I Can’t Believe In A God
Who Would Create Me Knowing I Would Sin,
and Then Hold Me Accountable For Sin He Knew I Would Commit.
* I'm currently making revisions to this sub-section *
This is the challenging statement I indicated would be included toward the end of the guide. As I indicated earlier, I recommend that you have read through the previous sub-sections on Truth, Evil, and Evidences, so that you have a much better understanding of the many considerations this challenge touches on, and have the ability to provide a more informed answer for them.
A longtime friend made this statement to me when we were talking about the concept of God, and made it after I presented some of the information and evidences included in this guide. Even though they saw evidence for the existence of the God of the Bible, they still concluded that they couldn't believe in this God. Their primary reason was because they couldn't get past the idea of a God who would create them knowing they would commit sin, and then hold them guilty for the sin they committed.
This is one of the challenging objections which I thought about it for months to try to better understand my friends concern and reasoning. Knowing my friend, I know their objections was very well-intentioned, and I believe most people raising it will be sincere in asking it.
It does seem when first heard to be difficult to answer, and I certainly had no answer when my friend said it to me a few years back. As with the other challenging statements, I believe that it can be responded to, and similar to the other challenges, there are considerations I don't believe have been thought of by the questioner. Also, similar to the the question "If I don't believe in Jesus will I go to hell?", you want to exercise sensitivity in your response.
I think the main reasoning of the objection is as follows:
God knows everything.
God knows the future, so He knows we will sin.
God must punish sin.
God knows the future, knows we will sin, and knows our sin must be punished, but created us anyway.
God created us not because He loves us but more so that He could punish us, making him like a child who captures small insects just he can pull their wings and legs off and watch them squirm.
Therefore, why would I want to believe in a God who is so cruel?
As you can see by the objection, the person making the objection “can’t believe” because they don’t like the idea of a God as they understand Him. I believe that their belief in this matter is not based upon the all the information. I believe it is more that they have reasoned that they dislike the idea of a God who is so a cruel and unfair. This is completely understandable considering the information they have considered. If my understanding of God was as indicated above, I would feel just the same.
I believe a person concluding God is like this is similar to the mystery books and movies, where we don't know who the killer is until the end, when all the information is finally revealed. Until then, we make different incorrect conclusions due to limited information considered. I believe many conclude incorrectly that God is a certain way because they haven't considered or known all the information relevant to make an accurate conclusion.
We've all had times when someone made certain incorrect conclusions about us or our intentions, because they don't know us well or didn't have all the information about us or our character. We may have even responded "That's not fair, you don't know the whole story", or "You wouldn't think that if you really knew me". Haven't we done that to others too? I know I have. I've been in a group where someone said something about another person, and another in the group said "You wouldn't say that if you knew them".
I think it's human nature to try to understand why something happened, or why someone did something. And I think our tendency is that once we arrive at a conclusion, we are not easily swayed from that. Hopefully we are willing to consider additional information about others, just as we would like others to consider additional information if they've come to a conclusion about us we feel is incorrect or unfair.
So if we make incorrect assumptions and come to incorrect conclusions about the actions and motivations of other people, isn't it reasonable that many of us will make incorrect assumptions and come to incorrect conclusions about God, if we've not considered all the relevant information?
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We've already seen in the Truth section that what we like or dislike has no effect on what is truth. If something is true and if it impacts us, we must consider its implications. If we ignore the implications or if we choose not to believe them, the implications will still affect us.
Think about a teacher giving a pop quiz that they know many of the students aren't prepared for. Do you think the teacher would have allowed the following objection from any of the students, “I can’t believe in a teacher who gives me a quiz, and then holds me responsible for knowing the answers, even though they know that I probably don’t know them.”
Can you see that this belief about God is part of the person’s worldview, that there can’t be a God who created them and then holds them responsible for the sin they commit? They are basing what they believe on their worldview, their likes and dislikes, rather than evidences. They are expressing a subjective view of truth. As shown in the Truth section, the real truth of something has nothing to do with what we like or dislike, what we’re confident about, or what is popular.
