Of course the answer for the faithful is never “God doesn’t exist” or “God isn’t loving at all; he’s indifferent” (some theologians do believe that). There are many other ways to rationalize this by making stuff up. Brendle admits that the answer isn’t easy (duh!) but offers his own anyway. It turns out to be the old “free will” defense:
The capacity to choose God and goodness came with the commensurate ability to choose evil. Is it loving to force his creation to follow his order, or to teach it and leave the creature to choose? It would seem that God came to the same conclusion that America’s founders did many millennia later: compulsory virtue is no virtue at all.
And you’d also have to answer why free will to choose God is such an overweening good that it trumps all the sorrows of humanity and of millions of animal species. Why would God give us a faculty that inflicts such unspeakable suffering? Couldn’t he just let everyone go to heaven, or bypass Earth altogether and just populate heaven from the outset? Why create an Earth in the first place? Was that for God’s amusement? What kind of God would put us through tortures to ensure that we’d choose Jesus? And why didn’t he give that choice to the Maya or the Hindus?
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