What amount of free will is necessary for Plantinga's "Free Will defense?"

The “Free Will” defence is the most common and possibly single most powerful response to the Problem of Evil. Though it doesn’t address natural evils it makes many human caused evils much more understandable under a benevolent God. That being said, I have always understood the argument needs LFW (Libertarian Free Will) to function. But the more I look into the free will debate I find it less and less likely free will exists under the libertarian model. Compatiblism seems to be much more likely. But compatiblism doesn’t play well the the “Free Will Defence.” So I suppose this is really two questions. What theodicies (if any) remain under compatiblism, and is there any hope left for LFW? A recent reddit thread I stumbled upon was not at all impressed with the odds:


For the record:

  • My “like” was for your rolling this issue out on the public stage and for the link to the Reddit thread.
  • In the Reddit thread, I resonate with:
    • a theistic world view opens up a genuine possibility for libertarian freedom, a claim I’ll take a step further: there are no substantial arguments in favor of libertarian free will outside of a theistic context.
      • At this time, I’ll take that claim even further with these words from Acts 4:10-12: "let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
  • I consider myself to be an amateur “hard-boiled” Determinist.
  • Responding to:

This morning, I wrote:

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I have no idea what free will is and how it justifies God creating as if He didn’t.

I infer that God has no option. It’s nature or nothing. Transcendence can only happen to the natural; nothing can be created transcendent. Whither angels? Hmmmmm.

Forgive me, but what do you mean by “Hath God Said?” My experience is mostly in philosophy not related to the free will and religion so (What I think is) a Theology reference flies right over my head.

Those were the words of the serpent in Genesis 3:1 (KJV). I don’t think @Terry_Sampson meant it as a criticism of @jpm, but the idea that we have to doubt to find meaning I don’t think necessarily follows. If you consider a Father-child relationship, meaning can be found in love without doubt. Similarly, little children do not think that their lives have no meaning.

The issue is the classic PoE.

If God is all good why allow any evil? It’s often used an an attempted defeater for belief in Omni benevolent God.

Define “nature” why couldn’t God create a natural world with less evil for example? Anything less and he wouldn’t be “all good.” Just, really good.

I should have addressed the free will part of that… There doesn’t have to be doubt to have free will.

Sorry, it was a Biblical reference and beyond your ken.

  • Garden of Eden, containing

And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

  • And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
  • Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
  • And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
  • But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
  • And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
  • For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
  • And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
  • And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
  • And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

Some might argue as a response to Devine Hiddenness we can’t truly be free if God is looming over us all the time making his presence known. But I find that argument kinda weak. Plus Romans 1:20 kinda contradicts this.

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My inferences may be somewhat abstruse…

My turn: What’s PoE?

Definitely, I didn’t.

I can’t remember when I first wondered if my life had meaning or not. Possibly in 1966, when I was 17 and the love of my life found another to love more than me.

The sequence of events in the story of the Fall matters:

PoE: Problem of Evil, I presume.

I don’t see a contradiction.

Sorry. It stands for Problem of Evil

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Neither do I. However, does seem to be something missing. Let’s see.

  • Garden of Eden with Tree of Life and Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
    • All is good. No doubts; no searches for meaning necessary.
  • First instruction: “Don’t touch; you’ll die.”
    • If the Instructor or the meaning of “Don’t touch” or the meaning of “you’ll die” is unknown, touching the Tree was an accident and the meaning of “you’ll die” becomes known.
    • On the other hand, if the Instructor is the known Provider of all things wanted, and the only thing you’re told not to touch is one itty-bitty, ol’ tree that you’ve never touched before, “Don’t touch” is an easy instruction to comply with and there are no doubts and no search for meaning. It’s enough that the Instructor said: “Don’t touch.” Is there a “choice”? Not really, IMO, because you have no reason to want to “touch”.
  • Enter the protagonist, i.e. the 4-legged serpent, who asks: “Hath God said?”
  • Well gee, I dunno; maybe He was messing with my mind or maybe I misunderstood what He meant; or maybe He was lying. That fruit does look pretty; what if I take a little bitty bite? >>> Choice. Infamous Free Will is born: “sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”
  • Nibble-nibble, … Yum, the fruit tastes good, I think my Free Will wants me to eat the whole thing. Heck! I’ll see if Adam wants some too.
  • From where I sit, it looks like loss of certainty starts the ball rolling, doubt arises, and the search for certainty begins. In the absence of certainty, a search for new meaning ensues.
  • Is God to blame? Only if you don’t think he has the authority to issue a simple instruction or shouldn’t have put that darn Tree in the Garden in the first place.
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Well most will object he shouldn’t have out the tree there. Some even compare it to putting dangerous chemicals in a room with a kid and saying, “Don’t touch that” and being angry when they do. You could have just not put the chemicals there.


:laughing: That’s funny: His mercy is a “defeater for belief” in His omnibenevolence.
Good reason to bring back the guillotine and eliminate prisons, I suppose.

Do they also push for permits to breed and pre-permit background checks and psych evaluations?

It was there before. Adam could choose all kinds of things freely. Maybe a sinful choice hadn’t presented itself until then.

Neat! Free Will works best in a world where any choice is okay.

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Or one where we no longer ever want to make sinful choices because our hearts are completely pure.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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