The Problem of Heaven (part 1)

by Luke Muehlhauser on July 2, 2011 in Christian Theology,Guest Post

Guest blogger John D of Philosophical Disquisitions summarizes contemporary articles in philosophy of religion in plain talk so that you can be up to speed on the God debate as it ensues at the highest levels of thought. Visit John’s blog for more helpful summaries of contemporary philosophical works.

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Heaven is a place where people enjoy eternally a supremely worthwhile happiness… [A] man in Heaven would be in a situation of supreme value.

- Swinburne, “A Theodicy of Heaven and Hell” (1983)

In my most recent series of posts (on the topic of natural evil), I made some allusions to something called the problem of heaven. I did so in order to support certain criticisms of theistic responses to the problem of evil. Since these allusions were, no doubt, maddeningly vague, I decided it might behoove me to do a whole series on the problem of heaven. That is what you are now reading.

The series will be based on some material contained in chapter 6 of Graham Oppy’s book Arguing about Gods (pp. 314-329 to be precise). In that chapter, Oppy deals with the full gamut of logical and evidential problems of evil, only turning to the problem of heaven at the very end. This order of presentation makes sense because heaven only really poses a problem in light of certain standard theistic strategies for dealing with evil. In this post, we will first outline those strategies and then develop in full the problem of heaven. In future posts, we will deal with the possible theistic responses to the problem.

 

Free Will Defences and Free Will Theodicies

Arguments from evil typically work by pointing out the inconsistency between the existence of evil and the existence of a morally perfect being. Some arguments propose that the inconsistency is logical, i.e. no amount of evil is compatible with the existence of God; other arguments propose that the inconsistency is evidential, i.e. a small volume of evil is compatible but not a large volume (or, rather, a large volume reduces the probability of God’s existence).

To complicate things, as we saw in the last series, there are two main categories of evil that are discussed in these debates: (i) moral evil and (ii) natural evil. Moral evil is evil resulting from the actions of agents with free will; natural evil is evil resulting from the operation of the laws of nature. Focusing for now on moral evil, consider the following version of the logical problem (terminology is explained afterwards):

(1) Necessarily, a perfect being can just choose to make an A-universe. (Premise)

(2) Necessarily, A-universes are better than non-A-universes in which there are free agents. (Premise)

(3) Necessarily, if a perfect being has a choice between options, and one of those options is non-arbitrarily better than the other options, then the perfect being chooses the non-arbitrarily better option. (Premise)

(4) Hence, necessarily, if a perfect being makes a universe that contains free agents, then it makes an A-universe. (From 1, 2, and 3)

(5) Our universe contains free agents, but it is not an A-universe. (Premise)

(6) Hence, it is not the case that a perfect being made our universe (From 4 and 5)

This argument (which is Oppy’s creation) makes use of the unusual terminology “A-universes”. This is simply his name for universes that are non-arbitrarily better than all other universes containing free agents. He says that A-universes could contain free agents, but they would be free agents who always chose to do the good. And just to to clarify, by “free agent” here is meant an agent with libertarian free will.

The argument just given contains the typical non-theistic rationale for the logical problem of evil: God could have created a universe in which agents did not perform moral evils; and that universe could have contained agents with free will (provided they simply always chose to do the good). The fact that ours is not such a universe is proof that it was not created by a perfect being.

The, by now standard, reply to this argument is that of the free will defence. According to this defence, a proper analysis of the libertarian conception of free will reveals that premise (1) is false: it is not possible for a perfect being to create an A-universe because agents with libertarian freedom have to commit evil in some possible universes. This defence seems to successfully dissolve the logical problem of evil. But in order for it to work, we must assume that libertarian free will is such a great good that a perfect being is justified in creating a universe with it, instead of one without it. This, as we shall see, poses a problem for the traditional conception of heaven.

It’s worth also mentioning free will theodicies here. These are typically adopted in response to weaker versions of the problem of evil. They come in different forms but they share the assumption that it is possible (for all we know) that the kinds of evil we find in this universe are a perfect trade-off against the goods realised through the existence of free agents. This blunts the force of the problem of evil but does so at some costs. In particular, it also poses a problem for the traditional conception of heaven, as we are about to see.

 

The Problem of Heaven

You’ve probably had enough stage-setting by now and are anxious to get on to the main event, the problem of Heaven itself. So let’s formulate that now. Following tradition, we are generally led to believe that heaven is a place of supreme value: well worth spending eternity in anyway. What’s more, its supposedly a damn sight better than this veil of tears we’re currently landed in, what with its moral and natural evils and all that. All of this seems to be implied by the quotes from Swinburne given at the start of this post.

But this conception of Heaven raises some obvious questions: are we to assume that there no moral evil in Heaven? If so, then what about the great good of free will? Are there free agents in Heaven who always choose to do the good? If so, then why couldn’t the universe have been like that? If there is moral evil in Heaven, then in what sense is it a place of supreme value? These rhetorical jibes can be made into a respectable argument. As follows:

(1) Necessarily, there is no evil in heaven (premise).

(2) If there is morally significant free will in Heaven, then it is not the case that, necessarily, there is no moral evil in heaven (premise, from free will defence).

(3) Therefore, there is no morally significant freedom in heaven.

(4) Heaven is a domain in which the greatest goods are realised (premise).

(5) Therefore, the greatest goods are realised in a domain in which there is no morally significant free will.

(6) A perfect being can choose to create any domain that it is logically possible to create (premise, appeal to omnipotence).

(7) Therefore, a perfect being can choose to create a domain in which the greatest goods are realised and in which there is no moral evil.

(8) A world that contains the greatest goods and no moral evil is non-arbitrarily better than any world that contains the greatest goods, incomparably lesser goods, and the amounts and kinds of evils that are found in our universe.

(9) If a perfect being faces a choice among options and one of those options is non-arbitrarily better than the others, then the perfect being will choose the non-arbitrarily better one.

(10) Therefore, it is not the case that a perfect being made our universe.

Let’s talk about each of the premises of this argument. Premise (1) is justified by appeal to the orthodox conception of heaven. Premise (2) is justified by appeal to the libertarian conception of free will that motivates the free will defence. Premise (3) then follows. Premise (4) is justified by appeal to the orthodox conception of heaven. Premise (5) follows from (3) and (4). Premise (6) is justified by a standard philosophical parsing of omnipotence, and premise (7) follows when (6) and (5) are combined (and when you bear in mind that a world with no morally significant free will would have no moral evil). Premise (8) seems to be straightforward enough. Premise (9) is justified by appeal to the notion of a morally perfect being — the feeling is that such a being would surely always choose the morally best option. The conclusion (10) then follows from the conjunction of (7), (8) and (9).

The result is that we seem to have a powerful argument against the existence of God emanating from the traditional responses to the problem of evil and the orthodox conception of heaven.

There are, of course, some obvious ways out of this problem. In the remaining entries in this series we will consider three of them:

(i) There is, contra to tradition, evil in heaven.

(ii) There are alternative analyses of free will that avoid this problem.

(iii) Not all great goods are heavenly goods.

We’ll start with the first of those the next day.

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{ 183 comments… read them below or add one }

Zeb July 2, 2011 at 7:03 am

In Christian tradition, both Heaven and “Earth” (the physical world, not the planet) were created as places with free willed agents and no moral or natural evil, but in both places moral evil was introduced by those agents. I’m very interested to see the rest of this series. I’d like to see the argument for the necessity of the existence of moral evil, and not just its possibility. It seems to me that if a world without moral evil is better than one with moral evil, and a world with free will is better than one without free will, then a perfect being would choose a world without moral evil but with free will, such that moral evil is necessarily possible but not necessarily actualized.

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gwern July 2, 2011 at 7:51 am

In Christian tradition, both Heaven and “Earth” (the physical world, not the planet) were created as places with free willed agents and no moral or natural evil, but in both places moral evil was introduced by those agents. I’m very interested to see the rest of this series. I’d like to see the argument for the necessity of the existence of moral evil, and not just its possibility.

Yes, the first premise troubles me – why can’t there be evil in Heaven? In fact, aren’t many Christians obligated to believe that there has been evil in Heaven, because of the rebellion of Lucifer and the other angels? It’s hard to believe that either the rebellion wasn’t evil (and so could take place in Heaven), or took place exclusively outside Heaven.

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Kyle Foley July 2, 2011 at 8:21 am

my posts aren’t showing up

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Reginald Selkirk July 2, 2011 at 11:53 am

the God debate as it ensues at the highest levels of thought.

Blessed are the humble.

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Kyle Foley July 2, 2011 at 12:31 pm

I put my critique of your critique of fine tuning on the nov 29 2010 post. are you going to defend yourself?

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Ryan M July 2, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Kyle, Luke clearly has different interests now, so I don’t see why he would respond even if he could. Why are you so insistent on getting him to respond anyways?

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Bill Maher July 2, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Kyle,

There is no point in responding because your argument is garbage. “Evolution is a tautalogy” and your point that “proteins for simple bacteria, the odds of them forming spontaneously and all working together are easily beyond 1 in 10^30,000″ have long been debunked.

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Kyle Foley July 2, 2011 at 1:31 pm

If it’s been debunked then why don’t you prove it. I won’t expect a coherent answer from you, because you don’t even realize what a non-argument is. If you had any respect for logic you would use it.

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Kyle Foley July 2, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Ryan,

Luke’s interests are promoting atheism. If he can’t even answer the most fundamental argument against atheism (fine-tuning) then he can’t even fulfill his mission. Since you’re defending him, let’s see you refute the argument against fine tuning

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Ryan M July 2, 2011 at 1:49 pm

I don’t think Luke’s interest is in the promotion of atheism anymore, but rather working on ethics and artificial intelligence.

Also I’m not interested in defending his argument. In addition to that, maybe its the case that Luke doesn’t think your argument is worth responding to. I’m sure the Alexander Pruss types out there don’t want to respond to every objection to theism they find, they can have objections and arguments in their head to keep their beliefs going strong.

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cl July 2, 2011 at 2:06 pm

John D,

Premise (5) follows from (3) and (4).

From what I can see, here’s the problem:

(4) Hence, necessarily, if a perfect being makes a universe that contains free agents, then it makes an A-universe. (From 1, 2, and 3)

(5) Our universe contains free agents, but it is not an A-universe. (Premise)

Presuming I understand the term “A-universe” correctly, I agree with (4), but (5) is a non-sequitur, and doesn’t follow from (4). That our universe is not currently an A-universe is irrelevant. What matters is whether or not our universe was initially created an A-universe, and the Bible states that it was. Sure, one might attack that from an evidential angle, but from the logical angle, the biblical theist is covered. The biblical theist doesn’t need the three proffered ways out. At the very least, Oppy’s argument would have to retreat to some variant of, “a perfect being would prevent imperfect free-willed agents from vitiating an A-universe,” or something of that nature. Yet that seems destined to fail, because the minute you prevent agents, they are no longer free-willed. IMO, Oppy’s argument actually seems better suited for proving the God of the Bible!

The argument’s apparent failure aside, the following is indeed a fruitful question to pursue:

Are there free agents in Heaven who always choose to do the good? If so, then why couldn’t the universe have been like that?

Sometimes I wonder if this doesn’t boil down to the necessity of experience. How could we really know the negative effects of sin unless we are allowed to feel them? Once felt, do we not gain the luxury of an epistemological precedent? It seems that’s one direction an answer to that question might take.

Zeb,

It seems to me that if a world without moral evil is better than one with moral evil, and a world with free will is better than one without free will, then a perfect being would choose a world without moral evil but with free will, such that moral evil is necessarily possible but not necessarily actualized.

Yeah, it seems that way to me, too. According to my Bible, this is exactly the type of world God created.

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Contingent A Priori July 2, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I put my critique of your critique of fine tuning on the nov 29 2010 post. are you going to defend yourself?

1.) Check the archives. Luke’s new focus is primarily about issues involving rationality and Friendly AI.

Or just look at the banner to his website: “Atheism is just the beginning – now it’s time to solver the harder questions.”

Atheism is the “given” starting point for him. Going forward it isn’t so much something that he is promoting but will assume as a common starting point for future conversations. Hence why he is probably not going to respond to someone challenging him to “defend himself.”

2.) Why do you care so much about Luke paying attention to you? What is it about Luke that fascinates you so much? There are several people on the internet that you will disagree with. Most of them won’t have the time nor the interest in responding.
Chances are that you won’t change people’s minds nor “win” battles in the way that you imagine.

Find a good book and spend your time reading rather than challenging the owner’s of blogs.

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John D July 2, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Cl,

You’ve mixed together the premises from two separate arguments there.

I would agree that (5) doesn’t follow from (3) and (4) in the first argument. But that’s because (5) is an independent premise there. The claim is that (5) does follow from (3) and (4) in the second argument. Maybe I should have used continuous numbering.

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cl July 2, 2011 at 4:35 pm

You’ve mixed together the premises from two separate arguments there.

I don’t think I did. I checked, and I saw that I took the premises from the same argument, the first one, from Oppy. However, I *did* mistakenly attribute your “Premise (5) follows from (3) and (4)” to that first Oppy argument, when in fact that statement of yours went with the 10-premise argument. So, mea culpa there.

However, mention of this minor mistake doesn’t seem to dissolve my counterargument, which seems a valid response to (9) from the second argument: God *did* choose the non-arbitrarily better option, so (10) doesn’t follow.

Am I missing something?

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Bill Maher July 2, 2011 at 6:17 pm

“If it’s been debunked then why don’t you prove it. I won’t expect a coherent answer from you, because you don’t even realize what a non-argument is. If you had any respect for logic you would use it.”

Apparently I gave you too much credit in thinking that you can type something in on the internet. It wont happen again.

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Bill Maher July 2, 2011 at 6:32 pm

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolphil/tautology.html
If you think John is wrong, feel free to argue with him here. He is usually up for some words: http://evolvingthoughts.net/

and for the bacteria, no one said that bacteria spontaneously self assembled. Can you show me where a biology has said that that do? They think bacteria evolved through evolution by natural selection.
http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html
again, if you want to argue with someone who cares, the author’s blog is here:
http://astroblogger.blogspot.com/

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Bill Maher July 2, 2011 at 6:33 pm

the second piece is on the probability of life, which is what I am hoping you meant to say.

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Bill Maher July 2, 2011 at 7:00 pm

cl,

You may be jumping the gun. This is just part one of the post series and is a summation of the argument. I could be wrong though.

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MikeN July 2, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Isn’t the argument that God, being omniscient, would have perfect knowledge of all possible worlds, and thus could have chosen to create one where not only the intiasl condition would be an A-world, but that it would, through the exercise of free choice, stay that way?

IOTW a world where Eve (and Adam) just said no.

The argument against that, I suppose, would be that evil is necessary for soul-making i.e. a world that has Fallen and been Redeemed would be better than a world that stayed in a state of innocence.

Though C.S. Lewis seems to reject that in “Perelandra”. I’ve noticed that in “The Problem of Pain” one of the examples he uses of natural evil is hard corners on tables, just right for banging hips into. Perelandra is , of course, a floating world; everything is soft and spongy.

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TaiChi July 2, 2011 at 8:35 pm

However, mention of this minor mistake doesn’t seem to dissolve my counterargument, which seems a valid response to (9) from the second argument: God *did* choose the non-arbitrarily better option, so (10) doesn’t follow.” ~ cl

The non-arbitrarily better world is a world containing no moral evil. A world containing no moral evil is here a world without moral evil at any time in its history, and so, no, in creating this world God did not create a world without moral evil in the sense intended.

As for your counterargument, I take it you believe that God could not have created a world with free-beings, who were guaranteed to always act rightly. Well, so be it: God can’t create such a world. But there’s still a question here about whether a world containing free-beings would be more valuable than any other world God could choose, and that is this idea that John’s (second) argument challenges, here…

(1) Necessarily, there is no evil in heaven (premise).
(2) If there is morally significant free will in Heaven, then it is not the case that, necessarily, there is no moral evil in heaven (premise, from free will defence).
(3) Therefore, there is no morally significant freedom in heaven.
(4) Heaven is a domain in which the greatest goods are realised (premise).
(5) Therefore, the greatest goods are realised in a domain in which there is no morally significant free will.

..and appears to debunk. If it does so, then your remarks about a world with free-will are beside the point: a world containing free-will is not the sort of world God would create in any case, since it isn’t after all the best possible world.

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Lorkas July 2, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Yes, the first premise troubles me – why can’t there be evil in Heaven? In fact, aren’t many Christians obligated to believe that there has been evil in Heaven, because of the rebellion of Lucifer and the other angels? It’s hard to believe that either the rebellion wasn’t evil (and so could take place in Heaven), or took place exclusively outside Heaven.

I can’t see why Christians would be obligated to believe such a thing, since neither the rebellion story nor the character “Lucifer” appear anywhere in the Bible. Satan is there, but he’s not called a fallen angel or associated with the name Lucifer.

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Patrick who is not Patrick July 2, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Lorkas- Heaven isn’t much described in the Bible, either. Its details are mostly a matter of cultural tradition. I think its certainly available to Christians to conclude that people can sin and do evil in heaven, since they’re just making stuff up as they go anyway. Of course, they’ll need to figure out how that interacts with certain other matters, like eternal salvation. And they’ll have to sort out the possibility of people doing good in hell, requiring certain alterations to doctrines of eternal damnation.

As long as they’re honest about it and actually bite the bullets instead of just bleating wildly about these matters and then going back to generic church doctrine, and as long as you don’t have a problem just inventing things to fix theological problems, the option of changing one’s religion to avoid a contradiction is available to pretty much any theist.

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Andrew EC July 3, 2011 at 7:03 am

Kyle: I’m not Luke, but I made the effort to look up your 11/29/10 manifesto. Given it’s length, I want to focus on your first three claims.

First, you argue:

—–
1. Laws cannot fine tune. Laws treat identical objects identically. Fine-tuning requires treating identical objects differently. Fine-tuning requires that you treat each unit as unique in a very “fine-tuned”, or precise manner. The numerous constants of our universe were tuned with knowledge of where the other constants would be set.
—–

a) Please give a citation for your assertion that “laws cannot fine tune.” As far as I know, *no* physicist makes this claim.

b) I don’t think you understand what the fine-tuning argument for the universe *is*. The claim generally rests on the notion that certain fundamental constants appear to be “finely tuned” to produce stars and heavier elements (which in turn makes life possible). In other words, “fine tuning” refers to the value of certain universal constants like the strong nuclear force, the expansion rate of the universe, etc.

None of these things vary from “unit” to “unit” (whatever that means); they are in fact the exact opposite of that — they apply indiscriminately throughout the universe. So this is an incredibly weird argument.

c) In any event, the notion of “constants” varying is itself nothing more than a thought exercise; it’s like saying “well, if ’2′ were larger, then 2+2 might equal 9.” That’s propositionally true (for as far as it goes), but meaningless until you can show that the constant “2″ might be able to take on higher values.

Put more simply: 50 years ago we thought that the electrical force and the weak nuclear force were two separate and independent constants. 100 years ago, we thought the electrical and magnetic forces were two more separate and independent constants. Today, we know that all off those are merely aspects of the same force.

It strikes me as plausible that physicists might succeed in their quest for a “Grand Unified Theory” and demonstrate that all of these supposedly “fine-tuned” constants are merely aspects of one single force.

Until we know whether or not fundamental “constants” can vary, it seems ridiculously premature to claim fine-tuning as an argument for anything.

Next:

—–
2. Evolution cannot fine-tune. Natural Selection destroys what does not work. It’s a tautology, it says what does not work, does not work. Natural Selection cannot plan. You need planning in order to coordinate 100 trillion cells into 250 cell types into 700 muscles, 200 bones and 100 organs.
—–

I’m going to ignore the meaningless rhetoric about natural selection being tautological; even if that were true — and it isn’t, just google it — it would have no bearing on your argument in any way.

The rest of this nonsense can be summarized with a single word: why? WHY do you think complex cellular structures requires “planning?” I can tell you that no microbiologist thinks that.

—–
3. Moritz’s assessment of the origins of life is not correct. Most proteins for simple bacteria, the odds of them forming spontaneously and all working together are easily beyond 1 in 10^30,000.
—–

Respectfully: don’t say things like this if you don’t want people to think you’re an idiot.

Evolutionary biology DOES NOT CLAIM that today’s complex proteins formed “spontaneously” in their present forms. So it doesn’t matter if you can come up with a “1 in 10^30K” tornado-in-a-junkyard calculation because you’re just disproving something that evolutionary biology DOES NOT CLAIM.

My suggestion would be for you to read a hell of a lot more and argue a hell of a lot less — at least until you actually understand the very basics of physics and biology that you purport to critique. So far, the arguments you’ve given are only “stumpers” if one assumes things about the universe that are either unproven or blatantly false.

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cl July 3, 2011 at 9:04 am

Bill Maher,

This is just part one of the post series and is a summation of the argument. I could be wrong though.

Can you at least contribute something worthwhile, as opposed to stating the obvious?

TaiChi,

The non-arbitrarily better world is a world containing no moral evil. A world containing no moral evil is here a world without moral evil at any time in its history, and so, no, in creating this world God did not create a world without moral evil in the sense intended.

That’s just wordplay. The world God created was the non-arbitrarily better world as delineated above.

As for your counterargument, I take it you believe that God could not have created a world with free-beings, who were guaranteed to always act rightly. Well, so be it: God can’t create such a world.

That’s right, and this is the point where the “God probably doesn’t exist because God didn’t create an A-universe” argument falls flat on its face. So now that seems to be done with, let’s move on.

…there’s still a question here about whether a world containing free-beings would be more valuable than any other world God could choose, and that is this idea that John’s (second) argument challenges, here…

(1) Necessarily, there is no evil in heaven (premise).
(2) If there is morally significant free will in Heaven, then it is not the case that, necessarily, there is no moral evil in heaven (premise, from free will defence).
(3) Therefore, there is no morally significant freedom in heaven.
(4) Heaven is a domain in which the greatest goods are realised (premise).
(5) Therefore, the greatest goods are realised in a domain in which there is no morally significant free will.

First of all, the question of “more valuable” is a subjective question, inextricably intertwined to the valuer at hand. That aside, (3) does not necessarily follow from (2), and would only do so if (2) was amended to some variant of, “If there is morally significant free will in heaven, then it is the case, necessarily, that there is at least some evil in heaven.” However, the converse of (2) is also true: if there is morally significant free will in heaven, then it is not the case that, necessarily, there *IS* moral evil in heaven. So, John’s second argument doesn’t seem to work.

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Nancy July 3, 2011 at 9:32 am

Can you at least contribute something worthwhile, as opposed to stating the obvious?

Wow. Bill was just trying to offer a helpful reminder about the context. Why the grouchiness? If you really want to overcome your angry gadfly image, as you claim elsewhere, then you might have to back off of these snide attacks.

Or as it is worth asking: Would Jesus act that way?

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poban July 3, 2011 at 10:13 am

I think Luke should sell (or donate) this website to a blogger whose sole aim in his life is to discuss about existence (or non-existence) of varieties of yahwehs. This would take the popularity of this blog into a another new level even if compared with past popularity. I think more and more people will “believe” that any talk about varieties of yahwehs would be a settled issue in future, so I do believe that Reading Yudkowsky series are objectively better than how awesome is WC.

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cl July 3, 2011 at 10:30 am

Lorkas,

…neither the rebellion story nor the character “Lucifer” appear anywhere in the Bible. Satan is there, but he’s not called a fallen angel or associated with the name Lucifer.

