Monday, November 25, 2013

Love, Moral Prefection, and the Free Will Defense.

  photo life_wheel_6x4.png

A poster on CARM "HillyBilly" (aka SillyBilly) is trying to bring in standard atheist contradiction argument against moral perfection. His argument:

My reasoning is direct and simple enough that even a child could understand it.

1) If something is morally perfect, then it has free will. [from YOU]
2) God is morally perfect. [from YOU]
3) There exists at least one thing which is morally perfect. [existential instantiation]
4) Said thing has free will. [modus ponens 1, 3)
5) There exists at least one thing which is morally perfect and has free will. [conjunction 3, 4]
6) If something is the case, then it is possible that it is the case. [theorem of modal logic]
7) Beings with moral perfection and free will are possible. [modus ponens 5, 6]
8) If something is possible, God can create it. [from YOU]
9) Therefore, God can create morally perfect beings with free will. [modus ponens 7,8]

See? It's a deductive consequence of nothing but premises from you and from the rules of logic. If you deny it, you are contradicting yourself.

 In other words the point of it all is that since moral perfection and free will don't contradict then we could side step sin and just have moral perfection and free will but without sin and all the bad implications of it. My answer to this is that free is necessary in order to have a moral universe. Moral universe is based upon love, therefore, since love requires growth through experience then moral perfection takes time. Being a mature state of agape (love) moral perfection the development of moral perfection requires experience and pain. It's not something we can be "zapped" into. Yes, I believe that God is limited to logical necessity, he can't make square circles because square circles are a contradiction in terms. So is the idea of moral perfection without love and experience is a contradiction in terms. Thus being morally perfect, if we are granted it at all, takes time and experience in life.

I don't believe that we are meant to match God's moral perfection. Jesus says "be ye perfect as your father in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48). The problem is that "perfect" is a bad translation. The word in that passage is telos from tello meaning ""to set out for a definite point or goal." The word telos itself is defined as defined by Strong's:

5056 télos (a neuter noun) – properly, consummation (the end-goal, purpose), such as closure with all its results.
[This root (tel-) means "reaching the end (aim)." It is well-illustrated with the old pirate's telescope, unfolding (extending out) one stage at a time to function at full-strength (capacity effectiveness).][1]
So the end goal or purpose to which something is meant to move is the concept. Thus he's not saying "I command you to have the very save level of moral excellence that God has," but rather "be all that you are meant to be." Being all we are meant to be, in terms of moral perfection, would mean love. Love requires sacrifice, giving, compassion, forgiving, bearing with the pain of others. You can't do that in a vacuum without living among other people. Just to have the experience of that put into our heads without actually going through it and learning from it would defeat the process of learning and it would not be real love. Love requries that we actually love. To love because you are programed to love is not love.

It's much like the philosophical zombie argument. Without actually growing through the process of dealing with others in real life one would be a philosophical zombie; one would seem outwardly exactly like the end product and one might even have false memories of it but it wouldn't be real love. It wouldn't be real free will because then the agent would not have chosen to love but would just be carrying out the commands of a program. So the idea that God will just zap us into perfection is a pipe dream and would not work. That means to have a moral universe we just live in the real world and be put in situations to make real choices.

Thus it is necessary for a moral universe, that is a universe in which free will agents make moral decisions and willingly choose the good, one must risk the possibility of choosing wrongly. Free will is essential to love and moral perfection.

Then in the issue of perfection we are not required to be god-like. We are not going to be put on a level with God. We have our own telos that is the human telos; the goal or end point that we are meant to grow into, the level of love that is humanly possible.

The Christian free will defense says that God has to risk all the bad by giving us free will because love and moral decision making require free will. the atheist says we can side step the unpleasant choice of actually choosing wrongly just by God zapping us into perfection and we can still have free will. I say that is making philosophical zobmies who have not actually learned to love but merely carrying out programing.

There's a lot we can learn from this thinking even without the free will/Theodicy busienss. We can learn the difficulty of love and how hard it is to actually go through the process of learning to be what God meant us to be. In so dong we must learn that it's impossible without God's grace. That's part of the lesson, learning to rely on God.

[1] Bible Hub, published by Biblos, from Strong's concordance, online resource:
 accessed 11/23/13.

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