Saturday, November 03, 2007

WE ARE LIVING IT RIGHT NOW: Evil (Part 2: The Free Will Defense)

The Free Will Defense to the Problem of Evil

(It should be noted before you read this that I am only posing thoughts/concerns and am not presenting solutions. In all honestly I have not even fully presented all that is entailed in the Free Will Defense, nor have I listed all of my corresponding concerns. This being said, I welcome antagonistic comments, just don’t be disappointed if I already agree with your statements.)

As mentioned in my last installment of “We Are Living it Right Now” I mentioned that I am reading and working through the problem of evil.

To review, the problem of evil is as follows:

1) God is all powerful
2) God is all knowing
3) God is good
4) Evil exists

Statements 1-4 seem to be logically incompatible, for if 1-3 are true then my first expectation would be that 4 is false. Life testifies to the truth of 4, and strongly so. Thus, it seems that at least 1, 2, or 3 must be false, for if 1 is false God just couldn’t have prevented evil; if 2 is false God just couldn’t have foreseen evil to avoid it or didn’t know how to do so; if 3 is false then there is no reason for God to avoid evil since he is not necessarily opposed to it.

The most frequently espoused response that I have encountered to this problem is what is known as the “Free Will Defense.” This defense essentially states that for God to give us true freedom of choice, there must be the possibility that we will choose to do that which is evil. For God to mettle in our decision-making in any way, even so as to avoid evil, would compromise our free will.

Today I just want to mention three critical thoughts that concern me and make me hesitant to embrace this as a theodicy (a theodicy is defined by Webster as a “defense of God's goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil.”)

First of all I do not think the Free Will Defense is Biblical1 (and I should probably state here that it is my conviction that God has truly revealed Himself in the 66 books of the Protestant Christian Cannon2).

My second concern is that the Free Will Defense limits God’s power by affirming that it is impossible for Him to create creatures with free will and guarantee that there will be no evil. Is this really “all-powerful?” (proposition 1)

My third concern is that the Free Will Defense (and various other defenses) come down to an assertion that it is better to have freedom of will than freedom from evil (including pain and suffering). God is a still a good God (proposition 3) because He created us with free will, and this outweighs the evil (proposition 4) that results from it.

Or let me pose my third concern this way:

Is it better to be “robbed” of free will or to go to Hell? The free will defender must affirm that it is the later, and this I cannot do.

(Since drafting this blog I have decided to post further thoughts on the Free Will Defense in my next blog. I would love to hear your comments on this blog so that I can keep them in mind or speak to them next time.)

1. This is because the Free Will Defense assumes incompatibilism, which means that God’s Sovereignty and free will cannot coexist. Though the terms “Sovereignty of God” and “Free Will” need more definition than I chose to give here, it will suffice to say that I believe that they can coexist and that indeed this is what Scripture teaches, a view known as compatibilism.

2. I know that many of my readers may take issue with me on this, and I only ask that if you are one of them that you suspend judgment and do not write me off until some time in the future when I am able to explain my view of Scripture more thoroughly. I trust that if you truly take interest in the content of this blog then you are intelligent enough, open-minded enough, and tolerant enough to grant me this.


Blogger Justincredible2u said...

Well said, sir. I "stumbled" on your blog from somewhere else.

I affirm your thought process and look forward to your future discussions on the subject.

9:59 AM  

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