A quick post-script to my previous post about Stephen Fry’s diatribe about God and evil. A few people have come back and said to me, “Ah, yes, but Fry was speaking hypothetically – assuming that the question was true for the sake of argument. He doesn’t actually believe in evil.”
It’s interesting, because I think from what he says he does believe in evil – and that is what gives his argument its weight. Whether or not he’s speaking ‘hypothetically’.
This is a transcript of what he says (taken from YouTube transcript and edited – I’ve removed a few bits which I think are irrelevant).
I think I’d say, bone cancer in children … what’s that about? How dare you? How dare you create a world in 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 which is so full of injustice and pain. That’s what I’d say.
I wouldn’t want to get in on his terms … they’re wrong.
Because the God who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, utter maniac, totally selfish … yes the world is a splendid but it also has in it insects whose whole life cycle is to burrow into the eyes of children and make them blind – they eat outwards from the eyes. Why? Why did you do that to us? You could easily have made a creation where that didn’t exist. It is simply not acceptable. So you know atheism is not just about them not believing there is not a God but on the assumption there is one, what kind of God is he? It’s perfectly apparent that he’s monstrous, utterly monstrous, and deserves no respect whatsoever. The moment you banish him life becomes simpler, purer, cleaner, more worth living.
Now, after you’ve read that, tell me that Stephen Fry believes that evil doesn’t exist – even if he is speaking ‘hypothetically’. If God did not create the world, then those insects which burrow into the eyes of children – they’re just natural, they’re morally neutral. If God did not create the world, then there isn’t really such a thing as injustice and pain – and on a cosmic sense it would hardly matter if there were.
The whole weight of what he says rests on the fact that some things are actually wrong or evil. If they are not, then his argument basically collapses. Imagine, for example, if he’d said instead: “yes, the world is splendid but it also has Wensleydale cheese in it. Why? Why did you do that to us? You could easily have made a creation where that didn’t exist.” It would just be utterly meaningless, wouldn’t it? I use cheese as an example because it’s a morally neutral thing (I happen to like it, some don’t). The whole power of his argument rests on the fact that God would be a moral monster, and the only thing which gives that view any weight is that there is a transcendent morality which Fry thinks that God should adhere to.
In other words, Fry presupposes the fact that God exists in order to argue against God existing.