Problem of evil: Is free will defense adequate


As you already know, The problem of Evil appears to be one of the biggest problems to the theist philosopher. In trying to explain why god, if one exists, would allow evil to occur they[theist philosophers] have appealed to free will [I am of the view we have no free will as I have written in different posts here] as their line of defense to explain away evil.

Theist philosophers like Platinga and Swinburne argue that it is necessary to have evil in the world to enable us employ our free will in a significant way. They argue that in a world where our choices are between different level of goods, the world will be a playpen. They claim

[..] the existence of moral evil is permitted by God so as to preserve human free will, without which a host of significant goods – including self-determination, moral responsibility, and relationships of love and friendship – would be forever unattainable. [Trakakis Nick, The God Beyond Belief (pg 274)]

I don’t know if they really believe this, I find it absurd that one would claim that a loving god would create us with free will, allow us to commit horrendous evil against each other, so that we achieve can freely employ our freedoms in the slim hope that a heaven exists where we will live in eternal bliss with this god. Was it impossible for this god to create us in this state of bliss? Does this god have sadistic tendencies that he wants to fulfill and for his entertainment likes to watch men and women butcher, rape, maim, torture and kill each other just so that he can tell himself it ain’t my fault, they employed their free will! Free will my ass!

Why, for example, would a perfectly loving god with omniscient capabilities want such a state is beyond me.

My question therefore is, do you think the free will defense for existence of horrendous moral evil is successful in explaining why a loving god would not intervene to prevent such evil from occurring? Would a moral person with the power to stop such evil act with indifference as the supposed god seems to play aloof?

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

39 thoughts on “Problem of evil: Is free will defense adequate

  1. Free will does not support evil. Claiming that it does is only necessary if you wish to validate a god who is testing you. The god of Abraham never claims to be testing, only that you must accept him as the only true god. If testing was the point, the flood and Sodom et al would never be needed. The commandment to stone sinners to death would not be necessary. The laws of the god of Abraham contravene the free will defense of evil, and does not explain the harm wrought by nature on mankind.

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  2. john zande says:

    We spoke about it yesterday, but if this god (in this scenario) is capable of stopping evil, but doesn’t, then itself is morally bankrupt and evil… and should be put to death.

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    • makagutu says:

      Basically you are not granting this supposed god elbow room to exist?

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      • john zande says:

        Hell no. No rational person would, or should. Asked to accept “omnipotence” yet then shy away from questions as to why this omnipotence can’t be (morally) demonstrated… It’s a bull shit argument. It falls completely apart when we talk about the suffering of animals. They didn’t “fall” as the Abrahamic religions would have us believe. Why, then, do they suffer evil?

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        • makagutu says:

          In a different defense, the theodicists argue that fall of man affected all life and that is why animals suffer to even if their suffering is pointless.

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          • john zande says:

            Fuck that as an argument. If man had some miraculous dominance over all animals we should be able to command them with a single thought. If they are going to suffer because ‘we’ screwed up then there should be some evidence that all creatures great and small are ours to control. To demonstrate the error in this outrageous thought I’d urge a Christian apologist to command a Great White Shark.

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          • makagutu says:

            The christian may use a dart gun you know 😀

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  3. Mordanicus says:

    The fundamental issue with this “free will defense” is that we do not and cannot know whether there is actually such free will. Futher the “free will defense” presume a libertarian rather than compatibilistic conception of a free will. The compatibilistic version of the free will, in short, states that determinism and the free will are not mutually exclusive. If this version is true then the “free will defense” colapses.

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    • makagutu says:

      I don’t think any version of free will except the one where we don’t have free will is correct. Given that state, FWD did not even lift it ass off the ground.

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      • Mordanicus says:

        I am agnostic in regard the existence of the free will, I do not see how we can ever know for sure in either way. Thus theologians have to assume the existence of free will in order to make the FWD. However, the more assumptions you have to make, the greater the chance that your theory is wrong.

