Stephen Fry and his God Dialogue

Never did I think I would ever be so bold as to challenge the brilliant mind and interesting words of Stephen Fry. Let’s just say it got personal? (Haha.) I like to consider, think and write about topics in the news that concern God and faith. Hence there is a section of my blog focused on this. Mr.Fry, a well known television personality and atheist in the UK, said in a recent interview the following things about God which captured my imagination:

  • “…Bone cancer in children, what’s that about? How dare you… how dare you create a world where there is such misery that’s not our fault? It’s utterly, utterly evil.”
  • “Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”
  • “The god who created this universe, if he created this universe, is quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish. We have to spend our lives on our knees thanking him. What kind of god would do that?”
  • The Christian god is “utterly monstrous and deserves no respect”.
  • “The moment you banish him [God], your life becomes simpler, purer, cleaner, more worth living in my opinion.”

This Got Me Musing…

As a Christian, this was painful to hear. It grieves me that so many reject God on this basis without looking at the whole truth. Suffering and evil are stumbling blocks for many when it comes to God. A life without God in a world of evil and suffering is a terrible thought. If there is no God, there is no hope. If there is a God, why does all of this awful stuff happen? What amazes me is that several people are quick to get hot-headed and argumentative at a God they do not believe in. Moreover, the God of the bible has already dealt with it evil and suffering which is often overlooked and dismissed. Nonetheless, I am thankful that I can share the hope that I have with you and reassure you that there is a God, there is hope and there is an end to pain, suffering and evil.

Where is God? Is God evil? Is He powerless to stop the atrocities?  

Still seeing ISIS beheading hostages?

Still hurting for the orphans that have lost their families to the Ebola virus?

Still angry with how children are lying in bed with cancer?

Still hurting with those that are being beaten and murdered by thugs?

Still aching over the death of a loved one to a terminal illness?

Still asking why so many people died in one plane crash and haven’t been found in another crash?

Still asking why thousands upon thousands are affected by natural disasters?

The Fall of Mankind

When God created the world He said ‘It was good’ (Genesis 1:31). There must have been a time when it was. So what went wrong? The choices of sinful people. Man and woman. People created by God, for God, to be in a perfect relationship with Him were given a choice. Adam and Eve had everything they could ever need. God provided it all for them and for their enjoyment. They were created perfect. But by swapping the truth of God for momentary temptation, they were deceived.They sought to be like God.

Enter Sin

Sin entered the world. It was ‘the fall’ of mankind. Soon after Adam and Eve had disobeyed God by eating what they had been told not to, trouble unfolded. Man and woman felt shame for the first time. They hid from the Lord with whom they had once enjoyed His presence. They felt afraid because of their nakedness. The Lord was rightly angry. Would He be a just God if He did not set out rules (in this instance 1 rule) to be followed, not for our misery, but for our protection? Adam and Eve were given a choice. They were not created as robots, programmed to love God until the end of time. Would you want someone to love you out of obligation and force? Could you really call it love?

Although God had cast them out of the Garden of Eden, he clothed them first. He met their physical needs (Genesis 3:21). Despite the fact that man and woman had disobeyed God, He still loved them and watched over them.

It was not long after sin entered the world that the first murder took place. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God they gained the knowledge of both good and evil. Evil on earth was a direct product of the fall. It was never part of God’s creation (as we have read that it was ‘good’), but it was a result of man’s decision.

We Have A Choice

Today, man and woman still have a choice. We have a decision to make. To sin and live a life away from knowing the Lord who loves and who saves. Or to repent from the sin we commit, turn away from it and have a new heart and mind brought only from knowing that the Son of God died for you. Jesus Christ died for each person on this earth. He died for you. He died for your neighbour. He died for your family. He died for your friends. He died for your enemies. He died for Stephen Fry. He died for me. He died for Mugabe. He died for Mandela. He died for the homeless man you passed today. He died for your boss. He died for monarchs. He died for dictators. He died for the persecutor. He died for the persecuted. He died for all.

