20. The Biblical God is an Incompetent Redeemer

So this is it. Nearly a month of reading for you (and a weekend of writing for me, I knocked all these posts out at nearly the same time and just scheduled them to be one daily. There’s no telling what I have gotten up to while these were uploading themselves) and the climax to my comments on God or Godless? is the topic of abhorrent morality: God is an incompetent redeemer. Redemption, vicarious or otherwise, is a big part of the Christian narrative. Is God good at it?

The discussion never gets on to the following question, so I’ll leave it hanging here for anyone that want to comment but doesn’t know what to say: “Is it morally okay that I can throw responsibility for my wrongdoing onto the only innocent person ever to have lived and thus be absolved of my responsibility and reap the rewards as if I have lived a good life? Especially when a better person, who does not believe, will be punished infinitely (and therefore disproportionately) to their transgressions?”

In the Christian narrative, redemption depends on belief. Speaking more openly, it depends on worship; a belief in, but a disdain for, God would not save us. Ideas like this lead to some interesting arguments, which the atheist debater diligently presents:

  1. If there is a God, he is perfectly loving.
  2. If a perfectly loving God exists, reasonable nonbelief does not occur.
  3. Reasonable nonbelief occurs.
  4. No perfectly loving God exists (from 2 and 3).
  5. Hence, there is no God (from 1 and 4).

J. L. Schellenberg

The contested premise here is that of a loving God necessary doing away with reasonable non-belief. So let me say some words in support of it. Non-belief sends us to Hell, where we will suffer for eternity. If you love someone, who don’t want them to go there. Therefore, you would erase non-belief where the person is open to reason (unreasonable people cannot be swayed). Now I have put some flesh to the words “reasonable non-belief”, does it exist? My entire blog evinces that it does. I am reasoned in my critique.

There is an argument that a loving God would actually rather we were free agents than rather we were redeemed. We need to be allowed our freewill. Well, I’m not sure where my freewill was when it comes to other things I know: gravity and light etc. The evidence is literally overpoweringly ubiquitous. But, by my will, I also want to know true things. So if God were to implant the idea that He exists into my head by some form of personal revelation then that would be realising my will; if it is true, I want to know.

The Christian never really addresses this. Instead he used what the atheist called ‘The omniscience get-out clause’.  Oh, it could be much more complicated than we could possibly imagine. But God gets it. It can be summarised, in that instance, as ‘I doubt Schellenberg’s second premise—If a perfectly loving God exists, reasonable nonbelief does not occur—because the non-belief of some people could be compatible with God’s long-term plans for redemption. Somehow. I dunno. Because I say so.’ Needless to say, I don’t agree. My salvation and my want to know true things depend on this, and God may just not want to. My personal cost will be eternal torture.

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3 thoughts on “20. The Biblical God is an Incompetent Redeemer”

  1. Very well written, although one can never prove a negative. As for God not existing because the biblical god is an incompetent redeemer (which is very true by the way), there is another possibility; namely, that God exists but is not to be found in the Bible.

    1. JZ’s challenge is a good one. Once you remove the books that describe a God you are left with a very small to zero influence to believe in a God. So, what is your influence, if not the books?

      But unless you doubt premise one “If there is a God, he is perfectly loving” it doesn’t even matter. This argument can be used for any God–Allah, Yahweh, my consecrated buttock–so long as non-belief means Hell and God includes love.

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