The “Lucifer” vs. “Satan” thing is a translation issue that appears to have no bearing whatsoever on the arguments being presented [not that you implied it does, as it seems you were just responding to gwern]. As far as the “rebellion” and “fallen angel” parts are concerned, in Luke 10:18, Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” True, that verse does not explicitly argue for a “rebellion,” but Satan — originally created an angel of God — is clearly depicted as fallen. So I’m not quite sure what you’re getting at…

Nancy,

Bill was just trying to offer a helpful reminder about the context. Why the grouchiness?

Grouchy? You should see how sunny it is here. Not to mention, I just sold an antique bar that was taking up unnecessary space in the garage. I’m far from grouchy right now, sweetheart! Really though, asking Bill to contribute something worthwhile entails neither grouchiness nor snide attack. Might you be a bit hypersensitive? At any rate, do you have anything worthwhile to contribute?

Or as it is worth asking: Would Jesus act that way?

You tell me. Apparently you deem yourself fit to judge.

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Lorkas July 3, 2011 at 4:53 pm

The “Lucifer” vs. “Satan” thing is a translation issue that appears to have no bearing whatsoever on the arguments being presented [not that you implied it does, as it seems you were just responding to gwern].

On the nose! I’m not following the main thread of the argument here much, but I thought I’d point out the small factoid to gwern regarding the obligations of Christians.

According to Wikipedia, the whole Lucifer/rebellion-in-heaven story comes from two Jewish sources called “The Life of Adam and Eve” and the “Book of Enoch”. Apparently the character of Lucifer from these books started to be identified with the character of Satan from the Old Testament in the first century BCE or early first century CE, so I’m not surprised to see a reference to the story in the New Testament. I’m glad to know that it’s there, though, so thanks for the info.

There’s something that bothers me about this interpretation though–God is clearly palling around with Satan in the book of Job, and I’m not sure why he’d be doing that if Satan had already rebelled against God and been cast into hell to be punished, the way that Lucifer is said to have been in those other books. Either hell isn’t much of a prison or there’s something wrong with identifying Satan as a fallen angel, cast into hell.

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cl July 3, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Lorkas,

There’s something that bothers me about this interpretation though–God is clearly palling around with Satan in the book of Job, and I’m not sure why he’d be doing that if Satan had already rebelled against God and been cast into hell to be punished…

According to the Bible, Satan isn’t cast into his permanent abode until after Christ’s return. So, no biblical case can be made for this “Satan has been cast into hell” idea.

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Bret July 3, 2011 at 8:21 pm

If free will exists in heaven. And also exists in hell.(As Bill Craig and others fall back on) Then heaven is not a perfect place. Those in heaven would be aware that those currently in hell are freely choosing separation from God. Therefore those in heaven would freely choose to spend eternity trying to convert those freely choosing hell. Or at least some of them would. Seeing as how God doesn’t touch an individual’s free will when they get to heaven, then god can’t keep people from caring for the damned.

I think a serious look at what happens to free will when it is eternal is also merited. Ultimately, the fact that Christians have to come up with such complex and evidenceless defenses to their theodicy, such as the free will defense, make it personally obvious to me, that god is a terrible communicator, and therefore imperfect.

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cl July 3, 2011 at 8:40 pm

If free will exists in heaven. And also exists in hell.(As Bill Craig and others fall back on) Then heaven is not a perfect place.

False as can be. Especially under an annihilationist view. Care to try again?

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Ryan M July 3, 2011 at 10:10 pm

False as can be. Especially under an annihilationist view. Care to try again?

CL, this seems a lot like the bare assertions you have claimed others make. It looks like you essentially said “P is false. P is false especially under view Q”. If that is right, then you have not shown why P is false, nor have you shown why P is especially false under view Q. Now I might actually agree with your reasoning if you gave some, but you did not in that post. If you think that you have an excuse for making the assertions without evidence (Perhaps you already dealt with such an objection in this thread) then maybe you ought to tell that person, rather than just say they are wrong. Care to try again?

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drj July 3, 2011 at 11:00 pm

False as can be. Especially under an annihilationist view. Care to try again?

Yea, the guy mentioned WLC specifically, who does not hold the annihilationist view – except when its convenient in a debate with a more skilled interloper who presents the problem of hell in a compelling way, like Ray Bradley. But outside that context, Craig is all about Hell as a place of eternal suffering.

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Patrick (Christian) July 4, 2011 at 3:08 am

In my view people in Heaven have indeed the freedom to rebel against God, just as Adam and Eve (Genesis 3) or some angels (2 Peter 2,4) did. But why should they act like this, especially as they are fully aware of the consequences of such an act? Furthermore, if they, while in this life, chose not to rebel against God, when they certainly were more tempted to do so (see Job 2,9-10), why should they act like this in Heaven?

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TaiChi July 4, 2011 at 3:20 am

That’s just wordplay.” ~ cl

Actually, no, it’s an explanation of what is meant by (ie. what the scope is of) the expression ‘no moral evil’. I guess you’re not open to that explanation: you prefer to think that someone is trying to trick you.

First of all, the question of “more valuable” is a subjective question, inextricably intertwined to the valuer at hand.

Then swap out ‘more valuable’ for ‘more good’, if it pleases you (after all, only the latter makes an appearance in John’s argument). However, if you find you can’t even agree to the use of that phrase because you think it subjective, then I suggest you’ve given up a core tenet of theism: the claim that God is more good than other being, indeed that he is maximally good, is not religiously significant on the supposition that his maximal goodness is merely subjective, for it undermines the notion that God is not merely someone that one chooses to worship, but is someone who is the appropriate focus of worship, for all people, even atheists like myself.

. That aside, (3) does not necessarily follow from (2)..

Of course it follows. Let ‘FW-HVN’ stand for the phrase “there is morally significant free-will in Heaven”, and let ‘EVL-HVN’ stand for the phrase “there is moral evil in Heaven”. Then John’s argument (with one adjustment to be explained) can be represented..

□ ~EVL-HVN
FW-HVN -> ~□ ~EVL-HVN
~ FW-HVN

..which is just a modal form of the valid schema..

~A
B -> ~~A
~B

..which we can further reduce to..

A
B -> ~A
~B

.. rather than deal with double negatives. As for that adjustment to be explained, I’ve taken the liberty of replacing John’s (1), “Necessarily, there is no evil in heaven” with the equivalent of “Necessarily, there is no moral evil in heaven”, simply to make the logic easier, though it follows just as well from there being no evil in heaven that there is no specifically moral evil in heaven either, and so the schema works just as well for John’s (1) as for my convenient altered premise.

However, the converse of (2) is also true: if there is morally significant free will in heaven, then it is not the case that, necessarily, there *IS* moral evil in heaven.

Great. Only John doesn’t anywhere claim that your conditional there is false. In fact, if he’s right, then the antecedent of your conditional would be false, and so the conditional itself would be trivially true. He’d agree with you.
Still puzzled? Well, look: here is John’s (2) first, and then your (2`)..

(2) FW-HVN -> ~□ ~EVL-HVN
(2`) FW-HVN -> ~□ EVL-HVN

.. from which it is easy to see that you both think something follows from FW-HVN, but you differ as to what it is. Now, you say, on the basis of your conditional that John’s argument doesn’t work. I take it that you suppose, because your conditional is true, then John’s isn’t, and so John’s argument fails. But that’s only going to be a correct ground of objection just in case your conditional stands in contradiction to John’s. And, in turn, that means that the following must be a contradiction..

~□ ~EVL-HVN ^ ~□ EVL-HVN

.. since if it’s not, then it is possible that each of these follows from FW-HVN (ie. that both (2) and (2`) are true). But it’s not a contradiction, not at all. It may well be true that it is not necessary there is no moral evil in Heaven and that it is not necessary that there is moral evil in Heaven, for that is just to say (what is perfectly sensible) that whether there is or isn’t evil in Heaven is a contingent fact.
So, in sum, you’ve failed to show that John’s argument doesn’t work, because you’ve failed to contradict him. Worse, I think: you’ve asserted something that is a consequence of his position.

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Patrick (Christian) July 4, 2011 at 5:36 am

Bret: “Those in heaven would be aware that those currently in hell are freely choosing separation from God. Therefore those in heaven would freely choose to spend eternity trying to convert those freely choosing hell. Or at least some of them would. Seeing as how God doesn’t touch an individual’s free will when they get to heaven, then god can’t keep people from caring for the damned.”

In my view people are in Hell because they are punished there for their sins and not because they freely chose to be there.

Bret: “Seeing as how God doesn’t touch an individual’s free will when they get to heaven, then god can’t keep people from caring for the damned.”

According to Luke 16,24-26 people in Heaven are not able to care for the damned, even if they want to.

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John D July 4, 2011 at 6:37 am

Nice comment there TaiChi, written with more sophistication and patience than I’m capable of mustering. I just want to make a couple of quick observations.

First, just to be clear about attribution, neither of the two arguments offered here are mine. They’re Oppy’s. I made one adjustment to the second argument just to fill a gap that Oppy himself acknowledged (premise 6), but otherwise this is all his work.

Second, what can be contingently true in heaven (or, indeed, on earth) despite claims about what is not necessarily the case is an important feature of the next part of the series. So it’s important to be aware of that distinction.

Third, I’ll be honest, I’m having a hard time understanding what cl’s criticism actually is. I take it that it has something to do with the world originally being better than it is now (i.e. that it was an A-universe, to use the terminology adopted here) but that it was then corrupted due to the operation of sin (the Fall). This was a (necessary?) result of having freely-willed agents, but this is actually a (really?) good thing. So the idea is that God really did create the ideal possible world. How exactly does that fit in to the problem of heaven though. Is the idea that life in heaven won’t be any better than it is now on earth? That would seem strange to me, certainly contrary to the traditional vision of heaven which I was spoon-fed as a youth.

Cl (apologies for the third-person address) has made several comments about certain conclusions/premises not following from others (e.g. 10 not following from 9, and 3 not following from 2). This seems strange to me since there is no claim that those premises do follow from one another, rather it is only when those premises are combined with others (8 & 7 in the one case, and 1 in other) that certain conclusions follow. So I’m not clear what the objection really is. If you’ll allow me to get all WLC-like for a moment, I’d like to know which premises are actually being disputed by cl’s counterargument. I’d have a much easier considering the issue if that were the case.

Now I know cl claimed to reject premise (9) and premise (2) so let’s talk about those for a moment. Premise (2) was dealt with above by TaiChi. I can’t do a better job of discussing it than he did. As for (9), I think it’s obvious that cl isn’t really objecting to it since (9) is just a principle concerning what a morally perfect being would choose, one that cl later seems to agree with by stating that God did create a non-abritrarily better world. My guess is that it’s really (8) that is being objected to, but I’d like some confirmation.

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Nico July 4, 2011 at 8:02 am

Grouchy? You should see how sunny it is here. Not to mention, I just sold an antique bar that was taking up unnecessary space in the garage. I’m far from grouchy right now, sweetheart!

Grouchy? No, more like passive aggressive. ;)

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Martin T. July 4, 2011 at 8:06 am

False as can be. Especially under an annihilationist view. Care to try again?

Hey, aren’t you always busting Luke’s balls about making statements like this and then not backing them up.

Besides, if you really want to show that your opponent’s views are false it is best to explain WHY they are false with an argument.

Otherwise it looks like you just want to mock others and give off the appearance of being right rather than fairly pursuing and explaining the truth.

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cl July 4, 2011 at 8:36 am

Ryan M,

CL, this seems a lot like the bare assertions you have claimed others make.

Not at all. Bret is obligated to prove his positive claim, not just assert it.

If that is right, then you have not shown why P is false, nor have you shown why P is especially false under view Q. Now I might actually agree with your reasoning if you gave some, but you did not in that post. If you think that you have an excuse for making the assertions without evidence (Perhaps you already dealt with such an objection in this thread) then maybe you ought to tell that person, rather than just say they are wrong. Care to try again?

Take one look at what he wrote. Free will in heaven, free will in hell, ergo heaven is imperfect? I mean, c’mon. The conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises, whatsoever. It’s Bret who needs to make the case here. If, after this, you really need a more formal explanation of why I reject his argument, I’ll oblige. No offense to Bret, but do you really expect me to respect an argument that seems hardly thought out at all?

Patrick,

In my view people in Heaven have indeed the freedom to rebel against God, just as Adam and Eve (Genesis 3) or some angels (2 Peter 2,4) did. But why should they act like this, especially as they are fully aware of the consequences of such an act? Furthermore, if they, while in this life, chose not to rebel against God, when they certainly were more tempted to do so (see Job 2,9-10), why should they act like this in Heaven?

That’s more or less how I think, too.

TaiChi,

Actually, no, it’s an explanation of what is meant by (ie. what the scope is of) the expression ‘no moral evil’. I guess you’re not open to that explanation: you prefer to think that someone is trying to trick you.

Wordplay does not entail trickery. Don’t be so hasty.

Then swap out ‘more valuable’ for ‘more good’, if it pleases you (after all, only the latter makes an appearance in John’s argument).

The same problems arise, and that I make mention of its subjectivity does not entail that I give up a core tenet of theism. The problem is for somebody like you or I to come along and say, “That’s not the most valuable or most good universe.” Why can’t a universe with free beings be the most valuable to God? That you or I might say it’s not doesn’t entail that it’s not.

As for that adjustment to be explained, I’ve taken the liberty of replacing John’s (1), “Necessarily, there is no evil in heaven” with the equivalent of “Necessarily, there is no moral evil in heaven”, simply to make the logic easier, though it follows just as well from there being no evil in heaven that there is no specifically moral evil in heaven either, and so the schema works just as well for John’s (1) as for my convenient altered premise.

That’s all well and good. Here’s the argument with your adjustment, in English:

(1) Necessarily, there is no [moral] evil in heaven (premise).
(2) If there is morally significant free will in Heaven, then it is not the case that, necessarily, there is no moral evil in heaven (premise, from free will defence).
(3) Therefore, there is no morally significant freedom in heaven.
(4) Heaven is a domain in which the greatest goods are realised (premise).
(5) Therefore, the greatest goods are realised in a domain in which there is no morally significant free will.

You still run into the same problem. Morally significant free will in heaven does not necessarily entail moral evil in heaven, such that (1) would be vitiated. As I said, (3) does not follow from (2), and it could only do so if morally significant free will in heaven was guaranteed to produce some degree of evil in heaven.

Great. Only John doesn’t anywhere claim that your conditional there is false.

I wasn’t thinking he would.

Now, you say, on the basis of your conditional that John’s argument doesn’t work. I take it that you suppose, because your conditional is true, then John’s isn’t, and so John’s argument fails.

It’s not that I think because my conditional is true, John’s is false. That would be silly. However, part of the reason the argument fails is because my conditional is true, so you’ve got that partly correct.

So, in sum, you’ve failed to show that John’s argument doesn’t work, because you’ve failed to contradict him. Worse, I think: you’ve asserted something that is a consequence of his position.

Not at all. I’ve shown aptly and clearly why it doesn’t work, and for whatever reason, you’ve failed to engage what I’ve said, despite your valiant effort. Again: morally significant free will in heaven does not necessarily entail moral evil in heaven, such that (1) would be vitiated. Because of that, (3) does not follow from (2), and it could only do so if morally significant free will in heaven was guaranteed to produce some degree of evil in heaven. That’s pretty much word-for-word what I’ve already said at least twice above, by the way.

Lastly, to be honest, I have a difficult time following along with the modal logic symbols, which is why I’m sticking to plain English. So, if you still think I’m missing something — which is certainly possible because I’m human and humans make tons of mistakes — perhaps you can try the plain English approach?

John D,

Third, I’ll be honest, I’m having a hard time understanding what cl’s criticism actually is.

It’s twofold, as there are two argument being made. The first can be summarized as, “A perfect God would have made an A-universe. Ours is not an A-universe, so it wasn’t created by a perfect God.” That is easily dispensed with by noting that the universe God created *WAS* an A-universe [presuming I'm understanding the term A-universe correctly].

The second argument has to do with this so-called problem of heaven. My objection is that morally significant free will in heaven does not necessarily entail moral evil in heaven, such that (1) would be vitiated. Because of that, (3) does not follow from (2), and it could only do so if morally significant free will in heaven was guaranteed to produce some degree of evil in heaven. This also means (5) is false, and of course, any conclusion based on specious premises cannot be declared true.

This was a (necessary?) result of having freely-willed agents, but this is actually a (really?) good thing.

That the fall was necessary is not a component of my objection.

So the idea is that God really did create the ideal possible world. How exactly does that fit in to the problem of heaven though.

It doesn’t. As I said, I’m treating two separate arguments here.

If you’ll allow me to get all WLC-like for a moment, I’d like to know which premises are actually being disputed by cl’s counterargument. I’d have a much easier considering the issue if that were the case.

With regard to the so-called problem of heaven argument: I accept (1), (4), (6), (8), and (9), as stated. While I don’t deny it, (2) doesn’t accomplish anything. I deny (3), because (2) doesn’t accomplish what it needs in order for (3) to hold [e.g., (3) does not follow from (2)]. I also deny (5) because it requires that morally significant free will entails moral evil. Lastly, I deny (10), because it is not a conclusion supported by true premises.

The only premise I’m still tossing around in my mind is (7), but I don’t need to commit to anything on that until the other problems have been dealt with.

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Gilgamesh July 4, 2011 at 10:06 am

@cl

With your two issues on the subject above clarified through these posts, I think there are two issues that needs to be brought to the foreground.

Firstly, you argue that God did create the perfect world initially, but that somehow humans mucked it up by sinning a la Garden of Eden; one way or another, things went to crap after some time. You state that this could be argued against from an evidentialist POV, but a biblical theist is OK. Are you really saying that this argument doesn’t work against you because you don’t care about the evidence against your premise that the world at one time was perfect? Shouldn’t that premise at least be defended rather than simply claimed? Logic only works well if all the premises are true; if you wish to defend against the argument using a premise that most everyone thinks if NOT true is hardly a winning strategy. Worse, it is delusional to say the world was perfect against evidence to the contrary only by assertion.

More problematic, perhaps, is the other issue I see in your response. You say that free will in heaven does not necessarily lead to evil in heaven; free will can be a necessary but not a sufficient condition. Fair enough, I say. However, if you believe that then you loose the free will theodicy. Why? Because if free will is not sufficient to explain why the world went to crap, then another condition must have been met that exists on earth but not in heaven, else heaven would have evil in it as well. This can be extended to any good in heaven compared to earth; all good things are in heaven, yet there is no evil; if all good things were on earth there need not be evil since it does not cause it in heaven. This means that because there is evil in the world at any point in time, then earth must either lack some good that is in heaven, have some evil that is NOT in heaven, or both. Any of these options indicates that the world is not perfect; since God is supposed to have created this world with all its goods or lack thereof, then God did not create a perfect world because it is not perfect like heaven. So the free will defense or any greater good defense falls apart if those things are not sufficient to explain evil.

If, on the other hand, you believe the free will theodicy to work, then you are forced to posit that free will necessarily leads to evil. Hence free will leads to evil, and thus the heaven problem reappears. Either loose the free will theodicy and have God create an imperfect world (bad), or keep the free will theodicy but have the problem of heaven (bad). You seem to be between a rock and a hard place.

Note that this is already a part of the post by the author. Premise 2 is in fact the free will theodicy, so I am not bringing up something new.

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Zeb July 4, 2011 at 10:28 am

CL,

Since I was agreeing with you until I read TaiChi’s comment 4 times and John’s twice, I’ll try to clarify TaiChi’s point. You premise that the existence of free will in Heaven means that there is not necessarily evil in Heaven. John’s second premise is that the existence of free will in Heaven implies that there is not necessarily an abscence of evil in Heaven. Those premises are not incompatible with each other, but John’s second premise is incompatible with his first premise, that there is necessarily no evil in Heaven. So I think you disagree with his premise 1, and you are holding out that there is, or at least may be, contingently no evil in heaven even if there is not necessarily no evil in Heaven (because of free will there). So to recap, taken as a single premise, “1.Necessarily there is no evil in Heaven.] is what you disagree with”. You might agree with the “there is no evil in Heaven,” but not with the “necessarily” part. Otherwise you would have to argue against “2. If there is morally significant free will in Heaven, then it is not the case that, necessarily, there is no moral evil in heaven (premise, from free will defence).” After all, it contains premise 1. verbatim being negated by the existence of free will in Heaven, and so the two premises, if true, lead to the conclusion in 3.

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Zeb July 4, 2011 at 10:37 am

I think I will wait to see the next parts of the series before taking up the argument further, but if it doesn’t come up I’d like to bring up the problems with treating Heaven as a world, rather than part of the, and the problem of treating eternality the same was we would temporality. In short, for the first objection I would suggest that a resident of Heaven may be capable of evil in a way similar to how a bachelor is capable of marriage, without leading to evil in Heaven or a married bachelor. For the second I would suggest that “Heaven” may be a eternal state of freely choosing the good, rather than a [infinite] series of free choices of the good. That is, a single absolute and perfect free choice that defines one’s eternal existence, such that Heaven is necessarily good because what it is the the perfect free choice of the good, and anything else is necessarily not Heaven, which kind of ties the two together. But surely these types of objections have been put forward and critiqued by professionals, so I’ll look forward to what John D has in store.

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cl July 4, 2011 at 10:52 am

FYI, this will probably be my last comment today.

Martin T,

Hey, aren’t you always busting Luke’s balls about making statements like this and then not backing them up.

No. I mostly bust Alonzo’s balls for making claims without evidence, and I’ve not once busted Luke’s balls for promptly rejecting an incomplete argument. The burden of proof is on the positive claimant. Bret’s the one who needs to step up here, not I.

Besides, if you really want to show that your opponent’s views are false it is best to explain WHY they are false with an argument.

Here, let me spell it out again: the conclusion does not flow from the premises. It’s that easy. The existence of free will in both heaven and hell does not entail that heaven is imperfect. What more do you want?

Otherwise it looks like you just want to mock others and give off the appearance of being right rather than fairly pursuing and explaining the truth.

Saying Bret’s argument is “false as can be” does not constitute mocking others. As far as Luke is concerned, I do occasionally mock him. He claims we should endorse the moral theory which makes only true claims and is supported by empirical evidence, yet myself and others have shown instance after instance where false claims and claims without empirical evidence are made to bolster support for desirism. If you wish to defend this apparent hypocrisy, be my guest.

gilgamesh,

Are you really saying that this argument doesn’t work against you because you don’t care about the evidence against your premise that the world at one time was perfect?

Not at all. I’m saying the evidential discussion and the logical discussion are two separate discussions, and that here, we are focusing on the logical discussion. Note that many of John’s premises are not supported by empirical evidence, either. This is because we’re evaluating the various positions for logical coherence.

Logic only works well if all the premises are true; if you wish to defend against the argument using a premise that most everyone thinks if NOT true is hardly a winning strategy.

I understand your concern, believe me. I’m evaluating the Bible on its own merit. If the Bible says X -> Y, but we can demonstrate that X -> Y is an illogical construct, we have a problem. As far as evidence is concerned, theist and atheist alike find themselves in a conundrum here. We have no reliable evidence regarding how the universe was at the moment of creation. One would literally need a time machine to make the evidential case either way.

More problematic, perhaps, is the other issue I see in your response. You say that free will in heaven does not necessarily lead to evil in heaven; free will can be a necessary but not a sufficient condition. Fair enough, I say.

Awesome. At least somebody seems to get that.

Because if free will is not sufficient to explain why the world went to crap, then another condition must have been met that exists on earth but not in heaven, else heaven would have evil in it as well.

