Question: If God knew that Satan would rebel and Adam and Eve would sin, why did He create them? The answer is not clear from what I’ve read, and without a reasonable answer to this question, I’ll have no further interest in anything religious or the Bible. Here is my major concern. God knew before he executed his plan in the beginning that those who would not accept it would be lost. If he is not willing that any should perish, why did he do that. He knew it was going to happen before he set his plan into motion. Hell is a terrible place to spend eternity! Even I as a human am smart enough to imagine two plans that might be better. 1) Make a better plan that would still give man free will, taking into consideration the wrong choice. 2) Make man pay for his sin of rejection, like period in hell to match the crime, but not forever in hell! Here’s my impression of the standard answer. We are stupid, but God knows all. And if we don't do as he says, we were doomed! But we were from before the beginning—and that's a horrible thing! The answer seems to be, God is God. He can do whatever he wants and it's right, even if we see it as wrong. I need more than that.
Answer: Hello friend. I commend you on your detailed analysis of a difficult topic. Why indeed did God create a doomed humanity? In addition, I would like to commend you on your high view of Scripture. Even though you are ready to throw God right out the window, you are basing this on a pretty earnest exploration of the issues—earnest enough to quote some Bible and to visit a biblical website. And because you were honest with me, I shall be honest with you. You see, you have already figured the answer out! You just don’t like the answer. That being said, I will expand on it, and perhaps I will ease (or increase, if necessary!) some of your anxiety.
First, let me confess that I always experience discomfort when teaching about eternal punishment, and this means that, on some level, I do not like the answer either. Please understand, however, that I firmly believe in God—and that he uses his word to answer all the issues of faith and life truly. Therefore, I have learned to live with this: A sovereign God requires neither my comfort nor my permission to run his creation. Yes, some days, and with some issues, I simply pale when asked to explain them—because you are exactly correct when you say that “God is God, he can do whatever he wants and it's right, even if we see it as wrong”—and that’s a hard sell! But you are wrong to say, “I need more.” You do not need more. You need to decide. You need to decide between heaven and hell. You need to do it now.
“For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2, ESV)
My prayer is that, before we are finished today, you will feel more comfortable taking God at his word, especially since you have already taken the trouble to study it a bit. Do not feel too bad about blanching at the thought of eternal punishment, though. I have never met a person, believer or non-believer, who was enthusiastic about the idea of hell...yet...there it is in spite of us.
“For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment... then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,” (2 Peter 2:4–9, ESV)
Since I’ve already confessed that I identify with your discomfort over eternal punishment (but all the while still sticking with God in this matter) the natural question is, how do I cope? I cope by resting in this thought; any God, which I could fully understand, would be no God at all. Why not? If I could understand him fully, then I would be his equal—and that would be problematic on so many levels! But the fact that I do not understand him fully means that, in addition to his activities that are within my view but are outside of my understanding, there are plenty activities that go on outside of my awareness as well. We must trust God for the things that are not seen (Heb. 11:1), but also trust him for the things that are seen, but are difficult to understand (2 Pet. 3:16). Trust requires that we use our emotional muscles, and like our physical muscles, they get stronger with repeated use.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.”
(Isaiah 55:8, ESV)
God continually works on plans that are beyond my mental or emotional wherewithal—and it’s not that I’ve given up on trying to understand them. But rather, I realize that hell, punishment, sovereignty, holiness—those are all his problems, and not mine. I let God be God and he lets me be me. And part of me being me is that I, too, have had emotional objections to his not removing the risk from life. Having lived with these issues for a while, however, I realize that if, instead of allowing people to choose their misery, he had instead guaranteed that all persons would come to him no matter what, then those people would be robot-people and not the volitional human beings that we know ourselves to be. Whether or not you even believe in God, the logic stands. You either exercise your free will, which, by definition, includes the risk of choosing wrongly, or else God makes your free will moot—which is to make it no free will at all. You cannot have both, and that seems to be what you want in your question, free-will with no risk. Sorry. It is not even about God at this level. It is just about logic. Please visit the following links for more discussion on volition versus free will.
With your proposition numbers 1 and 2, you are trying to “create” a type of love, which has no risk. But there can be no such love as this, because all love faces the risk of rejection—even God’s love...or it would not be love at all. God is the one who gets to define love, not us. He is love, and that is why we must yield to his words, even when we must shift our thinking to do so.
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8, ESV)
You are not alone in your angst-driven creativeness, by the way. Many organizations have invented some ungodly doctrines to assuage the notion of eternal damnation. The great secular religion known as Materialism, teaches that our consciousness is a mere accident of our molecules, and it goes away after our bodily biology stops. This precludes both hell and heaven. Universalism teaches the non-biblical construct that all people will ultimately be reconciled to God no matter what. This also precludes hell—but falsely so, of course. The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach annihilation, which is the total destruction of a consciousness as if it never existed. This handy notion also precludes hell. Too bad it’s a false doctrine. And even the Roman Catholic Church, which does subscribe to a hell, mollifies eternal punishment by teaching that one category of sin can be cleansed after death in a place called Purgatory. This is both extra-biblical and anti-salvific.
Any of the above ideas would satisfy your objections, but they are all anti-godly, anti-biblical and anti-salvific. So, you have choices...but be warned. God’s plan continues in spite of everyone’s objections, so, people who, in good conscience and after careful deliberation, choose to subscribe to Materialism do not wind up with their molecules entropically distributed over the remaining universe. They wind up hell. People who believe that God will act differently than he said that he would in the Bible, believing instead that God will somehow bring all persons to himself no matter what, and they therefore never address their sin will wind up in hell. Jehovah’s Witnesses’ doctrines are broken at the core, since they deny that Jesus Christ is God, and Roman Catholics have to cut through piles of aberrant doctrine to find the Christ who does indeed live within the core of their soteriology. So you see, everybody has an answer, and everybody has problems...but everybody has the same problem. We must actuate God’s plan for salvation in spite of dubious information to the contrary and in spite of our personal objections.
I feel that you will be well served by visiting the link below, which discusses the particulars of salvation in great detail. There are many elements, which are beyond the scope of this answer that might help things click for you. You seem to have an interest in making an informed decision about God, so please touch down at that site.
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, ESV)
You had also mentioned as part of your question that God wills that none should perish (see above, and again, I commend you on your biblical assertions). This verse shows God’s attitude towards salvation. It does not guarantee a result. Therefore, it is not mutually exclusive with the possibility of damnation. This verse does not teach the algorithm of salvation, but rather it tells us that God is not neutral concerning salvation, that is, he did not merely launch creation, or even merely launch redemption—only to stand idly by and watch us fumble around. On the contrary. All three persons of the Godhead, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, are continually working by judging, interceding and wooing. However, none of these godly activities either force person to God or issue any guarantee that people will find him. People merely respond to God’s call or they do not. Again, this is the price of love. God wants nothing from robots, but he wants glory from us, and it cannot be glory if it is coerced.
In closing, let me emphasize that I am glad that you are so vexed by the notion of hell! And I am glad that you are investigating it here on earth. Because, it is much better to be vexed by the idea of hell than the reality of hell—a destination that awaits all unbelievers upon their earthly death. Better to vex you now than vexed you later, friend.
Fortunately, God gave us all a way of escape—a way of mercy—and I am pleading with you. Do not let some theoretical person who might or might not accept God’s mercy send you to hell. Receive Jesus Christ as your Savior right now, and change hell from a destination to an uncomfortable topic for discussion.