Letters to the Editor – Feb. 16, 2015 issue
Fry undercuts himself
Re: Stephen Fry's rant against God:
When atheist enthusiast Stephen Fry was recently asked on RTE what he would say to God if he arrived at the pearly gates and discovered that it was all true, Fry had this to say:
"Bone cancer in children? What's that about? How dare You. How dare You create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. It's not right. It's utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God Who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain?"
His whole response (viewable on YouTube) is an impassioned and quite frankly beautifully articulated challenge to the idea of an all good and all powerful God. It went viral on YouTube.
This is of course, a problem with a long pedigree. It was formally raised in the Summa by St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century and famously by C.S. Lewis in his popular book, The Problem of Pain.
What Stephen Fry doesn't seem to realize is that, in expressing his outrage as he does, he's actually undercutting his own position. He's giving voice to a brilliant proof for the existence of the very God he thinks he's denying.
If human beings were not sacred subjects, not sparks of the divine, but rather merely matter, we wouldn't give two hoots what happened to them. There's no reason to care what happens to particular arrangements of chemicals and atoms.
We'd all be at peace and feel quite at home with a "red in tooth and claw" universe. But we're not.
The fact that we feel this moral outrage, this sense of violation and injustice about the suffering of the innocent is itself an acknowledgement that human beings are precious subjects, persons with inherent dignity that goes far beyond what a merely physical existence can account for.
Nevertheless the conundrum as articulated by Stephen Fry and so many others, many of them religious believers, remains, and Christianity does not dodge it.
In fact, this problem is at the very centre of our faith. The crucifixion and death of Christ on the cross is surely the most graphic and poignant representation of terrible suffering inflicted on an innocent human being that there could be.
In that crucifixion is an answer to the conundrum here raised. The sometimes difficult thing for atheists like Stephen Fry to understand is that the answer and the solution to the problem of human suffering is not a proposition, but a person.
J. Fraser Field