A Theistic Dilemma
March 17, 2015 — 14:02

Author: Michael Almeida  Category: Concept of God Existence of God Free Will Problem of Evil Uncategorized  Tags: , , ,   Comments: 2

Here’s a dilemma that might be worrisome for theists. It’s, in any case, a worry for me. Consider, first, the thesis in  (1).

1. Possibly, God actualizes a morally perfect possible world or a morally very good possible world.

Most of us believe that (1) is true, indeed, many of us believe that (1) is necessarily true. But if we affirm (1), we have to deny (2).

2. Impossibly, God actualizes worlds with large amounts of gratuitous evil.

The negation of (2) follows from (1), since, necessarily, if there is a morally perfect world (or even some morally very good worlds), then (on any theory of free will you like) there are possible worlds that include large amounts of gratuitous or pointless evil. (see [1] and [2]). [I note in passing that, to put it as generously as possible, some forthcoming papers ’emulate’ the arguments in [1] and [2] on this point]. The argument in brief is that, if there are free libertarian agents in morally perfect and morally good worlds, then of course there are worlds in which those agents go wrong. And even if there are compatibilist-free agents in the morally perfect worlds and morally good worlds, then there are worlds where they go wrong. (see [3]).

The Dilemma:

Either (i) necessarily, God does not actualize a morally very good world or (ii) it’s possible that God actualizes worlds with large amount of gratuitous evil. Both look false.

[1] Freedom, God, and Worlds (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), See the impossibility arguments in chapters 5.2 – 5.5.

[2] ‘The Logical Problem of Evil Redux‘, Peter A. French and Howard K. Wettstein (eds.) Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Volume XXXVI: “The Concept of Evil.” (2012) 163-178

[3] ‘Bringing About Perfect Worlds‘, (under review)

  • It seems to me that the dilemma is with the idea that God actualized any SPECIFIC world at all. It seems to me that such dilemmas are avoided in the proposition that a morally perfect being would actualize a *kind of world rather than a *specific world.

    March 29, 2015 — 7:47
  • Michael Almeida

    The dilemma does not assume that God actualizes a specific world (not, I add, that there’s any genuine problem with that). It assumes that God actualizes a kind of world, a morally perfect world. There are infinitely many morally perfect worlds.

    March 29, 2015 — 9:12
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