It’s the default cry of an unbelieving world. “If there is a loving God, how could He send anyone to hell?” The question is intended to end debate, but it actually reveals more of a struggle than a conclusion. After all, why would anyone denying the existence of God even bother to consider the existence of hell? If an atheist is truly settled that there is no God, then the question is irrelevant. Yet the very asking exposes a truth. In the face of the unknown, mankind is desperate to justify himself.
There is something deep within the human soul that compels us to consider the power behind life. We know we are not self-made and that presents a problem. Either we’re here by chance or we are here by design and if our origin is God then we are accountable to our Creator. In the fallen nature of man, there have been varied attempts to quell that thought. Evolution has tried, leaving a void of unanswered questions and unsatisfied souls. It has been taught for so long we forget that it’s only theory. Described in the dictionary as “descent with modification from preexisting species”, one has to ask how the preexisting species came to be?”
In 1878 Charles Darwin was asked by a young reader whether evolution “destroys the existence of God”. He responded, “The strongest argument for the existence of God, as it seems to me, is the instinct or intuition which we all (as I suppose) feel that there must have been an intelligent beginner of the Universe; but then comes the doubt and difficulty whether such intuitions are trustworthy … No man who does his duty has anything to fear, and may hope for whatever he earnestly desires.” The question Darwin failed to consider is what is man’s first duty?
Darwin was more agnostic than atheist, but it served him no better. Just two years later in an 1880 letter to a reader he stated, “Dear Sir, I am sorry to have to inform you that I do not believe in the Bible as a divine revelation, & therefore not in Jesus Christ as the son of God.” Tragic words of a tragic legacy. Darwin may have been sincere, but he was sincerely lost. His perspective never lead to redemption; not because God didn’t love him, but because he didn’t love God. The search for knowledge is noble, but the attitude that drives it is essential.
In the 13th Chapter of Acts Paul and Barnabas were finishing their first missionary journey and had come to Antioch. Many received the message of forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus Christ, but pride and envy arose in certain Jews who began opposing them. The two apostles made no apologies for the message they were carrying. They knew their Creator and in the boldness of their response we find the answer to the question of judgement.
“It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first, but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us; I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.” (vs.46-47)
That light eventually came to England within the sight of Charles Darwin whose denial influenced countless others to see nature and dismiss nature’s God. The consequences are grievous. Certainly the hope is that Darwin received Christ before his last breath. But, in that unlikely surrender, are we so prideful as to think God unjust in casting him out of His presence? Why would one who has no desire for the Savior in this life, believe he is entitled to spend eternity with Him?
It’s possible we don’t take this seriously because we give little thought to the real nature of hell. What exactly is it? Of all the things we can imagine, the worst is to be eternally separated from all love, goodness, joy, kindness, comfort, beauty, order, virtue, wisdom, peace, gentleness, holiness and truth. Hell is being completely unable to gain access to God, in whom all these attributes rest. It is a permanent existence without hope. And it is the condition from which Jesus offers salvation.
Remember Darwin’s justification to the young reader? “No man who does his duty has anything to fear and may hope for whatever he earnestly desires.” Charles Darwin earnestly desired a life separate from God. He achieved his goal to a horrifying end; all because he refused to recognize the glory of God in the world around him.
We are all free to choose, but we must understand that we own the consequences. Let no one claim that the God who walked the road to Calvary in our place is unjust. The truth is we are … and He offers redemption.