Sunset - Larnaca

Sunset - Larnaca

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Stephen Fry on God

And there was me thinking the vast majority of people were uninterested in discussing the existence and nature of God! This video has proved me wrong. Stephen Fry's outburst of emotion, seems to have had a huge impact on people - with around one million views after two days on youtube:

As he states himself, the argument which he puts forward is known as 'Theodicy' - questioning why an All-Good God would allow so much pain and sorrow to exist in this life. My initial thoughts when watching the video, immediately went to the writings and talks of Bishop Nikolaos, a well known clergyman, Harvard graduate, ex NASA employee, and physicist, in Greece. He was confronted by an atheist, who posed a very similar question to him. Surprisingly for the atheist, the clergyman said to him 'I am an atheist.' Understandably the man was shocked, and said 'what did you just say?!' After repeating himself, he explained:

If you do not believe in, or rather reject, a manipulating, power-thirsty, destructive, defiant, hard-hearted, hypocritical, shallow 'god' - nor do I believe or accept such a deity. 

Like Stephen Fry and Bishop Nikolaos, I completely reject such an idea of 'god.' However, If one were to ask me about the God Who 'is Love' (1 John 4:8), the source of life and joy, I would admittedly have something very different to say. This is the God Who is revealed in, and through, history, scripture, but above all, in humanity - in every single human person. Within Christianity we call this the 'image and likeness' - which means we are all created with a divine purpose and goal, which is to obtain true, selfless love for God and our fellow humans. Yes, there are many tears of pain and anxiety shed in this life - however we shed them alongside our partners, our children, our parents and friends. Without these moments of sorrow we would not see and appreciate the joy which this life brings us. What does joy mean? We could probably agree that it means trampling down on evil, selfishness, personal or global disasters, with the far greater power of love, unity and humility. This is the message, and indeed the experience of Christianity - out of pain, difficulties, illnesses and sacrifice, comes fulfilment, joy and life. These concepts are not mere romanticised sentiments of mine, but are the experiences of life; this life, which is granted to each and every one of us , in order to learn to love. Stephen Fry may dwell on the insects that eat their way into children's eyes - however I would suggest we witness the work of the doctors, nurses, carers, clergy, and family who make that child's life joyful and bearable.   One of the most influential books I have read, is  Bishop Nikolaos' 'Where God cannot be seen', which discusses the presence of God in times of distress, pain and death. The part which had the most affect on me, is when he visits a severely disabled man in his home. The man is unable to speak, or move at all. Finally they were able to purchase the machine which enables him to make his family aware of his thoughts, and what he'd like to say. The first thing that came out of that machine was 'Glory to God!' This is the first thing that a completely motionless, dumb and disabled human being has to say to the world. Within his limited, painful ( and arguably unbearable ) life, he manages to find the source of life, joy and love; God. The fact that there are tragedies in this life does not mean our Creator, of' all things visible and invisible,' (Nicene Creed) is not 'all-good', or omnibenevolent - but it does mean He allows these things to happen for the greater good: in order for us to learn to love one another, in unity, repentance and appreciation. 

This very God, 'our Father,' (Matt 6:9), 'present everywhere and fillest all things,' (Trisagion prayer), is 'our shelter and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble..even if the earth is shaken (Psalm 46), Who ' laid the foundations of the earth..sending the springs into the valleys,which run among the drink to every beast of the field' (Psalm 104). In this 'one God' (1 Tim 2:5), Who is the 'way, the truth and the life,' (John 14:6) I do fervently believe in, and would willingly devote my whole life to.

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