        In science we try to find evidence to check whether our assumptions are correct or not. This is why science has progressed, but theology is recycling arguments which have been refuted centuries ago.

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        • makagutu says:

          The biggest problem with this theodicies is when they are considered as a group then one realizes they are incoherent just the same way the theologians have a difficulty in describing a coherent god.
          I just don’t think we have free will. My question would be is inherent in all us or do we acquire it later in life and at what point?

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  4. racheljaber says:

    Now you two, john and makagutu, is there such a thing as freedom?? For once i agree with you. There is no such thing as free will. We do alot of things lying that we wanted to….well, you sure did because you had alot of factors, positive and negative, playing a part in that what you wanted to do.
    Can someone show me someone who is free of society? Independent of world perceptions? We do everything willingly without coercion not because we have free will. We live by standards we found, moral jargons dictated by long dead men who were out to fulfill their self- interests but who non the less were wise enough to know that norms once set imprision generations and generations because people choose to live more by faith rather than rationality…why? Coz living unbound by social standards brings more enstrangement than following the majority…
    Does following the majority equate to free will??? It amounts to slavery. From my perspective, whatever they call free will is slavitude. It only differs on who’s slave we are. We are all slaves of society (if you duspute, tell me which country is constitutionless and who lives there. Tell me who was born by the wind and escaped that moral lesson that starts at age zero and never ends). Some of us are slaves of religion, it only differs what religion. Others are slaves of culture, it only differs with what part of the world you came from. We all are slaves of our own thoughts and slaves to our greatest enemies, ourselves.
    Hence, free will is a void entity that represents a miss conception of what REALLY IS as what majority of the world would rather have , PSEUDO-EXISTENCE

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  5. Debilis says:

    As someone who accepts the free will argument, I think it should be pointed out that don’t see a refutation of it here. Perhaps I simply missed it, but this page simply seems to be an argument from incredulity.

    It seems a contradiction in terms to say that God could create free creatures that always do exactly what he wants. Nor do I think the idea that God is indifferent simply because he doesn’t forcibly stop evils. I know many a good parent that, when their children go off to college and make a string of bad decisions, refuse to forcibly stop the situation.

    Also, which argument from evil is being defended here? Is this the claim that God (if he existed) would have created a world without any evil in it, or the claim that God would have created a world with less evil than we see?

    I’m not convinced that either of these claims can be supported, but responses to them would need to be somewhat different.

    Last, by which system of morality does one determine what is evil–or whether any can be said to exist at all? What is the support for that system?

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    • makagutu says:

      I apologise for not been precise. That said, howver, which version of free will do you ascribe to? And in what way does free will account for any natural evil? You say this page is about argument from incredulity, can you show examples where this is the case? I think you missed my point by a mile. I said apologists have resorted to among others the free will defense to explain away evil in the world and try to make it coherent with an omnipotent god and this line of defense I find to be ineffective.

      It seems a contradiction in terms to say that God could create free creatures that always do exactly what he wants

      Am sure I didn’t say anything of the sort. The question I asked and I ask what stopped an omnipotent god, if one existed, from creating sentient beings whose choices are between different degrees of good? Are you suggesting that this is the best world your omnipotent and omniscient god could create? If god can prevent evil and he doesn’t then he is more than indifferent, he is malevolent, sadistic and a fiend. Such parents as you mention are irresponsible and I wouldn’t want one as such as my parent nor would I wish someone have such a parent!

      which argument from evil is being defended here?

      Which one were you responding to? I think the title of the post is very precise. I asked is the free will defense adequate in explaining the problem of evil?. How is this not clear?

      Last, by which system of morality does one determine what is evil–or whether any can be said to exist at all? What is the support for that system?

      For the purposes of this argument let us your system. Tell me what you think is evil and then go ahead to explain to me how that sits with an all loving and omnipotent god unless your conception of god is different.

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      • Debilis says:

        I don’t claim that free will explains natural evil. Personally, I’m not aware of the argument having ever been used that way. From the examples you gave (butchery, rape, torture, murder), I had thought we were discussing human evil. But, I’d agree that it isn’t a useful argument against natural evil.

