But in order to prove it, I assume you believe three things:
1. God is omnipotent.
2. God is benevolent.
3. Evil exists.
For your average monotheist, these three things are not much of a stretch. I would guess that the vast majority believe this way.
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If you are a Christian, and believe that the Bible is true, then you believe these things.
For omnipotence, see Revelation 19:6.
For benevolence, see Psalm 100:5, Mark 10:18.
For the existence of evil, see Genesis 6:5.
Now, let's get to the heart of the matter:
The existence of evil is the cornerstone of this argument. How can evil exist?
As I see it, there are three possibilities:
1. God is not all-powerful. There are forces stronger than Him at work (i.e. evil) that He cannot control or abolish.
2. God is not all good. There is evil in Him. He is actually the perpetrator of evil.
3. Mankind has free will.
But you already agreed that God is omnipotent and benevolent, thereby eliminating possibilities one and two. So what's left?
Let's look at an example for clarity. We'll take the example of Hitler: responsible for the death of millions of people. Here are the various scenarios by which to explain his actions:
1. God knew that what Hitler was doing was evil, but not being all-powerful was unable to stop the evil because it was too strong for Him.
2. God perpetrated the evil Himself, using Hitler as His pawn.
3. Evil does not exist, therefore there is no good. Hitler's actions were neither good nor bad, just the random actions of molecules and ambition.
4. Hitler used his free will to perpetrate evil on his victims.
So you see, unless you limit God or deny the existence of evil, there really is no other choice. God created us in His image, which means we have free agency. Without it, we would be unable to love. But given the freedom to choose, we MUST have the freedom to choose wrong. Otherwise is there really a choice at all? And since we are not God, the wrong choice is inevitable.
But God wanted to share His love with us, which is why He created us anyway--even with the foreknowledge that we would reject Him. Yet "God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
Jesus' crucifixion is result of our free will.
His resurrection is our shot at redemption.
All we must do is choose to believe.
But sadly many refuse to believe, or they believe but abuse the grace of God (I know I've been guilty). I wrote an article on this very subject called, Why We Often Take God's Love for Granted. It's a short piece that looks deeper at the connection between love and free will.
If you're interested, I'll send it to you for free. Tell me where to send it, and it's yours:
Thanks so much for reading. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Leave a comment below or you can always email me at andrew at andrewgilmore.net.