How can the abrahamaic god be omnibenevolent?

If we are to believe the accounts of the bible and other related holy books (the Quran, the Torah), the abrahamaic god is omnipotent and omniscient - he sees all and knows all - and is also supposed to be omnibenevolent, or at least a pretty good kind of guy.

At the same time, though, the bible claims that the vast majority of people will not make it into heaven, and will instead suffer eternal damnation. Since god is omniscient, he knows this ahead of time; for every human being that ever lived or will ever live, he knows in advance exactly what will happen to them, and he knows whether or not they will be ‘saved’ before they ever come into existence.

Given all that, wouldn’t it be considered evil to create a being knowing that it will spend all eternity suffering unspeakable torment? And far more evil to set things up such that billions of such people will come into existence?

To address the predictable retorts: If god “cannot” set up things so that people do not suffer, he’s not omnipotent. If it’s up to us to decide based on our “free will”, he’s not omniscient. And if he can fix things but chooses not to, he’s not onibenevolent. Which is it?

Answer #1

slapintheface87: Yours is a view I’ve seen elsewhere, too. It certainly seems more reasonable, but to the best of my knowledge, it’s not a view supported by the bible. In which case, what do you base your views about hell on? The bible does, however, make many references to “everlasting fire” and “eternal torment”.

The other problem I have with this theory is that if being “with god” is good, and “apart from god” is not so good, why would god (any god) set up a situation where it’s impossible to rationally choose which god is the real one? I’d like to believe that any god would want us to be rational creatures, and yet, as a rational creature looking at religion, the only sensible interpretation is that they’re all equally (in)valid, having a sum total of 0 solid evidence for their validity between them. If I’m to believe there really is a god, I’m as likely to get it right by picking randomly as by any other means. Further, the average believer’s religion is (statistically) most likely to be that of their parents - so the main factor in which one you perceive to be ‘correct’ isn’t the actual content of the religion - it’s what you were indoctrinated with!

That really doesn’t seem like the sort of world a god who wants recognition would set up. In the contrary, it seems like the sort of world you’d get if you had a disinterested god - or no god at all.

Answer #2

The references to flames are a figure of speech. If you try to take it literally, it makes not sense. Think about it. Hell is supposed to be a place of darkness, yet there is fire burning? No. The flames in the bible are also associated with God, and Jesus. The lake of fire. There are many other references that cause flames to be interpreted as judgment, not literal fire.

The eternal torment is because they are separated from God. If you were taken away from everything good and holy in life, you would be filled with grief and regret.

Ha! what more do you want? God cannot just come down from heaven say, “Hey look guys, I’m real!” That goes back to my whole “free will” point. However, God does give us signs that prove he is real. Miracles in his name are preformed everyday. how would that be possible if there was no God of Christianity up there?

Also, are you just as likely to follow the Aztec God of war that demanded human sacrifices and cannibalism. Some religions have more merit and sensibility than others. But you are right. How do you know if you have the right religion? Well, a lot of it is based on faith. You hear some people talk about an empty void being filled in their lives, but as for me, I gain strength from God. These posts to you have been difficult for me to write, but every time I struggled, I suddenly had a definitive answer that would easily prove my point.

Hmmm… Some reasonable evidence though… Well, you have to think that the Lord of Earth would have to be merciful, knocking out about almost all of the gods suggested through history. Think, mankind messes up a lot, so we would all be dead right now if it wasn’t for a loving God.

I believe that Muslims, and know that jews and christians share the same God. That amounts to a large part of the world population, so that has some indication that God is the right god.

Yes, religion is primarily passed down by parents, but what else do you expect. I would just hope people are intelligent enough to challenge their faith to come up with a religion that is based on their beliefs, not their parents. Are you going to base your beliefs on the stupidity of the world?

I don’t have much time to fully rebuttal this, but I’ll post back later…ugh! school! I have a %*^&@ English test today. What do you know about Anglo Saxons?

Answer #3

Ah, you have changed the question. You went from torture in hell, to torture on this Earth. I don’t think people really suffer on Earth, at least compared to what hell has to offer. Also, God works through this “suffering” like I said above. But alas, I have not answered your question. Can God set up a world where everybody wins? He plans to. But at this moment, he hasn’t. Why not now, I don’t know. You see, when listing your characteristics about God, you failed to mention him having infinite wisdom. Trying to predict the reasoning of God is like a child questioning their parent’s demands of him to stop playing with the electric saw. They may think of it as fun and exciting, but do not understand the vastness of danger that awaits if they continue in a careless manner. Just like the child, we only have a portion of the picture, and therefor are left in the dark on some of the decisions God makes. This is where faith is involved, and is often where people like you skip out.

