This was a comment in reply to my piece on William Lane Craig and an issue with apostates. I like the parable aspect to it:
The thing that really borks the instrumentality argument is the resulting consequence of apostasy (i.e. eternal suffering). Without that bit, it’s perfectly acceptable for a deity to create a being that will either never believe in the god’s existence in the first place or subsequently permanently fall away from such a belief, since belief would not be the all access ticket out of hell. I’m reminded of the story of the yeshiva student who asked the rabbi why YHWH created atheists.
The rabbi teaches the student that God created everything in the world to be appreciated, since everything is here to teach us a lesson.
One clever student asks “What lesson can we learn from atheists? Why did God create them?”
The rabbi responds “God created atheists to teach us the most important lesson of them all — the lesson of true compassion. You see, when an atheist performs an act of charity, visits someone who is sick, helps someone in need, and cares for the world, he is not doing so because of some religious teaching. He does not believe that God commanded him to perform this act. In fact, he does not believe in God at all, so his acts are based on an inner sense of morality. And look at the kindness he can bestow upon others simply because he feels it to be right.”
“This means,” the rabbi continued “that when someone reaches out to you for help, you should never say ‘I pray that God will help you.’ Instead for the moment, you should become an atheist, imagine that there is no God who can help, and say ‘I will help you.’”
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