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FREE WILL DEFENCE FAILS
 
WHY GOD WOULD BE EVIL IF HE EXISTED AND WHY IT IS EVIL TO WORSHIP HIM


THE FREE WILL DEFENCE

The free will defence is an endeavour to shift the blame for evil and suffering from God to humanity. Its starting point is the alleged fact that there is no love unless it is freely given. If you are forced to love, then the love given is not yours. The love is not from us. Its not our own. So you have to be free to be able to love and freedom means being able to choose evil. God made us free for he wants us to love him and one another. We have misused this free will and caused all the suffering and sinning that are around us. They are not God's doing but ours.

The defence runs as follows. "A robot cannot love or hate but can only go through the motions. To be able to love or hate one must have free will. God wants us to love one another and him and this is the basic reason why he lets us sin and suffer. Our suffering and wickedness are worth free will. God cannot stop suffering without removing our power to love."

It is interesting that it is always said to be God who wants the love and not us. Would we care if we only went through the motions of love and thought we were free but were not? This shows that the defence is not really worried about what we go through at all but what God who has all things and who owns all things wants. To accept the defence is to be anti-love despite its claim to be pro-love. God must be against love when he gave us free will and thereby inferred the defence was right for the defence is not right for love is forbidden. The defence is incoherent. If all love starts with self-love then the God theory forbids love for it forbids self-love and demands that we make dirt of ourselves before this allegedly superior being.
 
Jesus made it clear that all our love must be given to God. You love others only because he asks it meaning the only one you love is actually him. That would make the free will defence purely about religion and God.

The free will defence implies that God alone matters (not just comes first) for when he makes it possible for us to do terrible things and inflict astonishing pain he must be doing it because he is not satisfied with anybody going through the motions of love for he could make us imagine we are free and he could trick himself. When he can allow evil though he is good he can do that. This leaves us with a terribly selfish deity.
 
Freedom for and freedom from are different. Is free will freedom from control? Yes. Is it freedom for doing something? Yes. If there is a choice which one should be chosen? Freedom from. Freedom for cannot happen without freedom from. This means free will is more about us than anything else. It contradicts the notion that God alone matters. And what about freedom for? Is freedom for me to help dying babies more important than for me to offer my freedom to God? Yes. That is another reason why the free will defence is evil nonsense.

The free will defence would appear to justify God letting us sin, that is, giving us the freedom to sin. But this would only be if free will resulted in more love and goodness than in sin and evil. It would be sheer madness to say that if free will were used only to do evil or to do mostly evil that giving it would be justified. It is held that the defence is no explanation for natural evils like earthquakes and plagues. But some would say that there are evil spirits who have free will and they are responsible for them. They try to explain every evil with the defence. But God can make the evil spirits imagine they are harming us as they afflict an illusionary world while we are safe in this one. Religion may propose another explanation: that they are punishments for the abuse of freedom. Since sin implies that punishment is right then the defence is an indirect explanation for evils that were not directly caused by human actions for it blames them on sin that needs to be punished. The defence leads directly and ineluctably to the punishment theory. Our will is conditioned and affected by our environment anyway so God could have made sure we have one that is more conducive to goodness.

Evil and sin are a falling short of good. It follows then that God hates using them for a purpose and hates needing them for a purpose as well but we force him. You can’t say God exists and have little or no evidence for him and then accuse the human race of being so depraved just for the sake of that being or belief to be more precise. Yet those who do this are the ones who would be angry at people who condone what their parents do in tramping over others just on the assumption or on the grounds of weak evidence that their parents mean well.

Free will is an evil theory for it is generally based on the false belief that we cannot believe in right and wrong without it and if you are going to reject a doctrine that denies free will just because you don't like the consequences or supposed consequences then you can't say you believe in right and wrong anyway for you are rejecting logic. Any system of morality built on the doctrine contradicts itself and is not really good.

