Heaven and Hell: How to Explain God’s Love AND Justice to Kids

By Natasha Crain

Lately, my two daughters (ages 6 and 4) have been arguing incessantly every morning. It’s the first thing I hear every day, echoing from down the hall:

“Stop staring at me!”

“Then leave my room!”

“You’re so mean!”

“No, you’re the meanest in the world!”

The other morning, my older daughter ran into my room, crying, “Mommy! Sister pushed me to the ground! I got hurt!”

In utter fatigue and frustration, I just looked at her blankly and replied, “I just don’t care anymore. I don’t know what to tell you.”

She burst into tears. “It’s NOT FAIR! Why don’t you care she did something bad?”

I shrugged and said, “I should. I’m just too tired of all this fighting to do anything anymore.”

I ushered my wailing daughter out of the room and finished getting ready, feeling like a total failure.

Little did I know my failure would serve as a great lesson about God’s love and justice only a few hours later.

 

Explaining God’s Love and Justice to Kids

That evening, when I was tucking my daughter into bed, she said, “I don’t totally understand who goes to heaven and hell.”

We had talked about this topic on many occasions before, but of course it’s something hard for kids to understand. At that moment, God placed it on my heart to use the example from the morning to explain the concepts in a more tangible way. I saw the lights really go on in her eyes through our conversation, so I want to share it with you today in dialogue form. I hope it will help you have this discussion with your own kids (you can use your own similar failure, or set one up as a lesson!).

Me: “That’s a really important question and I’m so glad you asked it. When you were younger and couldn’t understand a lot yet, we simply explained to you that if you love Jesus, you’ll be with Him forever in heaven. But you’re big enough now to understand much more. I want to start by answering your question with an example. Do you remember this morning when you came to my room because your sister had done something bad to you? How did I respond?”

My daughter: “That you didn’t care. That it didn’t matter. That you weren’t going to do anything about it.”

Me: “Right. How did that make you feel?”

My daughter: “Sad. I didn’t understand why you didn’t want to do something about her pushing me. It was unfair.”

Me: “So was that loving or not loving of mommy?”

My daughter: “I didn’t think it was loving at all.”

Me: “I don’t think it was either. I shouldn’t have responded that way. I’m sorry. The most loving thing for me to do would have been to give your sister a fair consequence. Can you see how part of being a loving mommy is being a fair mommy too?”

My daughter: “Yes.”

Me: “OK, so now think of what it’s like for God. As we’ve talked about, God has taught us His perfect rules of what is right and wrong in our hearts and in the Bible—just like mommy has rules about pushing that your sister broke. Everyone knows that God is more loving than we can ever imagine, but a lot of people don’t understand that means He is also perfectly fair. He could never just ignore that we sin and break His beautiful, perfect laws of what is right. If He just said, “Whatever! I don’t care anymore!” like mommy did this morning, He wouldn’t be loving, just like mommy wasn’t loving. So God has to do something about our sins because He is so loving. The big question is, what should He do?”

My daughter: “We would, like, have to die or something because breaking God’s rules is BAD.”

Me (laughing in surprise): “Wow, that’s an amazing guess, because the Bible actually tells us that the consequence of our sin is death. We all die. But God loves us tons and doesn’t want us to be separated from Him forever. So He has made a way to forgive us without ignoring our sin. He sent Jesus—His own Son—to be punished for our sin instead of us. That’s what it means that “Jesus died for our sins.” If you understand that, then I’m ready to answer your question about heaven and hell.”

My daughter: “I do, but we’re still punished. You punish us.”

Me: “Great question. We do experience consequences in this life for breaking rules. If you break mommy’s rules about hitting, you’ll go to your room, for example. If you break the rules at school, you’ll stay in from recess. If you break the rules of our government, you can go to jail. What we’re talking about right now is what happens when we breakGod’s rules our whole lives. We will never, ever be perfect, so we will sin against God’s rules until we die. We’re talking about what God should do about His rules being broken. Does that make sense?”

My daughter: “Yes.”

Me: “OK! So let’s answer your question now. The Bible says we will be with God forever if we accept the gift He gave us of being forgiven when Jesus died on the cross…”

My daughter: “What does it mean to accept?”

Me: [I took her stuffed animal and pushed it toward her.] Take the animal and hug it tight. You’ve accepted what I was giving you. [I took it back and pushed it toward her again.] Now push it away. You’ve rejected what I was giving you. When we accept the gift of forgiveness  that God is offering to us, it means to hang on tight to it our whole lives, like your animal right now. It means saying, “Yes! I know I’m breaking your laws and will never be perfect. Thank you so much for taking my punishment through Jesus. I accept your gift and will live my life for you in response.” Living our life for Jesus means making Him our highest priority…spending our lives getting to know Him through prayer and Bible study…wanting what He wants…and not sinning just because we know we’ll be forgiven. I want you to understand one thing really clearly: that means we don’t get to be with God just by being good or doing good things. We can never be good enough. When people do not accept God’s gift of forgiveness, they cannot be with Him when they die no matter how many good things they’ve done in their life on Earth. They still need His forgiveness for all the bad things they’ve done…and if they don’t accept God’s gift of forgiveness through Jesus, they are choosing to take the punishment themselves. That means every person chooses whether they go to heaven with God or if they are separated from God forever in hell.”

My daughter: “What if someone has never heard about Jesus?”

Me: “Great question! A lot of adults ask that too. The Bible doesn’t tell us for sure, so Christians have different ideas about it. But what we do know is that God is perfectly fair and perfectly good, so however it works, we can know that God will handle it the right way. He’ll never sin like mommy this morning and just say He doesn’t care.”

With that, we ended our conversation and said goodnight. And I was a wee bit grateful for messing up that morning.

For more articles like: Heaven and Hell: How to Explain God’s Love AND Justice to Kids visit Natasha’s site at ChristianMomThoughts.com

Heaven and Hell: How to Explain God’s Love AND Justice to Kids

74 replies
  1. Tannar says:

    The second to last paragraph where the author responds with “The Bible doesn’t tell us for sure, so Christians have different ideas about it” is not accurate. This is actually covered in scripture in Romans 2 12:16. Those who do not have the law are judged by their hearts, because God has written the moral law on each and every heart He created. Even though people may not have ever heard the Law or the Gospel, they still contain within them objective moral standards, and can choose to be tenderhearted and loving to people.

