Since as I have explained before, the email I last sent was incomplete I shall give a better one now with my responses and some additional arguments presented. I also wish to explain my purpose here. My goal is not to expound upon the power of the problem of evil or to refute the greater good theodicy (although I plan to try my hand at that in the end) my goal only to refute the idea that the free will theodicy/defense (I shall use those words interchangeably, I mean theodicy to be clear.)
Just to get the love issue out of the way.
I. Hate may be the opposite of love, but indifference/apathy is an option as well. You say that “If love can be defined at a minimum as “Seeking the well-being of others”, hatred can be defined at a minimum as “Seeking the harm of others.'” I can choose to seek the wellbeing of someone else or ignore it. You don’t have to have the option of going against the well being in order to have the option of seeking it. You can have the option of doing nothing. If I have the option to donate blood or not, refusing to do so doesn’t mean I am “seeking the harm” of people in need of blood. (Although it would very selfish to not do so) In order to give an example not requiring suffering, I could show affection to a loved one or not do so without necessarily causing suffering much less seeking harm.
II. This is the Bible’s full description of Love you mention: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8.)
This is a great passage and I certainly rank it as one of my favorite passages in the Bible however the relevance here is that you argue that love cannot work without us having the temptation to do the opposite: “If God is to allow genuine freedom to love my neighbor as myself, he must allow me the freedom to hate my neighbor, and to flip 1 Corinthians 13 on its head; i.e to be impatient, cruel, envious, boastful, proud, easily angered, keeping a record of wrongs, rejoicing in deception.” But if love is a behavior, we wouldn’t have the temptation to do any of these things in Heaven and thus the behavior of love will cease there!! And further God doesn’t have any of those temptations thus rendering him not loving according to your standard.
The “No Free Will in Heaven” objection is incredibly powerful against your view. For the view that love is more of an emotion (and yes we can choose our emotions to a great degree-I do it all the time) we can choose to love God on earth and then we will have thus have freely made a commitment to him thus eliminating our need for the relevant freedom. However your view requires not only the perpetual freedom, but the perpetual temptation to sin in order for us to continue to perform the action of love by resisting them. But presumably temptation implies suffering which is to be abolished in the end times (Revelation 21:4). And it also requires according to your thesis, that the other people in Heaven possibly be harmed. (Or are they displaying love only to the people in Hell?) So a reasonable way of interpreting the text is to say that the evil related forms of love are simply how it is displayed in a fallen world thus meaning love does NOT inherently require the ability to impose suffering on others.
I. As I have argued before, in a previous discussion, we may not know the exact amount of moral evil us having a better nature would prevent, but we observe that the better people’s nature are, the less they do evil and the more good they do. You can appeal to mystery, however the more the mysteries pile up the worse things look for the free will defense. (And I hope to have piled up quite a few of them by the end of this.) Feel free to throw it on the greater goods theodicy, which will be dealt with later.
II. “What matters to God isn’t the number of free choices we make in this life, but that, when faced with good and evil, loving God or spurning God, being kind to our neighbor or being cruel to him, we genuinely possess the ability to do either one.” What? God doesn’t care about the fact that a elementary school child was robbed of many chances to do good to their neighbors or choose to love God? Hopefully not.
III-IV. These objections seem to have blended together to some level. The point is that according to you it is more important that criminals be able to “choose between good and bad” and “show genuine love” a few times then it is that little kids not be raped and traumatised for life, school children be murdered in cold blood while they are no doubt screaming for their moms, that it is more important that people be able to choose to donate to charity then for children to not be left to starve to death, etc. To merely speak it aloud, is to reveal it’s utter absurdity.
And not only that the criminals could have been offered less harmful moral choices that would allow them to “show love.” The fact that I cannot give you an exact, objective standard as to when the line should be drawn is irrelevant. I know that it is somewhere in between allowing an obnoxious internet troll to call people morons online and allowing children to be raped. A distinction between God’s duties and our duties is irrelevant, the point remains why should the government try to stop crimes from being commited if it is more important that criminals be able to “choose between good and bad” and “show genuine love” a few times then to avoid the suffering that attends those crimes? The answer is because we all know that it isn’t more important.
