“Assuming god exists and assuming a person has a soul, if god created everything, including hell, god also created the rules by which the universe operates, including the criteria by which souls are judged. Since everything happens according to god’s will, god is ultimately responsible for everything, and that must, by logic, include whether or not people go to hell. Therefore the decision to send anyone to hell is made by god.”
I have heard/seen this objection made in many different ways, but the criticism is essentially the same. God is the one to blame. If anything, some critics will say, God is the one who deserves to be punished. By the way, I have seen/listened to the episode where I believe this little excerpt originated. A woman professing to be a Christian (to be polite, I will simply say she doesn't come across as very knowlegeable) called in and Dillahunty presented her with this logical chain. He walked her through each point, phrased as a question. Did 1. God create everything? She said yes. 2. Did he create the rules including the criteria by which souls are judged? Yes. 3. Does anything that happens go against God's will? She said no. From there, Dillahunty concluded (and I think rightly so, based on the caller's answers), that God is ultimately responsible for everything that happens and therefore, the fault is with God, not the person who is sent to Hell. At that point, the woman said "That's missed up." Dillahunty agreed with her and laughingly said, "Yeah, logic is a real pain."
In response to Dillahunty's logical chain, Rob Coulter, a self-styled "independent atheist" said, "For me, this means that god is judgmental and vindictive, not kind and merciful" (http://www.weareatheism.com/rob-coulter/).
Now, here is something you might not have expected me to say--I agree with them. That is, based on the criteria that Dillahunty has provided, I think Coulter's response is a fair one. If God is the one who set up the game, and the one who determined the rules of the game, and everything happens according to his will, then he is responsible for everything, and that makes him responsible for some pretty awful stuff, not the least of which is that he creates people and sends them to Hell for doing things that he made them do. While I think his conclusion makes sense given his premises, I disagree with the premises (I also dislike the way it is framed, as a "game'', but I will leave that alone for now). And just for the record, if one can show that even just one of the premises is faulty, then the conclusion becomes irrelevant. I will argue that two of them are problematic.
First of all, I take issue with premise two, that God "determined the rules of the game." That makes it sound as though God arbitrarily picked from a selection of possible rules. He could have made it so that up is down and murder is right, but he chose to make it the way we experience. However, that is not the Christian view. Rather, the Christian view is that God himself, his very nature, is the standard of all that is good. It isn't that there is a standard of goodness apart from God that he perfectly lives up to it, always making good decisions. No. The Christian concept is that the very notion of what it means for something to be good has to do with the relation of that thing to God's totally perfect nature. That means that the "rules" aren't arbitrary, but reflect the very standard himself. Now, I can imagine that Dillahunty might say, "yeah, but he chose to make it the case that those who violate the standards are damned to Hell. He could have made it so that didn't happen." Here again, I feel like there is an unfortunate mis-characterization of the Christian view (a straw man). People aren't judged by an arbitrary standard, like that kid on the playground who makes up new rules to avoid losing. And guilty people aren't punished because God randomly picked a universe where justice requires that evil be punished, but because His perfectly holy and just nature demands it. A universe where evil is allow to exist and God doesn't punish it is a universe where God is neither holy nor just.
Next, I take issue with premise number three, "Everything happens according to God's will." Notwithstanding the ongoing debate between Calvinists and Arminians about precisely how the sovereignty of God cashes out, I feel confident in saying that almost no Christian would accept this premise, at least not without tremendous qualification concerning what is meant by God's will in different senses. Most learned Christians would probably not even want to answer the question (as he phrased it on the program) the way it is worded, due to the ambiguity of what is meant by "according to God's will." They would likely want to ask something like, "Are we talking about his will as expressed in sovereign decrees, via his moral precepts, or played out in reality through his permissive will?" The rhetorical power of the chain as Dillahunty has it laid out comes from the assumption that "everything happens according to God's will" means God decrees everything that comes to pass because he wants it to be that way, and nothing happens that he has not decreed and does not want. Again, very few Christians I know of would accept that. Most, including most determinists (in my experience) would argue that though God's sovereign decrees cannot be thwarted, God's moral will is regularly violated (when people sin), and that this is because he allows, for a time, evil to exist within the provision of his permissive will.
And those who would accept premise three on it's face, the most strict theological determinists, will still maintain that even though God determines everything, freedom of the will is totally compatible with determinism, and that, because of this, human beings bear the burden of responsibility for their actions. That is a whole other can of worms. But even if we suppose, just for the sake of argument, that Dilahunty's point goes through in demonstrating the inconsistency of strict theological determinism (because many Christians who are not deterministic would argue the same way), it wouldn't necessarily say anything about the rest of the Christian world that doesn't subscribe to determinism. So it is really an insufficient premise to accomplish the ends that Dillahunty is after.
Thus, while I am quick to agree that the conclusion would follow from the premises, I simply cannot accept the premises. Rhetorically powerfull as it may be, this logical chain ultimately boils down to a couple of straw men masquerading as Christian views. And while it might be good for ratings to debunk mis-characterizations of the Christian position, it doesn't have any impact on the coherence of true Christianity.