"If God knows the future, why did he create people whom he knew would never turn to hint and who would therefore end up in hell?" I asked. "Couldn't he have created only those whom he knew would follow him and simply not created those whom he knew would reject him? That option would seem to be much more humane than hell."
"It depends on God's goal," said Moreland. "If God had chosen to create just a handful of four, six, or seven people, maybe he could have only created those people who would go to heaven. The problem is that once God starts to create more people, it becomes more difficult to just create the people who would choose him and not create the people who wouldn't."
"Why is that?"
"Because one of the reasons God put us here is to give us a chance to affect other people."
Moreland thought for a moment before coming up with an analogy. "Do you recall the Back to the Future movies?" he asked. "Remember how they went back in time, changed one small detail, and then when they returned to the future the entire town was completely changed? I think there's an element of truth to that.
"The simple fact of the matter is that we are impacted by observing other people. Suppose, for example, that when I was a little boy God gave my parents the choice to move to Illinois as opposed to staying in Missouri. Let's say there was a Christian neighbor who was a hypocrite, and I observed this man and chose because of his life to say 'no' to the gospel the rest of my life.
Now suppose that people at work looked at how obnoxious I was and five people become followers of Christ because of my bad example of what a non-Christian life looks like. Well, if we go to Illinois, we get one person lost-me-but five people are redeemed.
"On the other hand, suppose God chooses not to give the offer of a new job to my dad and we stay in Missouri. I might have a track coach who was a Christian and who pours his life into me and I end up choosing to follow God because of that. But because my Christian life is not really what it ought to be, five people are influenced away from Christ.
"Do you see? It's a Back to the Future scenario. When God chooses to create somebody, he or she has an impact on other people's choices and it might be that they have an impact on their decisions to trust Christ or not.
"There is another part of this, which has to do with how the soul is created. There's a view that the soul comes into existence at conception and is in some way passed on by the parents. In other words, soulish potentialities are contained in the parents' egg and sperm. It's called traducianism. This means my parents created my soul in the act of reproduction. Consequently, I could not have had different parents. That means, then, that the only way God could make me is if my entire ancestral lineage had preceded me, because different grandparents mean different parents and thus different materials for the soul.
"And here's the implication of traducianism for our question: God has to weigh completely different ancestral chains in their entirety. He can't just weigh individual people. So it may be that God allows some chains to come about, with some individuals in them who reject Christ-say, my great, great-grandfather-but which allow for others to be born who do trust Christ. In other words, God would be balancing alternative chains and not just alternative people.
"When God is making these judgments, his purpose is not to keep as many people out of hell as possible. His goal is to get as many people into heaven as possible.
"And it may be, sadly enough, that he's going to have to allow some more people who will choose to go to hell to be created in order to get a larger number of people who choose to go to heaven."
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