Just to really ram the point home I recently developed a new parable to illustrate the absurdity of the free will defense. I call it The Parable Of the Negligent Governor:
“There once was a Governor who on trial for gross neglect of duty. He had deliberately and intentionally refused to stop crimes no matter how severe, despite the fact that it was easily within his power to do so. Children were hacked to death with machetes, raped, tortured, etc and the governor didn’t lift a finger to help. Hundreds of angry or sobbing people who had just lost their children or had their children’s lives ruined testified against this governor and his conviction seemed certain. However, his lawyer came up in order to give the FREE WILL DEFENSE for the governor’s actions or lack thereof. After giving an eloquent speech on how having free will is required for love and for our actions to have genuine moral worth he argued this:
‘You see it is more important that these criminals have the free will to show genuine love by resisting anger and choose between good and evil a few times then it is for children to not be hacked to death with machetes, or raped, tortured, etc. If the governor prevented them from having the free will to torture, murder, and rape children then where do we draw the line? If you took this principle to its logical conclusion we would have to use electric helmets in order to stop people from even thinking thoughts that go against the government’s purpose. So the governors allowing the criminals to choose to show love by restraining their anger by not committing those horrible crimes and choose between good and evil a few times is more important than not letting children be tortured and murdered. Therefore you should not punish the governor but instead decorate him with awards and praise.’
Neither the judge nor the crowd was impressed with this line of argumentation. The crowd was outraged and was calling for the highest punishment the law could give. The prosecutor didn’t even bother to make his case saying the defense lawyer had already done more damage to his clients cause then he ever could. The judge sentenced the governor to death by hanging without a moment’s hesitation. And the lawyer had his law degree revoked by the university he got it from.”
Although this isn’t fully a fair comparison. After all, the governor wasn’t responsible for the fact of the criminal’s freedom, and he didn’t in his middle knowledge set up the circumstances in which he knew that the criminals would freely choose do those horrible crimes. (All for “the greater good.”) And he didn’t get to choose which temptations could/would be provided to the criminals, with the possibility of them having equal temptation to do far less evil-and therefore not having their free will to make moral/loving decisions infringed at all!! So I conclude that the God of the free will defense is more immoral and more unjust then the negligent governor who didn’t lift a finger to stop little children from being raped, tortured and hacked to death with machetes because he didn’t want to infringe upon the criminal’s free will by doing so. If this argument succeeds this drastically reduces the “raw material” of suffering that is alleged to come from the free will defense, thus making the greater goods theodicy even less plausible.
V. For the demons having no need for free will argument, I am not blame shifting at all. As I have said before I am not excusing the demons an inch. They had the full and adequate ability to not sin so hence moral responsibility is present. However, God is responsible for the fact of their having freedom. You have argued in another conversation that the demons need to have free will for the same reasons we do. However, the 3 reasons you gave don’t apply to them having the morally relevant free will. If they are doomed to Hell, and cannot be saved what is the point of allowing them to do good works, to love, etc? It wouldn’t help them and it will be swept aside in Hell if they do it. (If they can do those at all.) And even if free will is required for rationality (which it isn’t) that requires only an irrelevant type of free will that has nothing to do with causing suffering to others or doing any evil actions.) All it does is allow them to doom themselves to more torture.
You write that: “I don’t think any of the fallen angels will escape judgment. I don’t know why and The Bible never gives us an answer. We can only speculate. Perhaps God provided no means of atonement for the demons because He knew they all would reject it even if escape were offered. Perhaps they are so far absorbed in their own selves, their hearts are so hard, their hatred of The Almighty so intense, that any attempts on God’s part to get them to repent with the exception of coercion would be in vain.”