He became a sin offering for all of us. Through His death we have life. He restored the brokenness of humanity to God. However, it is once again our choice to reject God which has consequences. Murder, disease, illness, death, anger, hate, natural disasters etc. are all a by-product of the fall of mankind. But God has promised that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, free from sin and death. He has made a way back for all of humankind in this life to turn to Him.

What other god sacrificed himself for all of humankind? There is no love greater than this. What other religion welcomes everyone and frees them from sin and death?  God hates evil and suffering and he HAS put an end to it in the death and resurrection of Jesus. God took no pleasure in the death of His Son, and He takes no pleasure in the death of anyone.

For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.” Ezekiel 18:32

Thanking a ‘selfish maniac’ of a god on our knees for our entire lives?

We do not thank God for sin and evil. Nor do we spend our lives on our knees. We would not get much work done for a start… However, if everyone spent some time on their knees in prayer to God, what a change we would see. Not the kind of prayer that is ritualistic or out of obligation. A heart-felt prayer crying out to God about the injustices we see all around us. A willful surrender to God uttering the same words of Jesus before He went to the cross:

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

A God who willingly went to the cross for us is hardly selfish. It is completely selfless. I can understand in our flesh why we may think Jesus was a maniac for dying on a cross for a people who continuously reject Him. However, that it is not the mark of a maniac, it is the mark of a friend and His love for us:

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

We thank God for putting things right. Stephen Fry cannot comprehend this because all he sees is the here and now. He sees darkness because this world is full of darkness. God tells us that there will be trouble in this world, but that we should be of good cheer because He has overcome the world (John 16:33). The God of the universe has a much bigger vision than the mind of the people in His creation. When we follow the Lord and believe in His Son who died for our sins, we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). This does not mean we suddenly have all the answers to life’s most heart-breaking questions, but it means that we have the confidence to trust in the Lord who knows all things and has a purpose for everything.

What about the bone cancer in children? 

As I have already mentioned, death and illness were never a part of God’s initial creation but was a by-product of a choice made by man and woman in the beginning. It is one thing to talk ‘matter-of-fact’ about the cause and effect of sin. It is a whole different approach to experience the emotion that comes with living in a world of sickness, disease and death. As someone who has had cancer myself at the age of 19 and experienced a bone marrow biopsy, I can partially relate to the emotional turmoil that this sickness can bring. However, it does not make me an expert in the emotional agony of losing a child or a parent to a terminal or fatal illness or accident.

There are moments in life when everyone asks ‘Why did this happen?’ We wrestle and rationalize with our thoughts and emotions. They provide little comfort. It cannot bring our loved one back. It does not provide a solid answer.

To point the finger at God and say ‘How Dare You!’ may seem like a reasonable thing to say. Almighty, Omnipotent, Creator could have stopped it but He didn’t. Why?

In the bible, two sisters called Martha and Mary had lost their brother Lazarus to an illness. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, He did not come immediately to heal him. The verse before this said that He loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus very much, but yet He did not rush to get to Lazarus. When Jesus finally arrived on the scene, Martha meets Him and says:

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21)

When Mary comes to see Jesus she says:

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32)

I think we can relate to that. If God had been here, this would not have happened in our lives. Where is God? Martha and Mary are honest, but they do not go up to Him and say ‘How dare you!’ Martha responds in faith despite her sadness:

 “But even now I know that whatever you [Jesus] ask from God, God will give you.” (John 11:22) 

http://www.crosscards.com/wallpaper/scripture-verses/john-11-25-26.html
http://www.crosscards.com/wallpaper/scripture-verses/john-11-25-26.html

Moreover, Jesus had compassion on those that were suffering. The shortest verse in the bible is ‘Jesus wept.’ (John 11:35) He was moved by the tears of Mary and those around Him. He grieved with them. He was deeply moved in spirit and greatly troubled (John 11:33). Surely, Jesus the Son of God is not utterly evil, mean-minded, stupid and monstrous. This is a picture of God the Father. God the Father and Jesus the Son are One (John 10:30). Thus, God is not distant and far away from our hurting hearts; He understands as One who lost His Son on the cross, and Jesus Himself experienced death for us as well as weeping over his friends. (See ‘Why Jesus Wept’ link below).

http://www.darongeorge.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/jesus-wept.jpg
http://www.darongeorge.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/jesus-wept.jpg

This God is a God of the real, the personal and the divine.

