Q&A: Objections To The Free Will Defense Against The Problem Of Evil

Q&A: Objections To The Free Will Defense Against The Problem Of Evil

 
 

(Note: Many of these arguments and statements with some modifications and additions were taken from my facebook comment on this article: http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/theodicy_freewill.html)

The most successful free will defense argues that in order to do good a person must be able to do evil. (Ex. In order to be rewarded for obedience, you must be able to disobey, for the courage you must be able to not do the courageous thing, etc.) So this would mean that there must be the free will to do evil. This would mean that God will have to take the risk of there being evil and suffering in the world for there to be genuine good deeds possible. (The Argument that  free will is required for love doesn’t justify much suffering since it only requires us to have free will in some cases and not to mention God requiring Adam and Eve to love and obey him or go to Hell/die is coercion and the opposite of genuine love by both of our standards) This seems like a highly reasonable argument at first that serves to explain a great deal of the moral evil in the world. And some Christians like C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity have argued that natural evil like earthquakes and animal pain is due to the activity of demons.

To respond:

I. God could make us disposed more to good than evil in all cases while still allowing us to have the free will to do wrong. Why did God make it so that if Adam and Eve sinned both they and their descendants would have a nature that makes it impossible to avoid sinning? Why did God not make Pelagianism true? Why not make it so that our nature and dispositions will continue to predispose us to good regardless of how much we sin? How much moral evil would this prevent?

II. What matters more to God, that a person can make several decisions to murder a child or up to decades of the child making free decisions? (In almost all cases there would certainly be more decisions allowed for the murder victim then the murderer would receive) Or the free will of a person to make a few decisions to help or not help starving people, or that of those starving people who may get to make decades of free decisions if they live? This also applies to the cases of any free decisions that would take away a victim’s free will for far longer than the criminal would get.

III. By the logic that free will is more important than horrible suffering, we ought not to lock up people who commit crimes or otherwise stop them from committing a crime in fear of infringing on their free will. This is absurd.

IV. God doesn’t need to give us the free will to do extreme evil to achieve the ends free will is said to require: raping children, rape in general, the murder of children, murder in general, etc are all unnecessary. And by giving people the opportunity to do them, God, unnecessarily increases their risk of earning additional suffering in Hell.

V. God allowing demons who have no hope to escape judgment to continue to have the free will to do evil is a horrible act of cruelty. It allows them to earn even more punishment and to hurt people (and animals?) in the meantime, with no serious benefit (if any) gained. Temptation, if it is necessary, could be done without any devils since Satan himself is said to have fallen without being tempted by anyone. Does God want to allow them to sin more so that he may have the pleasure of torturing them more in Hell just like the Quran essentially says in : https://books.google.com/books?id=ZZqPhWELmVAC&pg=PA95&lpg=PA95&dq=And+let+not+the+disbelievers+think+that+Our+postponing+of+their+punishment+is+good+for+them.+We+postpone+the+punishment+only+so+that+they+may+increase+in+sinfulness.+And+for+them+is+a+disgracing+torment&source=bl&ots=nEURtfl571&sig=ACfU3U3Dge08nxVvI7rYtw3GTY1W68UuOQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjItN3JvdrgAhVq64MKHUKtBdsQ6AEwAXoECAgQAQ#v=onepage&q=And%20let%20not%20the%20disbelievers%20think%20that%20Our%20postponing%20of%20their%20punishment%20is%20good%20for%20them.%20We%20postpone%20the%20punishment%20only%20so%20that%20they%20may%20increase%20in%20sinfulness.%20And%20for%20them%20is%20a%20disgracing%20torment&f=false  “And let not the disbelievers think that our postponing of their punishment is good for them. We postpone the punishment only so that they may increase their sinfulness.” Or is God a maximally great being?

VI. 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. (Brainwashing may be arguably a case that belongs in number II).

VII. God could have cut Adam and Eve’s offspring off and restarted life on another planet thus preventing their descendants from being affected by original sin. And animals could be put in paradise or on another planet without suffering and death with humans being fed manna from heaven, or if you can demonstrate that the fall was justified then humans could be fed with something else that is corrupted not requiring animal pain. 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.

VIII. God has no need to allow people to have any level of free will to sin in Hell. Since it is too late for them to escape what reason is required for them to have free will to earn even more torture? All of the reasons you give do not apply just like with the demons in V. And the other response to the question of how God can punish finite sins with infinite pain is that sin is ultimately against God-an infinite being which therefore requires.

