Is it Possible for God to Provide "Partial Free Will" and Eliminate All Evil?
by Rich Deem

Introduction

Partial Free Will?

Numerous atheists have written to us with a proposal on how God could have allowed "partial free will" and prevented all evil. Of course, their "solution" was for God to prevent all evil choices. Therefore, humans could only make good choices. Is this really "free will?"

Rich Deem

Can God just prevent people from making evil choices, thereby eliminating evil, while allowing "free will?" On the surface, this idea seems like a simple, logical solution God could have used in the design of the universe. Okay, let's try it on a practical problem.

Email and human evil

I have personally experienced the problem of evil and have attempted the above "solution." The evil that I have attempted to eliminate is "email evil." Back in 1997, when this site first began, my email address was linked directly on the front page of the website. One can equate this situation as being complete "email free will." The problem with complete email free will is that it encourages the exercise of evil. People devised evil schemes to harvest my email address and sell it to lots of other evil people who wanted to sell me insurance, loans, and ED medications. So, my first attempt to prevent email evil involved setting up a form in which the email address was part of a form. However, evil people figured out how to harvest the email address from the "hidden" parts of my form. So, my next step was to use a form that hid my email address in an "invisible" file separate from the form. I deleted my old email address and setup a new one. This solution worked for a while. However, some evil people figured out how to submit multiple emails containing multiple ads using my form. They didn't need my email address, since they could send me spam automatically, using my own form software. So, I needed another solution. The next way to prevent email evil was to use a form that required the user to enter a randomly-displayed, graphic text image (CAPTCHA).1 The automatic form submitters could not guess the randomly-generated text, and so were eliminated from sending spam. Only one time, did a spammer take the time to randomly enter the text from the graphic image.

However, the website was becoming more and more popular and Google was ranking a large number of pages high in its search results (probably how most of you got here). As a result, lots of atheists visited the site (a good thing), although a significant percentage of those who wrote me (about half) wanted to leave hate mail (with no constructive criticisms). However, not wanting to be confronted on their evil, they would usually would not put their email address in the email form box (just some random text). So, I put in a JavaScript code that checked email addresses for the proper format. So, the atheists just made up email addresses that didn't exist. I would spend a few minutes to an hour responding to their email to have it bounce back as being non-existent. Needless to say, this was very frustrating. The next way to restrict free will was to instigate a server function (BoxTrapper) that operates on the email account directly. This program does not deliver any email until the user replies to an auto-response-generated email. BoxTrapper does not prevent email evil, but does prevent me from having to deal with the majority of it. However, even after instituting BoxTrapper, there are numerous atheists who feel the need to call me stupid or ignorant and use expletives to "prove" their point. So, even though I have taken great pains to reduce the ability of people to express their evil free will, people still find a way to get around all those efforts. Maybe I could automatically reject emails that contain certain words? However, when this is done on discussion boards, the users get around this ban by inserting "*#%@" at strategic positions within swear words. Ultimately, efforts to prevent evil do not prevent the source of evil - the human mind.

Eliminate evil and keep free will?

For those of you who don't get the connection between email and evil, let me explain the analogy. My efforts to eliminate email evil restrict the ability of people to commit evil in certain ways. These efforts are analogous to changing the laws of the universe to restrict the exercise of evil. However, as can be seen by the results, my efforts restricted only some (although probably the majority) email evil. However, there was no way to eliminate all evil through changing the "laws of physics," since it originates within the human mind. So, the only way to eliminate all evil is to actually restrict the functioning of the human mind - in other words, restrict free will. So, all claims by atheists that God could prevent all evil choices, but allow free will are specious. In reality, the atheists' "solution" has taken away human free will and turned human beings into robots. Although it solves the problem of evil, it destroys the primary reason why God created the universe in the first place - to allow free will beings the choice of loving or rejecting Him.2 God finds such a "solution" unacceptable (Why create a universe in which its primary purpose is unattainable?). However, this kind of evil-free universe does exist for those who want it and choose it in this universe. It is called heaven.

God has restricted evil

The laws of physics of our universe actually do prevent large amounts of evil that could have been committed by human beings had those laws been different. For example, extending human life spans to hundreds or thousands of years would have resulted in evil people living longer and having more time to devise more evil schemes to perpetrate on their fellow human beings. Additionally, giving human beings the power to easily travel throughout the universe and manipulate it at will would have resulted in unimaginable evil. When somebody got angry at somebody else, they could just hurl another star into that person's planet to destroy it. So God has created a universe in which, for practical purposes, we are restricted to our own solar system, and can't really do anything drastic enough to mess it up. Even a cursory examination of the universe reveals many ways in which God could have allowed humans the ability to commit much more evil. To me, it seems likely that the design of this universe is optimal for the restriction of most evil, while still allowing free will.

Conclusion Top of page

Yes, God could have eliminated all evil in the design of His universe. However, such a universe would have been unable to accomplish the main purpose for which God created the universe in the first place - to allow free will choice by human beings. God has designed the laws of the universe so that human beings are unable to exhibit unlimited amounts of evil. However, it is not possible to design a universe in which the exercise of evil is completely eliminated, since evil begins in the minds of human beings. To restrict the minds of human beings is to turn them into robots. Although this approach might seem attractive (especially with some people we know), it would prevent people from expressing true love - for each other and for God their Creator.



References Top of page

  1. See Wikipedia article on CAPTCHA
  2. See There is Too Much Evil and Suffering For God to Exist?

http://godandscience.org/apologetics/evil_free_will.html
Last updated May 24, 2008

 

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