Love, LFW and Human Suffering


#1

Although related to (and inspired by) the thread on love and LFW (Does Love Require LFW?), I thought this topic deserved its own thread. According to Christian theists who believe that God exercises a general rather than specific sovereignty, and who affirm a “risk model of providence” (i.e., that God’s decision to create involved certain risks), God’s goal in creating this world required that he give humans and angels libertarian free will (i.e., the “power of contrary choice”). According to this view, God’s goal in creating humans and angels is reached only insofar as humans and angels exercise their LFW by freely choosing to love. But it is this freedom that is thought to account for much of the suffering in the world. What I want to argue is that if God’s goal does in fact require that humans and angels possess LFW - and this goal thus requires the risk that God will not “always get what he wants” - this risk need not entail the possibility that humans suffer to the extent that they have suffered in this world. It need not entail the possibility that (for example) a little girl named Zosia will have her eyes gouged out by Nazi soldiers in front of her horrified and helpless mother (which is a particular, historical example of evil which Greg Boyd provides for his readers in the opening chapter of God At War, and which I would assume most people would consider a prime example of evil). Assuming love does require LFW (and thus the possibility that people might choose not to love), why couldn’t God have introduced all human beings into an environment where both love and selfishness would still be real, possible options, but where the kind of harm inflicted by the Nazi soldiers in the account provided by Boyd would be impossible?

This hypothetical world need not be anything like the unstable, unpredictable world imagined by C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain (chapter 2), in which fixed natural laws are at every moment being broken by God to prevent suffering (such as a wooden beam miraculously becoming “soft as grass” when a person attempts to use it as a weapon). It could simply be a world in which the natural laws governing it are such that there is no need for God to miraculously intervene so as to prevent a person from being physically injured by another person. It doesn’t take much imagination to conceive of a world in which it is possible for people to be either loving or selfish, but it is not possible for them to torture and kill little girls, or to make decisions that result in people starving to death. In fact, some Christians believe people will enter into just such a world after death! They believe that, while we will still be free to love or not to love, the extent to which we will be able to inflict pain on each other will be vastly minimized. According to this view, much of the harm that it is possible for people to inflict upon each other in this state of existence will no longer be possible after death. While not completely devoid of suffering of every possible kind, the suffering in such a state of existence would be minimal compared to the suffering that is possible in this world.

It would be difficult to deny, I think, that some of the worst evils of history have involved physical acts of violence, or the threat of physical acts of violence. People generally consider it a greater act of evil when a person (especially a child) is physically harmed - or threatened with physical harm - than if physical harm or the threat of physical harm is not in any way involved. If Hitler and the Nazis had, for instance, only insulted people verbally or in writing without using violence and the threat of violence against them, we would have considered it a lesser evil than the evils which actually took place during the Third Reich. It was the use and threat of physical violence that made this chapter in human history so dark and horrific. And although the emotional and psychological suffering that people endured while Hitler was in power was in itself a great evil, much of it was due to physical violence or the threat of physical violence, and would have been largely minimized if physical force and violence had not been employed.

So what’s my point? Well, take away the possibility of physical pain, violence and death and I believe you eliminate a great deal of evil and suffering from human existence. We’re not talking about God doing that which is illogical, like creating a square circle or forcing people to use their LFW in a certain desired way. We’re simply talking about a world in which physical pain and violence is impossible and thus non-existent (and I think one could also conceive of a possible world in which the extent to which innocent people may suffer psychologically and emotionally as a result of other people’s sin is significantly less than it is in this world). So if God’s goal in creating humans is that they freely (in a libertarian sense) respond to him in love, and it is possible for human beings to exist in a world in which physical pain and violence is absent (but love and selfishness is still possible), why didn’t God create such a world and bring us into such a state of existence from the beginning? Since God knew full well that every experience of human suffering which has taken place in this world was at least a real possibility before he created the world, why did he choose to go ahead and actualize this kind of world rather than one in which physical pain and violence would be impossible? Why would God choose to risk so much, and expose his creatures to the possibility of so much “gratuitous suffering” (as is entailed by the “risk model of providence”), when his goal of being freely loved by his creatures could be attained in a world where physical violence and pain is impossible?


