Friday, November 12, 2010

Is God Evil?

I recently heard a statement that went like this: 
If God knows the past present and future, and hell is real, then God makes people knowing that they go to hell, thus God creates people for hell, thus God is evil.
This statement is supposed to be problematic for theists however it is only problematic if the people who were created by God and went to hell never had a true choice. It does seem that if God both created a being, and knew where its final destination would be then that being could not have had a choice about its destination just as a rock has no say in its destination when it is dropped off a cliff. Thus people mentally frame the issue like this: 
God, by creating a soul, sets off an unalterable chain of events that results in a person going to hell. 
It is tempting therefore to believe that God is evil, until one realizes that we are not talking about the contents of the empirical universe when we speak of God and souls and so we are not talking about an unalterable chain of events. Souls are not bound by the laws of nature and thus stand independent of natural causation, their decisions are not determined by physics and chemistry but by an agency that transcends natural law and truly does have free will as things that are governed by physics and chemistry never can. Because souls truly have the ability to choose, they can truly be held accountable for their actions, if God has pre-knowledge of the soul’s decision it does not mean that the soul did not have the free will to make that decision; thus God did not “make people for hell” and is not evil. 
The force of this statement which at first seems considerable is removed when the hidden assumption of naturalism is revealed, because assuming naturalism for a question involving God and souls is absurd and the statement is not problematic for theists if the souls in question are not constrained to natural causation. So again the force of this statement derives from people subconsciously assuming that the supernatural realm is subject to natural laws of causation, which of course, it is not. Therefore the force of the statement can only be as great as the degree to which the observer is confusing natural causation with supernatural agency.


All this talk of free will raises a question for the atheist: 
Do you really believe that you have free will?
He (this sentence would be awkward with gender neutrality) cannot logically answer yes If he has a basic understanding of the sciences here because the assumption of naturalism means that all his actions were ultimately not determined by his free will but by the initial conditions of the big bang and the random outcomes of quantum interactions, neither of which he has any control over. And if the atheist does not believe he has free will but that his thoughts are the result of something he can't control then how can he believe that his thoughts have any validity?

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