Free will is sufficient to explain why this world went to crap, and the knowledge of a world that went to crap because of disobedience to God makes the difference. Have you paid any thoughts to my remarks about epistemological precedent, or, for that matter, to Patrick’s comment July 4, 2011 at 3:08 am, that I affirmed?

Zeb,

I’ll get to your comment later. Out of time.

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Gilgamesh July 4, 2011 at 11:24 am

@cl

You are in a contradictory position now. If free will is sufficient to explain evil in the world, then its presence in heaven must also lead to evil. That is the meaning of sufficient. (Moreover, if you are saying that any rational, full-knowing being would not rebel against God, then that means humans must not have been made fully rational or knowing of the consequences. Are you going to say it was the fault of humans for not being created fully rational? This plays into what I said before–humans must have been created without some good, with some evil, or both; hence the free will theodicy fails if free will is not sufficient for explaining evil.)

As for the evidence, we can know pretty darn well that at t = 0 the universe was not conducive to life. Temperatures high enough to have quark plasma is not all so great for life forms. (By the way, we know this from both theory like general relativity, particle physics, QM and from observations such as CMB; we don’t need a time machine to have knowledge, and nonetheless it is still evidence even if not 100% proof) The formation of the solar system wasn’t great either, as the earth was molten, no water or atmosphere was present, etc. The earth was only conducive to life about 4 billion years ago, and we had only single-celled organisms for the longest time. The genus homo only came to exist on the order of millions of years ago, so we have a history of about 14 billions years when the universe wasn’t the place for humans. And even when humans existed (by humans I mean any species of homo), it wasn’t all bananas and sex; it was still a world with disease, predators, volcanoes, earthquakes, etc.

Can you give some idea when the universe was supposed to be perfect? Without evidence we can only go by what our eyes indicate, that the universe is not perfect, and there is no evidence that it even was.

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Patrick (Christian) July 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Another reason why people in Heaven may not be inclined to rebel against God, even if they could, may be found in the fact that in Heaven they have perfect knowledge of God (1 Corinthians 13,12, 1 John 3,2, Revelation 22,3-4), which is not possible in this life (1 Corinthians 13,12). This certainly makes them fully aware of how terrible it is to turn away from God.

Now one might ask why God didn’t put people immidiately into Heaven without first letting them experience this life. To this question the following points may provide an answer:

- Those who are in Heaven are fully aware of God’s nature.
- If someone despite being fully aware of God’s nature turns from Him, such a decision may be definitive. This may apply to the angels who acted like this (2 Peter 2,4).
- Even in this life it may be the case that turning from God or refusing to turn towards Him despite being to a certain degree aware of His nature and supernatural powers makes such a decision definitive (see Mark 3,22-30, Hebrews 6,4-6).
- So, this life devoid of heavenly perfection may provide a place where committing sins has not such severe consequences and where it is possible to repent and come back to God time and again.

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Reidish July 4, 2011 at 5:17 pm

John D,

Thanks for this series. I look forward to it. It seems to me that there is an implicit assumption in your (2):

(2) If there is morally significant free will in Heaven, then it is not the case that, necessarily, there is no moral evil in heaven (premise, from free will defence).

Since you think (2) can be derived from the free will defence, then you must think that Heaven is a possible world.

But why think that? Why think that that Heaven is a maximal possible state of affairs?

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Fr.Griggs July 4, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Google the problem of Heaven to see my take on this compelling argument , and how others ever rationalize about this problem. Google also the presumption of naturalism, the teleonomic argument, arguments about Him-that square circle, the ignostic-Ockham and theology- defense of that square circle and skeptic griggsy and carneades.
Analysis reveals no God, and thus no reason to traverse the Cosmos nor have omniscience ourselves! Where mountains o f evidence should exist and none exists, and in light of Charles Moore’s auto-epistemic rule, here without making a counter argument to the supernaturalists’ ever using that, here indeed absence of evidence is evidence of absence!

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Keith J July 4, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Boy I guess we all know what types of topics get the most traffic…

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TaiChi July 5, 2011 at 3:11 am

@cl
The same problems arise, and that I make mention of its subjectivity does not entail that I give up a core tenet of theism. The problem is for somebody like you or I to come along and say, “That’s not the most valuable or most good universe.” Why can’t a universe with free beings be the most valuable to God? That you or I might say it’s not doesn’t entail that it’s not.

When you said that “the question of “more valuable” is a subjective question, inextricably intertwined to the valuer at hand“, I supposed you meant that value is relative to a valuer, ie. that nothing is valuable in an absolute sense, and that only thinking makes it so. As I say, that does run afoul of the core tenet that God is the appropriate focus of worship, even for those who would disagree that he is worthy of worship (such as Christopher Hitchens).
But now it seems as though you’re not making a point about the ontology of value, but about the epistemology of value: that you and I lack expert judgment in matters of value, whereas omniscient God has perfect judgment. Well that’s as maybe, but you’re not being called upon to make controversial judgments of value here, and in any case, you say you accept both (4) and (8), the only premises affirming value judgments in the argument. So I can’t see why you would raise this point.

Lastly, to be honest, I have a difficult time following along with the modal logic symbols, which is why I’m sticking to plain English… perhaps you can try the plain English approach?

What, like John’s argument as in the OP? That seems futile. But if it’s the modal symbols you are having a problem with, it’s easy enough to do without them.
Let ‘FW-HVN’ stand for the phrase “there is morally significant free-will in Heaven” as before, but let ‘NN-EVL-HVN’ stand for the phrase “necessarily, there is no moral evil in Heaven”. Then we get..

NN-EVL-HVN
FW-HVN -> ~NN-EVL-HVN
~FW-HVN

Or let ‘Q’ stand for the phrase “there is morally significant free-will in Heaven”, and let ‘P’ stand for the phrase “necessarily, there is no moral evil in Heaven”. Then..

P
Q -> ~P
~Q

.. which is just an instance of modus tollens, denial of the consequent.

The only difference our modal terms are really making here are to the semantics of the premises, so I’ll turn to those next. We have..

(1) Necessarily, there is no [moral] evil in Heaven (premise).
(2) If there is morally significant free will in Heaven, then it is not the case that, necessarily, there is no moral evil in Heaven (premise, from free will defence).
(3) Therefore, there is no morally significant free will in heaven.

.. which I can put into possible-worlds talk for you..

(1`) For every possible world in which heaven exists, there is no moral evil in heaven.
(2`) If there is morally significant free will in Heaven in the actual world, then it is not the case that, for every possible world in which Heaven exists, there is no moral evil in Heaven.
(3`) Therefore, there is no morally significant free will in Heaven in the actual world.

Now, your counter-claim to the argument was that..

(Cl) Morally significant free will in heaven does not necessarily entail moral evil in heaven.

In possible worlds talk, this can be expressed like so..

(Cl`) There is at least one possible world in which heaven exists, but where moral evil is absent from heaven.

But now which one of (1`)-(3`) is supposed to deny that? Not (1`), for this just rules out possible worlds in which Heaven has moral evil, and your world with a Heaven absent moral evil is not such a world, hence your counter-claim does not contradict (1`). And not (2`) either. (2) rules out the conjunction: (a) there is morally significant free-will in the actual world, and, (b) every possible world with a Heaven is such that its Heaven contains no moral evil. But your counter-claim does not endorse that conjunction, in particular because it doesn’t affirm (b), and so again, (Cl`) doesn’t contradict (2`).
Finally, (3`) rules out morally significant free will in the actual world’s Heaven. Does your counter-claim even contradict that? No, because there being a world which contains a Heaven absent moral evil is just what you’d expect if the actual world had a Heaven without morally significant free will. To put it briefly, your counter-claim is not.

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John D July 5, 2011 at 7:44 am

I think Zeb (above) offers perhaps the best interpretation of Cl’s criticism, i.e. that it’s really a rejection of premise 1. Even if there is not necessarily no (moral) evil in heaven, there could still, contingently, be no moral evil in heaven. That’s understandable and that’s one of the objections that’s discussed later. That said, there may also be a rejection of the Plantinga-style FWD going on here as well. I’m not sure.

Anyway, this whole discussion has encouraged me to change the presentation of the argument in part two (and thereby follow someone other than Oppy). I’m hoping that this will clarify the dialectical stakes involved in the problem. Might take me a bit longer to get the second part up as a result.

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cl July 5, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I thought I’d post the following for reference:

“A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all. Now God can create free creatures but He can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if He does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good, therefore, He must create creatures capable of moral evil; and He can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so. As it turned out, sadly enough, some of the free creatures God created went wrong in the exercise of their freedom; this is the source of moral evil.” –Alvin Plantinga

Premises 1-3 of Oppy’s argument can be summarized thus:

1) There can’t be evil in heaven;

2) If there is free will in heaven, then there might be evil in heaven;

3) Therefore, there can’t be any free will in heaven.

Would everybody endorse my paraphrase of Oppy’s first three premises? If so, does everybody understand what I see as the problem? The only way you can say there can’t be free will in Heaven is if free will is guaranteed to produce some degree of evil. Without that premise, (3) does not follow from (2). However, if (2) was, “Free will necessarily entails some evil,” then — and only then — would that be sufficient to say there can’t be free will in Heaven: because free will is guaranteed to produce some degree of evil. But we can’t get that certainty with a “might” in (2).

Zeb / John D,

It still seems to me that I accept (1) as stated. Actually, hold that thought. I think it might be helpful to backtrack a little bit. This whole conversation has been framed “in Heaven,” yet the Bible seems to teach that eternal life occurs on a new Earth. Throughout this discussion, I kept finding myself resistant to the premises I’m defending, because the “die and go to Heaven” idea seems incorrect given my knowledge of the Bible. Of course, this doesn’t change anything substantial, with the exception of issues related to the previous line of inquiry, “Didn’t Satan get kicked out of Heaven for doing evil?” However, since that doesn’t have any bearing on the so-called problem of Heaven, I’ll leave it at that. So, from here on out, when I say “new Earth,” treat that exactly as you’ve been treating “Heaven” thus far. Also, by “new Earth” I allude to the state of affairs the Bible describes as taking place after the second death [cf. Revelation 20]: the final, permanent restoration of humanity.

With this distinction explained, it still seems to me that I do in fact accept (1). The Bible requires me to accept (1). There can be no evil in new Earth after the second death, when sin, death, evil and Hades are cast into the lake of fire. This is supposed to be paradise restored, right? So, necessarily, there is no evil in the new Earth. If my counterargument doesn’t make sense, the problem might be further downstream. So far as I can see, the problem isn’t that I’m confused as to what I believe.

Zeb,

Let’s see if I can isolate the source of the confusion here…

You premise that the existence of free will in Heaven means that there is not necessarily evil in Heaven.

Correct. Free will on new Earth does not necessarily entail evil on new Earth. Now, at this point, ears may raise. After all, elsewhere, I argue that free will necessarily entailed the potential for evil in God’s original creation. So, I think you, TaiChi, gilgamesh, John D and others see an apparent contradiction there, because I invoke, “free will necessarily entails the potential for evil” to explain [in part] the existence of evil on the current Earth, yet appear to be denying that same premise in the context of new Earth. Hence, John D’s thought that there “may also be a rejection of the Plantinga-style FWD going on here.” Right? You guys think I’m either contradicting myself or unsure of my own position on (1), because “free will necessarily entails the potential for evil” — which is a standard component of the Plantingan FWD — seems to vitiate (1), that, “necessarily, there is no evil in heaven.” For, if free will entails the potential for evil, then it cannot be the case that necessarily, there is no evil in new Earth.

Are we on the same page so far? If nothing else, have I demonstrated that I clearly understand the source of your confusion?

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Zeb July 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I thought I’d post the following for reference:

Premises 1-3 of Oppy’s argument can be summarized thus:

1) There can’t be evil in heaven;

2) If there is free will in heaven, then there might be evil in heaven;

3) Therefore, there can’t be any free will in heaven.

Would everybody endorse my paraphrase of Oppy’s first three premises? If so, does everybody understand what I see as the problem?

I would endorse your paraphrase if you replace “might” with “can,” which in my mind would hold that meaning. But doing so makes clear the logical validity of the argument. Beyond that I agree that you seem to understand the source of the confusion your comments have stirred.

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cl July 5, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Zeb,

Strictly speaking, free will entails three possible states of affairs:

1) 100% good;

2) 100% evil;

3) some proportion of good and evil.

I would endorse your paraphrase if you replace “might” with “can,” which in my mind would hold that meaning.

So, are you suggesting a significant difference between “might” and “can?” If so, can you spell it out for me? In my mind, “might” and “can” are synonymous, and neither entail “will” — which seems to undermine the validity of the argument. Try this:

1) There can’t be evil in heaven;

2) If there is free will in heaven, then there can be evil in heaven;

3) Therefore, there can’t be any free will in heaven, unless agents with free will choose good only.

Do you see what I mean? You need to guarantee that free will will produce at least some evil in order to get to, “there cannot be free will in new Earth.” The potential for evil is not sufficient; you need evil. Because, if it’s up in the air, then it is also possible that there can *not* be evil in new Earth. IOW, free will could lead to either 100% evil, 100% good, or some combination. Right? If so, then it should be clear that the atheist needs to prove the premise, “free will necessarily entails some degree of evil,” as I’ve been saying. If free will does *not* necessarily entail some degree of evil, on what grounds can we deny the existence of free will in new Earth?

From here, I suspect the atheist’s line of reasoning will follow the one gilgamesh alluded to July 4, 2011 at 10:06 am:

…if free will is not sufficient to explain why the world went to crap, then another condition must have been met that exists on earth but not in heaven, else heaven would have evil in it as well.

IOW, the believer would have to explain why free will in new Earth would not be susceptible to evil. Right?

Beyond that I agree that you seem to understand the source of the confusion your comments have stirred.

I take that as a sign of progress, showing that I’ve paid your objections the necessary charity. I’ll wait for input from the others before attempting to further dissolve the confusion.

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Zeb July 5, 2011 at 5:26 pm

cl

How about this:

1. There is free will in heaven.
2. If there is free will in heaven, then there can be evil in heaven.
3. Therefore there can be evil in heaven.

You seem to have expressed agreement with 1 and 2, and so must agree with 3. And yet you’ve said you agree with premise your own paraphrase of Oppy’s first premise, “There can’t be evil in Heaven.” I think I agree with your actual belief, which I think is that there can be evil in heaven, but due to the free choices of the denizens of Heaven to always choose only the good, there never is evil in Heaven. And so I admit that I [very tentatively] disagree with premise 1 of Oppy’s argument. The more you write, the more I think that you do too and either aren’t seeing it or are interpreting Oppy’s premise very differently.

From here, I suspect the atheist’s line of reasoning will follow the one gilgamesh alluded to July 4, 2011 at 10:06 am:

…if free will is not sufficient to explain why the world went to crap, then another condition must have been met that exists on earth but not in heaven, else heaven would have evil in it as well.

IOW, the believer would have to explain why free will in new Earth would not be susceptible to evil. Right?

Yeah, well, I don’t think we actually have to explain anything. I wrote a response to gilgamesh, but it got lost somehow and I didn’t bother rewriting. His problem, I think, is that he fails to take the full implication of free will into consideration and approaches the issue from a determinist position. Perhaps there is no condition that separates Heaven and Earth except that the people of Earth did happen to freely choose evil, while the people of Heaven freely choose not to. The mere existence of free choice doesn’t explain it, but only the actual particular free choices do. To go beyond that, positing different knowledge levels or personalities or experience levels or natures or anything like that just undermines the supposition of free will.

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Gilgamesh July 5, 2011 at 5:45 pm

@Zeb

Thanks for replying to my comments. I have had thoughts on this for some time, and it’s good to see a way that my argument could break down.

However, if you want to go the route that things like experience or natures or similar would undercut free will, you seem to suggest that free will is completely undetermined. If so, then it seems that an act of evil is random at some level. This is then a serious problem for heaven if free will is there. If free will means there is a chance of evil in heaven, and given that there is a non-zero number of beings with free will that exist there for all time, then an act of evil is certain to happen. If you keep playing the lottery, no matter how small the odds if they are non-zero, eventually you will win. Similarly, if there is a non-zero probability of evil being committed in heaven because of free will, then because there will be an infinite number of possible occasions for evil to happen, eventually, evil must happen. Unless heaven doesn’t last forever, but that would seem to go against the idea that heaven is a perfect place, especially in an Aristotelian sense.

This issue is also a logical consequences of free will as an explanation for evil on earth; if free will is not sufficient to explain it, then something else must be included. If you say that things like experience and natures are deterministic and instead free will is more random, then that randomness is part of free will and is also not sufficient to explain evil in the world if it does lead to it in heaven. Again, something else is required.

At this point, when free will becomes so indeterminate I think that contra-causal free will is just illogical, which is all the worse for the free will defense of theologians.

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cl July 5, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Zeb,

I think I’ll be able to explain why I do not agree with your 3 despite my previous commitments, but I’m still waiting to see if anyone else has anything to say. Meanwhile, I found this article interesting and relevant: Free Will and Soul-Making Theodicies

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TaiChi July 6, 2011 at 2:17 am

Would everybody endorse my paraphrase of Oppy’s first three premises?

Pretty much. Like Zeb I prefer “can” to “might”, as the latter is more often used epistemically, to indicate that one is unsure about what is actual, rather than to allow that something is possible in a logical or metaphysical sense.

You need to guarantee that free will will produce at least some evil in order to get to, “there cannot be free will in new Earth.” The potential for evil is not sufficient; you need evil. Because, if it’s up in the air, then it is also possible that there can *not* be evil in new Earth.

No, you still haven’t got this. I’ll give it one last go, by way of example. We have..

(1) Necessarily, there is no evil in heaven.
(2) If there is morally significant free will in Heaven, then it is not the case that, necessarily, there is no moral evil in heaven.
(3) Therefore, there is no morally significant freedom in heaven.

.. which has the form..

(A) Necessarily, X.
(B) If Y, then it is not the case that, necessarily X.
(C) Therefore, not Y.

.. where (1)-(3) comprises a valid argument if (A)-(C) does. Now, I’m fairly sure that you think the following argument of the same form is valid..

(P) Necessarily, torture is morally wrong.
(Q) If Desirism is true, then it is not the case that, necessarily, torture is morally wrong.
(R) Therefore, Desirism is not true.

..as we’ve both found Cartesian’s Naziland example (here suporting (Q)) to pose a problem for Desirism, never mind that it is pure fantasy. The possibility is enough, here, because we both think that if Desirism were the correct moral theory even such far-fetched possibilities would be ruled out.
Well, the same remarks apply to (1)-(3). It is a necessary truth that there is no moral evil in Heaven, for the concept of Heaven is partly (mostly? almost entirely?) defined by a lack of evil. But if that’s what you think, then the concept of Heaven is such that it rules out even the possibility of moral evil in Heaven, and consequently, anything which would commit you to such possibilties you should think unacceptable. So if, as you accept, free-will in Heaven entails the possibility of moral evil in Heaven, then you should reject the idea the free will exists in Heaven, just as you are willing to reject Desirism on the the basis of some mere possibility.

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cl July 6, 2011 at 10:33 am

TaiChi,

Like Zeb I prefer “can” to “might”, as the latter is more often used epistemically, to indicate that one is unsure about what is actual, rather than to allow that something is possible in a logical or metaphysical sense.

Doesn’t “might” also imply that one is unsure about what is actual? I just don’t see the salient difference, but it’s no big deal, it doesn’t change anything argument-wise. At least not that I can see. It just seems like you guys are needlessly splitting hairs.

No, you still haven’t got this.

No, I’ve got it, you’re just failing to grapple with my objection, preferring to repeat yourself, as if I’m so dull I can’t see what you’re trying to say. Believe me, I see what you’re saying, and I see exactly why you think you’re right. When I get a spare hour, I’m going to write yet another post that explains all of this the best I can. Meanwhile, I’d point you to my comment July 5, 2011 at 3:17 pm, or other comments where I say the same thing for that matter.

It is a necessary truth that there is no moral evil in Heaven, for the concept of Heaven is partly (mostly? almost entirely?) defined by a lack of evil.

In the interest of firmly cemented goalposts, I say entirely.

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Zeb July 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm

@Gilgamesh
You are still demonstrating a prior commitment to determinism, rather than engaging free will on it’s own terms.

[Y]ou seem to suggest that free will is completely undetermined. If so, then it seems that an act of evil is random at some level.

What do you mean by “random,” and what is your argument for why anything that is undetermined is random? Several times in free will conversations around CSA (including an ongoing one in the Yudkowsky 45 post, if you want to see what others have said) I’ve seen this asserted, but I don’t know what the rationale for it is. As to the meaning of “random,” I think there are two: what I call epistemic, and what I call ontological (if anyone can tell me standard designations I’d like to know them). Epistemic randomness is the lack of correlation between a sets of observation. This is the only kind of randomness we really know about. It means that the set of observations are evaluated as random with respect to all other observations, or to a subset of observations deemed relevant. Of course I believe in that kind of randomness, and I agree that libertarian free will can demonstrate that kind of randomness, though it does not need to and it doesn’t mean anything when it does. Ontological randomness on the other hand – I’m not really sure what that’s supposed to mean – observations that have no cause? no explanation? But this is what some determinists suggest is the alternative to determinism. What it means and why it is the only alternative I don’t know. Somehow it is supposed to bring up the problem of luck, and generally a dissociation between act and agent. If you can clarify your reference randomness, I’d appreciate it. Anyway, when you say “an act of evil is random at some level,” I would agree that it is causally independent of prior determining factors, and it may be statistically independent of prior observations, but I don’t see that that makes it “random” in any problematic way.

Your prior commitment to determinism and failure to engage free will on its own terms is more obvious here:

Similarly, if there is a non-zero probability of evil being committed in heaven because of free will, then because there will be an infinite number of possible occasions for evil to happen, eventually, evil must happen. </blockquote
I'm not sure that you're even talking about real randomness, or not using infinity correctly, but you're certainly not talking about free will if you say, "evil must happen." Even if evil was the result of ontological randomness, in any particular case it is possible for good to be chosen, and so in every particular case good is possible, and so it is possible that good be chosen in every particular case, even if there are infinite cases. But we're not talking about a random chooser that follows some kind of probabalistic weighting, we're talking about people with free will. Such people are truly free, in every and all cases, to choose any of the available given options. If those options are "good" and "bad," then it is up to the persons when and how often to choose good, independent of any outside or prior determining factors. That's just what free will means.

This issue is also a logical consequences of free will as an explanation for evil on earth; if free will is not sufficient to explain it, then something else must be included.

Once again you demonstrate strict determinist presupposition. Technically you’re right, the existence of free will itself does not explain evil on earth. It is the particular choices of free agents on earth that explain the existence of evil. If libertarian free will exists, then agent choices are the end point of any journey back a causal chain. The choice has no causal explanation, or perhaps is its own. Now, there can be other types of explanations for choices. If you ask, “Why did A choose B?” I might say, “In order that B.” So A has B as a teleological explanation for his choice. But there is no answer to, “What made A choose B.” A made A choose B, through his faculty of will, which is exercised free of causal determination.

There’s a lot there and I’m sorry if any of it is patronizing or muddled – I’m writing as much to clarify my thoughts to myself as to you. I’ll be happy to take up any part of the discussion you want to focus on, or the whole thing.

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Gilgamesh July 6, 2011 at 5:19 pm

@Zeb:

Thanks again for replying.