Is experiencing sin Neccessary?
#2

Aaron,

After God at War, I encourage you to go on to Satan and the Problem of Evil. I know you don’t believe in Satan as a personal being (Greg does), but at least in SATPE you’ll see how Greg works through the logic of his six warfare theses (love requires freedom, freedom implies risk, risk entails moral responsibility, moral responsibility is proportionate to the potential to influence, power to influence is irrevocable, power to influence is finite–gregboyd.org/essays/essays-spiritual-warfare/the-warfare-worldview/six-thesis-of-the-warfare-worldview/).

You question (basically, Why wouldn’t God limit the power to influence in order to minimize the level and intensity of evil possible) is a great question. I think Greg would respond by saying the potential to influence for good (or to instantiate good) and the power to influence for evil (or to instantiate evil) are more or less proportionate because they are the fulfilling or privation of the same capacity for self-actualization. He might say that since we’re hardwired with a capacity for such great goodness and capable of doing such wonderfully loving things, the privation of this capacity must correspondingly yield similarly possible levels and intensities of evil. What else would result from the corruption and perversion of a very great capacity for goodness but very great evil?

That’s where I’d begin at least.

Tom


#3

Hi Tom,

Thanks for the response. You said:

This line of reasoning seems problematic to me, as it seems to suggest that the kind of world or state of existence in which it is a real possibility for a human being to gouge out another human being’s eyes and then kill them makes possible greater goodness and more wonderfully loving things than would be possible if it wasn’t a real possibility for a human being to gouge out another human being’s eyes and kill them. The fact that it is a real possibility for people to be tortured and killed surely means that a higher level and intensity of evil is possible than there would be if it wasn’t a real possibility for people to be tortured and killed, right? But in heaven it will not be a real possibility for people to be tortured and killed. Wouldn’t this fact mean that, for those in heaven, God has minimized the level and intensity of evil possible? And if so, wouldn’t this mean (according to the above argument) that the level and intensity of good possible has also been minimized?


#4

You always play hard ball! Ha. Thanks for the challenge Bro.

Aaron: This line of reasoning seems problematic to me, as it seems to suggest that the kind of world or state of existence in which it is a real possibility for a human being to gouge out another human being’s eyes and then kill them makes possible greater goodness and more wonderfully loving things than would be possible if it wasn’t a real possibility for a human being to gouge out another human being’s eyes and kill them.

Tom: I understand the implication to run in the opposite direction. I’d never think of the ‘real possibility of evil’ grounding the ‘real possibility of good’. I rather think of the capacity for bringing about great good to be (if construed libertarianly) an equal capacity for evil. I’m not sure how to make sense of a libertarian capacity holding out to us great goods and beauties but only very minimal evils. Rather, it seems to me that the (libertarian) choice to bring great pleasure to others really ought to entail some similar capacity for negating what could have been affirmed. In other words, if the good to which we are called is of great importance and value, its denial and perversion ought to be of great consequence.

What would you suggest ought to be the consequence of denying God and giving one’s self to evil with great abandon? Should not the ultimate consequences be unspeakably horrible given the value and consequence of the good (God) denied? Isn’t that what hell is? I’m wondering if your reasoning should require that there be no hell at all, that God should not permit libertarian choices to end in such grave suffering, or that hell should be an extremely mild form of suffering. But if we have the capacity to bring hell upon ourselves, doesn’t that tell us that there’s a certain proportion between actualizable goods and evils?

The question remains as to whether we ought to be free to bring such suffering upon others, especially the innocent. All I can say for the moment on this, Aaron, is that I think we’re all tied together and related—the human race I mean. Our goods and evils cannot have consequence for ourselves alone, for we are fundamentally related. A father can drink himself into oblivion and die as an alcoholic. No one else DIES, but he leaves three girls fatherless. All our choices implicate others to some degree, even if they don’t perceive it. Some suggest that our moral choices have a ripple effect that touches the entire cosmos (which I like but dont’ know how to prove). Should God be able to finagle things so that the connection between us all permits unspeakable goodness and pleasures but either no or only relatively minor evils? I don’t see how.