I pray that Stephen Fry with his IQ (QI), eloquence, and brilliant mind would consider meeting God before the ‘pearly gates’. I hope that He can be honest and ask God ‘why’? Any dialogue which earnestly seeks Jesus will not be turned away (Matthew 7:7). As for his idea that ‘banishing’ God would make life ‘simpler, purer, cleaner and more worth living’ I can only look with puzzled confusion. Taking a good look at the world today, (a world that is rapidly falling apart and cutting God out of the equation), I think this idealistic attitude of Mr. Fry’s can only be found at the foot of the cross.

Jesus Makes Us CLEAN

We should live in the light, where God is. If we live in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood sacrifice of Jesus, God’s Son, washes away every sin and makes us clean. (1 John 1:7)

Jesus Makes Us PURE

“I, the Lord, am the one speaking to you. Come, let’s discuss this. Even if your sins are as dark as red dye, that stain can be removed and you will be as pure as wool that is as white as snow. (Isaiah 1:18)

Jesus Gives Us an ABUNDANT LIFE AND ETERNAL LIFE 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)

Helpful resources:

Would A Good God Allow Suffering

Why Jesus Wept

Posted by

Hi! It's nice to see you here! A little about me: I am a Christian who loves Jesus. I am blessed with a loving husband Joel and we have a baby on the way. My time is often spent writing, planning a meal around dessert, looking after the home, visiting others or having others visit me, laughing, reading a good book, seeing new places, going for walks in the country, dancing and singing to music, and preaching behind my ironing board with the bible open on it (it's the right height & nobody's watching, I hope).

31 thoughts on “Stephen Fry and his God Dialogue

  1. I just finished reading Job and had an a-ha moment I will be writing about on my blog next week… We can’t explain suffering away and I think that is part of the problem. We want to be able to have an explanation for everything – especially those horrible things our finite brains can’t understand {such as a child with cancer}. We have to trust that God knows what he is doing and that there is purpose in all things – even the bad. That alone is a difficult thought for many Christians in the midst of trial. It is an inconceivable thought for those who don’t know Jesus on a personal level. Thanks for sharing your heart and taking a bold stand to speak out in response to this interview.

    1. Thank you so much for this encouragement Deanna! It is my prayer that people will come to know Jesus personally – I cannot imagine what it would be like to not know Him in this world today. I look forward to reading through your blog! Hope you are doing well! 🙂

  2. You seem to be implying that God has no moral duties he is beholden to. Under that theology, he could send all atheists to heaven and everyone else to hell, and you would not be able to criticise him or convince him to keep his original pact.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read through my post and I appreciate your thoughts on this.

      It is a little difficult for me to address your comment as I am not sure where in my blog post I am ‘implying God has no moral duties that he is beholden to’. Could you explain this clearer for me?

      Is it the view or idea that God is somehow not held accountable for all the suffering in this world and thus, could theoretically not keep his promises and change his mind? Is He not to be trusted?

      Jesus Christ had no moral obligation to die on the cross. It was not morality in the sense that we define what is morally right or wrong. It was out of love for us that He died to save every single person, whether they are an atheist or everyone else. He has made a way for every single person to know God personally because God ‘is’ love.

      I’d be happy to chat through this further 🙂 Thank you again for your comment!

      But God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life (John 3:16).

      1. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment. I sincerely appreciate it.

        You seem to be implying that god does not have any obligation to relieve our suffering. Any doctor or nurse who held that position would be vilified by the livid parents, relatives and friends of anyone who has ever gone through horrendous suffering.

