There is no doubt that this is a highly charged emotional question, let us at least try to look at this issue through a biblical lens (what the Bible reveals to us).
Here is what we know. All Bible believing Christians would affirm that God knows the end from the beginning and therefore has exhaustive knowledge of the future. Therefore, He creates people whom He knows will end up in hell. There is no way to avoid this conclusion.
God does indeed know His sheep and He knows those who are not (John 10:25,26) and there are indeed scriptures that talk of predestination to rebrobation – just one being 1 Peter 2:8, “They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.” In contrast, those who believe were predestined by God. Acts 13:48 says, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” Those who had the appointment, made the appointment, as they responded in faith to the gospel.
Romans 9 gives us a clue as to why God would create people knowing their final end will be an eternity in hell and that is to demonstrate His wrath and make His power known (see the passage below).
This never sits well with us when our starting point in the pursuit of truth is man and his feelings, for even as redeemed men and women, we have much more sympathy with fellow sinners than with the holiness and righteousness of God. Think about that for a moment, and I believe it will strike the heart, for we have much more in common even with a Hitler or Stalin, than we do with the holiness, majesty and glory of Almighty God, and this itself is a manifestation of our deep depravity. BUT if we make the big paradigm shift and see life, the universe and everything from the starting point of the rightness of God being glorified in all His attributes, then everything begins to make perfect sense.
I believe that with minds that are fully sanctified in heaven we will rejoice that God’s righteousness is being glorified, but here, our fallenness makes us cringe that a fellow human being, as bad as he may be, may face the judgment of God for all eternity, knowing that God knew this would be where that person would end up even before He created him. This side of heaven it is hard for us to see God’s desire to display His attributes such as His righteousness, justice and wrath as a valid reason for God doing what He does, but in heaven, I think with glorified and sanctified minds, we will not have that problem at all.
I think the following passage in Romans 9 spells it out that it is right for God to show forth His attributes, even in the damnation of “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” just as He does so through redeeming the “vessels of mercy” – certainly God thinks so:
14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
For anyone still struggling with this concept, I fully realize that you might need much more than a few short words on a blog. However, I would ask you to keep struggling (so to speak) and look through the Scriptures on this issue.
Three resources may be helpful:
1. A sermon by Jonathan Edwards called “the Justice of God in the damnation of sinners.” Though lengthy, it is well worth the effort to read it – found here.
2. I wrote an article some time back that some may find useful here.
3. For more on the doctrine of rebrobation, this one by Dr. R. C. Sproul is very helpful, especially in explaining what I believe to be the reformed and biblical understanding.