In any case, no libertarian is bound to concede the possibility. It doesn’t follow from God’s goodness that I can see. But as it is, Aaron, it certainly can’t follow from your own view of divine goodness. Given your determinism, the particular world we’re in (with all its intensity of evils) follows necessarily from the very nature of God and his goodness. True, you’re confident these evils make possible the incomparable glories we shall finally enjoy (as you explain on the other LFW thread). So it seems strange to me your having argued that the evils of our world are necessary in order to make possible the glories we shall enjoy and your now arguing that it’s problematic “to suggest…the real possibility [that]…gouging out another human being’s eyes and killing them makes possible greater goodness and more wonderfully loving things….” On the contrary, as I understood your explanation there (about why God permits or determines such evil), that gouging out a person’s eyes and killing them makes possible some greater goodness and wonder is precisely your view. So the actual gouging out of Zosia’s eyes is a necessary requirement to what the redeemed shall someday enjoy. Heaven, on your (deterministic) view, would be LESS glorious and LESS enjoyable should Zosia suffer LESS than she did. Correct me if I’m wrong, but as I understand your explanation on the other LFW thread, there is some greater good on the other side of every specific evil our world has known, and the good cannot be gotten to apart from the evils which make the later enjoyment possible. So what can be problematic to you about the idea that there’s a certain proportion between just the possibilities (libertarianly construed) of bringing about great good and their corresponding consequential possibilities of great evils?

Aaron: The fact that it is a real possibility for people to be tortured and killed surely means that a higher level and intensity of evil is possible than there would be if it wasn’t a real possibility for people to be tortured and killed, right? But in heaven it will not be a real possibility for people to be tortured and killed. Wouldn’t this fact mean that, for those in heaven, God has minimized the level and intensity of evil possible? And if so, wouldn’t this mean (according to the above argument) that the level and intensity of good possible has also been minimized?

Tom: I think the goods and corresponding evils are only linked when the choices are ‘libertarian’. But once the human character is sufficiently developed/solidified and the heart and mind glorified in God’s presence (whatever that will actually look like), we become as God is, compatibilistically loving, in which case there’s no correspondingly possible evil of comparable consequence. It’s a loving choice’s being libertarian within the undeniable sociality of human existence that entails the possibility of our evil impacting others. In other words, it’s not the possibility of bringing about of great good which per se entails the possibility of great evil. It is only the libertarian capacity for choosing good that entails a comparable possibility for evil.

I’m just thinking out loud, Aaron. I might send this over to Greg to see what he says. Very interesting!

Tom


#5

Aaron,

I emailed Greg your first post above and he responded. I want to avoid “quoting” Boyd (from personal correspondence) online, so let me say that the following truly represents his response though it’s not verbatim. Looks like I was right in guessing what his response would be.


My response to Aaron would pretty much be my “principle of proportionality” in SATPOE. God could put limits on how much damage we could do. Could God rule out all pain and death? I doubt it. But the less risk on the down side the less gain on the upside. And remember, WHEREVER the bar was set, it would feel too extreme when we suffered the loss. If killing a rabbit was the most extreme kind of evil God permitted, our capacity to love (rabbits and others) would have to also be limited, and we’d be utterly horrified when rabbits were killed, all the whitle arguing that God COULD have created a world that did not allow for such monstrosities.


#6

I like Boyd’s response, while I would emphasize that we cannot comprehend the resolution to the degree of evil in the world. I also couldn’t see how a divine determinist could make more sense of the problem of evil.

On the lighter side, I suppose that some of the kings of the earth in heaven will ask, “Where’s my Hossenfeffer?” And perhaps somebody will tell that king we don’t kill and cook rabbits in heaven, but the king wil get over it because after all he is in heaven. :slight_smile:


#7

Another thing to remember about this, Aaron, is that you and I both already agree that all the present suffering of the world combined will not be worth comparing to the glory to be revealed in the redeemed. But you’re presently arguing that a loving God who risked evil by granting us LFW ought to reduce the intensity of evil in the world. But why should that be the case if a) all are ultimately saved, and b) no possible suffering in this world can compare to the glory to be revealed in us? In other words, all the evil we presently find objectionable will fade into virtual meaninglessness in comparison to our experience then. You believe this already. And additionally as a determinist you believe all the present evils of the world are necessary to specific glories that follow. So you seem committed to believing that both a) the necessity of present evils and b) the ultimate salvation of all are compatible with c) God’s being perfectly loving, wise, and competent. It’s because of these I’m having trouble appreciating your difficulty with Greg’s notion that libertarian freedom with respect to great good should correspondingly entail the possibility of great evil.

