In February 2015 Gay Byrne (RTE) asked Stephen Fry what he would say to God on their inevitable meeting. Stephen Fry’s answer went “viral” on YouTube.
At the time many people contacted me personally over this video, some maliciously, as if it were evidence that would not only undermine millennia of scholarship and historic study, but would cause me to reject my faith and go back to the man I once was (God forbid).
I chose to respond on an individual basis but I did not want to rebuke publically as I felt it to be a Matthew 7:6 scenario and greater men than I were doing a better job.
But this video has reared its ugly head again two years on and I have seen it on the social media accounts of people I deeply care about and pray for. Members of the church have also come to me and asked my thoughts. So here they are!
Before I start, I want to be clear that I have the greatest respect for Stephen Fry. General Melchett (Blackadder) is one of the finest comedic characters to ever grace our screens, Fry’s work on Qi is marvellous and what I have read of his, I have enjoyed. But being a “fan” does not mean that I have to agree with everything ‘Brand Fry’ says. He is certainly an academic, but I am sure (by his own admission) is not always correct.
Assuming you have seen the video already, there are few points that I prayerfully wish to make.
The Moral Question.
With all the alleged “scientific” rhetoric that the popular consensus attempts to dethrone God with, ask yourself why, when a direct question such as “what will you say to God when you meet Him” is asked, an ‘atheist’ will always reply with a moral (non-scientific) answer?
The reason is simple; As God by definition is outside of the empirical, he cannot be measured or tested, so to deny His existence is beyond the scientific realm. Such arguments are farcical which is why Fry took another route.
So let us look at Fry’s moral stand against God.
To summaries Fry; ‘If there is a God, I want nothing to do with Him, because He claims to be all loving yet has made a world where unjust things can and do happen. I can’t understand this paradox so I will a) discredit God b) challenge God c) deny His existence.
I believe this a fair summary.
My prayerful response to Fry
Point 1 *
Did you know that Quantum Mechanics and the Theory of Relativity contradict with each other (until we find a theory that unifies them)? If our world’s greatest scientific minds took Fry’s approach and dismissed them both because of this current paradox, we would not have mobile phones, tablets, computers or GPS. They all work because both principles are true (despite the perceived contradiction). You can’t discount truth because you do not understand it, it is illogical and incredibly arrogant. It is true that God is all loving and that bad things happen in the world He created. (Point 4 explains how).
Without God any moral statement such as Fry’s in this video becomes subjective and thus the argument falls to pieces.
Fry’s moral case against God is a weak one, because if you take God out (as he does) it is no easier to explain why children suffer with bone cancer. In fact, if you take God out your only answer to such injustice is; it’s “natural”. In a godless world, created by chance, with no meaning or purpose then such incidences should not drive emotion or concern or even the question of injustice. A child’s bones cancer is simply natural, it is what it is. Remove God and you are just a collection of randomly evolved proteins, floating on an incidental rock through a cold dark meaningless vacuum, orbiting around a pointless ball of gas for no reason or purpose. As a result you should not have the propensity or desire to care – so why are you angry, why are you concerned with justice? Without God; sadness, grief and love are all simply reactive hormonal responses, so get over it! Pass on your naturally driven selfish gene and die!
This sounds harsh, but it is the truth you preach if you discount God. If you take God out of the equation when faced with injustice, you will have a tougher time explaining your innate desire for justice in a meaningless and accidental universe. Without a God who created our universe with a meaning and purpose, the concept of justice is as pointless as your very existence.
But we do all care, and as we can see in this video even Stephen Fry cares! He cares enough to challenge the injustice. Why? Well it is because of an innate sense of right and wrong and purpose and meaning that is uniquely human, because we are uniquely made in God’s image, with a propensity to live for Him! Explaining such sentient truths away dehumanises us into accidents. (The hypocrisy of the BHA).
If you remove God, then ‘right and wrong’ is nothing but a personal opinion and as a randomly evolved collection of proteins, “you” are simply time + matter + chance and thus your opinions have no more validity than the chair you are sat on which is equally time + matter + chance, coexisting with you to no end in this ever expanding vacuum.
Some argue that ‘morality’ can exist without a god. They argue that morality has been evolved into the human psyche! But if this is the case, then morality becomes deterministic, a working for the greater “good” of the species. Determinism contradicts the concept of morality itself. If morality is evolved, then a child that is more susceptible to bone cancer should cease to be a moral dilemma, but expected in the grand meaningless process of natural selection, so neither us or the child should mourn the tragedy. – It is what it is! Get over it! (But we do mourn the tragedy, we do love and grieve and seek justice and these uniquely human experiences should prove the argument).
