5 things to learn from Bear and Fry

5 things to learn from Bear and Fry

Just came across this lovely little conversation between Stephen Fry and Bear Grylls.  Its a nice little cameo of an atheist and a Christian conversation. Hats off to both of these men for conducting themselves so well.  I wish all Christian / Atheist Conversation could take place with this kind of spirit and tone.


5 Things you can learn from this exchange


1. Tone Matters

Very little constructive conversation ever takes place when we start off with aggression. These men obviously respect eachother and so are able to talk with calmness and respect which makes for a more interesting and productive conversation.

Stephen Fry says “I am ashamed of my fellow atheists who are mocking of people who have faith…” well said Mr Fry mockery is not a helpful place to begin a conversation for Christians or for Atheists.

2. Shoulder to Shoulder

I think a lot of dialogue goes better when we can talk shoulder to shoulder rather than face to face. In this clip both men are looking at nature and trying to explain their reaction to it rather than simply confronting each others beliefs. I have found working with atheists (and people of other faiths) to try and solve problems like poverty and injustice can be a great place for a meaningful conversation. Working shoulder to shoulder is a great posture for an adult conversation.

3. Nature is a great apologetic

As Stephen Fry says when confronted by the beauty of the panoramic view in  front of him “a vast landscape like this does make you think all the imponderable questions come tumbling into your mind.” Perhaps if we spent more time in nature with our atheist friends there’s more chance of these transcendent experiences prompting deeper conversation.

4. Honesty

Stephen Fry is a very bright man and Bear Grylls is a really tough guy. Bear doesn’t try and use some academic sounding argument to show the flaws of atheism and Fry doesn’t belittle Grylls faith. A man of letters and a man of the wilds talk openly and unashamedly of their beliefs – that means there’s no reason why we can’t all do the same.

5. Listen 

To me it doesn’t feel that either person is trying to score points over the other. Its an honest exchange. Of course there are challenges to be made in both mens’ arguments but there’s an important time in any conversation where you express what you believe honestly and listen well to what the other person has to say. Too often Christians and Atheists try to out manoeuvre each other – to trap and trick each other in conversation rather than genuinely engage. Here’s a great conversation in action.

Love to hear your thoughts about how we can encourage a better kind of conversation between Christians and Atheists. Drop me a comment below.

Thanks for visiting the site.


PS Here are some books that I think attempt to do the conversation differently:

By an Atheist:
Reason, Faith and Revolution: reflections on the God Debate, Terry Eagleton.  

By a Christian:
The Reasons for God, Belief in an Age of Scepticism, Tim Keller





11 thoughts on “5 things to learn from Bear and Fry

  1. I love how real Bear is. and how what he says flows from his experience of the Lord. He’s really compelling without being apologeticsy. I hadn’t seen this before, thanks for sharing.

  2. Nick Heywood says:

    In other words?…. Be an adult! So refreshing!

  3. Gordon says:

    I’ve spent a bit of time with my non-Christian friends walking in nature recently, and the conversations have been great and respectful. Thanks fro sharing that

  4. simon cooper says:

    Love the swimming metaphor. ….I often find God speaking to me through those who believe different things from me, and I think it’s because He is just so much bigger than where my little mind and heart are at.
    There is a humility in their discourse which seems to come from within.

  5. Becky says:

    I wouldn’t say that Bear Grylis is rough, or less educated than Stephen Fry. But whenever I see him on TV, talking to people, I get a tremendous sense of the peace that God gives him. He doesn’t try to get intellectual about it, because he is speaking from the heart and does not need to justify his faith.

  6. Keith Morrison says:

    Don’t know if you realised when you posted this that it is scouting’s Founder’s Day, and Bear is the chief scout! However these are important lessons for any day.

  7. quaesitor says:

    thanks for this – some good thoughts
    small point though – is Terry Eagleton still an atheist – hasn’t he returned to his Catholicism?

  8. Tom Price says:

    Agree with everything, but I think this also has subversive aspects. Bear is reaching out, and I think Fry has placed his axe at the base of the tree. Note how Bear doesn’t critique Fry’s worldview, but Fry raises a philosophical challenge to Theism.

    I think this is also the unmasking of Fry’s grasp of philosophy, this is the kind of GCSE level stuff that affirms the prejudices but is woefully out of date.

  9. Joe Gallant says:

    Agree, but too often Fry is so dismissive of and insulting to Christianity, you don’t have to watch much QI before this comes across.

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