I am always interested in what others have to say about religion and belief, or the lack thereof. Some of the more interesting thoughts on this subject come from stand-up comedians such as Dylan Moran.
Dylan Moran is an Irish stand-up who is regarded as one of the best in his field and, in my opinion, he definitely is. His stand-up style is laid back, sharp satire, with sprinklings of surrealism.
In his stand-up shows he has spoken on occasions about the concept of belief in modern society: in his show Yeah, Yeah he talks about the decline of belief in relation to science, whilst in another show, What It Is, he talks about religion and politics. As always with Dylan Moran, he talks about these topics with intelligence and a slightly dark sense of humour. Both routines are transcribed below.
I particularly agree with the premise that “everything’s a camera nowadays”, something that I have blogged about previously.
[This particular routine starts at 44 minutes and 45 seconds]
What does anyone think or believe any more? Belief itself is treated with disgust. Belief is now regarded as a kind of fat marbling the brain. Who here believes in organised religion?
[MAN FROM AUDINECE SHOUTS “NO!” A FEW AUDIENCE MEMBERS CLAP]
[AUDIENCE CHEERS LOUDLY]
You see? People in the West don’t believe in anything! And we’re proud of it!
“What do you believe in?…NOTHING! NOTHING!…What did you have for lunch?…I don’t fucking believe you!”
We don’t believe in anything. We treat religion with contempt. Faith, all that rubbish! What are you, a child? Believing in this, you do good and then, you know, you die and then you get a biscuit?! What are you, a fucking idiot?…What’s wrong with you?
We don’t believe in anything, because we know about science! Believe in science! That’s the only thing we know about! The atoms and quarks and things. We don’t understand it! Any of it! But…But that’s the case. So, that’s totally different to having a faith, isn’t it?
You know, they’ve mapped out 5% of the universe? 5%! I mean, in any other job description that would be pretty poor, wouldn’t it?
“Have you built that wall in my garden?”
“Oh, I’ve done 5%.”
“You can fuck off!” [AUDIENCE LAUGHING]
…I don’t believe in God! Of course I don’t. Or religion. I go along with science like everybody else. But I don’t understand any of it. So I have to rely on television programmes to explain it to me. You know, things like Brian Cox, Dr Good-looking. A lot of women became very interested in the universe recently, I noticed. People will be talking and they’ll go, “Shut up! The Universe is on! Shut the fuck up! It’s the Universe! Very important. You need to know this stuff.” Because he would come on and go [MOCKING BRIAN COX IN FALSETTO]:
…He’s from one of those places…
“…Look! Look at the nebula! Look, isn’t it beautiful? It’s made up of millions and millions of years of things you don’t understand. The white light comes out of the dark matter and goes into the green lounge area. It’s beautiful!”
And all the women who are watching this are going “It is, yeah, it’s lovely! Walk around some more, pretty boy. Go on! Go back up the mountain. I like that bit. [WOMAN SPEAKING TO HER PARTNER] Why can’t you be back-lit like him?”
And he talks in metaphors, which is no use to you if you don’t understand the thing in the first place! [MOCKING BRIAN COX IN FLASETTO AGAIN]:
“Imagine your head is frozen sodium phapibibate. And your feet are planets. When you sit down, you are going to see a lot of moons in your armpits!”
What the fuck are you talking about now?! Anybody who has totally given up on the idea of God and the Devil has never been properly kissed or flown on Ryanair with a hangover. [AUDIENCE CHEERING] You can have God, but you’ve got to leave the Devil to explain a few things.
– Dylan Moran, from his stand-up show Yeah Yeah
It’s absolutely true about, you know, people needing to believe in things. And it’s a scary thing when you start to believe in politicians. You can’t trust them, you see, but we need to believe something, and you’re not allowed to believe in religion…Well, you can, but people will laugh at you and throw things.
Because it was just sort of decided in the 20th century that religion is basically a formalized panic about death. That’s all…I mean, look at the Catholic church, the campest organization on the planet with the purple robes, gold bits on the side, jewellery so big if they let it fall it would kill people…What else can it be, but this sort of ritual of panic about death?
“DEATH IS COMING! Quick, put on the gold hat!”
You see, people never really grow up. I don’t mind most religious people, I talk to them, you know. I listen to them, you know, banging on.
“I prayed very hard and then the fairy came.”
“Did he? Good. Have a biscuit.”
I only get annoyed when they try and make me see the fairy.
“You have to let the fairy into your heart.”
