Implications of the free will defense
A good night’s sleep has enabled me to crystallize my thoughts on the free will defense (see yesterday’s post). These are the implications of that defense, as I see it:
- In order to truly love people, God must allow them to do whatever they please and never physically intervene in their actions.
- God is all-loving; therefore, he has never physically intervened in anyone’s actions.
- Fairness is important to God only in the setup, not in the outcome. Everyone must start with free will (and the potential to love God), but if some people exercise free will to prevent others from exercising free will (and deny them the opportunity to love God), that is a perfectly acceptable outcome.
- Bribery (the promise of heaven and other rewards), threats (the threat of hell and other consequences) and, oddest of all, miraculous spiritual transformation (“changing the heart” of a person) are all acceptable tactics for God — not only to influence a person’s behavior but also to change his inner disposition toward God! The only unacceptable form of influence is physical manipulation, which would control only an outward manifestation of a person’s inner disposition toward God.
- God is all-powerful, so he could manipulate inanimate matter to stop people’s evil acts (already committed) from having their intended effects — for example, stopping a bullet before it reaches its innocent target — but apparently this is also against his principles.
- Thus, although God is able to both treat the disease (evil in a person’s heart) and arrest the symptoms (evil deeds committed toward others, and their effects), his policy prohibits him from arresting the symptoms. He only treats the disease, and that only selectively. Even in cases where God treats the disease, the patient and others always have to suffer the residual effects of the disease — it is the only non-negotiable part of the scheme.