God and Vengeance

By Rowdy Otto Riemer

Vengeance is something instinctual. The desire for it motivates animals to act against those who might harm them. The threat of vengeance helps motivate other animals to refrain from inflicting harm. The only reasonable purpose for punishment is to motivate others to improve their behavior, and the desire for vengeance provides us with the will to provide such punishment. Vengeance has no intrinsic value beyond this.

So why would vengeance be so important to any god? Why would a god need an instinctual desire for vengeance to guide his/her creation? Wouldn't a rational assessment of how much punishment is needed to coerce the creation lead to more appropriate levels of punishment? While animal or human sacrifices might satisfy the petty need for vengeance, how does that really serve the purpose of behavioral modification.

Why is there value in punishing sinners for eternity? If so many are supposedly headed there because of their sin, then obviously the threat of hell isn't working. If the threat of hell is doing so little to change people's behavior, what good is it?

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