Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Evil and Freewill, Concurrence & Moral Sufficiency

There could be no evil whatsoever apart from the capacity of something in creation to oppose God. That opposition would have to be something initiated independently of God; that is, it could not be decreed or impelled by God. Something nominally opposed to God but actually decreed by him could only have the appearance of evil--in actuality, it would be the very will of God. There can be no evil, therefore, apart from freewill, and since there is evil in this world, this world is one which free will exists.

Yet, even though freewill is expressed in a way that is not determined by God (or it wouldn't be free), it is allowed by him and it's exercise sustained by him. It reflects his will for the way things should be, and without such concurrence, it wouldn't be. If that is so, how can the same difficulties which determinism suffers from in regard to the problem of evil not ultimately be true for freewill as well? If God, the omniscient and omnipotent, proceeds despite evil he could foresee or does not stop what is proceeding against his will, there would seem to be a problem with evil after all.

I don't think that is so two reasons. First, God is good, and making something in his image just could not be evil by any stretch of the imagination. Even among human beings, we consider it good to have a son or daughter, even though we know they will do things that are bad. The beauty of being made in God's image is an amazing thing, human beings are amazing creatures. That God would want to make us in his image, able to will as he does and love as he does, is a remarkable demonstration of benevolent grace and something that properly could only be said to be very good.

Second, evil isn't being allowed. It's only the perspective of the current regimen of time that makes it seems so. Death and entropy themselves are arguments against evil being allowed, revealing that God has pulled the plug on this fallen realm of fallen beings. Within our bubble of time we may think evil is allowed and that it's been going on forever, but from God's timeless perspective evil is being dealt with virtually immediately. In this realm's wake, after it's been flash-burned in a cosmic reboot, evil will be something not likely to be even vaguely remembered.

So evil exists because God made creatures in his image which had the power to will, freely, as he does. That was not an evil thing to do, only good, because God is only good, and so too would be those creatures made like him at the time of their creation. Only creatures made with this god-like capacity would be able to experience the full spectrum of God's goodness relationally. God is inherently good, and inherently relational (e.g. the Trinity), and so creating creatures who will as God wills, and love as God loves could be nothing but good.

Since evil can be so evil, however, one has to wonder if doing the good of creating such creatures was a sufficient moral cause for the omniscient God to create them. I think that it was, but that it will not demonstrate itself to be so in time, where those creatures continue in evil even as God does the good he can in regard to them. Only in eternity when freewill creatures have embraced that they have been made in his image, have submitted themselves to be in that image, and choose to abide in it in agreement with God, will those creatures be like Christ and live eternally free but in perfect harmony with God. That situation will be as good as good can possibly get!

That will result in unspeakable joy for God and those creatures so abiding in it, and I think it is more than a sufficient moral cause for allowing the potential of evil in making those creatures in the first place. Does that provide a sufficient moral cause for allowing evil in the meantime, or for having to contain it endlessly, idly, incapably in the age to come? Since God is good and omnipotent, could he not have accomplished his aims some other way without allowing evil? Probably not, but since God is good, I think we have to give him the benefit of the doubt regardless.

Of course that won't stop me from saying a bit more on the subject...