• Relativist
    446
    The argument from evil is an inference that a 3- omni God cannot exist, because this is inconsistent with the presence of so much evil in the world. Theists reject this with the "free-will" defense, which suggests that God "had" to allow evil because it is a necessary consequence of free will. My argument defeats this defense based in Christian doctrine:

    1. Logical contradictions do not exist.
    2. If x exists then x is not a logical contradiction (converse of 1)
    3. Omnipotence entails the ability to directly create any contingent entity whose existence is logically possible.
    4. There exist contingent free-willed souls in heaven who do not sin (e.g. the departed souls of faithful Christians). (Christian doctrine).
    5. Therefore God's omnipotence entails the ability to directly create free-willed beings that do not sin.
    6. Therefore God could have created a world of free-willed beings who do not sin
    7. In this world, evil befalls the innocent due to the sinful acts of free-willed individuals
    8. God created this world instead of a world of free willed beings that do not sin.
    9. Therefore God chose a world with needless pain and suffering.
    10. Therefore God is not omnibenevolent.
  • EnPassant
    76
    What you are saying is that God can allow creation to be free and not free at the same time, which is not logical.
  • Rank Amateur
    555


    Theologically, you are missing the concept of forgiveness. Imperfect beings are forgiven their imperfect acts of free will.
  • Relativist
    446
    EnPassant/Rank Amateur -

    Please address the actual argument and tell me what premise(s) you disagree with.
  • John Doe
    166
    Please address the actual argument and tell me what premise(s) you disagree with.Relativist

    They are addressing your argument. If you provide no epistemological justification in favor of adopting your form of argument -- in this case, you jump straight into an attempt to prove a variety of truths about the nature of evil, free will, God, suffering and the world in under ten propositions -- then your interlocutors are under no obligation to adopt your preferred form of argument in order to dispute your reasoning and conclusions.

    I think what you've written here is a decent try at rebutting one particular form of one particular argument that some theologians have made historically. But you seem to think that this would extend to (a) defeating all possible theological arguments on the point (rather than attempting to show that one particular theological argument is self-defeating on its own terms); (b) your argument having actually made definitive statements on its own merits (about God, free will, etc.), rather than merely showing some possible contradictions in a felonious theological argument.
  • Relativist
    446

    Premise 4 is based on Romans 6:7:
    " anyone who has died has been set free from sin"

    1John3 also supports this. It also shows that we will be like Christ, glorified and pure - i.e. improved and therefore not diminished in any way, while a lack of free will would be a diminishment.
  • Relativist
    446

    Epistemological justification for adopting this form of argument:
    it is a valid deductive proof (as far as I can tell, although I admittedly skipped a couple steps - such as from 4 to 5, because they seemed trivial), so the conclusion is necessarily true if the premises are true. Further, the truth of the premises is more plausible than the converse - so it's reasonable to believe them (again, as far as I can tell).

    I'm not claiming the argument has dialectical efficacy - i.e. that it can persuade a Christian. Rather, it is reasoning that a person should consider who is having doubts about God as a result of considering the problem of evil. The free-will defense is often presented as a defeater of the argument from evil, and I'm presenting this as a defeater of THAT defeater.

    I agree it doesn't defeat all possible theological arguments, just the one I alluded to. I'll add that the "free will defense" only addresses the evil performed by free-willed individuals; there are other evils in the world - but that's beyond the scope of this discussion.

    There is a tension between God's omnipotence and his inability to create free-willed beings that do not sin. It's the crux of my argument, and it also has bearing on the atonement. This also is beyond the scope of the present discussion.
  • EnPassant
    76
    Please address the actual argument and tell me what premise(s) you disagree with.Relativist

    This does not seem to be logically airtight-

    4. There exist contingent free-willed souls in heaven who do not sin
    5. Therefore God's omnipotence entails the ability to directly create free-willed beings that do not sin.
    6. Therefore God could have created a world of free-willed beings who do not sin



    4. they freely chose not to sin but could have chosen otherwise. Their choice was not determined by God, it was a free choice.

    5. Omnipotence allows them to be free, it does not force them to desist from sin. The lack of sin is by their own choice, not God's omnipotence

    6. He did create a world of free-willed beings who do not sin and do sin


    Your argument is that God can make us free but determine the outcome of that freedom. Your argument is mostly logical except for this point. The choices must be made by created beings themselves and not determined by God. But, ultimately, God's omnipotence may create a world of free beings who do not sin, if all fallen spirits return to heaven. In other words, God may be in the process of doing just what you are saying, but that process requires a temporal fall from grace. 'All will be well, and all manner of things will be well' Julian of Norwich.