    Reply
  2. David says:

    When she is older and begins to think more critically how will you explain to her that god created man knowing he would fall and billions would go to hell? In fact, how do you as an adult deal with that disturbing reality?

    Reply
      • David says:

        Brilliant Louie. Got your fire insurance What I meant was how do you deal with the moral contradiction of a supposedly loving god torturing billions forever?

        Reply
        • Luke says:

          David,

          Does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?

          Thanks,

          P̶a̶u̶l̶ Luke

          Reply
        • Louie says:

          I knew you’d like that… When someone offers you a way out, and you choose not to take it, then you get what you get. Why does it bother you so much if you don’t believe it anway?

          Reply
        • Robert Lawrence says:

          simple. The ONLY way to have a freely chosen loving relationship is to give people the freedom to choose. If people reject God’s offer to enter into a loving relationship with him, then they choose to live apart from the ONLY source of what is good and loving. Hence they will instead suffer justice and wrath instead of grace and mercy. As the story illustrated, that is still the most loving and fair thing to do.

          In the end it means that the benefits of living with billions in a mutually loving relationship forever IS worth the cost of the billions who reject that option.

          Also there is much to be said for the possibility that those who reject that life may not live forever suffering. They may in fact be eternally destroyed. I don’t personally hold to that view but it would offer a consistent and reasonable answer to your question. So…

          Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      Jeremy, if an all-intelligent being can’t work out a way then he can’t be that smart.

      I’m not all-intelligent, so there’s no reason I should be able to think of a way, but if God knew in advance which people would go to heaven and which to hell, then why not create the latter as beings that look and act just like humans but in fact have no consciousness. The heaven-bound people wouldn’t know the difference, they’d do all the same things they do in our reality. But there’d be no real hell-bound people.

      Alternatively, If God genuinely intervenes for some people to lead them to the right path, which not all? Some people say they believe due to a personal spiritual experience that they can’t explain – if they can have those experiences, why not all?

      But like I said, it’s not up to us to tell you how a God should do it – if he’s super smart then he’d know a way.

      Or he could just not have created a hell (if you’re presuming that he did).

      Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          So the God could have made me in such a way that I understood. The limited human brain is subject to all sorts of biases and lapses in thinking. It could have been designed without these problems, given a smart enough designer not limited in any way. Blaming us for not understanding everything due to the limits of our brains is like breeding docile dogs and then complaining they’re not active enough.

          Reply
          • Beck says:

            Again, you’re insisting that your way is better without actually being able to know that. Even if you could show your way is “better” at the end of the day it’s your opinion vs God’s.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            That’s exactly my point – an all-intelligent God should be able to think of a way. I didn’t insist anything. I mentioned a way that would avoid humans going to hell, answering Jeremy’s question. A God could surely think of a better way, but I’ve shown that there IS a way.

          • Beck says:

            You basically said (correct me if I’m wrong so I can get clarification) that things would be “better” if God made evil robots, but wouldn’t you just turn around and say “God is evil for making evil robots that do evil”.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            I think you’re confusing my posts with someone else’s – I never said anything about evil robots. Perhaps try reading my posts again. My point stands, as far as I’m concerned.

          • Beck says:

            if God knew in advance which people would go to heaven and which to hell, then why not create the latter as beings that look and act just like humans but in fact have no consciousness. The heaven-bound people wouldn’t know the difference, they’d do all the same things they do in our reality. But there’d be no real hell-bound people.” And from that it appears you want God to make evil robots so no one actually ever goes to hell.

          • Louie says:

            Andy – He did make you in a way that you can understand and gave you the rule book to fact check. You choose not to understand. If there is an hell and you end up there, you’ll have nobody to blame but yourself. The same is true for me and everyone else.

          • Louie says:

            I’m not sure what you are getting at. We all have the same evidence before us, it’s just how you interpret it. So you are responsible for the outcome, it’s your choice.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            I’m saying I get that you believe that there’s a God who made evidence available to everyone and people are just deliberately not understanding or seeing it or whatever, just as Muslims may believe you are deliberately ignoring the evidence of Allah or whatever – but I don’t think any of you are justified in believing that.

          • Louie says:

            And we don’t think you are justified in believing what you do. In the end, I am prepared to accept whatever end comes and take responsibility for my own actions. Everyone else should do the same.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Yes, we disagree on the evidence. And yes, I’d bet on myself against you or Frank and the rest of you if we all did end up facing a reasonable and just supreme being. In other words I reckon he’d be more likely on my side than yours, given my actions on this earth. I’d be happy to defend you though. Any God who took against me for not believing he existed would be one not worth worshipping. But if he was truly smart then he wouldn’t.

      • Robert Lawrence says:

        Judas and all those in Jerusalem in the time of Jesus had that experience yet most didn’t believe. That is a reasonable explanation as to why. God knows those who WILL If he does, and thus the majority of those experiences are with those that do.

        Reply
    • David says:

      If u can’t think of a way to redeem all don’t create any. It’s pretty simple. I thought god was all knowing.

      Reply
    • David says:

      “He is no loving god who creates that which he does not universally redeem to satisfy a need which he does not have.”

      Reply
  3. Jeremy says:

    Andy

    “I’m not all-intelligent, so there’s no reason I should be able to think of a way, but if God knew in advance which people would go to heaven and which to hell, then why not create the latter as beings that look and act just like humans but in fact have no consciousness”

    So create beings with the illusion of free will? You cant look and act like a human and not be one either you are or arent.

    “Alternatively, If God genuinely intervenes for some people to lead them to the right path, which not all?”

    This assumes that He has not shown everybody the path moreover if He has not shown everybody the path then you would have an argument for Gods immorality.

    ” But like I said, it’s not up to us to tell you how a God should do it – if he’s super smart then he’d know a way.”

    This is plain assumption on your part you have know way of knowing that there is another way. Also if you come to find out that God is real and that this is the only are you going to accept them and Him?

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “So create beings with the illusion of free will? You cant look and act like a human and not be one either you are or arent.”

