Religious responses - The role of freewill

The concept of freewill is implicit in both the Augustinian type theodicy and the Irenaean type theodicy.

  1. Click on the religious response to the problem of evil and suffering and then click on the criticism and evaluate both viewpoints.
  2. Consider what responses could be made to the criticisms.
  3. Then use the slider to decide which argument you think is most successful.

The
problem of evil and suffering – Page 6

Religious response
Criticism

The idea of freewill

The idea of freewill is implicit in both of the main theodicies:

  • In the Augustinian type theodicy, evil in the world is due to humanity's misuse of the gift of freewill. God created a world in which human beings could decide freely to love and obey God.
  • In Hick’s theodicy, people have freedom to come to God since God deliberately creates a world in which it is not overwhelmingly evident that there is a God. Human goodness occurs through making free and responsible moral choices, in situations of difficulty and temptation.
  • God cannot intervene because to do so would compromise human freedom and take away the need for humans to be responsible, thus preventing human development; ‘The less he allows men to bring about large scale horrors, the less freedom and responsibility he gives them ’ (Richard Swinburne).
  • The idea of freewill fails to answer the criticism that divine love cannot be expressed through suffering.
  • J.L. Mackie observed: ‘God was not, then, faced with a choice between making innocent automata and making beings who, in acting freely, would sometimes go wrong: there was open to him the obviously better possibility of making beings who would act freely but always choose right ’.
  • Freewill means that God is not omnipotent since God cannot control the choices that human beings make.
  • God could have chosen to create a world without free creatures.
  • There is no justification for natural evil.