Over at the other blog, we’re still working our way through chapter 7 of William Lane Craig’s On Guard. This week, Craig tries to make it sound like the Almighty was forced to impose suffering on mankind, due to circumstances beyond His control. You can read the whole thing if you’re interested, but for this blog I wanted to take a look at just a snippet of his reasoning. According to Craig, the atheist believes human suffering is inconsistent with the existence of God, which necessarily assumes that God could have created any world He wanted, and that a loving God would not have created suffering.
If God is all-powerful, He can create any world that He wants. Is that necessarily true? Well, not if it’s possible that people have free will! It’s logically impossible to make someone do something freely.
How much can Craig get wrong in just four sentences? How many problems do you see?
- Craig’s statement of the assumption is wrong. Creating a world without suffering doesn’t require that God be able to create “any world He wants,” it merely requires being able to create a world without suffering. Free will is irrelevant to that point.
- There’s no need to make anyone do anything against their will in order to create a world without suffering. You might need to stop them from doing certain things, but you wouldn’t need to make them do anything.
- Free will is already constrained. I can freely choose when to eat, but I cannot choose to stop eating and still life a full and productive life. Likewise, God could prevent us from doing anything that led to suffering, which would merely constrain our freedom, not destroy it.
- There are plenty of things we can freely choose without creating suffering, so if God wants a world that contains free will, there’s no need to impose suffering to achieve it.
- God could have created us in a way that would have left us incapable of experiencing suffering, with or without free will.
- There’s no rule that says free will is necessary, or is necessarily desirable. If God wanted a world without suffering, and if free will necessarily involved suffering, why not just create a world without free will?
- Is God capable of exercising free will, without suffering (and without choosing evil)?
There’s probably more, but I’m out of time for this morning. How many others can you find?