      Well according to all the apologists here, if there isn’t a God then that’s exactly what we are – beings with the illusion of free will – so take that possibility up with them. How do you know it’s not possible, and who are you to say what’s not possible of a God?

      And it’s not assumption to say an all knowing God would know how to do something! According to your conception of God he could have made the universe any way he wanted – we’re told that even the laws of physics are up for grabs.

      And to Beck – you’re the one calling them robots and you’re the one calling them evil. I just said they were brings who wouldn’t get into heaven. I guess you’re putting me in the bracket. It’s you (and your God) who presumably consider me evil, not me. That’s your label, not mine. I’m saying he’d be creating a being instead of me that does all the same things I would do. Of forget me, sone other guy – might be someone who goes out of his way to help everyone, gives to charity, whatever. But he happens to be convinced that sone other God is the real one. And he gets barred from heaven for whatever reasons you or your God has. You’re the one calling him evil, not me.

      Reply
  4. Jeremy says:

    Andy

    “Well according to all the apologists here, if there isn’t a God then that’s exactly what we are – beings with the illusion of free will – so take that possibility up with them. How do you know it’s not possible, and who are you to say what’s not possible of a God?”

    Hold on a second the apologists will say that the illusion of freewill is apparent since without God there is no free will just determinism, but what they are not saying is that there is no God and freewill exists. The illusion of free will would be a mechanism deteremined by the universe for survival purposes of humans but it would only be deteremined and not necessarily partial to humans, the athiests like Dennett, Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Stenger, etc. agree with this. What I know is not possible is to give a person free will but at the same time give them the illusion of free will. For the person there is no way to tell if they are actually making decisions, and for the creator to give free will yet also give the illusion of free will is self defeating. God cant do this because He operates within the rules of logic, I would imagine your next question would do the rules of logic exist apart from God or are they a part of God.

    ” And it’s not assumption to say an all knowing God would know how to do something! According to your conception of God he could have made the universe any way he wanted – we’re told that even the laws of physics are up for grabs.”

    Im not saying that He couldnt do it another way He could have but certain states of things require certain parameters or we would not have the universe we have, if the parameters were different we would have a different world, just as free will operates within certain parameters. What im saying is that you are one stating that He should have done another way, a better way. yet you have no way of knowing that there is another better way which you have admitted, so how can you say that there is a better way? You didnt answer the second part of that which was, when you come to know that God is real and that this was the best way will you accept Him?

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “What I know is not possible is to give a person free will but at the same time give them the illusion of free will.”

      Cool. I never said it was possible. Perhaps re-read what I DID say.

      “He could have but certain states of things require certain parameters or we would not have the universe we have”

      Why is God constrained by anything like that? Any constraints are constraints that He invented, no?

      “yet you have no way of knowing that there is another better way”

      I named one already. Your dismissal of it seems to be based on a misunderstanding of it.

      “when you come to know that God is real and that this was the best way will you accept Him?”

      Which God? The God of Westboro Baptist Church, who ‘hates f@gs’, or the God my mother believes in who has no problem with gays at all, or the God of the 18th Century who slave owners quoted to support their slavery, or the God of William Wilburforce, who was AGAINST slavery?

      And what do you mean by ‘accept’, exactly?

      Now, can you answer this: when you come to know that Allah is real, will you accept Him?

      Reply
  5. Jeremy says:

    Andy

    This was the question you asked about things that are possible as it pertains to free will ” How do you know it’s not possible, and who are you to say what’s not possible of a God?” I attmepted to answer your question and you answer with this “Cool. I never said it was possible. Perhaps re-read what I DID say.” Is this some socratic method your trying to use or are you deliberately not addressing what Im saying back to you. More importantly then does free will exist?

    “Why is God constrained by anything like that? Any constraints are constraints that He invented, no?”

    Yes your right God has put a limit as to how much He will control an entity that is seperate from himself. If He places any control over you then free will is broken even if you reject Him, He cant make you not reject Him or He violates your free will. Unless you would like to be controled then you can take that up with Him.

    “Which God? The God of Westboro Baptist Church, who ‘hates f@gs’, or the God my mother believes in who has no problem with gays at all, or the God of the 18th Century who slave owners quoted to support their slavery, or the God of William Wilburforce, who was AGAINST slavery?”

    Good job of deflecting and not answering

    “I named one already. Your dismissal of it seems to be based on a misunderstanding of it.”

    what was that, not to create Hell?

    “And what do you mean by ‘accept’, exactly?”

    I mean will you accept any God even if they dont fit your criteria for being Godly, and more specifically the Christian God?

    “Now, can you answer this: when you come to know that Allah is real, will you accept Him?”

    Yes, that is if he is real. there is no other way around it. since I gave you a direct answer do me the courtesy and others with answer questions with direct answers.

    One last thing will you ever know that there is no God?

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      ” Is this some socratic method your trying to use or are you deliberately not addressing what Im saying back to you”

      The thing I was talking about was not the thing you said was impossible. I didn’t say ‘Humans who have free will but also have the illusion of free will’.

      I can’t know there is no God just like I can’t know there are no invisible fairies at the bottom of my garden. So far I see no evidence for either. Will you ever know there is no Zeus or Allah?

      You’ve still not said what you mean by ‘accept’. If you just mean ‘acknowledge He or She exists’, then sure – if I believed something existed then I would acknowledge it existed. What’s your point?

      And no, it wasn’t ‘not to create hell’, it was simply not to create people who he knew in advance would go to hell. And I addressed the objection that these people’s existence are important for those who are destined for heaven.

      Reply
      • toby says:

        I think god doesn’t prevent people going to hell because, as it says numerous times in the bible, he likes the smell of burning things. So I imagine heaven filled with the potpourri of burning sinners. I don’t know. Maybe its like being a BBQ restaurant all of the time. Heaven smells like BBQ and has peanut shells on the floor and awful country music blaring. No thanks.

        Reply
    • toby says:

      Yes your right God has put a limit as to how much He will control an entity that is seperate from himself. If He places any control over you then free will is broken even if you reject Him, He cant make you not reject Him or He violates your free will.
      Any control? So if he stops you from wetting yourself when you have to go real bad that violates your free well even if that is what you wanted to happen?

