Is Stephen Fry Wrong to Blame God for Bone Cancer in Children?


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Recently, a video has been going around showing Stephen Fry, a popular atheist celebrity, saying what he’s say to God. At one point, he said that he would demand to know why God would allow bone cancer in children. A number of Christians have complained that Stephen Fry is being unfair to God. Is this true? Is Stephen Fry wrong to blame God?

Did God create the universe?

Did God create everything in the universe?

Did God give humans freewill?

Did God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden with Adam and Eve?

Could he have put the tree elsewhere?

Is God all knowing?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, then God is responsible for bone cancer in children. Both because he created the cancer and made it possible for the cancer to affect children, and because he created a situation where Adam and Eve would “damn” us, and didn’t stop it when he could have, he is also responsible for the fall.

Of course, this is only true if God exists.

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55 responses to “Is Stephen Fry Wrong to Blame God for Bone Cancer in Children?

  • Uniquely Mustered

    It seems Mercia had said what I was about to sum up. Would’ve taken time to treat all the comments about an uninvited topic before we returned to the issue at stake. So far I agree with Equippedcat Brain in the Jar and J. Matthan Brown so far for their inputs. They indeed had made my work easier.

    Let me say that whatever we do in life-good or bad- only paints our knowledge or whatever you may call it of and about God. And it’s very amusing that God, whether he exist or not owes us no explanation or the power to decode him. It’s we humans that should align and define or design ourselves to God whether in belief, faith or nature.

    To the author of the topic, hessianwithteeth, I see no reason to why you intend to be stuck in the middle or wanting to implore a system that’s already there. You defend yourself well and as well contradict yourself unconsciously. You can’t make one accept your stand only to discredit it and apply it to others. It’s just what I observed here and I hope you may come to develop to the point of reaching this observation I made.

    Now to my comment. I want to let you know that God is both ruler of Good and Evil. To those who don’t believe in God, there are lots of Nature and Science to endorse with eclectic and numerous laws, theories and self discovery research. I wish you luck in how you arrive with that.

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  • merciadragon

    I’m going to try to answer these questions by taking a different approach. I believe that there is some force outside of time, space and all perceived dimensions that created the universe. I am quite happy to call that force ‘God’. However I don’t believe that God possesses any human attributes. He neither loves or hates. The universe that he created is a very violent and destructive place which needs to be this way for the ongoing creation of stars, galaxies and the elements created with in stars which make up organic life and ultimately life itself.
    Did God create the universe? Yes
    Did God create everything in the universe? At the point of creation at the big bang all the laws of physics were written into the universe including how those laws would perform. So this is a yes/no answer, except to say that God did not intervene once the universe was created.
    Did God give humans freewill? Humans have no more freewill than any other ape. A few years ago Sir Robert Winston did an excellent program on human instinct http://youtu.be/1OH-FN9942w .
    Did God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden with Adam and Eve? Metaphysical! One way of looking good and evil but only those people who follow the Abrahamic traditions.
    Could he have put the tree elsewhere? Well I guess so as long as there were plenty of water and nutrients 🙂
    Is God all knowing? No! This is a human concept and therefore cannot be applied to God.
    The whole universe is in a state of creation and destruction and humans are no different. Disease forms an important part of evolution. We do not like disease and so we will look at ways to eliminate each one only to find more coming to the surface. e.g. long life by mastering infectious diseases but this gives away to other diseases such as dementia. Also our battle with microbes continue as they become resistant to antibiotics.
    As much is like Stephen he does have a habit of putting his foot in things.

    Liked by 1 person

  • J. Matthan Brown

    It’s certainly an emotional subject, and you shouldn’t be surprised that his comments have upset a lot of people. That being said, both religious and non-religious philosopher’s have invested a great deal of time pondering this issue. I compiled a short reading list on the “problem of evil” on my blog if you’re interested: https://jmatthanbrown.wordpress.com/2015/02/04/stephen-fry-and-the-problem-of-evil/ Cheers!

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  • The Brain in the Jar

    By this logic, God is also responsible for every other good thing too. So now we should discuss whether or not this world of both good and bad is necessary.

    Whether God is good or bad is not an argument against or for his existance. Then again, a shallow statement like that is what I’d expect from a celebrity.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      It’s already assumed by many that God is responsible for all the good in the world. It’s the bad that isn’t always attributed to him. So why bother bringing the good up?
      Not all discussions regarding religion are focused on whether or not God exists. Religion is far more complicated than that, and morality is an important part of the discussion.
      How exactly is Stephen Fry’s answer shallow? He was asked a question and he gave his honest answer.

