Many people today accuse God of unfairness.Like me. It is unfair for God to cause a man to rape a woman. Deuteronomy 28:15, 30. It's even more unfair for God to take "delight" in causing a man to rape a woman. See v. 63.
Since God can foresee the future, they ask, why didn’t He simply never create all those he knows to be destined to spend eternity in Hell?If his foreknowledge of our future acts was infallible, then those acts were logically incapable of failing, so anything in God's infallible foreknowledge must come to pass. But this is all esoteric crystal ball bullshit.
One skeptic I know put the question like this:God supposedly knows everything that will happen before you are ever born, so if all your choices are set beforehand, how can they possibly matter? Furthermore, if God knows you will “choose” Hell before he creates you, why does he simply not create you? Personally, I would much prefer nonexistence to eternal torment. Is God deliberately creating people knowing they will end up in Hell? Then I would call him evil. Is he compelled to create people regardless of what he sees in their future? Then he doesn’t have free will, which would certainly be an interesting interpretation, but one I doubt many people share. Is there some other explanation? If so, I can’t think of it.
This challenge has a bit of intuitive appeal. It seems to put God in a box, as it were, trapped between being “evil” for choosing to create rebellious creatures or lacking free will, by being unable to do otherwise. Let’s take a closer look at the two horns of this apparent dilemma.First, many bible passages forbid the distinction between the perfect/permissive will of God, which appears to be a distinction that was conjured up by Christian philosophers for no other reason than enable them to believe the bible statements on God's will are all in harmony.
Good God Hell
To the Christian, “evil” is the label we give to words, thoughts or actions that deviate from God’s perfect will.
Second, if there is nothing evil in God, there's no reason to create the perfect/permission distinction in god's will in the first place, all of God's acts would be good regardless of how they are categorized. God allowing child-rape would be no less good than god positively decreeing that some atheist should be given a free bible.
If we were created robots, there would be no evil in the world; we would operate exactly in accordance with God’s desires.That's exactly what is taught by the metaphor of God putting a hook into your jaws and forcing you to sin, then punishing you for doing what he forced you to do, as seen in Ezekiel 38-39:
Ezekiel 38:1 And the word of the LORD came to me saying,
2 "Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him
3 and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal.
4 "I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords;
5 Persia, Ethiopia and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet;
... 16 and you will come up against My people Israel like a cloud to cover the land. It shall come about in the last days that I will bring you against My land, so that the nations may know Me when I am sanctified through you before their eyes, O Gog."
17 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Are you the one of whom I spoke in former days through My servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied in those days for many years that I would bring you against them?
18 "It will come about on that day, when Gog comes against the land of Israel," declares the Lord GOD, "that My fury will mount up in My anger.
...21 "I will call for a sword against him on all My mountains," declares the Lord GOD. "Every man's sword will be against his brother.
Ezekiel 39:1 "And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal;Serrato continues:
2 and I will turn you around, drive you on, take you up from the remotest parts of the north and bring you against the mountains of Israel.
3 "I will strike your bow from your left hand and dash down your arrows from your right hand.
But in creating man, God did something quite different. He gave us “free will,” the capacity to rebel against him in our thoughts, words and actions.In other words, you think the atheist reading this has a moral obligation to spend the next 25 years investigating Christian theology to see whether your statement on freewill is actually "biblical" and why plenty of other Christian advocates of bible inerrancy disagree with you. No thanks. But Ezekiel 38-39, supra, justify viewing God as evil for forcing people to sin, even if your view of freewill were the "biblical" one.
And rebel we did. God “foresaw” this development, but only in a manner of speaking – a manner focused upon the way we think. This is because God is not bound by time.Not being bound by time constitutes an incoherent notion, as do other words preferred by apologists like god living "outside of nature" or "above nature". Worse, every one of the bible's descriptions of activity in heaven, describe the acts as occurring in temporal progression no less than do events down here on earth:
19 Micaiah said, "Therefore, hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left.Job 1 contains the famous dialogue of God and Satan up in heaven. Read any description of heaven in Revelation, the same applies. Sorry, but your premise that God isn't bound by time, is biblically false.
20 "The LORD said, 'Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?' And one said this while another said that.
21 "Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD and said, 'I will entice him.'
22 "The LORD said to him, 'How?' And he said, 'I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' Then He said, 'You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.'
