Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Conversations with Angie: Is free will a good thing?


In response to the free will theodicy, you said there really is no reason for God to have created us with free will instead of without. Actually there is, and that's premise 3 in the free will argument I gave you. Free will is a good thing. That's the reason God created it. The argument goes something like this:

1. Since God is good, he brings about good states of affairs.
2. Free will is a good state of affairs.
3. Therefore, God brings about free will.

I made the parenthetical comment that arguments are usually given for why free will is a good thing, and that I'd spare you, but since you seem to question this premise, I'll go ahead and tell you some of those reasons. I'll just list them. I'm not going to spend too much time on this, because like I said, this isn't really how I would answer the problem of evil.

1. Genuine love isn't possible unless it's chosen.
2. Virtue isn't possible without free will.
3. Rational thinking isn't possible without free will.
4. Free will is good in and of itself because it's simply better to be free than not to be free.

So yes, God could have created us without free will, and evil would never have entered the world. But it would've been contrary to his good nature to do so.

It would appear, given the free will defense, that God had a choice to make. Either create a world with no free will and no evil, or create a world with free will that would end up producing evil. Those were the only options. Since God is good, God would've created the best of all possible worlds. He would've chosen the greater goods between these two possible worlds. The advocate of the free will defense would argue that the good of free will outweighs the bad of evil, so it's worth it to God to create free creatures even though it results in evil. It's better than a world without evil but that is devoid of free creatures capable of love, virtue, rationality, and freedom. This is especially true from a Christian point of view since God has a plan to rid the world of evil at some point, so the presence of evil is of finite duration--a glit in eternity.


Conversations with Angie:  Summaries of skipped emails


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