Tormenting those who don’t worship him was not God’s plan. He has never wanted it that way. Did you even read my response? You have two things wrong about this statement. First, God does not require “unconditional worship”, but a simple belief that his son died on the cross to save you from the “eternity of torment”. We worship him out of respect and adoration, not because we are forced to. Would you thank a person who you continually slap in the face and slander for giving you a car? Yes. The second thing you have wrong is that he has supplied a way to prevent this. You know what it is. I have said it several times. Believe in Jesus, and you are saved. This is why we call God merciful. Despite all of the sins we commit, he still turns around and forgives us. His love for us is unconditional, just like a mother’s love is for her child. Your phrase should be changed.

Tormenting those who unconditionally love you seems pretty evil to me. We are pretty evil people, wouldn’t you say so? If not, then some humility couldn’t hurt.

Answer #4


The key point to answering your question is in your wording. You have loaded this question to the point where it’s like asking. “When did you stop beating your wife?” No matter how I reply, I’m doomed from the outset if I accept your wording.

For one thing, hell is not a torture chamber. God doesn’t torture people in hell, so you are flat wrong about that. You also make God sound like a spoiled child saying. “Look, if you’re not willing to obey my arbitrary rules, then I’m going to sentence you for it. You need to know that MY rules are MY rules, and if I don’t get my way, then I’m going to make you pay.” Well, of course, if God is just a child with arbitrary rules, then it would be capricious for him to sentence people. But that’s not what I am going at here.

It says in the bible that God does not like hell, but it is necessary. God is giving the people what they want. It is just. Just hear me out.

The essence of hell is relational. Christianity says people are the most valuable things in the entire creation. If people matter, then personal relationships matter, and hell is largely relational. Hell is not “torture”. The punishment of hell is separation from God, from good. There is no fire and brimstone.

Make no mistake, hell is punishment, but it is not punishing. Hell is a consequence of a life that has been lived in a certain direction. God respects those who don’t chose to love him. He does not simply annihilate them, but sends them to a place where they can dwell without him. He does not force them to go to heaven because, believe it or not, that would be immoral.

Follow me on this: there’s a difference between intrinsic value and instrumental value. Something has intrinsic value if it’s valuable and good in and of itself; something has instrumental value if it’s valuable as a means to an end. For example, saving lives is intrinsically good. Driving on the right side of the road (in the US) is an instrumental value; it’s just good because it helps keep order. If society decides that everyone should drive on the left side of the road, it would still be fine.

Now when you treat people as instrumentally valuable, or only as a means to an end, you’re dehumanizing them, and that’s wrong. You’re treating people as things when you treat them merely as a means to an end. You only respect people when you treat them as having intrinsic value.

If you were to force people to do something against their free choice, you would be dehumanizing them. You would be saying that the good of what you want to do is more valuable than respecting their choices, and so you are treating them as a means to an end by requiring them to do something they don’t want. That’s what it would be like if God forced everyone to go to heaven. Remember, he is all about free will. Forcing them to go to heaven is immoral, because it’s dehumanizing; it strips them of the dignity of making their own decision; it denies them their freedom of choice; and it treats them as a means to an end. God respects human freedom. In fact, it would be unloving- sort of a divine rape- to force people to accept heaven and God if they didn’t really want them. When God allows people to say “no” to him, he actually respects and dignifies them.

So, in essence, God is not evil for sending people to hell. He is allowing them to live their lives without him. Sure, living without God diminishes life of joy and love and everything good, but it is the peoples’ choice. Obviously you have a choice in the matter. Wouldn’t you like your decision in life to be respected?

Answer #5

Here’s a possibility for you. Now know going into this that I believe the Bible does not show a permanent hell. I think it could be argued that God does not intend for anyone to suffer, except maybe Satan - but he’s not human, for all eternity.

Here’s my theory: God’s sitting around one day in the oblivion before time and he says, “Hey, I think I’ll make me some people today.” He’s Omnipotent, so he certainly has the power and he’s omniscient so he has the know how… so he sits down at his “omniworkbench” and starts the process.