— Sam

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Let me take each of these one by one.

“God could make us disposed more to good than evil in all cases while still allowing us to have the free will to do wrong. Why did God make it so that if Adam and Eve sinned both they and their descendants would have a nature that makes it impossible to avoid sinning?” — Who said God made it impossible to avoid sinning? 1 Corinthians 10:13 seems to say just the opposite “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man, and God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape so that you will be able to endure it”. It is true that we have a predisposition to sin. It’s also true that it’s inevitable we all will sin to a certain degree in this life, but each individual sin which comprises the number of sins we commit in this life could have been avoided. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says so. By the way, 1 Corinthians 10:13 is one of the strongest biblical pieces of evidence that we do indeed have the ability to choose between good (A) and evil (non-A). This verse is unintelligible on deterministic views. On determinism, there was no real way of escape. The way of escape was only an illusion. If determinism is true, then anyone who sins had no choice but to sin either because God or some other force or forces outside of their control made them.

But what if there were no sin nature? How much evil would this, in fact, prevent? We cannot say. We don’t know what this hypothetical world would be like. For all we know, perhaps there’d be just as much sin as this one. The demons would still be at work trying to lead souls to ruin (1 Peter 5:8, Ephesians 6:12-19), and the devil is how Adam and Eve were enticed even while in a state of innocence (Genesis 2). The demons might have to work than they do in the actual world if we didn’t have an inherent inclination towards wrongdoing, but it is entirely possible that the amount of sin wouldn’t be affected by much. We just simply have no idea.

Moreover, I think the argument from love cannot be dismissed in The Free Will Defense against the problem of evil. As I pointed out in my blog post “I Haven’t Met My Wife, But I Already Love Her”, love is not an emotion but a choice. The same is true for its antithesis; hatred. The freedom to love is also the freedom to hate, and certain actions flow from both. Love is patient, kind, never boasts, does not rejoice in evil but the truth, it always strives for the well-being of the one loved “it always protects” (1 Corinthians 13). 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”. 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. If he does not allow me the freedom to hate my neighbor, then I have no choice but to love my neighbor, and if I have no choice but to love my neighbor, then I am locked into the single action of caring for his wellbeing. Thus, the problem of “robot love” (as I like to call it) surfaces again.

2: “What matters more to God, that a person can make several decisions to murder a child or up to decades of the child making free decisions? (In almost all cases there would certainly be more decisions allowed for the murder victim then the murderer would receive) Or the free will of a person to make a few decisions to help or not help starving people, or that of those starving people who may get to make decades of free decisions if they live? This also applies to the cases of any free decisions that would take away a victim’s free will for far longer than the criminal would get.” 

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.

3: “By the logic that free will is more important than horrible suffering we ought not to lock up people who commit crimes or otherwise stop them from committing a crime in fear of infringing on their free will.— What applies to God doesn’t always apply to us. We are obligated to stop people from sinning if we know they’re going to, but that doesn’t mean God is. As I point out in my chapter on the problem of evil in The Case For The One True God: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Historical Case For The God Of Christianity, The reason this distinction exists is that, unlike God, we are finite in knowledge. God is omniscient, seeing the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10, cf. Psalm 139:1-4). God knows what would occur in any given circumstance and what will occur. Therefore, God may allow evil A, knowing that if He allowed A, then greater good D would occur. If God doesn’t allow A to occur, then B wouldn’t occur. If B doesn’t occur, then C wouldn’t occur, and if C doesn’t occur, then D wouldn’t occur. Evil A may be “a child drowning in the river” or “a teenager being gunned down in the streets”. As any time travel enthusiast will tell you, every event that occurs sends ripples through history. God’s reason for permitting some evil might not emerge until centuries later and even in another country! Only an all-knowing God can grasp what would occur in the future on the basis of whether or not he permits A to occur in the present. God is omniscient. We are not. God runs the universe. We do not. Therefore, we are to err on the side of caution and prevent any evil we can.

The Free Will Defense is only one facet of a robust response to the problem of evil. Greater Good Theodicy shouldn’t be divorced from the discussion. This would apply to animal pain and natural evil. God knows the ripple effect while we do not.

So, this reductio ad absurdum doesn’t succeed.

4: “God doesn’t need to give us the free will to do extreme evil to achieve the ends free will is said to require: raping children, rape in general, the murder of children, murder in general, etc are all unnecessary. And by giving people the opportunity to do them, God, unnecessarily increases their risk of earning additional suffering in Hell.”

