1. After watching a few debates and reading one and a half books (God? A Debate... and On Guard), one big argument Craig gives against the "suffering making God improbable" issue is him saying that it is suffering that apparently helps stimulate growth in Christianity and can help make people better in the long run. While I believe that to be true, I am still left with the question.... Why does that happen? In the way that out of nothing, nothing comes, shouldn't I also expect that out of natural evil (suffering), evil comes? This idea has plagued me since before I even knew about Craig. Why is it that the best way to grow (and to grow the fastest) spiritually is the way that causes the most pain? The way to be the most good... Is to undergo the most evils. Why couldn't the path of being most good be filled with.... I don't know... Good things? I am probably going to get an answer saying that I am asking this question with the attitude that God's purpose in life is for me to happy instead of knowing Him, and that it is my disappointment that drives this question. You are probably right, but that won't help much to alleviate this itch. Even if someone were to explain how the taking in of evils and turning them into goods worked (which would be nice to know), my ultimate desire for this question is knowing why that had to be that way in the first place. Alas, I fear that might remain a mystery.
2. The way I worded this question probably made it confusing, but it was the only way I knew how to word it. I'll hopefully help by giving an example(s). I'll start be asking this question. Is free will only free will when we consciously practice it? A huge example would be a small child who is just now being taught about Jesus. Of course his natural inclination is to accept Christ due to his emotions and psychological state. Even well known atheists such as Richard Dawkins was (supposedly) a believer until he was 15. Rather than free will, it seems the children simply act on feelings, and if they really wanted to practice their right to choose they would consciously go against those feelings and reject Christ (I am in no way saying that is a good idea I am only bringing that up for the sake of the argument). It feels strange that for a God to cherish the idea of free will so strongly, yet when it comes to the biggest question in someone's life (accepting Christ or not), they are more inclined IT SEEMS to me to accept because of their emotions that God put into them in the first place. So.... It seems if it were to be truly and 100% free will, then we should have absolutely no influence thrust upon us whatsoever other than our own decision making to make our life decisions. Craig's debate with Millican comes to mind as I type. Millican says (and I paraphrase immensely) to the audience that if he were to give everyone the equation 2+2=? and tell them that everyone who gets it wrong gets excruciating pain, they would pick the right answers (which is obviously 4). Now he ironically goes and says the opposite of where my thought process is going and says that does not invalidate free will in any way or something along those lines (pardon me I am speaking from foggy memory). I, however, ask... Why doesn't it? AT BEST, I think it makes free will a foggy and ambiguous concept when you are to be controlled under your own feelings and desires.... Desires like not wanting to be in pain.Anyways... Hopefully I can get some good answers and feedback. These have been killing me for a long time. Thank you.
suffering that apparently helps stimulate growth
Why does that happen?
It seems if it were to be truly and 100% free will, then we should have absolutely no influence thrust upon us whatsoever
The assertion of the probabilistic problem of evil is that the existence of evil makes it improbable for God to exist. The reasons given for what makes it improbable for God to co-exist with evil are that:1. If God did exist, He would prefer a world with no evil. 1a. If God is loving He wouldn't want people and animals to suffer.2. If God did exist, He would not have any good reasons to allow evil to exist. 2a. There is so much gratuitous evil in the world such that it is improbable that there is a good reason for its existenceThe assumption with point 1 is that God's purpose for us is to simply live in blissful lives. This is presumptuous on the sceptic and far from the truth. God having created us as free willed moral agents demands that we are morally responsible and pursue to know Him. To know God and to be morally responsible entails having to learn obedience. Such a process is never going to be smooth for a creature endowed with free will. You then ask the question, "Why couldn't the path of being most good be filled with.... I don't know... Good things?" The problem here is that you assume that God could have achieved His purposes another way. If there were only good things, as you put it, how would you learn to show mercy, compassion, sympathy, generosity, justice etc. Only in a world infused with evil and suffering can we learn to build those character traits.Point 2 carries an enormous burden of proof for the sceptic. How does the sceptic know that God does not have morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil to happen? Some of the examples Dr. Craig uses are merely suggestions of what these morally sufficient reasons could be. He doesn't claim that they are the actual reasons but merely posits them as potential reasons. The key thing here is that as long as it is possible that there are morally sufficient reasons, then it is reasonable to conclude that God has morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil to happen.
Let me start by defining free will. Free will, per the Oxford Online Dictionary, is simply the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion. To paraphrase, it is simply the ability to autonomously make a decision that is not externally determined. The key bit is the one that I have placed in bold. Understanding external determination is very important. External determination does not include things such as duress and influence. For example if a person puts a gun to your head and tells you to jump off a cliff to certain death, if you jump off the cliff, your decision to jump off the cliff was not externally determined. You were simply forced to make the decision but you were not externally determined to make the decision. You still could have chosen to be shot by refusing to jump off the cliff. An act that is externally determined, is one that occurs as a result of a process that is outside of your free will such as instinct and physiologically determined actions such as the five senses. You don't make a free will decision to breath, you just breath by default. Therefore the scenario of threatening people with excrutiating pain if they get 2+2 wrong does not disprove free will. I am assuming in the scenario the answer to the equation is also supplied. In that case people have the option to either give the right answer (it's already been supplied and they simply need to give it) and not suffer pain or give the wrong answer (a willful decision on their part since they know it's wrong anyway) and suffer pain. Either way they exercise their free will.