      And what about the many in the bible that were directly in his presence? These days people claim he’d violate your free will just by showing up and saying hello. So which is it? Is the bible bunk or can god show up as a burning bush and talk to someone today and not violate their will?

      Reply
      • Luke says:

        Toby,

        Not just interacting with people more directly, but what about so many of the characters of the Bible that were needed to fill certain roles?

        Not all Christians have such a hard and high view of free will, and see G-d as the creator who has the right to make you as he wishes (the potter verse I quoted above, for example). It’s kind of odd to say “G-d made you so he has the right to take your life” but “G-d can’t plant the idea in your head that you should eat tacos, that would violate your free will!”.

        So a lot of Christians say “of course G-d can do both! He’s G-d after all. It’s His world, we’re just living in it.”

        To come back to my original question, many ask those who seem to worship free will above G-d, questions like: did G-d have to sit around waiting for someone who just really wanted to do all the stuff John the Baptist did? Or did G-d need/want John the Baptist, so He made him?

        Either G-d is in charge and powerful, or he’s an impotent weakling stuck crossing His immaterial fingers hoping a certain person will do something?

        Thanks,

        Luke

        Reply
  6. Jeremy says:

    Andy

    This is what you said before ” then why not create the latter as beings that look and act just like humans but in fact have no consciousness.”
    and then you say ” I didnt say, Humans who have free will but also have the illusion of free will’. your not being very consistent.

    Yes I will know there is no zeus and no Allah when God is right in front of me.

    Accept, as in follow Him as He told you to follow Him because it is the only right thing to do. Even people in hell acknowledge He exists.

    If you create people that will only go to heaven what do you do about their sin, More importantly can those people ever chose to not believe in God. See your wanting this perfect world where everybody lives happily ever after but thats not reallity not even on atheism.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “This is what you said before ” then why not create the latter as beings that look and act just like humans but in fact have no consciousness.”
      and then you say ” I didnt say, Humans who have free will but also have the illusion of free will’. your not being very consistent.”

      I’m being perfectly consistent. Those are two completely different things. And it’s ‘you’re’ not ‘your’.

      “Yes I will know there is no zeus and no Allah”

      That’s not what I asked.

      “Accept, as in follow Him”

      What do you mean ‘follow him’? I thought he was supposed to be everywhere? How can you follow someone who is everywhere?

      Reply
  7. Jeremy says:

    Andy

    in the first statement you were saying roughly “God should have made creatures that look and act like they have free will but only have the illusion of it. I said not even God can do that, you then say you didnt say roughly ” I didnt say make creatures with the illusion of free will that think they have free will” how are you being consistent?

    your question ” Will you ever know there is no Zeus or Allah?
    my answer “Yes I will know there is no zeus and no Allah when God is right in front of me.”

    “What do you mean ‘follow him’? I thought he was supposed to be everywhere? How can you follow someone who is everywhere?”

    You know its very disrespectful to come on here and not really try to get answers to your questions and all the while ask questions and make statements as if you are more intelligent and have it all figured out and then ask questions such as these that are well…… childish and disingenuous.

    lets shift this to your ground. what will you know when your dead?

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      ” I didnt say make creatures with the illusion of free will that think they have free will” how are you being consistent?”

      Jeremy, I don’t understand what part you don’t understand. Where in the first statement did I say ‘They will think they have free will’? I said they could act as if they do and look as if they do. I never said THINK they do. Instead of some guy who lives a blameless life but misses some hoop that your God would require him to go through so goes to hell, the God could make a soulless entity that looks the same as that guy and does all the same things he would have done, but has no consciousness or genuine thoughts – it’s effectively a robot, as someone here said. So all the people who are bound for heaven get to interact with him in all the same ways, but he doesn’t go to hell because there’s no ‘he’ there.

      You call me disrespectful, but you’ve made me go over this simple point several times, saying I’m inconsistent because you’re reading something into what I said that I never said, even when you’re quoting what I said, then quoting me making it clear what I did NOT say, then telling me this is inconsistent when even in the two quotes you put side by side you can see yourself that they’re not inconsistent at all.

      OK, I’ll know your God doesn’t exist when Zeus, Poiseiden, Ganesh or some other God shows their head. Otherwise, I won’t know, just like I won’t know there aren’t fairies at the bottom of my garden or whatever.

      You ask about my views on death but to be honest it’s taken so long to explain some very simple things that I’ve pretty much run out of patience. Sorry.

      Reply
  8. Jeremy says:

    Andy

    I’m really not sure what your doing here, other than trying to create skepticism which is fine, but you really should take a step back and think real hard about what is possible and what is not. The way you describe free will ( robots) is not actual at a fundamental level, not even the atheists agree with you. Hope you find what your looking for

    Reply
    • Luke says:

      Jeremy,

      He never said they had free will. All we see are another person’s actions. We can’t know their consciousness. If someone were a “robot” that acted exactly like a human, you or I could never know. He hasn’t described free will as being a robot, he said these creatures would not have free will — there is no conception of free will that an atheist would disagree with. I think you’re just not understanding what Andy is saying.

      Thanks,

      Luke

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        Thanks Luke. You understand it, so I don’t think it’s just a failure in my explanation. I’ve explained it to Jeremy in several different ways but eventually I have to conclude someone is just deliberately misunderstanding me.

        I’m talking about two groups – free will people who God knows in advance are bound for heaven, and the ‘robots’ who God knows wouldn’t have got there, so he created without free will and without consciousness. The robots do all the things that the ‘same’ human would have done had they had free will, and they look the same as other humans.

        Reply
  9. Jeremy says:

    Luke & Andy

    I understand Andy’s statement just fine, create people that look and act as if they have “free will” at least thats how we percieve them. For those people there would be no consequences or responsbility for their actions because they have no real no decision making power. That leaves us with the problem of us, because we would still have actual free will. So what is God to do with us especially those that reject Him. But Andy’s answer to that is dont create people that would reject Him. So Andy wants to limit free will, which is impossible even for God if God wants to maintane the integrity of free will and logically inconsistant. While God can influece us that does not mean that he can override our free will or He violates it. Moreover atheists and especially prominent atheists argue that the type of God that would create people that would follow Him no matter what or have no choice as Andy would have it, is only creating to serve his ego and self satisfying reasons.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      There’s nothing in my suggestion that involves limiting free will, Jeremy. If there are two groups of people – those that will freely choose to follow him and those that freely choose not to – why would deciding not to create the second group affect the free will of the first? If you’re saying its a problem for free will that he knows in advance that the first group will follow him – so in effect they’ll choose him ‘no matter what’, then that’s a problem whether or not he creates the second group.