        So it would appear that you think God is not held to the same standards we are. And that’s the problem. If god cannot be expected to do something as simple as feed and clothe starving children, how can we expect him to honour his most crucial eternal covenants regarding the afterlife?

      2. Hi again – thank you for making that a bit clearer for me! I must admit suffering, especially in circumstances concerning starving children, is a very difficult issue for all faiths and none to come to terms with.

        After chatting with my husband about your thoughts, he offered another way of thinking about it which helped me understand it a bit better myself. It is times like this when I wish my mind was wired a bit like C.S.Lewis who was gifted at theological discussions! So forgive me if this does not best address your question, and perhaps it might be worth looking at some other theological sources on the topic! 🙂

        My husband phrased it like so:
        “There are similarities between God and Doctors and nurses, Doctors and Nurses treat the patient with treatment which may not clear symptoms up immediately however over a period of time. But they still treated them, God is treating us in the sense that Jesus has died for us allowing us to be cured from our disease – sin. Alike doctors and nurses spending time to treat their patients, God is taking his time as sin isn’t an acute disease it’s very much Chronic, it was David writing in the Psalms before the antidote to human sinfulness was given in Jesus saying: “Surely I was sinful at birth” and we very much were.

        God has provided the antidote, and like the sick patient we have the choice whether to accept the treatment or to reject the treatment. Therefore a sick patient rejecting the treatment for their condition can’t blame their doctor for being in horrendous suffering for not making them better – the treatment was offered. The treatment God offers is tough and long as the disease within us is fierce, it can blind the eyes of a person to only seeing their own needs and none of the needs of those around them.

        Furthermore, God has set the standards and he has kept the standards. The problem is us – we haven’t been able to keep his standards, due to the fall, our ‘moral compass’ was smashed, meaning that we can no longer rely on our own judgements to make the right choices. Furthermore, us humans are inherently selfish, there isn’t one unselfish person alive on earth today. God has given us all we need to banish hunger and poverty but how many of us would rather have that iPhone 6 than give money to Oxfam or equivalent charity? Don’t get me wrong a lot of people give money to charity but the top 1% hold 50% of the worlds wealth – money which could be better used in improving the lives of those in poverty. God can’t be blamed for our selfishness as this is all of our own will.”

        I would also say that it has been discussed that there is enough food to feed everyone. the problem is how it is distributed. I volunteer with Oxfam and they have recently launched the ‘Even it Up’ campaign: http://www.oxfam.org/en/campaigns/even-it-up

        I hope this can bring some insight into it and also what David suggested in another comment gives extra angles to it.

        Thank you for commenting 🙂

      3. Thank you for the link to the website – I will read it thoroughly as I like to understand the views and objections of others with regards to God and matters of faith! It looks like a lengthy read, so I feel that it is best if I take my time with it so I do not jump to conclusions.

        My apologies regarding the doctors and nurses analogy – I used it because you mentioned it in your previous comment. I did not realise that you were hinting at omnipotence specifically. You are right – God is. And God is omnipotent.

        I also have some sources to share with you, however, we must consider the possibility that we may be in an endless discussion if we do not agree with the basics and fundamentals! 🙂 I would be interested to hear your thoughts about the purpose of life, morality, evil and suffering at some stage – I am guessing you have your own beliefs about such topics!

        Fruitful discussion is good, however, I always find the computer a difficult platform to communicate fully – my suggestion would be to offer you a cup of coffee and a biscuit whilst we have a good look at the evidence both for and against together!

