Every once in a while my Christian friend Greg sends me an e-mail. It usually is just one question that someone at his church convinced him would stump an atheist. Greg isn’t looking for a debate or discussion though; he just wants to push his point and be done. The other day, I got this style of e-mail from him. But I thought I would ask him a question this time around also.
There are a lot of great questions that I like you ask religious believers, but I think this one is probably one of my favorites:
“How can you worship any deity that either through his action or inaction allows for the eternal torture of so many human beings? Keep in mind that eternity is an extremely long time… or so I’m told.”
Here, I am moving away from the question of God’s existence in into God’s worship worthiness. For the sake of this question, I’ll give them God’s existence, but how could anyone in good conscience worship a being that allows for the torture of others without the possibility of reprieve or parole? Could a Christian really be happy in Heaven knowing that someone they cared for and loved was being tortured not just for an hour or a day or a year, or even a million years, but forever and ever?
Torture is wrong and eternal torture is just absurdly wrong. Yet this is the best system that a perfect deity could come up with. People can’t learn from their mistakes and be forgiven. No, they can only be forgiven if they learn their lesson within their very short lifetime (compared to eternity) and during that short lifetime they can be forgiven for anything without really being sorry or trying to make any kind of amends for what they did. They are forgiven at the drop of a knee. But when that short window closes, it is torture forever. No forgiveness, no mercy!
That’s not justice. Even our absurdly flawed criminal justice system is better than that. It would be like if someone jaywalked and if he didn’t beg for forgiveness within two minutes, he would be tortured for the rest of his life without the possibility of reprieve or parole. And I’m not even getting into the whole vicarious redemption thing or the blood sacrifice at the volcano… umm scratch that part about the volcano, that’s obviously absurd. This is Christianity we’re talking about after all, not Scientology, lol. Sarcasm, I love it.