Tom


#8

Hi Tom!

You wrote:

But isn’t it your view that we will be compatibilistically free in heaven? And if we’ll be compatibilistically free, then it seems to me that we’ll still have the “capacity for bringing about great good” and will still be called to good “of great importance and value,” but it will not be a real possibility for this good to be denied and perverted. Right? So wouldn’t this mean that “a capacity for bringing about great good” and being called to good “of great importance and value” need not entail the possibility of evil?

I can conceive of a person denying God and giving himself to “evil with great abandon” without the consequence necessarily being the physical torment and murder of another human being. Even if it wasn’t possible to physically torment and murder another human being, I think a being with an evil heart could still wish it was possible and have the evil disposition to do something even if they knew they couldn’t carry it out (it’s been argued by proponents of the “risk model of providence” - e.g., John Sanders - that sin is both implausible and fundamentally irrational). Couldn’t God allow people to “sin in their heart” without allowing them to carry out the consequences and thereby increase the level/intensity of evil in the world?

I agree that we’re all tied together and related, and that our choices influence other people, but I’m not sure why this should entail that we must exist in a world where the consequences of people’s evil intentions must be allowed by God to come to full fruition (such that they can torture and kill people) in order that their libertarian freedom to love and bring about great good may be preserved.

When I said, “…it seems to suggest that the kind of world or state of existence in which it is a real possibility for a human being to gouge out another human being’s eyes and then kill them makes possible greater goodness and more wonderfully loving things than would be possible if it wasn’t a real possibility for a human being to gouge out another human being’s eyes and kill them,” I meant that (according to your view) the real possibility for this kind of evil (i.e., torturing and killing another human being) makes possible a corresponding level and intensity of goodness as long as it remains a real possibility for a human being to torture and kill another human being. That is, your view seems to be that, without there being a real possibility for a certain level and intensity of evil, there could be no possibility for a corresponding level and intensity of good. This is what I saw as problematic. According to my view, whatever evil a person experiences will guarantee a degree or level of happiness that wouldn’t have been attained apart from the evil. However, I don’t think there has to be a real possibility for a certain level and intensity of evil in order for there to be, at the same time that the evil is possible, a real possibility for a corresponding level and intensity of good.

But why do we even need a “libertarian capacity for choosing good that entails a comparable possibility for evil” if we can bring about “great good” and be called to good “of great importance and value” without this entailing the real possibility for evil? LFW just seems completely unnecessary here; it’s almost as if the only role it plays is to account for evil in this world. LFW seems to me to be just as unecessary to our bringing about great good as it does to our having a loving character (again, I can’t help but conclude that if the loving character of a finite being in heaven can be maintained by compatibilistic choice, there is no good reason why it must be acquired by compatibilistic choice).

But this isn’t true if in heaven we will still have “the capacity for bringing about great good” and will still be called to good of “great importance and value” without “pain and death” being a real possibility. According to Greg’s view, when we are compatibilistically free in heaven, it seems that it will be all “gain” without the risk. Perhaps Greg would argue that our having LFW now is what will make this future “riskless gain” possible. But I don’t see why this should be the case. If at a future time we can have the capacity for good without the real possibility for evil, why can’t this be the case now (according to Greg’s view)? And if at a future time we can be genuinely loving while being compatibilistically free, why not now?

I can conceive of a world where people could desire to torture and kill human beings but would only be permitted by God to torture and kill rabbits. How would such a world place a limitation on the capacity of people to love?

Also, do you (or Greg) think our capacity to love will be any more limited in heaven than it is now? I doubt it (if anything, I think our capacity to love will be even greater!). But not even the lesser evil of killing a rabbit will be permitted by God at this time; neither this nor any other evil will be a real possibility.

And what about those who die with a desire to torture and kill people? I doubt Greg thinks such people will still be able to bring to fruition the wicked desire they had at death even if they are just as wicked in their heart after they die as they were when they died. But wouldn’t this mean that their ability to bring about suffering won’t correspond to their desire to bring it about? And if so, why didn’t God just make this present existence more like the future one (where people can, by the exercise of their LFW, be as maximally evil as they are in this world, but without the ability to inflict as much harm upon people)?