Part of my answer to this will overlap to a certain extent with my answer to the first. Unlike those who say “Hate isn’t the opposite of love, apathy is”. I do take hate to be the opposite of love. Apathy is only the opposite of love in the sense that apathy is impassionate while love is a passion. Apathy is a lack of choice while love is a positive choice. But love and hate are two passions and choices that tug in opposite directions. It seems to me that if one is to be truly free to love to the maximal extent, one ought to be free to hate to the maximal extent. You can’t have the freedom to love your neighbor without also having the freedom to hate your neighbor. And as I explained in  “I Haven’t Met My Wife, But I Already Love Her”, love is not an emotion but a choice. The same is true for its antithesis; hatred. While love and hate can certainly spark emotions, or the emotions can spark the choices, love and hate are not emotions in and of themselves. They can either be caused by emotions in some circumstances, or doing loving actions or hateful actions can eventually bring you to feel emotional about the actions, but love and hate are not emotions. They’re choices.

If I choose to love my neighbor, I will choose to be patient with him when he does things that get on my nerves. “But patience and impatience are emotions you can’t control!” You might object. Of course, I have no control over whether I feel patient or impatient towards my neighbor, but I can choose to be patient. I can conceal my irritation at his lollygagging and not scold him for taking too long. I can overlook his character flaws and not express my anger at his pride or whatever quirks he has that annoy me. Love is not only patient but kind. When someone is in need, I am to meet their needs. If they need food, I love them by feeding them. If they are thirsty, I love them by giving them drink. If they need a place to stay while in town but can’t afford a hotel, I let them crash at my place. David Parrish showed me kindness by paying for my plane ticket and letting me stay at his hotel room so that I could attend The ETS Conference In Colorado last year. Love doesn’t boast. If I love my neighbor, I won’t rub my achievements in their face.

Most of the things 1 Corinthians 13 describes as love have to do with choices, and the very few that have to do with feelings can be interpreted as controlling or concealing your feelings for the sake of your neighbor, which is, of course, an action.

Now, if I am free to make these love choices, then I am free to make the opposite of these; hate choices. I’m free to be impatient with my neighbor; to be cruel to him (whether this takes the form of insults, depriving him of things he needs, shunning him, or even torturing him for the fun of it). I am free to be boastful; to rub my neighbor’s face in my accomplishments. “Look at how many copies my book has sold. How many have yours sold? Do people even know it exists?” “Look at how many views a day my blog gets? Yours gets, what? 20 views a day?” “Why should we take your broken down jalopy. Let’s take my Ferrari instead”. <– I don’t actually have a Ferarri unfortunately, this is just for the sake of illustration.

So…it took a while for me to get here, but here’s my overarching point: If God restricts me from hating my neighbor as much as I would were He not to restrict me, then he would be pushing me towards being more loving towards my neighbor than I otherwise would be.

Moreover, how much restriction would God need to place on a human? You mention “extreme” evils, such as “raping children, murder of children, and murder in general”. All of these examples are the opposite of loving your neighbor as yourself. They are examples of hating your neighbor. How much should God restrict our choices? Should God allow us to have the ability to beat someone up as long as we fall short of killing them? Should God allow a pedophile to forcibly undress a child as long as he falls short of raping him? Should God allow someone to be able to physically harm a child as long as it falls short of inflicting death? What about examples you didn’t explicitly mention? Should God allow a man to be able to take something that doesn’t belong to him as long as he doesn’t make it past security? If God allows the murder of 2 people, is that okay with you as long as he is not allowed to freely choose to murder 20? Is the murder of 20 people okay as long as it’s not 200? Is 200 permissible but not millions?

What is your standard of restriction? Also, why should God kowtow to that standard? If you agree that freedom to do evil is necessary for there to be genuine freedom to do good, why set a limit on the amount on evil anyway? And if a limit is to be set, how much is too much? And why is that amount too much?