      So no, nothing I’ve said suggests that the choice of the people God created would be constrained in any extra way.

      Reply
  10. Jeremy says:

    Andy

    If you were god you would only create beings that would follow you no matter what right? You would not create people that would not follow you no matter what right? How would you do that, and please don’t say I don’t know but God would and should. You also need to explain how your going to get people to freely believe in you and at the same time relieve them of the responsibility the sins they committed or are you going to remove sin from the world too? surely you wouldn’t limit a persons freewill by not allowing them to do bad things. Please don’t forget that us existing in this world means we have to deal with what we experience in this world like evil, which I would hope you believe exists. you have to accept that if God exists then He has created a world in which evil exists for a reason. You then have to make the decision whether to accept such a God or reject Him and you cannot blame Him for giving you a choice in the matter, and assuming he doesn’t exist is a choice whether or not he doesn’t exist.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “How would you do that?”

      That’s no problem at all. If I as God know in advance everything that’s going to happen on earth, then I know every human who will freely choose me (call them X) and every human than will freely reject me (call them Y). Therefore it’s a simple matter to create everything exactly as it is in the world we are in, except that the Y humans I make are what we earlier called ‘robots’. They act in exactly the same way the Y humans in our reality act – indeed make exactly the same actions in every way. So in that reality there’s actually no difference whatsoever for the X humans. They are still freely choosing God – their choice is genuinely a free one. In fact every every choice they make in that reality is exactly the same as the one they make in this one, because I’ve not changed anything that affects them in any way.

      “You also need to explain how your going to get people to freely believe in you…”

      As I’ve said, there’s no other difference in the possibility I described and the one we are in, so there’s no extra thing that I need to account for, allow for or explain. Any problem that you think would exist in that reality must also therefore exist in the one you believe God actually DID create.

      Reply
    • toby says:

      I came up with a better morality in a post somewhere on this website. Make the world just as it is, humans can choose to harm others, but instead of harming others they harm themselves. If someone stabs someone else, the one doing the stabbing is injured. Shoot someone else and the damage is done to the shooter. Hurt someone else’s feelings and the one doing the hurting feels the sadness and shame. They can choose to do these things, do you think they will? It’s immediate, proportional justice. I think that would be a better and more peaceful world than this one and there would be proof of the supernatural every time someone punched somebody in the nose and their own nose broke.

      Reply
  11. Jeremy says:

    Andy

    So we can agree that the Y people don’t really matter, and are just taking up space, but I would ask why would you as all powerful God need waste time creating a worthless being (Y) since they have no value and really no actual affect on the x humans as they would believe no matter what and you could create a world in which the Y humans aren’t necessary for salvation. I don’t think you would argue that you are a very efficient god for creating a world that had unnecessary parts, would you? furthermore a more an omniscient one.

    As it pertains to getting people to believe in you, how are you going to deal with sin. Sure you can say people will follow you no matter what, but are suggesting that they will never do anything wrong? I hope you don’t think that. By the way did you come from or were you a Calvinist before

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “since they have no value and really no actual affect on the x humans as they would believe no matter what”

      Who said they would believe no matter what? Not me. They are the X people who will believe in THIS reality given THIS PARTICULAR set of circumstances. Those circumstances might involve their interactions with the Y people. Therefore the Y people still need to exist and behave in exactly the same way in the other ‘robot Y’ reality.

      “I don’t think you would argue that you are a very efficient god for creating a world that had unnecessary parts, would you?”

      I’ve explained why they are necessary, so my point stands.

      “Sure you can say people will follow you no matter what”

      I didn’t say that. See my first paragraph.

      “how are you going to deal with sin.”

      I refer you to my previous post:

      “As I’ve said, there’s no other difference in the possibility I described and the one we are in, so there’s no extra thing that I need to account for, allow for or explain. Any problem that you think would exist in that reality must also therefore exist in the one you believe God actually DID create.”

      Reply
      • Jeremy says:

        Andy
        ” Who said they would believe no matter what? Not me. They are the X people who will believe in THIS reality given THIS PARTICULAR set of circumstances. Those circumstances might involve their interactions with the Y people. Therefore the Y people still need to exist and behave in exactly the same way in the other ‘robot Y’ reality.’

        Let me Clarify just in case you thought I meant something different, I was saying the X humans will believe no matter what the Y humans aren’t able to believe another way. Why are the Y people necessary?

        “I’ve explained why they are necessary, so my point stands.”

        what you have done is say that Y people are necessary for the X, I’m now asking you why don’t you create a world in which Y people aren’t necessary.Prove to me why the Y people are necessary. your point in coming here is to convince others they are wrong,right? its legitimate a question since you stated your way is better.

        ” I didn’t say that. See my first paragraph.”

        Your whole premise has been that in order to get pass the problem of hell is to create beings that would only follow god ( you) and not create people that have the ability to chose otherwise, because if they could, they could chose to not follow you then they have to go somewhere else or make them a Y person. Do X people somehow become Y people if they chose to not follow you? when you say the x people will freely chose you, do they have the ability to do otherwise, and will any of the x people chose to do so at any point.

        ““As I’ve said, there’s no other difference in the possibility I described and the one we are in, so there’s no extra thing that I need to account for, allow for or explain. Any problem that you think would exist in that reality must also therefore exist in the one you believe God actually DID create.”

        so what your saying is Sin doesn’t matter because there is no responsibility for it. Are there rules in your world by the way? If not, then why not just create everybody to be in heaven with you instead you putting them through any kind of suffering.

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          Jeremy, if you’re saying that the Y people aren’t necessary then that’s fine – you’re actually helping my argument by showing that even simpler better ways might be possible. The only reason I mentioned the ‘robot’ scenario in the first place was to address the claim that some apologists make that even the hell-bound sinners might be important for how they affect the rest of humanity. They are still ‘part of God’s plan’. My alternative scenario was simply showing that nothing else would change on earth in any way.

