At the end of each podcast, Babylon Bee executives ask guests the same 10 questions, including this riddle: “Calvinist or Arminian? »
This took Elon Musk by surprise, and he needed clarification on the difference between Armenian believers and people from Armenia. After some background on Protestant history, he said, “My mind would say ‘determinism’ and my heart says ‘free will’.”
Why was the mastermind behind Tesla and SpaceX – a man worth $278 billion at the end of 2021 – talking to a Christian satirical website? The answer: Musk has 69.7 million Twitter followers, and he responds to them frequently, even if it’s a US senator questioning his taxes.
“You know, he interacts with our content from time to time,” Bee CEO Seth Dillon told Fox News. After email exchanges about a meeting, Musk said, “Come to me and we’ll do it.”
The result was over 100 minutes of conversation in Austin, Texas, ranging from satire to science and politics to pop culture. Topics included sustainable energy, superheroes (Musk would choose to be “Irony Man”), why entrepreneurs are fleeing California, the physics of reusable rockets, cyborgs, how the “awakening” threatens humor, CNN’s morality and the future of a planet close to an expanding sun.
Musk reflected on his journey from South Africa to America, including his days as a manual laborer while struggling to pay student loans. Then he immersed himself in computer coding and online trading, earning millions of dollars that led to Tesla. The rest is history.
On celebrity websites, Musk is often described as an atheist or agnostic. When asked if he prayed, Musk once replied, “I didn’t even pray when I almost died of malaria.” But after the success of the Falcon rocket’s first manned mission, Musk said in his public remarks, “You know, I’m not very religious, but I prayed for this one.”
In Bee’s interview, Musk opened up about his complex religious background, which included going to “Anglican Sunday School, Church of England, basically. But I was also sent to school native Hebrew, although I’m not a Jew. … I was singing ‘Hava Nagila’ one day and ‘Jesus Our Lord’ the next.” He later had an “existential crisis”, read the Bible and other religious classics and concluded, “There’s a whole lot of stuff in there that they didn’t teach you in school. of Sunday”.
There was humor in those exchanges, as well as serious questions, Bee editor Kyle Mann said by email. After all, these podcasts have featured atheists, agnostics, “Christians of all persuasions” and “everyone in between.”
This chance to “pluck Elon Musk’s brain and get his thoughts on God, faith, religion and the gospel was incredibly humbling,” Mann said. “You could definitely feel him searching and working on the eternal questions that everyone has to face at some point: Does God exist and what about Jesus Christ?” Mann said the dialogue continued after the recording stopped.
In the podcast, creative director Ethan Nicolle asked, “To do this ‘church,’ we’re wondering if you could give us a quick shot and accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour?”
After an awkward pause and a few laughs, Musk took the matter seriously.
“There is great wisdom in the teachings of Jesus, and I agree with those teachings. Things like ‘turning the other cheek’ are very important, as opposed to ‘an eye for an eye’. Eye for an eye makes everybody blind,” Musk said, paraphrasing a quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. Musk also quoted Albert Einstein, affirming his belief in “Spinoza’s God”, in which the material universe is seen as an expression of God.
“Forgiveness, you know, is important and treats people the way you want to be treated,” Musk added. “Love your neighbor as yourself. Very important. … But hey, if Jesus saves people… I won’t stand in his way. Of course I will be saved. Why not?”
At the very end, Musk described his confusion as a 5-year-old, receiving Holy Communion not understanding what was happening and why. At this point, he said, he was still asking basic biblical questions, “like how Jesus fed the crowd with five loaves and three fish. … Where did the fish and the loaf come from? … Would you like to you, like, take a bite of it and the bread would turn back into wholemeal bread?…
“They omitted the details. … I’m not saying I know all the answers.”
Terry Mattingly runs GetReligion.org and lives in Oak Ridge. He is a principal investigator at the Overby Center at the University of Mississippi.