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I was having a private Twitter discussion with Edward Babinski yesterday concerning heaven. He is presently writing up a critical review of the work of Randal Rauser’s book Miracles:

Randal Rauser, the tentative apologist, says all of our decisions in heaven will be righteous ones. “We will be perfectly sanctified and thus be determined to do only the good.” Or as R explained in an earlier work, “The glorified redeemed occupants of heaven won’t find sin appealing, they will find it completely repulsive, and there will be no opportunity to sin since the environment will be perfect.” (The Swedish Atheist, The Scuba Diver and Other Apologetic Rabbit Trails)

So God has to “perfectly sanctify” us so we are “determined to do only the good?” He has to keep us in a “glorified, redeemed state,” plus alter with our “environment” so it will be “perfect?” Look like God is doing all the heavy lifting, not our free will. God gives us and our environment a radical makeover so nothing will and nothing can ever go wrong again. Makes one wonder whether “free will” is closer to being a curse than a blessing if God has to alter us and our environment permanently just to keep us good and in heaven. Also makes one wonder about God being unable to keep every angel in a sanctified glorified state in heaven’s perfect environment.

Further questions provoked by Randal’s views: How did God in whom there was absolutely no “evil” ever think of “evil” in the first place, let alone include it in His divine plan for both heaven (fallen angels) and earth (fallen humans)?

Likewise, if the first humans were created with a morally righteous nature they would have chosen what was right, because choices arise from desires, and desires arise from one’s nature. A morally righteous nature would not have desired to choose evil. Therefore God could not have created humans with a morally righteous nature. Did God create humans with a morally ambiguous nature? Is that what perfectly good Beings do? Create moral ambiguity?

R believes God created and sustains the cosmos directly and solely out of an omni-powerful will, omniscient knowledge and perfect goodness. Not a single quantum of energy exists apart from God’s power and divine oversight, but if God is whistling His perfectly good tune in the heart of every quantum of energy what room is there for moral ambiguity and subsequent evil to exist? And if God Himself couldn’t create either a heaven with its angels, or an earth with its humans, that functioned without moral failures, what chance does any creature have of avoiding moral failures? And what chance did our species have—arising in a cosmos where competition, aggression, suffering, death, and extinctions were universal long before we arrived?

I will deal with the first two paragraphs and leave the later ones to a further post. I have, numerous times before, stated how free will and heaven are incoherent. See my video here. Well, libertarian free will makes no sense at all in any context, being contra-causal. But here it is obviously problematic because there doesn’t seem to be any way we could have full free will in heaven and have it as a perfect place.

One theodicy, the free will theodicy, state that suffering is a natural and necessary bi-product of humans and free will. If God is going to allow us to have free will, then there will be the collateral of poor decisions and resultant suffering.

Some astute thinkers will notice an issue with this theodicy, notably that free will and perfect decisions are not necessarily incompatible, in a logical sense, perhaps merely contingently so on what humans are usually like. God could create a world in which it just so happens that all the humans chosen for the world make the best possible, no perfect choices freely. See Free Will Does Not Logically Necessitate Evil.

Moreover, if such free will with its natural collateral is that important for God to create such that it explains evil in the world, why is it not important enough to have in heaven? It can’t be all that, then.

Let’s drop that for now. Let’s assume God creates humans on Earth with free will that always seems to result in suffering, and then chooses certain humans to have in heaven, but that these humans just so happen to choose perfectly when in heaven.

So what underwrites the perfect choices in heaven?

Well, God would have to change the environment to produce these positive outcomes, unless you adhere to the idea that God could fundamentally change the agent in heaven – their brain, mind, physiology. But this is hugely problematic since an agent would qualify for heaven and then be turned into a different agent to enjoy heaven. God would be fiddling the books completely such that this new agent wouldn’t have a regular Earth-like brain that would make those faulty Earth-like decisions.

In other words, the new agent in heaven wouldn’t be a human as we know and understand humans. This wouldn’t be free will as we would have experience of it. Each perfectly freely-willed decision would be the result of a heaven-bot mind.

But the other option is that God changes the environment. This is a case of two sides of a square. It’s the same fudge. God cooks the books by changing the environment of heaven to be so different to that on Earth that a human heavenly entity couldn’t but choose perfectly.

Well, this is hardly free will if one is utterly unable to choose to act in any other way than perfectly. This is precisely the argument I give that God does not have free will. See Is this the Best Possible World? Does God Have Free Will?

Free will is a big philosophical problem. Heaven is a big philosophical problem. The two together? I’m not sure you can get something more terminally problematic than “terminally problematic”.

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...