        The free will argument is based on the Christian moral system. That is, relational proximity to God is synonymous with good. As such, the only way God can create beings which are freely in relation to him (which is what love requires), is if he gives them the opportunity for abandoning him. But this is what evil is. Thus, forbidding evil would mean forcing humans to freely love God, which is a contradiction.

        You are certainly allowed your opinions about parenting, of course, but this position would need to be supported. Personally, I feel that a parent who never allows a child to make any bad decisions at all is not a good parent. If the argument from evil is to go through, however, it needs to be shown that I am wrong about this.

        In my question, I was wondering if you were referring to the logical problem of evil (which is what Plantinga’s argument is meant to address), or the probabilistic problem of evil (which is slightly different). I would have assumed the former (given that this was Plantinga’s topic), except that it has been abandoned by naturalistic philosophers. It is generally assumed that arguments like Plantinga’s answer it, and the probabilistic problem of evil is the only argument worth advancing at this point.

        But, I thought it would be putting words in your mouth to assume you agree with the bulk of philosophers on this point, and decided to ask. That being the case, which of the two were you advancing?

        As for moral systems, I’ve already touched on my own, which is centered around forming loving relationships with God and others. Under this system, it is a direct contradiction for God to create free creatures which are incapable of evil. But, if there is some other system which can be demonstrated as binding on conscious beings (such as God), and under which evil would not be necessitated by free will, this would be a devastating argument against Christianity.

        Obviously, I’m not aware of such a system, but would agree that finding one would be the best line of attack for the naturalist.

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        • makagutu says:

          I apologise if I was not clear earlier on. I must have written somewhere else where I said the logical problem of evil is believed to have been answered by Platinga. The logical problem stated loosely is

          God is omnipotent; God is wholly good; and yet evil exists. There seems to be some contradiction between these three propositions, so that if any two of them were true the third would be false. But at the same time all three are essential parts of most theological positions: the theologian, it seems, at once must adhere and cannot consistently adhere to all three.

          to which Platinga, in his response aimed to

          not only to expose the flaws in some formulations of the logical argument, but to also put forward an argument of his own in demonstration of the logical compatibility of God and evil. To this end, he constructed his well-known free will defense, the heart of which is the claim that it is possible that it was not within God’s power to create a world containing moral good and no moral evil.

          That said, going back to the examples I gave, what benefit would an omniscient god accrue by creating humans with the ability to cause such evil to one another? Why in creating humans did he create them with a disposition to commit such horrendous evil?
          If I create you with the ability to abandon you, why would it be evil if I acted thus? Don’t you think the responsibility should be placed right where it belongs and that is at god’s, if one exists, doorstep?
          If in the bible, which is used as the basis of god’s teaching, we have god intervening like in the case of Jonah, why then would you argue that it is contradiction. Either god has not intervened in human affairs and there is no contradiction or he has intervened before and can intervene again. Which is it?
          I don’t agree with Platinga’s response for two reasons. One the theist when it suits him says we can’t know the nature of god, two I don’t believe we have free will unless you are saying god has free will which I would then ask in what way does, if god were to exist, would it have free will?
          To answer your question on which one am I advancing. Both cases.
          I don’t think there is a christian moral system. Morals exist necessarily. I think as long as we have societies where people live together, they will develop a system of morals and this has been true of our race even before the christians showed up.

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          • Debilis says:

            Okay, greetings once again.

            I should say at the outset that I don’t mind if you want to press both the logical and probabilistic problems of evil, but please be clear which is being discussed in a given moment. When in doubt, I’ll tend toward the logical version for the time being.

            As to why God would create people with the ability to abandon him, that is the nature of free will. Love is not love unless it is freely chosen, and it is not freely chosen unless one has the ability to chose otherwise.

