Does God want anyone to die a nonbeliever?

Those who reject Christianity often talk about the fact that so many billions of people have died believing another religion.  This is called the problem of the unevangelized.  This problem matters, because it shows that at least one claim in the Bible doesn’t line up with reality.

Consider 2 Peter 3:9 (ESV):

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

The clear message here is that God does not want anyone to die a nonbeliever.  The problem is that God has failed at this, billions of times.  This begs the question:  Is God sovereign?  In other words, is God in complete control as Christians say he is?  We must not try to get God off the hook for this, with arguments from human free will, or revelation of God through nature and conscience.  But let’s look at these arguments anyway.

Regarding the argument from human free will, I don’t know of any evidence for this in the Bible; it is more likely a more recent idea.  In any case, if God really didn’t want anyone to die a nonbeliever, he could leave more evidence for himself, such that no one could reasonably deny his existence or the Bible’s claims about Jesus.  Then it would truly be the case that anyone who rejects Christianity is doing so because he or she would rather live a life of sin than submit to God.  But this is not the case; good people can reasonably reject Christianity as absurd, even if they once truly believed it, as Dan Barker and John W. Loftus did.

The argument of general revelation through nature and conscience does have biblical support.  However, the only conclusions one can draw from nature and conscience are that there might be a creator, and that there is such a thing as right and wrong.  Other religions can explain these two things just as well as Christianity can.  To get from this sort of general understanding to a belief in the Christian God, one must have strong evidence.  It seems to me that we don’t have any such evidence.

How can Christians square this problem with claims of God’s omniscience, omnipotence, and love for the world?  I think the most reasonable conclusion is that Christianity is a fiction, and an internally inconsistent one at that.

Remember that I am merely judging the claims that some people made about God and rejecting them as absurd.  Christians have done this with the claims of other religions; I’m applying the same standard of rationality to one more religion.

Christians, am I missing something here?


3 Responses to “Does God want anyone to die a nonbeliever?”

  1. Casey Says:

    I would be curious to know your thoughts on the account of Adam and Eve? The way that I see it, God gave them both a choice, and even gave them a hint as to which was the best choice. God didn’t force them to make any choice. If I force anyone to do anything that means that I don’t care about them as a person. If I care about them enough to allow them to make choices based on available information then I’m giving them a choice, and even if I don’t agree I still have to allow them to make that choice. So because God doesn’t force or cause or just automatically save humanity he has not failed, he’s simply given everyone a choice. Who is at blame for making the wrong choice, the same person that is to be commended for making the right choice.

    • Matt Campbell Says:

      Casey, I’ll concede that if the account of Adam and Eve is true, then they were responsible for the choice they made. But you’re not answering the actual issues I raised in this post.

    • Christopher Toth Says:

      I’m a little bit curious how the Adam and Eve thing works myself. I take as my first propositions that god is all-powerful, and all-knowing. Does it not then follow that when he created Eve from Adam’s rib, he knew precisely the series of events that would occur? It is as though I wrote a program which I knew would delete files from my system, ran this program, and then got angry at it for deleting files. Can you clarify this a bit?

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