C.S Lewis wrote “We can, perhaps, conceive of a world in which God corrected the results of this abuse of free will by His creatures at every moment: so that a wooden beam became soft as grass when it was used as a weapon, and the air refused to obey me if I attempted to set in it, sound waves that carry lies or insults. But such a world would be one in which wrong actions were impossible, and in which, therefore, freedom of the will would be void; nay, if the principle were carried out to its logical conclusion, evil thoughts would be impossible, for the cerebral matter which we use in thinking would refuse its task when we attempted to frame them. All matter in the neighbourhood of a wicked man would be liable to undergo unpredictable alterations. That God can and does, on occasions, modify the behaviour of matter and produce what we call miracles, is part of the Christian faith; but the very conception of a common, and therefore, stable, world, demands that these occasions should be extremely rare.”1

Besides, some theologians and apologists have argued that God has limited the amount of evil human beings are able to commit. Hugh Ross talks about this in Chapter 11 of his book Why The Universe Is The Way It Is. Dr. Hugh Ross “focuses on this challenge by pointing to how the laws of physics are designed to deliver consequences for sinful behavior. He explains that the laws of physics ensure that natural consequences cannot be escaped, including consequences that affect others. He offers that this is a powerful deterrent for many to commit evil acts. He then explains that the physical dimensions and the fact that time is linear and is unstoppable and irreversible put a limit on the amount of evil that any one individual may perform. Not only was the universe designed to address evil acts, but it was designed to keep evil actions in check, while God performed His ultimate goal of overcoming evil through Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. He concludes that a since this universe is designed to deal with evil, and evil will be overcome, then another creation must exist for those who accept Christ’s sacrifice to spend eternity with their Creator and Savior free from evil.”2

“No one enjoys seeing time wasted or being stuck with extra work or pain. The desire to avoid hardship is strong in every individual. This trait is so strong that parents, teachers, military officers, and governing authorities use extra work, pain, and time as tools to correct unacceptable behavior. Evidently, God designed the laws of physics so that the more depraved people become, the worse consequences they suffer. Such consequences impact not only the evildoer but also many others. Consider the damage done by an arsonist. Physics provide a powerful motivation (and leverage) for human authorities to limit expression of evil. If the justice system fails to isolate and restrain the evildoer, many more individuals get stuck with extra work, wasted time, or devastating pain. One critical difference ….is that human beings usually target the specific perpetrator of an evil deed. The most egregious crimes typically receive the greatest punishment which can (or should) be carried out swiftly. However, human authorities do not successfully prosecute every time. ….the laws of physics never fail to administer consequences for crimes committed. But physical laws don’t always target just the criminal and may not be swift in returning consequences.”3

Dr. Hugh Ross goes on to explain that “The Bible takes both natural consequences that arise from physical laws and the hammer of justice from human authorities. He then goes on to provide several examples in his own life in which he’s seen the physical world act as a restraint on sin.

For example, Ross wrote “The largest tree in the neighborhood where I grew up was a neighbor’s cherry tree. … Each summer it produced several hundred pounds of cherries. One summer evening, … about a dozen kids decided to steal all the cherries. …. they sawed off all the fruit-bearing limbs. Those kids suffered some serious consequences for their misdeed. The first came quickly. They ate so many cherries in the process of comitting their crime that most of them experienced severe pain in the gut. Far worse, they and the whole neighborhood suffered long-term. The tree never recovered from the trauma, and the following winter it died.”4

Another example Ross cited is the time his sons borrowed some of his tools that he inherited from his father (his father was a mechanic) and they inadvertently left them out in the yard. The tools rusted and could no longer be used efficiently. The next time anyone wanted to use those tools, they would have to more time and effort into say, screwing or unscrewing something. Or, and Ross didn’t say this in the book, they’d have to cough up some cash and replace them with new ones. In other words, they’d experience pain in the wallet. Whether Ross made his sons buy replacement tools, I don’t know. But in either case, more effort, wasted time, or pain resulted from his son’s decisions.

Finally, God may have morally sufficient reasons for allowing even the greatest of evils to be committed. Again, see the ripple effect argument/Greater Good Theodicy under my response to objection 3.

I just don’t see this as a good objection to The Free Will Defense. To set any limit on the amount of evil humans are free to commit seems arbitrary as there’s no reason to think that say, 5 rapes a year is okay, but not 300. Or 300 rapes a year are permissible, but not 1,000. Or you can beat someone up, but not kill them. There’s no reason to think that, even if there should be a limit, your limit is to be preferred over some other limit. Also, how do we know that God hasn’t already limited the evil humans can commit? Hugh Ross makes a good case in Why The Universe Is The Way It Is that were our physical world not set up the way it is, the evil in this world would be much, much worse. I highly recommend you check out Hugh Ross’ book for his full treatment on this. If Dr. Ross is correct, then God has done just what you think he should do. Maybe God hasn’t restrained it enough for your personal liking, but again, why should God kowtow to your standard?

