If you’re been an atheist for any length of time, you’ve no doubt had someone tell you it’s just a phase. You’re probably “angry at God,” or mad at the world, or just looking to be different, and you’ll eventually come around back to God like the prodigal son you are.
It’s such an insult to those who stopped believing in God because they studied the topic, asked critical questions, and came to the conclusion on their own.
Yet the whole “I was going through a phase” stereotype is basically what actor Brad Pitt says in a new interview with GQ.
The actor has long been open about being non-religious for the better part of the best decade. In a 2009 interview with the German tabloid Bild, he was fairly blunt about being somewhere between atheist and agnostic:
BILD: Do you believe in God?
BRAD PITT (smiling): “No, no, no!”
BILD: Is your soul spiritual?
BRAD PITT: “No, no, no! I’m probably 20 per cent atheist and 80 per cent agnostic. I don’t think anyone really knows. You’ll either find out or not when you get there, until then there’s no point thinking about it.
Seems straightforward. Kind of a political answer, really. It’s a way to sound smart without taking an actual stance on the matter, but at least he laughed off the idea that he believed in God.
He was even more open in a 2017 GQ interview in which he mocked the sort of Christianity he grew up with:
… we grew up First Baptist, which is the cleaner, stricter, by-the-book Christianity. Then, when I was in high school, my folks jumped to a more charismatic movement, which got into speaking in tongues and raising your hands and some goofy-ass shit.
I remember going to a few concerts, even though we were told rock shows are the Devil, basically. Our parents let us go, they weren’t neo about it. But I realized that the reverie and the joy and exuberance, even the aggression, I was feeling at the rock show was the same thing at the revival. One is Jimmy Swaggart and one is Jerry Lee Lewis, you know? One’s God and one’s Devil. But it’s the same thing. It felt like we were being manipulated. What was clear to me was “You don’t know what you’re talking about–”
[And it didn’t fuck you up?]
No, it didn’t fuck me up — it just led to some eating questions at a young age.
“Goofy-ass shit.” The feeling of being manipulated. Recognizing the similarities between the highs you get in church and at rock concerts. All are typical things an atheist might say.
Yet Pitt, who’s promoting his new movie Ad Astra, has taken a different approach to religion in the new GQ interview, out today. The 55-year-old actor now says he’s over that whole atheism thing.
It came up while he and reporter Zach Baron were talking about optimism and whether Pitt was always a glass half full sort of guy:
“Oh, man, I’ve gone through everything. Like, I cling to religion. I grew up with Christianity. Always questioned it, but it worked at times. And then when I got on my own, I completely left it and I called myself agnostic. Tried a few spiritual things but didn’t feel right. Then I called myself an atheist for a while, just kind of being rebellious. I wasn’t really. But I kinda labeled myself that for a while. It felt punk rock enough. And then I found myself coming back around to just belief in — I hate to use the word spirituality, but just a belief in that we’re all connected.”
So he’s gone from a Christian on the fringe, to atheist, to whatever the hell Marianne Williamson is. That’s not a spiritual journey. That’s just a boomerang thrown without any aim.
He’s saying something that feels right for the moment and might make him look thoughtful to the sort of people drawn to celebrity interviews — which I suppose is precisely what we should expect — but it doesn’t say much at all. I would love to know how he went from accepting the lack of supernatural nonsense in our lives to believing magic is real. How exactly does he think we’re connected in a way that no longer makes him an atheist? (I mean, there’s an argument to be made that we’re all technically related, and that we’re all humans dealing with similar problems, but Pitt’s response suggests something beyond that.)
I have no idea what he “is” now. It doesn’t really matter, I guess, except that Pitt now believes it’s to his advantage to throw atheism under the bus, as if it was just part of an act from a decade ago.
(Image via Shutterstock)