PIERS HANDLING: Where do you think your atheism is rooted then? Was it just your upbringing, or do you think it was also your love of Science as a child?
DAVID CRONENBERG: …Yeah, the two didn’t really necessarily exclude each other. I think there are some very brilliant scientists who are quite religious. Even famous literary people like Samuel Johnson were actually very religious, I read to my dismay and shock (chuckles). I say well – can’t really relate to this guy as much as I thought I would when I read Oswald’s Life of Johnson. Darwin. It’s still a question people are saying: “well Darwin…how about Newton?” Sometimes as a scientist you had to be religious, atheism was not an option in certain historical eras.
NOAH COWAN: They are somewhat appalled by the consequences of their thoughts. They don’t quite ever square that away somehow, especially Darwin.
DAVID CRONENBERG: And then a lot of time is spent squaring what you come up with. From Galileo to Copernicus, whatever it is, with the prevailing religious view. In my case, I wasn’t brought up to be an atheist, my parents weren’t religious, but they didn’t proselytize. I distinctly remember my mother saying very clearly “some people believe in God, some people don’t.” She didn’t even say “I don’t”, but it was obvious that she and my father didn’t. But if I had wanted – it was like, “Do you want a Bar Mitzvah?” This is a coming of age thing, but it’s also a religious thing. And I said “no.” I figured it out. You’d have to go to what we call Jewish School which means have to go learn Hebrew – not that learning Hebrew would be bad – and I said is that kind of like going to school after regular school? And my mother said “yeah.” So I said “no, I don’t want to do that.” So I didn’t have a Bar Mitzvah. SO I’ve not been Bar Mitzvah-ed. And I have no desire to be. You do see 60 and 70 year old men decided that they should really have a Bar Mitzvah after the fact. It means nothing to me, honestly. I understand its historical significance and so on, but for me personally it has no emotional, intellectual value whatsoever. So I almost feel as if I was metabolically not fit for religion.