God, Free Will, and Evil

Some folks like to propose that god knows everything past, present and future.
I propose: God doesn’t know what will happen in the future, and if he did it would make him responsible for evil.

If God pre-ordained the fall, that makes him a monster because about 70% of all people throughout history are going to end up in hell.

However, if God created the first Humans without knowing Eve would sin, that’s the only line of thought that makes sense to me. He seemed pretty surprised in the Garden of Eden in the Genesis narrative. Denying that God knows the future also takes the problem of evil away because is God un-responsible for all sin after the fall to the present day. Why didn’t God prevent 9/11? Because he didn’t know it would happen.
God set Time & the Universe in motion but can’t foresee future events.
As a loving father foresees childhood disobedience, our loving Father foresaw the possibility that we would sin.
But He can’t magically read the future like some mystical fortune teller in the sky.
That’s not how it works.
This is what i’m proposing.
Builds my faith, actually. and I was considering becoming an atheistic buddhist.

I found a great book on the subject

“god of the possible” by greg boyd

i’m excited to read it


To answer your questions, many books have been written.

But a button hole answer is that there is no future, present, or past, to God. He described himself as “I am”. Meaning that everything is as one moment to him tho it isn’t to us. We of course are incapable of comprehending that “I am” , since every thing we know takes place in the time of succeeding seconds, one following another. God on the other hand is very simple, meaning that there is no time for God, but just the “now”.

But that is way over our heads.

God knows all but does not experience time. Time is a necessity of mortality.

The whole God evil problem is one that has consumed many people. Evil is of course the opposition of God’s will. Thus, God cannot perform evil since he cannot do anything that is opposite of His will (ie His will is defined as perfectly not evil).

In His perfect goodness and wisdom, God chose to impart to us the ability to decide whether we should follow His will or not. This of course opened the possibility to us doing evil - ie choosing not to do His will.

Some have argued that by giving us the ability to choose, God is somehow responsible for evil. Technically speaking, this is true (although, by definition, evil is the opposition of God), but we must realize that ultimately our state of creation is infinitely better as a result of this. This is to say, it is infinitely better that God chose to give us the ability to come know and love Him by our own free will rather than being forced to do so by God. God’s love extends to us so deeply that He will allow us to choose our own destiny. Thus, a sinner who dies in a state of grave sin, will be allowed to go to hell because he has chosen to reject God. The desire of the sinner is to not have a relationship with God. God, is His perfect love, then honors the wishes of this sinner and does not force him to have a relationship

Of course people have argued whether this is better than forcing all of mankind into assuming a relationship with God - which God is certainly capable of doing. We can be sure that this is not the case because this is not what God has chosen to do. Thus, the better choice must be the choice that God made.

As a final note, God’s desire is that we love and follow Him, but He will not force anyone into doing so. He will supply us with all the food we need to survive, but won’t force us to eat, so to speak.

God is omniscient, i.e., all knowing and his knowledge is infinite and perfect. This is a dogma of the catholic faith and it can be found all over in Holy Scripture.

Discerning God’s positive and permissive will

Jim Gontis, director of religious education for the Diocese of Harrisburg, Pa., explained, “Because God is infinitely good and has no evil within him, he can only will that which is good and holy.”

That’s why events such as the Crucifixion can’t fall into the category of God’s ideal will. They can, however, be understood to be part of his permissive will, which broadly defined, is everything that happens in the world.

“God’s permissive will is what he allows,” said Gontis. “If he didn’t allow it, it wouldn’t happen.”

That’s true on multiple levels.

