A question about free will, and being accused of defending rape.

I am part of an atheist forum that I have participated in for the past several months.

About a month ago, I started a thread about why objective morality makes sense to me, with a short video by Peter Kreeft.

Anyway, several dozens of pages into the thread, the discussion somehow turned to why God allows horrible things like rape to happen. I explained that God gave us free will and that He does not act like a micromanager in our world, but rather, allows us to make choices and allows nature to take its course.

Somehow this turned into several people accusing me of defending, or excusing, rape. Their rationale was that by worshiping a God who allows people to rape, I am essentially defending rape and excusing God for being an accomplice to rape by not stopping it when He has the power to do so.

My answer was basically that God knows much more than we do, and being outside of time and space, He can see the past, present, and future all at once… and in doing so He must have been able to see that the good that comes from giving us free will, will in the end, far outweigh the bad that comes from it - like rape, torture, murder etc. (which by the way, just made the accusations worse)

Anyway, I am curious as to what yall’s opinion is on this and how you would have responded?

How do you explain why God chose to give us free will, knowing that it would lead to horrible suffering of innocent people, like children getting raped, tortured, etc? And do you agree with my explanation?


Honestly, I wouldn’t have. People who make arguments like thit aren’t generally coming from a position where they’ll actually listen to your response. With that said, your response seems pretty straight on. God allows us to have free will, because He desires that we love Him. If we do not have the capacity to chose, then we cannot actually love him. Unfortunately, where there is the potential to chose God there is also the potential to Chose against Him. God is not responsible for the fact that people chose to reject Him; as the only other alternative is to essentially relegate us to being robots who have no free will. If He were to do that then we would no longer be able to chose to Love him, which would make our creation meaningless.

This answer will not satisfy the atheists, who will continue to persist in the notion that a world with both free will and no potential for people to abuse free will is logically possible. It isn’t, of course, but that won’t stop them from claiming it is.

If you’re going to be engaging with atheists, I’d suggest picking up Trent Horn’s new book, Answering Atheism. It’s excellent, and goes into some of these issues. Essentially, Trent reasons that arguments like this fall flat because if there is any potential for a greater good to come from this act then they cannot accuse God of being evil by allowing it. Since we are incapable of seeing the effects of our actions through time we cannot claim that a greater good coming from them is impossible, so we cannot say that such a thing is impossible.

I got in to a similar discussion on facebook once after posting a status about suffering. I had gone to a talk and there were some good points that I wanted to share

the person in question made the same accusations, I gave a similar response as yours. they then proceeded to unfriend me

sometimes there’s not much you can do if they don’t want to hear it

Rape is a very un christian act. A rapist would therefore be rejecting the teachings of God, and rejecting christianity, God DOES ‘prevent rape’ amongst true believers - those who follow the scriptures know it is wrong and don’t do it. So a rapist rejects the existence of God…who does that describe?

Catholic Lady, I think your response was very good.

Unfortunately, those atheists aren’t very into logic. It’s not a choice if both options aren’t open. Every choice by definition is choosing between two or more options. If evil wasn’t an option, then it wouldn’t be free will.

The best limit we can place on evil is having a compelling reason to choose against it… And that requires God, a religion, and people to follow it.

If they won’t use logic, which they claim to love so much, then don’t throw your pearls before swine and just move on.

I wouldn’t even have bothered, so you’re a better person than me! :blush: :shrug: :thumbsup:

My cousin just unfriended me yesterday after I responded to one of his posts about the religious freedom protections laws that have been passing in various states.

There are people who just refuse to hear the truth, or even to hear anything that they disagree with. It stems from our society’s narcissistic focus and the complete rejection of logic and philosophy from general schooling. People view any alternate opinion as a personal attack and react as if they were being physically threatened…

I would turn it around on them and ask them can you prove that God could not have morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil to exist. Or ask them do you think it is possible for God to have morally sufficient reasons to allow evil to exist?

