As some of you may or may not know, British comedian and noted atheist made some waves when asked what he'd say to God if he came face-to-face with Him. "I’ll say: bone cancer in children, what’s that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world where there is such misery that’s not our fault? It’s utterly, utterly evil."
What struck me was the anger in his voice. It was deep and unflinching. In fact, when I encounter most atheists and the discussion gets going, it's anger that always comes through. A deep contempt. A strange sentiment to have discussing a fictional being. I do not get so passionate when discussing Allah, and never do I see an atheist.
A Christian understands the purpose of pain, even in the innocent, but few, if any athiests are willing to take in the reasoning. God, it seems, must operate on their terms.
So it is I wonder what Mr. Fry would make of the God of Martin Pistorius. You may know the name, you may not, but Mr. Pistorius has been making the media rounds a little lately. Mr. Pistorius gradually began losing control of his body at 12 and soon fell into a coma for three years. When he regained consciousness no one knew his mind was fully active and aware despite suffering from locked-in syndrome. It wasn't until he was 25 that he was tested and it was discovered he was back.
For nearly a decade he was trapped in his own body. Seen as little more than a prop, treated as though he were still a child (he detests Barney), and the victim of horrific physical and sexual about at the hands of his caregivers.
I just finished his autobiography Ghost Boy and what permeates it is an intense love for God, a conviction of the presence of God with him during that decade, and a love of God that only grew as he acclimated and overcame the challenges of entering the world. Never once does Martin express anger or resentment toward God.
After reading Martin's book I couldn't help but appreciate so many things I take for granted. The blessings I simply assume will always be there. And that, I think, is the great paradox of blessings:
The more we're blessed the more we are likely to resent God. Stephen Fry is the beneficiary of a great many blessings he never earned because he was born into a nation, and a culture, that once loved God. It's a pattern we see repeated in the Old Testament over and over. Israel is faithful and in blessed. Then a generation comes up who knows nothing of the pain that earned those blessings, and they turn from God. Then God, because He loves His children, punishes Israel.
What would Stephen Fry say to Martin Pistorius? Would he try to convince him that God doesn't deserve his devotion? That the feeling of comfort and love that surrounded Martin as his heart and mind raged in frustration and despair was merely a delusion of his own making? Would he tell Martin that the message of his autobiography wasn't worth what he paid to tell it? That the hope and light and pure decency that exudes from it shouldn't have ever been?
Stephen Fry presumes to speak for people in pain without thinking about the strength and light that can, and often does, come out from the other end of it. In Stephen's world there is no purpose to this pain. It just simply is.
In the Christian world there is always a purpose, even if we cannot see it.
I'm truly baffled why the atheist thinks their world is more appealing in this light. It's irrational to think it is.
Which is why I'm more convinced than ever there is nothing rational about the atheistic worldview. Scripture already tells us that it is irrational to deny God's existence. And that is why I'm less and less inclined to engage in debates because no man ever came to, or was led away from, God because of a particularly compelling cosmological treatise. People come to, or walk away from, God because of a need in their life. Because of a pain in their life.
Martin Pistorius is the answer to Stephen Fry's objection. But that answer doesn't truly matter because that's not really what Mr. Fry is objecting to. Mr. Fry isn't angry at God because he allows pain to afflict the innocent. Mr. Fry is angry at God because God didn't respond to a pain in his own life.
And so I encourage my fellow believers to remember this: Do not get drawn into debate with those who are not truly interested in the truth. Yeshua Himself turned away from the Greeks who were only looking to philosophize. So we too must know when to disengage. It is not our calling to beat down the door to a man's heart. Instead we must turn debates to the matters that truly keep us from God: pain and disappointment.
With this in mind let us never forget love and mercy. They are the only tools that can overcome these obstacles.