William Lane Craig on Middle Knowledge and Hell

When it comes to foreknowing our future, Craig argues that God has Middle Knowledge such that he knows “what every possible creature would do under any possible circumstances,” “prior to any determination of the divine will.”[1] So despite his protestations to the contrary isn’t it obvious that if Craig’s God has this kind of foreknowledge he could simply foreknow who would not accept his offered salvation before they were even created, and then never create them in the first place? If he did that “hotel hell” would never have even one occupant. Why not?

In question #202 at Reasonable Faith Dr. Craig tries to answer this type of problem:

Question 202:
Dr. Craig,

"How can God be considered Wholly Good, when he knowingly created the angels, the universe, and humanity, knowing that hell would be a requirement for such a world, and also knowing that a majority of people would be condemned to it for all eternity?" I believe this objection is valid because even if someone is condemned to hell as a result of their own free will, the fact is that God using his middle knowledge already knew that person would freely choose to go against God, and thus would be condemned to hell but created the person/world/hell anyway. The fate is so terrible, and the number of people who would be condemned is so high, that in my view, the only moral choice would be to either not create the universe/humanity, or not to create humanity with Free Will. --John
Dr. Craig responds:

Yours is a thoughtful and difficult question, John….But let’s press harder. Suppose the worst case scenario. What would the objection, if fully successful, require you to give up? The existence of God? The resurrection of Jesus? Hardly! It would seem to require you to give up biblical inerrancy, at least with respect to the reality of hell. That would be jarring, but it’s no reason to commit apostasy!

But maybe it wouldn’t even require that much. As you say, you could always adopt annihilationism, as some evangelical Christians have done. That would seem to solve your problem.

But suppose you think annihilationism is not the correct interpretation of the New Testament with respect to hell. What then? Well, notice that the objection presupposes the doctrine of middle knowledge. For it assumes that logically prior to God’s creative decree, He knew what any person would freely do in response to His grace. If He lacks such knowledge, then the objection can’t even get off the ground. And it hardly needs to be said that middle knowledge is a hotly debated doctrine that is not incumbent upon the biblically faithful Christian. So you can completely avoid the objection just by denying middle knowledge. I hope you’re beginning to breathe easier.
What Bill is doing here is simply saying that in order to keep one's faith in the midst of an "overwhelming defeater" then all that believers have to do is reinvent what they believe. Just jettison this or that doctrine and the cognitive dissonance will be gone. But by all means keep believing. This is exactly why Christianity has survived down through the centuries. Believers just reinvent it in every generation. Then the reinvented faith becomes the new orthodoxy. So Bill is giving this guy named John permission to do so. Forget truth at that point. Just do a little dance. Gerrymander away the problem. Do it as often as you need to in order to believe.

That being said he does attempt to answer John's question:
But suppose you think, as I do, that God has middle knowledge. Here my response, as you note, is that those who would freely reject God’s love and forgiveness and His every effort to save them and so damn themselves forever, against His will, should not be allowed to have a veto power over God’s creating a world in which multitudes of other people freely accept His grace and are saved. Why should the blessedness and joy of those who would be saved be prevented by what evil and intransigent people would freely do? Why should they be allowed to prevent an incommensurable good?

Your response is that unbelievers “did not ask to be created, and had they been presented with the stark choice of Non-Existence and Eternal Conscious Torture they would undoubtedly choose Non-Existence.” This response seems to miss the thrust of my answer. Of course, the damned would prefer not to have been created! Obviously! But my question is why such persons’ freely rejecting God should be allowed to prevent the blessedness and joy of those who would freely accept God’s salvation? These people shouldn’t be privileged over those who would love and want God.
There's more to his answer of course, it's just that I cannot chase all of his claims down the apologist's rabbit hole right now. Let it suffice to say that he's has a very selfish perspective here. Christians are themselves quite selfish when it comes to heaven. All they care about is that they get in. It doesn't matter much if others don't. While they might try evangelizing a few times in their lives the only thing that matters is that they get into heaven regardless of whether or not their family, friends and co-workers do.

It's not whether non-believers would prefer non-existence to an eternal suffering in hell. It's that agape loving Christians should prefer non-existence rather than knowing their family, friends and co-workers will end up in an eternal hell.

Caring Christians themselves should all rise up as one and demand an answer for why God created this world at all knowing so many people would end up in hell. If I were a Christian I would protest God for creating this world even if I ended up in heaven. I would rather that God never created anything at all than for him to create this world, if my family, friends and co-workers were to wind up in hell along with billions of other people. If I were a selfless agape loving Christian I would gladly have preferred non-existence than an existence in heaven for me knowing the eternal sufferings of so many others in hell. That's selfless agape love. Christians do not have it and neither does their God if he created this world on the backs of the screams of billions of people in an eternal hell.


[1] William Lane Craig, “Middle Knowledge, A Calvinist-Arminian Rapprochement,” in The Grace of God, The Will of Man, ed. Clark H. Pinnock (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1989), pp:141-164.