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      • equippedcat

        It is not an honest answer; it is an answer intending to be “good television”. That is, something which is meant to be humorous, while taking a jab at people who disagree with him.

        I’d be willing to bet, that if Stephen had some time to prepare, and was confident that he could actually get a question of his answered by God, that he could come up with a much better (and honest) question.

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      • The Brain in the Jar

        You’re right. I tend to see the argument “God is an asshole, therefore he doesn’t exist” a lot. It’s not exactly what is said here.

        My problem is more with the form of Fry’s criticism. It’s an attention-grabbing statement, the kind that attracts emotional reactions rather than logical ones (“He’s disrespecting God!”, the aforementioned argument). It might work in a piece of art, but he could phrase it in a way that would filter out these reactions. Maybe it means less exposure, but popularity is not a measure of quality anyway.

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  • Tim

    A young-earth creationist viewpoint is the only Christian view compatible with any type of pain and suffering. If evolution is true, then God used billions of years of pain/suffering/bloodshed/cancer,etc. BEFORE man was created. Fortunately, this is not the God the Bible describes. The Bible describes a God who created the world perfectly just a few thousand years ago, entrusted it to man, man messed up, and opened a door that was never meant to be opened – which eventually led to all the horrible things we now experience including bone cancer in children. In the YEC view, God is not to blame – man is. But those who believe in evolution, even Christians who compromise creation with evolution – cannot reconcile an all-powerful, all-loving God with the pain & suffering in the world. YECs can. We blame man – not God.

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    • equippedcat

      No, not really. I’m not a “YEC” (Old Earth Christian perhaps?) and I accept that there is pain and suffering despite God being claimed to be “all loving and all powerful”.

      We (humans) despise pain and suffering. Particularly when it affects us personally, and many of us when it affects others. We consider pain and suffering to be “bad”. And it might be. It might also be that there is benefit to be gained from pain and suffering. Who benefits from that gain? God knows (so to speak). Perhaps we do, or someone else does, or even God does, or some combination thereof.

      Crazy? Maybe not. Have you ever spanked your child? I’m pretty sure he or she felt pain, and was not in favor of it. But you knew it was necessary in order to give them the best chance of a life not at odds with the rest of the human race. Does that mean you are not loving to your child? No, it means you know more than the child, and intend that the child develop in a way which won’t put them at harmful division from the society you envision them being part of.

      So why am I not a YEC, but an OEC? Two reasons. One, is that Science is universally sure that the Earth is NOT young. This is not something which has two sides each of which has some merit. “Every” scientist agrees. Of course, they COULD be mistaken to some degree, but is seems vanishingly unlikely they could be off by THAT much.

      But what about the Bible? It says everything that Science claims took Billions of years really only took 6 24 hour Earth days, or at least seems to say that. Some people insist it says that; I suggest those people read it again, more carefully. Let us consider the first “day”. “God said ‘let there be light’, and there was light”. That took Him 24 hours? I can do it in 24 miliiseconds (light switch or flashlight) and I am not God or even god-like. Ok, so He also “divided the light from the darkness”. Is that a long process? I seem to observe that it kind of divides itself pretty well; it kind of is intrinsic in the definition of light and darkness. “God called the light Day and the darkness Night”. And that was the first “day”.

      Was it 24 Earth hours? I don’t think so. It really should not take an entity with God’s reputed power to create light, “separate” light from dark and “name” it. Plus, what is an Earth day? It is one rotation of a point on the Earth towards the sun. The Earth does not exist yet; neither does the sun. My reading is each “day” is an “undefined period of time” which corresponds more closely to that which Science theorizes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Tim

        So how do you answer Stephen Fry? Does bone cancer in children exist to teach us a lesson. That’s the answer I seem to get from your spanking reference. God said death is the result of sin, yet according to the evolutionary timeline – death has been around for billions of years BEFORE man. Problem?

        The Bible says THORNS are a result of the curse following man’s sin… YET thorns are in the fossil record apparently billions of years BEFORE man comes on the scene.

        Jesus says God created mankind male and female from the “beginning” of creation, but in the evolutionary timeline – mankind doesn’t come on the scene until VERY very recently.

