Last December, executives of satirical news site The Babylon Bee sat down with SpaceX and Tesla CEO and Founder Elon Musk to talk about a myriad of topics, most of them lighthearted and silly. While it was technically an interview with one of the most wealthy and brilliant minds of our age, it was mostly a chance to relax and chat about whatever they wanted. And at the end of the interview, Creative Director Ethan Nicolle asked Musk, “We’re wondering if you could do us a quick solid and accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior…just real quick?”
As Musk grinned at the question and feigned awkward contemplation, the executives around him chuckled, fully expecting this to devolve into a series of good-natured jokes. But after a brief pause, this is what Elon Musk said:
“I mean, let’s just say that I agree with the principles that Jesus advocated. And there is great wisdom in the teachings of Jesus, and I agree with those teachings. And things like ‘Turn the other cheek’ are very important, as opposed to ‘An eye for an eye.’ ‘An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.’ So, forgiveness is important. Treating people as you would wish to be treated. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Very important. As Einstein would say, ‘I believe in the god of Spinoza.’ But hey, if Jesus is saving people, I wouldn’t stand in His way. Ok sure, I’ll be saved. Why not?”
While the Babylon Bee executives joked about getting Elon Musk to accept Jesus Christ, that last bit of conversation during this interview showed a side of Musk that not many have seen firsthand. Cale took a look at this interview on The Cale Clarke Show and he recalled a famous G.K. Chesterton quote that said, “Humor can get in under the door while seriousness is still fumbling at the handle.” As The Babylon Bee hit Musk with silly conversations, jokes, and good-natured friendliness, they were able to ask him real questions and get real answers.
Often part of the reason we are unable to convince somebody of the truth is that they are still clinging to their tribe that taught them their own beliefs. “If people abandon their beliefs, the risk for them is that they might lose their social ties. So, you can’t expect somebody to change their mind if you take away their community too. You have to give them somewhere to go. Nobody wants their worldview torn apart if loneliness is the outcome.” (James Clear, Atomic Habits) To show someone the truth, sometimes we must offer them another tribe. Through friendship, we can truly show someone that they have nothing to fear.
While Cale believes Musk may have felt a little ambushed by the last question of the interview and he may have been humoring them in the politest way possible, he also believes that Musk had some very intelligent thoughts about Jesus. After the end of his answer, Musk made it clear that he had actually been baptized in the Anglican Church as a child and he was taught the parables and principles of Jesus Christ. That’s assumedly how he knew “turn the other cheek”, the golden rule, and God’s second greatest commandment.
Though many argue that the golden rule is a part of every religion, Cale clarifies that Jesus’s version is actually much more difficult to follow. While others say, “Don’t do unto others what you would not want to be done unto you,” Jesus says, “Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.” That requires that you not only refrain from committing sins and crimes against one’s neighbor, but it requires that we love our neighbors, and we treat them with kindness, generosity, and patience.
Musk believes in the “god of Spinoza” (a pantheistic version of god that doesn’t concern himself with the individual actions or persons of the human race), but it’s clear that Musk is not closed off to Christianity. If anything, it seemed as if he was just not well-educated enough in the Faith. He recalled asking questions about the miracles and mysteries as a child but never being answered in an understanding manner. Nevertheless, Musk retained some valuable teachings from the gospels, and it’s certainly a strong foundation upon to rebuild one’s faith should he choose to return to Christianity.
In closing, Cale thinks that The Babylon Bee may have gone about their apostolate in a strange way. He said that he believes they were seriously concerned about Musk’s salvation and that their intentions were noble, but that last question should have been saved for a one-on-one conversation behind closed doors. He understood that Nicolle was trying to keep it light because of The Babylon Bee’s satirical nature, it seemed like a wasted opportunity. However, Cale gave them the benefit of the doubt. “But maybe it was just gentle prodding. Maybe it was just gentle prodding, hoping that they’ll sort of plant some seeds in the mind of Elon Musk.” Regardless, let us keep Elon Musk in our prayers as he continues his journey through life. Let us pray that he, as well as The Babylon Bee directors, find the whole truth in the Catholic Faith.
Listen to the whole segment below:
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