23 "Now therefore, behold, the LORD has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the LORD has proclaimed disaster against you." (1 Ki. 22:19-23 NAU)
For him, there is no future to “foresee.” There is only an eternal present.You haven't the slightest fucking clue whether god experiences reality like that or not.
All times – whether past, present or future – are accessible to him in this eternal present. Thus, at the moment of creation, God was aware that man would rebel, that he was rebelling, and that he had rebelled. He was aware of the acts and the consequences, the motivations and the ultimate end, of everyone.Wrong, Jeremiah says the idolatry of the Jews was a sin that had never entered God's mind:
Jer. 7:31 "They have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, and it did not come into My mind.
Jer. 19:5 and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind;
Consistent with his nature for perfect fairness,What fool thinks it fair for God to cause a woman to be raped (Deuteronomy 28:15, 30, 63)? Christian apologists who think intellectual sophistry is more important that spiritual maturity, that's who.
he created a means by which man – though in rebellion and deserving punishment – could nonetheless find reunification with him.
Which was a waste of his time and makes him rather forgetful of his own abilities. God doesn't need to create a means, he can get rid of your sin with a wave of his magic wand, not Yom Kippur or altar in sight:
11 "Thus says the LORD, 'Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.The highlighted part doesn't stop saying what it says merely because you point out that God caused David's baby to die.
12 'Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.'"
13 Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.
14 "However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die." (2 Sam. 12:11-14 NAU)
But in implementing this scheme, he did not force this choice upon us.Then he was stupid and mean, because true love sometimes forces the loved one to prevent them from suffering the consequences of their own stupidity. Mother doesn't just stand there presenting choices to her child in the street as the drunk driver speeds toward him. And yet when compared with God, we are like "children".
He gives us the means to salvation, but remains content in allowing us to choose which path we will follow.Like the father who remains content that his son has disobeyed the rule about playing with chainsaws. When the parent is brought up on charges of criminal neglect after the boy cuts his hand off, perhaps the man will have a Christian apologist as a lawyer, who will thus argue that because the man made clear his prohibition on playing with chainsaws, nobody else is responsible for the calamity except the child.
Those who use their free will to turn toward him – more precisely, to accept his free gift of salvation – will find a welcoming father, ready to do the work needed to restore us.No they will find a lying asshole who tells them the more they sin, the less reason they have to believe they are saved. We call it legalistic grace.
Those who use their free will to turn away from God – to reject his gift – will find that this choice too is honored.Some would argue that true love will put forth serious effort to convince the rebellious loved one to obey. Creating thousands of conflicting Christian denominations for the atheist to choose from in the gamble to pick the one that just happens to be the right religion, does not constitute "serious effort" by God.
Expecting God not to create those in this latter category would have two significant effects: it would show that God’s provision of free will is really a fiction, since only those who choose to do his will are actually created,You cannot reconcile freewill of man with God forcing people to sin in Ezekiel 38-39, so there's not much harm in saying freewill is a fiction.
and two, it would mean that Hell is a place of evil. But Hell is a place – or perhaps more precisely a condition – which was created by God to serve a purpose.An atheist would have to decide how much time to spend researching Christian fundies and liberals on the nature of hell, and since there are fatal problems with God's existence and the bible being the word of God, it is rational to turn away from this tempting opportunity to impress my girlfriend.
Since God does not create evil – i.e. he does not act against his own natureFuck you, God not only causes women to be raped (Deut. 28:15, 30), but will take "delight" to cause that curse no less than he takes delight in prospering those who obey (v. 63). Gee, you never knew that rape was morally good until just now, eh?
– then Hell cannot be a place of evil. Like a human prison, it may be inhabited by those bent on doing evil, but the place itself – and the confinement it effectuates – is actually a good, just as separating hardened criminals from society is a net positive for both the evil-doer and the society that is victimized.Sorry, but it does not seem the least bit feasible that the horrific realities of hell would fail to convince those there to repent in sincereity. And if there comes a time when God no longer responds to sincere repentance, then you just found a limitation in one of God's "eternal" attributes. And if God hardens those who are in hell so they don't wish to repent, he is not too different from the parent who withholds the Ritlan from the disobedient child, knowing the child will just rebel more and more as a result.
Some will be tempted to argue that God should have forced this choice upon us anyway. Isn’t it better to be forced to love God then to spend eternity in Hell? Only, I suppose, if one believes it is better to be a robot than a thinking, self-aware and self-directed being.Ask the people now in hell, they'll kindly disagree and tell you being a robot forced to love god would have been better. Your opinion is nowhere near controlling or persuasive.