I think God decided, I do base this next assumption on the Bible, that he wanted to make a people he could love and that would love him back. God being Omni-benevolent knew what true love was… he just looked in the mirror. He knew that true love had the power to do harm, but chose not to. True love had the knowledge to not love, but did so anyway… Just like him. So he knew that he wanted these people to be capable of actual, real, true love. So God started using his all knowing powers to look around.

He envisioned all possible worlds and searched for the best. In one world people people just popped out of the womb loving God, but this was not True Love because they did not have any choice in the matter. This was a pretty good world because there was nothing bad happening. These people only loved. But they had no choice in the matter… not true love. He kept looking.

God looked at another world where people had the right to choose, but God would stop them before they did anything bad. This was looking good. But people soon realized that they didn’t really have a choice if God stopped them before they ever did anything. They resented God and one another. True Love could not endure here either.

God kept on looking through worlds each having flaws when it came to creating beings who could receive and choose true love. He finally found the best of all possible worlds. Not the perfect world, but the best for what God wanted to create. This world still had it’s draw backs, people could hurt one another, but they could also experience true love. This was the best of all the possibilities. God being all loving wanted the best of all possibilities for his creatures, so he chose this one.

Remember, I believe that there is no eternal punishment from God, maybe temporary, but not eternal. And as any parent knows, sometimes punishment is for the best of your children.

Now, you may ask why didn’t just create a bunch of beings exactly like himself? Wouldn’t that be the best of all possible worlds? I contend that this is a logical impossibility. It would be the same as asking God to create a square circle… there’s no such thing. If you asked God to create another omnipotent being, automatically when the being is created there is no longer such a thing as omnipotence since both being can now control everything, including each other. So neither being is “All” powerful. The same could be said for Omniscient. I also think this is why God chose Love to base his creation off of. He took the one attribute of his that the beings could model to near perfection and would not comprise his “Godness”.

Just some thoughts.

Answer #6

Since when does knowledge and control mean the same thing? If a child’s parents know that their child will become a doctor, does that mean that they now have instant control over that decision? No. It is still that child’s choice to determine which career in life they will choose. The parents have no control over the knowledge that they have, for it was the child’s decision that determined the future. They just know what is going to happen to him.

You mentioned that “he set everything up”. That is correct, but we helped in that. He set up Eden and the option for sin, but god gave us the choice to love him, or deny him. You know what we chose.

Now he knows what suffering will engender, but does something about it. He sends Jesus. He saves us from our mistakes. We messed up, and he kills his son to save the sinners who deny him, and still do today.

Although God has infinite power, he also has infinite wisdom. He knows that if he controlled us, our hearts would not be sincere. However, that does not mean that he does nothing. He tries to show us he exists through other, less obvious medias. Ones that will not force our decision, but allow us help to chose correctly. It is all about these medias that determine the future. If missionaries work harder, if churches stop being retarded, if christians stop being hypocritical, then more people could come to Christ.

It is frustrating for someone like me, who is looking for a way to convince someone like you, to accept that a lightening bolt from heaven is not the best way. If you saw your obvious sign, more likely than not, you would become a Christian. But is that because you accept the fact that you need God in your life and want to love him, or because it makes the most logical sense?

Indeed in this world all people suffer. There is sin in the world. This world is ruled by Satan because we allowed sin in the world. Suffering also allows people to come to God, or rely on God. Another media through which he works. If something bad happens to someone, then they are more likely to turn to God. You will see in many testimonies that the times that people turned to God were when they were at their lowest.

If you are so ready to deny God, then how come you asked this question months ago? Are you trying to get others to join you in your beliefs, or are you naturally curious. If it is the first option, than why? You know that this website is full of idiotic people who could provide an inappropriate answer, converting others to your beliefs by default just because Christianity can not be upheld. I am trying my hardest to redeem it, but even I can not uphold all of it. Other, more knowledgeable people could, but I am having difficulties. I am happy that you are curious, but you are not going to get some answers here. However, something tells me you are not looking for answers, but a topic to debate and win just because you picked a weak audience to debate against.

Answer #7

So are you saying, in essence, that the christian god couldn’t set up a world that has both less suffering than this one and still allows people free will? If he’s omnipotent, he certainly should be able to. And if he can but doesn’t, it seems that he must either be disinterested or evil.

