Stephen Fry’s excoriating indictment of God, which is making the social media rounds, gave me pause because it sounded reasonable enough. If there is a God who is considered all-loving, how can he permit the horrific suffering (particularly on the innocent) that runs rife in this world? But that begs the question: if there is no God, does having no-one to blame make acceptance of misery easier? Is it more palatable to allow for the randomness of, say, children born without limbs or with disease if we believe there is no God controlling all this? Then what would happen if we take Nature itself out of the equation and blame every single catastrophe on human error or frailty? Lightning strikes or natural disasters are the result of poor environmental stewardship; falling trees wouldn’t kill people if we pruned away the weaker ones; inherited diseases spring from genetic mutations incurred through familial lifestyle choices for generations!
Now we are masters of our universe with a collective responsibility for everything and for one another, accepting that despite our best efforts we can’t control it all. Which actually might be the best way, for it would insist that the plight of someone in Ulan Bator is somehow connected to us. But that may prove to be too much of an encumbrance so we simply focus on our individual lives (or groups) and let the devil take the hindmost, which in our saner moments we realize may not be quite what we want, for we could easily end up being the hindmost at some point! So we create a Custodian who becomes a lightning rod for our frustrations and anger, in return for which we grant him dominion over our universe, hoping that he would somehow ensure that no-one is forgotten or left behind; thus we abandon our communal obligations and have someone to blame when things go wrong and to praise when they go right and to reject when we don’t get what we want! And we are back where we started!