There is no middle ground. Either free will is something real – with consequences attendant to the choices we make – or it’s a fiction. One cannot have it both ways.It's a fiction, Ezekiel 38:4.
To recap: God is not trapped in an either/or dilemma. God is not “evil” for having created, because in the end he treats his creation fairly, giving each what he or she deserves.Then you must agree with Deut. 28:15, 30 that circumstances can arise which would make a woman "deserving" of being raped. You must also agree that when God causes pagans to beat Hebrew children to death (Hosea 13:15-16), those children "deserved" it. Is this the part where we email Dr. Copan and ask him if its possible that God had morally sufficient reasons for causing pagan armies to beat children to death?
Since he values free will enough to have given it to us, he apparently intends to make that gift real by allowing some to reject him.Like the mother who allows her three year old to stay in the street according to his will, despite her knowledge that if not forced out of the street, he will be run over. Apparently any who would call that woman unloving, never took Apologetics 101.
Likewise, God is not lacking in free will, because he is not “compelled” to create against his will.That's also bullshit. If God infallibly knows that he will cause a hurricane tomorrow, well, "infallible" means "incapable of failing", in which case God would not have the ability to deviate from this infallibly predicted event. But again, infallible foreknowledge, living outside of time, maybe it can be loving to beat a child to death, etc, etc. is nothing but sophistry and illusion.
Since Hell is not a place for eternal torture,Then apparently you don't know your bible well enough to justify your commentary on it:
23 "In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment (Greek: basanos, torture), and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. (Lk. 16:23 NAU).
46 "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (Matt. 25:46 NAU)
11 "And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." (Rev. 14:11 NAU)
Some would argue that being on fire and yet unable to extinguish it, is "torture".
but an appropriate destination for all rebellious human beings, God does not violate his own nature – does not engage in “evil” – when he separates himself from some of his creation.You have already settled in your mind that God is synonymous with good. That's precisely why you'd never call God evil no matter what horrific atrocity you believed God caused. Your assurances that God doesn't do evil are about as stupid and ill-informed as any Nazi who says Hitler wasn't able to do evil, who then proceeds to hem and haw and "explain" that massacring the Jews in WW2 was actually a "good" thing in the long term. Fuck you.
What this challenge brings into focus is not some internal inconsistency in our conception of God. No, what it highlights is just how different our thinking is as compared to God’s.Giving us justification to wonder whether you got jack shit right anywhere in this article.
For like the skeptic, many would view the decision to create nothing all – neither good nor bad people – to be a better – a more noble – alternative. Yet God sees things quite a bit differently, it seems.Not according to the Christian liberal theologians who deny all of your bullshit and assert everybody will be saved. How long do you recommend atheists spend invenstigating why Christian fundies disagree with Christian liberals? And why should we feel the least bit compelled to do so? My atheism justifies me to not worry about the truth of Christian hell, just like your Christianity justifies you to not worry about Muslim hell.
In the end, that he views things differently should not really surprise us. Our judgment as to right and wrong, good and evil, has been corrupted by our rebellion.Yeah, if only we'd become spiritually alive and born again by accepting Jesus into our hearts, we'd then recognize that sometimes women "deserve" to be raped (Deut. 28:15, 30) and that children "deserve" to be beaten to death (Hosea 13:15-16, Isaiah 13:15-16.
Since we all share this fallen nature, we should realize that we are not in the best position to render judgment as to the way eternal things “ought to be.”A criticism that applies with equal force to the theology written down by the sinful imperfect biblical authors.
We wouldn’t ask a group of incarcerated rapists for guidance on issues of sexual mores;But you'd certainly ask your raping-god for guidance on issues of sexual mores!
nor would we consult death row inmates for advice on how best to treat one another.But you certainly consult a god who allows non-fatal beatings (Exodus 21:20-21), on how best to treat one another.
Perhaps, in the same way, God has little need to consult with us to determine what ultimate “fairness” demands.That's a possibility, but not likely, since even God has to sometimes accept correction from his creatures. Exodus 32:9-14, a story that you always thought was literally true history until you discovered that taking it as literally true history would produce a conflict in biblical theology. Anthropomorphisms, to the rescue!
No, the Creator of the universe may occupy a slightly better position to judge matters eternal. We might be wise to heed him, rather than try to ensnare him in a “logical” trap.We also might be wise to do whatever we're asked by powerful space aliens, but that hardly argues that they are good.