Couldn’t God Create a World Where Evil Doesn’t Exist?

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.

For example:

  1. If Compatibilism is true, then all events are necessitated (whether I realise that or not).
  2. If all events are necessitated, then there are no powers.
  3. Free will consists in the exercise of an agent’s powers.
  4. The world is full of agents exercising power.
  5. Therefore these agents have free will.[1]

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.”[2] 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.”[3] 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.[4] 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…

 

[1] 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.

[2] 1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV.

[3] Clay Jones, Why Does God Allow Evil? Compelling Answers for Life’s Toughest Questions, (Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2017), 20.

[4] 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/.

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Respond

I live in the UK, I'm married to Janet and I'm passionate about proposing a case for the historic Christian faith. You can find me on Twitter at @stuhgray.

22 thoughts on “Couldn’t God Create a World Where Evil Doesn’t Exist?”

    1. The Bible’s position would be that heaven is devoid of evil and is also free. So, it’s reasonable to assume that people in heaven will be able to exercise their free will, but with no danger of doing sin and evil. Can’t wait.

      1. The entire point of your article was to say that it would be logically impossible for God to create a world which is both free and devoid of evil. So, are you now saying that your article is incorrect? Or are you claiming that God did not create heaven?

      2. No – I am saying neither.

        I’m not saying my article is incorrect, and I’m not saying God did not create heaven.

        I did not address heaven in the blog at all – it was you that brought it up. Heaven is a completely different domain from the world we currently inhabit. The people who inhabit heaven are reportedly perfected in a way we currently are not.

        Heaven does not reportedly suffer the effects of the fall in the same way that our current world today does. Humans are free in heaven yet choose not to rebel against God in heaven. Human existence in heaven will therefore be different to our earthly existence today.

        Basically – it seems inappropriate to apply the argument in my blog to heaven, when it’s actually talking about the world.

      3. Actually – thanks for this. I think what IS logically impossible is…

        “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.”

        So – there is always the possibility of evil. Today it is inevitable. But in heaven – this possibility does not obtain.

        Again – thanks for pointing to this…

      4. Then it seems entirely possible that an omnipotent deity could have created a free world which does not obtain the existence of evil despite that existence being possible. I don’t see how this answers the original problem.

      5. Right. Well, the Bibles position is this, I think:

        So, an omnipotent and just and loving being creates. Evil gets traced back to mankind’s original free will choice to reject God at the Fall. Man used his will to reject God at the Fall and there have been consequences for this.

        Yet even tho the consequences of this affect the world and the people here, we can still freely choose to follow God now today. Or not.

        The heaven state you helpfully pointed to earlier…is different to the world now because it’s only full of people who willfully choose to love and worship God and are able to do so without doing evil.

      6. Right. The question is, “Why not create a world only full of people who willfully choose to act without doing evil instead of the world in which we live?”

        You seem to believe that such a world is logically possible and you point to heaven as an example. So it seems that an omnipotent, omniscient deity COULD have made that world instead of this one, had he so chosen.

      7. That world is logically possible if the people have willfully chosen to live that way. Otherwise we are back to determinism and compatibilism. Neither of which seem to account for things as they are.

        When God creates your world – I think he has determined it. So we aren’t free in a libertarian sense. Would you want to live in a determined world like that? I wouldn’t – I value freedom.

  1. Stuart, I think boxing Pythagoras is trying to point out a flaw in the premise of your post regarding free will and sin. You should really think about it.

      1. And why put a tempter in the garden, knowing beforehand that they would sin, and then punish them and the serpent… Rather than accepting the blame for creating it and placing it in the garden for the very purpose of toying them to sin?

      2. It’s almost like God really wants all his creations to enjoy free will…despite the risks. Do you want to blame God for giving men and angels free will? Don’t you enjoy your freedom? You certainly can’t logically blame God for the actions of men or angels who decide to rebel against him…

  2. Still a different question might be… I God created a perfect Adam and a perfect Eve, and placed them in a sinless and perfect world, before the “fall” corrupted both their nature’s and the world’s… How were they able to sin without a Sin Nature?
    Wouldn’t they have been like the Angels or as believers in heaven will be? Able to an but not willing?

    1. “How were they able to sin without a Sin Nature?”
      By using their free will to reject God and go it alone. That was reportedly enough to do it. The sin nature…well, that came as a consequence of this fall.

      1. No it does not say that. It says we will have free will in heaven, and it says there is no sin in heaven. Ergo…someone in heaven could act rebelliously against God, but they won’t want to. I imagine there are many reasons why that could be the case…

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