This article is just one in a long series addressing questions posed by agnostic blogger Larry Simons in his article entitled, 31 Questions Christians Can’t Answer. For the rest of series click here. Enjoy!
12. If God is all-just, how can he possibly punish mankind for what Adam did?
13. If God is all-just, why does he punish/kill massive amounts of people throughout the Bible for the sins of one?
If I’m really honest, question number twelve is probably the one out of all of these that I have had some real personal struggle with. I get that Adam sinned and that there was a prescribed judgement for that sin. I just have a hard time with that making me a default sinner. Yet I can verify, after much effort on my part to be otherwise, I am a sinner and have been for as long as I can remember.
As I did my research for this post I found that there are several diverse and contentious theories to explain original sin biblically and just as many to explain it away. I’ll address the questions from both sides and see how it works out. If original sin is the proper explanation for the sinful state of mankind then the answer is fairly straight forward. No person could ever be punished only for the sins of another. The just punishment for any sin is death. All humans are sinners from birth. Therefore any death of any human at any time for any reason (or no reason at all) is still justifiable as punishment for that person’s sin. On the other hand, if the person is not a sinner from birth they at least become a sinner relatively soon afterwards. Bottom line, if any unrepented sin exists in a person’s life then, however tragic and arbitrary their end may be it can not be an undeserved death regardless of circumstance.
In questions of God’s character it is always helpful to ask, much like we should when assessing the motives of another human person, is it possible that I don’t have all the information because I don’t know His thoughts? Isn’t it possible that God could have a morally justifiable reason to commit or allow what may seem to me to be senseless murders? If you can conclude that it is in fact possible for God to have a morally justifiable reason to have committed or allowed what seem to be uniquely horrible acts then let me be the first to congratulate you on no longer being an unbeliever.
As always the questions as presented assume the existence of God. The attack is against His attribute of being perfectly just. In my opinion, if you’re assuming the existence of the God of the bible you have to assume that he has sufficiently morally justifiable reasons to do anything he wants because, with all of the power and knowledge He would possess why would He need to break his own rules in order to achieve His goals? Certainly, if he has all power then within the scope of “all” is the ability to do only morally justifiable things, right? What it comes down to is a God who is either a sociopath or a God that simply doesn’t explain every detail of His motives to his creation because He doesn’t have to.