          If you’re saying they AREN’T necessary then that only bolsters my point. Sure, if they’re not necessary, don’t create them in the first place. If they ARE necessary then create them as the robots, indistinguishable from the rest of us. Either way is fine.

          “So what your saying is sin doesn’t matter” etc

          I said nothing close to that attempted summary.

          “Do they have the ability to chose otherwise?”

          Again, see my previous posts. Given that I’ve made no changes whatsoever to the X people (only the Ys), it follows that any problems you have with the free will/choice problems you perceive with these Y people are problems you must ALREADY have with your own worldview.

          In other words, you need to deal with that either way – if there’s a person who God, being omniscient, KNOWS will go to heaven, does that mean that person cannot choose otherwise in any real sense? That’s a problem for you to wrestle with, not me! That’s a problem resulting in the belief in an omniscient being – it’s not a problem per se with the scenario I described.

          Reply
  12. Jeremy says:

    Toby

    So you would create a world in which you could only do harm to yourself? So you would say that, you would care so much for a being that you created that you would not allow them to hurt themselves or others like it?

    Here is the big one, why create a world in which harm is possible at all?

    Reply
  13. Luke says:

    Jeremy said:“I would ask why would you as all powerful G-d need waste time creating a worthless being (Y) since they have no value…”

    Why are these beings worthless?
    Why do they have no value?

    Also, can G-d run out of time?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
  14. Jeremy says:

    Luke

    what value would you have me believe they possess? It seems to me that robots, ones that have no sense of free will in this case( the Y people), are just machines and only have purpose if there is someone around to use them, so they aren’t necessary so no value and are worthless.

    thank you for pointing out that god cant run out of time what I meant was it was not very efficient ( waste of time) to use things that are not needed. Mind you I was talking about the god that Andy chose to be, not the Christian God who would say everyone has value and is worth something, which is why He died for us.

    Reply
    • Luke says:

      Jeremy asked and said:“what value would you have me believe they possess? It seems to me that robots, ones that have no sense of free will in this case( the Y people), are just machines and only have purpose if there is someone around to use them, so they aren’t necessary so no value and are worthless.”

      Well Jeremy, here is what you say:

      1. The Y people “only have purpose if there is someone around to use them”
      2. Therefore “they aren’t necessary, so no value and are worthless”

      This is missing a piece, to my mind. It would make sense in this case:

      1. The Y people “only have purpose if there is someone around to use them”
      2. There is no one around to use them.
      3. Therefore “they aren’t necessary, so no value and are worthless”

      (Now I would append this to say there is nothing around to use them. Something can be useful without being useful to humans, but I digress.)

      You are missing that second premise in what you said. Without it, your argument does not follow.

      In other words: you can’t say: “if x, then y” and conclude “y” without the premise “x”.

      Do you agree with #2?
      If not, can you explain to me how your argument is logical?

      Thanks,

      Luke

      ps I didn’t answer your question above. Well, most people in this world would be Y people, under this scenario (Mat 7:14). Since this group includes most of the people in the world, I would just imagine that you’ve had someone in your life who will not be saved who has done something nice for you, something that meant something for you. Maybe a teacher that helped you understand something. A stranger who gave you a kind smile when you were down. A doctor who gave you the medicine you really needed. It can be less personal as well. The architect who designed the house you love. The engineer who designer your car. The guy who invented the World Wide Web you enjoy and like to discuss religion over (he’s a unitarian universalist). I see value in almost all people, yet we know only few will be saved.

      Let me put it this way. Do you think that people who will not be saved have any value?

      If yes, then you’d also believe that Y people have value.
      If not… yikes.

      Thanks,

      Luke

      Reply
  15. Jeremy says:

    Andy

    ” Jeremy, if you’re saying that the Y people aren’t necessary then that’s fine – you’re actually helping my argument by showing that even simpler better ways might be possible. The only reason I mentioned the ‘robot’ scenario in the first place was to address the claim that some apologists make that even the hell-bound sinners might be important for how they affect the rest of humanity. They are still ‘part of God’s plan’. My alternative scenario was simply showing that nothing else would change on earth in any way.”

    Im glad we can agree the Y People make no difference and aren’t needed as you put it, even in a simpler model. I can only speak for myself but I don’t think I necessarily agree nor would apologists, I read, that people that are going to hell are necessary for those people that are saved to become saved or used as tools and vice versa. Its more like people that are going to hell have just as much of a chance to not go to hell as the ones that don’t and God leaves it up to us whether to follow Him or not, surely you wouldn’t say one more believer on this earth will change your mind or one less. The biggest point and this speaks to your second paragraph, Yes don’t create them if they have no value and certainly not if they are not equal in their ability to have free will and make decisions, but that brings us right back to the problem of people rejecting Him. Wouldn’t you sat that in order to have complete free will and maintain the integrity of it you would have to allow people in your x group to reject you?

    This will tackle the last points you make. The Y people are not the problem its the x people. In a world with no Y people just x people are they allowed to reject you, is there any room for doubt, is their free will limited? I would imagine that you will say “no” free will is not limited, ok how do you know that they will all accept you ( please don’t pull a trump and say they will). Here is where you will say your all knowing, but the problem is in reality you are not. You have to be fair to free will and remember that nobody can override it not even God all mighty it would be illogical to do so and being that He is all knowing He would know that. You still have not dealt with whether or not these X people do anything wrong, which is why I asked are there rules in your world?

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “Im glad we can agree the Y People make no difference and aren’t needed as you put it”

      When did I say that, Jeremy? I don’t think you’re reading my posts properly, which explains why I keep having to repeat myself. I said my point stands even if I allow you the claim ‘Y people make no difference’.

      Jeremy, can we agree that with the world as it is now, God knows in advance who will freely choose him and who won’t? If he’s omniscient, he does. Right, they are X people. So if he replaced all the Y people with robots, who acted in exactly the same way as the people they replaced, then the X people are going to act in the same way as they would with non-robot Y people. So if you’re saying those X people can’t be guaranteed to freely choose God then you’re making no sense – God left them as non-robots because he knew they would freely choose him.

      You either have to accept this or reject the concept of an omniscient God.

