“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… bone cancer in children… How dare you? – How dare you create a world to which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right, it’s utterly, utterly evil – why should I respect such a capricious, mean-minded, st***d God?” -Stephen Fry
Mr Fry’s moral indignation at God can be neatly summed up in his words;
“How Dare You?”
Moral indignation is a common atheist pretence when faced with the undeniable evil we see in this life. From Stephen Fry’s “how dare you” to Richard Dawkins “moral monster” atheists the world over refuse to believe in a God who could allow such evil to exist.
From a position of moral superiority atheists look down on all those who would dare to follow a god atheists perceive to be the author of horrendous pain, suffering and evil.
There is no doubt that evil exists in the world, the issue is whether atheism or Christianity provides the best explanation for the existence of the evil we see around us.
What Did You Just Call My Dad?
It is often difficult for Christians to know how to respond in the face of such vociferous, blasphemous rage against the Creator of the universe. Often our first response it utter amazement and bewilderment. All we can do is stand motionless, like a deer in the headlights, unable to understand the sheer hatred and animosity towards our God and Father.
It’s horrible enough to hear somebody slandering and accusing our earthly fathers but when the Father being accused is our heavenly Father the emotional impact is infinitely more acute.
The temptation is always to repay like with like and hurl “heavenly” abuse at the “hell-bound” atheist who would dare to use his God-given intellect in such a perverse, ungrateful and blasphemous manner.
The challenge for those who love the God of the Bible is to submit ourselves to His commands when dealing with this very real issue.
God has commanded us firstly to repay evil with good (1 Peter 3:9), and secondly to have an answer for all those who would challenge our faith in God (1 Peter 3:15).
“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called” -1 Peter 3:9
How Can an All-Loving and All-Powerful God Allow Such Evil and Suffering?
Behind all of the moral indignation, bluster and bravado, Stephen Fry’s accusation of God rests on an age old philosophical argument that was demolished and soundly refuted long ago. Ironically it has recently been resurrected by none other than arch super-villain Lex Luthor in the new Batman Vs Superman film, so the argument’s proponents are in good company!
The argument basically claims that in the face of such evil, pain and suffering, God cannot be both all-powerful and all-loving. If He were all-loving he would desire to eradicate pain and suffering and if He were all-powerful then he would be able to eradicate these evils. Since pain and suffering have not been eradicated God either doesn’t care (“moral monster”) or is not able (not all-powerful) to do so.
Whether they acknowledge it or not, this type of reasoning provides the pseudo-intellectual foundation for a great many atheists and secularists from all across the God-hater spectrum.
How many times have you engaged with an atheist “scientist” who presents his atheism as the only option science will allow, only to find out that his atheism is more to do with his objection to God’s character and commandments than the fossil record?
Unfortunately for the atheist, it is even easier to demonstrate the fallacious reasoning involved in accusing God of being evil than it is to point out the impossibility of life coming from non-life.
The obvious problem with this particular accusation of God is that it all hangs on the definition of love and the definition of all-powerful.
Can the God of The Bible Do Anything?
The supposed intellectual justification behind Stephen Fry’s blasphemous anger crumbles into nothingness when the power of God is rightly discerned from Scripture. Of course atheists are forced to believe that “nothingness” created the universe in the first place so it is not suprising that this argument lives on in the minds of atheists.
The biblical account concerning God’s power does not describe a God who can do anything. This idea is an atheist straw-man created to give pseudo-intellectual credence to their anti-God propaganda.
The God of the Bible is seen to be the Originator (Genesis 1:1) and Sustainer (Hebrews 1:3, Colossians 1:17, Acts 17:28, 2 Peter 3:7) of all that exists. In the beginning, our God created the universe out of nothing and now he holds the universe in existence by His power.
What can often be unsettling for the new Christian is that even with such power, there are things that our God cannot do.
It is the Christian’s lack of knowledge about his God not the fallacious reasoning of the atheist that has led to the rebirth of Stephen Fry’s long-since invalidated slander of the Most High.
Whilst it may seem counter-intuitive to the notion of omnipotence that God cannot do something, the problem is actually with the definition of “omnipotent” rather than with the Christian God.
