Thursday, December 16, 2004

Why would God create those whom He knows will do evil?


This is a tricky problem--if God is all-powerful and all-good and all-knowing, why would he create those whom he knows will fight against him? I usually answer it with the free-will defense: it is so good for there to be free creatures that can love, that it is worth all the evil that results from free creatures who don't love. (Pace, Ivan Karamazov.)

But this explanation only deals with the creation of human beings in general. What about the creation of this specific person? Why would God create Stalin? Couldn't much pain and suffering have been avoided? Some light has been shed on this issue for me by John of Damascus. See the following:

1) Evil is non-being, a privation of being.

2) Evil creatures ultimately seek non-being. See John Chrysostom on the legion of demons going into the pigs: once they were free from constraint, they forced the pigs to their death, doing what demons do, which is seek non-being.

3) "If God had not created man because of God's foreknowledge that this creature, in its misuse of free will, would be the cause of evil, then, says John of Damascus, evil would have triumphed over God's goodness." (Tatakis, 96)

#3 can be expanded into the following statement: Suppose God refrains from giving being to beings that would by free will seek non-being. Then hasn't God already been beaten by the to-be-created evil beings without them having been created? It's like a boxer refusing a title match, and being declared a loser for not fighting.

Have I been clear? Feel free to discuss in the comments box. The quote is from Tatakis's book "Byzantine Philosophy."

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