But if God has foreknowledge, then He knows which people will make poor choices.
So you're saying God cannot be moral if he can't come up with a possible world where no one chooses poorly? Then even in this scenario God has not really allowed anyone the choice to reject him. And if that's the case, why bother with letting history play out, and just create people in their final state of already having made the choice?
But it is completely irresponsible to give a child of 2 a pair of scissors
We are not children, and we are still only responsible for that which we can comprehend. Then the question is what we can comprehend, but since God has told us we are responsible for choosing, and what the choices are and their consequences, then how can we whine about not knowing? A child has no concept of consequences, but we do. And the fact that we are here discussing the possibility of people spending eternity in hell proves that we understand the choices.
Then no one would go to hell. For we cannot grasp such things.
I disagree. God told us point-blank what the choices are or we wouldn't be discussing them. You and I understand that eternal hell awaits the lost, therefore we have grasped the fact that this is possible, and we are thus responsible.
And I still find it incoherent that a person would willingly choose an eternity of misery unless they cannot grasp the situation
And I still know that many have willingly done so while sane. It's pride, the unwillingness to let God rule over us. It reminds me of the very first Star Trek episode, where Capt. Pike was captured by aliens who created a virtual paradise for him. They were amazed that he would rather live in a real world of suffering than a pretend world of bliss, and Pike said something to the effect that people don't like having "gods" over them, even if they're benevolent. Many people I've met online have stated that they would rather be tortured for all eternity than bow to God.
How can a person defy God to his face?
Ask Adam. ;-) Or Satan. And God has given evidence of his existence, though many just deny it. I often ask how the SETI project expects to identify intelligent communication when they deny that DNA is a code. Either the univers screams "design" or it's the most amazing accident, and if the latter, then nothing can ever be called "intelligent". That's just how I see it.
What of the Dalai Lama would be left if his good qualities were extinguished?
What do you think the residents of hell will do for all eternity? Feed the poor? What "good qualities" will matter? Your argument is based upon the premise that goodness is not relative to God but only to ourselves.
So if God rules, and it is simply because He is powerful, then there is nothing inherently more just than if the majority ruled.
I disagree, because God is just by definition, and morality is relative to him. Without God as the reference point, everything is relative, and morality is a mere opinion. I believe goodness only has meaning in relationship to God as a reference. Saying people are good is like saying which direction is "north" in outer space. Everything depends upon a reference point.
But I am not sure that threatening a person with after-life punishment…
This "choose me or die" is a straw man, as I've tried to explain. The fact of God's nature eternal and omnipresent is why there can only be "God" and "not God"; there are no other possibliities. This is not God being mean but simply God being constrained by his own nature.
I sympathize with having difficulty attending church - when you think about these things as much as you obviously do, it can be difficult to find a community sometimes!
Actually, my convictions about church attendance have nothing to do with community. I love to be with other believers, but neither Jesus nor the apostles ever set up "church" as we know it. Jesus said "The time has come for people to worship God in spirit and truth, not in this place or that". The apostles said we are the Temple of God, and we have God's Holy Spirit within us. There is no need for the external trappings of religion. (I love the irony of people saying "this isn't a religion but a relationship" while they're standing in a sanctuary and talking to a clergyman.) But that's another big topic for another day.
"And if that's the case, why bother with letting history play out, and just create people in their final state of already having made the choice?"
Very good question.
"So you're saying God cannot be moral if he can't come up with a possible world where no one chooses poorly? Then even in this scenario God has not really allowed anyone the choice to reject him."
I am not sure this follows. Why couldn't God actualize a possible world in which every person freely chooses Him? If everyone makes the same choice, then does it negate the freedom in that choice?
Better yet, why not create the perfect combination of freedom and determinism by never giving up on anyone? People would have free choice, but given eternity, surely everyone would be ready for everlasting love, for finding the purpose for which they were created, at some point.
"And the fact that we are here discussing the possibility of people spending eternity in hell proves that we understand the choices."
I can discuss infinity, but I cannot understand it.
"You and I understand that eternal hell awaits the lost, therefore we have grasped the fact that this is possible, and we are thus responsible."
I am not sure I follow here. I don't understand how eternal hell can await the lost if God is all-loving - unless we redefine hell as a preference rather than a punishment. I am also not sure how grasping the fact of a possibility equates to understanding the weight of that possibility and the information required to make that decision. I can grasp the possibility that the world might end tomorrow, but I doubt I understand the weight of that possibility - and I think I have no good reasons to think the world will end tomorrow.
"Many people I've met online have stated that they would rather be tortured for all eternity than bow to God."
It all depends on the definition. If God is a powerful despot who does not match up with our feelings of what is good, but commands the death of children (like in the Old Testament) then perhaps no moral person would bow to this God whole-heartedly. They might to save their own skin I suppose, but perhaps that is not real bowing. If God is goodness itself, compassion, love - then who would not submit to this - except perhaps those who are emotionally damaged or mentally impaired or sociopathic. And who could liberate one from such bondage? Perhaps only God.
I will leave the intelligent design argument for another time.
"Your argument is based upon the premise that goodness is not relative to God but only to ourselves."
If good is only good because God says so - then it is arbitrary. It could be anything. If God declared killing children good, would you accept this as good? Of course He would never do this because it would be against His nature (don't read the book of Joshua....), but how do we know it would be against his nature? Because of our own thoughts and feelings about what is good. So even if we try to split the horns of the Euthyphro dilemma by declaring God to be bound by his own nature to be good - we still define that goodness in terms of our own feelings and thoughts - else it would seem arbitrary to us. And if we appeal to mystery - we can't see all ends so we don't know what will end up being good - then we are effectively declaring God's actions arbitrary from our point of view. In other words God could command anything, and no matter how evil it seemed, we would still use the word "good" for it. How would we then choose to act in the world? Our actions, which we would try to make good ones, would not match God's - the supposed grounding of what is good.
Thanks for the conversation - Good stuff.