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New academic study on free will theology

Gregory S. Paul

Since the onset of monotheism that proposes there is one ideal creator, religion has been faced with a difficult problem. One that may be contributing to its ongoing decline in an increasingly secular population. If there is a perfect creator, then how could it have created such an imperfect globe? The primary means to explain this paradox is Free Will Theodicy, and the related Best of All Possible World’s Hypothesis. These arguments propose that the fair and flawless God wants only those who freely choose to reside in Heaven to dwell in his impeccable paradise. To not interfere with mature human free will God cannot intervene with earthly affairs lest he bias the results and reduce human freedom, so items bad as well as good occur. It is, therefore, not possible to create a better world. While internally logical, there is a large problem that, remarkably, no one had taken a look at. That is the scale of the issue of premature death from a statistical perspective. The issue has now been examined in detail in groundbreaking papers in the academic journals Philosophy and Theology, and in updated and expanded form in two sections in Essays of the Philosophy of Humanism which has now been published in its entirety (; The results show that the number of preborn and children who have died from natural causes is so large that most of those conceived and born have not been able to grow up to become adults that can express their free will regarding their eternal fate. That means that either the prematurely deceased are barred from Heaven (as some conservative Christian believe but most theists think is too harsh to be correct), or they are put into the divine paradise without having made an informed choice to do so. Because both possibilities overturn Free Will Theodicy, theologians do not currently have a cogent and easily understood explanation for the imperfections of the planet we dwell on. Theists therefore should take into consideration the problem of mass premature death if they are to offer a persuasive solution to the long-standing paradox that seems to be decreasing popular theism.


Gregory S. Paul
[email protected]

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Religion News Service or Religion News Foundation.

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