An Example of Contradiction in Free Will Theism's Apologetic
I was thinking about free will theism today, and wondering about how they would answer the objection that if evil's existance is necessary because God game man free will, then why is it that God did not create a world in which there was free will, but people always choose to do good. This is a common objection in atheistic literature to free will theism, but I always wondered about the common response.
Most free will theists would respond by saying that by creating such a world, God would have, as a matter of fact, taken away free will because now man would not be able to choose evil. I think I understand why that response will not fly now.
I hope that the response given does not mean that unless every conceivable choice is an option for a human being, free will has been denied to that human being. This is not only absurd [what human being has the choice to lift the empire state building over his head], but also contradicted by the Bible, as Jesus says "he that is not with me is against me" [Matthew 12:30]. Jesus has effectively taken away the option for human beings to remain neutral with this one statement.
I think what is meant by the statement is that if God created foreknowing that all of his creatures were going to do only good then God caused his creatures to do only good. Here is where I believe the contradiction lies. Allow me to explain.
When arguing against free will theists, Calvinists will often point to the fact that if God foreknows that someone is going to do something in the future, then he does not have the free will to not do it. For instance, if God foreknew in 1905 that I would be sitting here typing this blog entry, then I am not free to not be sitting here typing this blog entry.
This is where I think free will theists make their major mistake. Most of them will argue that the fact that God foreknows that a man will do something does not mean that he caused the man to do it.. Of course, this misses the whole point of the argument as the argument was never intended to proove that it was God that caused the man to do it. It was only meant to argue that man doesn't have free will because man can never do contrary to what God already forknows he is going to do.
However, if we take the statement that if God foreknows someone is going to do something, it does not cause him to do it, we would assume that, by logical extension, if God foreknows that a person is going to do something evil, it does not mean that God caused that person to do something evil.
However, what was the response to the argument as to why God could not create a world in which men had free will, but never used it to choose evil? They say if God created foreknowing that all of his creatures were going to do only good then God caused his creatures to do only good. However, this argument falls apart now by the free will theist's own admission. He cannot now argue that if God created foreknowing that all of his creatures were going to do only good then God caused his creatures to do only good because he has just said that if God foreknows someone is going to do something, it does not cause him to do it. Here are the contradictory statements:
1. If God created foreknowing that all of his creatures were going to do only good then God caused his creatures to do only good.
2. If God foreknows someone is going to do something, it does not cause him to do it.
This is more technically known as a contrary. Here is the form of each of the premises:
F=Foreknows that someone is going to do an action..
C=Causes that person to do that action..
The only difference is that in #1 of the verbal layout specific actions are mentioned, namely, only good actions. The problem is that these are Contraries, and contraries could both be false, but they cannot both be true. Therefore, when the free will theist tries to hold to both of these, he contradicts himself. This is because if we use "do only good" for the action of #2 we would get:
2' If God foreknows that men are going to only do good, then God doesn't cause man to do only good.
And if we apply #2 to #1 we would get:
1' If God foreknows that man is going to do an evil action, then God caused that evil action.
The only way out of this is for the free will theist to say that #2 should be reworded as "If God foreknows something is going to happen that doesn't necessarily mean he caused it." In other words, there may be times in which #2 could be false. The problem is in trying to define when it is true and when it is false. Why is it true for God intending to create a world in which he foreknows that creatures will use their free will to bring evil into the world, and it is not true for God intending to create a world in which people only do good? Why is one caused and the other is not when we have God performing the exact same actions [creating and foreknowing] in each instance? What you are reduced to saying is that God would cause his creatures to do good if he created creatures knowing that they were going to do good, but God would not cause his creatures to do evil if he created creatures knowing that they were going to do evil which is totally arbitrary and utter nonsense.