Well that’s Him told.
Comedian Stephen Fry reckons God is “utterly evil, capricious and monstrous”. He’s also “quite clearly a maniac” – one who inflicts unjust pain on people.
Something similar has occured to most rational people at some point, and even to the most devout, surely, on occasion. And yet we believe.
The believers were among the many who read and shared Fry’s remarks after they were reported this week.
But the comedian missed the point somewhat. It’s not God himself, a grumpy reactionary with odd, millennia-old, moral habits and preachy ground staff that we need, it’s the comfort believing in him offers us.
How would we get up in the morning (or face what’s lies before us at any other time of the day) without a repository for our fears, a cosmic counterweight to life’s unpredictable shifts?
God is an answer to the headline terrors: fear of death, fear of illness, fear of losing loved ones. “But he allows horrible cancers to kill children,” it’s pointed out. Well, we let that go.
We know most sin is bad and that some of the Ten Commandants have merit, but we seem less interested in holy box-ticking than in having an otherwordly comfort blanket to keep the bad stuff away.
If we were guaranteed this comfort blanket we could do without the judgmental heavenly curmudgeon Himself, constantly watching and assessing us. But one comes with the other and – despite Stephen Fry’s outrage – most people find it hard to drop the lot.
There is a way out of this existential echo-chamber, of course, which doesn’t involve hoping, praying and queuing, fingers crossed, outside the Pearly Gates. This is to reject a God, accept the meaninglessness of life…and just get on with it.
If only it were that easy. Even those of us who profess disbelief, who can’t see through the celestial curtain to whatever lies beyond, have an occasional ‘what if’ moment.
What if there is a God? What if he’s reading my mind, putting me on His List or taking me off it? And if I believed would have to go through this tortuous second guessing every time I have insomnia, or am stuck at the traffic light, or walking on a beach?
There may well be a God. if it’s not each of us, or Stephen Fry, it may – to pick one contender among millions – be Randy Newman.
After all, didn’t He sing:
I burn down your cities-how blind you must be
I take from you your children and you say how blessed are we
You all must be crazy to put your faith in me
That’s why I love mankind
You really need me…