One of the most popular themes in Christianity is that we are all filthy sinners deserving of death and hell and it’s only by God’s grace that we can be saved. “There is none righteous, no, not one.” (Romans 3:10) and “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6)
In addition to our conscience, humans and even animals appear to have a built in concept of justice. So on reflection, it’s clear that this doctrine of eternal punishment for sin is really unjust.
According to the Bible, Adam and Eve were the first humans and also the first sinners (after Satan and his minions). According to most forms of Christianity, all humans from that point forward were born with Original Sin. They are tainted sinners with essentially no capacity to completely resist sinning. There was one person born of a woman who was able to resist sinning and of course that was Jesus. It has been fairly common dogma in the church that Original Sin is passed down in the semen (as St. Augustine described) and therefore Jesus was able to be born without Original Sin. But we are also told that Jesus was tempted in every way essentially and yet still resisted sinning (Hebrews 4:15).
So where does that leave us as humans? Well, we can infer from the evidence that the only person capable of resisting sin was not only born without Original Sin but was also God himself according to trinitarianism. Seems like an unfair advantage to me.
Is sin a valid standard by which humanity should be judged? As an analogy, imagine a dictator whose son was the best pole vaulter in the world. He had achieved the world record in pole vaulting. The dictator ordered that everyone he chose would get a chance to do a pole vault and if they didn’t match or exceed the world record, they were going to be thrown into prison for the rest of their lives. No matter how eager each person was to achieve this feat and avoid the punishment, they were unable. Thus if he chose them to attempt the pole vaulting feat, he was essentially automatically choosing them to face punishment because the task was impossible.
Christians will be quick to point out that all we have to do is believe on Jesus and we’ll be saved (and we are to believe on really flimsy evidence). But that’s as far as the grace goes. Jesus himself said that the path to Heaven is narrow. So according to Christian doctrine, almost all humans who ever lived will be tortured eternally for their crimes. Namely sin. Something that by God’s own creation is impossible to avoid.
Christopher Hitchens said it best about this doctrine (quoting Cardinal Newman), “God created us sick and commands us to be well.”
The analogy above about the pole vaulting contest is inadequate as a comparison. At least with the dictator, a person can die to escape the punishment. Not so with the dictator God. A person can never escape. Oh what a monstrous scenario this God has created. I often wonder why we need a Devil when we have this God. Thank God he doesn’t exist.