The free will defence is the lynch pin of the good God doctrine. Without it, it would be more obviously unintelligible. But even with it there is little improvement. Some in the Church admit that the free will defence is wrong and does not get God off the hook because God is supposed to be closer to me than I am to myself (see 25-30, An Intelligent Persons Guide to Catholicism). These are the ones that use the excuse that we just have to accept that God is doing right to be so involved in our sins though we can't understand how he could be. They say that God is not one of us so we cannot judge him. But then what sense does it make to trust a being like that? You can't trust just anybody. You need adequate grounds for trusting and this doctrine is taking away any hope of finding a reason to trust God. It boils down to ordering people to trust God just because the Church says so. So who gets the benefit and the honour then when that is the motive? The Church of course! Notice this: to say the defence does not get God off the hook is to say that God consents to our sins just as much as we do which can only mean he sins when we sin. Talk about not being allowed to judge God cannot obscure this fact.
 
God is supposedly infinitely superior to us. Thus his dignity takes priority. If we have to be hurt or him, then it should be us. If we abuse our free will, God is far more responsible for that than we are. He gives us the power to abuse it in the first place. We only use the power. He makes it. Thus our free will that can be misused is not worth it. Thus God is evil if he exists. The free will defence is a miserable failure. 
 
RESPECTING FREEDOM IS NO EXCUSE

All agree that we only choose what we think is good.

We maintain that God could have made us free but without sin and suffering being part of the deal if the inability to choose evil for itself is free will as the world says. In other words, we can be free and we can love without the ability to sin. You know that all the evil you do is because you are not having the right thoughts all the time to press the right buttons in you. It is like when somebody provokes you and when you respond with violence. They could do it another time and you won't respond because someone close to you died recently and you see better that violence is evil because of it. If you had the thoughts the first time he provoked you would not have attacked. Memory is faulty and it prevents you from calling up the thoughts that will stop you from doing bad. Ignorance and bad memory are the causes of evildoing and its root, fear.

The book Religion is Reasonable by Fr Thomas Corbishley states that the person who has the highest freedom is the person who cannot do wrong because he or she is free from the weakness that leads to evil and evil is imperfection (page 27). If weakness leads to evil then it follows that to some extent we lose control of ourselves and so it is impossible to see how anybody could commit a mortal sin, reject good completely and thereby deserve endless torment in Hell, though Catholics and Muslims and many Protestant cults teach that they do. Even if the rejection is partial, force has had a part to play in the rejection so we were not totally free. We are never totally free when we sin. St Augustine said that to be able to choose evil is to be less free than you would be if you could only choose good (page 28). The Bible agrees for it sees sin as slavery. But this shows the fundamental incoherence of the users of the freedom defence. A God who does not make sure we will only choose good is really an evil God and is opposed to our complete freedom and wants his religion to be. God made the weakness that causes sin and the sin would not happen without the weakness so he is forcing a person into the situation that leads to sin. This is not a God but the devil.

When we see evil as good we choose it. We can prove this by experience (page 64, Arguing With God). We do anything we do for some good end. From this it follows that evil is insanity. It is not seeing what is there because of a disordered perception. Religion admits that sin or evil is insanity (Handbook of Christian Apologetics, page 303) and says this is why people stay in Hell forever. It is like a man falling in love with a statue of a woman and not the woman he should fall for. But if this is true then a person thinking about committing wrong and who then does the wrong may be the same as a person who decides to go mad and it happens. The choice of the person who went mad seemed to make him mad but in fact the madness was not caused by the choice but by other disorders in the person. It was the way the person was. Sin could be the same. It is an error to argue that we are responsible for the insanity of sin for we think before we do it for that is begging the question. The insanity exists the moment you decide to think about committing a sin for that is a sin itself.

The past life we have must cause us to see the evil we do as good by programming us to mistake it for good. This proves that it is logically possible for us to have free will and do only good and how it is done is by ensuring that we will only have the experiences that will promote good in us. When we do evil thinking it is good we might as well be doing real good. Technically, we should be rewarded for evil as for good especially if the religious principle that morality is about what is right and wrong in itself and not about consequences is correct.