I wouldn’t put it like that, that plays into their hands about how God is terrible simply because he has the power to prevent evil and yet does not.

I think it’s sort of like this. If we lived in a world where God put His foot down. We’d be in a different place.

We’d be in a place where we knew God was for real. So that choice would be gone.

Then we’d be in a place where our biggest problems were suddenly that much smaller. Because a God who wouldn’t allow rape sure as heck wouldn’t let a war catch on either. He’d probably also be stomping around drug deals, domestic fights, hit and runs, and skateboard parks.

I mean I think we’d see a lot of running away from God’s feet.

So our biggest problems would be like getting a paper cut. Or how we fell down the stairs. You know. Schoolyard level stuff.

So the greatest hero we’d have would be the guy who brought a pack of bandaids to the park. I mean we’d all be that much shorter and shallower besides.

I don’t know. It just wouldn’t seem like anything would really be worth the effort of doing. And it wouldn’t seem like God was there when we needed him. Because all of our needs would be three sizes too small. So we’d be wailing about a pin-prick. And that’d make the promise of heaven that much less important maybe. And maybe it’d make death a triple tragedy.

I don’t know. As much as I’d like to coast along in the carefree now? I think we’d all just become a bunch of whiny sheep. Instead of the fight-ready tigers we’re supposed to be. Or something.



That’s exactly it, Trident.

No one reads novels about boring people who do nothing at all.

We want to read about heroes who suffer terribly and still somehow win.

Life is like a novel - without conflict, there is no plot.

A good author lets the heroes suffer, and the villains almost win.

Why? Because you have to give the characters free will. No one wants to read about the author’s perfect puppets who have everything handed to them and never have to suffer. They’re boring because they don’t deserve to win.

The greater the struggle, the greater the hero. That’s the whole point of free will. The fact that it’s hard.

Philipians 2:13 “For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to accomplish”

A lot of atheists think that God is magical and can prevent every evil and cure every disease, and if he doesn’t he can’t possibly exist, or if he does exist, he is not good.

What they don’t understand is human cooperation. We must cooperate with God’s plan. God works in us, and if we shut God out, as other posters have said, then you can’t blame God for what evil is done in the world.

Thank you very much for all the responses, everyone. Everything yall are saying makes sense and they were some of the points I made too.

A few of you said I probably shouldn’t even have bothered, and I have come to think this myself too.

The basic error is that some people see “free will” as an all-or-nothing phenomenon. Which is sheer nonsense. There are many things which we might “will” and unable to carry out. Does that negate our free will? Of course not, it simply limits what we can do.

If it is true that God wishes to be loved “freely”, then it is enough to give us the option to do it, or not. Why should the freedom of NOT to love God include mistreating others? Makes no sense at all.

There is no sufficient explanation for the “problem of evil”, and there cannot be. There were many attempts and all failed. If you are interested in condensed summary, read the “tale of the twelve officers”. Here: infidels.org/library/modern/mark_vuletic/five.html

Best wishes.

In other words, the ends justify the means.

This doesn’t really answer the question, but –
it’s human beings who are committing rape and murder, not God. If we’re so offended by God allowing us to act this way, why are we doing it?


You used two different sets of statements. These, which can be obtained from our experience:

*]We are free (or “we have free will”, as you prefer), and
*]There is rape in our world

And these, which come either from philosophical reflection:

*]God is our creator
*]God is good
*]God is omniscient (or one statement similar to it)

And then you did your best to reconcile both sets. Such reconciliation exercise was needed, because there is an evident discrepancy between the two sets. The statement that you used to fulfill your purposes was this:

*]God must know that the good that comes from giving us free will, will, in the end, far outweigh the bad that comes from it.