        Thank you for sharing your views and the link. It has been very helpful for me and has encouraged me to look even deeper at all of this. I will be sure to have a good look through the website you sent 🙂

  3. Ayametan – forgive me for butting in but I find your comments fascinating. Perhaps I could just add the following to the discussion:

    1) God does not and cannot do something inconsistent with his own nature – ie. he cannot lie.
    2) Neither you nor I are God. We are not omniscient and therefore are not in the position to judge God.
    3) Your ‘standard’ assumes and asks too much. To be logically consistent the existence of God could only be compatible in a universe where there is no evil, pain, suffering of any kind. That does not make sense. It would result in a world in which there could be no love, no humanity – we would all just be robots.
    4) God has done a great deal to relief our suffering (without either destroying us, or turning us into robots)…that is what the Christian ‘Good News’ is all about. If we choose to reject that then how is he culpable.

    The problem of suffering and evil is a difficult one for Christians. It is an impossible one for Atheists. We have Christ as the answer. They have nothing! I know which one I prefer….

    All the best..

    David

    1. Thank you for taking the time and effort to respond to me, David. Some rejoinders:

      1. That’s not what the bible says. He sends lying spirits and delusions. Sorry, but lying by proxy is still lying.

      Now, therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee. 1 Kings 22:23

      >Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets. 2 Chronicles 18:22

      Ah, Lord GOD! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people. Jeremiah 4:10

      O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived. Jeremiah 20:7

      And if a prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet. Ezekiel 14:9

      For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. 2 Thessalonians 2:11

      2. But if we cannot judge God to be evil, then neither can you judge God to be good. So we are left with giving him the benefit of the doubt, or not.

      3. What about heaven? Surely there will be free will and no suffering there. The logical decision would be to start and end creation with an incorruptible, blissful heaven.

      4. Last time I checked, God did not invent modern medicine and painkillers. Humans did.

      1. Ayametan – sorry that I don’t really have time to get into this but I’m afraid you are taking this all way too literally. Each of these verses are relatively easy to explain in context. God does not lie….he may allow or permit people to either deceive, be deceived or think they have been decieved but as the Bible says ‘God is not a man that he should lie”.

        YOu are right in saying that we cannot judge God. That was my point.

        AS regards heaven – because we will have freely chosen to love and serve God, all evil and suffering will be removed…..there is no more need for them. Which surely is what you were asking for?!

        But God invented humans and made us in his image – thereby giving us the ability to create, the minds to think, etc.

        The Christian worldview makes sense. The atheist is full of holes!

  4. But theweeflea, your own bible clearly concedes the point: God himself sent the lying spirits.

    If we cannot judge God, why do you claim that he must have a reason for allowing all of this suffering?

    Your point about heaven merely reinforces the point I made earlier: Why didn’t God simply create an incorruptible heaven from the beginning? This is the largest contradiction in the Christian worldview. If we were in a blissful heaven without having to suffer at all, your theology would make sense. A perfect god would not require a system of redemption.

    The second-largest hole to me is this: God tempted Adam and Eve by placing the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden to begin with. He could have avoided this outcome simply by not having a forbidden tree, and not creating curious creatures.

    1. I’m sorry but it is not a contradiction…in order to get an incorruptible heaven filled with creatures who have freely chosen love – you need to have an earth where that choice is possible. In order to have that choice possible you need to have knowledge!

  5. But why is it necessary for God to use Earth in order to create a perfect, incorruptible heaven? You haven’t explained this. You’ve simply declared it to be so.

    If God is perfect and incorruptible, then it should be a simple task for him to create beings who are likewise perfect and incorruptible. And yet your bible has him described as using angels for simple tasks such as passing along messages. A perfect being would not need or want servants.

    And there’s more. An all-powerful God could easily create humans with all the requisite knowledge we required from the instant of our creation, without needing to use suffering as a “teacher.”

    1. God doesn’t ‘need’ angels nor anything else. He chooses to have and use them. For God doing things is not out of necessity. And you completely miss the point about being able to freely love and having a choice…in order for that to happen God would have to create a world in which that was possible. Just saying that he could create us with already made choices is a logical contradiction – like insisting that God should be able to make a square circle!

      1. But a perfect being would have no needs or wants. So the simple act of using angels would clearly indicate that he isn’t perfect.

