— Frank Turek
The above is an increasingly common idea among Christians: God is merely giving you the freedom to choose. The point, of course, is to avoid the criticism that God punishes nonbelievers by sending them to hell. Instead, God simply let’s some of us spend eternity apart from him. As C. S. Lewis put it, "the gates of hell are locked on the inside."
But as usual, the religious want to have it both ways. For, if hell is simply what the rest of us prefer, then why bother with trying to save our souls? If I’m simply not going to want to be with God, as Turek says, that means I’ll be happier in hell — so why try to convince me to go to heaven instead? On this view, Christianity is simply a club for those who might enjoy it (maybe somewhat like this). Non-Christians are those who’d rather spend eternity doing other things. And that obviously won’t do. So Christians also insist that separation from God is actually a very terrible thing.
If it is really so terrible, however, then why doesn’t God perform something like an intervention for those of us who will otherwise end up there? We don’t let people we care about make horribly wrong choices if we can prevent it, even though they themselves may think it is what they want. We sometimes intervene to try to convince them they would be better off making different choices. And God obviously has the ability to convince anyone what is truly in their best interest. It follows that if God lets some of us choose something that is really, really bad for us (and for all eternity!) he must not really care about us.
“God is merely letting us decide for ourselves” may sound good, but given that one of the two options is the most horrible mistake one could ever make, it isn’t good at all.
[Originally published at Debunking Christianity]