Our choices are programmed by our past. God could program free agents to do good. It is making them freely choose good. If this is really removing freedom then we don't have freedom anyway for we cannot change what the past makes us to be. Even when we change it is because the past programmed us to change one day under the right conditions. There is no contradiction. It is like giving a free agent a curry knowing that she or he will eat it. It would be a contradiction to say that God forces us to be freely good in any other sense.

The idea of free will to sin is incoherent for if you are insane your free will has broken down.  There is no need for free will without the power to sin and it cannot exist without sin so free will is incoherent. It is a shameless lie.

The defence agrees with reason that the will only chooses what is thought to bring happiness (page 2, Moral Philosophy). We know this to be true. So-called altruism and living the doctrine that I must love my neighbour as myself is really self-indulgence and just self-love in disguise. When my only concern is my happiness there is no sense in a God letting me and other people make at one another like cats hungry to bring mice to a lingering death. When all each of us can do is look for happiness there is no point in suffering. When a Mother Teresa helps the poor because it makes her happy or content then there should be no poor and she would be as well soaking up the sun on a planet of paradise. There is no meaning in suffering then. The defence is incoherent. It only makes more sense if it forbids wilful pleasure and urges repentance for the pleasures that cannot be helped.

Religion says free will is needed for love. The need for free will does not permit God to let the innocent suffer. God could make each person hallucinate their life in this world and the people in it. That way the person could be as evil as possible and no innocent human person gets hurt. They think they live and wreak havoc in a world that does not exist. If God exists then your life, your friends and your enemies are unreal, all is a long dream sequence. This arrangement means that God is able to do all that can possibly be done to ensure that you are moulded in holiness. If other people exist in your life that makes it more awkward for him and he is forced to do what is best for the majority which is often detrimental to the individual. God could and would prevent you from thinking your earth-life is an illusion like we can be free and forget many things. He would if it is one so it is not for you can think it. If people are real then he unnecessarily allows us to harm them meaning he wants to punish them through us which permits us to maim and kill as long as we intend to be instruments of the wrath of God. Belief in God forbids compassion and love so the free will defence is evil. It contradicts itself in claiming to be for love and it is not.

The free will defence is a superstition. Religious people make God attractive by convincing the naïve that he wouldn't rape, molest children, murder and steal or anything like that. The Christian says that the apostles realised that Jesus Christ was sinless for he did none of these things. But some people lose their alleged free will and do these things. Their minds might snap and they might be on drugs. If I program a robot to kill the man next door I am a murderer. If I program it to rape I am a rapist though I didn't use my body to do it. The body parts I use to commit crimes with are as much my machinery as my robot. There is no difference between using my hand to kill and using a stick to do it. God is a rapist and all those other things. Christians might say that he does them for a purpose. If that is true then their absolutist ethics are fraudulent. Absolutism is the doctrine that certain degrading actions are always evil and wrong. It says there is never any reason for rape or murder. The absolutist has to condemn God as a sinner and refuse to pay homage to him. Absolutism, if true, is the only true code of proper behaviour but few absolutists know what they are talking about. Humanists do for they hold that anything that degrades self-esteem is always bad. The fact that mad rapists hurt women proves that this manifestation of evil cannot be reconciled with the goodness of God.

If one says that Jesus Christ would have been a sinner if he raped or murdered and allows these acts for a purpose then one is being hypocritical.
 
That people can say they like God when they have an "explanation" namely free will for his allowing evil is disturbing. You should never condone what looks bad but take it at face value as bad. It is easy to condone free will when it is other people who are doing the suffering. What about little animals that suffer?

If the defence were true we would be free all the time and not go crazy or anything like that for God would be incapable of sin.

