Monday, 26 January 2015

Does free will necessitate evil?

Why does god allow evil? 

Ask any theist and I'm sure they'll tell you it's because god allows free will. 

I know there is some discussion over whether or not free will actually exists. Let's assume, for the purpose of this blog, that free will does exist, as well as some general version of the Abrahamic god. 

God doesn't want us to murder (if you're a Christian, or Jew, you'll point out that one of the 10 commandments says so) and he doesn't want us to rape, (though none of the 10 commandments says anything about not raping) but he's not going to force us to not do these things. We have the free will to decide for ourselves. Decide well and we'll be rewarded, decide poorly, and we'll be punished.

Well...punished on earth if we're caught and found guilty, punished in the afterlife either way. Unless we repent...or something. The details are sketchy. But I digress. 

It seems that as part of God's perfect plan that he perfectly put into place because he's perfectly perfect is that it's more important that a child is raped than he do something to impact the free will of the rapist. God can't intervene or free will ceases to exist.

It's an odd hierarchy of importance I would have thought. 

If an omniscient, omnipotent god exists then not only does it know those who will be born to go on to be murderers and/or rapists (there are other evil doers, but I will stick to these two for brevity) but he also has the power to prevent these people from being born. From even being conceived. 

No one, as far as I know or can tell, is born with the desire to eat human legs. At least not on a living person as they're walking. At least the desire is not so great that they act upon it. I had a bit of a look and couldn't find a single example of it. 

So...what's going on? Did god design us without this particular desire? Does god force a miscarriage on any pregnancy what would have resulted in a person what would have been born with this desire? Does god kill anyone who's about to do this, before they can begin? Whatever the reason is that people don't go around eating the legs off other people who are out for a walk, why can't this same reason be applied to those who will murder or rape? 

Is our free will impacted because these leg eating people don't exist? Could not the rapists and murderers be treated the same way? God, as described to me by the majority of theists who share their thoughts, is all powerful, capable of anything. 'Anything' surely includes a world where children aren't raped, but free will exists. 

God could redesign us so the desire to rape or murder is never present. He could have designed us like that in the first place. He could make sure that no pregnancy of a future rapist or murderer is carried to term - or make it so that no future rapist or murderer is ever conceived. 

He could do any of these things, and the rest of us still keep our free will. But he doesn't and believers let him get away with this without question. 

Evil is not a necessary consequence of free will. There are ways and means for an omnipotent, omniscient god to have a world where free will exists but rape and murder do not.

If free will exists, it exists alongside rape and murder. This shows that god is either in favour of rape and murder or cannot stop them. Or, of course, no omniscient, omnipotent god exists. Which is the logical, and rational answer. 

So the next time I ask a theist why evil things such as rape and murder exist and they answer 'because of free will' I'll be telling them that they're going to have to do a lot better than that. 

1 comment:

  1. Just watched a 60 minutes story on babies and morality: Seems that it's not an issue of born moral or not, but more an issue of familiarity and, in some cases, narcissism and toddler nationalism.

    The babies showed empathy for plush animal characters treated unfairly or in a morality play and showed solidarity for characters of dubious intention when they felt some sense of solidarity or similarity with them.

    Older children in the test, who had been taught the difference in fairness and selfishness, sometimes acted against their tribal instincts and showed altruism.

    So, seems we're not born either inherently bad or good, but with deeply ingrained evolved traits that speak to a "survival of the tribe" gene whose biological roots we must constantly examine to be sure we're acting in the best interest of not just the tribe but the greater good in general.