Why not create a free world in which none go to hell?

I don’t have a conceptual problem with hell, but I was posed the following question by a friend (it’s a bit like the “problem of evil;” and nor do I have a problem with that):

If God is omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent (i.e., omnimax), then He desires that all men be saved, He knows before creating them which will freely choose heaven and which will freely choose hell, and He has the power to create only those men who will go to heaven without destroying free will. So, why is it not a logical necessity that He do these things?

My immediate response was that the existence of evil people who go to hell effects greater good than the nonexistence thereof. To me this seems the necessity.

Nevertheless, this is not a sufficient response because it is simply an appeal to God’s inscrutability; there is no way that I can rationally prove what I’ve stated. All I can say is that, because I have faith, it must be the case. And there is a second problem: it seems to say that the cost of at least one soul in hell is worthwhile if some other good is achieved by that person’s life. Yet, in total, the good needs to outweigh the bad, and even eternal life doesn’t appear to outweigh eternal damnation.

Are there some better responses to the initial question?

Thanks and God bless!

Well, the first thing that came to my mind was that some of those people who have chosen/will choose Hell are also involved in creating some of those of who have chosen/will choose Heaven. God does just will each of us into creation-- He made us to cooperate with Him in the creation of new life. By not allowing those who would choose Hell to be created, He would also be disallowing some of those who would choose Heaven to be created.

From peterkreeft.com/topics/hell.htm:

…Hell follows from two other doctrines: heaven and free will. If there is a heaven, there can be a not-heaven. And if there is free will, we can act on it and abuse it. Those who deny hell must also deny either heaven (as does Western secularism) or free will (as does Eastern pantheism). …

Keep in mind that even those who reject God’s graces are selecting a good, albeit a lesser good, and a good that does not fill the God-shaped hole in our heart that we are meant to fill. Those who select hell are really choosing self. While we are good, being created by God, we are a horrible, horrible substitute for God.

At the root of the question is really, “Why does God create at all, knowing that creatures must necessarily be less than God?”

The short answer is that God wants us to share in his Goodness.

I agree with all of this, and I’m sure my friend would too. Free will allows for hell. Yet this does not answer the question of why God would create people who will go to hell when He can sustain free will while creating only those people who will choose heaven.

I agree with all of this, and I’m sure my friend would too. Free will allows for hell. Yet this does not answer the question of why God would create people who will go to hell when He can sustain free will while creating only those people who will choose heaven.

It’s the same question as why doesn’t God just annihilate all who are in hell. Remember what I mentioned earlier. They ARE choosing a good (self), but it is merely a horrible substitute for God.

As a poor analogy, although there are different levels of blessedness in heaven, depending on how people responded to God’s grace, that in itself is not a good reason to annihilate the less holy ones.

Followed to its absurd conclusion, you’d eventually come to a God who refuses to create at all.

Hello Alterum,

One cannot love without the option to choose not to love. Through free will, God gives man the capability to love. Through free will, hatred, sin and damnation also flow. The only thing in existance, worth allowing hatred, sin and damnation for, is Love.

Please visit: Choices Of The Heart

NIV 1JO 5:3****This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.NIV JOH 14:15

**“If you love me, you will obey what I command.”****NAB JOH 15:22 **

"If I had not come to them and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; now, however, their sin cannot be excused. To hate me is to hate my Father. Had I not performed such works among them as no one has ever done before, they would not be guilty of sin; but as it is, they have seen, and they go on hating me and my Father."NAB DEU 7:9
"Understand, then, that the LORD, your God, is God indeed, the faithful God who keeps his merciful covenant down to the thousandth generation toward those who love him and keep his commandments, but who repays with destruction the person who hates him; he does not dally with such a one, but makes him personally pay for it. You shall therefore carefully observe the commandments, the statutes and decrees which I enjoin on you today."
NAB DEU 30:19

"I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:** I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life,** then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him."NAB JOH 14:21
"He who obeys the commandments he has from me is the man who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father. I too will love him and reveal myself to him."NAB JOH 15:9

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Live on in my love. You will live in my love if you keep my commandments, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and live in his love. All this I tell you that my joy may be yours and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.

I understand this. I must not be phrasing the question correctly. God can still allow freedom of the will (and the *ability *to choose evil) while only creating those people whom He knows, by His omniscience, will choose good. Yet He doesn’t (necessarily) do this. I need justification.

If God is omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent (i.e., omnimax), then He desires that all men be saved, He knows before creating them which will freely choose heaven and which will freely choose hell, and He has the power to create only those men who will go to heaven without destroying free will. So, why is it not a logical necessity that He do these things?