            But I don’t think one can blame God for the actions of people. If you were, say, a businessman who’s accountant is caught embezzling, it does not make the crime your fault because you gave her the power to alter financial records by hiring her. I don’t see a way to get from “you gave me freedom to choose” to “my choices are your moral responsibility”.

            As to intervention, I believe that it is within God’s power to do so. I merely question the idea that humans have much of an idea when and how he should do this. What is the optimal balance of proximity to the divine and acts of evil? I don’t claim to know. It is plausible, and certainly possible, that evil helps people understand what good is, and therefore is useful in our freely moving toward the divine.

            That being the case, I simply don’t see a contradiction between a God who has the goal of the maximum number of people to freely choosing to be with him and the existence of evil.

            But, yes, I am one of those theists who says we don’t know everything that God knows. But that shouldn’t be relevant to the logical version of the problem of evil. It asserts that there is a definite contradiction between God and evil. Therefore, it should be able to demonstrate that based on what we do know about God (assuming his existence, of course). The probabilistic version has a similar problem, but this comment is long enough without going through it.

            Free will is a different matter (as far as knowing what it is). When I say that God has free will, I mean it in the sense that we have free will. He has the ability to choose his actions, so long as they aren’t self-contradictions, or contradictions of his nature.

            I agree with you that morals exist necessarily (as morality is part of God’s nature). I also agree that all societies develop morals. What I don’t understand is how this shows that there is no Christian moral system. Surely, one could develop a moral theory centered on Christianity?

            But, it is more to the point that you seem to think morality is simply a system of social customs which allows a culture to prosper. With that as our basis of morality, I don’t think we can press any version of the problem of evil. Not only is God not a member of any human society, and so not within the “jurisdiction” of any particular morality, but this is the position that evil is illusory. That is, evil is simply what human societies have decided is disadvantageous for them. It makes no sense to then ask why evil exists. On this view, it does not exist ontologically, but is purely epistemic.

            Okay, I apologize for the length of that.
            But, best to you in any case.

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          • makagutu says:

            To start off, I don’t think one can choose to love. You just love or you don’t love. I can’t wake up and say am going to love my grandmother, no, it is something that develops over time. In this case therefore I don’t think you can appeal to free will.
            Why can’t god be blamed? If he is the author of a defective programme the responsibility is his fair and square. You can’t transfer it to humans unless you say we are sharing that responsibility. The analogy you use misses the point. The businessman do not have the same powers god is said to have and you and me know you’d not employ an accountant who would embezzle funds.
            On this post I was addressing the free will defense to the problem of evil. Here, you’ll find my commentary on all sorts of defenses to the problem of evil.
            The logical problem of evil that you mention I have answered in the link attached. And even then god is culpable. Are you suggesting that this is the best an all powerful and all loving god would do? If as you say you can’t know the mind of god why then defend his existence? Why try to explain away evil? Why think of him,why worship him?
            So god can choose his actions and he can wake up one morning and decide to drown everyone? I don’t get this! Please explain to me first how god has free will and then how we have free will. I don’t mind if the response is long, just as long as you explain to me this.
            I can grant you that a person can develop morals based on christianity my only worry then is either you have to cherry pick parts of the bible law that you find agreeable and omit those like stoning your neighbor for working on Sunday and other such absurd laws. In this sense then I don’t think you need christian laws, you rationalize what to follow and what not to follow. Christian morals I don’t think is a defensible position.
            Well I don’t think morality is part of god’s nature. Morality exists necessarily without god. I can go so far as to say god has no say on what is moral or what isn’t.
            As to your last paragraph, I stand by my assertion that morals are natural to societies that any society can come up with. The problem of evil is an argument against god’s existence. That being said, I must go ahead then and tell you that in a world without god things just are. When an earthquake kills people, that is life, when people die from famine, that is life and when we have bounty harvest so is life. Nature has no favorites. The problem of evil is only a problem when you posit god. Without god, humans will have to evolve to such a point where their actions and choices do not harm others. As to natural disasters, all we can do is to develop mechanism that allow us to predict their occurrence more accurately to avoid loss of human and animal life whenever that is possible. This is what we must strive to do. This is our responsibility. To create a society that allows people to grow healthily and where our choices do not result in harming others.
            That I think is what we must do.