5: God allowing demons who have no hope to escape judgment to continue to have the free will to do evil is a horrible act of cruelty. — 

This seems like a blame-shifting argument. If the demons have free will, they’re the ones to blame for whatever evil they do, not God. As I’ve said before “God is responsible for the fact of freedom, human beings [or demons in this case] are responsible for their acts of freedom.

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. This is the position the organization GotQuestions.org takes. 

As a Maximally Great Being, God certainly loves all persons, whether they be human persons, angels, or demons. Therefore, he desires all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9, Ezekiel 18:23). Whatever the reason for demons not escaping judgment, we can conclude that it isn’t that God doesn’t love his former angels and doesn’t desire them to repent.

“It allows them to earn even more punishment and to hurt people (and animals?) in the meantime, with no serious benefit (if any) gained.” — Since every event and choice that occurs sends ripples throughout time and space that we can’t even fathom, how do you know that there’s “no serious benefit (if any) gained)” from demons running about doing as they please?

“Temptation, if it is necessary, could be done without any devils since Satan himself is said to have fallen without being tempted by anyone. Does God want to allow them to sin more so that he may have the pleasure of torturing them more in Hell” — This is hypothetical. How do you know that the level of temptations would be different?

6: “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. “ — 

I fail to see how the foreordaining of our deaths is an infringement of our free will? Do you think God ought to allow us to choose the dates of our deaths or something? Or perhaps you’re thinking of instances in which a human agent is the cause of someone’s death. In the latter, Molinism perfectly solves the problem. Interested readers are directed to my paper “The Case For Mere Molinism” which I also read aloud in episode 10 of The Cerebral Faith Podcast for a full explanation and defense of Molinism. But, Molinism basically means that can sovereignty ordain the death of someone via a human agent without violating the murderer’s libertarian free will. He does this by acting on His knowledge of what any free creature would freely choose to do in any given set of circumstances.

God knows “If Bob were placed in circumstance S, he would freely choose action A over action Non-A.” God can decree that “Bob will choose action A” by actualizing a possible world in which Bob finds himself in circumstance S. As a result of being in S, Bob chooses A instead of Non-A. In this circumstance, let “A” stand for “murdering Sam”.

Let’s take the crucifixion of Jesus as an example. The Bible says “This man [Jesus] was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” (Acts 2:23, emphasis mine). The crucifixion of Jesus was deliberately planned by God, His foreknowledge played a role in the matter, but it was wicked men who put Jesus to the cross. Molinists like myself say that God knew that if Caiaphas was high priest in the first century, then he would freely condemn Jesus on grounds of blasphemy and he would freely take Him to Pilate for execution. He knew that if Pilate was prefect in the first century, then he would freely comply with the demands of the crowd. And God knew that if Judas was born in first century Israel, then he would freely choose to become Jesus’ disciple for a while and then would freely choose to betray Jesus to the Sanhedrin. God knew how all of these people would behave if He placed them in the time and places that He did. God decreed the whole thing, but the libertarian freedom of the actors remained completely intact.

Now, at this point, some readers may wonder “If God can get someone to do something via His middle knowledge, then why doesn’t He use this knowledge to put everyone in circumstances in which He knows that they always would freely choose to do the right thing if placed in those circumstances.” and/or “Why would God use this knowledge to actualize a murder?”

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.

Of course, then the question must be asked “Why then, would God create a world of free creatures? Why does God care so much about whether human beings have libertarian free will?”

First of all, love requires at a minimum, the ability to resist one’s advances. Otherwise, what you have is something akin to Stockholm Syndrome. You certainly don’t have this on determinism. Not even on compatibilism. Indeed. Compatibilism is more like Stockholm Syndrome in that the person “willingly” obeys. But they’ve been conditioned out of having the ability to even want to resist, much less having the capacity to resist. For our actions to be valued as genuinely good or evil, we must have the ability to choose. I don’t get outraged a man who knocks me down because he inadvertently tripped over his shoelace. I do get outraged at the man who freely chooses to shove me. In the latter case, he had the ability to choose not to shove me, unlike in the former case. Finally, libertarian freedom is needed for rationality and knowledge to be possible, as Tim Stratton has nicely pointed out in his FreeThinking Argument Against Naturalism.

These reasons are why God would put up with evil rather than actualize a world where He causally determines all things and always gets his way.

