More GrimJuly 10, 2008 — Deacon Duncan
Let’s have a further look at our friend Grim’s comment on my post about free will. One caveat though: his subsequent comments suggest that what he seems to be saying (or at least, what I think he seems to be saying) may not be what he actually means. But let’s drive on anyway; there’s some good stuff here, and if I misunderstand him, I’m sure he’ll be happy to provide a correction.
One of my critiques of the free will argument is that the knowledge of God can hardly be an impediment to free will if Satan is still evil despite knowing that God is real. Grim’s reply?
Basic flaw here: That Satan and his brethren are like us. Which is (of course) completely false. You have to understand that Lewis is talking about abolition of free will in Humans, no other life-forms applicable in that statement.
Notice that this idea of multiple free wills is what I call an Expedient Fiction. The Bible does not tell us that Satan has a different kind of free will than humans do, nor can we find any justification in real-world observations for the conclusion that different types of free will exist. Grim (or someone Grim is referring to) simply invented this notion of multiple free wills because it seemed like an idea suitable to the rhetorical need of the moment. Except, of course, it doesn’t really address the problem.
The problem is that both Satan and Man are supposed to be creatures of God’s own creation. That is, God is supposedly the One Who decided exactly what sort of free will each one should have. If Satan possesses a free will hardy enough to survive the shock of knowing God, then God is capable of creating, in Man, the same sort of volitional hardiness. Given that, as Hebrews 11:6 tells us, we must be convinced that God is real in order to have the kind of faith that will save us, does it make any sense at all that God would give us the sort of free will that would perish upon discovering the truth—and then turn around and place a higher value on that free will than on our ability to believe in Him? God must be even more pro-choice than I thought!
My next objection to the free will argument is that the Gospel tells us that God will show up some day. If it violates human free will for God to show up (or “ravishes” it, as C. S. Lewis put it), then this volitional rape is inevitable in any case. Why would God cause most of His beloved children to lose their salvation just to protect a deliberately weakened “free will” that was going to end up violated anyway? Grim’s reply:
And it’s because of free will that Hell is necessary anyway. To quote Lewis again: “In the end, there will only be 2 kinds of people. Those that say to God: ‘Thy will be done.’ And those to whom God says: ‘Thy will be done.’” Some interpretations of the 2nd coming is that there is no 2nd chance after it. But then that’s going to get into some deep theological stuff that’s been discussed for centuries.
Hell is necessary because of free will—specifically, the kind of will that is only free when it has no objective reason for believing that God exists. Why, however, is that sort of free will necessary in the first place, when God could have given us the same sort of robust free will He allegedly gave to Satan? Particularly when, by giving us the weaker of the two free wills, He essentially doomed the majority of His beloved children to eternal damnation through preventable ignorance!
And don’t you just love the passive-aggressive smugness of Lewis’s little dig? “Ok,” says God, “Because you did not blindly swallow whatever C. S. Lewis told you about me, in the absence of any non-gullible evidence of my existence, and in the presence of significant inconsistencies between what Lewis was saying and what you could actually verify in the real world, and even though I was deliberately keeping you in the dark in order to protect your ‘free will,’ therefore you are saying that you want to be thrown into hell and made to suffer unimaginable agonies for all eternity.” O-o-o-o-o-o-o-k.
But wait, Grim is going to have another stab at it. The question is, “If free will is going to be violated anyway, what makes it so valuable that a loving Heavenly Father would prefer to see most of His beloved children burn forever in Hell, rather than risk compromising it during the brief span of our mortal years?” Grim’s answer:
In asking the question, you sort of answer it. Yes He apparently considers it of utmost importance (not to mention the talk about “without choice, there is no love”). He apparently prefers that you and I have absolute freedom rather than absolute security.
So God puts pro-choice above pro-eternal-life. Ok, that could be. Only that answer doesn’t work, does it. That’s an argument for why God can never show up at all, not even to judge His children. Throwing them into hell against their will is hardly granting them “absolute freedom.” Measured against the scale of all eternity, the few brief days of “freedom” are virtually nothing. Why, then, would God doom His own beloved children to an eternity of tortured, unwanted bondage, for the sake of a fleeting “freedom” that is really just a regrettable and avoidable ignorance of what God deliberately concealed from them? Especially since, as Satan shows, God could have given us an even more “absolute” freedom by giving us a stronger free will that would survive His eventual and inevitable appearance.
So thanks to Grim for trying, but I really don’t think his answers have done Geisler, Turek, and Lewis a lot of good. That’s not Grim’s fault; he’s doing the best he can with the material he’s got. The free will argument is just a bad argument, and trying to defend it is an exercise in futility.
I think we’ll save the rest of Grim’s comment for one last installment, and then we’ll see what he comes up with in his future remarks.