    Freedom is a necessary part of goodness.
  • FreeEmotion
    122
    8. Therefore God chose a world with needless pain and suffering.Relativist

    I believe this is the heart of the matter. Who is to say that the pain and suffering is 'needless'? Suppose it serves a greater good? Suppose when we all get to heaven we agree that a little suffering helped us to grow closer to God? Isn't God and only He, the ultimate judge on what is needless or not?

    Ahh the quote I was looking for:

    "God judged it better to bring good out of evil than to suffer no evil to exist."

    Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/saint_augustine_158175?src=t_suffer

    I do not take suffering lightly, indeed I hate it, however the possibility of the above still exists.
  • Relativist
    446

    "Your argument is that God can make us free but determine the outcome of that freedom. "
    That is not my argument. If God's knowledge of the outcome entails being determined, then the non-sinning souls in heaven do not have free will. But if there are non-sinning free-willed souls in heaven, then such beings can exist without contradiction. Omnipotence implies God can create any contingent thing that does not entail a contradiction.
  • Relativist
    446

    "Who is to say that the pain and suffering is 'needless'? Suppose it serves a greater good? Suppose when we all get to heaven we agree that a little suffering helped us to grow closer to God? Isn't God and only He, the ultimate judge on what is needless or not?"

    This is the heart of the problem of evil. We see evil all around us, with no apparent good coming out of it. A committed Christian can always rationalize it in terms of God "having a plan" beyond our understanding, but that is a non-answer to the question of "why?" The simplest answer to the " why? " is: the Creator is indifferent or he lacks the ability to prevent it. So while I acknowledge that strong faith can provide a reason to reject the argument from evil, it doesnt satisfy those who develop doubt and seriously entertain the possibility there is no God.
  • EnPassant
    76
    But if there are non-sinning free-willed souls in heaven, then such beings can exist without contradiction.Relativist

    They are in heaven because they freely chose not to fall with the rest of creation, not because God made it impossible for them to fall.
  • Relativist
    446

    "They are in heaven because they freely chose not to fall with the rest of creation, not because God made it impossible for them to fall."
    Is it impossible to fail in heaven, or are the souls in heaven changed in some way?
  • EnPassant
    76
    Is it impossible to fail in heaven, or are the souls in heaven changed in some way?Relativist

    I don't know. But maybe they choose to surrender the freedom to fall. Origen of Alexandria says that they remained loyal to God by free choice.
    If all are eventually saved then maybe, at the end of time, 6. in your post above, will be finally realised.

    btw, there are two 6s in your post. I'm talking about the first one.
  • Relativist
    446

    Are you really choosing to give up free will, or is that an unexpected consequence? Is it a good thing to lack free will? Why bother with suffering on earth (a consequence of free will) for our brief stay here, while spending eternity as robots? If it's good to lack free will, why ever give people that chance to fail?

    Thanks for spotting the numbering error. I corrected it.
  • EnPassant
    76
    Are you really choosing to give up free will, or is that an unexpected consequence?Relativist

    No, I don't think so. They would give up the freedom to sin but would still be free in infinite possibilities of goodness. Like an alcoholic coming to the realization that everything good can (if with difficulty) be found in sanity and sobriety.
  • Relativist
    446

    "They would give up the freedom to sin but would still be free in infinite possibilities of goodness. "
    Why wouldn't an omnibenevolent God just create beings like THAT - without a freedom to sin, but free in infinite possibilities of goodness?
  • EnPassant
    76
    Why wouldn't an omnibenevolent God just create beings like THAT - without a freedom to sin, but free in infinite possibilities of goodness?Relativist

    Because freedom is necessary if goodness is to be freely chosen. Created beings must choose for themselves, God cannot make the choice for them. In time and space all creation is involved with this choice.
  • GreyScorpio
    98
    There exist contingent free-willed souls in heaven who do not sin (e.g. the departed souls of faithful Christians). (Christian doctrine).Relativist

    I believe this premise is flawed. How can you have contingent free-willed souls in heaven who do not sin. Heaven would not allow sinners or sins in it at all, if it is this magical haven of goodness that religion portrays it to be. If this is true then those who are in heaven do not have any free will because they do not sin rather than they do not sin because God created them. You can't have a free-willed soul in heaven it is just illogical. Free will entails making decisions between possibilities, therefore, these possibilities could be anything between ultimate good and ultimate sin. But how can you ultimate sin in heaven? Disagreeing with this would then make Heaven illogical which is somewhat a foundation of your argument.