If we always have a sin then we cannot do good so what use is free will then? Christianity says nobody is free from sin this side of Heaven. God would appear to every person and refute this belief if it is wrong for it stops Christians having free will. He could have stopped the Christian Church from being the largest cult in the world so he is either bad or impotent.

To choose God instead of yourself though you are certain you exist and are less certain that he does is to sacrifice your being and not just your pleasure and the more uncertain you are that God exists the bigger the sacrifice. God must want the being more than the suffering though sacrificing the being entails suffering. It is better for God to have a person than to have a person's suffering. The person is useful to him and precious and the suffering is not unless he is vindictive. The free will defence says that love is sacrifice implying that God wants the suffering and not the person for he could have the person without making the person suffer unduly as offering yourself to God does not feel all that bad. If God put force fields round us so that we could not harm we could still choose evil and will it would happen though it cannot harm others or ourselves. We could still mature for maturity is only intelligence. Religion likes to say that if we don't have the power to harm we cannot mature (page 41, The Case Against God, Gerald Priestland, Fount, London, 1984). The person cannot sacrifice very painfully so if the person offers themselves to God that is the best that they can do and it counts as a sacrifice for that reason. The persons can give themselves to God without using much suffering to do it. If he valued the person and not suffering he would accept the offering. He values the person's will to suffer more than the person when he hasn't made things that way. So much for his unconditional love. He did not give free will because he loves us at all.
 
The Church teaches that God did not intend for us to suffer at all but we started it (Question 19, Radio Replies 2). This tells us that we can be virtuous without suffering because God doesn't want people to suffer. Suffering must be intended for punishing us for abusing free will. Even if suffering is necessary to restore us to virtue, we consented to this treatment by requiring it by sin and so deserve the suffering we get. The free will defence has sinister implications or maybe you might introduce the view that God does want us to suffer innocently which is just as bad or worse. The problem arises then about what God would have to do if nobody ever abused their freedom. Some would say they would still need to suffer for their alleged growth in virtue.

The Church counsels that we must always look on the best side whenever a person does wrong. We must give the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. Then why does it accuse criminals and sinners of being immoral and not amoral? Amoral means that you don't see why you should be moral for you see no logic in it. The amoral person might confess to immorality and might be amoral in motive in doing so as well so there is no way of being sure. The Church knows that she may as well deny the existence of free will. So she sacrifices people and their reputations for her dogma. That is what she aims to do. The free will defence is undoubtedly an effusion of odium.
 
FWD DENIES THE REAL MOTIVE

The Free Will Defence is a charter for self-righteous hypocrisy.

When I sacrifice, I do what I want to do under the circumstances. Therefore it is not a sacrifice for I am after gratification. I crave the pleasure and nothing else. The person who does things for God or mammon is really doing them for herself or himself. The will does not deliberately choose good or evil but only goes for gratification that happens to be good or evil. A person's programming can be changed by the environment we create so that he or she will go after gratification that is wholesome for others as well which explains why some people are good though they used to practice evil. This disproves the free will defence for if sacrifice doesn't really happen as regards motives then it follows that we cannot give our will to God for it is focused on ourselves.

But it will be objected that though we are principally after gratification that we still know if what we are doing is evil or if it is good so I should not say that the free will defence is proven false by this fact. But if I am principally after gratification then that is the reason I am doing what I do and the good and evil thing is only like a side-effect. Also, when gratification is so powerful and is the cause of my good and evil actions and thoughts then it follows that if it is compatible with free will then God should make sure that it leads me only to do good. When it runs my life anyway it should run it for the sake of good. But when all my will really goes for is gratification it is nonsense to say I have free will. If all I do is to please myself then there is no point in God giving me the will and power to hurt other people for free will presupposes the power to please God or to displease him but I am not concerned about him at all. I am concerned about how I feel and not him. The doctrine of God implies that free will is true so what Christians are doing is assuming that God exists and bending the evidence to fit it instead of making sure free will is possible first. This is only about God and not people. They should not be willing to hurt people over a belief.

