Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Friday, May 20, 2011

How is there free will in heaven?

Is there free will in heaven (or rather the new heavens and new earth)? How can the people in heaven be free if you know they will always do the right thing for an eternity?

Here is an answer I like to this question, that involves a certain view of evil.

In traditional Christian theology, evil is an absence of good like cold is the absence of heat. Evil is not an independent thing, but exists only because good exists and sometimes there is not much good in a situation. So evil is a lack of empathy, a result of a person not processing things morally.

For practical example of this, suppose someone wants people to treat them well, but they are really rude to staff at restaurants and other places. If someone could make them feel the pain they cause others for no reason, then this person would change their behaviour because they wouldn't want to be treated in this way. So their bad behaviour is actually the result of them not being consistent with their own principles in terms of how they want to be treated. In general terms, this shows how evil is not being truthful about how one's actions affect others in ways one's own self would not like (assuming someone endorses the Golden Rule, that is).

So if evil is something like this, then in heaven God has solved evil by making us completely truthful, through Jesus taking our sins (1 Pe 2:24). Because we are completely truthful, we can never choose to be evil because we will always be aware of how we would like to be (ideally) treated.

We will be unable to do evil in the sense that you, the reader, are unable to find it desirable to rob banks or murder people - that is, you are free to do it, but you can't do it because you can't be tempted by it. It's an inability to find something a good (or 'truthful') idea rather than any sort of physical inability.

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