If there IS a God, then why didn’t he create a world where there is no evil?
Well – if you are willing to give up free will, then anything is possible. If God took away our ability to exercise free will, then I’m sure evil would stop in the world. But the question is – would you want to lose your ability to exercise your free will?
“Libertarian free will” – this is how I understand the universe. In other words, reality is not determined. I can make choices, and I have free will to exercise this choice. This assumption underpins everything in our lives.
Some people will disagree, saying, “I only think I have free will. But really, reality is determined.” They might point to different determining factors. For example, biology, the laws of physics, even God. This view is called Compatibilism. But Compatibilism has many problems. I don’t think it allows us to make sense of how we live our lives. And it certainly undermines my ability to understand what the Bible is saying.
Problem 1 – Compatibilism and Life
We live our lives dealing with people, and organizations, asserting power upon us. Perhaps they demand us to pay our taxes, or they expect us to take out the bins at home. Also, we try to exert our power on other people to make them do what we want them to do.
The existence of power in the world is a problem for the Compatibilist.
- If Compatibilism is true, then all events are necessitated (whether I realise that or not).
- If all events are necessitated, then there are no powers.
- Free will consists in the exercise of an agent’s powers.
- The world is full of agents exercising power.
- Therefore these agents have free will.
Compatibilism doesn’t square with how the world works. Libertarianism, on the other hand, does.
Problem 2 – Compatibilism and the Bible
The Bible is full of statements like, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ Come back to your senses … stop sinning.” If I don’t actually have the free will to choose how to behave, then it is meaningless for the Bible to challenge my behaviour. Because my behaviour is necessary.
Yet – I do actually have free will. This is evident from the opening story in Genesis when Adam and Eve chose to assert their free wills against God. Without this understanding, I simply cannot understand what the Bible is saying. It is saying – “I’m a free being, and I must use my free will to love and follow a good and just God in my life.”
Libertarian Free Will and Evil
So – back to the first question. If there IS a God, then why didn’t he create a world where there is no evil?
For a start, evil’s not a thing. Rather, evil is “a corruption of the good, and evil arises from the misuse of the will.” So disease and man’s inhumanity to man are two evils. They are a corruption of what is good, and misuse of personal freedom.
God wants us to be able to freely exercise our God given, libertarian free will. He made us this way. But because we use our free will to hurt other people, we live in a world where evil exists.
So – couldn’t God take away our free will? Well – would we want to live lives without any free will? Clay Jones points out that, virtually every science fiction story touches upon the issues around free will. Maybe its Blade Runner, where replicants are seeking to free themselves from oppressive human beings. They want freedom … “and more life.” Maybe it’s Star Trek, and the Borg are seeking to take away our uniqueness and distinctiveness. They want us to join the collective and become just another drone. No – every fibre of being aboard the Enterprise fights against that notion. We are free beings. And the audience replies – amen! Human beings believe they are free, and they assert their power to maintain that freedom.
God Cannot Make a Free World Where there Is No Evil
So – in the final analysis, it turns out that there are some things God cannot do. He cannot create a square circle, and he cannot create a world full of free beings like us where there is not a possibility of evil.
If you want a world without evil, then welcome to the Borg collective. Which ironically, would be the ultimate evil for free people like us…
 Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum, A new argument against compatibilism, Oxford Academic, accessed 22nd August, 2019, https://academic.oup.com/analysis/article-abstract/74/1/20/301393?redirectedFrom=fulltext.
 1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV.
 Clay Jones, Why Does God Allow Evil? Compelling Answers for Life’s Toughest Questions, (Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2017), 20.
 Clay Jones, Sci-Fi, Free Will and the Problem of Evil, Clay Jones, accessed 22nd August, 2019, https://www.clayjones.net/2015/07/sci-fi-free-will-and-the-problem-of-evil/.