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free will defence


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Probably the most popular attempt to reconcile the existence of evil with the goodness of God (see evil, problem of; theodicy). The defence is that evils are entirely due to the bad, free, choices made by human beings (and perhaps other fallen beings, including in some versions fallen angels). It was good of God to create free beings, but bad of them to misuse their freedom. So the good God is not responsible for the evils of the world, and we cannot use the evils of the world as an objection to belief in Him. Although popular, the defence faces many obstacles: it apparently requires a libertarian (metaphysical) account of free will; it either ignores the obvious fact that most of the ills that afflict the human world, such as disease, pain, and starvation, are not of our own creation, or it implausibly and arbitrarily assigns them to supernatural bad beings, such as fallen angels; but most fundamentally it needs to discount the logical possibility of God creating free beings who would use their freedom always to choose the good, as some of us manage to do some of the time. It must also reject the possibility of a God who, when free agents he has created choose evil, kindly insulates the rest of us from the would-be evil-doers by isolating them in some kind of playpen.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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