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          • Debilis says:

            Greetings, and here we go for the next round:

            Yes, I know many think that love isn’t a choice. I happen to disagree, but won’t pursue that here.

            More to the point, I don’t see how God is the author of a defective program. It seems to serve its purpose: creating free creatures with the opportunity of loving God and one another. To say that free people sometimes make bad choices is not to say that the “program” is defective.

            It is an excellent question, however, to wonder how we can know whether God is good if we “don’t know his mind”. The answer, however, is that no one is claiming that we don’t know God’s mind, full stop. The claim is that we don’t know everything about God’s mind. God as defined either Biblically or by natural theology, is a transcendent good deserving of worship. That is not meant to imply, however, that we know the counterfactuals of his behavior.

            I’m not sure what you mean by explain how God has free will, other than to say that God can choose his actions. This is simply the definition of free will. The same is the case with human beings. Creating people that are incapable of rejecting him wouldn’t result in loving relationships. People are free in that sense. Please let me know if there was another question there I missed. I’m sure I’m not seeing something.

            As for “cherry-picking” in the Bible, I agree that many do this. For my part, I think some historical context is required for the examples you name. I’m not aware of anything about Christianity which demands that we take every statement in the Bible as absolute and divorced from any cultural background.

            But, all this is really beside the point. Rather, the point is that we need a basis on which to claim that evil exists that can and should have been prevented by God (assuming he exists, of course). You seem to think that Christianity does not provide that basis.

            But, you do say that morality exists necessarily. I really should have asked for clarification on that last time. Do you mean that morality is necessary in the philosophical sense (that it has existed from all eternity, and could not possibly fail to exist, even if there had been no universe, or a very different universe)? Or, do you mean that morality is a natural outgrowth of humans trying to live together? Or something else altogether?

            In the first case, I’d want to know what reason you have for thinking that, as well as whether or not that supports the argument from evil. In the second, I’d say that this simply does not support the argument from evil, as I mentioned last time. Claiming that God is morally subject to human interaction strategies is infinitely more presumptuous than claiming that humans are morally subject to amoeba interaction strategies.

            But I never claimed that God decides what is moral. I claimed that God’s nature is the basis of what is moral. Still, if your argument starts from the premise that God is irrelevant to morality, then it is circular. It is assuming from the outset that Christianity is false in order to demonstrate that Christianity is false.

            I completely agree with you that we ought to try our best to do right in this world, and help others. However, I’d say that the non-existence of God wouldn’t solve the problem of evil. All it does is deny that evil exists (as you explained “things just are”). In this case, we have given up the basis of the argument against God (“evil exists”). Nor can we say that the problem re-arrises when we put God back in the picture, unless we are putting God in, but demanding that we not take into account the other effects that would have on reality. Such as the purpose for the universe, the existence of an afterlife, and the objective reality to a particular ethical system (which does not support this argument).

            Rather than deny that evil exists, the proponent of the argument from evil needs to explain how it exists. This would mean defending a moral system that is universal enough to include God in addition to humans, but would not rely on God’s existence as a premise. Otherwise, it is simply a demand that beings which are not human accept our socio-biological attitudes.

            I see no reason why God is obligated to do that.

            Obviously, I took you up on the offer for length. But please let me know if I’m getting too wordy.