The Christian concept of God describes a being that cannot be limited by anything external to Himself. It is not true however to suggest that this implies there are no limits to the power of the Christian God. The God of the Bible is limited by His own nature but not by any external agent.
By way of example;
• Our God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18) because He is truth (John 14:6).
• Our God cannot learn because He knows everything (1 John 3:20) already.
• Our God cannot do evil because He is good (Matthew 19:17).
• Our God cannot violate the laws of logic because the laws of logic stem from His nature.
• Our God cannot ignore sin because He is a righteous Judge (Psalm 7:11).
God cannot make a “married bachelor” or a stone so big that even He cannot move it because those things are both logical contradictions/impossibilities and as such contrary to His nature.
Once we understand that the God of the Bible cannot do certain things, it is perfectly reasonable and perfectly in line with the biblical data to assume that
the God of the Bible is unable to make a world in which there is less pain and suffering than we experience in this world whilst still accomplishing His purpose in Creation.
The reason that God is unable to make a world with less evil and more good is because it is impossible! If you disagree, read Job 38, the Creator of the Universe has some questions for you!
Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you,and you shall answer me.’Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!’ -Job 38
Creaturely Arrogance To the Extreme
When the atheist accuses God of being a “moral monster” he implies that God is indifferent to our pain and suffering, able to prevent it but unwilling to do so. The Bible makes it clear that the exact opposite is the case, regardless of the slanderous railings of Stephen Fry (Genesis 6:6, Isaiah 53, John 3:16, Psalm 5:4, Isaiah 59:2, Isaiah 13:11).
The reason God hates sin so much is that God knows sin is responsible for all of the pain and suffering in His universe both directly and indirectly. Just as God cannot force you to love Him (which includes not being able to force you not to sin whilst maintaining your individual sovereignty) so too can He not create a world with less suffering whilst maintaining the current goodness.
If there was no sin there would be no suffering.
A point worth considering next time you silence your conscience before your next pecadillo.
Atheists often like to ask Christians if we had the power would we not eradicate horrible diseases such as “bone cancer in children”. The natural response is to say that we would eradicate this evil. We, as “all-loving” humans, would do that which the Creator of the Universe has not!
Herein lies the utter arrogance underpinning this whole rhetorical tirade. The atheist believes that if you or I were God we could make a better job of the universe than its actual Creator!
This ridiculous pride and unbelievable arrogance is eerily reminiscent of the deluded mentality of Satan himself.
It is often wondered why Satan bothers to fight God when he knows God is unbeatable. Beating the “unbeatable” is a logical impossibility similar to the above mentioned God “creating a stone so big that even He cannot lift it”.
It is also often wondered by real “free-thinkers” how an atheist who has no logically coherent way to explain objective good and evil within his own worldview can claim that God is evil, and then claim he knows what is good better than God.
As with Satan, any atheist who attempts to accuse God of immorality has abandoned logic and reason and embraced the deluded, creaturely pride of Satan.
The only logically coherent definition of goodness is “God’s Moral Standard”.
Without God, “goodness” and “evil” are meaningless concepts open to any arbitrary definition one may care to offer. Questioning God about his “goodness” is just as absurd as Satan believing he can beat the “unbeatable”.
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. –Luke 18:19
God is the definition of “goodness”. If God does it, the end result will be good (Romans 8:28), simply because God is good.
You may not understand in the grand scheme of the universe why something is good but that’s because of your human inadequacy and limitations, not God’s imagined immorality.
There Is No Better Way
To answer Stephen Fry’s accusation of the Most High;
It is not possible to create a world in which there is less “bone cancer in children” but where all other good things in the Universe don’t diminish.
Christianity teaches that it is impossible to create a universe with more goodness and less evil than exists in our actual universe.
The atheist might as well ask why Jesus had to die and why God can’t just let us all into heaven.
Stephen Fry, and other atheists who accuse God, seem surprised that as finite, frail creatures, limited in strength, time and most pertinently limited in knowledge, we are utterly incapable of even approaching the question of whether the evil, pain and suffering in the world are justified to achieve God’s good purpose in creation.
Whether the infinite, eternal, omniscient and all-powerful Creator of the universe has ends that justify the pain and suffering we see in the world today, in the words of US President Barack Obama, is an issue that is far “above [our] pay grade”.
Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. -1 Samuel 2:3