Tormenting those who don’t unconditionally worship him to an eternity of torment seems pretty evil to me, too.

Answer #8

slapintheface87: If god knows exactly which ‘path’ you will choose, in what sense do you actually have a choice? You can’t take any path other than the one he knows you will choose. And because he knows exactly what will happen, and he set everything up, he knows exactly what suffering it will all engender - yet does nothing to prevent it.

In my mind, anyone who can trivially prevent suffering but doesn’t is immoral - regardless of if they think the people experiencing the suffering ‘deserve’ it or not (and indeed, in this world, people appear to suffer independent of how ‘good’ they are).

Answer #9

God did set things up where people would not suffer… in the begining. He created a beautiful garden, where all needs were supplied, no suffering, no pain, no sickness, no division, nothing but peace and joy, and happiness.

However, since he did want people to have free will, he gave them a choice.

He only gave one command.

Only one.

This was necessary, so that man could choose.

Man choose to do the ONE>> THING>> that God asked him not to do.

This brought about the fall of man, from this wonderful place,

And put him outside the garden, and into the life that we know today.

The plan of salvation, is meant to bring man back into right standing with God.

It is a way for him to be redeemed… from his wrong choices.

The bottom line is… If you love me, YOu will obey my commandments.

This is where the rubber meets the road…

This is how we will be judged.

According to the light that we have been given, and what we did with it.

This time, when God sets up the new earth, all will have been tested…

beforehand… our proving ground is now.. on planet earth.

I think this is Gods way of sorting out, any who would be rebellious… to his word, and his will and his way… here… so that only the redeemed will be able to enter… his new world.

Makes sense to me.

His way of “fixing things”, as you say, is to allow life to play out on its own, for a set period of time, and then, he lists what will happen then.

He wants our love and honor and obedience, because we choose to give it, not because we are made to.

As for hell… well, I think you would have to study the righteousness of God to understand that…

And if you are in a rebellious mindset, you could never understand, I don’t believe.

Keep in mind, that we are only followers, we are not God…

We understand certain things about God, but, no one will ever… completely understand God.

To do so, would make us equal to him, and that is not going to happen.

Somethings we have to take by faith…

And God does not have to prove himself… to anyone.

It is a choice and a priviledge beyond compare to be able to serve the Living God.

He will never be reduced to the status of a common man.

He has given us guidelines to go by, and a roadmap…

He can and will come and live inside each of us, thru the power of his spirit…

If his conditions are met.

He loves…

but, he has standards that not even he, will breach.

If it matters to you, you will find out what those standards are, and do the best you can to live by them, instead of trying to bring God down to mans level.

This is how God judges the intents of the heart…

He is looking for pure worshippers.

Ones that love in spirit and in truth.

Not ones that try to get by with everything they can, and still be called by his name.

He wants a people that love him, and will obey him.

Not because they have to, but because they want to.

I really wish that I could tell you that there were three choices,

Heaven, Hell & Oblivion.

However, at this time, I do not have scripture for that.

So, without that to back it up, I will not say what I do not know to be true.

It would only be speculation on my part.

But, I would think that if one truly does not want to live with God, and his people, that one would be miserable… and that is not…what heaven is about.

I promise one thing… God will not… drag anyone into heaven… kicking and screaming…

Won’ t happen. So don’t fret.

Answer #10

slapintheface87: Providing a ‘way out’ doesn’t make it less evil that you torture (for all eternity!) those that don’t take it.

Answer #11

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.

The God of abraham is either incredibly vain, incredibly cruel, or more likely both.

Answer #12

I totally agree with you arachnid, about all of it.

Answer #13

silverwings: But God, being omniscient, knew from the beginning that given the way he set things up, man would inevitably break his commandment. If he didn’t know that for sure, he’s not omnipotent.

So what sort of god would set up a test that he knows the subject is doomed to fail, then punish the subject and all his descendents for it?

Answer #14

Aw man, not fair! You did a pre-emptive strike on the free will arguement. That probably reduce the number of responses by 80% :)

The only way to explain the God of the Bible is that the ancient Hebrews and the 1st Century AD Christians had completely different notions of what God is. One is distant, jealous, territorial, and the combination of all things, good and evil. The other is personal, merciful, and benevolent, but capable of judgement. The two cannot be reconciled. Anyone who says otherwise has never truly read the entire Bible.