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          • makagutu says:

            Greetings mate.
            No, you haven’t become too wordy besides I allowed it.
            I thought I was very clear in my last paragraph where I stated my position with regard to evil. I said that as for me, a godless person, I need not posit god to explain the existence of evil things just are. It is a problem to the theist who claims a god exist. It is the theist who has to square his belief about the existence of a loving, powerful and all knowing god with the presence of evil. I have no such problem. The problem arises when we bring god into the picture for two reasons. The theist claims nothing happens without a reason and that god is the author of all that is. In this sense then god is the author of evil[Is. 45:7, Amos 3:6, Lamentations 3:38,39 ( I know there are verses that say the exact opposite Numbers 23:19, Deut 32:4, Job 34:10] and this being the case it is a moot point to say god, if one exists, is not responsible for evil. The theist then must reconcile this contradictions.
            God’s nature can’t be the basis of what is moral. God, if one were to exist, can’t be considered a moral agent. To quote Brian Davies, a catholic philosopher, he says this about god

            To be blunt, I suggest that many contemporary philosophers writing on the problem of evil (both theists and non-theists) have largely been wasting their time … They are like people attacking or defending tennis players because they fail to run a mile in under four minutes. Tennis players are not in the business of running four-minute miles. Similarly, God is not something with respect to which moral evaluation (whether positive or negative) is appropriate.

            and as David S. Ramsey writes in Atheism Explained[pg 110]

            If someone says, ‘ God would never announce that murder is right, because God is good’ , she’s acknowledging that morality is independent of God’s wishes . She’s asserting that God is a good person ( by some standard independent of God’s say-so ) and a good person would never say that something wrong, like murder, is right.

            we can infer that morality is independent of god. It supports my assertion that morality necessarily exists. If a universe exists with sentient beings, there will be morality and it is in this sense that I mean it necessarily exists. If there is no universe, then nothing. It would be absurd to posit morality existing in the absence of a universe and sentient beings. How would my argument be circular. I am not using morality to show that a god does not exist, am only showing that morality exists independent of god and this is not a circular argument. Unless my understanding of circular arguments is flawed!
            There is no time stoning someone for not attending church on Sunday regardless of the context can be considered moral [I know by this statement am arguing that murder would be wrong no matter the culture and time and that this would be true of everyone, I don’t know a situation that would justify murder though] therefore to ask me to consider the context is just absurd to say the least.
            We need a basis to consider things as moral or not and that basis is human reason. It is the same thing the theist uses to decide that it is not right to kill your child for disobedience. The reason you cherry pick is because you employ reason and it is no different from what would happen if the rules were made by an Atheist!
            Here I wrote about god’s freedom I don’t know if you disagree or agree with me. It is in this sense that I have argued there is no one and even a god were to exist that they would choose how to act, rather they would act as they do given the circumstances and to expect more is to be ambitious!
            If as you the programme is acting as it was intended, then again the problem of bad or good is a moot problem. But the question is couldn’t the programmer remove all the bugs before launching the programme?
            Ah so you know a part of god’s mind? It would be interesting to know how you came to this knowledge and whether it is shared by all or just it is person specific?
            Please tell me if haven’t responded to any of your concerns.

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          • Debilis says:

            Okay, jumping right in:

            I completely agree with you that the person who denies that evil exists does not have to explain it. My disagreement is in that evil is explained given a Christian view of morality. Yes, if we propose God, then adopt some non-theistic moral system, we are likely to find a contradiction, but this doesn’t speak against God or the moral system either one (except to say that they can’t both be true).

            As to the biblical passages you site, you’ll find that the word translated “evil” in the King James version is better translated “disaster” or “calamity”.

            But I (partially) agree with Brian Davies. I don’t think we can morally evaluate God. Given that he exists, his nature is the basis of morality. To then evaluate is like asking whether a photon can be reconciled with the existence of light. The question makes little, if any, sense.

            David Ramsey, however, is simply wrong. He’s ignoring the very option I gave earlier, which is the idea that the standard of goodness is God’s nature itself. Therefore “God would never declare murder good” doesn’t mean he’s checking in with some standard outside himself and more than “God would never be too weak to create a stone” means that God is tapping some outside source of power.

            About the issue of circularity, fair enough. Given the clarification, I will (and should) retract the statement. Of course, I do still maintain that this concept of morality can’t be applied to God. For the argument from evil to hold, it needs to be shown that either the Christian concept of morality, or one that holds for more than humanity, supports the argument from evil.

