Re: The problem of evil (it's a little long but I think it's well worth a read)

Personally, Zarathustra, I think you may have put a little much on the plate for Christians to answer. However, I agree with what you said.

Related to the Problem of Evil is why a God would send non-believers to Hell. Many Christians (certainly the majority) believe this to be the case. If God is all good, what gives him the reason to do this?

One could say that God is looking out for our well-being and doesn't want us to go to Hell, but this defense has a problem. It's an awful lot like a person putting a gun to your head and telling you that you can either love him and live or not love him and die. Even though that person is giving you the option of living and wants you to choose life (analogous in this case to salvation), he is not looking out for your well-being because he himself is creating the terrible alternative.

One apologist I discussed this is with said that God looks after our well-being in a way analogous to how highway laws against speeding look after the well-being of drivers. This is not a solution because laws don't create the threat of car crashes. The analogy would be more apt if cars would explode (by intentional design) if you didn't drive them daily. You can choose not to drive, but this is not for your well-being because the threat of vehicular self-destruction is not independent of the option to drive daily.

One could say that prison and tickets are analogous to Hell, not the crashes (which could be seen as the secular consequences of immorality like mistrust and alienation), but prison is far more humane then Hell. A punishment (as David Mills argued in Atheist Universe) can have 3 purposes: deterrance, separation, and/or rehabilitation. Hell either cannot do these things (rehab and partially deterrance) or does them with gratuitous excess (separation). Equating prison with Hell also does not work if we're talking about the punishment of non-believers. You can't translate that into the apologist's highway law analogy without either admitting arbitrariness or arguing that non-Christians or non-Jews (I would say non-Muslims too but Muslims don't seem to hold free will in high regard) are immoral, a position that few moderate Christians (I think) would hold to even though they might think that nonbelievers would still go to Hell.

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