This is a logical consequence of the last two of the second set of statements. Nevertheless, it happens that we can always imagine situations which seem better to us than the actual ones: if we know there was a rape, we imagine a situation in which there was no rape, and, besides, that the cruel guy was not cruel but respectful, just and loving. In general, in any situation where there is suffering, we can imagine a situation where there is no suffering at all, but peace and joy. We don’t see any contradiction on this and so we think it is possible. Also, at the sight of suffering most of us will feel compassion, and if there is cruelty involved we will feel indignation and we will do something to fight it. What will be the feeling of those who imagine God as not willing to prevent an evil which in their minds He could and should prevent? Most probably they will feel indignation, and some of them even will fight such idea about God (and perhaps any idea about Him!). A more reduced number of those individuals will spend a significant amount of their efforts to help prevent cruelty and suffering. This last attitude is, to me, admirable (and you don’t find it everywhere). Of course others will just spend some of their spare time looking for atheistic arguments to ridicule believers. In this particular subject, those arguments will always appeal to our feelings of compassion and indignation. So, the arguments you are using and their arguments are running at different levels. It is not possible to arrive to a common conclusion.

When folks bring up the problem of evil, rarely does it include full context.

Context makes people think, and people do not learn how to think anymore, quite purposefully by the educators.

With the problem of evil, you can confirm that evil stinks.

Love by definition does not force a reply of love, yet opens the door for the potential.

So the two sides:

If God loves, creation is free to choose to love God and his creation, or not (through an evil act).

If God does not love, there would be no ability in creation to choose to love God and His creation, or not (through an evil act).

So someone who says an evil act is promoted by God, due to God’s lack of action is simply repeating an illogical point from steered education.

Further, if they had loving parents, they are either ignoring or have forgotten their childhood where they were comforted by their parents when they were hurt.

If God loves, like a parent, he’s not always there to protect us from evil, but is always there for us when we need him after injury.

Take care,


The obvious question is: Why didn’t God just create a universe in which the good consequences occurred without the negative side effects? Since he would control all of the laws of physics, this would certainly be within his power.

As for free will, I am not sure in which sense you believe our wills to be free. Give or take some randomness at the quantum level, the behavior of all particles in the universe is deterministic. We may never reach the point where it is practical to predict someone’s actions beforehand. But if it’s possible to do this even in principle, then I’m not sure how you can say our wills are free.

Unless of course you believe our bodies are controlled by something beyond the reach of physical laws, in which case we’ll probably just have to agree to disagree. But I will ask this: Supposing I have an immaterial soul that lets me make decisions independently of my biochemical makeup, what exactly is it that I use to “will” myself to do something? Is there something one could examine to figure out how someone will behave? If not, it seems like you’re treating our behavior like an idealized coin flip that cannot be predicted even in principle. I wouldn’t call that free, I would call it random.

But all of this talk of free will is beside the point anyway, since God could just make the consequences of poor decisions less dramatic. For example, he could allow humans to lust to sort out the pious (I’m not sure why he needs to since he would know in advance, but whatever), but then prevent victims from suffering from lustful acts. Basically he could let us treat life as an exam in which we are graded but not actually harmed by others’ mistakes.

I can’t conceive a set of laws of physics for which “negative” effects do not take place. I guess the requisite for the definition of that set would be “to prevent the existence of moral beings”, because it is moral beings who are doing the evaluation of the negative and the positive.

But what would happen if a given set of physical laws allows the existence of moral beings? Those beings will have desires. And if they are sophisticated enough (I think they will need to be very sophisticated to be moral beings), most probably sometimes the desires of any one of them will be in conflict with the desires of the others. You know the results…

But maybe you conceive the “perfect” set of physical laws. What do you have in your mind?

I understand free will, for instance, in the sense that you decided to enter in the forum, read what was available here -looking for something interesting to you-, and then decided to write a comment, put your ideas in order, made some corrections to your writing and finally posted it. Was it all determined by some physical laws or was it random? I don’t know any physical law which determines these kind of processes; and your post reflects such order that I don’t believe it was the result of a random interaction among the particles that constitute your body and the ones surrounding it.

What do you say?

It is interesting: How do you imagine that the suffering of a victim of a lustful act could be prevented?

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