God’s Will

The active will of God regards what is in perfect accord with the perfect goodness and the order established by God. For instance, the active will of God would be that Adam and Eve remain perfectly obedient to Him, and never have sinned. The passive will of God regards what God will allow or tolerate what is less than good or perfect, for instance, the act of disobedience on the part of Adam and Eve. Why the passive will? Because God endowed created persons–angelic and human–with free will, and in order to allow the exercise of that free will, even for evil, it means that God allows what He Himself would never do, namely, anthing less than what is good and perfect. But ultimately, God makes evil an occasion for an even greater good, so His permissive will is not without merit. In the case of the sin of Adam and Eve, the greater good has been the Incarnation of God as man, which likely would not have happened, had we never sinned against God. Every time God tolerates sin or imperfection, it is by His permissive will. Not that God loves sin or imperfection, but He loves us, and will work with us–up to a point–to rise from sin to redemption, and from evil to good. Calvin and some others fail to understand permissive will, and fall into the trap of assigning all causes to God. Ultimately, it makes God the author of evil, which cannot be.

Catholic Encyclopedia: Evil

There is practically a general agreement of authorities as the nature of evil, some allowance being made for varying modes of expression depending on a corresponding variety of philosophical presuppositions. But on the question of the origin of evil there has been, and is a considerable diversity of opinion. The problem is strictly a metaphysical one; i.e. it cannot be solved by a mere experimental analysis of the actual conditions from which evil results. The question, which Schopenhauer has called “the punctum pruriens of metaphysics”, is concerned not so much with the various detailed manifestations of evil in nature, as with the hidden and underlying cause which has made these manifestations possible or necessary; and it is at once evident that enquiry in a region so obscure must be attended with great difficulty, and that the conclusions reached must, for the most part be of a provisional and tentative character. No system of philosophy has ever succeeded in escaping from the obscurity in which the subject is involved; but it is not too much to say that the Christian solution offers, on the whole, fewer difficulties, and approaches more nearly to completeness than any other. The question may be stated thus. Admitting that evil consists in a certain relation of man to his environment, or that it arises in the relation of the component parts of the totality of existence to one another, how comes it that though all are alike the results of a universal cosmic process, this universal agency is perpetually at war with itself, contradicting and thwarting its own efforts in the mutual hostility of its progeny? Further, admitting that metaphysical evil in itself may be merely nature’s method, involving nothing more than a continual redistribution of the material elements of the universe, human suffering and wrongdoing still and out as essentially opposed to the general scheme of natural development, and are scarcely to be reconciled in thought with any conception of unity or harmony in nature. To what, then, is the evil of human life, physical and moral, to be attributed as its cause? But when the universe is considered as the work of an all-benevolent and all-powerful Creator, a fresh element is added to the problem. If God is all-benevolent, why did He cause or permit suffering? If He is all-Powerful, He can be under no necessity of creating or permitting it; and on the other hand, if He is under any such necessity, He cannot be all-powerful. Again, if God is absolutely good, and also omnipotent, how can He permit the existence of moral evil? We have to enquire, that is to say, how evil has come to exist, and what is its special relation to the Creator of the universe.

This is not a Catholic book and will not impart proper Catholic Truth to you. Please do seek out Catholic books with ecclesiastical approbation first.

Even though God knows everything we will do in our lives from beginning to end even before He created us, God is not the author of the evil of moral fault and sin. Sin is our own doing and a misuse of our free will.

Most people seem to forget that God (and the Angels, and the Satan, etc) are outside of the constraints of our universe and therefore are not subject to time as we understand it. There is nothing for God to “watch” so to speak…

Are you saying that foreknowledge makes free will impossible-that if God knows the future then we’re morally irresponsible beings, but if He doesn’t then we aren’t?

God has given mankind free will. There can be no expression of love without free will. God knows that some will freely choose not to love Him and thereby be unable to have the Beatific Vision. God knew, as was expressed by Jesus, that Judas was destined to fall, and it would have been better were he not born.

Matthew 26 24 The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed: it were better for him, if that man had not been born.

John 17 11 And now I am not in the world, and these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep them in thy name whom thou has given me; that they may be one, as we also are. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in thy name. Those whom thou gavest me have I kept; and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition, that the scripture may be fulfilled. Isaiah 455 I am the Lord, and there is none else: there is no God, besides me: I girded thee, and thou hast not known me:
6 That they may know who are from the rising of the sun, and they who are from the west, that there is none besides me. I am the Lord, and there is none else:
7 I form the light, and create darkness, I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord that do all these things.

