A capricious, mean-minded, stupid god . . .
Stephen Fry was interviewed by Gay Byrne for RTÉ One’s ‘The Meaning of Life’ today. Knowing that Fry is an atheist, Byrne asked him what he’d say if he was “confronted by God” at the Pearly Gates. Fry replied,
I’d say, bone cancer in children? What’s that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world to which there is such misery that is not our fault. It’s not right, it’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain. That’s what I would say.
Byrne, visibly taken aback, then said that Fry was unlikely to get in, if that was his response, to which Fry responded that he wouldn’t want to get in anyway.
A poll commissioned by the Huffington Post UK shows that a significant proportion of the British population is likely to agree with Fry. Reporting this, the American website Addicting Info says,
An eye-opening survey conducted in the UK reveals a truth many in the United States will find shocking. When asked if atheists are more or less moral than religious people, our allies across the pond favor atheists.
The British feel those who identify as atheists are more likely to be good people. In fact, 12.5% of Britons believe atheists are more moral, while only 6% say atheists are less moral.
Fewer than a quarter of Britons believe religion is a force for good. On the contrary, over half believe religion does more harm than good. Even 20% of Britons who describe themselves as ‘very religious’ are on record stating religion is harmful to society.
They end with a video showing Sam Harris, author of ‘The End of Faith’, explaining why he thinks that the Christian God’s “morality” is just the opposite. Stephen put it more succinctly, but it boils down to the same argument.
Image of God the Father by Julius Schnorr, 1860.
Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at Exeter University, provides expert commentary on a new BBC interactive documentary series. The ‘Story of Now’ series, which uses the latest video technology to enable viewers to explore films and hear from 20 experts about some of the world’s fundamental issues from religion, to politics, creation to consciousness. It includes a segment called, ‘Why did we start believing in God and whose god should we believe in now?’
Francesca Stavrakopoulou’s 2011 BBC series, ‘The Bible’s Buried Secrets’, upset traditionalists. She said, “Eve, particularly in the Christian tradition, has been very unfairly maligned as the troublesome wife who brought about the Fall. Don’t forget that the biblical writers are male and it’s a very male-dominated world. Women were second-class citizens, seen as property.” She also criticised the version of history in Judaism repeated by Jewish tour guides in Jerusalem, saying that there was no archaeological evidence for most of their stories, including those about King David.