For libertarian free will, it seems that ontological randomness is needed; epistemic randomness implies that there may be an underlying cause, we just can’t ascertain it with our observing abilities. Like in the Price is Right, I don’t know ahead of time when that spinning wheel will stop, but I do know that given the coefficient of friction, the initial position and angular velocity, and the moment of inertia of the wheel, I can predict to high accuracy where it will stop. However, for a photon going through a double-slit, there is no way to know if the photon will go through slit one or two in advance, but this is because QM does not allow you to know until afterwards (unless hidden variables exist, but they are thus far disliked by physicists).

But you suggest that it is a false dilemma to say either something is determined or it is random. If you have a third option, do say so. However, when I think “not determined” or “not caused to be a certain way”, that suggests that it came out that way without a reason to be that way. A photon going through slit 1 rather than slit 2 is not determined, but instead is randomly done. I just don’t see how there is a third option here, other than say partially bounded; that is, the photon randomly goes through either slit, but it doesn’t make a wormhole and jump through that. Would you say libertarian free will is bounded or unbounded?

Anyhow, with probabilities: if there is a non-zero probability of something happening, given enough time that event MUST happen. In your example, good can be chosen or bad could be chosen, and if the good probability is high, then the vast majority of the time by random selection a good act will take place. However, there is still a non-zero probability of the bad happening, so given an infinite number of tries it must happen at least once (in fact, given an infinite number of tries, there will be an infinite number of evils that will happen!).

For example, suppose in a lottery there is one winning number out of a million. Obviously if you buy a million tickets, all with different numbers, you MUST win the lottery. Obviously this is expensive, but that is a way to guarantee to win the money.

Here is a general proof for our discussion:
Probability of an evil given event == (1/x) =/= 0 (where x a real number >>1).
Probability of a good given event == (x-1)/x < 1.
Next I do some probability multiplication (chance of rolling 3 sixes with three die in one roll is 1/6*1/6*1/6 = 1/216):
Probability of good happening every time in integer n number of events == ((x-1)/x)^n.
Since (x-1)/x infinity, probability of good happening in every n number of events -> 0.
Conversely, the probability that some evil thing happened in n number of events -> 1

Thus, with infinite time and thus infinite events, an evil event must take place as long as the probability of an evil act happening is not zero. If it is zero, then that means it was impossible for it to happen, and that requires a cause, something to bound it and prevent evil from happening.

At this point, if free will does not fit into this probability calculation, then I don’t think I know what “free will” even means in a libertarian sense. I’m as mystified as John Locke was. Perhaps I need clarification because I otherwise don’t think free will is a coherent idea.

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Zeb July 6, 2011 at 6:17 pm

For libertarian free will, it seems that ontological randomness is needed; epistemic randomness implies that there may be an underlying cause, we just can’t ascertain it with our observing abilities.

But any aspect of choice that reduces to ontological randomness, defined as being without reason or cause, is by definition not free will. Randomness in that sense may be free but it is not will, because it does not come from the person. As I said, free will can be random in the sense of independent both causally and correlatively(?) from priors, but as I think you agree that is a completely different issue. So it seems you are just rejecting free will outright, and I don’t know yet if it is due to an argument or just intuitive distaste.

But you suggest that it is a false dilemma to say either something is determined or it is random. If you have a third option, do say so.

The third option is “willed,” but I don’t know of a reason to think the options are limited even to three. I don’t see any reason to think that not-determined = random. Certainly randomness as we know it has nothing to do with causal determination. It has to do with our own knowledge. The reification of randomness as an ontological state strikes me as confusing and implausible (much as free will does for you), but to the degree taht I can conceive of it it I don’t see it as the negation of determined, any more than yellow is the negation of blue. Please let me know though if you are just using the word “random” as a symbol precisely and strictly for “the negation of determined”. In that case I’ll have to reconsider much of what you’ve said with that different meaning in mind.

I should make one thing really clear here: I am assuming that when we talk about determinism, we mean “determined by externals.” Because of course I am saying that a person’s choice is determined…by the person. And they did what the did for a reason, and the reason is that it was their will to do so. And they further may have had teleologic “in order that…” reasons for their choice, although their choice of teleological reasons would have to be free in that case. Usually when people talking about anti-determinism I think they are rejecting about prior determining factors, but I think it is important also rule out any kind of causal determination from the future, if such is actually possible, or any other source outside of the person in the moment of choice. That’s the kind of freedom I’m defending, and I take it that’s the kind of determination you’re defending.

However, when I think “not determined” or “not caused to be a certain way”, that suggests that it came out that way without a reason to be that way. A photon going through slit 1 rather than slit 2 is not determined, but instead is randomly done.

What do you mean here? It goes through one slit and not the other for no reason? How do you know, or why should one believe, that there is no reason? Why do you reject the many worlds interpretation, the rejection of hidden variables, or personal choice?

I just don’t see how there is a third option here, other than say partially bounded; that is, the photon randomly goes through either slit, but it doesn’t make a wormhole and jump through that.Would you say libertarian free will is bounded or unbounded?

Libertarian free will can be bounded. As long as there are two options available to an agent, and she can freely choose between them, that’s libertarian.

I think you are making the same mistake about probability that you are making about randomness – that is, casting it as an ontological property of things in the universe rather than an epistemological property of our minds. But I think that’s getting somewhat off the subject. An interesting subject though, and if you want to pursue it perhaps we should separate those comments from ones about free will. Suffice it to say that the point I did not make clearly enough is that there is no probability to free will events. There may be a probability of your predicting the outcome of a free will event given your knowledge, but the event is free from outside causation, including that imposed by whatever sort of causal guide-rails you may imagine pushing “random” events into neat statistical distributions. Free is free. My main question to you is, why do you reject freedom from externals? Argument, or intuition?

***OK, one statement about probabilities: given a 50/50 chance of an agent choosing Good or Evil, and an infinite series of choices, the probability of the agent choosing all Good is exactly equal to the probability of every other particular sequence(P->0). And yet the agent must create one particular series of choices, so infinite Goods is still on table.

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Gilgamesh July 6, 2011 at 8:33 pm

@Zeb

I’ll be quick here.

You say “willed” is a third option between random and determined. I don’t know why you used the scare quotes as if you didn’t mean what the word implies, but nonetheless this doesn’t help because I can ask very simply was the will random or determined? Either I can determined what you desire, or that desire could be indeterminate and random. Your third option isn’t a new member of the set because will could be either random or determined. (Also, your circular statement that a person wills something for a reason and that reason is that they willed it is not helpful.)

The many-world’s interpretation of QM doesn’t mean you can determine which slit a photon will go through in advance; only hidden variables could do that, but again it isn’t favored by physicists in part because it breaks locality–it implies faster-than-light travel. See Bell’s theorem. Also, see
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v474/n7352/full/nature10119.html

On probability: either I am very confused or your notions of it are. You are saying it is a mistake to use probability, but you also say free will means a good or evil decision is possible. Possibilities imply probabilities. Also, you make the distinction between epistemic and ontological probablities, but again not knowing what will happen is different that an event not being deterministically caused. Again, I don’t know where the wheel will stop, but I can know exactly what will stop it and given information I can predict it. For photons through a double-slit, it’s not possible.

As for your last-paragraph calculation, it is mathematically confused. When you have an infinite set, you have to be very careful. Now, we have a set of n binary states–n events that are good or evil. We let n -> infinity. The members of those sets could be anything, such as all good, all evil, and the many combinations thereafter. We will have a countably infinite set of possible collections of sets of good or evil events, but only one of them is supposed to be in heaven, the one with only good events. Again, the probability is that one would have to choose at random this one and only one set to get the desired result. However, the undesired set is countably many, so the probability of getting the all good set -> 0 as before. The probability of getting any particular set is infinitesimally small, but you have to go by the ratio of desired versus undesired, which is 1/x as x -> infinity. Again, you don’t get what you want by the math alone. When you have infinities, things just don’t work out that well.

I don’t think you should go down the math route anymore. I already proved that with a finite probability of evil being chosen, given infinite opportunities evil MUST be chosen. Only if you go against my first premise, that prob of evil act =/= 0, or go against n -> infinity, do you have a chance because all else after that is mathematically sound.

(So much for being quick…)

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cl July 6, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Interesting exchanges. Regarding randomness and free will: we had a similar discussion on my blog, starting about here or so. It gets a little heated here and there, but you might be able to find some thought-provoking comments in there.

Gilgamesh,

I already proved that with a finite probability of evil being chosen, given infinite opportunities evil MUST be chosen.

How do you justify the implication that free will can *only* entail a combination of good and evil? IOW, can you prove to me — without the presumption of materialist determinism — that free will can’t entail 100% good, or 100% evil for that matter? I’ve been following your comments intently, yet, we’re still right back to the same thing I told TaiChi: the burden falls on you to show why free will necessarily entails some degree of evil, and I’m curious to see how you’d do that without conflating free will and determinism, as Zeb has suggested [and I agree]. Sure, your math seems sound, but the minute you treat free will like dice, we’re not dealing with free will anymore — which makes the math a moot point.

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cl July 6, 2011 at 9:45 pm

Another one:

Gilgamesh,

Given an infinite number of tries, would you eventually kill an innocent person? Torture a baby? Steal from a defenseless old lady?

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TaiChi July 7, 2011 at 2:04 am

@cl
Doesn’t “might” also imply that one is unsure about what is actual? I just don’t see the salient difference, but it’s no big deal, it doesn’t change anything argument-wise.

So long as it’s understood that “then there might be evil in heaven” is to be read as “it is logically possible that there is evil in Heaven”, rather than “for all/I/we/anyone knows, there might be evil in Heaven”, then that’s fine.

No, I’ve got it, you’re just failing to grapple with my objection, preferring to repeat yourself, as if I’m so dull I can’t see what you’re trying to say. Believe me, I see what you’re saying.. I’d point you to my comment July 5, 2011 at 3:17 pm, or other comments where I say the same thing for that matter.

Ah. So you believe I repeat myself because I think you’re dull, but now you’re essentially repeating yourself too, which means you must think that I’m dull. Thanks for that.

When I get a spare hour, I’m going to write yet another post that explains all of this the best I can.

Sure, I’ll read it.

@Gilgamesh
If free will means there is a chance of evil in heaven, and given that there is a non-zero number of beings with free will that exist there for all time, then an act of evil is certain to happen. If you keep playing the lottery, no matter how small the odds if they are non-zero, eventually you will win. Similarly, if there is a non-zero probability of evil being committed in heaven because of free will, then because there will be an infinite number of possible occasions for evil to happen, eventually, evil must happen.

Analogy: Sisyphus flips a fair coin for eternity, recording the results of each toss. Is it possible that each toss Sisyphus makes turns up heads? Yes, because this result is included as a possibility in our (infinite) sample space. Is is likely? No, in fact, it has a probability of zero, and we can be mathematically certain that it would not happen. The lesson then is that not all zero-probability events are impossible, though of course all impossible events have zero-probability. Conversely, since the complementary of a zero-probability event has a probability of one, not all one-probability events are necessary*.
So, yes, we might think that evil is certain to happen in Heaven based on it’s one or near-one probability. However, that itself doesn’t ensure that evil necessarily occurs in Heaven, since mathematical certainty is one thing and logical certainty another.
In another discussion, mathematical certainty might be enough. But here, when an omnipotent being is involved, who can do anything logically possible, that isn’t going to be enough. So long as it is logically possible for every act in Heaven to be good, or at least not evil, God can make it so that that is the case, mathematical certainties be damned. (Of course, this raise the question of why he would gerrymander things so Heaven is without evil, but not do the same for Earth – but that’s another argument).

* A more thorough explanation here.

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Zeb July 7, 2011 at 6:16 am

@TaiChi Thanks for the explanation and the link. I think they pretty much clear the issue up. Although, when you say,

No, in fact, it has a probability of zero, and we can be mathematically certain that it would not happen.
That is true for every single possible outcome. And yet it is certain that one of those outcomes will occur, so we have a probability of 1 that outcome with probability of 0 will actualize. Furthermore, if we had an infinite number of Sisyphuses flipping coins and infinite number of times, the probability that one of the Sisys would flip all heads would be 1. To me this shows the problem actual infinites, the problem of reifiying probability, and the limitations of applying mathematical concepts to (supposed) concrete reality.

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Zeb July 7, 2011 at 6:37 am

Sorry I messed up the blockquote there. Here’s what I meant:

TaiChi: No, in fact, it has a probability of zero, and we can be mathematically certain that it would not happen.

Zeb: That is true for every single possible outcome. And yet it is certain that one of those outcomes will occur, so we have a probability of 1 that an outcome with probability of 0 will actualize. Furthermore, if we had an infinite number of Sisyphuses flipping coins and infinite number of times, the probability that one of the Sisys would flip all heads would be 1. To me this shows the problem actual infinites, the problem of reifiying probability, and the limitations of applying mathematical concepts to (supposed) concrete reality.

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Zeb July 7, 2011 at 11:20 am

You say “willed” is a third option between random and determined.I don’t know why you used the scare quotes as if you didn’t mean what the word implies, but nonetheless this doesn’t help because I can ask very simply was the will random or determined?Either I can determined what you desire, or that desire could be indeterminate and random.Your third option isn’t a new member of the set because will could be either random or determined.(Also, your circular statement that a person wills something for a reason and that reason is that they willed it is not helpful.)

I used the quotation marks because I was referring to the name of a concept, not using “willed” as a past tense verb in my sentence. You’re still conflating “random” with “non-determined.” Why? By my understanding of [ontologically] “random”, if you asked, “Was the will random or determined?” I would answer, “No, it was not either of those.” I suspect you are demonstrating another scientistic bias in this matter, that of insisting on only recognizing a third person perspective. From the third person point of view, every act of an entity will appear either random or non-random. If appears random, we will be unable to propose and test for any kind of deterministic causation (though we’ll be forever unjustified in supposing there is no deterministic causation). If it appears non-random, there will be a correlation either among the acts themselves, or between the acts and some other observations. In that case we’d be able to make a mathematical model that includes the rules of choice the entity appears to follow, and maybe hypothesize particular causal factors or just assume that there must be causal factors since the entity is following some rules. But if the entity is a free willed agent making choices, the first person perspective would indicate that the entity is making its choices not because of some rules that determine its choices and not for no reason at all, but because of the intentional acts of will the entity has generated. So I’ll agree that from the outside an agent’s choices will appear to be either statistically random or statistically nonrandom, and that if they are statistically nonrandom then we can create a predictive model that assumes some determination, and if they’re statistically random we will be unable to do that. But I don’t see any justification for only taking into account what can be observed in the third person, or for giving the third person perspective total authority to declare what is ontologically real. I’m not sure you’re doing that, but I get that impression.

To defend “willed” as a third option for causal explanation, next to [externally] determined and [ontologically] random: What makes an act of will different from the other two is that it comes from person making the choice, in the moment of choice, and from nowhere else. A random event does not come from a person; it appears “out of nowhere,” for no reason and with no cause. But when a person makes an act of will, she can say, “I knew what my options were, I knew of reasons why I might choose each of them, and in the moment I consciously determined to take one option in order that…” And she would be right. On the other hand, an externally determined event obviously comes from outside the person in the moment of choice. The causal factors may go through the person in the moment of choice, of course, but they exist prior to and outside of the person. And while a person might make all the same statements about their experience of the choice, she would be wrong. She did not actually have more than one option, and so did not determine anything in that moment. Now I’m not asking you to believe that free will exists, but just to see that it is different from external determination and ontological randomness, and that it is a comprehensible concept and a logical possibility. Otherwise the problem of Heaven will be meaningless to you.

The many-world’s interpretation of QM doesn’t mean you can determine which slit a photon will go through in advance; only hidden variables could do that, but again it isn’t favored by physicists in part because it breaks locality–it implies faster-than-light travel. See Bell’s theorem.

The many worlds interpretation does allow you to determine which slit the photon goes through: it goes through both. Multiple worlds branch off from the moment of quantum determination in a ratio known by the probability distribution of the photon’s path.

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Gilgamesh July 7, 2011 at 11:52 am

@cl

I’m confused how I am taking free will to be determined by considering it to be random. I see random as NOT determined. You and Zeb say I am being deterministic in what free will is, but not only do I not see this to be the case but you are simply claiming it. This is I think in part because neither of you know what free will actually means. In fact, I think the term free will has no information content. It’s like the question “how much does blue weight?” Perhaps this is because I simply don’t understand, but one way or the other something is not being clearly identified.

Also, in the case you mention of given an infinite number of times to kill a person: since I don’t believe in libertarian free will, I don’t think my chances of killing a person are probabilistic but instead influenced by my beliefs, knowledge, etc. Since those things provide a barrier to any desire to kill (and I am assuming the person is not trying to rile me, but is instead just say sitting in place), there is no chance of me killing. With zero probability, then it does not follow I will kill someone given an infinite number of tries. For example, in classical mechanics, if a ball is rolling up a hill, but the amount of kinetic energy is less than the potential energy the ball would have at the top of the hill, the ball will NEVER get over the hill no matter how many times it rolls up the hill with the same energy. Only if something else comes in (another push, say), then it won’t happen. Since I think this is better correlated to how my brain is, my chances of randomly killing a person without provocation is zero.

@TaiChi

Thank you for the link. It was helpful, but I don’t think it changes things here substantially. For example, if God made it so that all choices were good or never evil, then God is controlling things; one is not free to do anything evil. If God does all evil to happen, and free will means there is a chance for evil to happen, then it must have a non-zero probability. If God does not allow evil to happen in heaven, then the probability is exactly zero, but then what of free will?

Also, the link you gave should not imply quite what you think. Logically possible does not mean something can happen; logically impossible means something cannot happen. Something could be logically possible, but say physically impossible (the ball going over the hill with KE<PE I mentioned above). If something is physically impossible, then only miracles get past that. I don't think you are implying that we need a math miracle to get no evil in heaven by chance, but it seems that that is the only way for this to work. If something has zero probability, it cannot happen; for something to have zero probability and happen implies the probability was NOT zero, and that is a logical contradiction.

@Zeb

I will need to review your statements carefully before I try to pretend to be intelligent in my response.

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cl July 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm

TaiChi,

Ah. So you believe I repeat myself because I think you’re dull, but now you’re essentially repeating yourself too, which means you must think that I’m dull. Thanks for that.

It’s not that. It’s that you haven’t even lifted a finger towards my pertinent objections [as opposed to, say, the smaller semantic issues between "can" and "might"]. I don’t know why you haven’t, but I know it’s *not* because you’re dull.

Gilgamesh,

I’m confused how I am taking free will to be determined by considering it to be random. I see random as NOT determined.

Because you appear to suggest decisions are caused by something other than agent volition, perhaps the so-called “laws” of physics or something. Look at your ball example, which you say correlates well with your view of the brain: the ball’s failure to pass the apex is necessarily determined by outside factors. A controlled, deliberate choice can hardly be considered random or determined. I agree with Zeb that free will is “determined” by the conscious volition of the agent, but this is “determined” in a different sense than the situation with the ball — because the ball cannot “determine” itself over the apex. I agree with you that an outside push is necessary.

Also, in the case you mention of given an infinite number of times to kill a person: since I don’t believe in libertarian free will, I don’t think my chances of killing a person are probabilistic but instead influenced by my beliefs, knowledge, etc. Since those things provide a barrier to any desire to kill (and I am assuming the person is not trying to rile me, but is instead just say sitting in place), there is no chance of me killing.

Well there you go! My point with the killing question should now be evident: if it can be the case that, even given infinite tries, you will never kill an innocent person sitting by themselves, then, this can also be the case with any other evil act. You can’t say that the “probability” can only be zero for yourself, right? If the “probability” can be zero for you, why can’t it be zero for the inhabitants of the new Earth?

On my view, free will is not probabilistic. So, it follows that I don’t think our “chances” of a good or evil act are probabilistic, but instead influenced by conscious agent volition [which is influenced by beliefs and knowledge]. So, let’s dispense with all this talk of mathematical probability if neither of us *actually* believe our “chances” of a good or evil act are probabilistic.

In short: if you can purposely make your killing coin land tails on every flip, then, given the same beliefs, knowledge, and desires, so can any other person.

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Gilgamesh July 7, 2011 at 1:45 pm

@cl & Zeb

If I am understanding your statements now, I think you are arguing not for libertarian free will or contra-causal free will, but a compatibalistic free will. That sort of free will I do believe in; my choices are my own (no other conscious entity makes my decisions), but they are caused by my various desires and knowledge bits in my head, which are not random but are there for historically contingent reasons (i.e. what I learned in school; what brain patterns I have from evolutionary history). If you are arguing for more than this, then we return to the whole random/determined problem/any possible third option problem.

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Zeb July 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm

@cl
Are you still planning on telling us how you avoid the conclusion of this argument?

1. There is free will in heaven.
2. If there is free will in heaven, then there can be evil in heaven.
3. Therefore there can be evil in heaven.

About “can” vs. “might,” I interpreted them as synonymous, and just wanted to be sure you do too. I prefered “can” because it makes premise 1 and the second clause of premise 2 more obviously identical. Once you’ve responded to my argument above, can you point out the problem with this restatement of your paraphrase of Oppy?

1) It is not the case that [There can be evil in heaven]

2) If [There is free will in heaven], [There can be evil in heaven]]

3) Therefore, it is not the case that [There is free will in heaven].

As TaiChi pointed out, that’s clearly a logically valid argument of the form:
1. Not A
2. If B, then A.
3. Therefore not B.
Hopefully, putting your wording directly in that format will at least make clear why we agree with both Oppy’s argument and your paraphrase, but not your rejection of the conclusion. I know you are saying it’s an invalid argument, but I don’t see how you can possibly think that and it sounds more like you believe the first premise is false, despite your denials.

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Zeb July 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm

@Gilgamesh
People often think I am a compatibilist because I would allow that free will can be constrained, even constrained to choosing among pre-existing desires. But I’m pretty sure I’m a libertarian because even if the agent is choosing between only two predetermined options, I hold that she is fully able to choose either option. That choice is determined in the moment by the agent causally independent of her past or any other factors outside her self in that moment. So while I’ll agree that true choices of free will can be bounded by deterministic factors, the choices cannot be determined. To me, that would make them not choices, not free, and not will. So I’m a libertarian, though perhaps the softest-possible-core libertarian just shy of compatibilist.

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Patrick (Christian) July 7, 2011 at 2:50 pm

In a reply to Gilgamesh CL wrote: “Given an infinite number of tries, would you eventually kill an innocent person? Torture a baby? Steal from a defenseless old lady?”

I think this is a good point. One can indeed be fairly sure that one would never voluntarily commit acts one regards as highly immoral. As this already applies in this life, it certainly applies all the more in Heaven, and as this fact doesn’t suspend free will in this life, it needn’t do so in Heaven, either.

Moreover, based on John 14,15 and Galatians 5,16-18 it can be argued that the only sin one could commit in Heaven is to cease loving God and turning away from Him. As I pointed out earlier turning away from God despite being fully aware of His nature might be the only sin that cannot be forgiven.

So, my suggestion is that in this life as well as in Heaven people have the freedom to sin. A basic difference is that in this life people can commit more sins and are more susceptible to sin, but the sins they commit can be forgiven. On the other hand to people in Heaven only one specific sin is available, but this sin is unforgivable and therefore sinning would have a much more severe consequence for them than it has for people who are still in this life. As I pointed out earlier this difference may be the reason why God chose not to let people be in Heaven without letting them experience first this life. Maybe beings who never felt what it is like not to be in Heaven are more tempted to commit this sin, and it may have been this sin that Satan and the other fallen angels are guilty of.

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cl July 7, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Gilgamesh,

If I am understanding your statements now, I think you are arguing not for libertarian free will or contra-causal free will, but a compatibalistic free will. That sort of free will I do believe in; my choices are my own (no other conscious entity makes my decisions), but they are caused by my various desires and knowledge bits in my head, which are not random but are there for historically contingent reasons (i.e. what I learned in school; what brain patterns I have from evolutionary history).

