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Monday, 13 October 2008

Freedom Fry

Yesterday evening (on BBC1 in the UK) saw the start of a six-part documentary series, Stephen Fry in America, in which Fry tours all 50 states (plus Washington, DC) of the land of the free in a London black cab!

Fry’s love of America (and – according to an interview he’s given to the Radio Times – shame at the “exultant and ignorant arrogance [too often believed by the British] that Americans are ignorant, irony-free and vulgar”) is nevertheless tempered by his dismay on the growing “insistence [there] on equal validity between ‘revealed’ truth and evidence-based truth”:

[This] has meant that evolution is now pitted against so-called “intelligent design”, a barbarously irrational mixture of pseudo-science and fallacious argument that poses itself “innocently” as a credible alternative.

Philosophy and empiricism got America where it is today – it’s incredible to me that there are those who would turn their backs on the spiritual beauties, wonders and truths of the world and face instead the false promises of a preposterous text and even more preposterous commands. Jefferson,
Washington, Franklin, Madison, Adams and Lincoln would all be turning in their graves.

In this blog entry on Fry’s own website, he talks in some detail about his exploits, including an interesting encounter with semi-naked young men from the Church of Latter Day Saints.

I do not find [the Mormon] faith particularly absurd, in the way many mainstream Christians do [. . .] because I find all pretend invisible friends, Special Books and their rules equally ridiculous. Mormon ideas about realms of crystal rebirthing and special underpants are no weirder than the enforcing of wigs and woollen tights on orthodox Jewish women or laws and dogmas about burkhas and Virgin Births. The religion of the Latter Day Saints is not deserving of especial contempt simply because it is newer. It is as barmy as the rest and I cheerfully treat it as such. It has the same impertinent views concerning women and gays, of course, but [nineteen-year-old Mormon] Cody is clearly embarrassed about this and says with a touch of defensiveness, “We aren’t as bigoted as some fundamental Christians.”

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