Ehrman’s Problem 5: God Should Intervene More to Prevent Free Will’s Evil Use

by Clay Jones

Gods ProblemFinally we come to what seems to be Ehrman’s major objection to the free will defense. He asks, “If he [God] intervenes sometimes to counteract free will, why does he not do so more of the time? Or indeed, all of the time?” (13). Later he writes, “I can’t believe in that God anymore, because from what I now see around the world, he doesn’t intervene” (16).

This bothers many Christians and it used to bother me. But, thankfully, I began to understand that God has very good reasons for not intervening more than He does. First, if God intervened “all of the time,” then our actions wouldn’t mean anything. In fact, it would be a cartoon world. Johnny could be cutting his steak with a knife and the next moment jab it into his little brother, but the knife would turn to rubber and everyone at the table could laugh heartily. An embezzler could write a love note to his wife and then start to write a bad check but the pen wouldn’t work. He gets another pen, it too is out of ink, and on it goes. We wouldn’t need to take an elevator down; we could just jump out the window and float gently to the sidewalk. And why would we need to go to school because no one would ever suffer the consequence of not going?

If our actions are to mean anything at all, then natural laws must work in regular ways. Consider the words of Oxford’s Richard Swinburne:

If God is to allow us to acquire knowledge by learning from experience and above all to allow us to choose whether to acquire knowledge at all or even to allow us to have a very well-justified knowledge of the consequences of our actions—knowledge which we need if we are to have a free and efficacious choice between good and bad—he needs to provide natural evils occurring in regular ways in consequence of natural processes.1

Swinburne is right and no adult would really want to live in a world without consequences…


The Poached Egg ApologeticsEhrman’s Problem 5: God Should Intervene More to Prevent Free Will’s Evil Use | Clay Jones



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