Omid Djalili is a British-Iranian stand up comedian, actor and writer. Omid’s comedy often focuses on ethnicity and religion and in a culmination of this he took the lead in the 2011 film ‘The Infidel’, playing a British-Muslim who discovers he was born a Jew. He has appeared on stage all around the world and featured in a huge number of film and television productions.
I saw myself as being some sort of astrophysicist in the future.
On becoming interested in science
I first got into science when I saw my first science fiction movie, which was ‘Alien’, when I was about twelve years old. Twelve or thirteen or I think I was. And I just thought, this would be a wonderful thing to get involved with because you could…I saw myself as being some sort of astrophysicist in the future. And creating a colony on Mars, and I thought, how great, in about 30 years time when I’m in my mid-40s, I can move my family to Mars because I would’ve created a colony. But then I failed Maths O level so I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it.
On the popularity of science
Science is becoming more and more popular and I think there’s a reaction in the world, this kind of traditional religion that seems to diss science, you know, that kind of crazy fundamentalist idea that there were no dinosaurs or the world was created 6,000 years ago, so I think there’s a feeling that science is helping mankind to…let me say this properly. Science is tremendously important and popular because it’s carrying forward and ever advancing civilisation and as we evolve as a species, as a group of organisms, science will always be evolving with humanity so I always see the two going hand in hand so I can’t see science ever being unpopular.
On the joy of science
I think the joy of science is something that…everyone’s interested in new inventions and, ah, I think we see science all around us. I mean, you need science in computers to create social networking sites, for example, that was a scientific idea that was humanist at its core. Really, to…picking up on what’s going on in the world, there’s a real wave of people trying to move to a more global connected way of living so science is, I suppose, moving in that direction. Any kind of scientific invention that buys into the, kind of, unity of mankind, will always, you know, without sounding too religious about it, will always do well because that’s the way humanity is going: we’re becoming one planet, and one people, and things that kind of feed into that will, I suppose, be successful.
On science v religion
I think the people that attack science are pretty stupid in the same way that people attack religion thinking that there’s no correlation between science and religion. I think there is a huge correlation between the two. For me, I even say it on stage, that scientifically even something like the existence of a God, even though it can’t be proved scientifically, it can’t be not proved and the way I see it, you know, in the same way that a vegetable can’t really understand an animal and an animal can’t really understand a human being, there must be other forces that we can’t understand. It’s a bit like a painting and a painter. A painter will understand his creation but the painting will never understand its creator so, in that sense, the creator, for the creation, is irrelevant. God is irrelevant to us, if he’s created us, or if there’s some say in how it’s all created, it’s irrelevant to us because we will never understand it, so I believe that there’s something that exists and I think that’s a scientific…I’ve come to a scientific conclusion about that, so I think that when people diss, people who say science and religion is, or can’t be together, I think they’re being silly.