I think Paul goes even further than what he says in Romans 8 when he declares that “this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor 4:17). That is, it’s not that we’re going to be happy in heaven in spite of our present suffering on earth; rather, our present suffering on earth is *contributing to * our future happiness in heaven.

According to my view, no evil is gratuitous because it all contributes to our future happiness. I don’t think it will “fade into virtual meaninglessness”; rather, I believe the evil of the past (whether experienced by us or by those with whom we are “tied together and related”) will always be something with which we will able to contrast with our future situation after we have been delivered from all evil, and will thus always contribute to our happiness in heaven. But I can’t help but conclude that, according to your view, God is permitting gratuitous evil when it’s not even necessary for evil to be a real possibility in order for us to have “a capacity for bringing about great good” and to be called to good “of great importance and value.” This, to me, reflects poorly on God’s wisdom, competence and goodness. And as argued earlier, I also think it’s logically possible for God to allow people to form an evil intention and sin in their heart without allowing them to physically harm (e.g., torture and murder) someone else. The fact that God doesn’t do this but could, and (according to your view) has no higher purpose for the evil consequences that follow (i.e., the evil that follows is completely gratuitous), also reflects poorly on God’s wisdom, competence and goodness, IMO.


#9

Hi Aaron,

We have serious differences and competing intuitions and at this point aren’t going to convince each other to change each other. I think if we come away understanding each other we will have accomplished a lot! Let’s shoot for that! :sunglasses:

I think the fundamental difference between us on this is how we view the difference between created (contingent) and uncreated (necessary) being when it comes to compatibilistic goodness. You read off (invalidly I believe) the mere fact that since compatibilistic divine goodness requires no libertarian history, it just follows that contingent beings can manifest compatibilist goodness in the same manner, i.e., without having to acquire or achieve this mode of being libertarianly. So you seem to argue:

P1 God is necessarily compatibilistically good.
P2 Necessary goodness precludes libertarian freedom with respect to goodness.
Therefore: Compatibilistic goodness is conceivable apart from any history of libertarian freedom.
Conclusion: NO mode of being (necessary or contingent) need include a history of libertarian freedom with respect to goodness in order to be compatibilistically free with respect to goodness.

The conclusion doesn’t follow. All that follows (third line) from P1 and P2 is that “necessary compatibilistic goodness is conceivable apart from a history of libertarian freedom.” It doesn’t follow necessarily that “contingent compatibilistic goodness is conceivable apart from any history of libertarian freedom.”

I don’t think created, finite persons can be produced ready-made with fully developed compatibilistically good natures, hardwired by a will (God’s) other than their own. To offer God as an example that defeats this claim doesn’t work, for not even God is compatibilistically good in the sense required, for no ‘will’ or force other than God determines that God should be good. So what you propose—that God could so create US because HE so exists—is in my view metaphysically impossible, and God’s being compatibilistically good is not an example of what you’re proposing would be the case with us were God to determine our wills and hardwire us to be unfailingly loving from the start of our existence.

Our moral character, I think, is about our will and choice and how these contribute to the emergence of a truly unique individual over and against others and God (i.e., in responsible relationship to God as a person other than God). This is the basis for a true personal diversity in the world that is responsibly related in love. In my view, were God to exhaustively determine the human ‘will’, no genuinely unique personal entity could emerge to stand responsibly in relation to God, for the human will would then be reduced to mere instrumentation of the divine will (i.e., we would be a mere function of the divine will) and to that extent we’d just be God over again. I’ve never been able to escape Hartshorne’s logic on this–universal exhausitve divine determination entails (at least functional) pantheism.

I don’t think my reasons are an air-tight proof for my position. I keep thinking on this, trying to bore down as deep as I can to find some deep metaphysical key that would make it plain. I’m just not there yet. But to boil it down, it seems to me that to be a ‘person’ other than God is to be a ‘will’ other than God. But to the extent that my ‘will’ is determined by God’s ‘will’, I am just a function of his will and am not personally distinct from God and so not a person in relation to God.

Tom


#10

Hi Tom,

Just wanted to let you know that I accidentally posted my response to the above post on the other thread!


#11

Aaron,
In a nutshell, am I getting you right regarding your response to Boyd.

