Recently Sir David Attenborough made a comment about the larvae of the black simulium fly which finds it’s way under the skin to it’s host victim’s eye and then slowly and painfully blinds them. He wondered how a merciful God could have created such a thing. The statement, when examined logically, was one of disbelief in a merciful creator.

And it’s a good argument, worth discussing; but it is not a statement of disbelief in God. Around the same time I read a blog asking whether God made a mistake when making the devil. The author’s argument – as much as I can follow it – is that because evil exists there cannot be any righteous God. It’s not a very good argument and not really worth discussing; but it is also not a statement of disbelief in God. The obvious answer to both questions is that God could quite easily be malicious or cruel or pretending to be just and merciful or God could even be inept.
Neither question, when you examine them, asks anything about the existence of God… yet, by some wild imaginings they each conclude that their question proves that there is no God. They do not come to this conclusion logically, they come to it by presupposition.

But anyway, how about a look at some logical answers to their objections. I am going to suppose that there is a merciful creator God because it is equal, but opposite, to supposing that there is no merciful creator God, or to supposing that God is either malicious or inept. And please, let’s dispense with the observation / proof argument, it proves nothing either way, just as one would expect if there were a merciful creator God and just as one would expect if there was not.
It all hangs on who God says He is and what He says His purposes are. Now, if you needed to warn your child about some potential hazard you would explain the dangers of it to them in this kind of way: “you’ll take someone’s eye out with that,” or, “you’ll catch your death of cold.” Now the reason parents use these gruesome pictures is that there really are eyes that have been whipped out of their sockets on the ends of sticks, and there really are children who have died from exposure.

Now let’s suppose there was a merciful creator God who needed to make very clear that there was such a thing as unending torture.
How would he explain it to the objects of his mercy? He would need a comparable earthly, limited horror. I say limited because everyone, no matter how horrible their life is, does eventually die – earth horrors do actually come to an end… all of them. That fact is itself a mercy of incomparable proportions that most of us take completely for granted, as if death is quite a natural thing.

In Mark 9:47-49 Jesus said, “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where “‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’ Everyone will be salted with fire.” Jesus uses two equally horrid illustrations of the Hebrew concept of Hell, or Gehenna and he quotes from the last verse of Isaiah 66 – from where these illustrations come.
Now imagine if there was no worm that could so possess a person that it could burrow under his skin and make him blind. The message of eternal unending torture would be, quite literally, meaningless and abstract. What would be the point of saying “where their worm does not die,” if there is no worm that does die to compare it with? The whole point of the sentence is for us to react with shock, “it’s bad enough to die of such a horrible thing… imagine never dying from it!” Now the typical Western/humanist reactions is usually “I thought you said your God was merciful,” and, “I could not believe in a God like that.” etc, etc. My answer is that the Western/humanist is confusing God’s Mercy, which He goes to great pains to describe in the Bible, with a human concept we call fairness. Fairness is nowhere to be found in the Bible; it’s not a God concept, actually unfairness is a God concept. It’s unfair that I can eat, and walk and think. Many don’t have those privileges. Life has always been unfair.
The only place you will find fairness is in Communist Manifesto and in Western democratic legal system which seems to think that equality is part of the natural order. Funny how those two things have more in common with each other than they do with the truth.

I am just telling how it actually is, readers don’t have to believe in any kind of God at all if they don’t want to. No one likes to think of themselves as powerless, at the mercy of a creator God; but that is the way it is. Fortunately there is mercy to be at! The truth is, if you care to look, that there is no way to be merciful to some without allowing great cruelty to others, not if you want the purposes that God says that He wants at any rate. That is the situation one gets when one creates free choice and it is used against the purposes of it’s creation. We all know the difference between right and wrong, and we have each chosen wrong in our lives at some point. It is not possible to blame God for free choice any more than it is possible to blame Him for it’s misuse.

Humans may very well find themselves in the same boat before we know it. AI (artificial intelligence) they tell us is just around the corner. What if we manage to create an iRobot situation (with a name like iRobot one has to wonder if Apple will have anything to do with it :^). Would we think twice before destroying robots? Would we torture them, or allow their torture if it served our purposes? Who is a robot to turn back on it’s maker and ask “why did you make me like this?” where is fairness to robots in the 3 laws of robotics? Does AI not have rights?
Or to apply it to us: Romans 9:20-23 “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” {Isaiah 29:16; 45:9} Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath– prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory–

Horror, like evil, exists because of the mercy of God. Why, I ask, when you have the choice as we do, would you choose to stay on the other side of God’s mercy? Just because you don’t think it’s very fair? Well no one can force you, even God won’t. But I’m not letting go of a promise as great and unexpected as that.