Free Will

If you point out some of the really rotten things human beings do, and then ask a theist how their god can allow such awful things to happen, the theist will usually answer that their god gave humans free will to behave however they want. Theists seem to think this explains away the bad behavior, but just a few moments of consideration shows what a poor argument this is for the existence of an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful deity that should be worshiped.

Assuming free will even exists (see Free Will: Now You Have It, Now You Don’t), why would an all-knowing, all-loving deity allow anyone to have free will? Being all-knowing would allow the deity to foresee the unhappiness, pain, and death free will would bring; if the deity were truly all-loving, it would want to prevent such suffering, not cause it by giving people the free will to create it.

Theists argue that free will was granted to humans so that they are free to choose to believe in/worship/praise/etc. their deity in exchange for salvation or whatever it is that deity promises. What this tells me is that this supposedly all-powerful god needs our devotion so badly that it is willing to allow horrible things to happen in order to get it. Why does an all-powerful being need anything? Furthermore, if this being has the ability to create us (and the universe) and provide us with the free will to decide whether or not to worship him/her/it, why didn’t it (1) create us with the knowledge that it exists, and (2) give us the ability to know exactly what it wants from us? Instead, we have to depend on vague ancient writings and the interpretation of human clerics (who themselves have the free will to act badly) to tell us about the existence of this all-mighty deity and what is expected of us in order to be “saved” by said deity (i.e., avoid eternal damnation in a fiery pit). That’s akin to turning children loose and telling them to be good or they’ll get a horrific, unending spanking, but never telling them what “being good” entails.

And what about those humans who were born before any of the so-called “holy” books were written, and those born in some Third World country where no missionaries had arrived to “bring them the word of (whoever)”? I guess the all-wonderful Creator of Everything (CoE) treated those people like the loose children above – they were given the free will to be good and choose to worship the great CoE, but he/she/it forgot to tell them how to be good or how to worship, or even that the mighty CoE exists.

Further reading (points I’d make if someone hadn’t already made them):

Sorry, theists, your “free will” argument doesn’t hold up to your claim of an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful deity. Next argument, please.

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