“Why Should I Respect a Capricious, Mean-minded, Stupid God Who Creates a World So Full of Injustice and Pain?” – Stephen Fry
Wow. I can understand Stephen Fry’s objection. Certainly, if God were a selfish maniac who arbitrarily makes and allows cancer and insects in the world to bring nothing but suffering, then I too would reject God. I’m grateful to God for Stephen Fry’s clarity. I appreciate the feeling that comes through this video (posted above). I would respond with a few points.
1. A Logical Extension
First, if you’re mad at God because he’s all-knowing and all-powerful and all-wise and all-loving and yet allows suffering, then you need to pause and think one step further. If you’re mad at a conception of a God who is all-powerful and all-loving yet allows suffering then you must at the same time allow him to have a good and wise reason for the suffering that is beyond our limited understanding. That seems like a logical necessity. Unless we think humans should also be all-knowing and all-wise and able to handle God’s explanation. If he’s big enough to be mad at then he must at the same time be big enough to have reasons too big for us. You can’t have it both ways. He’s either big and could have a good reason or he’s small and we shouldn’t be mad at a god who is unable.
2. A Necessary Question
Second, if you don’t believe in God, I get it. But I ask you a question that you too must answer: What is the meaning and purpose of suffering in the world? Is there any meaning to my loved one’s cancer or tragic pain? There can be many answers to this, and to be honest, none of them eliminate the sharpness of the pain. But let’s realize that it is not only those who believe in some concept of “god” who have to answer this question. Everyone who feels pain or asks this question of a person of faith must also answer the question for themselves. So I’d respectfully ask Stephen Fry: why do you think there’s suffering in the world? What does it mean as far as you understand?
3. A Christian Conclusion
Third, it is safe to assume that you, Mr. Fry, have suffered pain. The bible says we all will. I don’t know how you deal with it. And my half-answer that God has a wise and good reason for all suffering that is beyond my understanding is just that, a half-answer. I might understand your half-answer if we sat down to talk. And it seems, from your answer in the video, that you think that God is capricious. He doesn’t care about the suffering and pain down here. But that can’t be true. Not for the Christian God. He may not give us his infinitely wise and good reason for every pain, but he clearly communicates that he does care. He doesn’t just say he cares about our pain and suffering, he enters into it. God becomes a man, Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ lives in this broken and cursed world, suffers pain and is murdered on a cross. So God understands and knows our pain. Not just by his all-knowingness (omniscience). He knows it by experience. God lost his Son. He died. He deeply cares because he came and died for our sins then rose from the dead on the third day.
I admit that this doesn’t come close to exhausting the mystery of suffering and pain. But it does point us to the God who is all-powerful, all-wise, AND all-loving. I wonder how close your answer comes to this most serious issue. I pray you come to know the God who loves us through his Son, Jesus the Messiah.
Question: Why do you think God allows suffering in this world? How do you respond to others who disagree with your view? Leave a comment below or email me.