As I said before, I believe as long as a person is alive, there is hope for them. I believe that God can work miracles and can redeem anyone at any time, thus there is always hope.
So I'm thinking: Do I respond to that or just let it go? He has to know that I think that statement is absurd and unfounded. I struggle with it for a day. This morning I decide to address his assertion in a polite and tactful way.
As an non-believer I have to wonder, while God can work miracles and redeem anyone at anytime, why he doesn't seem to do this very often. Why not just make the person good and bypass the costly trial and the horrible prison time?
The reason of free will doesn't make sense to me. If he gave us free will then why intervene at the most inopportune moments to insert his will? To teach us lessons about life? Why would that be necessary if he just interfered sooner and make us good, productive, happy people? And why do it for some people and not others?
It makes better sense without entering God into the picture. Some people are bad as a result of genetics or environment. (Sorry, I know this is very simplistic.) Sometimes these unfortunate people can be rehabilitated if they are mentally healthy and want to be helped. If religion helps them, great! Some people need that kind of structure and fear to help them be good people.
Others cannot be helped. They are damaged beyond repair, mentally handicapped, or criminally insane. Nothing reaches these people. God doesn't talk to them, or if he does he's not saying anything good or productive to help them. These are the tragedies of every society, of every country, and of every religion. My observation is if God is helping these people then his record is extremely poor.
If all criminals in prison were miraculously helped, then I would agree with your statement. I would believe in an intervening, benevolent God. But when it looks like he helps only some people and not others with no clear reason and no clear pattern, then it looks as if there is no such God; just a God who doesn't care, or no God at all. Logically that makes better sense.
I do think there are ways to decrease our prison populations. It involves better social programs and education. That's extremely simplistic, but we have to start somewhere.
I'll post his response.