DiaBlogue: Playing God

I thank Alan for his latest round of clarification, which I might summarize as:
* The issue is not primarily fairness, but “justice, morality, and goodness”
* The argument is primarily ethical (with secondary epistemic concerns)
* The eternal nature of God’s punishment is what really bothers him

[Read More] as I try to answer a few of the outstanding questions, and suggest a somewhat unusual direction for moving this dialogue forward.

A few outstanding questions and comments I have not answered:

1. Is Life unfair/unjust?

I do not ascribe a personality or will to nature, and neither are natural consequences eternal in character, so to call the natural world “similarly unfair” to a god that imposes eternal punishment is not quite right.

I apologize, my question was perhaps misleading. My point was rather, “if God created the universe, but there were no afterlife, would you consider life itself evidence of God’s injustice?”

2. Punishment vs. consequences

But Ernie’s alignment with C.S. Lewis on the issue of hell would seem to indicate that hell is not a just punishment imposed by God, but rather a mere consequence of our choices

Not quite; in fact, I am arguing that such a distinction is actually a false dichotomy (radical middle thinker than I am :-). That is, I would claim that while God’s mercy is contingent and nominally “unfair”, his judgement is actually an inevitable consequence of the nature of reality and human choice.

3. Adhocracy

While it has some attractive features, it seems a bit of an ad hoc answer. Is there biblical support for this view?

I would tentatively say ‘yes’, but would beg leave to defer detailed support for that answer until we have a clearer definition of ‘this view’.

In particular, I am still trying to get a better understanding of your concept of morality, especially since I’ve been pondering some of the subtleties found in different definitions of justice. In particular, we’ve occasionally blurred the line between the statements:

i. God claims to act in ways inconsistent with His claims of justice
ii. God claims to act in ways inconsistent with my understanding of justice

While both are valid concerns, I suspect we’ll make more progress by first focusing on (ii). That is, I am wondering what (if any) punitive behavior by God would/could be consistent with your understanding of justice. I realize this is arguably extra-biblical speculation, but hopefully worthwhile, even if only as a thought experiment.

To get you started, here’s a list of possible “alternative” afterlife scenarios:

A. There is no afterlife, the only reward is what we experience in this life

B. Everyone gets into heaven, since either 1) everyone really want to go into heaven, or 2) those who don’t are re-taught so they do

C. Everyone gets into heaven, except those who do not want to go, who either 1) go to hell or 2) cease to exist

D. Everyone goes into purgatory, but eventually 1) everyone gets to heaven, or at least 2) anyone who wants to can learn to make into heaven

E. People go to heaven or hell based on how much good/evil they did, in either 1) absolute terms, or 2) relative to what they knew/were taught

F. Heaven and hell are really two poles of a continuum, with no sharp line in between. Our earthly lives self-select where we start, and our choices after that — based on now complete information — determine where we end up in the afterlife.

Which — if any — would you consider just for God to impose? Can you come up with a better option?