Free Will and Evil

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Some people think they can imagine a creature which has free will but has no possibility of turning bad. I cannot. If a creature is free to be good, it is also free to be bad. And free will is what made evil possible.

Why then, does God give His higher creatures free will? Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any love or goodness or joy worth having.

A world of automata — of creatures working like machines — would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs is the happiness of being freely, voluntarily united to Him and to each other in an ecstasy of love and delight.

Of course, God knew what would happen if we used our freedom the wrong way. Apparently, He thought it was worth the risk. Perhaps we might disagree with Him. But then again, it is difficult to disagree with God. He is the source from which our reasoning power comes. We cannot be right and He, wrong any more than a stream can rise higher than its own source!

 

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Noel Ethan Tan

Noel Ethan Tan

Noel is a Singaporean working as a rehabilitation counsellor at ACC(S) Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centre. He is currently doing a part-time Masters Program in Counselling and Guidance at NTU, Singapore. In his church ministry, Noel is currently serving in a young adults' Catholic community called Anawim that does Bible Exegesis. Noel is also pursuing a Certificate in Theology at the Catholic Theological Institute of Singapore. His favorite Bible verse is 1 Peter 3:15 — “In your hearts, reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it with gentleness and reverence.”

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2 thoughts on “Free Will and Evil”

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    Everything written here is true, and, if I may, add on to the truth that Noel has expressed. We have been created in the image of God, with free will. Without our God-given free will we would not be men. Yet, it is with this precious gift that we also can and do sin. St. Thomas Aquinas has written that God did not create sin, however, He permits it to exist. Why does God permit sin to exist? He permits sin to exist because He can bring forth good from that sin. He brings out more good than what we would have without the sin. A tiger is a beautiful creature created by God, yet it lives by killing other animals. If the evil of killing was not permitted the good of the tiger would not exist. An evil totalitarian dictator wantonly kills people. God permits this sin. Yet, without this evil we would not have the holy martyrs and saints. More good was brought out than the evil that was permitted. There is another point which must be brought to light. Even though God has graced us with free will, He desires that we keep our free will even though we use it to sin. Even if we use our free will to sin against Him. God will not prevent us from sinning. He will not stifle our free will. By using our free will we can choose to do His will or we can choose to disobey, or as another person with free will has said, we can choose “to not serve”.

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