No red flags for me, there.

If you are arguing for more than this, then we return to the whole random/determined problem/any possible third option problem.

And if we’re not arguing for more than that?

Zeb,

Are you still planning on telling us how you avoid the conclusion of this argument?

I haven’t written the full treatment I intend to write, but I’ve already tried to explain how I avoid that conclusion. The argument is valid, but it is not sound, because (2) is actually a false premise.** I accept the biblical criteria for the new Earth as a place where free will produces 100% good, which follows logically from the fact that strictly speaking, free will entails three possible states of affairs:

1) 100% good;

2) 100% evil;

3) some proportion of good and evil.

Then, I ask my opponent to falsify the following argument:

1. There is free will on new Earth.
2. If there is free will on new Earth, then there can be 100% good on new Earth.
3. Therefore there can be 100% good on new Earth.

Of course, that suffers from the same criticism I’ve applied to Oppy’s argument, and I would need to show how it is necessarily the case that only 100% good will result from free will on new Earth — just as I allege my opponent would need to show how it is necessarily the case that some degree of evil will result from free will on new Earth.

I opine that because morality is intrinsically related to knowledge, “sin” is a form of error. In fact, the Hebrew chatta’ah and its derivatives translate to, “miss the way” and “go wrong” among others. It includes both willful disobedience and sins of ignorance, as both rebel against the divine order. Recall that new Earth is a place where God has separated those who choose to rely on their own will (which necessarily entails some error because human will is not omniscient) from those who choose to submit their own will to God (Who is inherently incapable of error due to omniscience). Therefore, new Earth consists of agents with free will who — via faith — use that free will to submit to God’s perfect will, and the existence of evil on new Earth becomes logically impossible. We’d get:

1. God’s will is perfectly good.
2. New Earth contains only agents who only use their free will to submit to God’s will.
3. Free will on new Earth leads to 100% good.

Certainly valid, and if each premise is true, it’s sound. Note that (3) above can be restated, “Necessarily, there can be no evil on new Earth,” and in Oppy’s argument, (2) is not a true premise — so it can’t be sound.

**I think the source of confusion is that earlier, I said I didn’t deny (2). Once I realized (2) smuggled in a loaded definition of heaven / new Earth, things snapped into place.

Patrick (Christian),

One can indeed be fairly sure that one would never voluntarily commit acts one regards as highly immoral. As this already applies in this life, it certainly applies all the more in Heaven, and as this fact doesn’t suspend free will in this life, it needn’t do so in Heaven, either.

Exactly. I’m glad someone else seems to see this, because I was starting to feel a little crazy. Also, your closing paragraph July 7, 2011 at 2:50 pm inspired some more thoughts, but I don’t want to blurt them out quite yet…

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Zeb July 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm

@cl

**I think the source of confusion is that earlier, I said I didn’t deny (2). Once I realized (2) smuggled in a loaded definition of heaven / new Earth, things snapped into place.

That does clear it up. And I think I might agree with you, at least very broadly. We’ll see where the next posts take us.

@ Patrick and cl
Do you guys realize you’re agreeing with Gilgamesh’s determinism? He’s saying that deterministic factors like prior beliefs and desires make it so that he has no choice to commit murder. He is determined, ultimately by factors outside himself, to never murder, and so the probability of him murdering is zero. He is saying that his determination not to murder does suspend free will on Earth and, if it existed, in Heaven. Further, he’s been saying that if it were possible for him to murder, ie if he had a choice, that there would be some probability however small that he would murder, and given infinite opportunities he inevitably would murder. So I do think you sound crazy when you use his deterministic explanation for why he wouldn’t murder on Earth to defend your claim that no one with free will would commit evil in Heaven/New Earth.

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cl July 7, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Zeb,

So I do think you sound crazy when you use his deterministic explanation for why he wouldn’t murder on Earth to defend your claim that no one with free will would commit evil in Heaven/New Earth.

I’ll wait to see if Gilgamesh agrees with your assessment of his beliefs on determinism, then we can go from there.

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Gilgamesh July 7, 2011 at 9:18 pm

@Zeb

I didn’t take it that you were a compatibalist because you thought free will was constrained to some degree; I can see, for example, a random process that has constraints, such as the double-slit experiment again. The pattern of many photons is determined, yet the particular photons hit randomly. What I did read that suggested a compatibalist POV was when you talk of causal factors acting through the person to get that person’s decisions about X.

Nonetheless, here is where we may be able to make some headway. You talked about me taking a third-person perspective rather than a first-person perspective on will, and it took me some time to figure if it had any bearing on the question. Seeing how you proposed the problem, it seems this is an issue because desires and the like are external to the person, while the will is internal. Now, I am not well up on existentialist philosophy (when I read Heidegger, for example, my brain melts before I finish the introduction, and I still haven’t a clue what he said), but I would think that my desires are a part of me. If the “I” had no desires, then I don’t know why “I” would do anything. The will of a person, an “I”, exists because there is a desire for that person–some future situation is willed or desired. As such, desires, knowledge, and anything else that may fit into that category I interpret to be a part of the self (even if in the subconscious, but I don’t want to talk too much there because things get hella-hard and more scientific rather than first-principles which we seem to be focusing on here). In which case, I don’t think I suffer from the point-of-view issue you mention.

In which case, I think discussions on this point will help to make headway in this conversation.

@cl

The reason I am curious if you agree with compatibalist free will rather than contra-causal is because, as I understand it, the Platinga Free Will theodicy requires contra-causal free will. Perhaps I am mistaken, but this is what I remember from philosophy lecture in the days of yore.

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cl July 7, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Gilgamesh,

…it seems this is an issue because desires and the like are external to the person, while the will is internal.

How so? Aren’t desires merely brain states? Wouldn’t they be internal by any reasonable definition of that word? Were you speaking hypothetically or simply referencing that position without actually holding it? I got confused there.

The reason I am curious if you agree with compatibalist free will rather than contra-causal is because, as I understand it, the Platinga Free Will theodicy requires contra-causal free will. Perhaps I am mistaken, but this is what I remember from philosophy lecture in the days of yore.

Well, this is partly what I feared, a discussion of the map as opposed to the territory. Nonetheless, if you’ll do us the favor of explaining precisely what *YOU* mean by “compatibalist free will” and “contra-causal free will,” I’ll answer your question the best I can.

I like what I’ve read of your blog so far, BTW.

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Zeb July 8, 2011 at 4:28 am

@Gilgamesh
I referred to the case of causal factors going through a person as a case of determinism, and so not true free will or real choice. Whether desires and such are internal to a person depends on where you draw the boundary of “person,” so I won’t argue one way or another. My point is that desires come from causal sources outside the person in the moment of decision. Outside factors, whether it’s genes, environment, or even the person’s past acts of will, determine the nature of the desires. And so if it is purely the mechanistic interaction of desires and other such externally determined factors, even though those factors may become internal to the person, I don’t consider that to be free will or real choice. After all, given the specific situation and the specific factors present, only one result could obtain, given determinism. What choice was there?

If the “I” had no desires, then I don’t know why “I” would do anything.

That’s kind of my point. Free will must be independent of the kind of determining factors that would allow you to know from outside the experience why you would make the choice you make. Suppose someone asks you to pick a color that you neither prefer nor dislike. You don’t know what this is for, so you don’t know why you would pick any one over another. And yet you can pick one. And when you do, your experience is not of some outside source, be it an ontologically random color namer or a mechanistic color choosing algorithm, telling you which one to pick. The experience is of yourself, for no particular reason, intentionally choosing one color over all the others. Now, in real life in our world if this actual experiment was done, I would bet that there were unconscious factors at work determining which color you would pick. I would not expect this to be an example of free choice. I’m just using it as a relatable example of the kind of choice that conceptually could be free in the absence of externally determined factors. Do you still disagree that such a choice is even conceptual possible/coherent, or that it would count as a free will choice?

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Patrick (Christian) July 8, 2011 at 4:42 pm

It seems to me to be a well-grounded assumption that whenever people have to choose between morally good acts producing happiness for themselves and morally bad acts producing suffering for themselves the choice will always fall on the former. Consequently, in such cases free will is irrelevant, as people’s choices are in a sense predetermined. It is only when morally good acts produce suffering and morally bad acts happiness that free will becomes important. But in Heaven this never happens and therefore with respect to morality free will is irrelevant there.

In my view God did not primarily endow humans with free will in order to enable morality. More important may be God’s desire to have a loving relationship with humans, and love can only be voluntary. So, free will may indeed be important in Heaven, but more for the sake of love than for the sake of morality.

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cl July 8, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Patrick (Christian),

It seems to me to be a well-grounded assumption that whenever people have to choose between morally good acts producing happiness for themselves and morally bad acts producing suffering for themselves the choice will always fall on the former.

This doesn’t seem right at all, unless of course I’m grossly misunderstanding you. If that’s true, why do people do things like drink to the point of hangover, and get caught in affairs? Also, you seem to offer a false dichotomy: can’t people also be presented with morally good choices that produce suffering, and morally bad choices that produce happiness?

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joseph July 9, 2011 at 4:14 am

Very interesting…my upbringing was as a Jehovah’s Witness, they believe (among other things) that most of the faithful are bodily ressurected to eternal life in an earthly paradise.
I often wondered if eventually all would die (JW’s are annihilationist) as if the individuals in paradise had free will, eventually everyone would commit at least one sin.

Or if everyone had free will and yet never sinned, would this be contradictary or not.

I confess I never thought it would be possible to have free will without sin. It seems whichever answer you give problems arise.

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cl July 9, 2011 at 10:55 am

joseph,

Do you think any problems arise given the answers I’ve given? If so, could you explain them?

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Patrick (Christian) July 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm

CL

Your examples don’t refute my argument. If someone decides to engage in an extramarital relationship it’s because he or she expects some amount of pleasure. This also applies to your second example.

As for your objection that I present a false dichotomy, I don’t deny that morally good acts can produce suffering and morally bad ones happiness. It’s just that these cases are irrelevant for my argument. My assumption is that when confronted with a choice between a morally good act producing happiness and a morally bad act producing suffering, sane and rational people always opt for the former.

However hard I try to think of a real life example that refutes this view, I don’t find any. Would anyone voluntarily commit an act he or she regards as immoral and which has unpleasant consequences for him or her?

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cl July 9, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Patrick,

Thanks for responding. I’m confused because you said, “morally good acts producing happiness for themselves.” Surely you’re not implying an extramarital affair is a morally good act, right?

As for your objection that I present a false dichotomy, I don’t deny that morally good acts can produce suffering and morally bad ones happiness.

Okay, cool, thanks for clearing that up. It would seem the affair is an example of a morally bad act expected to bring happiness — right?

Would anyone voluntarily commit an act he or she regards as immoral and which has unpleasant consequences for him or her?

As in, “and which they knowingly believe ahead of time will have unpleasant consequences?

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Larkus July 10, 2011 at 3:51 pm

@cl:

You wrote:

I accept the biblical criteria for the new Earth as a place where free will produces 100% good, which follows logically from the fact that strictly speaking, free will entails three possible states of affairs:

1) 100% good;

2) 100% evil;

3) some proportion of good and evil.

What you wrote means, that it is a contingent fact, that there is no [moral] evil in heaven. So you are in fact rejecting the first premise of Oppy’s paraphrased argument (restated by Zeb and others):

1) It is not the case that [There can be evil in heaven]

It either is the case that [There can be evil in heaven] or it is not the case that [There can be evil in heaven]. It can’t be both.

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Patrick (Christian) July 11, 2011 at 2:20 am

CL

I added “for themselves” to make clear that I’m not thinking of happiness or suffering that such acts may create for other people.

Your formulation “which they knowingly believe ahead of time will have unpleasant consequences” is somewhat more exact, as, of course, my point only applies if people are aware what consequences their actions will have.

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cl July 11, 2011 at 8:50 am

Larkus,

What you wrote means, that it is a contingent fact, that there is no [moral] evil in heaven. So you are in fact rejecting the first premise of Oppy’s paraphrased argument (restated by Zeb and others):

That’s incorrect. You need to read the rest of what I wrote. Or, in the event that you have, you need to read it more carefully. I’d start with July 7, 2011 at 4:46 pm.

Patrick,

Your formulation “which they knowingly believe ahead of time will have unpleasant consequences” is somewhat more exact, as, of course, my point only applies if people are aware what consequences their actions will have.

Okay, cool… I’m glad we’re on the same page there. Next question: does your point assume that the person won’t experience any happiness, despite the unpleasant consequences they believe their actions will have? IOW, are you just saying that nobody will pick an immoral act that only produces suffering?

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Patrick (Christian) July 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm

CL

Yes, I think so.

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cl July 11, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Patrick,

Then I would probably agree. With the possible exception of duty, I believe that all intentional action aims to increase well-being either of the agent, and/or of other agents. I’ve not seen a successful argument or evidence for value pluralism and last time I asked Luke to defend it, he dropped the ball, opting for one of those pie in the sky, “we’ll get to it in the podcast” deferments. I treat “happiness”, “health”, “wealth”, “satisfaction” etc. as all under the same general rubric: well-being. Therefore, I would agree with you that nobody would attempt something unless they expected an increase in well-being.

However, what about the person who contemplates allegedly immoral act “A” and knows that A has a strong chance of thwarting their desires overall, yet still performs A? For example, drunk driving.

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Larkus July 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm

@cl

You wrote:

1. God’s will is perfectly good.
2. New Earth contains only agents who only use their free will to submit to God’s will.
3. Free will on new Earth leads to 100% good.

Certainly valid, and if each premise is true, it’s sound. Note that (3) above can be restated, “Necessarily, there can be no evil on new Earth,” and in Oppy’s argument, (2) is not a true premise — so it can’t be sound.

Even if your above argument is sound, (3) above can at best be restated as “There is no evil on new Earth”, not as “There can be no evil on new Earth”.

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cl July 11, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Larkus,

Well, I don’t see why you’d say that. From said comment: “Therefore, new Earth consists of agents with free will who — via faith — use that free will to submit to God’s perfect will, and the existence of evil on new Earth becomes logically impossible.” If that scenario exists, at that point, it seems the statement, “there can be no evil on new Earth” remains true. Unless maybe you want to posit that evil could gain entrance through agents not in the aforementioned set. Or?

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joseph July 12, 2011 at 4:03 am

Hi CL,

Thanks for asking, and thankyou for the careful thought and interest all your posts have generated. My philosphical ability is still very weak, in general I avoided philosophy because it generates what I saw as stupid answers, such as an arrow never hitting a tortoise, and I stuck with science (only later did I realise this was natural philosophy, and now later in life am getting to grips with materialism etc). So it’s fair to say my dabbling will seem a little childlike.

These are the problems I have:

1) All the posts I have seen arguing for a world where free will and mo immorality exist for eternity seem to be indicating a probability of something like 1/Infinity. I won’t deny the logic behind such arguments, but am not convinced.

2) The arguments based on things like would you ever kill an old lady. Well, I hate to shock you but maybe, say the old lady had a brain tumour and was in endless, indescribable pain, my enemy (we shall call him Justin Bieber) has kidnapped by whole family, including children with many years ahead of them. He says I either have to shot the old lady (damning myself in the process) or he will torture every member of my family to death (maybe with his godforsaken music). Now in this case, yes I may consider shotting the little old lady, probably even damning myself in the process. Now, unless we can wriggle out of it by claiming somehow myself and the little old lady were sacrificing ourselves (and can we do that if we did it knowingly?), I have sinned, horribly.

3) You gave examples that were as distasteful as posssible (rape and murder). My concern may not apply to you but I was taught that, biblically, thought sins were possible. As a young male I often covert the wife of Brad Pitt (I feel perhaps that I am even encouraged to do so, it sells movie tickets). Now, if we include thoughts as sins I find it much more difficult to imagine getting through eternity without upsetting God.

4) One answer seems to be using your free will to submit, i.e. giving up your free will. If everything is better if we reject our free will why did God create us with it? This argument reduces free will to the level of a non-gentile foreskin.

Ok your clearly better than me at this, I’ll do some digging and find out what value pluralism is, and work on my understanding of necessary —– s amd contingent ——s.

Thankyou for all the intellectual stimulation.

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joseph July 12, 2011 at 4:09 am

Also maybe a work around for this but it always bugged me that God knew who would reject Jesus when he created them. In that case were all the people who would go on to reject jesus created for the benefit of those who wouldn’t (like human chaff). It’s such an emotionally horrible thought, not a logical problem, well not directly.

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Patrick (Christian) July 12, 2011 at 5:14 am

CL

I wonder if duty really is an exception to the rule you are suggesting. Duty usually is based on some kind of loyalty towards another person, and in being loyal towards this person one strives to increase his or her well-being. Duty can also be based on faithfulness towards a moral conviction, e.g. that one shouldn’t break an oath. If this is the case, it is one’s own well-being about which one is concerned, as acting against one’s own moral convictions produces a feeling of uneasiness one wants to avoid.

Your example of drunk driving may not be appropriate here, as being drunk is certainly a state in which one is of unsound mind. A better example is someone who drives over the speed limit or does something else that endangers his life or the lives of others while being sober. In this case the pleasure this acts produces may outweigh the concern about his life.

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Larkus July 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm

@cl

You gave an argument, which I cited in my last comment:

1. God’s will is perfectly good.
2. New Earth contains only agents who only use their free will to submit to God’s will.
3. Free will on new Earth leads to 100% good.

Certainly valid, and if each premise is true, it’s sound. Note that (3) above can be restated, “Necessarily, there can be no evil on new Earth,” and in Oppy’s argument, (2) is not a true premise — so it can’t be sound.

The conclusion “Free will on new Earth leads to 100% good” can not be restated as “Necessarily, there can be no evil on new Earth.” Both sentences are not equivalent with each other.

There is a difference between “Free will on new Earth leads to 100% good” and “Free will on new Earth necessarily leads to 100% good”.

If your goal was to show with your above argument that it is both true that “There is free will in heaven” and that “It is not the case that [There can be evil in heaven]” then you did not succeed with that goal. What you showed instead is, provided the argument is sound, that it is both true that “There is free will in heaven” and “It is not the case that [There is evil in heaven]“.

You might have a sound argument, that starts with “Free will on new Earth leads to 100% good” and arrives at “Necessarily, there can be no evil on new Earth”, but you did not present such an argument.

This of course means, that your above argument did not show that “in Oppy’s argument, (2) is not a true premise”.

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cl July 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Well, it’s too bad gilgamesh seems to have dropped out of the conversation…

Larkus,

Given the truth of 1 and 2, why wouldn’t it be the case that free will on new Earth necessarily leads to 100% good?

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joseph July 14, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Query:
Would submitting to God’s Will be equivalent to rejecting your own free will from that point on, or is it a continuous, active process?

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joseph July 14, 2011 at 9:00 pm

Sorry, maybe not clear. I.e. a one-off act or a series of actions?

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Zeb July 15, 2011 at 6:49 am

@joseph

Between your two choices I would have to lean towards “a series of actions,” but I think there is at least one more option, which is an eternal act of will. That is, it is one act, but not such that a person has an unending series of experiences of the consequences of the act. Rather, one abides in both the act and its consequence (divine union) outside of time.

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joseph July 15, 2011 at 9:49 am

So individuals would make a decision at a single point in time, and then become timeless beings?
I confess I am not sure that human language/brains are suitable instruments by which to reason about things like “outside of time”.
Yes, I do have the same objection to discussions about what happened before the big bang.
I would like to understand how causation, and therefore morality, would apply in a timeless situation. I appreciate I might not be capable…

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Larkus July 15, 2011 at 11:23 am

@cl

Your argument was:

1. God’s will is perfectly good.
2. New Earth contains only agents who only use their free will to submit to God’s will.
3. Free will on new Earth leads to 100% good.

The above argument seems valid to me, if I read the premises in a certain way.

Your argument was not:
1. God’s will is perfectly good.
2. New Earth contains only agents who only use their free will to submit to God’s will.
3′. Free will on new Earth necessarily leads to 100% good.

This argument is not certainly valid, and even if each premise is true, it is not guaranteed, that the argument is sound. You could make the argument clearer if you would put it in a form, that is known to be valid.

If (1) and (2) are true, I would agree that (3) follows, but I would not agree that (3′) follows.

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Larkus July 15, 2011 at 11:33 am

@cl

I’m also interested in your answers to joseph’s questions.

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Patrick (Christian) July 15, 2011 at 6:00 pm

joseph: “Would submitting to God’s Will be equivalent to rejecting your own free will from that point on, or is it a continuous, active process?”

I think the analogy of a strong moral conviction is appropriate here. It has been suggested that a person may be fairly confident that he would never eventually kill an innocent person, torture a baby or steal from a defenseless old lady. It is certainly not that this person has to make up his mind time and again whether or not he should do these things. Rather, it is a decision taken once and for all.

However, this doesn’t mean that this person has no free will and could not change his mind about it. It’s just that in real life such a change of mind may never happen, and so one can say that such a state of affairs is not only contingently but necessarily the case. The same may apply to Heaven.

Of course, the argument is based on the assumption that one is not forced to do such things, so your objection that one may do such things in such a situation does not apply here.

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joseph July 15, 2011 at 8:57 pm

What about less obvious examples, for instance the command to not to tolerate witches, to circumcise male children and to not even think immoral thoughts?
I think all people, atheists, theists, assess their morals constantly, but some decisions are much less likely to change. For example would I steal an apple from an innocent old lady, hes if I were starving likely to die and she was healthy and withholding it from me. Would i steal money to buy an apple, yep, probably. Is this being forced or merely tested. From reading Job, being tested can include having your family killed, I find the distinction difficult.
The doctrine of thought sin also really worries me.

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Zeb July 16, 2011 at 8:06 am

So individuals would make a decision at a single point in time, and then become timeless beings?

That is basically how I think of it. Whether that single point in time is the end point of that individual’s temporal life or a shared end point constituting “Judgment Day,” I expect that for every individual there comes a time when it is impossible to continue making tentative and partial acts of accepting and rejecting God. Faced with full knowledge of who and what that individual is and who and what God is, I would think a person can only fully accept or fully reject God and all God’s graces. Full acceptance of God brings union with him, and so eternality.

I confess I am not sure that human language/brains are suitable instruments by which to reason about things like “outside of time”.
Yes, I do have the same objection to discussions about what happened before the big bang.
I would like to understand how causation, and therefore morality, would apply in a timeless situation. I appreciate I might not be capable…

I find it is not hard to think “outside of time” if I think of time as just another dimension. I can think of God interacting with the temporal world from outside of time in a way similar to how I can interact with the two dimensional screen of an iPad from outside that two dimensional matrix. If there were some entity experiencing the length of the screen time-wise (that is, sequentially) it would experience my finger touching the top of the screen as prior to my finger touching the bottom of the screen, even if I am touching both simultaneously for me. (That’s a bad metaphor in a lot of ways, but I only mean to show how temporality is subjective and one entity’s temporality can be another’s eternality.) As to causality, I think the concept of non-chronological causation is pretty common. Think of how gravity is causing Earth to revolve around the sun. Gravity is not acting chonologically prior to revolution, but causally prior. And it’s not too much of a stretch to think there might be some answer to the question of what is the cause of the universe, the whole 4(plus) dimensional expanse of it, to be the way it is? And if there could be, and I would say must be, an answer for that, then there could be other facts, such as the state of being in union with God, that have causes that do not operate in a chonological way.

