This is another one of my replies to Rautakyy, whose original comments you can find here.
Software is different from humans. It is determinate. When I write code, I can go through it with a pencil and tell you exactly what it will do. If it doesn’t do as it should, I have made an error. This is because it does not have the freedom to choose and do as it wishes. If I write a program to print “The brown fox jumped over the lazy dog”, as long as I write the code correctly, it will do it. It won’t tell me “I don’t want to” (unless I tell it to). The way humans work, on the other hand, is that God has given us information on what is right and what is wrong, but what we do is up to us. Engineers and God just can’t be compared in that way.
I know you weren’t born into any religion. That was a cut & paste from an explanation I gave someone else and I didn’t notice that till it was too late.
I do not know why you think my concept of sin and salvation comes from theologians. I do not think we should blindly accept the worse of theologians. If I did, I would believe a lot of contradictory things because theologians disagree. The Bible does teach about sin and salvation. It teaches that we are all sinners, choosing the wrong thing instead of the right when we know the difference between them, that we cannot save ourselves and God saves us.
“There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” – Romans 3: 22b – 24
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Romans 5; 6 – 11
Now, to respond to specific points:
One of your points is that God is responsible for our actions because he knows what we will do. Even if this is true (and I say ‘if’ because I have a slight problem with the second clause), his responsibility does not change ours. Since we have information on what is right and what is wrong and we can choose between them, we are responsible if we choose to do the right thing. God is only responsible in that he chose to create beings who could go wrong as I have previously said and his action needs to be judged by its prudence. Do you see the pattern? People are held responsible for any actions they commit if they can do differently and can know which choices are right and which are wrong.
Another thing you said is that people read the Bible and draw conclusions based on their culture. Firstly, this is not determinate. There is no rule that says if someone was born in a certain culture, their belief will line up with that of their culture. I have believed and do believe certain things about which I was taught differently and which those around me believe because I have information about what is true and what is not. The country I come from has 0% of atheists (for practical purposes) in its population but my brother doubts God’s existence despite the culture. People think for themselves. So, if people have all the information they need, and the ability to think, absent any factors constraining them, how they respond to the information is their choice.
That leads us to your other point which is that some people do not have this information. You ask what I would think if my mother was not taught the Christian concept of right and wrong. It is not as if this concept is an extremely complicated one. No one taught it to me. (Sunday school lessons were sadly inadequate) I had it figured out before I even read it in the Bible.
Step 1: Some things are right and some things are wrong.
Step 2: People who do wrong things should be punished, as a deterrent to prevent others from doing the same, as a statement about what the community thinks of those actions, as an attempt to convince the perpetrator of the wrongness of his action and his need to change, etc.
Step 3: One’s status as a wrongdoer and the need for punishment does not depend on one’s previously right actions. If I were arrested and convicted of murder, the judge would be immoral to let me go because I have previously donated money to charities that help babies, donated blood, volunteered at a food bank and saved a person from drowning. Despite all those things, I would still be a murderer. The judge’s action, would also fail to achieve the things that justice is meant to.
That’s about all you need and no one needs to teach it to you. It’s pretty obvious. And you do not need anything special to figure it out. You just need the ability to think. Yes, perhaps some people think differently, but like the gangster who believes it is okay to kill someone who double-crosses him, or the man who thinks it is okay to rape a girl who dresses provocatively, this does not exonerate them.
And there is little need to worry even if some people do not know what is right and wrong by no fault of theirs. According to Paul, you are not counted responsible for your actions if you have no information that they are wrong.
“To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law.” Romans 5:13
“All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)” Romans 2: 12 – 15
“Even the idea that we get to live after death for an eternity, but are eternally divided according to what we found plausible in the short spans of our lifetime is horrible.”
You’re doing it again. Like I have previously said, people are not sent to hell just because of what they believe. They are sent there based on what they have done and what they have proven themselves to be (people unwilling to choose the right thing instead of the wrong one). It is leaving them in a place where they can continue to hurt others for no good reason that is immoral.
As for your other problems with hell, my theological knowledge is not much better than it was when I last replied. I hope you find the time to read the articles I sent you and that they help.