            Jesus seems to agree with you that many of the things for which people were stoned were not good reasons to do it. And it is worth pointing out that I’m aware of no Christian culture ever practicing this. Still, I assume that you are not opposed to the idea that some need to die for the sake of the community (as in war), but simply to this instance of it.

            In the event that those who did not show up could be assumed to be worshiping, say, Molech (who required infant sacrifice), capital punishment might not be totally out of the question. But that assumes a Christian view of morality. Taking the social cohesion view of morality (morals develop as people interact), an argument could definitely be made that demanding fealty to the moral code, enshrined in religion, would result in greater overall cohesion.

            Please know that I’m not for a moment suggesting you’d agree with that, but it is an objection that would need to be dealt with. In fact, it is one of the main reasons why I personally find the social interaction theory of ethics repulsive. I can think of many evil acts which would smooth human interaction.

            Human reason, however, is not by itself a basis for anything. Reason is applied to premises. While atheists can be and are very kind people, I’ve yet to hear a reasoned argument from an atheist that supports being kind. It was seeing this which, in part, made me decide that (if being kind and being a naturalist were in conflict with one another) I needed to lose naturalism and find a position that didn’t contradict morality.

            But I don’t completely agree that atheists would have invented the same rules as Christians. The only atheists who do this are those who grew up in Christian societies, other atheists seem to find (with “human reason”) the same things that the religious traditions of those societies taught.

            I don’t accept determinism myself, as there are some major problems with it. But, even a deterministic universe does not establish that God is not free. The section you quote assumes, rather than argues, that every single action and choice to be made is determined by God’s nature. The pertinent technical terminology is: the difference between necessary and accidental traits. A rock can be tall or short and still have the nature of a rock (accidental trait), but a rock, by its nature, can’t be made of water (necessary trait).

            So, God’s nature does set limits on how he behaves, but we can’t inflate this to mean that it precisely determines every action he takes without some kind of support.

            But I don’t know what you mean by asking “couldn’t the programmer remove all the bugs before launching the programme?”. The “program” is working as intended; improvements would require logical contradictions being possible. That being the case, what are the “bugs”?

            Yes, I claim to know some things about God’s mind, but no more than anyone who studies the subject. As God is discussed at length in the Bible, many people have some idea what he is like. But I don’t see how any of this adds up to the claim that I know everything about God. (Clearly I don’t.)

            Okay, that is the end and it is quite late here. I’m off to bed.
            Good night (or day) to you.

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          • makagutu says:

            Sleep well.
            I agree we can end it here for the moment and maybe in future I’d collate all of it into a single post and continue the discussion based on the discussion we have had.

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          • makagutu says:

            Allow me to respond to some issues you raise here that I can’t let pass. You shouldn’t feel compelled to respond to me though. I hope you slept well.
            First off is the claim that I should use the KJV for a correct translation. Calamaties it is, now tell me why would an all loving god be the author of earthquakes and tsunamis that result in both human and animal suffering? How do you reconcile this with an all loving and powerful god?
            You have provided no proof that a god exists so in agreeing with Davies all you can say is if a god exists[am aware you believe one exists though], the said god can’t be [im]moral.
            How is D. Ramsey wrong? I think you are defending an untenable position. If god can’t command a ‘bad’ thing because he is good, then the good thing exists independently of god and he can’t command otherwise. It is for this reason I consider Abe’s attempt to sacrifice his son to the gods immoral. I know you disagree, many believers consider him the father of faith, I consider him the father of pimps!
            My friend, how can religion result in greater cohesion? The muslim considers the christian an infidel, the christian think the Hindoo an idolator, the Scientologist think you are misguided, the Catholic thinks his religion the one true one, the evangelical christian thinks the catholic is mistaken. Where is the cohesion unless I misunderstand what you mean by cohesion. The Atheist on the other hand is asking that we treat each with kindness, we are all in a rat race to the grave, that is to oblivion from whence we had come, no heaven no hell. One life here and now. It is our duty to make it the best it can be to all of us and if not to the greatest majority as is humanly possible. Which of these two systems would result in cohesion?
            You are right, atheists would not have invented the same rules as christians. For one, there would be no homophobia, women would be allowed to choose to carry a baby to term or not, assisted dying would be legalized, and here I can’t speak for anyone expect myself, the prison system would be reformed and only the best people in the society would run them. They would be places for healing not punishment. I can’t enumerate all the laws here but I sure hope you get the drift.
            I don’t want to continue the discussion on free will. You seem to think we have free will and I know we don’t have.
            Well in conclusion, or rather in response to the first paragraph, let me say here that it is not just the christian god who has to deal with the problem of evil but rather the Abrahamic religions all have this problem as long as their god is all powerful and all loving.

