In the comment thread of this post yesterday, CP&S’s “resident jester”, who goes by the name of Toadspittle (‘Toad’ for short) posted a link to an article by Henry McDonald in The Guardian that many people have found deeply shocking. It was entitled “Stephen Fry calls God an ‘evil, capricious, monstrous maniac'”, and includes a clip of an interview Ireland’s Gay Byrne was giving with Fry, in which Byrne asks Fry “what he would say to God if he died and had to confront him.” Fry responds with a tirade of insults and accusations. The revelation has been hastily responded to in another article in The Guardian, this time by Giles Fraser, under the heading: “I don’t believe in the God that Stephen Fry doesn’t believe in either”.
However, it is this blog (All Passing Things) that gives the best and most logical and Catholic response to Fry’s rage and rant, with the ending words of the great Ven. Fulton Sheen, that I have decided to re-post in its entirety here below.
This has been a very distressing week for those of us who thought that Irish people were past the days of thinking that a well fed aristocrat with a posh English accent was ipso facto in possession of some subjugating wisdom that would enlighten the Catholic serfs. But, such a colonial throwback could be seen on Gay Byrne’s most recent episode of the mind numbingly shallow series The Meaning of Life, which has to date featured intellectual giants like Enda Kenny and Bono.
Turns out that a man who spent his life’s work undermining Catholicism is now considered by the average twenty something in Ireland to be the embodiment of it. Gay Byrne, a man who prides himself on having been socially successful in some imaginary spiritual tag team wrestle alongside Sinead O’Connor against what the latter has termed ‘. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
This week, Uncle Gay as his colleagues at RTE tell us that we apparently affectionately call him, aired an interview with none other than manic depressive Oscar Wilde imitator Stephen Fry. Fresh from ‘marrying’ a young fella, Fry declared his disdain for a non-existent entity with a passion for imaginary spirits not seen since Darius III must have cursed Ares for bestowing favour upon Alexander as he came through the Caspian gates. I thought since Stevie raised the standard of his conversation last night with his love of ‘the Greek gods’, it would be prudent to do the same here. Just don’t mention the rapes and pederasty of said polytheism.
But perhaps we can hope that Mr. Fry fulfils his Oscar Wilde spiel in his last moments, who knows, there might be a deathbed conversion to redeem him of his greatest sin, his overwhelming mediocrity in the face of unnerving pretence.
For anyone who didn’t see it, a quick summary of it would be that Fry gave us a ‘Leave Britney alone!’ meltdown in the form of a long-winded challenge to a God who he doesn’t believe in. The whole sorry affair was an antiquated pre-Aquinas return to well over a millennium ago, when men’s reactionary provocations against God were as simple as their diets. Fry plays the populist card to a theologically illiterate public, a youth incapable of thinking rationally about the universe outside of vines and pornography.
His frothing at the mouth about his imaginary adversary is provocative only to those who have never thought about faith, God or even life itself. Or perhaps even thought full stop. Had they done so and researched such questions, they would have seen how tired, how dated and how minuscule his arguments really are. So minuscule in fact that two of the greatest thinkers of the 20th Century dismissed them with a passing comment and a small anecdote.
The first was G.K Chesterton who remarked:
People reject Original Sin as it is the only aspect of Christianity that is empirically proven.
If man is fallen, so too is his immortality, one that following the logical reasoning of Christianity, we would not say that God took from him and hence did not allot sickness upon him. Or any other suffering.
The second was a humorous story from The Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who made light of the po-faced ridiculousness of existing serious enemies of the supposedly non-serious non-existent deities.
No one is born an atheist or a skeptic, one who doubts the possibility of ever discovering truth. These attitudes are made less by the way one thinks than by the way one lives. If we do not live as we think, we soon begin to think as we live. We suit our philosophy to our actions and that is bad.
Let me tell you the story of an atheist in London, England. I used to do considerable work in St. Patrick’s Parish, in Soho Square.
One Sunday morning I came into the front of the church to read Mass, and found a young lady standing in front of the communion rail haranguing the congregation. She was saying, “There is no God! There is too much evil in the world! Reason cannot transcend sense! It is impossible to conclude to His existence!” “Every night,” she said, “I go out to Hyde Park. I talk against God. I circulate England, Scotland and Wales with pamphlets denouncing a belief in the existence of God.”As I reached the communion rail, I said to her,
“Young lady, I am very happy to hear you say you believe in the existence of God”.
She said, ”You silly fool I said I don’t!”
I said, “I understood you to say just the contrary. Suppose I went out every night to Hyde Park and talked against twenty-footed ghosts and ten centaurs. Suppose I circulated England, Scotland and Wales, denouncing a belief in these ghosts and in these centaurs. What would happen to me?”
She said, “You would be crazy! They would lock you up!”
I said, “Do you not put God in the same category as these fantasies of the imagination? Why would I be crazy attacking them and you are not crazy attacking God?”
She said, “I don’t know. Why?”
I said, “Because when I attack these phantoms of the imagination, I am attacking something unreal, but when you attack God, you are attacking something as real as the thrust of a sword. Do you think we would have any such thing in the world as prohibition unless there was something to prohibit? Could there ever be anti-cigarette laws unless there were cigarettes? How can there be athe-ism unless there is something to atheate?”
She said, “I hate you!”
I said, “Now you’ve given the answer.”
Atheism is not a doctrine, it is a cry of wrath.There are two kinds of atheists. There are simple persons who have read a smattering of science and concede, probably, there is no God; but the other type of atheist is militant, such as the communist. They really do not deny the existence of God, they challenge God. It is the reality of God that saves them from insanity. It is the reality of God that gives them a real object against which they may vent their hate.
[ Thanks to All Passing Things.]