If there is great joy in heaven then there must be great sorrow as well.

I know Craig takes a path that people in heaven are no longer free, I believe it’s because he sees the end as being a place where there are no more tears. But if there are no more tears how then can there be any joy? For in order to have joy one must have tears (sorrow).

I might not be understanding the weight of Boyd’s or TGB’s position.

TGB, if I’m not following correctly, let me know and I’ll re-read the whole thing :slight_smile:

Aug


#12

Auggy,

I’m not sure if your summaries are what you think Aaron thinks follows from Boyd’s position or are what you think Boyd’s position actually is. What you describe is not Greg’s view because Greg would never argue an absolute metaphysical dualism–i.e., that it’s not possible to have joy without sorrow, goodness without evil, etc. Greg and I both would argue that God’s necessary being is necessarily joyful, loving, and overflowing with the fullest aesthetic satisfaction WITHOUT any correspondingly necessary sorrow and sinfulness existing. So much for GOD. Now, when it comes to created beings such as us, Greg would agree that the end result of our mature perfection might entail a certain inevitable (statistically speaking) fall, and evil and sorrow, just because given LFW and enough time sooner or later somebody’s gonna screw up. But that’s different than arguing the end goal of our mature perfection actually REQUIRES evil. I don’t think it does. I think evil is pure privation (i.e., of joy, goodness, love, true pleasure, perceived value, etc.). So Greg (and I) wouldn’t agree that evil plays some necessary, positive role that actually contributes to love’s final beauty and fulfillment in us.

Tom


#13

And Auggy, don’t re-read the whole thing! Nooooo! :smiling_imp:

T


#14

Tom,
As I read Greg’s response, I don’t understand why God can, later in the future, rule out all suffering - no more tears and no more pain - while maintaining a free blissful state in the kingdom of God. Why would his principle “the less risk on the down side the less gain on the upside” not be relevant to the subject I’m raising. Even if I’m misunderstanding Aaron, I don’t believe I’m that far off from reason when Craig claims that there will be no freedom in heaven - for sin will not be an option.

When I raised Craigs position, it refers to us - not to God. In other words, when you say “God’s necessary being is necessarily joyful, loving, and overflowing with the fullest aesthetic satisfaction WITHOUT any correspondingly necessary sorrow and sinfulness existing. So much for GOD.” - I KNOW THAT. But I’m referring to no more sorrow for US - After all that seems to be what the bible is referring to, that WE HUMANS would have no more suffering and no more pain but to live with JOY to the fullest.

Aug


#15

Hi Auggy,

Somehow I’m miscommunicating, because Greg *agrees with Craig (and you all) that in heaven the saints will not be free to sin. There will be no such ‘freedom’. But are we free and capable to sin now? Obviously. So the question becomes: WHY are we free now to sin if we’ll ultimately be loving and good without having this freedom/ability to sin? A related question is this: Doesn’t the fact that we’ll ultimately be unfailingly loving with no possibility of sinning mean that our present ability to sin to has nothing to do with our becoming unfailingly loving? Aaron answers this latter question with ‘no’. He argues our present ability to sin has nothing to do with making possible our ultimate perfection of character and unfailing goodness. God could have created us at the start essentially in this final state, fully perfected from the get-go in terms of loving character. Greg and I are answering this same question with ‘yes’, our present ability to sin has everything to do with making possible our ultimate perfection of character. That’s our disagreement.

BUT…the fact that we presently require LFW to responsibly mature into a loving character does *not mean that that character cannot become irrevocably fixed in its orientation toward love and that therefore joyful and loving existence in heaven with no possibility of sin is possible. Greg’s agreeing that there shall be no LFW to sin in heaven does not contradict his arguments that LFW is presently required. We solidify. We habituate. We surrender the libertarian capacity to shape our characters over time as that emerging character in turn tends to shape us and our choices. Ultimately (through glorification) we’ll cross the line and shed the need for LFW as our characters are fixed by the beatific vision. But we shall have libertarianly participated in getting to that point. Greg’s point is that the responsible exercise of LFW toward maturity of character is the ONLY way we humans can cross that line at all. We can’t start out life on the finished side of the line. Now, Greg might be wrong about LFW. We might not be free in the LFW sense. BUT, assuming for the moment we do possess LFW, it does not follow that the present need for LFW makes a LFW-less heaven impossible, as if the “love requires freedom” in the case of human beings continues to hold on into heaven. No, what “love requires freedom” means is “becoming a responsibly loving individual requires a libertarian journey.” But one your journey is done, you don’t need LFW any more.

