James Palmer asks: “Isn’t the idea of total depravity that we completely deserve eternal conscious torment, so giving us that is justice, rather than evil?”
It may be. But that point means something very different for an Arminian than for a Calvinist. To consider the problems with the Calvinist position further let’s consider an analogy.
The year is 2114. Geneticist Dr. Maximus Amore writes up two different strands of DNA and grows two human beings in an artificial womb. He gives the first individual, Millard, all sorts of genetic abnormalities which will make it highly likely, if not certain, that he will develop sociopathic personality traits. In addition, he bequeaths upon Millard fetal alcohol syndrome by injecting toxins into the artificial womb. Finally, he restricts the personal contacts open to Millard in his upbringing and provides him with no positive role models or meaningful social bonds.
All the opposite is true of Wayne. He has the full advantage of his genome and a great upbringing in a loving family.
On their 18th birthday Millard and Wayne are sent out into the world. Soon after Wayne is enjoying his first semester at Brown University, excelling in all his classes with a rich social network. Millard, by contrast, is arrested for murdering a convenience store clerk.
As we place Millard in the dock to answer for his crimes, is it plausible to say they are his sole responsibility? Is it plausible to suggest that Dr. Maximus Amore bears no responsibility? Is it meaningful to say that Dr. Maximus Amore is a perfectly loving doctor?
Calvinists offer something much more extreme. Not only did God predispose human persons to behave in certain ways, but he is the primary cause of their acting the way they do. Every thought that enters their mind, every movement of their pinky finger, is predetermined by God the primary causal force behind all their thoughts and actions. Thus, if we find a problem with the actions of Dr. Maximus Amore, do we not find greater difficulties — multiple orders greater — when we contemplate the actions of God in Calvinism? And isn’t it completely missing the point to focus on the culpability of the human agent as the secondary cause of their evil action when all the while God is the primary determining cause of that action?