Thursday, March 19, 2009

Free Will Theodicies and Heaven

I'm currently toying with the following argument. I'm not sure if I'm persuaded by it; hence the comment box. ;-)

Suppose there's a heaven. If there's a heaven, then either there's freedom in heaven or there isn't. If there is, then freedom's compatible with the absence of evil. If there isn't, then it's not so bad to eliminate freedom for the sake of preventing evil. Therefore, either freedom's compatible with evil's absence, or it's not so bad to eliminate freedom for the sake of preventing evil. If freedom's compatible with evil's absence, then free will theodicies are undercut. And if it's not so bad to eliminate freedom for the sake of preventing evil, then, again, free will theodicies are undercut. Therefore, either way, free will theodicies are undercut. Therefore, if there's a heaven, then free will theodicies are undercut.

Very roughly, the upshot is that free will theodicies require rejecting traditional versions of the doctrine of heaven.[1]
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Notes:
[1] The present argument is aimed at free will theodicies, not at Plantinga's free will defense.

4 comments:

Wes said...

I thought the point of a free-will theodicy was just to defend God from the charge of creating evil by showing that evil's origin is in the choices of free agents. In other words, I thought they only demonstrated that evil is compatible with God's existence. Are they also committed to saying that the absence of evil is *incompatible* with freedom?

exapologist said...

Hey, Wes,

I'm thinking of free will theodicies that argue that evil is logically necessary for a greater good -- in this case, the supposed great good of free will. And I'm arguing that if there is a heaven, then if it contains free creatures who don't do evil, then evil isn't logically necessary for the great good of free will. And if it doesn't contain free creatures, then since heaven is supposed to contain the best goods, freedom isn't one of them, in which case one wonders why God created free creatures in this world. What do you think?

Eric said...

"I'm thinking of free will theodicies that argue that evil is logically necessary for a greater good -- in this case, the supposed great good of free will."


Hi Exapologist

Shouldn't this be, "free will theodicies that argue that *the possibility of* evil is logically necessary for a greater good -- in this case, the good of free will." I say this because it doesn't seem to be the case that evil itself is logically necessary for the good of free will, though it would seem to be the case that its possibility is (whether evil is ever in fact instantiated). If this is the case, then I don't understand this implication in your post:

"If freedom's compatible with evil's absence, then free will theodicies are undercut."

exapologist said...

Hi Eric,

Whoops -- yes, you're right. Thanks for pointing that out.

So the formulation of the central claim of the free will theodicy is that the possibility of evil is logically necessary for the greater good of free will. Given this, the argument becomes:

Suppose there's a heaven. If there's a heaven, then either there's freedom in heaven or there isn't. If there is, then freedom's compatible with the absence evil's possibility. If there isn't, then it's not so bad to eliminate freedom for the sake of preventing evil's possibility. Therefore, either freedom's compatible with the absence of evil's possibility, or it's not so bad to eliminate freedom for the sake of preventing evil's possibility. If freedom's compatible with the absence of evil's possibility, then free will theodicies are undercut. And if it's not so bad to eliminate freedom for the sake of preventing evil's possibility, then, again, free will theodicies are undercut. Therefore, either way, free will theodicies are undercut. Therefore, if there's a heaven, then free will theodicies are undercut.

What do you think?

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