Monday, February 29, 2016

The Problem of Evil and the Free Will Defense

From guest blogger, Ezekial. 

When considering the problem of evil, a common answer is that the granting humans the free will and moral agency to make moral choices is necessary to bringing about the greatest good or perfection, and that makes evil a logical necessity of granting humans this freedom. In this view, it must be the case that it is at least possible that the amount of freedom god gives us is just the right amount.

Being in the “sweet spot” might mean that we lack the freedom (of will or action) for gratuitous evil or capacity to cause suffering, but we have enough freedom to do enough damage to make our morally good actions significant.

Consider a world in which god gave us more freedom and power, such that we can cause more pain and suffering than we do now. Perhaps we have the abilities of super-rape, murder, or the power to harm people more so than we do now. It could just be that people are more apt or willing to use the powers to do moral evils than they do in the current world. Certainly we can imagine a world in which there is more suffering as a result of human conduct, and that should be reason enough to believe that god did not give us too much freedom.

Now consider a world in which we have less freedom, such that we either don’t have the capacity for raping, murdering, and other tier 1 moral sins, or we are just predisposed against those actions so much so that it is very unlikely for a person to be moved to such actions. In this world there would be less or little suffering compared to reality, but the argument could be made that lacking the freedom to commit these evils makes the good less meaningful. God allows people into heaven because they are good, more or less. So if people don’t really have to make choices between good and evil because they are always good and have to very much against their nature to commit evil, it doesn’t make sense for god to arbitrate people to heaven or hell, because people lack the sufficient moral agency to be worthy of such a judgement. It would be like God making everyone without the capacity for evil and then rewarding them for not being evil.

There are many other arguments regarding the evil in the world that can be leveled against god, but it should at least seem plausible that god gave humans the right amount of freedom because we can think of possible worlds that are worse as a result of having more or less freedom than our world. 

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