      “are there rules in your world?”

      I’ve told you several times now – I’m changing no other thing about this reality we are in now except for the Y people/robot substitution. You keep asking what else has changed, and I keep telling you I’m positing no other changes. I’m starting to think you’re trolling me by pretending not to understand!

      Reply
  16. Jeremy says:

    Luke

    I think there is a bit of a misunderstanding. I am the one that is arguing that all people have the same value. Andy in order to deal with the problem of hell has decided that he would create Y people to not only help X people with their salvation but also not have to allow unsaved souls to go to hell, he said he would do that by creating Y people without freewill and make them robots, so these Y people obviously dnt have the same value as X people because they aren’t the same, again we are talking about in Andy’s world he created, Not the Christian God’s world that I believe in, which is why my heart breaks for unbelievers.

    To your logical argument. Completely agree to change ” no one” to “nothing” that’s what should be said, although if something is created for the direct use by another thing, in this case Y people for X people, then the thing to be used is rendered useless if the specific thing it was meant for is not created or is removed from the equation.

    I agree with 2. there is no one around to use them. Yes that does give more clarity to the argument, but I implied it by saying ” if there is someone is around to use them.” keyword ” if” again remember this statement was made though because in Andy’s world x people will go to heaven no matter what and Andy agreed that Y people are not necessary. which gets interesting because when he starts removing variables that would convince a free thinking person he gets closer to having no free will.

    Why do you see value in ” almost all people” I see it in all people as does God or it would have been useless to create.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      Jeremy, I’m pretty certain now that you’re not even attempting to understand my argument. Even other theists like Luke are telling you that your rebuttals are missing the point. Now you’re saying it’s not YOU who views the Ys as useless. Seeing as it’s not me arguing that either, why argue it yourself?

      You keep saying “The X people are going to heaven no matter what” and I keep explaining that that isn’t the case at all – they are, by definition, the people who in OUR reality, given the particular set of circumstances we have here in this reality, are going to do the right things, chosen freely, that will get them to heaven. God knows in advance who these people will be. If your view is that these people are going to heaven ‘no matter what’ then this a problem for your OWN theology and worldview, not mine. Because that applies in this reality – replacing everyone else with the Y robots MAKES NO DIFFERENCE.

      Again, if you think the X people – who I’ve not affected in any way by replacing the others with identically acting robots – lack free will or are going to heaven ‘no matter what’, then this applies in the reality you believe yourself to be in now, with the God you believe exists.

      “And Andy agreed that Y people were not necessary”

      Actually I clarified twice that I thought they WERE necessary. It was you who said they weren’t. Again, I clarified TWICE that I didn’t think they were unnecessary. So again, you don’t seem to be reading my responses with any level of care, as twice now you’ve gone on to say “Andy agrees they are not necessary”

      So again, my point was that my argument stands whether you believe X people are necessary or not. I’m baffled how you can have missed this point when I made it so clearly more than once.

      Reply
    • Luke says:

      Jeremy,

      Jeremy said:“I am the one that is arguing that all people have the same value.”

      in the same paragraph

      Jeremy said:“so these Y people obviously dnt have the same value as X people.”

      Oy yoy yoy…

      Jeremy said:“To your logical argument… if something is created for the direct use by another thing, in this case Y people for X people, then the thing to be used is rendered useless if the specific thing it was meant for is not created or is removed from the equation.”

      Yes, but the X people exist, so by your own argument, the Y people have have value. If your own argument finds them valuable, it’s confusing that you ask me: “what value would you have me believe they possess?” and say “they aren’t necessary so no value and are worthless”.

      It seems to me that you don’t like Andy’s idea so you’re looking for reasons to reject it, but so far those reasons have not been very compelling, but have generally been self-contradictory, as shown above. That’s my opinion; I could, of course, be wrong.

      Jeremy asked:“Why do you see value in ” almost all people” I see it in all people as does G-d or it would have been useless to create.”

      Just curious: Who are you to tell G-d he can’t create useless things? I think (I’d have to check) Napoleon said: “does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?” Do you disagree with this?

      Anyway, good question Jeremy. I almost explained this more when I wrote it, but didn’t want to add confusion. Since you’ve asked, I’ll gladly explain. I think it’s certainly possible that all people most have value, but I’m sure that almost all people do. There are people in positions of power who use that power to serially rape children. I’m not completely sure they have value. Like I said, I’m quite sure most of us do have value, but I’m not convinced this is true of everyone. (Just because I’m not convinced of it, does not mean that it’s not true.)

      Thanks,

      Luke

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        Luke, it amuses me to see people pompously claim they see value in all people (when it suits their argument) but also claim it’s also fine for many of these valuable people to spend an eternity in hell. It’s like “These pots are really valuable, so I’m sticking them all in basement to rot”.

        And yes, Jeremy is doing the old thing of presenting a viewpoint and then when he’s challenged on it says ‘This isn’t MY viewpoint, it’s the other person’s view” despite him being the only person who has advanced it. Christians here are always telling me “You believe X” or “Y has no value to you”. Weird how they’re all such experts on my own views and opinions!

        Reply
        • Luke says:

          Andy said: “Christians here are always telling me “You believe X” or “Y has no value to you”. Weird how they’re all such experts on my own views and opinions!”

          It’s rarely a good idea to generalize, but I will say that in many cases, this sort of attitude betrays a lack of confidence in the value and validity of one’s views. When one is not sure one’s views are special, they can try to make them appear special by denigrating the (supposed) views of others. It’s certainly not the path I’d take (I’m happy to let other people have their beliefs, and only push back when those beliefs hurt other innocent people), but I’ve seen it more than enough times.

          (I’m also personally annoyed by the whole idea that something is only of value if the value is on a cosmic scale. Some seem to genuinely be puzzled by the fact that this is not obvious to all, but I think it actually draws back to my first point. I’m not so sure many of the people advancing this view actually believe it, they just really wish it were true.)

          Thanks,

          Luke

          Reply
  17. Jeremy says:

    Andy

    This was your statement “Jeremy, if you’re saying that the Y people aren’t necessary then that’s fine – you’re actually helping my argument by showing that even simpler better ways might be possible.” My statement ” Im glad we can agree the Y People make no difference and aren’t needed as you put it, even in a simpler model.” How are these different you agreed with me and I with you. You even said I helped your argument.

