"God" the Ironworker and why the freewill defense fails. Version 2.0

todangst's picture

If there is an omnipotent, omniscient creator, then this creator is perfectly responsible for his creation, as any and all potential or actual existents would only exist contingent upon the fiat of this omnipotent, omniscient creator. Since this would include the sum total of all possible influences on any outcome, it necessarily follows that this creator is ultimately responsible for every outcome. Therefore, the free will defense for the problem of evil must fail.

Do any theologians hold to this view?

Yeah. A few minor, relatively unknown theologians hold to it. Two that I know of go by the names Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther.

"...just as god not only gave being to things when the first began, but is also, as the conserving cause of being, the cause of their being as long as they last...; so he also not only gave things their operative powers when they were first created, but is also always the cause of these things. Hence if this divine influence stopped every operation would stop. Every operation, therefore, of anything, is traced back to him as its cause. - Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra Gentiles (III, 67)


"god alone can move the will, as an agent, without doing violence to it... Some people... not understanding how god can cause a movement of our will in us without prejudicing the freedom of the will, have tried to explain... authoritative texts wrongly: that is, they would say that god 'works in us, to wish and to accomplish' means that he causes in use the power of willing, but not in such a way that he makes us will this or that. These people are, of course, opposed quite plainly by authoritative texts of Holy Writ. for it says in Isaiah (26:12) "Lord, you have worked all our work in us." Hence we received from god not only the power of willing but its employment also. Thomas Aquinas, (III 88-89)

Luther, in de Servo Arbitrio:

"I did not say 'of compulsion' ... a man without the spirit of god does not do evil against his will, under pressure, as though he were taken by the scruff of his neck and dragged into it, like a thief or a footpad being dragged off against his will to punishment; but he does it spontaneously and voluntarily (II, Cool

Luther, of course, could see the contradiction. His response to this dilemma:

"The highest degree of faith is to believe he is just, though of His own will he makes us proper subjects for damnation and seems, (in the words of Erasmus) 'to delight in the torments of poor wretches and to be a fitter object of hate than for love." If I could by any means understand how this same god... can yet be merciful and just, there would be no need for faith. (II, 7).

But what of those who further press Luther on the matter?

"It is not for us to inquire into these mysteries, but to adore them. If flesh and blood take offence here and grumble, well let them grumble; they will achieve nothing: grumbling will not change god! And however many of the ungodly stumble and depart, the elect will remain" (II, 6)

Parameters of existence

What do I mean when I use the term 'parameter of existence'?

What I mean is any aspect of reality whatsoever, all of which would be under the purview of an omnipotent being. When I say 'parameter of existence', I mean every single aspect of existence: this 'god" would be responsible for the following: existence itself, the existence of our universe, the various 'laws of physics - i.e. basic cosmology of our universe. To continue, this god would be responsible for the existence of concepts, or ideas, as well as the particular concepts and ideas that do exist, including ideas like 'good' and 'bad' and 'right' and "wrong'.

This god would be responsible for creating matter and energy, as well as responsible for the forms matter takes in the universe. This god would be responsible for creating the concept of life, of biology, and psychology. This god would be responsible for creating the concept of humanity, character, personality, temperament, as well as perfectly responsible for the particular personalities and temperaments that exist in humans.

This god would then be responsible for creating concepts like free will, and choice, including the existence of the idea of choice itself! As this god is also responsible for creating character and the environments within which people live, every possible factor that influences a free will choice, it necessarily follows that an omnipotent, omniscient creator necessarily obviates free will. After all, this god creates not only 'free will' but the parameters of free will. ... he decides what the limits are! He also decided the penalties for 'infractions', including the the very idea of a need for infractions and penalties!

A theist ought to ask:

Does he (god) create and control the environment we live in?

Does he create and control the possible range of human temperament, personal, character?

Does this god control the possible range of experiences we can experience?

Is he perfectly responsible for creating the universe as he "wills" it to be?

Is he responsible for creating every parameter of existence?

If so, how can this god not be perfectly responsible for his own creation, and thusly, every event that occurs within it?

So, if there is an omnipotent creator, then any and all of the parameters of existence that exist, only exist contingently upon this creator. Every parameter could have been different, so this god is responsible for them being as they actually are. Ergo this omnipotent being is perfectly responsible for his creation being precisely as it is, this includes the existence of free will, and it's limits. If there is an omnipotent, omniscient creator, the universe didn't have to work the way it currently works, it could exist without any of these things.

Let's review:

It necessarily follows that such a creator is 1) is responsible for creating the concept of free will, 2) responsible for creating its limits/parameters 3) responsible for granting it to his creation (when he need not have done so, despite the possible deleterious outcomes it might cause for his creation) and 4) responsible for the character of the person and the nature of the environment, which of course dictate choice!