(Notice that: “Perhaps God provided no means of atonement for the demons because He knew they all would reject it even if escape were offered.” Contradicts your thesis that that it is a good thing for God to offer opportunities to escape even if it only means that people/devils will only sin more and earn more eternal pain.) The second reason you offer is that: “Perhaps they are so far absorbed in their own selves, their hearts are so hard, their hatred of The Almighty so intense, that any attempts on God’s part to get them to repent with the exception of coercion would be in vain.” Ah, but couldn’t God remove the mental self-absorption and hatred without violating their libertarian free will and allow them to freely choose to accept or reject him again? So it looks like your stuck with the first option.
For the question of the ripple effect feel free to throw the mystery on the greater goods theodicy. For the temptation levels, God could simply have one or more of his angels give people any amount of temptation he wants in order to test them.
VI. You misunderstood this objection. I am not discussing the issue of God’s omniscience and our free will that is 100% irrelevant. I am arguing that: “The fact that God foreordains (see Psalm 139:16, Job 14:5 and Deuteronomy 32:39) people to die young, permits brainwashing, allows certain types of (mental) illness, etc proves that God has no problem infringing upon our free will or with allowing it to be infringed upon.” You seem to have focused on the foreordain part and assumed I was talking about God’s omniscience vs our free will. I was not. I was simply pointing out that if a person dies young they lose free will decisions. I wasn’t even talking about cases of murder, I was talking about people dying young of diseases and such natural occurrences that takes away countless chances for them to make free decisions to choose between good and evil and show genuine love.
And what of the others: “permits brainwashing, allows certain types of (mental) illness, etc?” I would also add the issue of why he allows people to be knocked unconscious and thus stopped from making free decisions as well. After all if free will is so important, then why let people become knocked unconscious? Heck, why allow sleep at all? Why not make us not need it at all? We can design computers that can run 24’7 why can’t God design brains/souls that can do the same giving us far more opportunities to choose between good and evil and show genuine love. Feel free to throw yet another mystery on the greater goods theodicy.
This shows exactly how much God cares about humans being able to make a few free decisions to “show genuine love” and “choose between good and evil” a few times, when it is inconvenient to his goals… NONE!! (Or at least very little). If the world we observe around us is so utterly inconsistent with God caring about our free will, what happens to the argument that God cares so much about our free will that he just has to allow children to be raped, tortured, murdered, etc all so that people can have the free will to choose love/choose between good and evil?
VII. I will deal with the Adam and Eve/transworld depravity issue below.
For the animal pain issue, I was specifically aiming at your argument that animal pain is necessary in order to prepare the world for a “super sinful predator” which presupposes that animals must feel pain in order to avoid danger. However I responded to this already:
“Animals could be put in paradise or on another planet without suffering and death with humans being fed with non-living food, or plants. Or he could just not have created animals at all if their not even going to Heaven at all. (What is your position on that issue?) And finally animal pain is unnecessary-even in this world because God could make sure that animals avoid dangerous things by giving them a strong sense of joy in trying to escape dangerous things with no need for any suffering involved to motivate them.”
VIII. I now have to refute the view that it is moral to give wicked people ways to escape-who you know for 100% sure will abuse this privilege and in fact only condemn themselves to more torment because of it. Assuming that explicitly and clearly saying this hasn’t already refuted it, I answer that if this is the case then it is a great act of mercy and goodness for the government to give second chances to people who they know for 100% sure they will abuse the privilege and will have to be put in jail for even longer. How loving is that? Would you like to have your tax dollars used for that purpose? Would that be a worthy cause to donate charity for?
Perhaps I should make another parable? A government deciding to give criminals who are in jail for 5 years more and more chances to get out early that they know for 100% sure the criminals will abuse (in prison but they also know that the prisoners will won’t be a threat outside it) until the criminal become worthy of capital punishment? Is that a loving action? I hope this isn’t seen as rude or mocking, that isn’t my intention, my goal is to illustrate a point.
