A Devil’s Question

Recently, on a blog that I read and comment on regularly, a very astute atheist (I’m not being facetious; this person is actually quite intelligent, and I appreciate all his/her questions and contributions) posted the following during a discussion of the recent moral catastrophe at Sandy Hook Elementary:

“If you agree than an innocent child goes immediately to heaven for all eternity when they die, and you also agree with the commonly held position that only a minority of adults become Christians and make it to heaven, then, especially in an unbalanced mind, that could justify killing children. An ill individual could easily believe that they are actually doing a good thing, ensuring that those children receive a life of bliss at Jesus side that they might not otherwise have.

I am not trying to be cruel or insensitive, but if you are going to look for answers or possible reasons then no idea should be automatically excluded because it is unpleasant.”

Allow me to boil that down to its functional premise for you.  This particular atheist is asking the age-old question (for those of you who are not adherents of contradictory Calvinist soteriology) “Since babies and little children are morally innocent, and so go to heaven, why not just kill them while they are young, rather than risk the chance that they might not accept Christ once they are morally culpable?”

(NOTE:  For the record, I indeed believe that babies and children who have not reached the age of self-awareness–with regards to a mature and complete synergy between the Ability to Reason (their soul, as I define it) and a full awareness of the moral Law of human existence—do in fact go to heaven.  I reject categorically the Calvinist TULIP construct and all of its assumptions, facets, and implications.  So, for me and what I believe as a Christian, this is a good and reasonable question.  It is vile and wicked because of the solution for evil and suffering it is, in fact, implying; nevertheless I want to make clear that I’m in no way impugning the person asking the question.  I assume the best of that person…that he or she is not in actuality suggesting that the solution for evil is what the question implies, but is merely asking Christians to defend their ideas.  And this is a good thing.  Anytime we can get Christians thinking more individually, the better.   And I thank this atheist for having the courage to bring it up.)

I have read and listened to the responses to this question, and however good they might be, all of them seem to me to miss the metaphysics and existential assumptions of the insanity of the question.  That is, they rightly point out that this is a terrible thought, and render it dangerous indeed.  However, it rarely goes much deeper into the nature of human and divine existence and just what it means for one Consciousness to create another.

To be honest, I admit that my own first thoughts in response to the question only touched upon the metaphysics.  I initially thought something along the lines of:  If we kill the children, then who grows up to be adults, to then continue killing children?  At some point we’ll have to risk the “chance” that some people will not accept Christ and will thus go to hell, and that this is “good” because it is good that one go to hell so that another will go to heaven; which…makes us hypocrites because we will have conceded that good is also found in the precise OPPOSITE of doing good; that is, letting live is as morally right as letting die.  And if we are morally right in taking the chance for some, what is the rationale for not taking the chance for the others?  By what standard do some get the chance to live and others must die in order that they may not get that same chance?  Why is the same chance not not afforded or afforded to all?  Unless, of course, we are assuming the extinction of the human race as the inevitable and desired outcome, and so we’ll just kill all the children and then let the adults die off, as it were.  And if we thus are okay with making the explicit assumption that the only good of man is to be found in his NOT existing, then we are assuming that God is of course a fool for creating.  And if this is our assumption about His nature, we must ask ourselves:  is this the kind of hypocritical Being we want to worship in the first place, and perhaps we should— instead of killing all the children in order to “save” them—examine the rational and metaphysical possibilities of such a Creator actually being God in the first place.  And if the metaphysics prove that it is not, in fact, possible that such a Being who would be so foolish as to create life that can only be good in ANY sense (morally, rationally, logically, philosophically, etc.) if it does not exist at all could be God…well, then we do not need to murder the children in order to save them from a God who does not and cannot possibly exist.  Do we?

No.  We do not.

And…well, I think the logic of this argument is sound, and sufficient to prove the inability of the question to reconcile reasonably the creation of man by God in a way that the question still bears any logical consideration at all (it doesn’t).  And to be sure, this is not a bad way to argue.  But still…it seems so incomplete.  Why is it incomplete?  Well, it is incomplete because there are more things that can and should be said in response to such a vile question; but the primary problem is that my initial response lacks a discussion of love.  Surely, it is full of pragmatic truth, but that’s not really the crux of it, is it?  It answers the logical nonsense, I mean to say, but not the EVIL.  That is, the real reason the idea of murdering children to grant them heaven is so unspeakably horrific is because it is, in reality, stripped bare and cold to the bone of anything even remotely in the same universe as love.