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Zeb July 16, 2011 at 8:15 am

However, this doesn’t mean that this person has no free will and could not change his mind about it. It’s just that in real life such a change of mind may never happen, and so one can say that such a state of affairs is not only contingently but necessarily the case.

Sorry Patrick, you are wrong there. “Necessary” means can never happen, not willnever happen.

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Patrick (Christian) July 16, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Zeb: “Sorry Patrick, you are wrong there. “Necessary” means can never happen, not willnever happen.”

With respect to people’s behaviour in this life “necessary” is obviously an inappropriate term. My use of it was motivated by the attempt to counter the impression some comments give that it is very unlikely that people in Heaven never sin by examples showing that at least with respect to some sins it is even in this life possible that no one ever would commit them voluntarily.

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joseph July 17, 2011 at 2:40 am

Thankyou Zeb, both for making me think and trying to explain.
I can imagine time as a dimension, but isn’t that still inside a framework of time? I.e. we would then talk of travelling backwards in time, forwards in time, one travellers experience of time being different etc, we are still talking of beings experiencing time. Like with the iPad screen, it’s all spatial, nothing is “outside of space”

Isn’t gravity chronological? If the sun disappeared the planets would continue in there orbits for a short time, mercury would feel the effects first, then venus, then earth etc.

You mentioned it would be “impossible to continue making tentative and partial acts of accepting and rejecting God”…this would seem to indicate Heaven requires a loss of free will, and that we would be better without it.

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joseph July 17, 2011 at 5:21 am

The example of non-chronological causation did get me thinking though, of things like a dent forming when a bowling ball sits on a cushion, kind of simultaneous.
But I’m having trouble applying it to morals because I think of them as containing an action and or a thought, which requires time to occur in.
I have the same problem with a timeless God. If as William Lane Craig has it, God existed timelessly and created the universe with a thought, how does God have an idea without time for it to occur in?

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cl July 17, 2011 at 9:35 am

Larkus,

If (1) and (2) are true, I would agree that (3) follows, but I would not agree that (3′) follows.

Why not?

Joseph,

All the posts I have seen arguing for a world where free will and mo immorality exist for eternity seem to be indicating a probability of something like 1/Infinity. I won’t deny the logic behind such arguments, but am not convinced.

Why not?

Now in this case, yes I may consider shotting the little old lady, probably even damning myself in the process.

Well sure, but that wasn’t the case I described, so I don’t really see how that’s relevant to whether or not free will and sinlessness can co-exist.

You gave examples that were as distasteful as posssible (rape and murder).

I chose those to point out that even here, on this Earth, there are sins that many [most?] people will never commit. Since that clearly seems to be the case, I ask: why couldn’t it be the case with all sins?

If everything is better if we reject our free will why did God create us with it?

I’m not arguing that everything is better if we reject our free will. I’m arguing that everything is better if we exercise our free will to submit to God’s will.

Would submitting to God’s Will be equivalent to rejecting your own free will from that point on, or is it a continuous, active process?

Well, as I said above, for me at least, it entails exercising our free will to submit to God’s will. To “reject” something is to do away with it or deny, and I’m not advocating that we would deny or do away with our free will.

What about less obvious examples, for instance the command to not to tolerate witches, to circumcise male children and to not even think immoral thoughts?

Why would those be any different?

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joseph July 17, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Morning CL,
Thankyou for replying. I have tried hard to think of an answer, for the question; “Why don’t you find an logically consistent argument containing an event with a probability of 1/infinity convincing?”

I suppose it boils down to pragmatism. If we were sitting on a veranda on the prairie in the U.S.A., drinking some nice coffee and we heard hoofbeats, I would think it was some horses, I would be very inclined to agree with you, and require little additional evidence, if you told me you too, thought the same.

If you told me you thought Zebras were responsible for the sound I would doubt you, I wpuld require a little more evidence, such as hearing on the radio that a large number of Zebras had escaped from the local zoo, before I would entertain the idea further.

If you said Unicorns were the culprits, no matter how perfectly logical an argument you could present, I am sorry to say I would not accept your account. The probability of unicorns may even be higher than 1/infinity in that case.

If you told me that Hercules fired an arrow at a tortoise and yet the arrow never hit, because there was always some distance left for the arrow to cover before it found it’s unfortunate target, even if the logic where good, and I could not find a flaw, I wouldn’t believe it.

Maybe that doesn’t answer the question, but I hope it helps.

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joseph July 17, 2011 at 7:00 pm

The old lady shooting example. I’m a bit muddled, I know that wasn’t the example you gave, but on the other hand there was no background given, merely a sin (killing an innocent old lady) and the statement that this would be unimaginable. Is that fair so far?

Now I considered it fair game to imagine a situation in which an otherwise reasonable, moral person might commit that sin. So, personally, given some unlikely but possible scenarios, I could not say “I would never commit sin X”, so it seems relevant.

I would concede to the following “Given sound mental health I’d consider it highly unlikely that I would shoot an innocent old lady, without any unusual and improbable circumstances”.

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joseph July 17, 2011 at 7:18 pm

I can’t seem to get to the bottom of this concept of “submitting to God’s will”. If it’s a one off event then after that point the being cannot be said to have free will. Everything they did would be the will of another being (i.e.God) and could not be said to acting under their own free will. To me submitting to God’s will, in this case, is equivalent to rejecting your own free will and attempting to replace it with something better, but not ultimately your own.

The other case that I imagined, where in making every choice you first decide whether to submit to God’s will or not, would allay my fears regarding loss of free will. Then however there would be a problem that in a single situation a being might decide both to exercise it’a free will to not submit to God’s will, and make a decision that conflicts with God’s will may occur in an infinite amount of time.

Zeb’s thoughts on being in a timeless state after submitting to God’s will are interesting and appreciated, and I am followinf his/her replies intently.

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joseph July 17, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Finally, why do I consider the sins of witch toleration and sins of thought different to Rape, and Murder.

As for witch toleration, well I don’t believe in witches, I don’t know how I would commit that sin. If we broadened the definition to include people who write horoscopes and claim to commune with the dead I admit they can be pretty abhorrent…but I regualrly tolerate them. But then I always found it a bit confusing which bits of the Old Testament were still relevant, which were overturned by the New Covenant, which were just metaphorical. As such this command, to not tolerate witches, is one that I don’t see as possible to practice, and the only real world application as awful. So if humanity can’t understand God’s morals, applying them of our own free will exactly as God wants seems unlikely.

As for thought sins, again I’ll stray into the realm of personal experience, but often thoughts seem to pop into my head, I don’t seem to control them as I control my actions. If I try not to think of something I inevitably think of that thing. Given the I lack the level of control over my thoughts, that I have over my actions, a transgression seems more likely. Thankyou.

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Gatogreensleeves July 17, 2011 at 8:45 pm

It seems like another way to show how free will must exist in heaven is to ask, ‘was God’s physical creation perfect before the Fall?’ If Eden was perfect before the Fall and one could somehow justify its ‘perfect corruptibility’ via the value of free will for all creatures, wouldn’t free will then be necessary to make heaven perfect as well?

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Zeb July 19, 2011 at 3:03 am

joseph

I can imagine time as a dimension, but isn’t that still inside a framework of time? I.e. we would then talk of travelling backwards in time, forwards in time, one travellers experience of time being different etc, we are still talking of beings experiencing time. Like with the iPad screen, it’s all spatial, nothing is “outside of space”

Let me clarify the iPad example. I am imagining that the screen is a universe in which one dimensional entities experience a one dimensional universe (the width of the screen) changing sequentially over the length of the screen. In other words, they experience the dimension of length as we experience the dimension of time. So really they live in a two dimensional universe: the width in which they can move, transforming across the length. But we, being three dimensional beings in a four dimensional universe, are outside both the plane of the iPad screen and the sequentialness of length. And so might God be outside both the span of time and the obligation to experience it sequentially.

Isn’t gravity chronological? If the sun disappeared the planets would continue in there orbits for a short time, mercury would feel the effects first, then venus, then earth etc.

I think if the actual gravitational field disappeared, the earth would simultaneously take a path tangent to its orbit due to inertia, but I acknowledge I am not educated enough in physics to say for sure. But your example of a ball weighting down a cushion might serve as a better example of what I meant (although it’s actually the same physically I guess – gravity). But thinking about it more, I don’t see what your problem is anyway. Maybe I misunderstand what you mean by causality when it comes to morality, but to my understanding the state of being good or bad only and always exists simultaneous to the cause of that state. That is, whatever one may think makes a person, a desire, or an act good, when that cause of being in the state of being good is present, so is the state if being good. I don’t see a need for sequentiality of any kind in order for morally significant causality to work.

You mentioned it would be “impossible to continue making tentative and partial acts of accepting and rejecting God”…this would seem to indicate Heaven requires a loss of free will, and that we would be better without it.

No, for one thing I am saying that full knowledge of God and self would necessitate either a full acceptance or full rejection of God, which could be better or worse. But it is also possible, and I believe that corresponding to the doctrine of Purgatory this is the case, that the time of confronting full knowledge of God and self and thus being confronted with that eternal decision could also be a matter of free will.

This was posted in some haste, so I apologize if it does not adequately address your points. Your questions and challenges provoke interesting thought, so please continue if you like.

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joseph July 19, 2011 at 3:25 am

Thanks Zeb, you seem like a nice being!
You did that on the fly? Impressed.
I can’t reply on the fly, but would you like me to post the reply here or on “the problem of heaven part 1a”? CL seems to have upped and moved there…

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Larkus July 19, 2011 at 7:37 am

@cl

I wrote:

If (1) and (2) are true, I would agree that (3) follows, but I would not agree that (3′) follows.

You wrote:

Why not?

I already answered that in my previous comment:

1. God’s will is perfectly good.
2. New Earth contains only agents who only use their free will to submit to God’s will.
3′. Free will on new Earth necessarily leads to 100% good.

This argument is not certainly valid, and even if each premise is true, it is not guaranteed, that the argument is sound. You could make the argument clearer if you would put it in a form, that is known to be valid.

As far as I can see, the argument above doesn’t follow any valid argumentation schema. Obviously you think that the argument above is valid. So what is its underlying argumentation schema?

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Larkus July 19, 2011 at 10:13 am

Since you asked for clarification in the thread for POH 1a:

An example for a valid argumentation schema:

If A then B
A
Therefore, B

Another example:

All A are B
All B are C
Therefore, all A are C.

Your argument is nothing of that sort, as far as I can see. It is rather like:

A
B
Therefore, C

Your argument, as stated, is unclear. You could make your argument clearer, if you would use consistent terms in the premises and the conclusion. For example, you use different predicates in all three sentences.

Since you obviously think, that your argument is valid, you should be able to give its (hopefully valid) argumentation schema.

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joseph July 19, 2011 at 11:55 am

Larkus,
CL seems to have not found time to give me a satisfactory answer to:

1/ If submitting to God’s will is a one off act, after that act can the being be said to have free will?

2/ If submitting to God’s will is a continuous act how is the chance that beings may at some point stop submitting averted?

You don’t seem to share my concern, so I thought maybe you have thought of a work around (Zeb is proposing a timeless route).

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Larkus July 19, 2011 at 2:02 pm

@joseph

I’d like to hear a satisfactory answer to these questions, too. I just didn’t comment on that point, because I wanted to focus on one point. It’s difficult enough to get an answer out of cl on that one point.

Concerning your two questions:

Whether “freely submitting to God’s will” is a one off act or a continuous act, it still seems as if both options would involve at least one free choice.

If you want to contradict Oppy’s premise (2), then you must affirm, that there is free will in heaven as well as no possibility for evil in heaven. It doesn’t matter how much free will there is in heaven, one free choice is sufficient.

But if there is free will in heaven then there is the possibility for evil in heaven, even if it is the case that there actually is no evil in heaven. As cl put it:

free will entails three possible states of affairs:

1) 100% good;

2) 100% evil;

3) some proportion of good and evil.

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joseph July 19, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Zeb, I decided it best to reply here. I hope it’s ok.

So, this is the way I see the iPad situation, with the 2D beings…we are in a metaphorically similar position (I worded that carefully, trying not to cause offense), in that we are not bound only to those 2 dimensions, having 2 extra (time and depth).

Is that ok so far?

Now here is my view. In that metaphor, the humams are not “widthless” or “lengthless” beings, we are merely beings with a different range of positions available to us than the iPad universe, plus the property of depth and temporal existence.

Analogously, if God existed in time, but could transverse time in ways we cannot, and/or existed in extra dimensions, such a God wouldn’t be timeless (I feel the terrible temptation to say we would be “temporally differently able people” in a minor mockery of political correctness).

Morality, admittedly I thought that Gravity is transmitted at a maximum of the speed of ligjt, hence a minor lag over astronomical distances, but I am not a physicist, so I see no reason to argue as we can both agree that sometimes cause and effect seem simultaneous (I say “seem” not to be awkward, but even when you drop a ball on a pillow, there would be a brief moment without an indentation, and the indentation would get bigger with time until the resistance offered balanced the force pushing the ball into the pillow….and am genuinely having trouble as to whether it is truly simultameous or not).

So, what is my objection? Well, lets breakdown a sin a bit. First there is often, but not always a thought. For example, “I want to punch Justin Bieber”, maybe that isn’t a sin even…but I digress. That thought had a beginning, a duration, and an end. As a non-eternal being my thoughts will always end (i.e. with me), though eternal beings could, in principle, have thoughts without end.

Now, sometimes a thought results in an attack, so in my example, let’s say I decide to punch Justin Bieber. My action has a beginning, duration and end.

And then the effects of my sin, I am damaged my it, Justin is damaged by it. Again there’s a beginning, a duration, maybe not an end though (probably analogous to dropping our ball in some concrete and the indentation becoming a permanent feature).

Now the moral effect may be simultaneous with their causes, but their causes are all things that occur within time (I can’t for the life of me imagine a “width sin”). So that’s why I can’t see how morality applies in a timeless situation, because all causes of sin I know require time over which to occur.

You also posited a (roughly) formulation of heaven, hell or purgatory. I couldn’t relate to why purgatory would be the only state where you could change you mind about God…i.e. sat in purgatory I could think, “you know what, God’s not so bad”. In heaven I could not think “but why did he order Genocide?” Or if a non biblical God “but why did he get involved with Loki, that boy was always trouble, I told him, but he was having none of it”.

Thankyou Zeb.

@Larkus

Thanks for the answer, much quicker than CL. We should continue on the next article. The trouble I have with the solution that one act would be enough to count as free will, is oddly enough, not primarily one of number (so little choosing!), but that that one act of free will is prior to entering heaven…i.e. there would be no free will in heaven, but getting in requires it. So this answer is actually contains a hidden objection to the proposition of free will in heaven, as I see it.

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joseph July 19, 2011 at 8:01 pm

This was meant to read:
So, this is the way I see the iPad situation, with the 2D beings…we are in a metaphorically similar position TO GOD (I worded that carefully, trying not to cause offense), in that we are not bound only to those 2 dimensions, having 2 extra (time and depth).

Changes in capitals

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cl July 20, 2011 at 11:06 am

joseph,

Last time I came back, I did my best to answer as many of your questions as I could, especially because Larkus also expressed interest in my doing so. This is the first time I’ve been back since then. I don’t have time right now to read through each of the new comments you’ve left, but I will reply to them in order the best I can, when I can. Deal?

The following addresses your comment July 17, 2011 at 6:27 pm:

I suppose it boils down to pragmatism. If we were sitting on a veranda on the prairie in the U.S.A., drinking some nice coffee and we heard hoofbeats, I would think it was some horses, I would be very inclined to agree with you, and require little additional evidence, if you told me you too, thought the same.

But of course. This is because of our previous auditory experiences with horsebeats.

If you told me you thought Zebras were responsible for the sound I would doubt you, I wpuld require a little more evidence, such as hearing on the radio that a large number of Zebras had escaped from the local zoo, before I would entertain the idea further.

Certainly. This is because of our preconceived knowledge that zebras aren’t indigenous to North America.

If you said Unicorns were the culprits, no matter how perfectly logical an argument you could present, I am sorry to say I would not accept your account. The probability of unicorns may even be higher than 1/infinity in that case.

If you told me that Hercules fired an arrow at a tortoise and yet the arrow never hit, because there was always some distance left for the arrow to cover before it found it’s unfortunate target, even if the logic where good, and I could not find a flaw, I wouldn’t believe it.

Maybe that doesn’t answer the question, but I hope it helps.

It doesn’t. It just shows that you find unicorns and gods incredulous. That one finds A incredulous, in and of itself, is not a good reason to reject a sound argument that leads to A.

Larkus,

It’s difficult enough to get an answer out of cl on that one point.

I don’t think that’s charitable. I asked you three times to explain yourself, and finally, you did. But before that, you weren’t really explaining yourself, which caused me to have to ask you to explain yourself. So, I don’t know what else to say there. I feel the same way: it was quite difficult for me to get you to explain your objection, which, mind you, remains a bit unclear, as I’ll explain.

Obviously you think that the argument above is valid.

I do. I define a “valid argument” as any argument where the truth of the premises entails the truth of the conclusion. In his comment July 16, 2011 at 8:15 am, Zeb defined necessarily as, “can never happen.” So, let’s revisit my initial offering…

1. God’s will is perfectly good.

2. New Earth contains only agents who only use their free will to submit to God’s will.

3. Free will on new Earth leads to 100% good.

Now, recall that you’ve already granted the validity of that argument, DESPITE the fact that it doesn’t follow your preferred lexical structure as delineated in your last comment to me. For some reason, you deny the validity of THIS argument, and now you complain that it is unclear:

1. God’s will is perfectly good.

2. New Earth contains only agents who only use their free will to submit to God’s will.

3. Free will on new Earth necessarily leads to 100% good.

The first argument didn’t contain any “if’s,” and you granted it’s validity. How does adding “necessarily” invalidate the same exact argument? How does adding that one single word make the same argument you previously conceded as valid, all-of-a-sudden invalid and unclear? That’s very confusing to me.

Nonetheless, I’ll run it as an, “If A, and if B, then C” type of argument, and I’ll add two new premises that flow from Matthew 13:41 and Hebrews 6:18. So, it will really take the form, “If A, and if B, and if C, and if D, then E.” Here we go:

If God’s will is perfectly good [A], and if God only grants eternal life to agents who submit their will to God’s will [B], and if God weeds all that causes sin and all who do evil out of new Earth [C], and if it is impossible for God to lie [D], then new Earth necessarily entails 100% good [E]. That is to say, it cannot ever be the case that evil exists on new Earth, and that’s according to Zeb’s aforementioned definition of necessary as, “can never happen.”

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Zeb July 20, 2011 at 7:26 pm

@joseph

So, this is the way I see the iPad situation, with the 2D beings…we are in a metaphorically similar position to god (I worded that carefully, trying not to cause offense), in that we are not bound only to those 2 dimensions, having 2 extra (time and depth).

Is that ok so far?

Now here is my view. In that metaphor, the humams are not “widthless” or “lengthless” beings, we are merely beings with a different range of positions available to us than the iPad universe, plus the property of depth and temporal existence.

Analogously, if God existed in time, but could transverse time in ways we cannot, and/or existed in extra dimensions, such a God wouldn’t be timeless (I feel the terrible temptation to say we would be “temporally differently able people” in a minor mockery of political correctness).

This very objection occurred to me the first time while I was writing my last response. I’m not sure I can comfortably dismiss is, but here is where I take the analogy at this point. First, I never used the word “timeless,” but instead said that God is outside of time. That does not exclude him from being inside time as well, whereas “timeless” excluded him from having time. I only mean to say that God is outside of time in the same way that the person in my analogy is outside both the plane of the iPad screen, and in particular is not bound to experience the iPad screen as sequential from top to bottom. Rather they can experience the whole thing as unified and static, as well as experience things beyond the scope of the iPad screen. Likewise, I imagine, God is present by his knowledge and power to the whole of our universe at all points in time, as well as all that is beyond our universe. But you still have a point: while the person in the analogy might not be within the plane of the iPad screen, she is still bound within the universe’s dimensions that includes the dimensions within which the iPad screen exists. That is, she may not be within the length of the iPad screen, but she still has length or is ‘within length’. But God, being omnipresent and generally absolute, cannot be posited as, say, merely a 6 dimensional creature proportionally as much bigger than our universe as we are bigger than an iPad. So how do I get from the kind of situation exemplified in the analogy to the one I’ve been claiming for God (and the residents of heaven)? For me to conceptualize this I take three steps. First, I propose a being that is infinite in all our known dimensions – infinitely big, infinitely old, and persisting infinitely. But such a being is still limited, as it is contained within four dimensions. So then I imagine a being that extends infinitely, but in an infinite number of dimensions. Such a being is outside of any particular dimension in that all the ‘space’ in each dimension is contained within him, yet he extends in every way beyond each dimension. Tbis is closer, but still, the fact that within a dimension you could get out a ruler and measure off some segment of God raises a red flag; God would still be bound within dimensionality, still be limited, which is not acceptable. God must be beyond dimensionality, and yet omnipresent. So he must be present in full to all points of all universes but not contained even partially by any. Dimensionality is within God (within God’s mind perhaps), but god is beyond or “outside of” dimensionality. That is how I maintain the important parts of the iPad analogy – being outside the scope and the sequential experience of a dimension, but still being able to act within the scope of the dimension in a way that would seem sequential to those being who experience the dimension that way.

Anyway, I think what we are discussing is not so much time as sequence. After all, to some higher dimension beings ‘time’ may just be a measure of distance they can look at and mover around in as we do length, but we would still expect them to act along some sequential axis. And I agree that the only experience of morality I have is in sequential context. But still, if the thought, “I want to punch Justin Beiber” is bad, does the moral consequence of ‘being bad’ follow timewise after the cause of it being bad? Whatever your moral theory, I could only imagine that at every moment that the necessary conditions for badness were present, badness itself would be the state of the situation. Imagine that a 6 dimensional scientist could locate that moment in our universe and annihilate all moments before and after. Both the cause of the badness and the effect, the state of ‘being bad,’ would exist, but no sequentiality would.

Let me take one more stab at explanation. Suppose heaven itself is just the state of willing complete acceptance of God (which would include submission to God’s will). In all cases where that happens, a person is “in heaven,” heaven being the state of union with God. To be in union with God entails sharing in his knowledge of and love for all things, so the person shares in God’s eternality as I have described it, beyond dimensionality but present to all that is dimensional. Here sequentiality is eliminated not by truncation, as in the 6 dimensional scientist analogy, but by transcendence. Because God and those in union with him are present to all moments (or other units of dimensionality), there is nowhere to move to or from sequentially. And so the state of freely willing union exists with its effect of being in union, and this is heaven, and it is possible that that act of will is morally good.

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joseph July 21, 2011 at 3:20 am

@CL
Yes, I can see you have been busy, sorry for sounding impatient.
Two points:
1/ I said previously I found the argument not illogical, but unconvincing. I feel this word has the same feeling as “i am incredulous”, I am sorry if you thought otherwise.
2/ I said I was incredulous about arguments based on probabilities of 1/infinity, rather than God. I am capable of believing in God, and did so for over two decades. The probability of 1/infinity seemed to be weakly contested.

Please, I don’t mean to parody theistic positions, and I know it is sensitive, but I see the unicorns argument as relevant.
There is no logical reason why it could not have been unicorns, but I would express my incredulousness (your words) or that I was unconvinced (my words).