        I wasn’t trying to imply that God could make us with already-made choices. I apologise for not being clear enough. I was saying that if there is free will in heaven, he could easily have made it so that no one would be willing to choose evil. Our free will is already limited in many ways. We cannot regenerate lost limbs or teleport to the other side of the planet. So why not simply limit our free will in other ways? That’s how our lives will be like in heaven, isn’t it?

      2. Interesting – the fact is God does not need anything or anyone but you have such a utilitarian view of life that you think it is a weakness of God to create what he does not need. I don’t ‘need’ to make a beautiful meal or music or painting…does it indicate I am weak if I do so? Strange philosophy!

        ‘God could have made us so that no one would be willing to choose evil’ – to say that whilst defending free will is like defending the concept of a square circle!

  6. It’s not a utilitarian argument, theweeflea. It’s a simple logical one. Perfection by definition is a state that cannot be improved upon. So if God is perfect, he would not need or want improvement. Improvement would be impossible.

    It should be extremely simple for God to create people who would never even want to sin. He could create individual, inviolable, isolated islands for people to live in blissfully, where no one could hurt anyone else. That’s just one solution.

    1. I’ll grant its simple…but logical? Who says creating angels is ‘improving’? WHere is the logic in that?

      If God creates people who never want to sin, he creates people who have no free will and therefore who cannot freely love…As for creating us all living on isolated islands!!!! Its incredible how far the mind will wander off rationality in order to avoid God!

      1. If he chooses to use angels, then either he’s not capable of doing everything himself, or He’s not willing. Either way, He’s imperfect.

        Your second paragraph contradicts what you said before about free will in heaven. Since we won’t have free will in heaven, He obviously doesn’t value free will. So why not simply create robots in heaven? That’s what he seems to want, after all.

      2. Again your position is not logical. If God chooses to use angels thats his choice. Whats the problem? He can choose to do as he pleases. Why would using angels make him imperfect.

        Your second paragraph is exactly the point…it is precisely because God does NOT want robots that this earth is designed to enable us to choose…

  7. I really enjoyed this post. You took the time to thoughtfully work through some of Stephen Fry’s comments. Like you, I find those sorts of opinions difficult to hear especially from gifted, intelligent people. Knowledge can puff us all up if we’re not careful, and that can make accepting God difficult if, as Jesus says, we have to be like children to enter into the things of God. It’s hard to accept for many of us and, like Mr Fry’s comments suggest, we may take offence at it. God is perhaps too big for Mr Fry to see, but He’s not far from him. It is interesting how public, strident atheists like him manage to both not believe in God and be angry with Him at the same time. There is a lot of prayer work here for the church, by which I mean all Christians everywhere, because perhaps we have not done our part to let the world see the beautiful and loving and life-affirming glory of God.

    Thanks for the follow, by the way!

    1. Thank you for this wonderful comment and I am so glad you enjoyed the post! I think your words are very insightful – looking forward to reading more from you! 🙂 God bless!

  8. But theweeflea, if we’re going to be robots in Heaven, then free will on Earth is basically meaningless, because the time spent on this side of eternity comes out to nothing.

    Even a billion years is invisible when compared to eternity.

      1. So why can’t we make our choice in a world without suffering? It would demonstrate that God actually is capable of creating such a world.

      2. Now you are going round in circles. We have already been here. In order for us to be able to make a choice, there has to be one!

      3. Can God make a square circle? Or a stone that is too heavy for him to lift? Or a truthful liar? You see the problem with your question?

      4. So heaven is logically impossible? Because it’s supposed to be a realm devoid of suffering, correct?

        So why can’t we make our choice in such a world instead of living for well over half a century (in most cases) and risk excruciating suffering in the process?

      5. It seems as though you are determined not to get the point! Or to answer the question. Who said that heaven is logically impossible? The question is though how can you ask for people to be able to choose when there is no choice?! It seems that your determination not to believe anything other than your own faith, is preventing you from seeing how logically impossible that is!

I Would Love To Hear From You!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s