I was watching a debate entitled “God: supreme being or imaginary friend?” hosted by Catholic Answers and it was between Trent Horn of Catholic Answers and Dan Barker of the Freedom from Religion Foundation. During Dan Barker’s opening statement, he made a reference to 9/11 and actually went against the rules of the debate by directly asking Trent “if you had prior knowledge that 9/11 would happen, would you feel obligated to prevent it?” Trent initially hesitated because he was aware that answering would go beyond the agreed format of the debate, but then answered “yes, it would be my moral duty to try to prevent it.” Dan went on to say that it was no less reasonable to expect God to do the same. Unfortunately Trent did not get a chance to address this moral theological question directly but I wanted to pose it here to see if anyone else has a solid answer.
God would then be interfering with free will and then we’d all basically be robots.
Not necessarily. Remember when Jonah refused to follow God’s command to preach to the Ninevites and instead ran away on a ship? God sent a storm and a great fish, which frustrated Jonah’s plans and forced Jonah to go back to Nineveh.
In the same way God could have frustrated the terrorist’s plans by, for example, making the terrorists miss their flight, causing the airlines to lose their luggage (with the fertilizers), or by making the flight attendants and passengers more alert and able tackle the terrorists and wrestle their knives away from them. This wouldn’t interfere with their free will or make them robots, it would just frustrate their plans and prevent a tragedy from happening.
I guess probably what Trent might say is 1. God is not bound by moral duty, or 2. God had a reason for allowing this tragedy to happen that we are not aware of. Of course these sound like cop outs (along with the free will argument) and wouldn’t sit well with a typical atheist.