You write that: “If God removed free will in Hell, then it would be entirely His fault that the damned continue in their rebellion against Him.” That couldn’t be more wrong. This is how it should be written instead: “If God removed free will in Hell, then it would be entirely from his abundant mercy and kindness-but consistent with his perfect justice- that the damned serve their time and then be allowed to cease to exist. (Or be put into a sleeplike state where they are not conscious at all. Or they could be put into a conscious state where neither pain or pleasure are felt.)” Or if some of them will eventually repent then God could continue offering them chances until they accept it. If that would be all people universalism would be true. Either way, the doctrine of Eternal Conscious Torment seems incompatible with the goodness and love of God.
IX. “Love me and obey me or I will burn you in eternal conscious pain or obliterate you from existence” is coercion. Even the strongest compatibilist would consider this an invasion of free will. How is this consistent with your thesis that free will is required for love and morality? You yourself give an example in “Why no one should worship God if Calvinism is true” of a case of compulsion not being free:
“Let’s suppose you had cancer or something but that your dirt poor and couldn’t afford treatment. A stranger comes to up you on the street with 5 billion dollars in their hand and says “I saw your video blog on Youtube about your problem. I recently won the lottery and won 5 billion dollars in cash. I thought you could use the money more than I could. So here, take it.” And you take the money. You start weeping tears of joy because you know that you now have a fighting chance at making it out of this alive. You thank the person for his abundant generosity, and find yourself incredibly impressed at this person’s love for a person he had never even met! The reason you’re happy is because you got money needed for expensive treatment (and most likely much more). But the reason you’re impressed is because this person gave up money that most people never have in their possession, and yet he didn’t have to. He doesn’t know you from Adam and yet he gives up his fortune to help you get treatment. This is why you consider him a man of great love and generosity.
“Now, let’s flip the story around a little bit. Let’s say that you had a relative who personally knew this lottery winner and one day, he went to this lottery winner’s house. He puts a gun up to the lottery winner’s head and explains the situation. He tells him that if he doesn’t give you all of his winnings, he would shoot this lottery winner in the head. So, despite the fact that this person doesn’t want to give up his money, he goes ahead and does it anyway in order to save his own life. Now what is your impression? Is your impression that this man is a really good person? No. You’re not impressed. You don’t feel any love or affection from this person at all. You don’t consider him to be a kind and generous person as you would in the other story. Now you know that he just gave the money to you out of obligation. Because he was forced to. He didn’t give freely, and that’s why it doesn’t mean anything to you.”
Simply replace the gun with the threat of being burned alive, and you have an excellent analogy for the coercion Hell represents. (Although Hell is eternal and never ends on your view so this is only a proper analogy for annihilationism, your view is in even worse shape.)
Now I promised a rebuttal to the greater goods theodicy. I will first quote you on it:
“William Lane Craig explains that “Alvin Plantinga was the first contemporary philosopher to apply this scheme to the problem of evil. In response to J. L. Mackie’s claim that since a world in which everyone always chooses to do the morally right thing is intrinsically possible, an omnipotent God should be able to create it, Plantinga pointed out that for all we know such a world may not be feasible for God. Indeed, for all we know, all the worlds which are feasible for God and which involve as much good as the actual world also involve as much evil. Hence, although a world with as much good as the actual world but with less or no evil in it may be intrinsically possible, it may not be within God’s power to create such a world. Hence, God cannot be indicted for not having created such a world. The atheist who pushes the problem of evil would have to show that worlds with as much good but less evil are feasible for God, which is beyond anyone’s power to prove; it is sheer speculation. Thus, the atheist has failed to bear his burden of proof.”5
What Plantinga and Craig argue is that, for all we know, ANY world God could create that has billions of libertarian free creatures, some would cooperate with God’s will while others would freely choose to disobey. Thus, although a world where everyone always does the right thing is logically possible (hence God knows about it in His natural knowledge), it’s not feasible for God to actualize (and hence, He knows not of this world in His middle knowledge), and therefore cannot make it actual. In any world of free creatures, there would always be some who go wrong. I’ve applied this possible/feasible worlds distinction not only to the problem of evil, but to The Problem Of Hell as well (see my book “A Hellacious Doctrine: A Defense Of The Biblical Doctrine Of Hell”).
