What God Could Have Made

Southern Journal of Philosophy 43 (3):355-376 (2005)
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Plantinga grants that there are possible worlds with freedom and no moral evil, but he argues that it is possible that although God is omnipotent, it is not within God’s power to actualize a world containing freedom and no moral evil. Plantinga believes that the atheologian assumes that it is necessary that it is within an omnipotent God’s power to actualize these better worlds, but in fact, Plantinga argues, this is demonstrably not the case. Since so many philosophers have regarded Plantinga’s Free Will Defense to be a definitive solution to the logical problem of evil, the focus of the debate of the problem of evil has changed from the logical problem of evil to the evidential problem of evil. But we believe that the atheist tossed in the towel too early, and the theist celebrated victory too early. We will argue that Plantinga’s argument does not succeed. Mackie, incidentally, thought the same. He wrote “But how could there be logically contingent states of affairs, prior to the creation and existence of any created beings with free will, which an omnipotent god would have to accept and put up with? This suggestion is simply incoherent.” In this essay we argue that Plantinga fails to demonstrate that it is possible that God is omnipotent, and it is not within God’s power to actualize a world containing freedom but lacking moral evil. Thus Plantinga does not refute Mackie’s response to the Free Will Defense, and the point of Mackie’s question “Why could God not have made men such that they always freely choose the good?” still stands unrefuted.



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Heimir Geirsson
Iowa State University
Michael Losonsky
Colorado State University

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