Alvin Plantinga’s free will defense of problem of evil

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    This “philosopher” has recently been brought to my attention. I don’t know too much about him but read a few of his writings and am already very much biased against him as to whether he’s even a philosopher at all or merely is a theist in philosopher clothing.

    Following is a mental exploration. This is how Plantinga “solved” the problem of evil. For those unfamiliar with problem of evil, here it is in syllogistic form:

    1 An all-powerful (omnipotent) God could prevent evil from existing in the world.
    2 An all-knowing (omniscient) God would know that there was evil in the world.
    3 An all-good (omnibenevolent) God would wish to prevent evil from existing in the world.
    4 There is evil in the world.
    therefore. “Given that the fourth proposition would appear to be undeniable, it can be inferred from the above that one of the other three must be false, and thus there cannot be an all-good, all-knowing and all-powerful God.”

    As Plantinga summarised his defense:

    A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all. Now God can create free creatures, but He can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, He must create creatures capable of moral evil; and He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so. As it turned out, sadly enough, some of the free creatures God created went wrong in the exercise of their freedom; this is the source of moral evil. The fact that free creatures sometimes go wrong, however, counts neither against God’s omnipotence nor against His goodness; for He could have forestalled the occurrence of moral evil only by removing the possibility of moral good.

    Plantinga’s argument is that even though God is omnipotent, it is possible that it was not in his power to create a world containing moral good but no moral evil; therefore, there is no logical inconsistency involved when God, although wholly good, creates a world of free creatures who chose to do evil.] The argument relies on the following propositions:

    There are possible worlds that even an omnipotent being can not actualize.
    A world with morally free creatures producing only moral good is such a world.

    In short: “It is possible that God, even being omnipotent, could not create a world with free creatures who never choose evil. Furthermore, it is possible that God, even being omnibenevolent, would desire to create a world which contains evil if moral goodness requires free moral creatures.”


    1 God is not omnipotent -> Plantinga is cherry picking the definition of the word “omnipotent” to be defined as everything only God is capable of but not capable of creating a being that he has control over.
    2 God is not omnibenevolent -> Plantgina does not preclude that God punishes those who are morally “bad”, therefore, God produces beings knowing eventually they will become morally bad. And, instead of punishing himself for producing morally corrupt beings, he punishes the corrupt beings. So, God is not omnibenevolent but an irresponsible God who makes his creatures take his blame or/and a perverse God who create beings specifically for the purpose of punishing them.

    To me, he hasn’t solved a single thing but merely did a hocus pocus job of redefining what “omnipotent” and “omnibenevolent” means.


    • This topic was modified 4 years, 5 months ago by etane etane.
    • This topic was modified 4 years, 4 months ago by  ube_ gen.
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