I think it’s actually quite plausible to think that a world where this much good without also this much evil is infeasible for God. When you consider that our actions and circumstances influence those around us, and that there are trillions and trillions of things going on right now, both big thing and little things, and billions of people all influencing each other in an unfathomably complex web of interactions, there may very well indeed be no world available for God to create in which no one ends up doing evil. I think this is quite plausible.”
This is an absurd and weak argument against the evidential problem of evil even if it succeeds against the logical one. In the first place, we observe that when people have a great deal of power to create things they want and want something really badly it is very rare that they so drastically fail. The more the result fails to conform to what a powerful person supposedly wants to happen the stronger the evidence that the person doesn’t really want it. The more a very powerful and very intelligent government fails at a simple task of reducing a certain type of drug use, for example, the more evidence we have that the government doesn’t really want it.
I can totally see William Lane Craig responding to this: “You have no way of knowing that, it is just sheer speculation. You don’t know the exact range of options the government had. The drug war skeptic has failed to bear his burden of proof.” (This is not about the real drug war let’s not get into that!! It is about a hypothetical one by a government that is great a reducing crime and fails miserably to do so in this case.) The fact that chaos theory is involved helps to some degree sure. However God could create an infinite amount of people each in an infinite amount of circumstances and you think that God couldn’t create a world where people don’t freely choose to sin, or even one where if they did sin they would do so, far less and one where those who do sin all come to repentance. Or maybe even one where the majority of them don’t end up in Hell (Matthew 7:13-14.).
And to make matters even worse I do know that according to the Bible transworld depravity is false. If Transworld Depravity is true what about all of the angels who freely choose not to fall? (2/3 of them to be specific). And further, why would God create a world where Billions of people interact? Why not create however many worlds he wants with each one containing only 10 people who interact together? He could only create the ones who will behave properly and freely choose to never sin. And even if he couldn’t do that he could dramatically reduce the number of sins committed and make sure all of those who sin come to repentance.
So I think The Evidential Problem Of Evil is in good shape. None of your attempts to demolish it have succeeded.
I. You write “You say that ‘If love can be defined at a minimum as ‘Seeking the well-being of others’, hatred can be defined at a minimum as ‘Seeking the harm of others.” I can choose to seek the wellbeing of someone else or ignore it. You don’t have to have the option of going against the well being in order to have the option of seeking it. You can have the option of doing nothing.” — It’s true that apathy is an option as well, but as I have said in other articles on this site, apathy is the opposite of love, albeit in a different sense than hatred is. Hatred is the opposite of love in that hatred seeks the opposite of what love seeks. Love is patient. Hate is impatient. Love is kind. Hate is cruel. Love is not self-seeking. Hate is. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Hate keeps a record of wrongs. Hate is the opposite passion and opposite seeking-of-choices. Whereas love, at a minimum, seeks the well-being of an individual, hatred, at a minimum, seeks the harm of an individual.
But apathy is the opposite of love in that apathy doesn’t care. While love and hate are opposite passions, apathy is completely impassionate. Clearly, impassionate is the opposite of passionate. Inaction is the opposite of action.
I don’t see how this is relevant. For apathy, while different from hate in-and-of-itself, manifests much of same negative effects in the external world as hate. If you refuse to come to the aid of someone who is under attack, you might as well have killed him yourself. Or to use your example, if you chose to show no affection towards, say, your wife, she would become just as lonely (and miserable) as if you divorced her. In fact, The Bible even says that you show hatred towards your children through the inaction of refusing to discipline them (see Proverbs 13:24), because in not disciplining them they grow up to be spoiled, self-entitled, disrespectful pricks. The inaction in this case not only negatively affects your children, but those who will have the misfortune of interacting with them. Thus, not raising them to be good citizens has the same outward effect is if you purposefully taught them to be bad. Your option of donating blood is irrelevant unless you’re in a rare circumstance in which the person has an unusual blood type, you have that same blood type, the doctors ran out of it and can’t get more for another 24 hours, and the patient that needs it has lost a lot of blood and needs a transfusion within an hour or he’ll die, and the doctors ask you to give. Then I would argue that you would indeed have a moral obligation to that person, and your inaction would be just as destructive as if you walked into the emergency room and drove a dagger through his heart.
