Stephen Fry and the question of suffering, part 1

A few days ago, I had reposted “Why do the righteous suffer,” on this blog’s Facebook page, originally posted on this blog on Jan. 14, 2014. I had come across it after having also just a few days earlier come across a viral video (aired in January 2015 on The Meaning of Life with Gay Byrne) where British actor Stephen Fry “annihilates God.”

In the video, Fry is asked by the interviewer what he would say to God after he dies, if “it’s all true.” Then Fry “puts God on the stand,” so to speak, charging God with crimes against humanity. Even though I had seen this video before, for some reason this time it had been swirling in my head moreso now, and after having just reposted a blog on suffering, I thought I’d take the time to comment on Fry’s assertions.

First, and foremost, I don’t think anyone has all the answers on God and suffering. I certainly don’t, and I’ve learned that we never will. The reason why is because we are not God.  It seems like a simple answer, but I have found it to be wildly profound. You see, without even realizing it, we tend to naturally think of ourselves as God’s god. Fry certainly seems to think so.

God is God. God is sovereign. What do I mean by sovereign? Well, for example, God did not create the universe having himself bound by physical laws. No, he created physical laws–physics is his invention. He is not bound by time and space–time and space are his inventions. He stands outside our universe in much the same way I stand outside this blog post. I am not bound inside a computer screen. God holds the universe in his hand. We are not able to contain him in our minds or constructs of neatly designed packages of “if/then” statements (though there are a few if/then statements in the Bible). God is sovereign. What we know about God can be obtained through his word, and by our relationship with him. But God has not revealed absolutely everything about himself to us. We do not have the mind of God (1 Cor. 2:16). That’s what makes him God. And our desire to have him all figured out and to have a say in how he operates his universe is a result of us having been born and bred in a 20th and 21st Century/Western democratic republic with an increasing ability to have our say via blog posts and social media; as well as hearing everyone give their opinion via news and entertainment media.

While we may have the right to have a mind of our own, God is not our public servant. We don’t get to vote on God. We don’t get to throw him out of office after four years or throw him on the stand in front of an ethics committee or judicial committee. We don’t get to impeach him. Instead, we are placed on the judgement stand in front of him. We answer to him. When Fry stands before God, I unfortunately don’t think Fry would be able to utter a single word.

But back to the question at hand. What about Fry’s points about suffering? I admit, that it seems oddly unfair that an all-loving/all-knowing/all-powerful God would allow such suffering in a universe that he created. Is this truly fair? Are there answers to Fry’s question? Should we even be asking such questions? Keep an eye out for a series of upcoming posts on this subject.

One thought on “Stephen Fry and the question of suffering, part 1

  1. Pingback: Stephen Fry and the question of suffering, part 2 – A Closer Look

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