As ever, the atheist attack is focussed on the Christian God. I argue that Christianity is more frequently targeted because it is true. Other “religions” have clear faults that can be easily exploited, other religions will seek to kill you for your attack (we are the soft touch) and you can sell more books by attacking Christianity – (money the ultimate driver of a worldly man).
Christianity is hard to accept, which is why a prerequisite of salvation is faith. Christianity is beyond our comprehension because we did not make it up – it is truth from God.
Christianity is uniquely attacked because Christianity has uniquely come from God! More on this here “Are all religions the same?”
It is nice to see Fry’s approval of the Greek gods in this interview, this reiterates his position, as such religious systems are man-made and thus adhere to mans desires and are more palatable to Fry who seeks to justify a godless life, having gods of his choosing and control.
The Bible does not hide from the evil of this world; in fact it brings it to the forefront. The fundamental story of the Bible is that the world is not what God intended it to be and it tells you how to escape it! The Bible tells us that in Christ Jesus, God can bring you into a new world of justice and love where bone cancer does not exist. A truth that gives hope to those suffering tragedy such as bone cancer, a hope that is being undermined but such nonsense shared in this video.
The Bible teaches us that all mankind sin, but all can find forgiveness in Christ.
The greatest heroes of the Bible committed moral atrocities, yet in the depth of their perversion God showed grace and love and brought them back in Christ Jesus and as a result they became a force for good in this poisoned world.
The Bible is God’s rescue plan for humanity! Deny its truths and you are godless.
Without God, this world is all you have and it is dying.
Without God you are left alone in a world that defines itself and you by mere physical attributes.
Without God you are simply your sexuality, your habits and your desires.
Without God you become what you consume and you are rewarded by what you can produce.
Without God this world that allows for injustice and inequality is all you have!
Without God at best you are dying in a world run by an evolved ape driven by an amoral natural force of greed, lust and pride, for no reason or purpose. What a gloomy state to be in!
The Gospel gives you an escape from this. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16.
In this interview Stephen Fry said that he would not come to God on his terms and would rather put his trust in this world with all its aforementioned benefits such as bone cancer.
Fry clearly has misunderstood God’s terms, which are ones of Love and Grace to save us from such ailments that Fry protests against.
Why did it go viral?
I want to close asking why such a video went viral? What drove people to share it?
If God is non-existent then why promote His non-existence? Carry on living as you wish, unchallenged, guided by your purposeless subjective morality and leave us “nutters” to it!
If we are wrong, you have taken hope from those who are suffering.
What are you defending by sharing this video? A meaningless universe? Why?
I forget who came up with this quote but credit to them!
“There are two things you can be sure of an atheist 1. They believe God does not exist 2. They hate him.”
Why do you hate Him? Or the idea of Him?
Is it because His morality undermines yours and highlights your failures (as it does mine)? Is it because you will have to change? Is it because you feel you have better things to do on a Sunday morning than go to church, and refusing to believe in God is simply more convenient for you?
Are you using “brand Fry” to then justify your convenience?
If a rant from a popular “academic” is all that is keeping you away from the joy of God, I can raise you 64.5% of Nobel prize winners in the last century (modern science) who are all professing Christians. I can introduce you to Francis Collins who decoded the Human Genome and came to faith during its process, or Werner Heisenberg a pioneer of Quantum Mechanics who famously said “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you”? Or even better, I can introduce you to Jesus Christ, God Himself, the ultimate academic -He knows everything! Jesus welcomes you with a love and grace beyond what this world can offer and despite who you are and what you produce and consume, He says “I love you, come to me and live, come to me and have purpose in your trial, whether it is bone cancer or simply feeling lost. I am here to rescue you from the injustice”.
Sin, is evident in the world, if you do not believe me turn on the news and see what man is doing to God’s creation. The Bible does not hide from the cruelty of suffering, Jesus Himself suffered injustice and immeasurable pain on the cross and in doing so offers you an escape from the endless death and subjection from this world.
The concept of a perfect God may be hard to understand amidst injustice, but this does not mean He does not exist. Sharing ‘Fry’s’ video will not help you understand it either, neither will it help a child with bone cancer. It may give short term satisfaction as you seek to justify a “convenient” godless life, but without God you cannot explain anything!
I hope the above puts some holes in the argument and that you see the love that has gone into this reply. I am chief of sinners myself, I followed Fry’s argument for much of my life before Christ saved me. What a joy it is to know God! I am just a blind man, showing other blind men where to find bread!
If this blog has caused a chink in your armour and you can accept by your very humanity that there is a deity – but confused by all the “Religions” claiming to know Him – read my blog Are all the Religions the same? I pray that it will be of help.
(* This point is not of my own, but one I heard from a Rev. Stephen Clarke – one of the wisest men I know!)