A Compatibicalvinist Demonstrative-Goods Defense
Posted: 22 Apr 2015 Last revised: 11 Aug 2016
Date Written: May 1, 2003
Some libertarian theists — those who think that God exists and that freedom is incompatible with determinism — argue that many bad things about the world can be reconciled with the existence of an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good God through a proper appreciation of the value of freedom and the obstacles freedom might pose for God’s desire to create a world without such bad things. For all we know, such thinkers contend, God cannot create a world with free creatures but without evil. God cannot freely foreordain free actions, where such foreordination entails designing creatures and setting, without any prior constraint, the truth values of “counterfactuals of freedom,” i.e., what free creatures would do if placed in certain circumstances. Other thinkers go further and contend that God cannot even foreknow free choices and their results.
However, many theists within the Calvinist tradition (and elsewhere) think that human freedom and responsibility are compatible with God’s foreordination of whatsoever comes to pass and his fully sovereign design of his creatures. Because theological foreordination poses virtually all of the same problems for free will and responsibility as does physical determinism, such Calvinists have reason to be compatibilists: compatibicalvinists, for short. I here aim to show how such theists might fill in the gaps left by the removal of a libertarian free will defense from their repertoire. My chief replacement will be demonstrative goods of uncertain size. Evil provides the occasion for new modes of presentation of what God is like, such as his justice, power, and grace. Without begging theologically-controversial questions, we cannot know the size of such demonstrative goods, and so cannot know that they do not justify any particular evil. The problem of evil is thus defanged as a reason to shift theological views away from theism, or away from compatibicalvinism.
Keywords: Problem of Evil, Calvinism, Compatibilism, Compatibicalvinism
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