So, in the forthcoming posts I will present three bullet points in response to what I have come to call the Devil’s Question, because I can think of no other place that such an implication (murder of innocents as the solution to man’s moral failings) could be conceived of first except inside the mind of the grand Demon himself.  I could be wrong about this…for man has a way of rivaling even the Devil in wickedness of thought and action; but, in order to get the full effect of the abominable nature of the implicit idea at the core of this question we must first understand that it is an idea that is categorically contradictory to the mind of God and Love.  And, even without any argument of any kind, it can be understood to be just that, and rejected at the face value of it…rejected upon its utter self-evidence.

Bullet one will look at the false presuppositions implicit in the question regarding the nature of “chance”.  Two will look at the divine purpose of human existence; that is, the WHY of God creating man.  And the last will focus heavily on why the idea of murdering innocent children for “heaven” is so unloving by looking at what exactly murder robs one of eternally; what is assumed by man (and even many Christians) to be regained by the murdered person, which will not and cannot in fact be regained, which is why murder is so reviled by God, I would argue, and given its own specific divine injunction.

4 thoughts on “A Devil’s Question

  1. The problem implicit in the question is the belief that orthodoxy is the standard of salvation, rather than moral living. To say this is to call the most basic premise of Christianity into question, the notion that belief in Jesus is necessary for salvation. But the atheist is right: if belief in Jesus is necessary for salvation, it would be better for us to blow the world up with an atomic bomb and end it rather than let millions upon millions of dying people go to hell per day simply for not finding the right Jesus, the right combo of dogmas to make up an orthodox Christology. If salvation is by orthodoxy, we’re all going to hell. Belief in Jesus as Son of God, Messiah, or whatever else, is an orthodoxy, and on created 4000 years too late. If it is required for salvation, plenty of people are going to hell FOR NOTHING. But if hell is only for the wicked, that is the extremely immoral, and if on top of that hell is not eternal torment but annihilation (Psalm 37:20) then the question no longer even makes sense. Why kill babies to keep them from going to hell, if only rapists and murderers and such go to hell? And since rapists and murderers and such deserve to go to hell, let them.

  2. James,

    I can see your argument here…and I’m not entirely opposed to it. I, too, question the idea that one can be condemned to hell for not knowing Jesus if that person has never heard of Jesus. It is not, to me, just judgement to condemn a person for something which they cannot possibly be responsible for. I find it hard to accept that this is the standard of salvation.

    That being said, the point of this article was to confront the false idea that you can know who is going to go to hell and who is not based on the pure abstract concepts of “chance” and “probability” (which don’t actually EXIST) and therefore make the argument that it is better to kill children than let them grow up to be condemned adults. My point is that this is a fallacious argument because you cannot KNOW anything about a future which doesn’t actually exist. Why kill a child if that child can grow up…which is the whole point of LIFE, that is TO LIVE? You cannot make assumptions on chance or probability because these are not CAUSAL forces, but merely man-derived abstractions used to organize his environment.

    To murder children based on what is actually NOTHING at all is not only categorically depraved, but the apogee of foolishness. The atheists are not right, they are fools. I have yet to get a logically coherent argument from any atheist I have encountered. They lack any rational understanding of God, of logic, and hypocrisy defines the core of their arguments.

  3. ” They lack any rational understanding of God, of logic, and hypocrisy defines the core of their arguments.” atheist and calvinist hav so much in common.hmmm 🙂

  4. They really do. Both suffer from the root assumption that human consciousness is an ILLUSION. The Calvinsts maintain (no matter how they try to equivocate out of it) that you ALWAYS a direct function of some determining force; total depravity prior to what they call “salvation” (it’s not…for if there is no YOU in the salvation equation, then YOU cannot be saved, by definition), and God’s “sovereign grace” after it. Notice how the volitional SELF of man is irrelevant. This is a full on denial of consciousness at the core. And if you aren’t conscious, then you don’t really exist, because you are not able to define SELF. The atheists do the exact same thing. You came from a bunch of unconscious “particles” which form together according to invisible “laws of nature” which “govern”. These laws of nature include wholly unobservable and contradictory forces of “space” and “time” which serve as the determining context for all the material objects in the universe, including man. Notice how material reality is rooted in unobservable forces which govern. This too denies consciousness as an illusion. You come from unconscious particles governed by unseen forces and then you eventually dissipate back into them. Life becomes a mirage; YOU don’t really exist. What you think of YOU is merely a conglomerate of determining forces OUTSIDE of you.

    Of course, in both of these philosophies human epistemology is a total farce. And the claims to concede these beliefs about human existence become outright laughable. For if YOU don’t really exist, as your consciousness is an illusion, then by definition you can’t KNOW anything because YOU don’t actually exist.

    It is outright ridiculous when you think about it.

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