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joseph July 21, 2011 at 4:42 am

@zeb
A proper reply will take a while but firstly sorry for both misunderstanding and thus misrepresenting your position on “out of time”, as “timeless”. Careless of me, but thankyou for correcting me. It’s probably because I’ve heard William Lane Craig talk about a timeless God, and Physicists talk about what happened before the big bang (before time began) and been equally stumpered (which is a proper word) by both.

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joseph July 21, 2011 at 5:46 am

@CL

To attempt to clarify further, I would not completely reject a logical argument (for anything, Heaven, God, Unicorns, Bicycles, Myself, etc) based upon a probability of 1/infinity, but I would be 1/Infinity convinced, or 1/Infinity credulous, I am sure you would agree with me on this, but disagree that your argument is based upon a probability of 1/Infinity.

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Larkus July 21, 2011 at 8:53 am

@cl

You are mistaken. I never “granted” the validity of

1. God’s will is perfectly good.

2. New Earth contains only agents who only use their free will to submit to God’s will.

3. Free will on new Earth leads to 100% good.

I did reserve judgement. I qualified my statement with “… if I read the premises in a certain way,” which involves changing the premises resp. adding new premises. This means that is not the case that the argument, as written, seems valid to me. I see, that my formulation might have been confusing.

How does adding that one single word make the same argument you previously conceded as valid, all-of-a-sudden invalid and unclear?

One word can make a huge difference.

It is necessarily the case that
if it is true that “necessarily, there is no evil in heaven” then it is also true that “there is no evil in heaven”,
but it is not necessarily the case that
if is true that “there is no evil in heaven” then it is also true that “necessarily, there is no evil in heaven”.

So that single word “necessarily” requires some extra justification.

Thank you for the clarification, although there are still some issues.

If God’s will is perfectly good [A], and if God only grants eternal life to agents who submit their will to God’s will [B], and if God weeds all that causes sin and all who do evil out of new Earth [C], and if it is impossible for God to lie [D], then new Earth necessarily entails 100% good [E]. That is to say, it cannot ever be the case that evil exists on new Earth, and that’s according to Zeb’s aforementioned definition of necessary as, “can never happen.”

If the additional premises are not necessary to make the argument valid, then I would propose to drop them to keep things simple.

I assume, that [E] is can be replaced with “it is the case that, necessarily, there is no evil in heaven.”

I also notice, that you no longer use the term “free will”. This is confusing, after all, it is necessary to affirm that there is not only no possibility for evil in heaven, but that there is also (morally significant) free will in heaven in order to contradict Oppy’s premise (2). Did you just forget to include the term?

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cl July 21, 2011 at 11:42 am

Joseph,

Please, I don’t mean to parody theistic positions, and I know it is sensitive, but I see the unicorns argument as relevant.

How so? More specifically, how is it relevant to the discussion in this thread?

Larkus,

I see, that my formulation might have been confusing.

Well, yeah! “If I read the premises a certain way” is different than “changing the premises resp. adding new premises.” But, whatever. No big deal there.

It is necessarily the case that
if it is true that “necessarily, there is no evil in heaven” then it is also true that “there is no evil in heaven”,
but it is not necessarily the case that
if is true that “there is no evil in heaven” then it is also true that “necessarily, there is no evil in heaven”.

I understand that.

I assume, that [E] is can be replaced with “it is the case that, necessarily, there is no evil in heaven.”

According to Zeb’s definition, yes: if [A] – [D] are true, there cannot be evil on new Earth. Do you accept Zeb’s definition?

I also notice, that you no longer use the term “free will”.

It’s implied in [B]: “if God only grants eternal life to agents who submit their [free] will to God’s will…”

So… where do we go from here?

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joseph July 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm

@CL

As basically as I can put it;
1)The probability of a being given an infinite number of choices always picking the “good” option, given morally significant free choice as defined in Platinga’s free will defense would be 1 in Infinity.

2) Logically that is possible

3) It is highly improbable

So I am 1/Infinity Convinced (for simplicity “unconvinced”)

By way of analogy:
1) There is a very low probability that unicorns (equids possessing a single horn) exist

2) Logically it is possible that Unicorns exist

3) The degree that I am convinced by is similarly low

I think I will need your assistance if I have misinterpretated your question, or is you think I am wrong in maintaining a degree of skepticism…Or if someone else can see where I’m confusing CL, I will gladly accept help!

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joseph July 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Oh…perhaps you are actually offended by unicorns.
Ok, Zebra. Couldn’t find the numbers so illustrative only:

1) hear hoofs
2) CL points out Zebras are logical as they have hoofs
3) made up illustrative bit – other hoofed animals outnumber zebra 1000 to 1 in our locality
4) I am 1/1,000 credulous that it is Zebra, despite the faultless logic on show.
Sorry should’ve known better than to use Unicorns.
I had one further idea, if it’s still unclear, write what you think I am saying, with the assumption that I am not knowingly trying to be offensive and am trying to be relevant, and I’ll look at that and see how it compares…?

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Larkus July 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm

@cl

What about [C] and [D]? Are they necessary for your argument? They were not included in the original argument. If they are necessary, then the original argument was not valid. If they are not necessary for your argument, then I will drop them.

I don’t think, that [E] follows, because there is free will in heaven, and

free will entails three possible states of affairs:

1) 100% good;

2) 100% evil;

3) some proportion of good and evil.

Hence, free will in heaven entails the possibility of evil in heaven.

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cl July 21, 2011 at 4:10 pm

joseph,

Let me see if I can answer a few back questions, first:

Would submitting to God’s Will be equivalent to rejecting your own free will from that point on, or is it a continuous, active process?

I envision it as a continuous, active process [hence my "exercising one's own free will to submit to God's will" remark]. A series of actions.

I would concede to the following “Given sound mental health I’d consider it highly unlikely that I would shoot an innocent old lady, without any unusual and improbable circumstances”.

Highly unlikely? Or, impossible? For me, as I suspect for many, maybe even most, the answer is impossible. If it can be impossible for one sin, why can’t it be impossible for all sins? That’s the line of reasoning here.

To me submitting to God’s will, in this case, is equivalent to rejecting your own free will and attempting to replace it with something better, but not ultimately your own.

Where you see “rejecting,” I see “exercising.” To reject your own free will would be to cast it off, i.e., to get rid of it. Again, that’s not what I’m suggesting. I suggest retaining one’s free will, and consciously using it to submit to God’s will, the same way a child uses his or her free will to submit to his or her parents’ will. Plain as day.

If submitting to God’s will is a continuous act how is the chance that beings may at some point stop submitting averted?

Empirical, undeniable knowledge of the ramifications of sin, as generated by the current epoch. Would you sin in paradise if you KNEW that your sin would cause all the evil and suffering we currently experience?

Catching up to your latest comments,

1)The probability of a being given an infinite number of choices always picking the “good” option, given morally significant free choice as defined in Platinga’s free will defense would be 1 in Infinity.

Human beings are not dice. This line of reasoning presumes that something other than the free will does the selecting. For this reason, “probability” cannot be meaningfully said to apply. At least, that’s the way I see it. Probability does not govern the fact that I’ll never shoot an innocent old lady in the head, so why should it govern in these other instances?

1) hear hoofs
2) CL points out Zebras are logical as they have hoofs
3) made up illustrative bit – other hoofed animals outnumber zebra 1000 to 1 in our locality
4) I am 1/1,000 credulous that it is Zebra, despite the faultless logic on show
Sorry should’ve known better than to use Unicorns.
I had one further idea, if it’s still unclear, write what you think I am saying, with the assumption that I am not knowingly trying to be offensive and am trying to be relevant, and I’ll look at that and see how it compares…?

I understand why you would be skeptical of the “Zebra” claim, and I would be skeptical, too, for exactly the same reasons. However, if you can’t explain how that relates to the subject we’re discussing, I can’t really continue, because I don’t see what you’re getting at. I mean, we’re not trying to evaluate the most likely explanation for some observed physical phenomenon; we’re debating the logical coherency of two metaphysical propositions: 1) there is free will on new Earth; 2) there is no evil on new Earth.

So, I don’t know where to go from here. I really don’t know what you’re saying. The most I can get so far is, “If we heard hoof beats, you couldn’t get me to believe it was a zebra or unicorn, no matter how logical your argument was.” Well, okay! But I’m in that same boat. I don’t think you’re being offensive. I do think the unicorn arguments are childish and amateur, but that doesn’t mean I think *YOU* are childish or amateur. Hope that makes sense.

If you want to continue, I’ll need you to explain the relevance between unicorns, zebras, free will, and heaven / new Earth. Or, perhaps you can point out a flaw in the latest version of my argument with Larkus.

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cl July 21, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Larkus,

Hence, free will in heaven entails the possibility of evil in heaven.

Hmm…. It seems we’re right back to July 7, 2011 at 4:46 pm. Under ordinary circumstances, sure, we’ve got all three options at any given time. However, given the truth of [A] – [D], we don’t have those three options; we have one option, and one option only. The truth of [A] – [D] shaves away the possibilities of 100% evil and some combination of evil and good. You omitted the “strictly speaking” part of my statement [see July 5, 2011 at 3:17 pm], and you are treating my “three options” remark as if it applies given the truth of [A] – [D], when in fact it does not. It can not.

Although, maybe I’m overlooking something. If you can show me how evil might persist given the truth of [A] – [D], then I will concede your point and adjust my argument accordingly, but I can’t grant you anything if your objection doesn’t take those premises into consideration.

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Larkus July 21, 2011 at 6:27 pm

@cl

Morally significant free will entails the possibility to choose evil means: If there is no possibility to choose evil, then there is no morally significant free will.

If A then B can be expressed as: If ~B then ~A.

In the other thread (POH1a) you wrote:

I agree that God doesn’t have “morally significant free will” by Plantinga’s definition. God cannot choose evil.

Generalized, that would be: I agree that X doesn’t have “morally significant free will” by Plantinga’s definition. X cannot choose evil.

Let’s insert the expression “agents who submit their will to God’s will” from [B] instead: I agree that “agents who submit their will to God’s will” don’t have “morally significant free will” by Plantinga’s definition. “Agents who submit their will to God’s will” can’t choose evil.

But you need morally significant free will in heaven in order to contradict Oppy’s premise (2).

You wrote, that [B] affirms, that there is free will in heaven. It seems then as if [B] either is false, or uses the term “free will” in a sense that is not relevant for Oppy’s argument.

In the former case [E] doesn’t follow, in the latter case the argument might be true, but misses the mark.

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joseph July 22, 2011 at 2:19 am

@Zeb
I agree with an awful lot of what you said in the last post, and am with you entirely up to this point:

“the fact that within a dimension you could get out a ruler and measure off some segment of God raises a red flag; God would still be bound within dimensionality, still be limited, which is not acceptable”

I think you rightly got to the crux of my stumbling block. The solution that gets you over my stumbling block is:

“god is beyond or “outside of” dimensionality”

This raises a number of interesting points. I have always considered the proposition of a pantheistic God very seriously, and in many ways there seem to be similarities in, let us say, “the ideas”. That is I am not saying you believe in a pantheistic God, merely I do not find the idea objectionable.

I do see being outside a dimension, as being dimensionless. I suppose, thinking as I am typing, that part of a dimensionless being may be within a dimension, but I am struggling to think of a way that the parts could be in communication. Or have a casual relationship. You might end up with a being that is unchanging because it is already, everywhere, everything at every time and more, it is what it is?! As change denotes some difference in position, energy, dimension etc usually within time, could this being change or effect anything…it is “maxxed out”.

“Imagine that a 6 dimensional scientist could locate that moment in our universe and annihilate all moments before and after. Both the cause of the badness and the effect, the state of ‘being bad,’ would exist, but no sequentiality would.”

You talked about isolating a moment, such a poetic and beautiful thought, my understanding is that such a point (Planck time?) would be analogous to a point in space (Planck distance?), and so would be bound in time and temporal.

As a thought experiment suppose we have a moment in time when I am hitting poor Justin Bieber. Whether it is moral or not depends on context the events that happened before and afterwards, did I hit him in self defense and in self protection(he was singing at me), did I hit him without provocation, did God tell me to hit him (his music may be the work of the devil).

You’ve probably guess that I have similar concerns over the final paragraph, but to briefly summarize could a being with:

“nowhere to move to or from sequentially”

Have any ability to change, they seem frozen…

I gladly await your reply, and am finding this very stimulating, enjoyable and constructive.

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joseph July 22, 2011 at 2:39 am

@CL

“I envision it as a continuous, active process [hence my "exercising one's own free will to submit to God's will" remark]. A series of actions.”

Thankyou, that one remark clarifies things a lot.

“Would you sin in paradise if you KNEW that your sin would cause all the evil and suffering we currently experience?”

Satan did, and many angels fell, I won’t rule out that I as a former human would fall.

“Highly unlikely? Or, impossible?”

I’ll stick with highly unlikely, I am flawed, prone to mistakes, and think sinful thoughts.
I know I keep giving examples but suppose I had I wife, with an incurable disease, in pain, crying for me to kill her, I loved her with all my heart, I would not rule out the possibility I might assist her in euthanasia, which is regarded as murder in my country. I think, as humans, there is a finite possibility in all of us for sin.

“Again, that’s not what I’m suggesting. I suggest retaining one’s free will, and consciously using it to submit to God’s will”

I accept this, as you have clarified that you believe it is a continuous process, which was why I asked. If a slave has, at every moment, a choice to be free, he/she is not a slave.

“This line of reasoning presumes that something other than the free will does the selecting”

To me, no humans are not like dice, and likewise the individual behabiour of an atom is not like that of a die, and yet probability is still a useful way of modelling the actions of extremely large groups of individuals, or one individual over and infinite time period. Also I find my own thoughts, which can be sins, to be highly random at times, to paraphase Lewis Carol (Caroll?), sometimes I think of 7 impossible things before breakfast. So if I did admit that the action of murder could not be discussed in probablistic terms (which I do not), I still would have the problem of thoughts, which I find extremely random. Which is why I asked you for an opinion on the matter, as you may have a solution, if you do, that would be one less hurdle for a possible rebirth of my faith.

As you contest that probabilty does not come into the matter, it is obvious why you don’t see any relevance of discussing Zebra etc, as clearly, from early on I said:

joseph July 17, 2011 at 6:27 pm

{I have tried hard to think of an answer, for the question; “Why don’t you find an logically consistent argument containing an event with a probability of 1/infinity convincing?”}

Without that, it would not be relevant.
Thankyou for saying you don’t think I am amateurish, but I will accept that I am, take any help given, and thank you for your patience.

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Larkus July 22, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Lewis Carol (Caroll?)

Carroll ;)

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joseph July 22, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Made me laugh, I posit this as evidence of my previous assertation:

“I am flawed, prone to mistakes, and think sinful thoughts and an awful spellerer of words”

Thanks,(Thhanks?), Thhannks! :-D

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Larkus July 23, 2011 at 2:47 pm

joseph: “If submitting to God’s will is a continuous act how is the chance that beings may at some point stop submitting averted?”

cl: Empirical, undeniable knowledge of the ramifications of sin, as generated by the current epoch. Would you sin in paradise if you KNEW that your sin would cause all the evil and suffering we currently experience?

For the discussion it is not relevant whether I would sin in paradise, but whether I could sin in paradise. If I could not sin in paradise, even if I wanted to, or if I couldn’t even want to sin in principle, then I would not have (morally significant) free will. If I could not stop submitting to God’s will once I started then keeping on to submit to God’s will isn’t free anymore.

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joseph July 23, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Thanks Larkus, missed the “would/could” distinction.

I’d also like to add, that sometime after the fall of man, when a lot of the terrible effects of sin were undeniable, Angels seem to have decided to act immorally after observing some nekkid ladies:

“The fallen ones were in the earth in those days, and even afterwards when sons of God come in unto daughters of men, and they have borne to them — they [are] the heroes, who, from of old, [are] the men of name.” Genesis 6:4 Young’s

So it seems even angels existing in unity with the Divinity, in Heaven, can get a bit horny…there is no hope for me….

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joseph July 23, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Briefly looking, with hindsight, it seems fair to say this not every Christian’s interpretation, but it is the one I am familiar with.
(online I found: fallen angels, christians (!), and even Aliens (no joke))

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Zeb July 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm

@joseph

I feel we are developing a mutual understanding, whether or not we come to agreement, so thanks for talking. Certainly I am understanding and improving my own thoughts on this subject.

I think you are correct, that I must accept that God as I have described him is not just outside of time, as a 6 dimensional scientist may be, but is timeless. God is timeless because he cannot be measured by time; he is neither 0 years old nor infinity years old, nor anything in between. Even though he is present to all points of space and time, you could not say that a year of God’s existence goes by each time the earth revolves. We Christians believe that all of God’s being is omnipresent, and so no part of God’s presence can be measured or demarcated. And so you’re right, God as I conceive him is dimensionless and thus timeless.

And of course you are right, as almost all Abrahamic traditions have always taught, God is changeless. He is “maxxed out” as you say, and being unified that means he has nowhere to go to or from in any sense, as I said.

So what does that imply for the free will defense and the problem of Heaven? If I am right that Heaven is the state of fully and perfectly accepting God, and if full acceptance of God entails sharing fully in God’s nature, then I think it is clear why there would be no sequentiality in time or otherwise in Heaven. A person in Heaven, being united with God, has nowhere to go to or from in any sense.

We haven’t really talked about meta-ethics at all, but you’ve indicated that for you morality is about acts, but the morality is not found in the act itself but in the context of the reasons for the act and the consequences of the act. And so a brief universe that consisted only of a single moment of your fist slamming into Beiber’s face would not be morally good or bad; there would need to be preceding moments in which good or bad reasons precipitated the punch, and following moments in which good or bad consequences followed. I don’t think we need to get into exactly what makes good or bad reasons or consequences and how they determine the moral status of an act. My question to you is, why could it not be that reasons, act, and consequences all exist simultaneously rather than sequentially? In Heaven as I’ve described it, the reason for the act of fully accepting God would be unreserved love and the consequence would be union. Not only do I see no reason those three (reason, act, and consequence) could not coexist simultaneiously, I see no way they could exist separately so as to be sequential.

I think this reopens the question of whether morally significant free will exists in Heaven. I think it does, because free will exists in Heaven and that free will is morally significant. It is morally significant because every being who has free will can choose evil. But if Heaven is the state of making a perfect, total, and absolute choice of good, then anything that chooses evil is necessarily not in Heaven. To choose evil is to exclude oneself from Heaven, and so in Heaven their can be no evil, though there can be free will (that of the people who have chosen good). Make sense?

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joseph July 25, 2011 at 1:22 am

Thankyou Zeb,

I was actually excited to read your reply! It was like Christmas (can’t help but note it is funny to say that as a former Jehovah’s Witness). I wouldn’t rule out that we can agree, I am in a pupal stage, plenty of developing left! My former doctrine, you may know, involved an earthly, physical paradise for the majority. That may be one reason this idea of a timeless perfectitude is of such interest, it’s a different angle. Probably one reason why in arguing metaphysical possibilities I stray back with physical analogies and examples. It’s where I ground things. (Sorry CL).

I’d like to thank Luke as well for creating a forum where Atheists and Theists can coexist in perfect harmony (well, not quite, but it’s not Dawkin’s Net).

So where to go first! Iam currently unravelling my thoughts on some of the topics that have been raised, so if clarification is required, give me a nudge.

So, as you’re fed up of hearing timeless is difficult for me. With your presumed permission I’ll attempt to use your beautiful single moment metaphor, though I recognise it not to be quite what you mean (but lack for a better handle on things).

In this context, the following cannot be said to occur (or perhaps I lack the imagination):
1/I begin to love God
2/I stop loving God

The following states exist (not in Heaven, but in our singular moment):
1/I love God
2/I do not love God (a state that would result in disqualification from Heaven)

The singular moment allows maintenance of a state, but not a change of state.
As I understand the concept of Free Will, change, beginnings and endings, are necessary. I am very concerned we could start discussing things like “if a room is not being used is it still a room? If a glass smashes is it still a glass? If a tree falls down.in a forest, and noone hears it, does it make a sound?”. That is are there no true beginnings and endings, only those which we as sentient beings impose.

Maybe you mean this too when you say that beings in heaven have “nowhere to go”?

Will continue in a new field as smart phones hate lengthy scribblings…

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joseph July 25, 2011 at 2:06 am

…@Zeb…..
So your are challenging my morality! Please don’t! It’s a disarrayed mish mash of the remnants of my religion….I keep promising myself I’ll read into social contracts, utilitarianism and enlightened self interest, but I’ve avoided it so far. Stupid Boy!

Argh….so yep you were right on the mark. I’d say I view morality as consisting both of intent and effects . I think I’d be happy to use your word ‘reason’ in exchange for ‘intent’, but I may posit there are reasons behind intent, and I would place actions within the ‘results’ bit, though I see a small distinction.

‘Alfonso wants to blow up the world. He decides not to because he is tired’
He had immoral intent.
‘Bob wants to destroy the world, he presses a red button, that he thinks will start a nuclear apocalypse, it does’
Immoral intent, Action and Result
‘Charlotte van Heisling III Junior wants to destroy the world, she presses the red button…ya da ya da ya da…it’s electrical contacts fail, no Nuclear Apocalypse’
Intent, Action (Result?), not quite the same Result

I’d say on an individual level Bob and Charlotte van Heisling III junior are worse than Alfonso, but the result was the same for Alfonso and Charlotte van Heisling III junior.

I wait for proper ethicists to destroy me for my half-baked thinking.

Why not simultaneous causation. Here I’d say because thoughts, as we know them, require a beginning, things like neurotransmitters binding, altering conformation of ion channels, movement of ions establishing a different electric potential over a cell membrane etc.

If you frooze a human brain, or brian, in time, you could by means of thought experimemt (magic!) have a look at where neurotransmitters were, what the electropotential gradients were, and, here is my inner materialist, probably say something like “this general pattern is indicative of a state of love”. But, perhaps channeling my inner compatibilist and T.Pratchett, could you show me an ounce of morality in that love, a fermion of justice? (No, i forget what a fermion is too, but sometimes sounding clever wins arguments, as does ironically recognizing your own limitations).

Again I await the baying hounds of materialist incompatabilist atheists to rip me apart.

My thoughts are that “love” is not, alone, moral. Neither is hate. Hating what is bad is good. Righteous Anger. Being Jealous (by New World Translation often preferred “zealous”)

A simple example: A child loves sweets. Eats too many; Gluttony.
An emotionally and morally repulsive example: a paedophile loves a child. No consent, abusive plus worse.
An example for loving God: someone loves God because it means that their loved ones did not truly die, which is understandable, unbearably painful (probably ammoral rather than immoral)
Another, repugnant, for loving God (a bit cliched, oh well): An inquisitor loves God so much, he/she tortures admissions of Witchcraft out of people and sends them to their death. He/she believes this is risking his/her own immortal soul, in obediance to God’s command not to tolerate a witch, and that he/she is sparing his/her victims from eternal damnation.

As a fringe Christian I’d argue the inquisitor mistakenly loved his/her own evil projection of God. That saved God, but left humanity on somewhat shakey ground.

Timelessness…hmmm…yep Big Bang cosmology gets me stuck here as well. I can think of no logical reason why you can’t posit a supernatural cause…hence not rejecting the idea of any and every possible God, but I think we’ll understand more, explain more, if we stick to natural causes.

I don’t think Atheists have any great moral advantages, perhaps they are less clingy to slighty dogmatic ideas (jehovah’s witnesses honestly believe it’s immoral to accept red blood cells from another person) but many atrocities have been committed in the name of building a “better” society and a “new” man.

