In Which Stephen Fry Steps In It
February 17, 2015
If you would be so kind, I would like to ask you to view this brief bit of blasphemous cheek. It’ll just take a few minutes.
Now then, all set? Let’s break this down into two basic parts. The first part is that Stephen Fry is given a thought experiment, and we should take a moment to see how he thinks in thought experiments. He doesn’t believe in God, but he is nevertheless asked a “what if.” What if you were wrong, the questioner asks, and the whole thing turns out to be true, with you finding yourself in a conversation with God at the Pearly Gates.
Fry takes that occasion to launch into his diatribe. Bone cancer in children? What’s with that?
But I want to note something really strange about this set up.
When God and Fry take their places as these disputants, Fry undertakes to argue morality with Him. And in order to argue this way, he has to assume — and most certainly does assume — that there is a moral standard that overarches the two of them, and which is equally binding on both of them.
But what is that standard? Where did it come from? How does it come to be binding on both of them? In order for the standard to be authoritative, there must be an authority, correct? Who is that authority?
If the standard arises from within Fry, then why should it be in any way obligatory for God? That standard fails to overarch the two, so why the indignation? If the standard arises from within God, and yet God is inexplicably a hypocrite, not living up to His own standards, then the question becomes why the standard continues to bind God after He has abandoned it. Suppose God just changed His mind. Why should Fry be indignant?
Or, taking another option, Fry could think, should think, that since there is a standard that overarches the two of us here, then I must have gotten into an argument with a demiurge porter down at one of the lower pearlies. I must hasten to find the Most High God, the source of all that is moral and true and right. I must find Him because He alone is worthy of worship. He alone is the grounded source of my indignation. Funny — that’s not how this thought experiment goes.
After unloading his indignation on the questioner — who was clearly unaccustomed to blasphemy — Fry then coyly says that it is best to dispense with believing in this being’s existence altogether. But notice what happens now.
There is no God. What about bone cancer in children now? What about insects that make children blind now? You have abandoned God for the sake of the children, but for God’s sake, what does this do to the children? You cared about them a lot just a few minutes ago. Even though you have dispensed with God, you must still answer the questions you have posed. All right. There is no God. You have persuaded us. What is bone cancer in children? What’s that about? Please speak into the microphone.
The cosmic chaos around us doesn’t care what happens to children. All of that is just matter in motion. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it feels good, but there is nothing out of the ordinary here. There is nothing to object to, no reason to be indignant. Imagine there’s no heaven, above us only sky.
There is one step more . . . since we cannot change the inexorable law that we become like what we worship, and since Fry’s ultimate reality is a blind, impersonal, godless, materialist machine that grinds people up, not caring at all, indignant with nothing, let us take a look at the behavior of the kind of secularist society that Fry champions. We have rejected the God who decreed the existence of insects that eat children’s eyes, thus blinding them. We have done this so that we might become a pro-choice society, so that we tax-paying grown-ups might all become the insects that eat children’s eyes.
Stephen Fry has posed some questions that I believe have some straight-forward answers. I would like to hereby extend a cordial invitation to meet together with him in order to debate them in greater detail. I believe that we could put together an event that put the spotlight on these questions, along with our respective answers.
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