Originally posted by Halitose
Okay Tel. I see that other thread, "The Lords Name" has been hijacked beyond repair, therefore I've opened a new thread.
In making my case, there are a few basic assumptions I want to address first.
1. Why did God create humans?
2. Why create a physical dimension? (nature)
3. How did God's objectives fit within this world?
4. What is evil?
...[text shortened]... --------
The assumptions for now.
Just my 2 cents, feel free to bash and rebut as you wish.
So, in essence, your point is as follows:
God created humanity so that a loving relationship could obtain.
A loving relationship can obtain if and only if the loving parties can freely choose to love one another.
The freedom of choice required for a loving relationship does not merely extend to the choice of loving or not, but to the choice as to do good or evil.
So, humanity necessarily has the freedom of choice to do good or evil.
So, if one seeks to explain the existence of evil in the world, and reconcile this evil with the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect God, one should look towards the free choices made by humanity.
So, there is an explanation of evil consistent with the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient and morally perfect God.
Is that about right?
If this is an accurate reconstruction of your thought, then, off the top of my head, here are some apparent problems:
First, I see no reason to think that having the property of being free to choose whether to love God entails having the unrestricted
property of being free to choose to do evil. It may entail having the property to freely reject God, and God may take this as an
evil, but this does not entail that one have the property of being able to freely choose to rape or murder.
Second, even if having the property of being free to choose whether to love God entails having the unrestricted property of being free to choose to do evil, this does not entail that God has no moral obligation to prevent evil. After all, one may freely choose to do evil and be unsuccessful. Suppose I come across a rape in progress. Suppose I physically disable the attacker, thus preventing the rape. I have not thereby prevented the attacker from freely choosing to engage in raping. I have merely prevented the attacker from successfully raping the victim. So, it is completely consistent with humanity being able to choose to do evil that God intervene so as to prevent evil. In short, it is not a necessary condition on freely willing X that one not be prevented from succeeding at X.
Third, human beings have, as an empirical fact, particular characters. For instance, I happen to be much less compassionate by nature than my saintly older sister. We both have the ability to freely choose to do good or evil, yet, as a matter of fact, my sister's character is such that she chooses evil much less often than I do. So, God could have imbued each human with a character more like my sister's than mine. This would, as a matter of fact, reduce the amount of evil in the world while being consistent with our all having wills that are free. Yet, God did not create all human beings with such a character. So, God was morally negligent in his creation of humanity.
Fourth, the explanation you provide (a version of the "free will theodicy" ) only serves (if successful) as an answer to question of why there exists evil in the world perpetrated by humans. This overlooks all sorts of natural evil (e.g., the massive suffering brought about due to purely natural causes, such as that resulting from tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, viral infections, etc.). This sort of badness in the world cannot be attributed to the free choice of humans, and hence your points above do not suffice as explanations of this sort of natural badness. Of course, you may respond that this sort of natural badness was the direct result of a free choice made in the garden of Eden. If so, then you will be committed to the claim that it is morally permissible for God to punish the descendants of a person for that person's trespasses. But this is anathema to our moral intuitions. Suppose you stole my wallet, and I not only beat you up for stealing my wallet, but I beat up your whole family, your children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews... You would take such collective punishment to be evidence against the claim that I was morally good. It would be inconsistent to fail to infer the same about God. Of course, you could claim that when it comes to God, our normal moral intutions do not apply. If so, then you are, in effect, claiming that the terms we use in moral discourse mean different things when talking about God. But if this is your claim, then why should anybody care when you claim that God is good? After all, if "good" means something different when applied to God, then we have no reason to think that God's being "good" is actually morally important.