Daniel Radcliffe, who identifies as an agnostic-leaning atheist and is best known for playing Harry Potter, says he would be “pleasantly surprised” if God were real.
At least, he would be pleasantly surprised if all the good things people attributed to God turned out to be true. He’s not wrong about that. It would be incredible if there were a heaven in which we’d be reunited with our loved ones, or a God who answered our prayers, or a benevolent spirit looking out who really had our best interests at heart.
That’s not the universe we happen to live in.
Radcliffe was talking about religion because of his role in the new show “Miracle Workers,” in which he plays a low-level angel to a vengeful God (played by Steve Buscemi).
“I personally am agnostic leaning toward atheism,” Radcliffe tells The Post. “I don’t expect there to be a God and an afterlife — I would be pleasantly surprised if there was.”
“There was a time when I was in my teens when I was kind of irritatingly belligerent about atheism,” says Radcliffe, 29. “And I’m just not anymore. I’ve had too many friends for whom their faith has really helped them at hard times in their life.
“I’m fully aware that religion is a huge part of a lot of people’s lives,” he says. “Everyone can believe whatever they want, as long as it’s not hurting anyone and as long as you don’t think that gives you the right to tell someone else how they can live their life.”
Obviously, faith helping people get through rough times has nothing to do with whether that faith is true, but that’s besides the point here. Radcliffe is toeing the line between being a public atheist and the stereotype associated with it. Unlike other atheists with a platform who routinely trash religion (for good reason), he’s taking a different route by sympathizing with believers he doesn’t agree with. There’s value in that, even if he might come off as soft to a lot of atheists.
Viewed another way, it’s almost subtle shade to say he doesn’t believe in God, because there’s no reason to, while acknowledging it would be nice if all of this was for a purpose. It’s like patting religious people on the head and telling them they’re adorable.
Still, that’s cynical. I think Radcliffe’s approach is reasonable and evenly measured. He comes off as a likable atheist, which we don’t often see in Hollywood. Award 10 points to team Radcliffe.
(Image via Shutterstock)