In other areas of our lives, if we have evidence but we don’t like the conclusion the evidence establishes, do we say that we just don’t believe the conclusion because we don’t like it? Across the country there are thousands of inmates who are serving time in prisons due to evidence brought during their trial proving their guilt. They are sitting in a prison cell, even though they didn’t like the consequences of the truth established by the evidence.
Another possible reason for my friend’s objection is that they don’t understand how a loving God would have this option as the only one possible. They’ve already concluded that if God would do this then God isn’t loving as Christians claim that He is.
Looking back to the Truth section, truth again is also not based upon whether we understand something or not. How many things would cease to exist if they depended on everyone’s understanding of them? Nuclear reactors, the space shuttle, Wi-Fi, internal combustion engines, etc. They would all cease to exist. If we don’t understand something, is it possible that we don’t have all the information and that we haven’t considered all the information? And are we willing to consider additional information?
As was indicated earlier, God being all-powerful doesn’t mean that God can violate the laws of logic. God has all the power to do anything that power requires. However, regardless of how much power God has He can’t make a square circle. So could our sin nature be one of the inevitable realities of being created with free will? And if God knows everything and chose to create us with a free will so that we could freely choose to love and worship Him, He also knew creating us with this choice would require the brutal death of His Son on the cross.
Think of the question and who the question focuses on:
“Why would God create me knowing I would sin and then hold me accountable for that sin?”
Who is the focus of the question? Is the focus God or the person asking the question? The focus is on the person asking the question, right? The underlying objection the person has is that God isn’t fair – as they judge fairness - and since He’s not fair, they can’t or won’t believe He exists. This raises another observation about truth. Is truth based upon what we feel is fair? It isn’t, is it?
Since God is really the only consideration concerning the sin situation we are all in, shouldn’t God’s perspective be considered? And shouldn’t we consider his perspective above ours?
I think there is a better question to ask that truly considers the situation. As well considering what we now know what Jesus Christ willingly chose to go through in the crucifixion, the question we should be asking is not the one above, but this one:
“Why would God create us knowing that we would sin and knowing that our sin would require the brutal execution of His Son on the cross?”
Do you see the focus of this question? The focus is on what God has done, what Jesus Christ has sacrificed to pay for our sin. Rather than focusing on what we believe is unfair, we need to consider all the facts so that we can see the situation in the right perspective. Does this 2nd question give you a different perspective of the situation?
Let’s consider the unfairness implied in the first question. The person thinking this is actually quite right about the unfairness of it. However, they are not considering what is truly unfair. Should we be thinking that it is unfair for God to create us with free will, knowing we would sin and then holding us responsible for that sin? Or should we be thinking that it is unfair that God would create us, knowing we would sin, and then allow Jesus Christ to choose to be sacrificed on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin. Especially realizing that he certainly didn’t deserve the judgement that we have earned, with our only obligation in this scenario being our honest decision to accept His sacrifice? The answer should be obvious.
A saying I’ve heard that conveys this perspective very well is the following, although I think I remember a better wording:
“Jesus took on the sin debt that we owe and that He didn’t deserve, so that we could receive the gift of eternal life, which we don’t deserve.”
The reality of God’s decision to create people with free will is that all of us will choose to sin, and that some will freely choose to accept Him while others will freely choose to reject Him and the gift He offers. Adam and Eve only had one command to obey and even they failed.
God has given us free will to choose to accept or reject Christ’s payment on the cross. The inevitable result of us having free choice is that we would also freely choose to sin. God also knew that our sinning would be the result our free will and would ultimately require the death of His Son to pay the sin debt we owe. And why did God do this? For no other reason than that He loves us more than we can ever understand.
Now let’s consider a few observations about God. We’ve seen significant evidence for the existence of the God of the Bible and that the Bible could only have come to us through God. If the logical conclusion is that the Bible is true, the following verses are true even if we don't like them and don’t want them to be true:
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