I continue my modification of biblical stories for the stage with a short exchange about the Fate of Humanity.
Act II: God Mulls the Fate of Humanity
The long history of events portrayed in the Old Testament has come to pass. During this time, God has noticed that all humans, like their original forebears Adam and Eve, are sinful. To get rid of this sin, he has tried several things, including destroying most of humanity in a global flood. Despite God’s omnipotence, however, none of these attempts has been successful.
And so God decides that one final, desperate attempt must be made to save humanity. He talks about his ideas with his faithful servant, Bob.
God: Bob, I’ve been thinking about the continuing sinfulness of the human race.
Bob: I see, sir.
God: They need to be saved, Bob.
Bob: Saved from what, sir?
God: Saved from hell, of course.
Bob: Goodness, sir, why is there such a place?
God: Well, I made it so I could send Satan there.
Bob: Ah, I see. And, if I may sir, who created Satan?
God: I did, of course.
Bob: But why did you create such an evil being, sir? Were you tired of making snakes?
God: Very funny, Bob. Satan was a good angel when I created him. He later fell into evil.
Bob: I’m surprised you didn’t see that coming, sir. Why didn’t you stop him immediately?
God, getting irritated: I am a very busy person, Bob. Please, let’s get back to my new idea.
Bob: Just one more question, sir, if I may. Is everyone destined for hell?
God: Unless they turn their hearts to me, yes, they are.
Bob: That sounds a little unfair, sir.
God, indignantly: Unfair? And why is that?
Bob: Well sir, you are putting them in a rather awkward situation. They are supposed to be free to make an informed decision about whether to love you or not, correct?
God: Yes, I gave them free will for that very purpose.
Bob: But then you also told them that if they decline your offer, you’ll send them to hell?
God: Yes. So what?
Bob: Doesn’t that strike you as a bit, well, coercive, sir? How is it different from a robber who holds a gun to his victim’s head, and says “you are free to give me your money or keep it, but if you keep it, I’ll shoot”?
God: It’s not at all the same, Bob. Trust me.
Bob: Very well, sir. I do have another worry though.
God: Spit it out, Bob.
Bob: Well, you specifically created humans with the freedom to make the choice of loving you or not, which means you were prepared for them to choose either way. Why then would you punish them if, on exercising this freedom, they chose not to love you? Should you not respect, rather than punish, the decision you gave them the power to make?
God: Bob, I really think you are making this more complicated than it really is. I want to talk about my new idea now.
Bob: Sir, if you could just entertain one final question before you go on?
God starts to protest, but being of extraordinary patience – at least occasionally anyway – he stops himself, and permits Bob’s question.
Bob: What sort of sin deserves the punishment of hell, sir?
God: Well, if they choose not to follow me, they will go to hell. The wages of all the other sin is death.
Bob: I’m not sure I understand, sir. An intellectual decision regarding religion is punishable by eternal damnation, but something like rape or murder requires only death? Doesn’t this strike you as somewhat unjust? Come to think of it, humans already mete out their own proportionate punishments for many of the most egregious sins. In these cases, why would any further punishment be necessary? And one last thing, my Lord: those who do choose to follow you are still going to have sinned during their lives, so surely they would also be punishable by death?
God, sighing: Bob, you’re sounding very reasonable but again, that’s just not the way things work. And by the way, yes, all people are going to die because of their sin, even if they choose to follow me, so that’s why I’ve come up with my new idea.
(To be continued…)