In early February, Stephen Fry was in the news, and all over the internet, for declaring if there was a God, he would be “utterly, utterly evil.”
Fry was reacting to a question from Irish TV presenter, Gay Byrne: “What would you say if you came face-to-face with God?”
Stephen Fry demanded:
“Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”
I fully sympathise with Mr Fry.
All of us must question what it means to have faith in a world of suffering. If, however, that questioning leads people to conclude, like Stephen Fry, that there is no God, they make a huge leap of faith.
Atheists, such as Stephen Fry, can only believe that we are random, meaningless accidents in an infinity of space. This means that there is no ultimate point or purpose to our lives, nothing intrinsically valuable in our existence. That there is no basis beyond humanity for where love and beauty come from.
‘The mystery of evil’
And yet, most of us would say from instinct, from truth deep within ourselves, that this cannot be true. Rather than the lost plaintive cries of Stephen Fry, hear the beautiful gentle words of the monk and writer, Timothy Radcliffe:
“The mystery of evil has no explanation, but it is swallowed up in the more profound mystery of good.”
Even in a world of appalling suffering, most of us live by this profound mystery; the victory of good; that there is point and meaning to our lives; we are not random, meaningless accidents; there is purpose which has at its core love and beauty…there is God.
Of course, once we acknowledge this creative force in the universe that is God, it must be incumbent on us to find out who He is, what He is like. The Christian faith gives us answers to these questions. Jesus says “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:7). As we know Jesus, we know God.
Facing injustice and pain
We find that God, of course, does not magic away all of the world’s problems. Instead, He faces the world of injustice and pain that Stephen Fry decries. He loves and serves, and overcomes the power of the essential ills of our existence – the sin of mankind, death and the force of evil.
Then we are invited by God to join the battle. Following His example and in His power and victory, we are not to be by-standers decrying a world of injustice and pain, but instead we are to be engaged in bringing His kingdom, until all of the “mystery of evil” is completely “swallowed up in the more profound mystery of good”.
Everyone has faith – something we believe in, base our lives on. I believe not in random meaningless but in good, in God, and in the example and victory of Jesus Christ.
Rev. Alan Jonas, Vicar of Holy Trinity Church, Westcott and Rural Dean of