The first move to dismantle the absurdities of religious free will is to understand which imaginary god resides in the minds of believers. The question is: which imaginary god resides in your mind?
A: god understood as synonymous with nature, the universe or the laws that govern the universe, a god that does not satisfy emotionally, so, as Carl Sagan said, it makes little sense to, for example, pray to the law of universal gravitation.
B: god with supernatural, omnipotent intelligence, whose task, however, is limited to establishing the laws that govern the universe he created, a god who never intervenes and certainly, takes no interest in human affairs.
C: god with supernatural intelligence, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, good and merciful, who, in addition to having originally created the universe, continues to oversee and influence the subsequent affairs of his own creation, thus: hears prayers, forgives or punishes sins, intervenes in the world by performing miracles, cares about good or bad deeds and knows when they are done or even thought about.
Obviously, having the same imaginary god in common, for Jews, Christians, and Islamists it is the one represented by the letter C. The most widespread monotheistic religions understand god (Yahweh, Allah) as an omnipotent, omniscient, wise, surely good and merciful being and creator of the universe. An infallible and perfect god. For Christians, their god stands for infinite love and goodness.
What is free will? Believers will say that having free will means having the ability to choose freely, in operating and judging, to choose good or evil.
This is what believers say. You may have sometimes come across discussions with believers who, cornered and no longer knowing what to say, “bring up” free will…
In reality, free will simply serves to justify god’s inability to eliminate evil. Indeed, evil, in relation to god’s attributes, have created and create an insurmountable obstacle:
God would like to eliminate evil but is unable to do so, then he is not omnipotent. God is able to eliminate evil but is unwilling, so he is not good and merciful. Or he is unwilling and unable, so he is not good and not omnipotent. God, ultimately, in relation to evil is incapable. The devil has the same powers as god, in that god cannot defeat evil once and for all. According to Christians, for example, god sacrificed his son, Jesus so that we could live forever. But why would an omnipotent being need a sacrifice? The answer is because god is limited.
Here comes free will: evil exists because god wanted to give man free will. This justification is attributable to St. Augustine who would have devoted his entire life in vain to trying to come up with a convincing and unassailable explanation about the presence of evil alongside the existence of his imaginary god, with the result that he simply drew a blank.
A common defense in the face of the problem of evil then, is to assert that god would have given us the freedom to choose whether to commit it, but there is also a “divine design” and free will contradicts the divine design, they are two incompatible concepts so there can be no free will, unless the holy scriptures are god’s word.
One might ask then: why did god give humans free will if he knew in advance that it would be misused and abused by so many people? It is clear that the principle of omniscience is violated. Why does god punish or condemn those who did not behave according to his will since he himself gave us free will? You make us free to do what we want but then, if we do not behave according to your will, you send us to hell? Why does God allow us to sin? Wouldn’t it have been better if he, being Omnipotent and Omniscient, had prevented man from sinning? All these questions lead to one conclusion: god is imperfect.
What then, does free will have to do with suffering in the world, disease and natural disasters? Most unnecessary suffering comes from nature, not man. Some examples? Diseases and natural disasters, tsunamis. And what is the purpose of animal suffering? And again, what about the hundreds of millions of living beings who suffered terrible deaths long before man appeared on the scene? Then-what does free will have to do with the deaths of children not yet capable of making decisions?
St. Augustine did not realize that instead of finding a convincing explanation about the presence of evil, he irreparably annulled control over any event to his useless imaginary god. Dear St. Augustine: is, or is not, god good, merciful and omnipotent regardless of free will? If he has given free will to man, your god, can he or cannot he intervene? What infinitely good father would let his child die without intervening?
“Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Which of you, to the son who asks him for a loaf of bread, will he give a stone? And if he asks for a fish, will he give him a snake? If you, then, who are evil, know how to give good things to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7
Let us repeat the concrete examples described in “divine plan“
Imagine the serial child killer who uses free will, chooses evil and ties up his 30th victim. Many entrust their prayers to god to save the child but god, having granted man free will, that is, the freedom to choose, does not intervene. In the end, the child is raped and killed.
Try to reflect: if god cannot, or, will not stop the killer, what kind of god is he? Even though he has given free will to man, if he wants, can he, or cannot he intervene?
On September 11, 2001, the suicide bombers had free will, they chose evil, god, could, or could not stop them regardless of free will?
What about Adolf Hitler? Why didn’t he stop him?
What does free will have to do with disease and natural disasters? Does he want to punish us? To whom? Does he want to punish millions of innocent children? Can God or can he not stop an earthquake? Why doesn’t he eliminate all disease?
Because St. Augustine’s free will contrary to what it was meant to serve gave god a restriction on the control of events, eliminated his goodness, omnipotence and omniscience.
God wanted to stop the killer, the suicide bombers and Hitler, and he wants to stop every natural disaster, but he was not and is not able to do that, then he is not omnipotent.
Maybe he is not omniscient, or not omnipresent, such a god would not always know when evil occurs and therefore a failure on his part to stop it would be justified.
God was and is able to stop everything, but he did not and will not, so he is not good and merciful.
God did not want and was not able to do anything, therefore, he is not good and not omnipotent, ultimately, he is imperfect.