I hope that helps.

Tom


#16

Hi Auggy,

You wrote:

My understanding of Boyd’s position is that in order for any degree of moral good to be possible, a corresponding degree of moral evil must, at the same time, be a real possibility. Good cannot exist apart from the real possibility of evil. Without there being a real possibility for a certain level and intensity of evil, there could be no possibility for a corresponding level and intensity of good. But it would seem that, for Boyd, this holds true only for a temporary period of time. If I’m understanding Boyd correctly, those in heaven will have the “capacity for bringing about great good” and will still be called to good “of great importance and value” (to use Tom’s words) but it will not be a real possibility for this good to be denied and perverted. In heaven, it will be all “gain” and no “risk.” But for Boyd, LFW plays an essential role in getting us to this point. However, it’s still unclear to me why he thinks this to be the case, and why LFW should be understood to play any role at all in the chapter of our journey that is to end with us acquiring an unfailingly loving character. My view is that no history of LFW is required in order for human beings to love or to acquire an unfailingly loving character.


#17

Ok so I’m at least in the ball park though I’m hitting foul balls (so to speak). Thanks Tom for that clarification. I follow Aaron’s point of view. I for one do think we’ll be free in heaven. I think we’ve discussed Talbott’s view on this, that is, the closer to God we become the more free we are, where you see enslavement - that is the epistemic distance is closed and the person is now no longer free to do evil (hence a slave to righteousness). I’ll leave that alone for now and keep listening in.

Aaron, I agree. So far as I can tell there are things which are necessary which don’t require LFW in order for us to mature. It seems the necessity of maturing is life, which can be broken down into parts, thought, feeling (senses) and self awareness. If these things were met in a totally dereministic enviroment, it seems reasonable to say that those people could expereience particular events (a journey in TGB’s words) and actually learn from it. I can’t see why it coulnd’t be that way except to say that LFW is necessary because if it’s not then the FWDefense falls apart.

I, being more calvinistic, require explanations of how God can confirm in the future a abosulte without violating LFW in some sense. In other words, if God has MADE CERTAIN that he’s going to bring every knee to bow, then how could it be any other way? Unless God is incapable of bringing it about. And if God is going to make it happen, then do we REALLY have a choice each and every day to not bow our knee; eventually he’ll break us and we will do exactly as he has determined - We will bow our knee. So in some sense life (for mankind) is determined. I think I’m heavily influnece by Talbott - that is to say while I believe our destiny is determined, I do believe we make choices, I’m just not convinced their L.

But back to the point TGB:
"Greg’s point is that the responsible exercise of LFW toward maturity of character is the ONLY way we humans can cross that line at all. We can’t start out life on the finished side of the line." WHY?


#18

Tom: Greg’s point is that the responsible exercise of LFW toward maturity of character is the ONLY way we humans can cross that line at all. We can’t start out life on the finished side of the line.

Auggy: WHY?

Tom…

;o)


#19

LOL.

OK what is it about a deterministic system that fails to allow it?

If God created someone with all the expereiences (which never really happened) like uploading software into a computer, would that mean that the person would somehow not be able to act accordingly? Seems, we’re just like computers except the ontological makeup is different. Still yet, we record data and store it. We have inputs and outputs (dirty ones at that) We both calculate. So Could God actually make Adam with a belly button? I suppose he could. Would it make God a liar, I hardly think so.


#20

Hi Auggy,

Some good thoughts. I do think the human brain is analogous to a really advanced computer, and can be “reprogrammed” by God without necessarily violating one’s personhood. While I don’t think God could (or would) “upload” our minds with false memories, I do think he can create (or re-create) people with desires that they didn’t volitionally acquire, and which lead to choices that are consistent with (rather than in violation of) their moral nature. The only reason why I think God hasn’t done this already is because I believe the making of immoral choices by human beings plays an important role in God’s redemptive purpose for mankind, and will ultimately contribute to our happiness.