        It also does absolutely no good to extend any of the days of creation as the actual things created on the different days is way out of order from the evolutionary timeline.

        Why make what man has said (science) the final authority and reinterpret the Bible? Why not the other way around? When the scientific data is looked at with God’s word as the authority – there is not one single piece of evidence that disagrees with a young-earth.

        Reinterpretting the world’s view was nothing new to Jesus. It is what he did all the time. He used God’s word as the infallible source, and everything else as fallible. You’re doing the opposite. Be careful my friend.

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    • hessianwithteeth

      Sorry Tim, but your going to have to make a clear and decisive argument before I’ll honestly consider that you’ve managed to over come the problem of evil. Besides The bible doesn’t even say the world is a few thousand years old, it’s an estimate based on the two contradicting genealogies in the bible.

      Not to forget all the children murdered at the request and hand of God, as described in the bible.

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      • Tim

        There is a straight genealogy line from Adam to Jesus. There is some wiggle room, but no room for hundreds of thousands of years or millions of years.

        The argument is straight forward. If evolution is true, then the God who created through that mean IS the evil God that Stephen Fry is talking about. But the God of the Bible did not create through evolution, thus those evils can be attributed the mankind’s errors and the natural results that followed.

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        • hessianwithteeth

          Except they can’t or at least it isn’t so strait forward, and sure there’s tons of room, before Adam, unless you take the 7 day bit to be literal which you probably do. Now I assume your talking about original sin, but I’m not sure. Contrary to what you say before are still several tactics you can take, and I’ve heard several different takes on the literal reading, since you know the bible contradicts itself in many places, including several contradictions in the genesis story to do with order of creation.

          With the story of the garden of Eden how does it actually make any sense morally speaking? You have two humans who have no sense of right or wrong, held accountable for being tricked into eating something which gives them knowledge of good and evil. However at the time they consumed the fruit they couldn’t be held any more accountable then a toddler. Then God casts them out and curses them. That isn’t love it is the demand of absolute obedience from people who had no meaningful concept of consequences. From this unintentional act you think we can be held accountable for all evils. The root of it makes no sense and then some how you get evil because two gullible humans where tricked into made a mistake? Right under Gods nose.

          And how does all this auxiliary bad shit come about in a few short millennia? It’s not like all these thing could have evolved, or popped out on no where, well not unless this god let them. There’s no reasons for bone cancer to exist humanity can do plenty of harm with out random acts of cruelty beyond our control.

          You say it makes sense, but well no it doesn’t. Unless of course you take a certain literal view of the bible which in turn doesn’t reflect accurately, on well, basically anything at all.

          In closing even if I were to grant that your variety of biblical literalism solved the problem of evil, which I don’t. Then you still have all the other problems that Young earth creationism brings. In essence denying anything which does not aline with that reading of the bible. Which is basically the whole of science and medicine. Also good luck finding those pillars holding up the earth.

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          • Tim

            There is no room for millions of years before Adam & Eve. The creation account has plants before the sun. Cant quite put millions of years in there. And there are other examples as well. The creation account is not in the same order as evolution in any way, shape, or form.

            There is no contradiction between Genesis 1 and 2: see here (https://gracesalt.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/two-creation-accounts/). In fact, there are no contradictions in the Bible… see here (http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/bible.htm#INDEX). Most “contradictions” are simply two different people’s different perspectives. Both true, just different details about the same event.

            In the Garden of Eden, Adam & Eve walked with God. Their lives were guided by God’s wisdom. They were not alone as per the story you seem to be painting. They were given one rule… ONE. That’s it. LOL. They were even pre-warned as to the punishment if it was broken. There was no surprises. God wanted to remain walking with his creation, but can’t remain in the presense of sin and thus had to leave – leaving the people to their eventual demise.

            For the actual science you need to study genetic entropy. Nearly all geneticists agree that the human genome is degenerating genetically. Each new generation carries a load of deleterious mutations, and even heavy selection cannot keep up with the ratio of bad to good, and thus we are on a downward spiral genetically because we are no longer being upheld by God himself. Thousands of years of mutational accumulation leads to bone cancer in children.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Your right on the sun coming after plant in G1, which goes against basically all of science yet again and has no supporting evidence what so ever.

            “Most “contradictions” are simply two different people’s different perspectives. Both true, just different details about the same event.”

