Recently, Stephen Fry, a well-known atheist, made some very viral comments about God. His comments are not surprising to anyone who follows the atheist movement and its beliefs. His comments are what I would expect from a renowned atheist, and especially a European atheist. For those of you who have not seen the video, you can watch it at this address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-suvkwNYSQo.
It is extremely easy to attack a worldview and make it look very bad with some well placed pithy quotes. This is what Fry does in the interview. However, like most people who attack the Theistic position, Fry is either woefully ignorant of Christian doctrine, or he purposefully ignores the strong points of defense against his statements so that he can sound intelligent to the uninformed who listen to him. As Fry admitted in a later interview, his comments are not original, unique, or even modern. That means there has been replies to his denunciations for millennia. So, admittedly, my reply to Fry is nothing original, unique, or even modern. However, since Theology is not taught in public institutions, and since most of the world is poorly educated in Christian apologetics (apologetics is the defense of a position, not the apology for a position), I thought I would try to reach at least one more person who is not aware of the strong answers to Fry’s accusations.
Bone cancer in children
Fry was asked what he would say to God if it turned out that God is real and he had to meet God face to face. Fry stated that he would say, “Bone cancer in babies? What’s that about? … How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault. … Why would I respect such a … god who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain?”
It is here, immediately, that he reveals how illiterate he is when it comes to Christian doctrine. This objection brought up by Fry is answered within the first couple pages of Scripture. I want to remind everyone that Fry is mostly arguing against the Judeo-Christian God. If he would like to argue against this God, then he must argue against the God as described in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures. If he ignores these Scriptures, or incorrectly interprets these Scriptures, then he is no longer arguing against the Judeo-Christian God, but rather his projection of who the Judeo-Christian God is, and that is an informal fallacy when debating.
So, looking at Scripture to clearly describe God, we see that God did not create a world where bone cancer in children was an occurrence. Instead, we see that God created the world perfectly. God created the world where there was no death or disease. My goodness, the world was so innocent and perfect, that Adam and Eve were naked, and did not even realize it. God created a utopia.
However, in creating a perfect world, God also created the power of choice. He gave mankind the ability to choose his own path. Without this ability, the world certainly would not be perfect. An Adam and Eve SimCity where there is no free choice, only complete direction from some unseen force, is not even close to perfection. Most people will readily admit that they would rather choose to go to church than be forced to go. Well, that is what God afforded people, the ability to choose.
The ability to choose had, and still has today, consequences. Adam and Eve decided to choose not to obey God. By doing this, the world was cursed with all kinds of maladies, and we are seeing the consequences of these decisions today. So God did not create a world where bone cancer existed. Mankind did. God allowed these maladies to pervade the earth to remind mankind that we need a Savior. Most sane people understand their own mortality and come to grips with the fact that on our own we are helpless creatures who only exist for a relatively short time due to the corruption we see occurring in and around us everyday. This understanding should drive us to seek someone who can help us. God is that help.
To continue this thought, not only did God create a perfect world, but He also created a way for all evils to be redeemed for something good. God, knowing that mankind would eventually freely choose to turn away from Him, thereby wreaking havoc on His creation, planned beforehand a way of redeeming creation. He did this through Christ’s death and resurrection. Without getting too detailed, Christ’s death – an evil – was redeemed for something good – His resurrection. Christ’s resurrection showed the world that this is not the only world for which we live. There is something much greater still. There is a realm where death cannot conquer and holds no sway. Christ’s resurrection revealed that no matter how much you suffer (like a life of rejection, pain, and eventually having that life unjustly ended through a brutal crucifixion), there is still a redemption of that evil into something good.
From a Judeo-Christian perspective, injustice, evil, and pain are only temporary events. Ultimately, all injustice, evil, and pain will be judged and redeemed by an omnipotent and omniscient God. The results of this judgment will be what is eternal. If we focus on this life only, as most atheists are guilty of, then of course things look hopelessly bleak. However, this life is not the only life there is. This life is only one part of life, a life that is endless, and has many unforeseen events yet to come.
From the Judeo-Christian perspective, Fry’s denunciations do not hold any weight. If Fry would rather that God created a world where there was no evil, then God would have had to create a world where there is no choice. That is not a better world. Without choice, there is no true conscious. Without conscious, there is no true being. There may be existence, but there is no being. Being is living with awareness, and awareness is provided through conscious.
I would agree with Fry that if God created a world where injustice reigned and it was the act of God that directly created the injustice, then God would be mean-minded. However, that is not what God did. God created a world where evil was possible. But to better understand the implications of that statement, we have to be able to define evil.
Evil is the departure from what is good. Without a standard, there can be no evil. A standard can exist without a comparison, but evil cannot exist without a standard of goodness. For example, we know that miscarriages are bad (not necessarily evil in the sense of morals, but bad in that they are not desired) because we see the standard of a live birth. Live births are of themselves good, and we do not need a comparison to tell us that they are good. We just know that they are good. So the standard does not need a comparison to exist, but evil (the departure from the standard) does need a comparison to exist.
Choice is not of itself evil. Choice can be used to result in only good. So it is not necessarily evil. However, choice can bring evil. This does not make choice evil. For example, the command, “Do not touch the stove”, is not evil; in fact, the command is very good. However, when a child hears that command, he/she may have the curiosity to touch the stove. The command, which is not evil, did however create a curiosity to do something that could be evil. So just because choice could be used to produce evil, choice is not of itself evil.
God gave us the power of choice. One choice, the one made by Adam and Eve, has indirectly caused all the natural disasters and misery that is not directly our fault. However, our continued choices create a multitude of other sufferings that are indeed our fault.
So you may ask, “What good can possibly come from bone cancer in children?” My reply to that is, “Almost nothing.” One reason I say almost, is because bone cancer in children should teach us to number our days correctly. It should remind us that we are fragile and in need of help. It should force our eyes to God, the only One who can give eternal and truthful comfort to the child. With the knowledge of God, we know that pain will be temporary and God can resurrect us to a life without any pain or suffering. Another reason is that bone cancer in children should cause us to have compassion for those who are hurting and it should teach us to try to help those in pain. Just as God saw His creation suffering and sent His Son to suffer for us and take our suffering away, so we should see others suffering and try to be a remedy.
I realize the above words are not adequate to solve all the questions that you readers might have. If that is so, please feel free to comment. I would love to have further discussions with any and all.