Dear Sir Richard Attenborough...
In a recent interview Sir Richard Attenborough revealed how he received hate mail from Christians who are angry that he denied the existence of a creator God. He said ‘They [The Christians] always mean beautiful things like hummingbirds, I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in east Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live any other way except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find it that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator.’
I like and admire Sir Richard and I wouldn’t dream of sending him hate mail. But I thought I’d share with you the letter I might send.
‘Dear Sir Richard,
I too am appalled at any innocent suffering and I would certainly blame God if I thought it was his fault. I don’t think God envisaged worms that burrow into eyeballs as part of his creation. You have shown for many years that creation (for want of a better word) is made by chance and necessity- this possibility of chance is the risk of what God made.
Christians believe that the God made all things visible and invisible; we believe that in this invisible creation are all kinds of powers at work. Some have chosen to work against God and have influenced humanity. Some of the subsequent choices of humanity have had a catastrophic effect on creation.
It was God’s vision that humanity should evolve to primarily a spiritual being in harmony with the rest of creation. Instead we have become dominantly material – and we have plundered creation to meet our physical appetites and desires.
Christians believe that God recognises that creation is bust and that he has tried to make a new beginning. He did this by becoming human himself in Jesus of Nazareth.
As we read in the Gospels Jesus was a person of great authority and was capable of re ordering physical order and restoring the harmony of the physical and the spiritual.
Christians believe that in Jesus God destroyed the power of death and through him send on people his own life – we believe he shares with us the life of his spirit. In his death and resurrection Jesus began a new creation.
We believe all this because we know the world is not perfect and we know that we are not perfect. But we also know we can change and be changed.
This Sunday our parish will baptise a little boy called Max. If the world were perfect and if Max were perfect we would not find it necessary to bring him to a new beginning and spiritual birthday. We would not find it necessary to initiate him into a new community – a family where God is father and everyone else brothers and sisters.
But we do. We do because there is great danger in the world. When he is baptised his parents and godparents will reject the power of materialistic society – the world, the reject the dominating desires of the body – the flesh and the corrupt spiritual forces that are at work on people- the devil. For him they will turn to Christ and seek to share the life and energy of the New Creation.
Sir Richard I do not feel that world as it is a reason for not believing in God. I believe the God I believe in makes it worth living in the world as it is.
By the way, I think you’re in for a big surprise when you die.
The Revd Andrew Hawes.