If you believe in God you have to deny that gratification is what free will is all about. You have to say that good is self-denial, doing good for others and for God and not giving a toss about yourself and this good must hurt yourself. You have to believe that love is sacrifice so suffering is to be sought and when it is found it is to be welcomed. God gave us free will for his own sake not ours for would you complain if you didn't have it but thought you did and were happy all the time? Too many Christians because of these corrupting doctrines look at human suffering and instead of having real compassion they fake it and just focus on how they are going to salvage God's good name. That is callous when he only did it for himself.

If the will is just after gratification then how can it be insane for one to do evil for it is sane to look for gratification and evil is just another form of it? The answer is that the gratification sought in evil is insane for evil breeds evil and pain for you. It is because it is an insane way to look for pleasure that it is insane. You think evil will make you happy but it cannot. The good commanded by religion is really evil for real happiness comes from loving yourself and putting yourself at the centre of your universe a view that religion bitterly opposes.
 
Finally
 
Blaming human beings not God for evil is ridiculous and callous and dangerous. Blaming implies, "I want to punish you with disapproval." The free will defence is intrinsically vindictive. The free will defence is begrudging. It would be a case of, "Its a pity you have to have free will in order to love because you can and might abuse it." The God who gives you free will is not your true friend. Free will would be a necessary evil. And we are not allowed to celebrate necessary evil.
 
BOOKS CONSULTED
 
AN INTELLIGENT PERSONS GUIDE TO CATHOLICISM, Alban McCoy, Continuum, London and New York, 1997
AN INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS, John Hospers, Routledge, London, 1992
APOLOGETICS AND CATHOLIC DOCTRINE, Most Rev M Sheehan DD, MH Gill & Co, Dublin, 1954
ARGUING WITH GOD, Hugh Sylvester IVP, London, 1971
CONTROVERSY: THE HUMANIST CHRISTIAN ENCOUNTER Hector Hawton, Pemberton Books, London, 1971
EVIL AND THE GOD OF LOVE, John Hicks, Fontana, London, 1977
FREE INQUIRY, Do We have Free Will? Article by Lewis Vaughn and Theodore Schick JR, Spring 1998. Vol 18 No 2, Council for Secular Humanism, Amherst, New York
GOD AND EVIL, Brian Davies OP, Catholic Truth Society, London, 1984
HANDBOOK OF CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS, Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli, Monarch, East Sussex, 1995
MORAL PHILOSOPHY, Joseph Rickaby SJ, Stonyhurst Philosophy Series, Longmans, Green and Co, London, 1912
PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY, Voltaire, Translated by Theodore Besterman, Penguin, London, 1972
RELIGION IS REASONABLE, Thomas Corbishley SJ, Burns & Oates, London, 1960
THE BIG QUESTIONS, Simon Blackburn, Quercus Books, London, 2009
THE CASE AGAINST GOD, Gerald Priestland, Collins, Fount Paperbacks, London, 1984
THE LIFE OF ALL LIVING, Fulton J Sheen, Image Books, New York, 1979
THE PUZZLE OF GOD, Peter Vardy, Collins, London, 1990
THE REALITY OF GOD AND THE PROBLEM OF EVIL, Brian Davies, Continuum, London-New York, 2006
THE TEACHING OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, Ed. Canon George D Smith, Ph.D. Burns and Oates and Washbourne, London, 1952
THE TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY, WH Turton, Wells Gardner, Darton & Co Ltd, London, 1905
UNBLIND FAITH, Michael J Langford, SCM, London, 1982
WHY DOES GOD? Domenico Grasso SJ, St Paul's, Bucks, 1970

BIBLE QUOTATIONS FROM:
The Amplified Bible

THE WWW
 
www.ffrf.org/fttoday/august97/barker.html
The Free Will Argument for the Non-Existence of God by Dan Barker