Someone posed an ethics question to me, and I wanted to get some other thoughts as well.
If I were on a pier holding a life preserver, and I saw someone drowning in the lake, I would be morally responsible to throw them the life preserver in an attempt to save their life. Right? It would be morally wrong for me to do nothing when there is something I can do that does not endanger my own life.
In the same scenario, if I am not there, but still a life preserver on the pier, why isn’t God compelled to blow a gust of wind to send that life preserver to the drowning person and save him/her? Are we held to a higher standard than God? In what way does this not contradict the fact that God is all knowing, all powerful, and all good? Assuming He is all knowing, He knows what will save the person. Assuming He is all powerful, He could do something to save the person. Assuming He is all good, why would He not intervene and let the person drown?
While this appears to be a case of special pleading, i.e., that God is being treated differently (special) compared to any human moral agent, when he ought to be held to account by the same standards, that is not the case.
The problem with the argument is that God isn’t a human moral agent, at all. He is the author of morality along with everything else that exists. Ergo, to claim God isn’t to be held to the same standard as any human being isn’t special pleading at all.
Take, for example, the difference between what God knows and is in control of compared to what the human being on the pier knows and is in control of.
God knows what happens to the person after the person drowns or after s/he is saved from drowning. God also is in control of life both before and after the person drowns. God is omniscient and omnipotent. For all we know, God may have something far greater in store for the person after they die or has the power to give a profoundly different life to the person. God also knows everything in the person’s heart, mind, and will; and knows infallibly whether the person deserves or is ready to die or not. We do not.
Those would be important differences between human moral agents and God. We are in no position to assess God’s action or lack thereof.
Part of the reason that murder, mutilation, and other forms of diminishing life are sinful is that the body is not our domain it is God’s. By harming our bodies or others we are claiming His power and His domain. When He ends life, He is not claiming a power that is not His to claim. In calling someone to Himself He commits no wrong. In ending someone’s life or callously ignoring their death, we do.
As others have said, since God created life He has the authority to decide when it’s time for that life to end, and in his omniscience sees a good that we might not, whether it be in that person’s eternal life or the effect that person’s death will have on the world.
It should also be acknowledged that at times, a person is in fact saved by an act such as wind blowing a lifesaver. Of course, most would attribute this to luck rather than God anyway. Humans have to throw the lifesaver, because they have no infinite wisdom or authority to let life end, and God might have put us there to throw it.
How about God taking on human flesh and going through it all with us, in Jesus Christ? Does that count for doing something?
Would you become an ant an be crushed under a shoe, just to save other ants?
Would you take the cancer from another person onto yourself, solely for the benefit of the other?
And what if you offered to take that cancer, and the person clung to it and refused your offer to help? Is it your fault the person refuses your help?
Why is God to blame for mankind’s pride and obstinacy?
The usual objection to this is that God can solve this problem by using his power to ensure the outcome.
And that is force, not love.
God is first love. Omnipotence and omniscience are conditioned by love.
And love does not force. Love is mutually reciprocal in complete freedom.