True, not all apathy will have negative outcomes as the above examples. We can think of many examples in which neither positive nor negative effect would come about. For example, my not giving money to a particular ministry wouldn’t make them go bankrupt if a lot of other Christians gave. But, I can also think of many examples in which apathy would be just as negative as hatred, as in the above examples.
So, suppose God gave us free will to be either loving or apathetic, but not hateful. You would still have evil in the world come about if people choose the latter.
II. You wrote “But if love is a behavior, we wouldn’t have the temptation to do any of these things in Heaven and thus the behavior of love will cease there!! And further God doesn’t have any of those temptations thus rendering him not loving according to your standard.” — What do you mean by behavior? If you mean external actions resulting from a choice, then love is a behavior. If what you mean by behavior is that love is a certain tendency to be a certain way, such how as psychology defines certain “behaviors” resulting from mental disorders, then love is not necessarily a behavior in that sense, though it certainly can be (and should be), especially for followers of Christ. I suspect you’re using the term “behavior” in a psychiatric sense given that you say that if we love, we wouldn’t have the temptation to do anything opposite of that.
But love is not a behavior in the sense of having a tendency to be loving. To love someone, all you need to do is to choose to seek out their well-being. You can make that exercise of the will even if you’re characteristically selfish, strongly dislike the individual, or are totally apathetic towards them. You can volitionally make yourself be kind to them, not show irritation at their flaws, you can make yourself hold back your temper, you can make yourself protect that individual, and so on. If you have a tendency to do these things, that’s good! But you can have the tendency to do the opposite and still, through an act of volition, make yourself love.
As for free will in Heaven, who says we won’t have it there? Inspiring Philosophy made a video called “What Is Heaven?” in which Michael Jones argued that we will still have the freedom to sin, but because the redeemed will have known how awful sin is, and how gross it is in the full, unadulterated presence of God, we just won’t sin. We still can sin, we just won’t. In Michael’s words, we’ll find it as appalling as eating feces.
In my blog post “Will We Be Able To Sin In Heaven?” I wrote “Another possibility is that even if we could make the free choice to sin, we wouldn’t want to sin. There would be a complete lack of motivation to sin. Frank Turek argued this in a lecture I heard a while back on YouTube, in which he was asked this same question in the Q and A segment. Sin is often a shortcut to try to get what we want. But in Heaven, we won’t be lacking in anything. We won’t need to steal. There won’t be any sex because there will be no marriage, see Matthew 22:23-30, so there won’t be any desire to have sex, and therefore there won’t be any sexual sin. Because there won’t be any marriage, there will also be no divorce between couples (so we know the sin of divorce will be impossible) and there won’t be any adultery, and so on. We’ll have everything we need. Taking this line of thought further, when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, they thought they were lacking something. They believed the serpent that they had something to gain by eating the fruit.
As an analogy, you could steal food from somebody. It’s entirely possible for you to do so. But if you have cabinets full of food, you most likely would not make that free decision because there’d be no reason to. You’d have no reason to steal food if you have an abundance of food already. People with pockets full of cash would just buy the big screen TV instead of stealing it in the dead of night.”