            What? You can’t say that God created eve from Adams rib, and that god created eve from mud and at the same time as Adam. These can not logically coexsit in the same time line.

            Also the Gospels clearly contradict themselves, such as disagreeing on where Jesus was born, what Jesus said when he died.

            Now I’m not a biblical scholar, so to be honest I can’t dive deep into fact checking and those who sources largely because they don’t cite or justify anything, they just link to bible passages and say the translations are justified with out justifying any of them with any kind or historically relevant or theologically relevant research.

            However, I am a biologist with substantial training and understanding in genetics and microbiology. As such I can tell you quite definitively that you are not using the correct language and the scientific consensus is not that the human genome is “degrading.” Heck compared to many creatures the human genome is relatively static. Though from that statement am I right in a summing that you deny that there can be beneficial mutations?

            Beyond that you can’t justify this backward idea that some how following or not following the Christan god would some how affect how the mutation rate in the human genome. The bible can’t justify it, science definitely does not, and probably can’t, support the idea. So I have to ask. Why you are so certain about this? Where are you getting these ideas from, and how do you think you can justify them?

            Liked by 1 person

          • Tim

            “has no supporting evidence what so ever.” – Uh.. what supporting evidence would there be if plants were created on one day and the sun the next?

            Adam and Eve were created at the same time – in the beginning of creation. Adam was made first, Eve second. It’s like twins. Both are born at the same time (meaning day), but one is born before the other – no contradiction.

            “disagreeing on where Jesus was born”. No, Bethlehem was in Judea. It’s like saying Jesus was born in New York and Jesus was born in the USA – that’s the same, no contradiction.

            I do not deny that there can be beneficial mutations, I only understand at what cost they arise. See this image (https://gracesalt.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/money.png).

            I didn’t say following or not following God would affect the mutation rate, I was saying that when they chose to not follow God – mutations began. This is evident by the fact that they were able to inbreed with no problems in the beginning. Why? Because they had not arisen a mass of mutational errors in their DNA. Also evidence in that they lived longer ages (up to 900 years), because their bodies had not amassed all these harmful mutations. They were closer to the pristine condition of the original creation.

            Have you heard of genetic entropy? Here is 19 sources from secular, peer-reviewed journals on the topic: http://justpaste.it/ymd.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Well lets start with your sources, a lot of those don’t come from peer reviewed journals! Some are just press releases from universities! Still others are unpublished research papers! This is not peer reviewed work, do you even understand what it means for something to be peer reviewed, or how you go about finding if it’s from a journal? Let alone if that journal is accredited.

            While you did manage to get a few abstracts from some research papers why would I take your word that they agree with your position? How do you even know they do, an abstract is a useful way to see if a paper is related to the topic your interested in studying, but they don’t tell you very much about the actual findings.

            Even then I have seen some of these papers in my prior work researching topics for my courses, and well of the ones I have read. They are not supporting your claims. Though lets get this “genetic entropy” thing out of the way. Do you know why I haven’t heard this term before? Because it’s only found on creation websites, books, and on the media debunking those creationist claims. It’s not a scientific term, and it’s not used by geneticists, it does even seem to be used in any of the articles you posted!

            At this point I’d left with two options either you know this stuff is not coming from the science community and your lying about it, or you don’t have any science background and your regurgitating things you been told else where. Thinking that you understand the topic when you haven’t even gotten a basic education in the subject.

            Truly do you think it’s okay to make up stuff and read into things what you wish, to bolster your own position, or do you honestly not understand what your doing wrong? If you don’t understand we can have a discussion. If your willing to step a few steps with me into the scientific literature, but right now you don’t even seem to know enough of the basics of biology. Let alone the more difficult ability of researching it. These are not simple skills you can gain in an afternoon or two of work, you need to spend hundreds of hours working and learning and being wrong before you have a good chance of really understanding what’s going on. I’d be happy to set you on the right path so that maybe one day you can draw your own conclusions based on the science, but your not there yet. Not even close.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            Ah right I nearly forgot you still haven’t gotten around the problem of Adam and Eve having no real reason to follow god single command. They wouldn’t have any sense of consequences as they would never had experienced any in the garden of Eden. Again they’d be about as moraly responsible as toddelers. Besides your deity is supposedly omnipotent, could he just strip the knowledge of good and evil away and made just the snake could no longer tempt the two? And how does his justify him further cursing them on top of casting them out? No to mention the snake tricked Adam and Eve with out god reacting and even surprised certainty then that means he can’t be truly omniscient. Though perhaps you don’t think your god is omniscient hopefully you’ll enlighten.me.