  1. God must be outside of space and time because he is not of space and time.
  2. Time is only a measurement of the action of matter and energy.
  3. God sees everything that exists materially as it happens including all the choices we make.
  4. As a necessary function of God when creating creatures that will partake in His divine life , we have been given free-will.
  5. Our free will is not limited by God’s knowledge because our acts, while free, already exist in God’s reality.
  6. The suffering bit should be addressed in a different realm dedicated to the problem of evil and suffering.

Peter Kreeft does very well with both. I even believe he has free podcasts on both topics if memory serves me right.

I hope you don’t mind if I share the following which I believe may help -

I hope this has helped

God Bless

Thank you for reading

This also brings up ‘eternity’…we all know when we die, we are going to one of 2 places for eternity, of course, we think of eternity as a never ending succession of minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day and so on, but this is not the case in the afterlife. Just as God is in a place where time does not exist, so there really is no future in this place, we will be there as well when we die, therefore, eternity wont be anything like what we think it will be, this is what I predict anyway.

Its also interesting that many say God does not actually create evil, but he does allow it, everytime he ALLOWS satan to do one thing or another, a good analogy for us would be, lets say a husband kills his wife, he is definitely guilty of murder…another husband has some other person come up to him, asking permission to kill his wife, now, if the man agreed and allowed this person to kill her, he is JUST AS guilty as the killer, the only difference is who is doing the act, but knowingly allowing evil to commence is just as bad as pulling the trigger.

Which sinner’s receive permission from God to sin?
Your analogy is horribly inept.

Saint Paul wrote about two vessels in his letter to the Romans. You should maybe read that before you read the book you mentioned in the op. One of the vessels is a good vessel and one is not a good vessel.

I like to summarize good and evil and free will like this:

If you carry out your will in your interest and not in God’s interest you fall victim to pride; you will then be prone to inherit all of the capital sins to a higher degree as you progress. Your progression will further isolate you from God and his love, and you will lose your love for others. You will increase in vanity and your inheritance will be from Satan, and Satan will rule over you.

If you carry out your will in interest with God’s will you fall into grace; you will be prone to more virtue as you progress. Your progression will enhance your relationship with God and his love, and your love for others will increase. You will increase in humility and your inheritance will be with God the Father, and Jesus will rule over you.

Satan receives permission from God everytime he does anything.

We’re all permitted to do evil-that’s what makes free will…free.

Satan did not get God’s permission to rebel.

I think he was referring to Job. I would not use Job as a source for what heaven is like or God’s relationship with Satan is like. It wasn’t written to instruct on that matter.

God permits the exercise of free will – that is, he permits people to take actions that are outside of what is good and moral. That goes for angels and humans. But permitting people to act on their own is different than giving the okay to take that action.

Actually he was not referring to Job. He explicitly named Satan.

Couple of thoughts

This is what God desires for all mankind [1 Timothy 2:4](“https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1 Timothy+2:4&version=RSVCE”) .

The way that happens is to know and love Jesus, who suffered massively for us so that we could be sons and daughters of the almighty, and through His passion death and resurrection from the dead, made it possible for our sins to be forgiven before God the father. And what God wants from us, is our unconditional and unwavering love and obedience to Him.

Unfortunately, Jesus who will judge the living and the dead, looking ahead for the entire human race, tells us, in scripture, that because of our choices in life we make, inspite of ALL the warnings, most of humanity as a result, goes to hell because they just won’t take salvation seriously. They don’t fear God which is the beginning of wisdom, and they don;'t fear hell. So guess what?

Mt 7:14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

May I suggest,
*]read scripture
*]and “A Father who keeps His promises” by Scott Hahn.
*]And any of Schott Hahn’s books or youtube videos

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.