Former Atheist Alister McGrath Shares Gospel With Comedian Russell Brand

Jul 31, 2017 10:47 AM EDT

Oxford University professor and former atheist Alister McGrath recently shared the Gospel with controversial comedian Russell Brand, who met with leading theologian to ask him if there is "any point" in God.

In the latest episode of the Under The Skin podcast, McGrath and Brand discuss the "rationality of religious belief, the war between science and religion, and whether faith is still destined to play a central role in the 21st century."

First, Brand asks McGrath why, after being a "grounded, rational" Atheist, he converted to Christianity.

The theologian explained: "Christianity has this idea that God enters into history, enters into our world, and if that's right (of course we have to discuss that), it's a game-changer because it means God came into this world and that actually makes him accessible".

Brand also asked about the seeming divide between science and religion, to which McGrath replied: "For me, science is great but it doesn't help us find that extra dimension - there's something special about human beings, we don't want to just know how things work but what they mean".

The comedian, who, despite associating himself with mysticism has expressed a desire to "learn more" about Christianity, then asked: "Aren't there too many examples of Christian theology becoming tyrannical, abusive and bigoted or would you say those things are a result of other human impulses and not Christian?".

"The Dawkins Delusion" author replied: "Christianity, like every human institution, has messed up, but sometimes it does good stuff. But the truth is deeper than this...there's something about us, everything we touch as humans has the capacity to go very, very badly wrong and that's the real concern - if we are so great, why is the world such a mess?"

Brand is best known for the raunchy comedic films "Get Him to the Greek," "Arthur," and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall". However, in recent years, he's focused his attention on serious subjects, ranging from politics to social issues to religion.

In a 2014 Vanity Fair interview, he said:  "In a way, redemption is a great part of my narrative. I'm talking about disavowing previous lives, previous beliefs, previous behaviors."

In a 2015 video for Fight The New Drug, a campaign "dedicated to educating and raising awareness on the harmful effects of pornography using only science, facts, and personal accounts," Brand warned that "our attitudes toward sex have become warped and perverted and has deviated from its true function as an expression of love and a means for procreation."

"... Soft cultural smog like 'Fifty Shades of Grey' is making it impossible for us to relate to our own sexuality, our own psychology and our own spirituality, because this powerful primal resource, whenever it's plugged in, it's jarring and distracting," he said.

"I think what it is, the circuit in the mind that is connected to sexuality move very quickly. The circuit in the mind that is connected to love and compassion is a little bit slower. So if you're constantly bombarded with great waves of filth. It's really difficult to remain connected to truth," Brand noted.