Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Morally Significant Freedom and the Logical Problem of Evil

Below is my response to Peter Lupu in a comment thread over at Bill Vallicella's blog.
You contend that God could "circumvent the causal laws and bring about the higher goods while preventing the evils the existence of which are causally necessary for such goods."

Consider a possible world where God does intervene to eliminate all gratuitous evils...the higher goods simply obtain by divine command at the appropriate time. How [could] a free agent make genuine moral decisions in a world like that?

For instance, assume that some choices contribute to the overall good of building one's character. Allison is faced with some character-building choice between good and evil. If she chooses evil, she cultivates her character. Otherwise, all remains the same.
God sees that Allison intends to choose evil. So, God intervenes to have her choose the good and yet still reap the benefits to her character as if she's chosen the evil.

No evil obtained outside of Allison's free intentions, and Allison still "got the goods" so to speak. But, unless God overwrites her memory (and perhaps others), then she will not continue to make morally significant choices.

Perhaps you had specific evils in mind that could be eliminated by divine intervention? Hopefully this was clear, I only thought of it over dinner and didn't have time to proof-read this thoroughly. Cheers.

But, if I understand the logical problem of evil correctly, the goal is to show that the theist is committed to some set of propositions that are contradictory in some sense.  And so it would seem, if the theist can show that all evils are possibly consistent with God's existence, then he has succeeded.  But then, could not even the fawn in the forest be possibly consistent with some state of affairs that God cannot prevent without damaging free will?

Since Dr. Lupu is far more capable and experienced in this area, he will probably show that I am mistaken or else that I haven't fully responded to his argument.  I should have spent more time anticipating his objections and responding to them.  I came up with a few potential objections while walking the dogs.  Such is the life of the amateur philosopher...stealing away a few minutes of critical thinking here and there...over dinner (apologies to the wife), walking the dogs, mowing the grass, driving to work, exercising at the gym.


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