My name is Michael and I have a very straight-forward scenario that I wish to pose to you all, if you can afford me your time. This idea has troubled me for many months and I have been unable to reconcile it in my mind. I have other similar scenarios, but I have chosen the following one because I think it provides a much clearer portrayal of the greater issue that exists regarding theism. Please take this purely as a hypothetical situation:
Let’s say there exists an island in the middle of the ocean that is populated by a small colony of humans. For arguments sake, lets say that this island has layed completely isolated from all modern human societies on earth for several thousand years. That is to say, the isolated islanders have never heard the name “Jesus” or “God” or even “religion”.
A young boy is born on the island. As the islanders do not even know what "religion" is, the boy is not baptised into any faith. As he has no beliefs, he grows up taking his surroundings at face value. The boy learns through his experiences that when he is kind to his fellow humans, they are in turn kind to him. When he shares food with them, they share food with him. This behaviour makes sense to the boy as it allows everyone to survive happily in harmony with each other, and means that the boy does not have to waste excess energy hunting for all his own food and competing with the other humans for resources on the island. The boy has a happy and fulfilling life. He is kind to his fellow humans and is always willing to help them out with their problems. In return they are kind to him and are always prepared to offer him help. This system works very well for the islanders and allows them to live satisfying, prosperous lives. The boy grows up and becomes a man. He meets a girl of similar age. They fall in love, have children, raise them with loving care, and remain faithful to each other for the rest of their lives. They die having lived full, happy lives in which they always strove to do their best for each other. Using their adopted system, the islanders manage to maintain a small, working society on the island composed of caring individuals.
Now, according to the bible, all of the islanders from the above story are going to Hell. This is irrefutable and is made very plain throughout the scriptures. In fact, having no faith at all in God is considered to be an unforgivable sin which automatically warrants an eternity in Hell. There is ample evidence to support this, one of the main examples being the quote from John 3:18 - “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
So my question is as follows: Why is the bible (and God) so apparently intolerant of non-believers, even when some non-believers are clearly as kind and loving (if not more so) than actual believers? Going by the logic of the bible, there are literally billions of humans who are going to Hell regardless of the content of their character, simply because they do not know about the God of Catholicism. Dare I say it, this appears to violate even the most basic human ethics.
I understand that this is a long post, but I would greatly appreciate some form of clarification on this issue if anyone could please oblige me. This is an obvious and apparently gaping flaw in Christianity (and theism in general) that appears to go largely unaddressed. In fact, the more an individual dwells on this idea, the more it expands and spreads to form a fundamental crack through the very foundations upon which faith is borne.
Before I sign off I just wish to clarify that I myself am of a Catholic upbringing and am simply trying to make sense of this problem. Thank you very much for reading, it is greatly appreciated.