We are told that the existence of a hell, in which much of the world’s human population will be eternally tortured is completely justified, because we are given the gift of free will and have to face the consequences of our decisions. Even if we ignore the fact that there is no logical reason why an eternal punishment is needed for temporal crimes, or the problem that individual who supposedly gave us free will seemingly created arbitrary punishments for using it in ways he does not like, we still have a problem of why we were intentionally created with a basic human nature that is supposedly worthy of nothing more than eternal punishment, in the first place.
As I understand it, it is generally accepted that because of our sinful nature we are automatically damned to hell, if not for the intervention of God acting on our behalf through Christ in order to forgive us (there is also the problem of why a God would need to be brutally murdered in order to forgive people for much prettier crimes, but that is a different issue).
Some argue it is the devil’s influence that makes humans sinful, others argue we are sinful by due to our own nature. Either way, by allowing the devil to interact with us (which God could apparently stop at anytime) or by creating such a huge capacity to sin (and putting us in a world that brings out this capacity) God has apparently insured that some subset of his creation is going to need to be eternally tortured in the hell he created. I have to ask why is the necessary. As I pointed out before, free will does not explain or excuse this.
To see why, look at another supposed creation of this same God: Jesus. Jesus we are told is a completely sinless human (at least to the extent that he is not God himself), and yet at no point are we told that Jesus lacks the free will the rest of us have. With Jesus God demonstrated that he could create a person with little to no capacity to sin. Maybe Jesus had all the sinful urges we had, but was created better equipped with resisting them, or perhaps the God component of Jesus was able to influence the human component of Jesus towards a less central nature (presumably this does not count as a violation of Jesus’ free will).
Either way, why could God not have created the rest of humanity from in a similar manner? Why make a bunch of lesser humans, that would otherwise punish severely only to have, a superior human intervene on your behalf? If you truly value sinlessness, why not create a population that features the desired traits? It seems rather cruel that a God would knowingly create individuals so flawed that he will be forced to subject them to brutal punishment, when he could make a population of Jesus-like individuals that still have the same free will, but will require no such punishment.
Of course some would argue that the world may be a more boring place if we were all like Jesus, but this leads to the unfortunate implication that God is creating people with a high capacity to sin, that he will punish them for amusement. It also ignores the fact that making the world’s people more christlike is the stated goal of quite a few Christians. It also seems to me that a God could make a population with Jesus-like ethics, but still otherwise keep a wide range of personality types, keeping the world less homogenous than one might assume. The fact that the christian God did not do this, but instead set up the world such that many of us will be eternally tortured as a consequence of his giving us free will is highly problematic to say the least.
As I have noted before, I do not believe any of this happened: I am an atheist. However I am very interested in making sense of the underlying implications of the religions that surround me.