Last time we observed that a double-standard for the Creator and His creatures is entirely appropriate and necessary. God as perfect in knowledge and holiness knows every aspect of every case before His throne of justice and always judges in perfect righteousness. The source of all good and moral standards in the universe cannot pervert justice and cannot be subject to the critique of anything or anyone higher than Himself, and we lack the comprehensive understanding required to know otherwise. We are finite and fallen. Indeed, our limited and imperfect perspective could never form an adequate basis by which to judge the righteousness of God’s actions. God sees and knows what we cannot possibly see and know. Moreover, we depend on God’s revelation for truth, knowledge, and all moral principles.
We turn now to our atheist’s claim that God is evil because He has broken “our” objective moral principle that “it is morally wrong to torture people endlessly for their beliefs.” 
As weak and fallible we believe a good many untruths, but to spend eternity in hell for some mistaken metaphysical speculation would be a terrible injustice. With this we can agree. Nonetheless, what Scripture teaches concerning God’s judgment of sin, including the sin of unbelief, bears little resemblance to the author’s claim. A consideration of our beginning as created by God will help explain the righteousness of God’s severe condemnation of sin.
God created us in His image from the overflow of His infinite goodness that we might live with Him as His precious and beloved children. Every good we enjoy comes from his gracious hand, while apart from God we have nothing. As the creator of the universe and giver of all life, God reigns as supreme authority, the source and sustainer of all things. To Him we owe all love, honor, and obedience—always—while God owes us absolutely nothing. To disobey God, then, to refuse Him His due, to reject His authority and exult our personal desires over His perfect and sovereign will constitute an immeasurable insult. To neglect a life of thanksgiving to God displays supreme ingratitude. To refuse to worship God rejects what is good, proper, and becoming and sets our first love and attention elsewhere in a remarkable act of betrayal and infidelity. To treat with contempt the God of infinite holiness, majesty, and goodness embodies an evil we scarcely can comprehend. Indeed, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9 NAS). Sin involves wickedness so profound that only the infinite suffering of Christ can fully pay its deserved penalty.
God, then, does not condemn for merely believing the wrong thing, but for contempt of His authority, perfect character, and infinite goodness toward those He created and owns. Thus, the idea that God condemns people for a mere intellectual mistake, as our author contends, may serve to rationalize His rejection of God, but grossly misrepresents the sin of unbelief and God’s just condemnation of it.
Note well that the sin of contempt toward God precedes consideration of one’s response to Christ and His work to remedy sin and purchase eternal life for us. By this we can better understand how God can judge those who have never heard the Gospel. The rejection of Christ constitutes an additional basis of judgment and condemnation, but does not constitute the first and only basis. People who reject the authority and goodness of God prior to an acquaintance with Christ and His work have already earned God’s judgment for their scorn. Indeed, all are without excuse:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen (Rom. 1:18-25 NAS).
All people know enough to be accountable for their response to God, for their choice of who they trust and worship as their supreme authority. (All people have an ultimate object of faith and worship.) Moreover, as noted in a previous article (see here), God can make accommodation for infants, babies in the womb, and others that appear to lack the capacity to turn from evil and seek God, while atheists cannot possibly know that God will not treat all with perfect justice in the end.
God has so displayed His power, goodness, and genius that all people are responsible to seek, honor, and love Him. Ingratitude, irreverence, infidelity in their object of faith, and exultation of personal preference over God’s authority, including His law written on our hearts (Rom. 2:14-15), are without excuse. Moreover, God has provided sufficient evidence that all can trust His perfect justice in the face of mysteries and theological difficulties. Christ suffered infinite wrath to maintain God’s justice in order that He might extend mercy to sinners. God cannot compromise His perfect righteousness to save a single soul. And since He went the infinite extent, at infinite cost to Himself to uphold perfect justice, we can trust that no soul will experience hell that does not absolutely deserve to be there, even as no one will inhabit heaven without the righteousness of Christ, the only righteousness suited to dwell in God’s holy presence forever.
Of course, atheists accept none of this. Rather, they embrace the unreasonable assumption that they can know that God cannot justly rectify the evils of this life in the next. How could they possibly know such a thing? Therefore, apart from His grace and power, no argument will suffice to convince those who refuse to bow the knee to God’s obvious authority, genius, and goodness. May God give grace to any who would lead others down this perilous road, for “it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble” (Luke 17:2 NAS). May God open their eyes to their sin and smallness before God’s infinite power and holiness.
 Raymond D. Bradley, “A Moral Argument for Atheism” in The Impossibility of God, Michael Martin and Ricki Monnier, eds. (Amherst: Prometheus Books, 2003), 129-146.
Scriptures marked NAS are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, copyright© 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
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