Answer #15

The abrahamic god is a composite of an ancient dictator god and gnostic demiurge god, which is why it makes no sense at all.

Answer #16

God aint real don’t know what you worrying about

Answer #17

I would never presume I’m smart enough or big enough to judge God in any way.

Answer #18


I just recently wondered the same question that you have, and have come up with a possible answer. Some people believe in Calvinism, which is that God already knows the set number of people that are going into heaven, and that set number will not be receded or exceeded… predestination. However, I would like to offer a different opinion (of course!). I think of it more like the butterfly effect.

There is one course that a man is on. God knows his future for that course. He also can see a possibility of futures that are laid out for the man, depending on which way he will choose. However, God is not one to steal a man’s free will. If the man chooses to defer from the path, God will not demand his love and redemption and make him come back. God will try to guide him to the best path, but if his relationship with God is not strong, he may not be as attuned to God’s will (sorry, that last sentence sounds preachy, but it’s true). So basically, God knows all, for he knows each of the possible outcomes, but it is up to us to make the decision in which one we choose. Do ya get it?

God makes it very clear in the bible that he wants humankind to love him on their own terms, not because they are forced into it. That leaves us with the choice to accept him or reject him. It is for this reason that he left the apple in the garden. He wanted to give mankind a choice to not love him… and we chose it. What if he hadn’t? What if God offered no other option but to love him, for then there wouldn’t be any failure. But then would we really love him? If we had no other choice but to? No.

God knows your future, for he knows all of your possible futures, but it is your choice to solidify which path you will take. God knows it, but you control it. If anything, it is humankind’s fault for reproducing the damned. He does not control us the way you probably think he does. He has given us his laws that are to guide us, he has sent us his son to die for us and give us salvation, and he has given us a book to teach us, but there is not much else he can do. Do not expect a lightening bolt to come from the sky, commanding the people to love and follow him, because that eliminates free will.

This is what I came up with. You may accept it or not, but it is there to be read.

As for the mercy thing, that is a bit more simplistic.

You used to word omni benevolent, and then added that he should “at least be a pretty good kind of guy”. That is true. He is. But he also is the judge. He created life, so he has the right to take it away. I know you are probably thinking that a merciful God would not even ponder the thought of destroying a city based on their deeds for the past few centuries. Well, you have noticed that there has been no fire and brimstone hailing over… oh I don’t know, Ireland (haha, just kidding) these past couple years, and that is because, just like FunAdvice said, there are two different styles of God: the old testament and the new.

“ The only way to explain the God of the Bible is that the ancient Hebrews and the 1st Century AD Christians had completely different notions of what God is. One is distant, jealous, territorial, and the combination of all things, good and evil. The other is personal, merciful, and benevolent, but capable of judgment.”

But the two can be reconciled and this is done through Jesus. Where in the old testament, God ruled through the laws he gave (like Moses and the ten commandments) in the new testament, he rules with forgiveness. This is because Jesus paid the penalty for the sins of the world, abolishing the need for punishment. (you may not be ready to discuss Jesus if you are still grappling with God, but he is necessary to prove this point)

The Hebrews only follow the old testament, and therefore are only familiar with the God that judges. He punished the wrong doers that harmed his chosen people, the Israelites. But think about it, God does have mercy. He hears the prayers of his people crying for him to help them, for the Canaanites are slaughtering Israelite old and weak that are dragging behind. A just, fair, and merciful God would eliminate the problem, sparring the innocent, and punishing the wrongdoers. Think of it like an amputation. If your arm has gang green, then it should be cut off as to not allow it to spread to the rest of the body.

I hope this helps you. It’s nice to see that at least now you are considering that there could be a God. It may take me a while to rebuttal the last response you posted on the “How come so many people are talking about God”. Your level of science mumbo-jumbo is causing me to do some research, but do not worry, I wont let ya down! I’ll have a response on your desk by Tuesday! Lol!

More Like This

Religion, Spirituality & Folk...

Christianity, Islam, Buddhism

Ask an advisor one-on-one!

Kids Talk About God

Religious Organizations, Children's Education, Online Learning Platforms


Deidre Havrelock

Christian Authors, Feminist Thought Leaders, Inclusive Christian Narratives


Walk and Talk

Life Coaching, Christian Counseling, Personal Development


Law for Life

Legal Services, Christian Faith, Blog


End Time Essentials

Spiritual Healing, Poetry, Religion