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          • equippedcat

            Tim, there is time for millions of years before Adam and Eve, as long as you don’t insist that the “days” described in Genesis are really 24 hour Earth days.

            On day one, God said “let there be light” and there was light. That took a 24 hour day?

            But let us say that the “days” of Genesis 1 really means days as we know them. In that case, Genesis 2 seems to be quite questionable..

            7And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
            15Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.
            God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
            19Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.
            20So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
            21And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.
            22Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

            According to Genesis 1, on day 6, God made all the animals and then made man. That progression makes sense.

            In Genesis 2, in one 24 hour earth day, God creates animals and man, puts man in a garden to tend it, then decides he needs a helper, and then parades all the animals by the man to get evaluated and named, then puts the man asleep and creates woman. In the same length of time it took to say “let there be light”?

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          • equippedcat

            Tim, that article gives an explanation for the “apparent difference in order of creation” between Gen 1 and 2. I’m not concerned about that. I’m concerned about the rather extensive number of steps claimed for day 6 in Gen 2. If the 6 “days” are really 24 hours, it seems unlikely that the descriptions of at least the first (too little for 1 day) and last (too much for one day) days can be accurate. If each “day” is an “undefined length of time”, then the descriptions are more reasonable. Keep in mind that God does not interact with time as we do… His first day may be seconds long and his 6th day could be years long (in our frame of reference).

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          • Tim

            Your opinion about the days being different lengths of time is contradictd with Exodus 20:11 where God himself writes in stone (on the 10 commandments) that he created in six days and thus we should work six days and rest on the seventh. I don’t think he intended to mean we should work 6 million years and rest for a million years.

            Gen1 is the overview of the whole week, Gen2 is a detailed look at day 6.

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          • equippedcat

            As I mentioned before, God does not think of time like we do.

            2Peter 3:8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

            In this case, the accurate evaluation of time is critical. In creation, not so much and not as relevant to us. God did 6 “days” worth of work, but not each days work took the same amount of time.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Tim

            I don’t think it is good literary evaluation to use a New Testament verse to interpret an Old Testament passage. Why not use it’s own context? By the way your own verse cancels itself out… a day is as a thousand years AND a thousand years like a day. You seem to be preferring the thousand years and forgetting the “day” part. Plus it does not good to make the days of creation a thousand years each… then the world is only 12,000 years old. Doesn’t help your case much.

            The Hebrew word “yom” in Genesis is best interpreted as a 24-hour day because there is incredible amounts of context. Each day is numbered as well as the phrase “evening, then morning” – that implies a rotation of the earth. The word day is no better defined in any other part of scripture. If we don’t know what “day” means in Gen1 , then you could never make the case that Jesus was in the grave for 3 days.

            I find it incredibly telling that the word “day” is defined its best in the whole Bible in Gen1, yet that’s also the only place we dispute what it means.

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          • equippedcat

            Ok, how about Psalm 90:4:

            For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it is past,

            The point is that God does not pay attention to time except when necessary.

            It certainly would be handy if there was no question that the “days” described in Genesis were what we think of as days, but if they are, then a) God is a slacker, goofing off at first and then pulling an “all-nighter” on the last day, and b) Science is completely wrong about many things. Not inaccurate, not confused, but wrong, and that seems unlikely.

            Liked by 1 person

          • hessianwithteeth

            As though a random blog post “proves” anything. How do you know those translations are accurate from the ancient Hebrew, and as I was talking to an rabbi about this every generation the Hebrew Tora is re edited and often altered to better reflect the current needs of the community, if that’s the case (I’m not sure if it is) then how can you know that any of this is accurate to the way Yehwah intended it?

            But again Tim you don’t seem to know how proper citations work since in your article you don’t actually cite where your getting you information on the translation of the Hebrew. Well unless your well verse in reading ancient Hebrew in which case maybe you are qualified to talk about it.

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          • Tim

            Yes, at some point faith will always be required because they things the scriptures speak of are outside of observation or repetition. Just like origins science (whether creation or evolution). Both are outside of observation or repetition, and thus at some point faith is required.