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  6. I think the free will /god needs evil argument is ended with one word: heaven. The Christian claim of heaven makes their excuses fail. Heaven evidently has free will, if it’s so important to this god. And evidently god doesn’t need evil at all since heaven, one would assume, has no evil in it.

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    • makagutu says:

      The christian is not able to have all his thoughts in one place. He makes a claim here and makes another that completely contradicts the first making his argument silly and ineffective in answering any question posed.

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  7. Bit late to the party but not at all, conditionally.

    I’ve seen the distinction made between “theodicy” and “defense” one entails a complete refutation, the other is more a reason that good quite possibly make sense. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with giving answers of this nature, long as its clear to all which category they fit in.

    The free will defense (emphasis on defense) is just that. It is a way of making sense of some of the evil in this world but is far from a complete refutation.

    There is some sense in it, if God intervened in every mugging or case of petty theft by striking them dead or controlling their mind, then, our exercise of free will would be impossible and might as well not exist at all. Of course, free will would still exist in theory and as a concept but practically exercising it would be impossible.

    It might make sense if God intervening, *at all* would somehow “break” free will but it doesn’t. The bible is full of stories of God intervening and occasionally saving people too (story of pharaoh ). So, whilst it might explain away every day crimes with relation to free will, why didn’t God intervene just once or twice in especially henious cases, much like he did in israel? This is where it starts to really break down and might needed to be combined with another defense.

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    • makagutu says:

      It’s never really late to join the party. The doors are still open 😀

      There is some sense in the free will defense only if we also accept that the said god doesn’t have omni-max capabilities. I have said before to argue that god intervening in every crime would hinder our exercise of free will is spurious. I have asked why would the said god create a world such that we were more inclined to choose good over evil, since our current status has a propensity to choose evil over good? The second problem with this defense is the proponents arguing for libertian free will have not shown whether this is case. They only claim we have free will and then continue with the defense.

      Lastly even if we for a second were to allow free will to explain moral evils[ what free will does the person suffering have in this case], it can’t explain any instance of natural evil.

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  8. gpicone says:

    Go east of Suez and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who believes in a personal god. I don’t think “he” exists…it’s got to be something else if anything at all.

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  9. holly says:

    If you had the power to stop it, would you allow someone to be raped in order that the rapist had the opportunity to choose? (this was posted in a discussion group on facebook and I thought it highlighted the problem well.) Have you ever read the Tale of the Twelve Officers by Mark Vuletic?
    (one of the best on the topic)
    http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mark_vuletic/five.html

    the next questions for me were the kickers…
    “Where do babies, and those who are developmentally delayed go when they die?”
    If the answer is heaven…why? for then…why the need for …free will?

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    • makagutu says:

      Thanks for the link, I had not read it before. And it deals with the problem of evil and free will defense in a way I couldn’t write in my many long posts on the matter. Thanks again for sharing
      The set of questions you ask are difficult to answer or to defend.
      I don’t know if you have watched the movie God on Trial, one of the actors is questioning whether the Jews had any free will in the Nazi death camps and of what use was it to them!

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  10. […] Problem of evil: Is free will defense adequate (maasaiboys.wordpress.com) […]

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  11. […] Problem of evil: Is free will defense adequate (maasaiboys.wordpress.com) […]

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