It’s Bill Craig’s question of the week, and I think this is a legitimate question.
Here’s the question:
In your debate with Victor Stenger, he advanced the argument that God could not logically be a perfect being and creator of the universe. In response you stated that God does not create because of anything lacking in Himself, but because the creation of the universe benefits man, because he can come to know God and have a loving relationship with Him. I was just wondering, how does this square with the Christian doctrine of Hell? If Christ is the only way to God, and unbelief is punished by eternity in Hell, it seems likely that the vast majority of people, or at least a good number, will end up in Hell. In what way could we say that creation benefited these people? The doctrine of Hell has always been one of my major problems with Christianity, and it was my main reason for becoming an atheist.
And you can click here for Bill’s answer.
And you can find the Craig vs. Stenger debate right here for free. I keep the DVD in my office, because it’s a good debate.
Here is Matt Flannagan’s answer:
The question why does God create people who he knows will go to hell seems to me to make some mistakes.
It assumes that it’s wrong to do something which one foresees will result in ruin for another. But one does not have to think far to see this is a mistake. Suppose a person told me that if I did not have an affair with her she would kill herself. i refuse and she kills herself. Am I guilty of murder? It seems to me not for two reasons, first although I foresaw the result I did not cause it she caused it by her actions hence I did not kill her. Second, the alternative in this instance did involve me causing something evil, it involved me causing an act of adultery and disloyalty.
Take this to the hell case, God foresees that others will freely do something which results in their damnation that does not mean he causes this action and so is not culpable. Second, the alternative to this would be to not create this person or this world and the question is whether this would be a better state of affairs, its not obvious it would be.
Moreover I am inclined to think this argument proves too much. As a parent I know that my child will at some point lie, sin and do bad things, does it follow that parents should be held accountable for their children’s actions and can’t justly punish them? After all they could have refrained from having Kids.
He’s a prominent Christian debater from New Zealand who debates the same sort of people as William Lane Craig does.
- What does the Bible say about judging others and Hell?
- James Spiegel explains what really causes atheism
- Interview with Jim Spiegel on “The Making of an Atheist” book
- Book review of “If there’s a God, why are there atheists?”
- Should you reject the Biblical notion of Hell based on emotions?
- Why do people go to Hell?
- Why are some Christians uncomfortable with the doctrine of Hell?
- How can Christians become more comfortable with the doctrine of Hell?