Are Atheists Right? Is It God’s Fault the World is a Terrible Place?
I’m fascinated by atheists. How can I not be fascinated by someone who spends a great deal of effort and energy refuting someone they don’t believe exists?
It would be as if I said “this chair I’m sitting in does not exist,” and then spent the next 2 hours lecturing you about why doesn’t exist, the silliness of believing it does exist, and all the whole pointing to the chair that I don’t believe exists. And yet this is, in my opinion, what many – if not all – atheists do.
Some of the world’s most brilliants atheists are also some of the most educated theologians. Though they seek to discredit the Bible and theology and prove that God doesn’t exist, they certainly know a lot. I can think of no other person that proves more clearly that knowledge does not equal wisdom or relationship than atheists.
But I have a hunch, a secret belief that there is no such thing as an atheist. What we might call an atheist, and what a person might self-identify as, is really a person that has been hurt and is angry at God. What better way to get back at God than to deny He exists and convince others that He doesn’t exist?
Stephen Fry, described as a “British comedian, actor and hardline atheist,” is one such person that is potentially very angry at God. In a recent interview Fry was asked what he would say to God if “it’s all true” and he ends up face to face before God when he dies. While most might be, at that moment in time, humbled into admitting “I was wrong,” or prepared to confess God as the Sovereign Lord, Fry has some other thoughts in mind. He replied that he would say:
“I’d say, ‘Bone cancer in children? What’s that about?’ 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 a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?’…because the God that created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac…utter maniac, totally selfish. We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him? What kind of God would do that?”
First, to be fair, Fry is not the only one that wants to ask God about cancer in children. Millions of people likely would like to ask God about such cruel pain in the most vulnerable of our planet. And it’s not like God isn’t big enough to handle our feeble questions. I’m reminded of a man that pulled no punches in his questioning of God after losing his kids, his livelihood, and his health. That man was Job, of the Bible.
When God allowed all that was dear to Job to be taken away Job decided He would ask God “What’s that about?” So he questioned God and asked God to give an answer. If any man had the right to I should think it was Job, especially considering God complimented Job as an example of faithfulness (Job 1:8). The fact is, Job was angry at God and he brought that anger to God and unloaded it. You might expect God to strike Job dead or something, but on the contrary, God, in His love and patience, let Job talk.
But, after Job was done, it was God’s turn to talk. So God says to Job “Where were you when I…” and proceeds to list many of His wondrous works of creation. God demands an answer of Job (Job 38-39). When God finished questioning Job the only thing Job could say was “I lay my hand on my mouth” (Job 40). After another round of questions Job replies “I…repent,” (Job 42:6).
So while Stephen Fry, in his earthly anger, may be ready to go toe to toe with God about what he perceives as “misery that is not our fault.” He is only proving that he is ignorant of biblical teaching regarding sin and the curse.
Fry believes that the misery we experience on this earth is not our fault and that God has inflicted it on us capriciously for some sadistic reason. The reality however is that what we experience here on earth is our fault. Our sin, or more correctly, the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve (Gen. 1-3), resulted in the curse of sin that we all now live under.
You see, God didn’t create a world with disease, injustice, pain, or death. God created a world that was perfect in every way and people that were perfect. But those people chose to ignore God, reject His loving grace, and do things their way. The result is the world we see today. A world where people are selfish, envious, cruel, and hate-filled. This world is not the product of a loving, kind God, this world is the product of sinful people that daily choose to reject God.
Someone might counter that God could stop the pain anytime He chooses; after all, He’s God. And while it is true that God is omnipotent (all-powerful), it is also true that in order to stop all the pain and sin, God would have to make us into robots. Why? Because we as human beings are naturally, inherently, sinful. By our very nature we desire to do what is wrong and seek to reject God and His plan for our lives. The only way to not sin is to become a robot.
But, thanks be to God for His Son, Jesus Christ.
As parents we are devastated when our child suffers. The parent that has to watch his child suffer under the curse of cancer is crushed by the weight of that burden. Why? Because our goal is to protect our kids. Just imagine what God must have felt when He sent His Son, Jesus, to earth for the explicit purpose of dying. Imagine the pain, the anguish God endured knowing His only Son would suffer unbearably at the hands of His creation. The very curse that causes us so much pain cost God’s Son His life. God had to watch Jesus die.
And yet, that single act of unbearable pain for God resulted in the reconciliation of God and man. The penalty of sin, death, had been paid and God’s divine wrath against mankind was forever satisfied. Jesus had successfully bought redemption by dying on the cross for our sins.
I don’t blame Stephen Fry for being angry at God. It’s easy to look around this world and be angry. But without God not only would the world not exist, it wouldn’t make sense. The only hope we have is knowing that this life is a short detour to our final destination in the presence of God for all eternity where there will be no pain, no disease, no cancer, and no more death. If God doesn’t exist then this life is all there is and it is utterly meaningless, and without hope.
I hope Fry will be honest about his anger towards God and seek the reconciliation that is possible through Jesus. Otherwise, he will spend all eternity angry at God in a place he was never intended to live; a place that makes earth look like…Heaven.
Watch the interview with Stephen Fry below. If the video doesn’t appear automatically, please refresh your browser.