There is a big problem in stating that God chooses not to create those he foreknows will be “evil”.
Firstly if God foreknows someone, he actually and activily already loves them (remember there is no potency but only act in God). And one could argue that the active manifestation of that love is primarily the creation of that person. Hence if he wishes not to create them he is choosing not to love them. (You can only love those who exist, otherwise the best one can do is love the memory or image of that person). So the proposition actually does not convey a more loving God but a lesser one at best. That is why hell is neccessary, God cannot destroy a person because it is contrary to his love for that person. Some even argue that part of our likeness to God is our indestructability, i.e that we are made eternal (the soul anyways).


If God created only good people, then how would they know what evil is (there would be none in the world), in order to choose love instead?

I see problems with the argumentation of an essential necessity for evil in order for goodness to be known. It heads in the direction of making evil by necessity co-existent and co-eternal with God’s goodness.

Thank you for your answer.

OK - let me re-phrase. If there were no evil in the world, how could you choose it?

This is a good answer, thanks!

But what do you mean by saying that there is no potency in God?

I’ll try to explain using St Thomas Aquinas summa (or shorter summa like mine)… u can read about it there.

Chapter 9 - Simplicity of God

A similar course of reasoning clearly shows that the first mover [God] must be simple. For any composite being must contain two factors that are related to each other as potency to act. But in the first mover, which is althogether immobile, [that is nothing external to itself moves the first mover], all combination of potency and act is impossible, because whatever is in potency is, by that very fact, movable…

Chapter 11 Identity of essence and existence in God

Likewise, we have proved that God is pure act without any admixture of potentiallity. Accordingly, His essence must be the ultimate act in Him; for any act that has bearing on the ultimate act, is in potency to that ultimate act. But that ultimate act is existence itself, ipsum esse. For since all motion is an issuing forth from potency to act, the ultimate act must be that toward which all motion tends; and since natural motion tends to what is naturally desired, the ultimate act must be that which all desire. This is existence. Consequently the divine essence, which is pure and ultimate act, must be existence itself, ipsum esse.

Summary …whatever has the potential to exist in God already and ACTively exists in him perfectly for all time…Example he cannot increase in love as more people are created; all the love for all people that will exist already exists in him in pure act and not potentially as something that will come out later on in time.

Hope it helps (I myself had to read the shorter summa 3-4 times before I got it)


Satan chose evil prior to evil having existed! How did he manage that?..well because in reality evil is not so much a choosing but rather a rejecting. And the only thing required to reject is God therefore he is the only required to exist. So man chose evil because good [God] existed and they didn’t want it[Him].

As a side note:
Love validates itself by its own goodness. Hence God does not need anything external to himself to vaidate his love. Love is unconditional precisely because nothing external is required to dignify its existence. Hence goodness is chosen precisely because it is good not because it contradicts or opposes evil.


Something else I wish to add is that God created the universe precisely as he did so that you and me would exist. That is, we are not some random accidental consequence of God having chosen to create mankind. We were pre-destined to exist, for God there is no accidental children.

Ultimetly God’s providence (pre-destination) and freewill co-exist simultaneously … it is a mystery so can’t go too deep here…but the main thing is that God cares about the who much more than about how many will be saved and he is bound by his own love to give all humans the opportunity to experience the ultimate good, himself.

Many think non-existence is neither good nor bad it is just nothing…once one puts some thought into it(specially seeing it from God’s side) one comes to the realisation that non-existence is evil and destroying someone’s existence is worse (eg people saying God should destroy ppl in hell as an act of love).

Plantinga’s Free Will Defense is generally accepted as the counterargument to your your friend’s argument (which, itself, is based on Mackie’s Evil and Omnipotence).

See here for the details.


My immediate reaction to this is that for those people, all destined to be saved, knew that they were destined to be saved, the knowledge that they were saved no matter what would also take away their free will. Not to mention tempt them ferociously (after all, their behavior doesn’t matter, they are saved!)

And there doesn’t seem to be any way to keep this knowledge of their guaranteed salvation from them, without God lying to them.

So far as we are aware, not even Satan has asked to be destroyed. In spite of losing God, there may be by His mercy consolations in hell that we are not aware of. Yet these consolations might never mitigate the horror of losing heaven. We cannot know, nor does it help us either way to know.

Just by coincidence, I’ve been reading St. Faustina’s diary, and the first thing I read last night after logging off here was paragraph 180. St. Faustina speaks of God revealing his “attributes” to her. She says:

“The third attribute is love and mercy…It unites the creature with the Creator. This immense love and abyss of mercy are made known in the Incarnation of the Word and in the Redemption…the greatest of all God’s attributes.”

So —
Mercy is an attribute of God.
God never changes.
Mercy is therefore NOT merely a response to evil, since it is a permanent attribute of God.

Perhaps to love God as strongly as God wants us to love him, we need to avail ourselves of his mercy. And if we were perfect “never do evil” sort of folks, we wouldn’t need any mercy. So our sin and God’s mercy leads us to greater love of God.

Just some thoughts.

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