7: “God could have cut Adam and Eve’s offspring off and restarted life on another planet thus preventing their descendants from being affected by original sin. And animals could be put in paradise or on another planet without suffering and death with humans being fed manna from heaven, or if you can demonstrate that the fall was justified then humans could be fed with something else that is corrupted not requiring animal pain. 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.”

God could have eliminated Adam and Eve (and the other humans which were probably around at the time, since I affirm Evolutionary Creationism) and just started all over, but how do you know these people wouldn’t also fall? For all we know, anyone in Adam and Eve’s circumstances would have done the same thing. I don’t know this, but I don’t see how we can rule it out. Certainly, God knows.

As for animal pain, The Free Will Defense was never designed to even touch upon this issue. The answer to the problem of evil is multifaceted (get my book “The Case For The One True God” to see me lay out my entire theodicy). The Free Will Defense is only to address the issue of suffering inflicted by human wrongdoing. But obviously, that cannot be extended to animal suffering (unless a human is causing an animal to suffer) or natural evils like tornadoes. Some Christians do think that God cursed the universe with carnivorous activity and natural disasters post-fall (primarily Young Earth Creationists), but I see no reason to accept this explanation. Romans 5 doesn’t say Adam’s sin brought animal death into the world, it’s speaking specifically of humans. Indeed, as I pointed out in my article “Why Pre-Fall Animal Death Isn’t A Problem For Old Earth Creationism”, including animals in the passage renders an absurd meaning. And Genesis 3? God never says he would bring hurricanes and carnivorism into existence in the list of curses He pronounces. That’s read into the text.

So why does God allow non-human animals to suffer? Since my view of origins is Evolutionary Creationism a.k.a Theistic Evolution, I need to wrestle with the question of why God allowed this to happen millions of years before the fall especially. We don’t know with certainty. The Bible doesn’t give us the answer. We can only speculate. One very plausible explanation for why, specifically, pre-fall animal death was allowed was given by Hugh Ross which I quoted in my blog post “Why Pre-Fall Animal Death Isn’t A Problem For Old Earth Creationism”. Check out that blog post for the longer answer. The short answer is that God’s purpose for using evolution was to train the animal kingdom to adapt step-by-step to increasingly advanced and intelligent hominid creatures so that when human beings evolved and fell into sin, the negative impact we would have on the environment would be restrained. Now, Ross doesn’t accept evolution (he thinks each hominid was created ex nihilo), but his reasoning still applies either way.

We also mustn’t forget the ripple effect that each event has on history.

8: “God has no need to allow people to have any level of free will to sin in Hell. Since it is too late for them to escape what reason is required for them to have free will to earn even more torture? All of the reasons you give do not apply just like with the demons in V. And the other response to the question of how God can punish finite sins with infinite pain is that sin is ultimately against God-an infinite being which therefore requires.” — 

So you object to the fact that The Gates Of Hell are locked from the inside? You think God should remove peoples’ free will in Hell? That would be an injustice. To deprive them of any chance of redemption, even though they never would freely accept it and only become more and more hardened in their hatred against God over the course of time, would be cruel. If God keeps their free will intact, although the damned continue to accrue to themselves more guilt and ergo more suffering (which I talk about in my book “A Hellacious Doctrine”), at least we can say “They only have themselves to blame for not getting out of there.” If God removed free will in Hell, then it would be entirely His fault that the damned continue in their rebellion against Him.

Conclusion

I think The Free Will Defense is in good shape. None of your attempts to demolish it have succeeded.

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NOTES

1: C.S Lewis, “The Problem Of Pain”, page 16, HarperOne.

2: Quote taken from “Review: Why The Universe Is The Way It Is by Hugh Ross” by Brian Auten, August 31st 2013 — https://apologetics315.com/2013/08/review-why-the-universe-is-the-way-it-is-by-hugh-ross/

3: Hugh Ross, “Why The Universe Is The Way It Is”, pages 169-170, Baker Books, 2008.

4: ibid, page 172.

5: William Lane Craig, “Q&A: The Difference Between Possible Worlds and Feasible Worlds”, May 21st 2007, https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/the-difference-between-possible-and-feasible-worlds

If you have any questions about Christian theology or apologetics, send Mr. Minton an E-mail at CerebralFaith@Gmail.com. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Christian or Non-Christian, whether your question is about doubts you’re having or about something you read in The Bible that confused you. Send your question in, whatever it may be, and Mr. Minton will respond in a blog post just like this one. 

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