Free Will



Free Will

Religions which believe in the existent of a deity tend to ascribe certain characteristics to the said deity. A common characteristic is that this deity is omnipotent, or all powerful. Christianity is one of the major religions in the world that espouse this viewpoint. God is conceptualized as a formless being with unlimited power to do anything that He pleases at any given point in time. A central tenet of Christian teaching is that God grants every human being free will, to facilitate the choice between right and evil. While atheists argue that an omnipotent deity cannot allow evil to exist, theists point to the existence of this free will as an explanation for evil’s existence.

To know whether God is omnipotent would require three ingredients; truth, belief and justification. The same conditions apply to knowing whether God cannot grant free will without allowing evil to exist. Christians believe in both propositions. However, there is no objective way of ascertaining their truth. Nonetheless, justifications are offered for holding on to these beliefs. For example, many Christians believe that God is omnipotent since He supposedly has power over all life on earth and all other things fund within it. The justification for evil is supposedly the free will accorded to man by God. These justifications do not seem to violate any Christian duty. Hence, the proposition may be deemed to be true on the face of it.

However, the conditions of truth, belief and justification are not sufficient for knowledge. An impossibility of error must exist for one to be said to ‘know’ something. The two propositions discussed herein are subject to error because the people who hold these beliefs have no way of irrefutably ascertaining their claims. Christians have no objective way of proving that God is omnipotent. Further, they cannot provide an undeniable link between free will and the evil in the world. Consequently, it is impossible for theists to know whether God is omnipotent or whether free will can account for the evil in the world. There is no way to assess the truth in both propositions.