This means that even if we were to grant that people had free will (and it's really moot at this point) an omnipotent creator would still be necessarily perfectly responsible for dictating whatever outcomes occurred within his universe. Which means that the free will defense against the argument from evil fails. Again, in short, an omnipotent, omniscient creator obviates free will.

Here's a nice follow up on this point written by Knight of Baawa:

Which is why all the xer sects save Calvinism (with their doctrine of predestination) are dishonest on this point. I have yet to meet an xer who will deal with their god being both omniscient, omnipotent, and the creator of everything at the same time in an argument. They always leave a part out while making their claims, e.g. "Just because god knows everything doesn't mean he forces you to act in a certain
way", leaving out of course the notion that god created everything.

They simply can't deal with all the concepts at once, so they leave one out and imagine that they've taken care of everything. And when called on it, they scream at you and retreat into "it's just god's will/god works in mysterious ways", in essence conceding the point.

Such is the problem with mutually-exclusive and self-contradictory concepts trying to be shoehorned onto a tribal phallic symbol.

Now, here is an example that helps illustrate the point:

Imagine you want to stress test a piece of metal that is going to be used in a building. You need it to bear up a certain weight, or it will prove to be unsafe for construction.

So you stress test it..., because you don't know what load it can bear. You apply a chosen amount of weight per square inch that you hold to be required to keep the building up, and if the metal cracks, you realize you need a better metal.

Now, imagine god is making the building. Let's tune in and watch:

God the Iron Worker

One day, god decides to make a building. He decides that the metal must be able to bear 2000 pounds per square inch. (He decides this based on fiat, of course, as god can never do anything out of necessity, as he is unlimited in what he does. )

So he makes a metal. This metal can bear 1900 pounds per square inch. He then tests the metal, and it shatters. "No good", he says, and makes another, this time, able to bear 1900 pounds per square inch.

He tests it again. It shatters. "Damn" he says, "No good again." God conjures up another piece. This one can bear 1900 pounds per square inch.....

Getting the point yet? An omnipotent, omniscient metal worker need not test the metal, for perfect metal worker is responsible for the fact that the metal passes or fails the test in the first place. This simple exercise helps us grasp that an omnipotent, omniscient creator must, necessarily, be perfectly responsible for every aspect of existence that in turn must dictate every outcome.

It therefore follows that 'god' cannot be all powerful/all knowing AND the creator of the universe AND create beings with free will AND then find them guilty for their behaviors, because such a god must also be perfectly responsible for every single solitary aspect of existence that determines their guilt, in the first place. An omnipotent, omniscient iron worker is perfectly responsible for his metal, just as a omnipotent, omniscient creator is perfectly responsible for his creation.

'God' creates ALL the parameters of existence - all of them... he decides the parameters of the metal, AND the test! 'God' could make the metal stronger or the test less strenuous, or do away with the test, or do away with the metal or even do away with the CONCEPTS of "metal", and "test" altogether and just make a building without them.... so the free will argument makes no sense, and fails in it's true goal - to absolve god from the true guilt for "sin", if it did exist.

When considering human behavior and morality, consider that god would have to be responsible for creating the very concepts of existence, behavior, humanity, morality, choice, 'good', "evil', and so on, with none of them being necessary parts of existence. Ergo, this god would have to control every aspect of a "choice', including human character, predilection and every single solitary other aspect that shapes the choice!

Poof goes free will in such a universe. Even if it existed, it would be moot.

See also: http://www.rationalresponders.com/god_is_an_incoherent_term

"Hitler burned people like Anne Frank, for that we call him evil.
"God" burns Anne Frank eternally. For that, theists call him 'good.'

HisWillness's picture

I've argued elsewhere on the

I've argued elsewhere on the site that you don't even need to mention omniscience, considering if a being is omnipotent, it is already magically responsible for all things that can be known. The conclusion ends up being the same. In fact, the more "omni"s you add, the more absurd the whole situation looks (and the fewer responsibilities living creatures would then seem to carry).


Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence

lpetrich's picture

 The way I like to put it

 The way I like to put it is that an omnipotent, omniscient being is therefore omni-responsible, that is, responsible for everything that happens, whether by commission or by omission.

At this point, some Xian apologists try to weasel out by arguing against the concept of responsibility by omission; some of them even whine about God having to clean up our messes and stuff like that. But that would be no trouble for an omnipotent being to do, regardless of what such apologists think.

In fact, it's remarkable how often people project human limitations onto God. Bertrand Russell once claimed that there are some nuns who wear bathrobes when they bathe because they don't want God to see them naked. But an omnipotent being could see through their bathrobes as well as through the walls of the buildings they lived in.

Hambydammit's picture

Quote:Bertrand Russell once

Bertrand Russell once claimed that there are some nuns who wear bathrobes when they bathe because they don't want God to see them naked.

I'm not sure why I've never heard of this before, but if that's true, it's one of the dumbest things I've ever heard.

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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