Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Conversations with Angie: The free will theodicy


The most common way theistic philosophers have responded to the problem of evil is by giving a theodicy. A theodicy is an attempt to give a reason for why there is evil in the world that is consistent with the existence of God. The most famous theodicy is the free-will theodicy. I'm sure you've heard this one before (and I suspect this is what you think "most Christians would say"), but it goes something like this:

1. God is good.
2. God only brings about good states of affairs. (follows from 1).
3. Free will is a good state of affairs. (Arguments are usually given to support this premise, but I'll spare you.)
4. Therefore, God brings about free will (follows from 2 and 3)
5. Free will consists of the ability to choose between good and evil. (This is a definition.)
6. If God created a world where people could only do good, then they would not be free. (follows from 5)
7. Therefore, God creates a world where both good and evil are possible. (follows from 4 and 6)
8. If something is possible, then it can be actualized. (This is just the definition of "possible.")
9. Therefore, evil can be actualized (follows from 7 and 8)
10. If God prevents something from happening, then it cannot be actualized. (This is the definition of "prevent".)
11. Therefore, God does not prevent evil from happening. (follows from 9 and 10)

to be continued...

Conversations with Angie:  Some weaknesses in the free will theodicy

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