If God knew humanity would rebel and sin, why did he create them?

You’ve probably considered this question before, and there are a lot of responses. There’s currently a discussion on Reddit about it, and I just had a new thought on the subject I wanted to share:

The point is often raised, “If God is omniscient, he knew from the beginning that we would fail, sin, and have to go to hell. So why did he create us? Why bother with all this, if God already knew we were screwed?

Why create us to be imperfect and capable of sin? Why not just make us good? Why did God set us up for failure?”

Common replies bring up free will, potential for redemption, Calvanism vs. Armenianism, etc. etc.

Today I had a new thought:

The question ignores an important point, namely that we haven’t all failed. It’s usually asked in a tone of, “Why did God create us just to destroy us?” but the truth is that God isn’t destroying all of us. He sacrificed his son so we would all have a shot at redemption, and some of us have taken that. There are millions of people who follow God, have repented of their sin, and entered into a fellowship with him. It isn’t all failure and doom and gloom, and it has never been all failure and doom and gloom. Even when Elijah thought he was the only one left who was loyal to God, there were still seven thousand people that Elijah didn’t know about.

It sometimes seems as if God has set us up for failure, but that’s just not the case. He gave us the opportunity to win, to succeed despite the machinations of Satan, and a lot of people do. God gave us a way to have free will and live in harmony with him.

I just found that to be cool when it hit me. What do you think of the original question? Do you have other responses you’ve heard or thought of?

6 thoughts on “If God knew humanity would rebel and sin, why did he create them?

  1. It’s such an odd question. It assumes both YHWH’s omniscience (a non-Judeo-Christian, i.e Greek philosophical idea) and the existence of a place called Hell (a word not invented in Northern Europe for hundreds of years after the canonization of the New Testament).

    I’m not necessarily saying God doesn’t know everything, or even know things before they happen. I’m also not saying there isn’t something possible for post-life non-paradise resurrection states for people to exist in. But the hard logic of the question is based on weak premises.

    My best short answer, then, to a question I’m not even sure is a complete one is this: God created us to create. Loved us to love. Gave to us so that we give. We are destroying ourselves when we don’t. So, create, love and give. To paraphrase Paul, quit concentrating on your obstacles in the course, you wil only trip over them. Set your heart on the prize.

  2. This point, that not everyone lives a fallen life, is really what all the free will arguments are rooted in. That is, God’s risk in granting us a real choice is justified by the enormous beauty in a life that is really lived for and with Him.

    The problem I see is that we’re assuming God would be troubled enough by Hell to avoid creation. I don’t mean that God is too big to love us dearly. I mean that God’s thoughts about creation would be different from ours because He is not human.

    Think about it. Why would a being with infinite resources do Utilitarian calculus to make sure an idea was good? The question of whether freedom is worth the cost in suffering is a uniquely _human_ one. We live in a world of finite resources and opportunity costs. God (as understood in the question) doesn’t. Asking why He took a chance that He knew He would lose is like asking someone with infinite money why he is willing to lose money on a gamble. I don’t think it’s quite that trivial to God, because he cares about the souls on the line; still, this sort of, “Why this and not that” thinking isn’t really characteristic of a God who can do whatever he wants.

    Giving God that kind of impunity offends our democratic sensibilities, but it’s an impunity that he necessarily has as part of his omnipotence. If God has infinite power as a part of his very nature, then we can’t really blame Him for acting like it. “What is necessary,” the Vulcans say, “is never wrong.”

    The only other thought I would add is that we talk about God making us like we talk about a potter working with clay; yet so often we refer to him with paternal terms. What if we instead said that God birthed us, or sired us? Wouldn’t the prospect of our rebellion and estrangement make a great deal more sense in the context of a parent-child relationship? What couple believes that their future children will be perfectly kind to them? Yet we have children anyway. In a modern industrial society, children are not an economic necessity. There are biological urges, but birth control can cover those. Yet most people still have kids. Why? Sure, there are cultural incentives, but many of those are waning. The fact is, many folks today have children almost entirely because they believe it will bring them (and possibly others) joy above and beyond the pain. Perhaps God had kids for the same reason. He didn’t need them- He just wanted them, even though he could sense all the pain and destruction that might follow.

    @Tim- fair point, one that seems curiously Orthodox despite its apparent liberal bent. I realize that the word ‘hell’ itself might be fairly new, but Jesus was talking about Lazarus being in torment in Hades long before Christianity even made it to Northern Europe. Sure, he might have merely been borrowing from the culture of the day to make a point, but you can’t pretend that hell is some newfangled idea that Calvinists borrowed from Norse mythology.

  3. @Jonny I agree that the concept of what we call Hell is not a newfangled Calvinistic creation. In fact, I’m sure what we lump under the word Hell is similar to what the Pharisees believed about it, and most of the Hell imagery we use now is borrowed from non-Norse sources. But I do think continuing to lump this set of post-life/fire imagery in the New Testament under a single umbrella of a later, non-Biblical word makes it much more difficult to navigate the meaning of the Biblical texts. It’s importing theology into them, rather than theology coming from the texts into us.

  4. Old post, whatever. The question stands. Kids are trouble because humans at heart are trouble. Why make a product that’s flawed? Choice? Is that it? As a perfect entity, as God I would not have created a society where I have to be resurrected at the end of times and remove the entire population of Africa and the middle east. And pretty much all of south east and south west Asia. Because non of those people believe that Jesus Christ died for there sins. So a buddest who never leaves the temple is screwed for sure because there is no way for him to hear about the good news. Too many questions and not enough answers. I grew up believing now I’m looking for reasons to continue. There are a lot of outrageous tales in the Bible. I’m not sure I believe many of them. Moses’ staff turned snake? He used black, evil, satan, magic? These are the simply hypocritical things that occur often in the Bible. There’s a lot of incest, rape, murder and genocidal ideas in the Bible. And who even wrote the bible? I look for the answers, but no one has them. Science can’t prove it wrong. I think science has the burden of proof in this one.

    1. Actually, the book of Romans in chapter 2 indicates that those who do not know God’s law, but who follow it, will be justified. Check out Romans 2:14-15. Those people aren’t automatically going to hell, but will be judged accordingly to their knowledge.

      Also, Moses didn’t use magic to turn his staff into a snake. God commanded him to throw it down, and then God turned it into a snake.

      There are answers to all the questions you asked. If you have specific questions, feel free to send me an email (mailto mstublefield at gmail dot com) and I’ll do my best to go through each in detail!

  5. This is actually a question that has come to mind and after some study, some consultation with my Pastor, and some prayer to God to ask the Holy Spirit for revelation on this, I have come to this conclusion: God did know that we were going to go through “the Fall” and had plans to bring further glory than He already had to His name by showing his Omipotence in overcoming Sin and it’s end result, Death. Not only did Christ overcome both of them, He created a way to give *us* victory over Sin and Death as well!! Creation itself including His crowning achievement (Human Beings) brought God an immense amount of glory and when we fell, the devil thought he had won. But oh how little he knew, God already had a plan in mind and immediately set it into motion to redeem us to Him to bring even more glory to His great name!! I believe God allowed “the Fall” to happen to #1 show that He was superior to the enemy and #2 to show that it doesn’t matter what obstacles are in the way, God will always find a way to overcome any obstacle because He loves us so much! The Fall, and subsequent redemption of Humanity shows not only God’s Omniscience, but also His Omnipotence! Praise and glory be to God forever and ever! Amen! 🙂

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