Sunday, July 01, 2007

Evil and Free Will

Some people say that God doesn’t exist because of how much evil there is in the world. That God would allow so much evil to dominate, proves that there is no God, or at the very least that God is not good.

I find this argument somewhat logical when inspected in isolation, but when integrated with any other element of reality it fails miserably. One such element is free will. The trouble is that if we choose a God that will not allow any evil to happen, then we cancel out free will. Canceling out free will is canceling the existence of morality itself. For if God controlled everything, what then is the point of morality or even choice? If good and evil do not exist, how can we say that evil has prevailed?

But we all know that we choose. We think of temptations and succumb to some of them and resist some of them; we feel good and bad about our choices and we change our choices at every fork in the road as a result of our experience.

So let’s take free will as a premise. If we have free will, then we have the choice to be good or evil. The world was designed to sustain itself and in that design, there is cause and effect. If we choose to be evil, then evil will come, and if we choose to be good, sometimes we can fight off a bit of that evil. If we believe in free will, then we have to believe that the world can produce so much evil.

What I’m saying is not a proof that God exists, but I’m just pointing out that this argument can by no means disprove that God exists because it is has the one element that can obliterate any argument, contradiction.


LouLou said...

I think the question is a bit more complex than that. Am familiar with the argument that since bad things happen to us then God can't exist.

But who said that God exists to serve us? We are only part of His Creation. Why is it for example when we kill other living things so we can enjoy a meal, we feel that is not evil but when another living thing - like a germ - is feeding on us & we get sick & die, then it's evil & God owes us an explanation?

God is che Creative force behind Nature & we are part of Nature - part of the food chain.

But I think the real debate is still about the existence of evil. If God is absolute good, then how come there is evil? Is evil something that exists outside His will? If God is the source of good then what is the source of evil? If we believe in only one God then He must be the source of everything - Good & Evil. He created both & gave us the choice.
Then the question becomes, why would a Good God create Evil?

And before all of this, we need to define Good & Evil. From whose pov?

Amnesiac said...

But earthquakes, tsunamis and other huge natural disasters have nothing to do with free will, and yet they occur. So assuming that these are not the result of man's mismanagement of the planet, how do they fit into the evil/free will thesis?

Will E. said...

Loulou: I agree with you completely that it's a much more complex question and so the simplistic argument that God cannot exist because of evil is all the more absurd. All your questions put more doubt on that argument since their answers are not clear cut.

Amnesiac: natural disasters do not fit with evil/free will as much as they fit in with cause and effect. Evil or disaster is relative in cases like this, so rain can be good for people and bad for others. I mentioned that the world was designed to sustain itself, and so an earthquake as a way for the earth to sustain itself is not a lot different from an eclipse of the sun which people view as beautiful.

Eventuality said...

Evil or any kind of mishap -I think- cannot be viewed up close. It has to be viewed within context and from a bird's eye view that allows us to see the greater picture of past and present events. So I think evil is not bad per se, it's just the opposite force of good; it's the contrast, and this contrast is ultimately necessary. If something bad happens to you today maybe 20 years down the road you will realize how that event may have led to something good.

An yes it has nothing to do with disproving the existence of God.

a reader said...

ello again,

reasoned argument there...

God can't exist because of all the bad things that happen in the world. If that was indeed an argument, then the opposite would be true, right? so all the good things should point to the existence of God?

If we could figure God by intellect and logic then surely only the cleverest people would be allowed to know him.

Will E. said...

hello again reader,
unfortunately most arguments are triggered by a premise or a belief and then attributed to reason. (and that goes both ways)

eventuality, been some time, how've you been?

Eventuality said...

I'm good, thanks for asking :) haven't been much of a blogging mood lately though.

a reader said...

if it's true, it's true, reason or no reason