            I have taken a college course on the translation process of the Bible over the years, and was floored at the extreme lengths scribes would go to preserve the integrity of the message. It is awe-inspiring. They would destroy an entire hand-written page if they spelled one word wrong. They would destroy an entire book if they mispelled the name of God. Amazing stuff. Dedication. Yes, I do trust that. We also have thousands and thousands of ancient copies that we can still compare our modern copies to, and the message stands up to extreme scrutiny. Better than any other ancient document on earth!

            But seeing your position that “a random blog post doesn’t prove anything” perhaps we should both give up our hobby?

            PS – I noticed you avoided the genetic evidence I presented.

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          • hessianwithteeth

            I didn’t ingore the evidence you claimed you had peer reviewed research you sent me a mixed bag of articles some peer reviewed some not. If you can’t tell the difference better peer reviewed research and a university press release how can I trust you can put together a sound arument from a whole host of disperate research articles.

            Though I certainly didn’t ignore it I just didn’t respond since you, intentionally or not, were being academically disingenuous.

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  • mindfulaide

    I feel that this would hold true if you believe in the concept of God from a Christian/Catholic/Islamic framework. Western views of God are very interesting because God is a being that is like a person in terms of consciousness, but with an implied transcendence.

    I’m curious as to how your line of thinking would stand up to a non-traditional view of God, such as a “God is the creator and the created” view-point: in this way God would be seen as what everything is made up of. How about if someone defines God as not being conscious at all, maybe just the original spark that caused life (Big Bang)? Does that mean it is no longer God?

    You have an interesting logical progression, most assuredly, but I think it only stands up if we make specific assumptions about what God is, if it exists.

    Liked by 1 person

  • paidiske

    One of my Old Testament lecturers once summed up the entire book of Job – a much more in-depth and nuanced exploration of this question of theodicy than Stephen Fry’s (and it’s Scripture!) – as “shit happens.”

    Is Stephen wrong to question God? No, I don’t think so. (Although I do agree with some that he’s being fairly flippant and really probably having a go at believers rather than God). The fact is that theodicy is a problem. Bad stuff happens, despite the universe being governed by a supposedly all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God. Honest believers have to start by acknowledging that, and humble believers need to refrain from blaming the people who suffer.

    Are there answers to the problem? Yes, a variety of them, but in the midst of suffering none of them is very satisfactory. I would say that belief in God continues despite suffering, and for reasons other than intellectual answers to the problem.

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  • D.T. Nova

    It’s not even just a matter of “the creator is responsible for everything”. A lot of theists specifically believe that everything that happens is a part of some kind of plan by God.
    In fact, last year I had the misfortune of hearing a Christian outright tell somebody with cancer “God is in control” and “God gives us what we can handle”.

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  • Ros

    Why would God allow bone cancer in children? It’s certainly an interesting question. Another interesting question would be whether it would have been possible for God to make the world any other way? Certainly, we can conceive of a world without suffering. So, from a philosophical viewpoint, it could be argued that it should have been possible. But would it have been physically possible? How do we know? If it was physically possible, what else would be missing from such a world? Would we consider that a fair exchange?

    I agree that not believing in God effectively bypasses such questions and that some people might find this makes their lives feel ‘simpler, purer, cleaner and more worth living’ (to quote Stephen Fry). But I think it’s a mistake to assume that this is the only ‘rational’ approach to them.

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  • notesfromthenorth75

    Reblogged this on Notes from the north and commented:
    Brilliant…..

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  • Lucius Svartwulf Helsen

    One of the things I really liked about Fry’s response is that he called out his objection for what it is: God being a hypocrite.

    He mentioned that if he died and found out it was Hades, Zeus, etc, he wouldn’t have a problem with them, bone cancer in kids, or anything, but would actually treat them with respect precisely because they never lied about who and what they were. Honorable, capricious, kind, vindictive, etc. He could respect them in their divine humanity…but with God, who claims to be loving, kind, and forgiving…bone cancer in kids and stuff like that shows him to be a lair unworthy of respect.

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  • Uniquely Mustered

    Hmm, Cancer first of all is an illness that can be cured or treated. I’d say God creates both good and evil. But as God did it for good purposes, man disobeyed thereby making him the master behind his free will. Thus for his punishment for disallowing God to be the Master of will, evil became the whip of that punishment thereby giving out its compères of which Cancer is one of them.

    What I’m trying to say is that evil is a manifestation of our sufferings and thus led to the punishment of not letting God be the front burner of life.