    Therefore God's omnipotence entails the ability to directly create free-willed beings that do not sin.Relativist

    God couldn't both create beings that do not sin and give them free will at the same time because not every decision in the world is going to be between options that are not sins.
  • Relativist
    446

    "freedom is necessary if goodness is to be freely chosen. "
    Sure, but that's a tautology. We make choices every day, sometimes choosing good and sometimes bad. At death, we stop having these choices (according to your theory). What good comes from this brief period of moral freedom? Is it good because some will fail and suffer damnation? That makes no sense.
  • Rank Amateur
    555
    but that's a tautology.Relativist

    i do not see how,
    Because freedom is necessary if goodness is to be freely chosenEnPassant
    is a tautology, it is saying something quite different - It is not real goodness if it is not freely chosen.

    If I put a gun to your head and tell you to give the beggar a dollar, did you do anything good? Or if I promise you $1,000 if you give the beggar a dollar, and you chose to believe me, did you do anything good ?
  • Relativist
    446

    Do you agree with the both of the following:

    1. If there are free-willed souls in heaven, then:
    at least some of them will sin & Romans 6:7:
    (" anyone who has died has been set free from sin") is false

    2. If the souls in heaven do not sin then they lack free will.

    I think you will agree, but I'd like you to verify.
  • EnPassant
    76
    At death, we stop having these choicesRelativist

    Not necessarily.
    What good comes from this brief period of moral freedom?Relativist
    Great good. If we become good we will be closer to God in the next life.
  • Relativist
    446

    "i do not see how, "Because freedom is necessary if goodness is to be freely chosen"
    is a tautology"

    It just defines what it means to be a free choice. A free choice is only free if there is freedom.

    " It is not real goodness if it is not freely chosen."
    This seems a different statement, but I disagree with this one. I don't see a good thing must be freely chosen to be considered good. Hypothetically, a robot that follows Asimov's 3 laws of robotics can still do good, even though it cannot choose to do harm.
  • Rank Amateur
    555
    This seems a different statement, but I disagree with this one. I don't see a good thing must be freely chosen to be considered good. Hypothetically, a robot that follows Asimov's 3 laws of robotics can still do good, even though it cannot choose to do harm.Relativist

    then the person who programmed it, in one way shape or the other chose to do good, not the robot.
  • Relativist
    446
    At death, we stop having these choices — Relativist
    Not necessarily. — EnPassant
    You previously said, "They would give up the freedom to sin but would still be free in infinite possibilities of goodness" This seems to imply we stop having these choices to sin or not.

    What good comes from this brief period of moral freedom? — Relativist
    Great good. If we become good we will be closer to God in the next life. — EnPassant
    You seem to be suggesting it is a good thing to be close to God in spite of a loss of moral freedom. Well and good, but then why not create beings with that absence of moral freedom to begin with? Then everybody wins: this results in more good than the merit system God devised - a merit system that results in good people suffering. How is God's merit system better than what I proposed?
  • Relativist
    446

    Are you suggesting Christianity is incoherent (since Romans 6:7 is generally accepted), or are you suggesting the souls in heaven lack free will? I can't tell what you're disagreeing with.
  • GreyScorpio
    98
    Both, in a sense. I was countering that particular premise because your argument depends on souls having free-will in heaven. Which has to be impossible because heaven is supposed to be the haven of goodness and obviously would not allow sin, but if we have free will then we have the potential to do and think bad things so bad and evil would still exist in Heaven which is not logical.
  • Relativist
    446

    OK, Thanks. I agree that my argument is tied to that premise, but if the premise is false this just changes the problem.

    Assuming the souls in heaven lack free will: If the ultimate fate of good people is to live eternally without free will, then why would God ever put us in a state of free will? Less good comes of it because it results in some good souls unnecessarily experiencing evil done to them on earth, and it results in some souls choosing evil and not receiving a good, eternal life with God. It's a contingent fact that God put this system in place, and it does not exhibit maximal goodness. Therefore God is not omnibenevolent.

    Assuming the souls in heaven HAVE free will, then Christianity is false.
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