Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Free Will and the Problem of Evil Redux

I want to add to my last post.  I forgot to mention this, but I have two questions for any believer about free will.

Is there free will in Heaven?  Can someone sin in Heaven?

If you say yes to free will and no to sin, then why the need for Earth?  If free will can be had without sin, how can you blame the problem of evil on free will?   Obviously it will be circumnavigated in Heaven

If you say no to free will and no to sin, then why give us free will in the first place?  I have been told the reason for free will is because God doesn't want automatons, but if he takes free will away in Heaven that is just creating an eternity of automatons.

If you answer yes to free will and yes to sin, isn't there a chance that everyone will rebel and fall again?  That doesn't seem like a good plan to me.  It is like asking for everything to start over again.

If you answer no to free will and yes to sin, then well uhm so God will force people to sin?  WTF?

4 comments:

Emet L. said...

Please check out everything I quote.

“Of course the reason everything in the world is not perfect is because Satan appeared as a serpent (find Biblical quotes stating that it was Satan)”

You are correct, no such verse.

“and tricked Eve into eating a magical fruit that allowed her to tell the difference between good and evil.”

A closer reading shows that eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil allowed them to be like G-d, knowing good AND evil, but not good from evil. That’s the problem. They now have the knowledge of good and evil but they don’t have the wisdom to use this new knowledge.

“The way I like to hear it is, as stated by David Hume:
“Is He willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is impotent.
Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent.
Is He both able and willing? Whence then is evil?”

Not only is He able and willing to prevent evil, He created evil.

Isaiah 45:7 [I am the One] Who forms light and creates darkness; Who makes peace and creates evil; I am the Almighty , Maker of all these. The Stone Edition TANACH Yes, in Hebrew it is the same word and has the same meaning as the evil in the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Some Christian bibles like to lighten that evil word up a little bit, using calamity or disaster.

And the question still remains - Whence then is evil?

“Free will causes evil and God wants us to have free will.”

Free will doesn’t cause evil (whatever evil is), it just allows one to choose.

“thus free will is more of an illusion,”

Seems right. I’ve heard it described something like this. You’re a child in the kitchen with your father and you want a cookie from the cookie jar. He tells you no you can’t have a cookie because it is almost dinner time. He stays in the kitchen and so you are unable to sneak a cookie. But if he leaves the kitchen and then you have the choice of taking a cookie or ten cookies and ruining your dinner, it’s your choice.

“Next Colson claims that evil is only here because of sin.”

We still don’t know what evil is and BTW what is sin? Interestingly enough, sin isn’t mentioned until Cain and Abel. So much for Adam and Eve’s original sin. Cain brings an offering of fruit from the ground and Abel brings the firstlings of his flock and from the choicest.

Genesis 4:6-7 And the Almighty said to Cain, “Why are you annoyed and why has your countenance fallen? Surely, if you improve yourself, you will be forgiven. But if you do not improve yourself, sin rests at the door. Its desire is toward you, yet you can conquer it”.
That’s at lest a little uplifting. It seems that the important thing is doing battle with “sin” and conquering it. Conquering something is a very exhilarating and pleasurable experience.

Please note that I’m not able to yet address the problem of natural disasters. But it seems to me if we consider the idea that the Almighty is omnipotent and omniscient, then He is in control of everything.

And I say no to free will and no to sin in heaven - whatever heaven is. The bible is mostly silent on heaven too.

BeamStalk said...

Emet, thanks for stopping by. Sadly I am about to leave town for a week so I won't be able to comment on everything, but I will do what I can now.

"You are correct, no such verse."

I would posit that this story is an adaptation of the Sumerian story of Enki and Nin-ti, Eve being made from a rib just as Nin-ti is made from Enki's rib after he eats from magical trees. Also from the guardian of Anu's celestial palace a snake named Ningishzida or "lord of the good tree".

"A closer reading shows that eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil allowed them to be like G-d, knowing good AND evil, but not good from evil. That’s the problem. They now have the knowledge of good and evil but they don’t have the wisdom to use this new knowledge."

This I will have to look into further. You are correct that is what it says, but I believe the word for becoming like God is not YHWH but Elohim or the plural Gods.

"Not only is He able and willing to prevent evil, He created evil."

Yes I have often cited that passage from Isaiah to Christians, most seem completely unaware of it. As you said the question still remains.

"Free will doesn’t cause evil (whatever evil is), it just allows one to choose."

Then you are arguing that evil is an abstract that exists outside of human thought? That is what Colson was arguing earlier in the book. Personally I think evil is a creation by humans to explain help visualize things that are not just or seem very wrong to our morals. Thus without the choice then evil cannot exist.

"We still don’t know what evil is and BTW what is sin? Interestingly enough, sin isn’t mentioned until Cain and Abel. So much for Adam and Eve’s original sin. Cain brings an offering of fruit from the ground and Abel brings the firstlings of his flock and from the choicest."

It is a tactic of Obfuscation by Colson. He never defines either so they can be whatever he wants them to be. When I was a Christian I defined sin as anything that goes against the will of God, but it is very much up to interpretation.

I never noticed the implications of that verse before though, thanks.

"Please note that I’m not able to yet address the problem of natural disasters. But it seems to me if we consider the idea that the Almighty is omnipotent and omniscient, then He is in control of everything."

I like your honesty. It is a tough question that has been debated far longer than you or I have lived or hope to live. :) I find it a very compelling question though.

"And I say no to free will and no to sin in heaven - whatever heaven is. The bible is mostly silent on heaven too."

So in Heaven, everyone is an automaton that must worship forever with no other choice? That does not sound like Heaven to me. I understand the Bible is silent on Heaven, it is more of a pie in the sky thing. It seems to me that the idea came about when people realized life was not fair and some people are just never brought to justice in this life, so there must be something in the afterlife that judges us and everyone gets what they deserve. Of course the deserve part is circumnavigated by Jesus' death in Christian theology.

To me Heaven is contradicted by the idea of free will. Now if you don't believe in free will or believe in the idea of the illusion or delusion of free will, then that makes God a bit more monstrous as he is creating people just to send them to Hell. Surely an all-powerful all-knowing God can come up with a better plan.

Emet L. said...

“You are correct that is what it says, but I believe the word for becoming like God is not YHWH but Elohim or the plural Gods.”

I might have thought that the word Elokim translated as G-d, is plural until I learned Hebrew. The following link is a good explanation.

http://www.israelofgod.org/elohim1.htm

BeamStalk said...

Emet,

Interesting thing to take issue with in my post. Elohim is the plural for gods. It seems to be used in the singular at times in the bible. It is all based on usage. So looking at the sentence in question:

Because God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you'll be like God - knowing good and bad.

Later YHWH talks about it in plural, which begs the question what other gods is he talking about:

Genesis 3:22a:

And YHWH God said, "Here, the human has become like one of us, to know good and bad."

Seems to me that usage implies more of the plural and YHWH even confirms that later.