    ” Jeremy, can we agree that with the world as it is now, God knows in advance who will freely choose him and who won’t? If he’s omniscient, he does. Right, they are X people. So if he replaced all the Y people with robots, who acted in exactly the same way as the people they replaced, then the X people are going to act in the same way as they would with non-robot Y people. So if you’re saying those X people can’t be guaranteed to freely choose God then you’re making no sense – God left them as non-robots because he knew they would freely choose him. ” Yes he knows who will chose him freely. When you say only create people that will freely chose you arent you now loading the deck. If you create people that will no matter what chose you no matter what experience they have good, bad, or neutral aren’t you limiting free will. better yet it doesn’t matter what experience they have because they were made to follow you so that they didn’t go to hell, right? That’s what your proposing.

    Being omniscient in no way means that God can force anybody to do anything without violating the freewill that He has given. Just because He knows what I am going to do does not mean He should stop me though He may try to influence me. That’s why if I’m an X person in your world you created I would be able to reject you if I wanted to or you would have to make me a Y person but at that moment you violated your own creation. You can do that if you want because your God but then why create me an x person, you would say you wouldn’t you would make me a Y person with no ability to not chose you. But theres no reason for that because x people will always chose you no matter what and you have limited their free will and limited free will is not free will which means you have completely changed reality, because the reality is that I will never not chose you because I cant. Have your read C.S. Lewis’s book the problem of pain.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “Being omniscient in no way means that God can force anybody to do anything without violating the freewill that He has given. Just because He knows what I am going to do does not mean He should stop me though He may try to influence me. ”

      None of that has anything to do with my argument. You’re not arguing against any point that I made.

      Let’s make it really simple. Imagine the only way you go to heaven is choose Pepsi in a shop. People who choose Coke go to hell. Whether or not you choose one or the other is influenced by many things – upbringing, schooling, personal tastes, interaction with others – they all play into it. Now, we both agree that God knows in advance whether you’ll choose Coke or Pepsi in that shop. We both agree that him knowing this does NOT affect your free will.

      God in fact knows before any of us are born whether we’ll choose Coke or Pepsi when we get to the shop – to him it’s like one long story lasting thousands of years where he knows in advance what happens to all the characters. Yet we all genuinely have free will. Now, if something external was introduced into this scenario, or changed, then that may well change some of the circumstances of some of the people – if I didn’t meet my wife, perhaps I’d have chosen Coke instead of Pepsi. So arguably you can’t just say “Don’t create Andy’s wife as she’s only going to end up choosing Coke”, because then my own choices might well be different as I’d never meet her.

      But if you replaced my wife with a robot who acted just the same as her, then I would make all the same free choices I would have made with the ‘real’ wife.

      You can’t argue my choices are any less free. God still knows I’ll choose Pepsi, and that no more affects my free will than it did before. It’s no more true that I’ll choose Pepsi ‘no matter what’ than it was before.

      Reply
  18. Luke says:

    Jeremy said:”Yes he knows who will chose him freely. When you say only create people that will freely chose you arent you now loading the deck. If you create people that will no matter what chose you no matter what experience they have good, bad, or neutral aren’t you limiting free will. better yet it doesn’t matter what experience they have because they were made to follow you so that they didn’t go to hell, right? That’s what your proposing.”

    This is completely not what Andy said. The X people, as you’ve called them aren’t people that will choose G-d no matter what. They are the people that will choose G-d if they live a life with the experiences G-d knows they will have, through His omniscience. Can you specifically point to something Andy said that made you think that “will choose G-d no matter what” was in any way part of this?

    Thanks,

    Luke

    Reply
    • Jeremy says:

      Luke

      They will chose God no matter what because if they didn’t then they would Go to hell. Which Andy has created them and the world that they live in so that they will not make that mistake. Andy did this to escape the problem of Hell for unbelievers. So if there is no Hell because nobody can or will chose to not follow God then that limits free will. You are guys are missing this completely or Im just not explaining it well enough. If you create people that “will” only chose you no matter then you are limiting free will as none of them “will” never not chose you.

      Reply
      • Luke says:

        Jeremy,

        Do you believe that before you were born G-d knew everything you would do, and where you will end up?

        What would you think of a G-d that when he created a person decided if that person would go to heaven or hell? There was nothing the person could do to alter that choice? They would still feel like they chose, but in reality, they only had one option?

        Thanks,

        Luke

        Reply
        • toby says:

          A god that knows the beginning from the end and the end from the beginning seems to be responsible for everything that happens in that universe. By compounding all of the apologist arguments and saying that god has designed everything then it really seems as if he’s at fault for the evil he’s said to hate. Apologists will say that it’s our choice, but our ends were decided an eternity before we were even born. Because if god was truly a god of love he could in fact make a world in which all the pieces fell into place so that all of humanity would believe and spend forever with him. By denying this apologists are saying that their god is incompetent or sadistic.

          Reply
          • Louie says:

            Pretty arrogant of people to assume what is and what is not possible. In comparison to a God that created everything, we don’t know didly.

      • Andy Ryan says:

        “You are guys are missing this completely or Im just not explaining it well enough.”

        Jeremy, I think that you’re just failing to understand a pretty simple idea.

        “Which Andy has created them and the world that they live in so that they will not make that mistake”

        I’ve already said that I would be creating the world EXACTLY the same as the God you believe in has created it, apart from the difference to the Y people. There is no difference at all for the X people compared to how YOUR God has created them.

        In other words, you’re saying that you believe the Christian God has created people without free will. You’re saying the people who God knows are going to heaven are going to heaven ‘no matter what’ and therefore, by your own definition, lack free will.

        We’re considering two realities: the hypothetical one I am creating as a God, the one you believe your God HAS created. We’ve established that there is NO DIFFERENCE between the two for the Y people – the ones who in the ‘Christian God reality’ are known by God to be heading for Heaven.

        So if the Y people lack free will in ‘my’ reality, then you’re saying they also lack free will in the one you believe you are in.

        Given this, either you have to accept you don’t have free will or you need to admit the objection you offer to ‘my’ reality doesn’t hold water.

        Reply

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