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joseph July 25, 2011 at 2:18 am

…@Zeb….
If we are wrong, like Christian said on the “problem of heaven 1a” the existence of God is not a problem for God! (Sadly the existence of Joseph is at times a problem for Joseph). God can always, and by Biblical accounts has, step in a say “hey there Guys”….or….”Come on Hitchens, lets have a beer and sort this out”.

Another thought that struck me in my musings is that if heaven had and open door, and hell had and open door, eventually heaven would fill (with brief stints in hell for not taking the bin (trash? garbage?) bags out…even though you were told three times and I’m not nagging but….), but we’d all be in there because of God’s Big Stick of Hell. I find this easier to square with both a loving and a just God, but humanity would be reduced to being God’s naughty kid (prodigal son even).

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Zeb July 25, 2011 at 10:19 am

@joseph
I don’t think you really have such an objection to simultaneous moral causation. First, if intentions are what make moral badness, then wouldn’t a frozen moment in which a brain instantiates the intention to rape be a case where the badness exists exactly simultaneously with that which causes the badness to exist? But you may insist that morality does not exist in any arrangement of particles, but in the relationship between arrangements of particles over time. Even so, we can think of time as block-like rather than tensed. That is, we can try to look at time the way a 6 dimensional scientist would, and see our whole universe laid out as a static object, and notice the same relationship between cross sections of time as what you are calling morality. That scientist could look into our universe and scan it from beginning up to the point where Bob’s intention to blow up the world is full formed, and further to where Bob pushes the button, and further to where the world explodes. And if he knew your standard of morality, he could see that the relationship between these three events qualifies as immoral. For him, both the cause of the immorality and the state of this sequence being immoral would coexist simultaneously. I think of this like the slope of a line in a coordinate system: obviously a single point has no slope, but slope exists between two points that define a line. And yet, given the equation of a line you can derive the slope at each point.

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joseph July 25, 2011 at 10:42 am

@CL

Sorry CL, I read this earlier:

“on my view, free will is not probabilistic. So, it follows that I don’t think our “chances” of a good or evil act are probabilistic, but instead influenced by conscious agent volition [which is influenced by beliefs and knowledge]. So, let’s dispense with all this talk of mathematical probability if neither of us *actually* believe our “chances” of a good or evil act are probabilistic”

And you did ask specifically my response to your arguments. I can understand why you thought I was being irrelevant to you (and your arguments).

Yes, I think free will have a probabilistic element, and is not entirely deterministic.
The only lazy metaphor I can think of is heisenberg uncertainty… I am open to arguments for and against.

I do think if you insure yourself against theft, that though logically you think that sin is not probablistic, you adopt a pragmatic approach in real life. I am working on an answer to this myself, that doesn’t compromise free will. Your input is appreciated (I am lazy).

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joseph July 25, 2011 at 10:52 am

Zeb! Happy days brief response 2am here…

“That scientist could look into our universe and scan it from beginning up to the point where Bob’s intention to blow up the world is full formed, and further to where Bob pushes the button, and further to where the world explodes. And if he knew your standard of morality, he could see that the relationship between these three events qualifies as immoral”

Isn’t this what we do in identifying a temporal relationship (even if it were a sequence that was different to ours i.e. backwards, diagonally etc in time).

I think we agree that the 6D scientist would need multiple points in time, in the correct sequence.

Whilst I am delighted with the concord, I feel like I’ve been dumb and missed your meaning. Sorry to test your patience.

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joseph July 25, 2011 at 11:02 am

@Zeb
“I don’t think you really have such an objection to simultaneous moral causation.”

No, like the ball example, I do quizically (a little cautiously) accept this, but still think it needs a temporal sequence.

The best example I can think of is that if we took a photo of the ball on the cushion we wouldn’t know if the ball had completed it’s journey, and if we took the ball of the pillow the return of the pillow to it’s original state would not be simultaneous (i.e. a sponge cushion versus a pillow made of clay).

Maybe my question is one of identification? I’d like to think on that. Thanks Zeb.

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joseph July 25, 2011 at 10:33 pm

@zeb

Woke up, had my coffee, re-read your post and realised I owe you an answer to:

“a brain instantiates the intention to rape be a case where the badness exists exactly simultaneously”

I owe you an answer sir. ‘Tis a most worthy question.

Quick clarification:
Instantiates: your preferred definition
Rape: your preferred definition (i.e. contra-consensual sexual activity only or including acts without explicit consent, insertation of penis only or including any penetrative act (I am British, sounds strange but as I understand it our law meant that females could not legally commit rape because of this point))

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joseph July 29, 2011 at 7:55 am

OK,
No response, but very quick answer just to prove I have an answer.

Imagine taking a photo of a car in Planck time.

You could not say if it were moving forward, backward or still.
You would know everything of it’s position, nothing of it’s momentum.

If amybody wants me to expound, I will make an attempt.

Zeb, if I am wrong, I suspect we will both have to adopt a materialist determinist view.

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Zeb July 30, 2011 at 7:10 am

“a brain instantiates the intention to rape be a case where the badness exists exactly simultaneously”

I owe you an answer sir. ‘Tis a most worthy question.

Quick clarification:
Instantiates: your preferred definition
Rape: your preferred definition (i.e. contra-consensual sexual activity only or including acts without explicit consent, insertation of penis only or including any penetrative act (I am British, sounds strange but as I understand it our law meant that females could not legally commit rape because of this point))

Instantiates: has the physical conformation necessary to exemplify a category of object.
Rape: For this case I have no preferred definition. Let’s just say, sexual contact without consent.

Imagine taking a photo of a car in Planck time.

You could not say if it were moving forward, backward or still.
You would know everything of it’s position, nothing of it’s momentum.

That’s an epistemic issue, not an ontological one. The car must have momentum at every instant, even though you would not be able to see it in a still photo. Just as the graph of a curve has a slope, a different slope, at every point, but you would not be able to tell the slope of the curve by looking at the graph of a single point in the curve.

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joseph July 30, 2011 at 9:51 am

@Zeb

Yes, I don’t claim to disagree, so take me further.

How could you know more (the momentum, the action etc) from a single moment, with no knowledge of the slope….it is meaninglesss…so I disagree with determinism.

A single moment might be morally bad, but equally it might be morally good (tge car can be going forwards or backwards). By reducing things to a single point in time we are, both, divorced from context.

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joseph July 30, 2011 at 9:54 am

“Instantiates: has the physical conformation necessary to exemplify a category of object.”

So you are right, i am not a strong enough determinist to think this is possible from an isolated moment.

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joseph July 30, 2011 at 9:59 am

“The car must have momentum at every instant”

If still, no momentum. So, very respectfully do not agree.

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Zeb July 30, 2011 at 1:09 pm

@Zeb

Yes, I don’t claim to disagree, so take me further.

How could you know more (the momentum, the action etc) from a single moment, with no knowledge of the slope….it is meaninglesss…so I disagree with determinism.

“How could you know…” is an epistemic question. Whether one could know it or not, bodies in motion must have velocity at each moment. Just as a curve has a slope at each point.

A single moment might be morally bad, but equally it might be morally good (tge car can be going forwards or backwards). By reducing things to a single point in time we are, both, divorced from context.

But you cannot tell from a sequence of moments whether the car is going backwards or forwards either. But you can tell from a single moment of frozen time that it is a car. You can tell whether it has the property of symmetry. Why can’t you tell whether a brain is in the form a having a bad intention? Certainly we could tell if a moment of frozen time instantiated a rape. I don’t understand what objection you have at this point.

“The car must have momentum at every instant”

If still, no momentum. So, very respectfully do not agree.

It is not still, because it is not remaining at rest for moments on end. But we’re getting off topic. My only point was that things that exist together can be in relationship that is not time based. And such a relationship can be a cause of a state of being.

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joseph July 31, 2011 at 12:46 am

“Whether one could know it or not, bodies in motion must have velocity at each moment. Just as a curve has a slope at each point.”

Conversely:
The body may have zero velocity.
The slope or gradient requires at least 2 points. If I drew a graph with a single point, the point does not have a gradient.

“but you cannot tell from a sequence of moments whether the car is going backwards or forwards either”

You can tell from a sequence if the car is moving or not moving, and knowing the order of the sequence would then give you a direction. Or in other words no time, no change, no movement.

“but you can tell from a single moment of frozen time that it is a car. You can tell whether it has the property of symmetry. Why can’t you tell whether a brain is in the form a having a bad intention?”

Analogously I would say you could probably say a person was having a thought (there would be a car), but you there would be no difference in a frozen moment between “I will not commit sin x” (car moving backwards), “I will commit sin x” (car moving forwards) and “I am considering sin x” (car is still).

I can’t see how a state of morality could be said to exist in a consciousness frozen in time any more than a graph showing a point in isolation could be said to have a gradient.
That is I really am struggling to imagine a timeless heaven, where nothing can change, no new choices can be made as an existence, let alone a morally good existence. I don’t mean to be antagonistic, I will be quiet if you want, or if you can direct me to some explanatory literature on timelessness I’ll go read.

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joseph July 31, 2011 at 2:58 am

Also i took it from your previous comment:

“Zeb July 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm

@Gilgamesh

You are still demonstrating a prior commitment to determinism, rather than engaging free will on it’s own terms.”

That you are probably not a determinist, yet the idea of freely extrapolating things like the morality of an instaneous thought, the movement of a car from an instaneous photo, or the slope of a graph, which consists of a single point, seem entirely determinist….

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cl August 1, 2011 at 9:50 am

Hey all. Haven’t been back to this thread for well over a week, but I think I just realized where Larkus and I are talking past each other: morally significant. If, as Larkus does, we define “morally significant” as the ability to choose evil, then, yeah, of course Oppy’s [2] is true. Problem is, it also becomes tautological. Consider what happens when we swap “morally significant free will” for “the ability to do evil”:

If there is the ability to do evil in Heaven, then it is not the case that, necessarily, there is no moral evil in heaven (premise, from free will defence).

What does that accomplish? FWIW, I’ve been thinking of “morally significant free will” as non-coerced will. Coerced will, although it may be 100% good, would not be morally significant, because the agent is not choosing of his or her own volition…

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joseph August 1, 2011 at 10:08 am

If, as Larkus does, we define “morally significant” as the ability to choose evil, then, yeah, of course Oppy’s [2] is true. Problem is, it also becomes tautological

@cl

Missed you Sensei.

Isn’t if also Plantinga’s definition? So Plantinga also needs a new solution to the problem of evil?

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Zeb August 1, 2011 at 10:10 am

cl
That’s been the whole point of the Problem of Heaven all along. The free will defense depends on morally significant free will = the ability to do evil. If morally significant free will does not necessarily entail the ability to do evil, then a good God should have created humans with the version of morally significant free will that does not entail the ability to do evil. Then he’d get the A universe: no evil possible, plus free will. But I think many would argue that free choice between only good options is not morally significant. Just as we would not fault someone for choosing evil when only evil choices are available, we would not credit someone for choosing good when only good choices are available. Maybe you disagree, but this whole discussion and the common sense understanding of moral choice rests on the possibility of choosing freely between good and evil. The free will defense is that a world where people can choose good over evil is better than a world where they cannot do that, even if it means some people will choose evil. If a world where being able to choose evil is better, then heaven is not the best world if evil is impossible in heaven. That’s the dilemma.

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Zeb August 1, 2011 at 10:23 am

@joseph

That you are probably not a determinist, yet the idea of freely extrapolating things like the morality of an instaneous thought, the movement of a car from an instaneous photo, or the slope of a graph, which consists of a single point, seem entirely determinist….

I disagree with you about a frozen moment or a point on a graph, but I don’t know how to demonstrate why without us both doing a calculus class here, and it was just an analogy anyway, so I won’t pursue it further. But I think extrapolating morality from an instantaneous thought, as long as the thought was freely chosen, is not deterministic at all. I don’t really know what else to say about this topic anymore. I’m still willing to talk about it though if you can prompt the discussion from here.

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cl August 1, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Zeb,

If morally significant free will does not necessarily entail the ability to do evil, then a good God should have created humans with the version of morally significant free will that does not entail the ability to do evil.

I disagree. Let MSFW = the ability to do evil. 100% good remains possible even if MSFW necessarily entails the ability to do evil. However, if MSFW necessarily entails at least one instance of evil, then we’d have a problem–which is what I’ve been saying all along. Watch what happens to your statement when we substitute “morally significant free will” for “the ability to do evil” :

If [the ability to do evil] does not necessarily entail the ability to do evil, then a good God should have created humans with the version of [the ability to do evil] that does not entail the ability to do evil.

That statement is senseless, so I’m not sure what you’re saying. Can you clarify?

BTW, I’m interested in your response to my latest response to your proffered POE over at my place… if you’re still interested.

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Zeb August 1, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Of course the substitution doesn’t make sense, because you cannot do the substitution if morally significant free will does not entail the ability to do evil. What I was talking about was whether or not MSFW does entail the ability to do evil. If it does, then you can do the substitution and indeed the statement “God should have created humans with the version of MSFW/AtDE that does not entail AtDE” is nonsensical. But if it does not, as I stipulated in the first clause of the sentence, then “God should have created humans with the version of MSFW that does not entail AtDE” makes sense.

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cl August 1, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Zeb,

I was misunderstanding what you guys meant by MSFW. Given Larkus’ previous clarification, we are in agreement that MSFW entails the ability to do evil. After all, MSFW literally *IS* the ability to do evil.

What I was talking about was whether or not MSFW does entail the ability to do evil.

Right, and what I’m saying is, “the ability to do evil” necessarily entails “the ability to do evil” by default, which makes the question a bit senseless, no? IOW, if, by definition, MSFW = the ability to do evil, then why even ask whether or not MSFW entails the ability to do evil?

Even still, I have no idea why we’re focused on MSFW entailing the ability to do evil. I don’t see how that matters. What matters is whether or not MSFW necessarily entails at least one instance of evil, and so far as I can see, it does not. To return to my previous example, I have the ability to murder innocent old ladies for no good reason at all, but I won’t. IOW, MSFW does not necessarily entail at least one instance of evil. Hence, no problem of heaven.

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Zeb August 1, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I agree that the more interesting question is whether the ability to do evil necessarily leads to instances of evil. But I am baffled by your tack in this conversation. If MSFW is the ability to choose evil, then is there MSFW in Heaven or not?

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cl August 1, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Zeb,

If MSFW is the ability to choose evil, then is there MSFW in Heaven or not?

I don’t have an official opinion on that. I’m not committed to anything in that regard. I’m committed to the proposition, “there is no evil on new Earth / Heaven.”

But I am baffled by your tack in this conversation.

I’m baffled nobody saw this problem earlier. I mean, at least I can say I was using a different definition of MSFW than the rest of us! But let’s get back to Oppy. Take a look at this:

(1) Necessarily, there is no evil in heaven (premise).

(2) If there is morally significant free will in Heaven, then it is not the case that, necessarily, there is no moral evil in heaven (premise, from free will defence).

(3) Therefore, there is no morally significant freedom in heaven.

Notice that Oppy’s [1] is concerned with an instance of evil, not the ability to do evil. IOW, we could rewrite Oppy’s [1] as, “Necessarily, there are zero instances of evil in heaven.” Right?

However, in [2], Oppy shifts focus to the ability, then uses the ability to justify the proposition, “it is not the case that, necessarily, there are zero instances of evil in heaven.” Yet, the ability alone cannot sustain his move. As I’ve been saying all along, he needs to show that MSFW necessarily entails at least one instance of evil in order to procure this so-called “problem” of heaven.

So… can we all finally agree that Oppy hasn’t demonstrated any problem with heaven? If not, what am I missing?

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Zeb August 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm

@cl
You may not be committed to it, but the question is, must a proponent of the Free Will Defense be committed to it? If MSFW makes a world better than any world without MSFW, then it would look like MSFW must be in Heaven if Heaven is the best possible world.

If there is the ability to do evil in Heaven, then how could it be that there is necessarily no evil in Heaven? If there is necessarily no evil in Heaven, then there cannot be evil in Heaven. But if there is the ability to do evil in Heaven, then there can be evil in Heaven. If someone chooses it. The fact that no one will choose it does not mean no one can choose it. If someone can choose it, then it can be. And if it cannot be, then no one can choose it, so there is no MSFW.

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cl August 1, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Zeb,

From a previous comment:

Just as we would not fault someone for choosing evil when only evil choices are available, we would not credit someone for choosing good when only good choices are available. Maybe you disagree, but this whole discussion and the common sense understanding of moral choice rests on the possibility of choosing freely between good and evil. The free will defense is that a world where people can choose good over evil is better than a world where they cannot do that, even if it means some people will choose evil.

I understand, and I agree with all of that, as stated.

If a world where being able to choose evil is better, then heaven is not the best world if evil is impossible in heaven. That’s the dilemma.

[...]

If MSFW makes a world better than any world without MSFW, then it would look like MSFW must be in Heaven if Heaven is the best possible world.

I disagree, but instead of explaining why, let me ask more questions. Let’s say that’s the case: MSFW is present in new Earth / Heaven. Then what? Where’s the problem? I’m guessing you’ll reply with some variant of, “Then things would be the same as they are now.”

…if there is the ability to do evil in Heaven, then there can be evil in Heaven. If someone chooses it. The fact that no one will choose it does not mean no one can choose it.

And what if someone *CAN* choose it? Surely you’ll agree that doesn’t mean someone *WILL* choose it, right? If so, then you agree that the ability does not necessarily entail the instance.

And if it cannot be, then no one can choose it, so there is no MSFW.

Then we go in the other direction… what would prevent any reasonable theist from taking that horn? Where’s the problem if there’s no MSFW in new Earth / Heaven? I’m guessing you’ll reply with some variant of, “Plantinga’s FWD would seem undermined and/or extraneous.”

Larkus,

Let’s insert the expression “agents who submit their will to God’s will” from [B] instead: I agree that “agents who submit their will to God’s will” don’t have “morally significant free will” by Plantinga’s definition. “Agents who submit their will to God’s will” can’t choose evil.

Submitting one’s will to God’s will does not entail the absence of MSFW. In fact, submitting one’s will to God’s will is an act of MSFW.

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joseph August 1, 2011 at 6:21 pm

@Zeb

“I disagree with you about a frozen moment or a point on a graph, but I don’t know how to demonstrate why without us both doing a calculus class”

Do you mind if I pursue this veritable White Rabbit a little further down the burrow?

From what I understand of calculus, to establish the gradient at an point you need:

1)A slope, in other words, multiple points.

2)A formula, or rule (y=x^2 + 2x + 2)

Now, we cut off our moment from all other moments. It is now not part of a slope. It is just a graph with a single, point marked on it. So I think we can’t have 1.

I am working from the premise that free will is not deterministic, so we don’t have 2.

I think this should help us establish our differences, or improve my mathS (that’s right, iit has an S, God save the Queen).

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joseph August 1, 2011 at 6:50 pm

@Larkus and cl

“Submitting one’s will to God’s will does not entail the absence of MSFW. In fact, submitting one’s will to God’s will is an act of MSFW.”

And cl seemed to conceed one could quite happily wake up and decide to un-submit him/her-self at any given moment.

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joseph August 1, 2011 at 7:44 pm

@cl
Exploring your argument:

1. Free will allows the ability to commit evil.
2. Free will does not necessarily lead to evil.
3. God possesses foreknowledge.
4. God is omnipotent.
5. God could have created an Earth with free will that did not contain evil.
5. God knowingly created an earth with evil.
6. God is not omnibenevolent.

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Zeb August 2, 2011 at 3:57 pm

@cl

Let’s say that’s the case: MSFW is present in new Earth / Heaven. Then what? Where’s the problem?

Then there can be evil in Heaven, contradicting premise 1. I don’t see how the ability (or possibility) entails the instance (or inevitability), so I agree with you there. But the first premise of the argument stipulates the impossibility of evil in Heaven.

Where’s the problem if there’s no MSFW in new Earth / Heaven?

Then Heaven is not the best possible world or the free will defense fails, because the free will defense asserts that a world with free will is better than a world without both free will and evil.

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Zeb August 2, 2011 at 4:36 pm

@joseph
This is extending the analogy further and in a different way than I intended it, but it might be useful or at least interesting, so I’ll try. It sounds to me like you are supposing the x axis is time and the y axis is morality. Or maybe morality is the derivative of y with respect to x, so that positive slope = morally good. If that is the case, then I think the analogy for what I am proposing is actually the equation form, so that each point has it’s own slope defined not by the points that come before or after it, but by the equation it represents. But you say that is deterministic. Well, in this analogy I guess I am proposing that the equation itself or some part of it is freely willed in the moments by the agent whose moral path it represents. The simplest way to think of it would be f(x)=ax, where x is time and ‘a’ is the free will of the agent at each x’. If you looked at the graph of a person’s moral history it might look deterministic, especially if you could fit a more complex function to it that did not include ‘a’. But in actuality it would be the case that the value of ‘a’ was freely chosen at each x nevertheless. To extend this analogy a bit further, my concept of the final judgement, at which time a person becomes timeless in choosing absolutely to accept or reject God, would be where the graph goes asymptotic, either in the positive or negative. Well, this is getting a bit silly I think, I only brought up curves and graphs as an example of causation that is not dimensionally sequential, but it was interesting to think about. And since maths is plural, we can each have our own, right? :) (Sport, however, is a unified body of knowledge I guess…)

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joseph August 2, 2011 at 8:21 pm

@Zeb

Thanks old chap/chapess,
Well, silly or not (and I am known to have a fondness for the silly, on occassion), it did get to the kernel of our differences.

If a humans morality could be reduced to a formulae, if I were God I would have rejected all designs for Adam and Eve had “bad” formulae. Also England would beat Ze Hun more often at football. I guess I would say a general moral trend could be determined and probabilities of thoughts and actions, but I’d go no further than that.

I followed the asymptotic bit fine, but am still on very shaky ground as to whether this “heaven” provides for an existence (another analogy, it seems like the sci-fi Cryosuspension idea, or even more closely “stasis”).

Thankyou for the response. Do you have your own blog?

@cl
I note you say you would not commit murder, qualified with, under reasonable circumstances. You seem to be either avoiding the questions of sins of thought, and sins that are included in the Old Testament that are no longer seen as possible, or you think you have answered them previously or that they aren’t worthy of consideration.

These things trouble me.

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joseph August 2, 2011 at 8:24 pm

“reduced to a formulae”

Supposed to read:

“reduced to formulae”

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Larkus August 4, 2011 at 9:27 am

@cl

Hey all. Haven’t been back to this thread for well over a week, but I think I just realized where Larkus and I are talking past each other: morally significant. If, as Larkus does, we define “morally significant” as the ability to choose evil, then, yeah, of course Oppy’s [2] is true. Problem is, it also becomes tautological. Consider what happens when we swap “morally significant free will” for “the ability to do evil”:What does that accomplish? FWIW, I’ve been thinking of “morally significant free will” as non-coerced will. Coerced will, although it may be 100% good, would not be morally significant, because the agent is not choosing of his or her own volition…

I do not define “morally significant free will” as “the ability to choose evil”. The ability to choose evil is necessary, but not sufficient for having morally significant free will. Thus, Oppy’s [2] is not tautological.

So, after all, you seem to accept Oppy’s premise [2]. Good.

Now, since this misunderstanding is cleared up, is there any other premise in Oppy’s argument, that you reject, or do you finally accept Oppy’s argument?

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Larkus August 4, 2011 at 9:45 am

@cl

Submitting one’s will to God’s will does not entail the absence of MSFW. In fact, submitting one’s will to God’s will is an act of MSFW.

Can “agents who submit their will to God’s will” choose evil in heaven? If not, then they don’t have morally significant free will in heaven.

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