I would be interested in getting some views on the following ideas. I, like many people, have read lots on the whole debate of God, faith, religion etc and have come to the conclusion that no-one can say either way. It comes down to faith, where you personally draw your line for accepting one perspective or the other and what ‘evidence’ you can accept.
To be more specific, it depends upon whether you accept religious experience (emotional) as proof of the reality of God. It seems to me that an examined faith will primarily come down to this question and then consideration of whether believing or not will impact their lives in other ways (eg. loss of friends / status etc)
Therefore, while intellectually interesting, the whole debate (represented in the podcasts and elsewhere) is pretty irrelevant and not useful to making a decision that is based on truth and reality.
But here is the question I do find really interesting:
Given Gods omnipitence and omnicience, as well as his inherent perfection we can say that God, knows everything, can do anything and needs nothing to add to or sustain his character. We also are told that the Christian God is Love.
In this case, why would God create people and give them a part of his life / eternal nature / spirit, knowing what would happen (sin) and knowing that a large percentage would be eternally punished (& suffer)?
A potential way out did present itself: If God foresaw the fall, why not deal with Satan before he had chance to mess things up by tempting Eve? At least then temptation would not have been an issue, it would have been an independent free will decision and we can imply that Eve would not have eaten that apple without temptation as she had not chosen to up until that point. Or did God see a benefit in allowing Satan free range (as per Job)? In this case, what does that say about God?
A further area for thought is the nature of created Eve with her capacity for sin, the point of her Sin (ie. Exactly when she moved from temptation to Sin), whether disobeying God was ever avoidable and generally, the implication that entry of sin to the world has on who God is and how he created people. (If God give people free will, what, in innocence, would have led to Sin and was it avoidable by that person? Did people really have a choice about falling?
For example, when she was tempted she was innocent of the knowledge of what was happening. More seriously, the reason temptation is tempting is because it appeals to sinful will. It doesn’t appeal to perfection. Even Jesus’s temptation was pretty irrelevant – Jesus knew the score – he was God – therefore Satan had nothing to tempt him with because being God is infinitely better than bowing to your creation and that ‘temptation’. (Also, avoidance of the cross doesn’t count because for Jesus to avoid it would have been a Sin (God willed it – ‘your will be done’) and so altered the character of God, which is not possible).
The implication: Eve was perfect and therefore temptation becoming Sin could not have been something that came from her will without the capacity for it having been created (and preordained?) by God. Logically therefore God created people innocent but with the capacity to sin, he also created people inquisitive and hungry for knowledge, but he never explained (at least there’s no record of it) to Adam and Eve the consequences or specifically what it means to ‘surely die’ in a way that give them a choice (the bar is hot, don’t touch it – you only really know when you do). What is death if you don’t know about good and evil? It’s not possible to understand:
God: Don’t eat this.
God: Because you’ll die
Adam: What’s die about?
God: Die is this thing that happens when you disobey me. I would show you what it would be like but I can’t because there’s no pain / suffering here and you just have to trust me.
Adam: But God, I don’t understand how death could ever be necessary and what are you on about – pain and suffering?
God: Yes, that’s unfortunate. I can’t tell you / give you understanding about the whole Good / Evil thing. For that you would have to experience it and that would mean eating that fruit and that would mean death and pain and suffering. (Not sure about the logic here)
Adam: Sorry, I don’t know what you are talking about (Adam doesn’t yet have the knowledge and so cannot understand what God is on about)
Is it fair to expect Adam to understand the actually reality of his situation? Yes, I think so, and I also think that God thought so too. If these ideas logically stand up then one could say that God created people despite the knowledge of the future and he considered the outcome acceptable. Therefore, creation was intentionally set up to fall because even in the beginning, People had no choice to freely choose God because they didn’t know what evil was and so could not choose good freely. IE. For God to have people freely choose him, they had to understand the choice fully.
This leads back to the question of why God (given his character) would need to create and also consideration of where evil therefore come from and what this meant. The implication is that God, having created in this way, does have a need or wants to have people freely choose him for some other reason.
Why ask all this? I personally feel that if there is a God, he had no right to create anyone in the way he did (eternal beings) and that the biblically revealed character of God would not allow for the possibility. For one person to suffer for eternity is unacceptable, let alone 95% (est.) of everyone who ever lived. Given that God needs nothing, creation is not needed by God. But he did it anyway, accepting that his choice would mean evil (suffering in hell). There must also be a reason that comes from Gods will and therefore to an aspect of his character.
Some will say that hell is the absence of God. Ok, again, Hell is the result of Gods absence and ergo his responsibility. For creation to experience it is implicit from the start and God would have considered this. Ergo the responsibility for choice leading to sin is Gods.
Logically it is an impossibility that God is Love but he deliberately created the capacity for evil for no reason.