narcissists high on their own 2a receptors such as Sting and Bono, he constantly intrudes on our waking thoughts. x

        1. I have long thought that both Brand and Bono are more than merely narcissistic, they seem to have messiah complexes.

    2. Really?.. You must be joking. Lol.

          1. Oh. For. Fuck’s. Sake. I hadn’t heard that particular delightful titbit.

            Will the womenfolk of London never be safe?

      1. He’s also rather fond of Jesus.

        Basically he feeds at the finger-buffet of modern spirituality. A little from column a; a little from column b…

          1. As I’ve heard it, it’s not a stretch at all. Hinduism already has more gods than Siva has arms, so adding one more isn’t at all a problem. And that a god from another part of the globe should appear as something familiar to the people of that region…well, that fits right in with the pattern.


    3. Or, he´s a postmodernist, and therefore any meaningful line to draw between him being sincere and joking is a waste of time: Bottom line is, silly nonsense comes out from his mouth.

    4. Several hours later and Pat has provided absolutely no evidence for his claim that Brand is a “well known atheist”. Whereas a simple internet search will show that he has dabbled in Hare Krishna, Hinduism, Buddhism, and TM, and seems to be much taken with the supernatural. PCC owes Pat no apology.

      1. Yes – & to see what he thinks we go to his book Revolution…

        p.75 …the faith in God I now have…

        My love of God elevates this book beyond the dry and admirable establishment of collectivised communities.

        etc. etc…

    5. Russell Brand is *not* an atheist. At all.

      He’s a former drug addict who found Jesus during the 12-step program. He now proclaims that the 12-step rpogram is the cure for everything (including “- like – our multifactited addiction to the hegemony of the Capitalistic elite – yeah – my leige”).

      He’s an idiot.

    6. Unbelievable as it may seem , he actually means this stuff.
      Check out (if you can bear it) his article in the New Statesman : “Why Richard Dawkins is the Best Argument for the Existence of God”.
      He is just Chopra plus anti – capitalism plus a large personal fortune.

    7. I’d be astonished if this was a joke. This is normal discourse for Brand and there was a Dawkins interview on Brand’s radio show from years ago where he argued from essentially the same position. I’m pretty sure this is not a joke, as much as I wish it was. It’s just the argument of someone who’s not that bothered by what’s true.

  15. He likes to talk. Who knows what he really thinks. I do admire him for getting off heroin though. He doesn’t deserve all those insults.

  16. Brand, you melodramatic fool. You really should educate yourself before stepping onto your soapbox and making an ass of yourself. You blather on about previously debunked assertions as though you’ve come across something new. How sad for you.

  17. To paraphrase English comedian and recovering alcoholic Frank Skinner, you can give up the drugs but you’ll never replace them, or indeed stop trying to.

  18. Prof. Coyne, I believe the term you are looking for, that is, in order to fully describe the intelligent and esteemed Mr. Brand is, in what is commonly referred to as the Cockney Rhyming slang, a Berkshire Hunt, or a “Berk” when using the abbreviated colloquial expression.

        1. No, it’s rhymed with perk or lurk. It’s a lovely, mild, fruity insult, with hints of aniseed, much like the classic ‘pillock’ or ‘plonker’. Not to overstate it but there’s something a little affectionate about it too – you wouldn’t call Hitler a berk for example, or a plonker or a pillock. Or a plum. That’s another one. Lots of words with a p and an l in for some reason.

  19. Brand is fluent as I would expect from a comedian who has to stand in front of a crowd, but an idiot. His recent book was brilliantly reviewed by Nick Cohen –
    “Brand leaves you in little doubt that he is trying to escape the ennui that follows trying everything once except incest and folk dancing. “It’s only because I decimated my life by aggressively pursuing eating, wanking, drinking, consuming and getting famous that I was forced to look at spiritual alternatives.””

  20. The one good thing you can say about Brand is that he recently called Nigel Farage “A pound-shop Enoch Powell”.

  21. Stephen fry was asked what he would say to god if he met him literally (after death I suppose). Russel than starts by saying that he thinks that that is “literalism”.

    1. Also, the “problem of evil”, which was Fry’s main thrust, has nothing to do with literal Biblicalism. It is a counter-argument to the omni-God of the philosophers (omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent)

  22. He mentions the story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery (John 8:1-11)


    1) He misidentifies the adulterous woman as Mary Magdalene. In the actual Gospel of John, the woman is unnamed.

    2) That story was added to Teh Bible literally centuries after the alleged time of Jesus.

  23. Katy Perry is a pentecostalist who believes God gave her her large breasts after she prayed for them. So I can see why they got along.

    I’d probably convert to marry her too.

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