This is a continuation of a conversation that was started on the blog of one of my favorite atheist podcasts, Reasonable Doubts. You can find it here.
I am focusing on the one point because it is the primary point under debate. Everything else is secondary and entirely dependent on what is concluded about the primary point. The primary question under discussion here is whether God is reprehensible for taking life. The tendency is to muddy the waters by jumping to secondary issues before addressing this primary one.
When I say “context” I am referring to the backdrop the Bible itself provides for the story. Questions like who God is, what he is trying to accomplish, who man is in relation to God etc. Superimposing external ideas on top of the Bible narrative will naturally lead to contradictory conclusions.
For example, if I start from the premise that God did not directly create man or that in creating him, he somehow obliged himself to grant man his 80 year lifespan; of course we would consider it unfair if God then took that life prematurely.
If you disagree with the premises the Bible is written on then we need to leave the current subject and discuss those premises first. If on the other hand you want to focus on this issue, then we need to address it within the backdrop the Bible sets up for it.
Now regarding “hereditary guilt” this is not something that I am arguing for. What I mentioned first of all was that the human race would have never come to exist if God had revoked Adam and Eve’s right to life as soon as they rebelled.
My second point was that by letting them live, the rest of humanity was given an opportunity. Yes, they would be born in their parent’s image (i.e. sinful) and be under condemnation not for their parent’s sin but for sins they themselves would commit. (I realize that this itself raises many questions which will get us on quite a tangent if you want to go there)
However, God allowed them to exist for the sole purpose that they would have an opportunity to realize there is a better way and change. Even though they had been born at a disadvantage, their experience in sin could lead them to understand why God’s way is better. And, humanity is better off having this opportunity then no opportunity at all.
But again, this is the only reason why God allowed humanity to exist. He has no interest in sustaining a race of individuals simply so that they would squander their opportunities. He has made no promises to mankind and has entered into no contractual agreement with them to grant them this lifetime to do with as they please. If He does allow them to exist, it is an undeserved favor. If he ever chooses not to with any individual or group, there is nothing there that He can be accused of.