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    • clubschadenfreude

      “Cancer first of all is an illness that can be cured or treated. ”

      Which has only become true in the last 70 years or so. It seems that this god seems to have especially hated those folks who dared to get diseases before it supposed deigned to allow humans to get chemotherapy, anesthesia, antibiotics, radiation therapy, etc.

      I, just as a human, don’t need to hurt people to make other people benefit. It seems ridiciulous that an omnipotent being somehow “must” cause evil to supposedly do good.

      This god supposedly gave good will according to some Christians. (though the bible says nothing about free will). Then it punishes people for using the free will it supposedly gave. Nothing like a classic abusive parent that gives a child something and then punishes the child for using it because it might allow the child to do something that the parent doesn’t like.

      Like

  • AthenaC

    Well I think Mr. Fry is looking at it wrong. but rather than attempt to discuss why with a fussy toddler on my lap, I’ll just say that independently of anything else I love Mr. Fry for his role in this masterpiece (and parenting sanity-saver) –

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  • equippedcat

    I suspect Stephen Fry is being rather disingenuous. I’ll bet you rather a lot that if Stephen ever actually encounters God, he won’t say anything like he claims. Odds are, Stephen would give a good impression of a gibbering idiot. Those who believe in God will tend to be overwhelmed by meeting Him; what are the odds that one who thought He did not exist would be coherent when not only finding out they were wrong, but even more overwhelmed by awe, and probably rather a lot of fear.

    He does not believe God exists, so he is not addressing his remarks to God. He is “showing off” for those who agree with him, and “poking a stick” into those who don’t agree with him.

    Considering the statement in question, what is Stephen’s point? If God does exist, then who is Stephen Fry to judge Him? It would be even more ludicrous than a cockroach trying to judge Stephen Fry. If, as Stephen, posits, God does not exist, then he is just being silly for his own purposes..

    Liked by 2 people

    • hessianwithteeth

      Ah yes so you have evidence to substantiate your claim that people can meet god, and when then do are overwhelmed by awe. Not that I’d take the bet since neither one of use would ever get a change at collecting.

      Further would it not be the place of a cockroach sentient enough to understand it’s own mortality to judge the actions of us? Perhaps we wouldn’t care anyway, but doe that make it’s judgements any less valid? Sure to us the insect’s concerns would be easy to dismiss, but does that make them invalid? I say not.

      As well he was not being silly for his own sake but was answering a question asked in an interview.

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      • equippedcat

        Nope, no evidence (which would be valid for you) at all. It’s a theory which works for me and some others, and does not work for you and some others.

        The point is that the (intelligent) cockroach would not have the comprehension of us in order to make a valid judgement. All it could do would be able to judge it in terms of itself, and consider it valid, and we would know (if we were informed of the judgement) that the cockroach did not have and probably could not have enough information to judge correctly (in our view). If the judgement was that we were crappy cockroaches, that would be fairly accurate. If the judgement was that because we appear bad to cockroaches that we are crappy humans, well, that would not follow from the information the cockroaches have.

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        • armondikov

          Yet God’s alleged abilities include the ability to answer prayer and take a deep-rooted interest in human affairs extending to a demand to be worshipped in a particular way. That would suggest God has the empathic abilities to communicate on a human level, judge on a human level and see things clearly from a human perspective. People talk to God, they say God talks back. God has an apparent interest in people, people outwardly demonstrate their interest in God. As proposed, it’s as far from the cockroach-human communication protocol as you can get.

          But let’s assume that it’s still an impossible bridge to build in both directions, and that humans will never understand the mind of God. It’s not outside logical possibility (if you’re the kind of person that puts logical limits on omnipotence) to concoct a situation whereby both the superior being’s motives and the lowly cockroach’s well-being are both satisfied. Humans do that with animals fairly frequently and can approach a good level of taking care of “lower” beings – and as a rule humans don’t posses infinite power and knowledge that should make such a relationship trivial, and don’t posses the infinite love and empathy purported of God. Basically – humans aren’t perfect but do a better job of developing an understanding with cockroaches than God evidently does.

          You can’t really have it both ways – either God has an empathy with human beings but chooses to ignore it anyway (which means God is, to put it bluntly, an asshole), or God has no empathy with human beings, cannot communicate with them, and has no interest in human well-being or using its purported omnipotence and omniscience to develop it (in which case, why are the lowly cockroaches told to care so much?).