You wrote “In the first place we observe that when people have a great deal of power to create things they want and want something really badly it is very rare that they so drastically fail. The more the result fails to conform to what a powerful person supposedly wants to happen the stronger the evidence that the person doesn’t really want it. The more a very powerful and very intelligent government fails at a simple task of reducing a certain type of drug use for example, the more evidence we have that the government doesn’t really want it. “ — God cannot force someone to freely do something. That is a contradiction in terms and not even God can do the logically impossible.3 If all feasible worlds God has available to him, people would exercise their free will to do bad, then it is simply the case that God cannot, no matter how badly He wants to, actualize a world in which libertarian free creatures always freely choose to do the right thing. Now, of course, God could create a world in which everyone does the right thing, but only if He forces them or determines them to, which would rule out free will, which would rule out the possibility of love, moral accountability, and rationality.
If it is true that all feasible worlds of libertarian free creatures have some that go wrong, then God has a choice; either create one of these worlds and ensure that whenever something bad occurs, something good can come out of, or He can create a puppet world in which no one has any choice but to obey Him. If He chooses the latter, you have a world without sin, but you also have a world without love. If He chooses the former, you have a world with love, but you also have a world with sin. In either case, God is going to have to make a trade-off. Would it really be loving for God to create a world where love is impossible?
You said “And to make matters even worse I do know that according to the Bible transworld depravity is false. If transworld depravity is true what about all of the angels who freely choose not to fall? (2/3 of them to be specific).” — How does the fact that only some of the angels rebelled disprove Transworld Depravity? Are you under the impression that Transworld Depravity means that any feasible world God has available to him, every individual falls into sin? That’s not what TD is. It could still be the case that any world God could create, some of the angels would rebel and others would not. Perhaps different angels would have partaken in the rebellion in different worlds.
You said “And further why would God create a world where Billions of people interact? Why not create however many worlds he wants with each one containing only 10 people who interact together? He could only create the ones who will behave properly and freely choose to never sin.” — Maybe he could. But perhaps these worlds would have overriding deficiencies that would make them less preferable to God. Maybe God wants a large family instead of a tiny one. Maybe that’s why he told Adam and Eve “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the Earth.” (Genesis 1:28).
Let me remind you that The Free Will Defense is aimed at the logical version, not the evidential version.
Neither the logical nor the evidential versions of the problem of evil are in good shape. There are a couple of major thinking missteps you’ve made in entire your critique. First of all, you’ve made the mistake of treating The Free Will Defense in isolation from the other defenses I’ve given against the evidential problem of evil, such as
(1) the fact that we are not in a position to make a judgment that God probably has no good reason for permitting the sufferings we observe given our cognitive limitations,
(2) that the various arguments for God’s existence cause the scales of probability to tip overwhelmingly in God’s favor (particularly the Moral and Ontological Arguments), for The Moral Argument shows that there really is no such thing as The Problem Of Evil unless God exists, and the Modal Ontological Argument only requires that A Maximally Great Being be logically possible to succeed.
and (3) The Bible teaches certain doctrines that make God and suffering more probable (I. God’s primary purpose for us is not happiness in this life, but knowledge of Himself. God uses suffering to bring many people into the Kingdom. II. That suffering often times plays a crucial role in sanctification, III. that God will one day do away with evil and suffering).
I would argue that insofar as the evidential version is concerned, these responses are far more important and much stronger, especially when you consider them together rather than considering them in isolation. In your defense of the evidential version of the problem of evil, you hardly engaged with these points at all.
Secondly, apart from treating The Free Will Defense in isolation from other responses I have given in my published work on the Problem Of Evil, you’ve also made the mistake in taking The Free Will Defense to task for not refuting the evidential version of the problem of evil. It was never designed to do that. It was designed to take down the premise in the logical version of the argument which says “If God is all-powerful, He can create any kind of world He wants”.
2: Tim Stratton said this in his blog post “Does True Love Require Libertarian Free Will? A Response To Greg Koukl” — https://freethinkingministries.com/does-true-love-require-libertarian-free-will-a-response-to-greg-koukl/
3: “His Omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to Him, but not nonsense. This is no limit to His power. If you choose to say, ‘God can give a creature free will and at the same time withhold free will from it,’ you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words, ‘God can.’ It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but nonentities. It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain,
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