Look, I wouldn’t let him into my garden, okay? I’d shoot him on sight, if he existed, which he doesn’t. Now have another biccie and be quiet, will you please?
But you can absolutely understand the desire to believe in something, to support you, you know. I mean, children like to be supervised by adults, you know. That’s why children go “Look, no hands” or “Look, I can do this” or “Look, I’m really good at this…”, whatever it is. Because it validates them, it shows them that they are there, that somebody else is watching over them. Grown-ups are the same, not that there is any such thing as a grown-up, really. They liked to be watched by something. You know…Because the planet’s not going to miss us, when we’ve finished fucking it up and killing each other. So we needed the idea of God to have somebody to miss us, or at least notice that we weren’t there anymore, because we’ve all died out because we’ve fucked it up. And God will go “Look, they’re not there. The lizards are doing quite well though, good on them.”
But we’re sort of gradually growing out of that now, you know. I passed a church a couple of days ago and I saw one of those signs you see outside of churches and it said “Jesus said: I am the light of the world”. Which is a very male view, you know, if Jesus had been Jesusina it would’ve been more modest. You know because it’s a women, traditionally she would’ve have to be more modest. Jesusina would’ve gone: “Well I’m quite bright”.
And because, you know, you have dreams, and they need to go somewhere, so they go into belief. And thus we get very extreme people, obviously, in any religion. But with suicide bombers, one of the things I don’t understand is what’s in it for the women suicide bombers? With the men, you know, there is a very male kind of promise at the end of it, there’s 72 virgins. A man I think thought of that. But I bet you what the women are offered is much more modest, probably you know, flexible working hours and decent child care at the end, or something like that.
But, anyway, look, so people don’t believe in religion anymore. What do they believe in? You can’t go into politics, you can’t…look at them…look at Vladimir Putin, he cultivates the idea of being a gangster, he just loves it. How can you trust anybody who looks like they’ve been cloned from a dead shark?
Or Berlusconi, in Italy, right; the envy of the world, Italy, in terms of history, art and culture, 98 different political parties, and they still managed to elect him! He’s so fucking crooked he sleeps on a spiral staircase! So thoroughly corrupt, every time he smiles an angel gets gonorrhoea! He’s had so many face-lifts, his face has moved to the top of his head, you have to get on a step-ladder to watch him lie! You can’t trust any of them.
And we all think that we’re very rational and very secular, but we make gods all the time. Everybody went ape shit when Barack Obama got elected. I was delighted. Everybody was thrilled: a sane, rational, intelligent human being in an important office. Great! But his biggest problem is everybody else! Is us! Because everybody’s in love with him! He stands up there, he’s very convincing and commanding and makes sense, he says: “It’s a difficult time, everyone needs to work together and be realistic about what we need to do…”, and all that stuff, and everybody’s looking at him going: “NO! You do it! You are SUPER JESUS. You’re so handsome when you’re serious. Do you work out?”
And, er…where else can you go? I mean, you know, people talk about technology and science all the time, but that’s bollocks. You know, people come in here with their fucking camera phones, everything’s a camera nowadays; you pick up a piece of fruit it takes a picture of you. Or the computers, which are everywhere, which is proof that we like to be watched. That’s what we’ve replaced God with, technology! We’re fucking afraid to be alone, in a lift, in a taxi cab, we need cameras everywhere recording us unless we realise we’re alone, we might do something scary…like whimper. I don’t know!
The laptop I have, all it does is tell me to fuck off in 400 different ways. I don’t understand it. You open it up and it goes “Bazing! What’s the magic word?” I don’t know, that’s why I got you, I have no memory. Don’t go fucking “Bazing!” anyway, why can’t you be more like me when I open you up, you should go “Bleurgh! What?!”
And science…is a joke. Look at the scientific explanation for the origin of life as we know it. There is a major flaw, I mean there’s no wonder we have creationists, you know, those people, God love them, who tell their children that, you know, originally we all went to school with dinosaurs, or whatever it is that they tell them. But no wonder they exist, because listen to the explanation for the origin of life itself, it doesn’t sound very scientific:
“There was a big BANG! And then we all came from monkeys.”
“What? That’s it?”
“Yeah, shop’s closed, fuck off!”
I need more than that! There must be more than:
[MAKES MONEKY SOUNDS] “Ah-hah-ha”
“Honey, I’m home!”
Come on! It’s such a boring theory, anyway! It’s much more interesting if you reverse the order.
– Dylan Moran, from his stand-up show What It Is