          Liked by 1 person

          • equippedcat

            Well said. It is, of course, an imperfect example. What I was trying to say was that things which seem bad to us may have a higher purpose which we cannot conceive of. We (most of us) do care about animals, but we sometimes do things to them which they don’t like, but which we, with a higher plane of awareness, know are of value to them or us or both of us.

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  • Paine in the Butt

    Of course you have to take the context in which the question and answer took place. He was asked what he would say to god at the final judgement. Therefore, the premise of the question obviously is that god exists. After that, Fry’s answer is “good television.” Basically a nice shocking way to put the problem of moral and natural evil in world supposedly overseen by an all powerful, benevolent god. (The wincing of the host who asked the question is priceless!)

    Of course before he lambasted god that way, he would first have to ask something like “Are you what they say you are?” If god is not all powerful or all benevolent, then, of course the rant has much less force and may even be irrelevant.

    Here on earth, his point really is, you can’t praise god’s “creation” when it suits you and let him off the hook when it doesn’t. I think we might tend to worship the creator of, say, penguins. They sure are cute. But do we really want to worship the creator of bone cancer? Most theists only want to recognize the former. How many times have we heard folks say, “Thank you lord from saving me from the tornado.” Many times. Somehow the ones (and there must be some) who say, “Screw you lord for destroying my house and killing my children,” never make it to TV in this country.

    Fry gives voice to all those people and it is a voice that should be heard and heeded.

    Liked by 1 person

    • equippedcat

      I guess the question was kind of a set up then. Did the questioner know Mr. Fry’s stance on God’s existence? One answer would have been “that would be impossible, since God does not exist.”, except I guess that would not be funny. Another would be “My God, I’ve been so wrong”. Perhaps funny to some; perhaps not. How about “Excuse me sir, could you explain to me why children had to get bone cancer? I’m not really very bright, and the good from that completely escapes me.” Honest, but not very funny. No, the line was meant to be funny, and everyone should take it as such. It perhaps was also meant to make a statement, but did so poorly.

      Those who praise God when stuff they consider good happens and curse Him when stuff they consider bad happens really don’t get Him. Good stuff happens, bad stuff happens. It may be directed by God, or it might be random natural acts, or it might be something we brought on ourselves. If you believe in God, then whatever He does has purpose in His eyes, and His opinion is the only one which (should) matter; if you don’t believe in God, attributing evil to Him is rather pointless.

      Did God “create” bone cancer? Perhaps, or perhaps Man utilized his free will to poison the air, the water, the food, his mind and the electromagnetic spectrum and some combination of THAT encouraged bone cancer to exist and flourish.

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  • Foghorn The IKonoclast

    I believe it is an exercise in futility because to know what God thinks or does not think about it beyond my ken and rather go off and irritate a lot of people. discretion is the better part of valor. As the old saying suggests.

    Liked by 1 person

  • peddiebill

    Although we can make claims about what “God ” represents, we actually know virtually nothing about the nature of creation.
    However Fry is actually identifying a problem with some of the more traditional notions of God particularly those in which some Churches are championing a Universe exclusively designed for humans and further a God who changes creation in response to human entreaty. It is very hard to see where the evidence for these claims come from. It is also easy to see why Fry thinks such claims are not flattering to this apparently unfair “God”.
    If we were a little more humble and admitted that we know very little about creation or the place of humans in the creation process – and further admitted that virtually all speculation about heaven is actually untestable speculation we might be in a better position to discuss the topic.
    If for example instead of talking about God being love without being sure of what we mean in terms of fairness and relief of suffering, we focussed on Jesus advice on how to show love for our fellows, at least we might have a better chance of finding a purpose for our religion.
    (on my website I have just issued the challenge to provide a coherent answer for Stephen Fry’s interview response because I think he deserves and answer)

    Liked by 1 person

  • james soliz

    Very interesting read but I don’t agree with him playing the blame game with someone taller than him. Lol

    Liked by 2 people

  • myartisdope

    Interesting logical progression. I do not care to debate the subject but I do like the thoughts that it provokes, especially for those like me who do believe in the idea of God. Nice work!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Brittany

    Christians can be full of shit and sometimes the most hypocritical. I remember when Jamaica had a religion conference and the Christians literally ran the other group of religious sect out.
    Some of them choose to judge , criticize and look at the surface.

    Liked by 2 people

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