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The Question of the Best of All Possible Universes

By Hal Flemings

Did God create the best of all possible universes? Some philosophers and liberal theologians would argue that if there is indeed a God that He did not make the best choice. Among other suggestions, they would argue that God could have created a universe in which the only choices were "good" choices, one inextricably linked to correct behavior and optimum efficiency. On the surface, this seems to have some merit.

The problem with this alternative is that although it may stand high at the top for efficiency and righteousness, it is qualitatively less than the one that the Creator produced. The reasons may not be immediately obvious in view of the centuries of sickness, war, aging, discrimination, hatred etc. that we can cite that have been our experience here on the third planet from the sun. If free will HAD NOT been introduced, then it could be cogently argued that the best universe was not created. Once that ingredient was introduced, then the best of all universes emerged. The best of all possible universes would be one in which free moral agents chose of their own volition to serve God and do his bidding--with the opportunity of not choosing to do so. The risk peculiar to this model is that while it permits the existence of the best of all possible universes, it simultaneously permits the worst of all possible universes; it almost works like the principle of equal action and equal reaction. As long as angels and men had choices, then no matter what choices that they made they were free to make contrary choices. That kind of freedom introduces a quality not found in other models.

In conclusion, a universe where the agents were made to do good all the time may be the most efficient and righteous but a universe where the agents CHOSE to do good of their own with the possibility of not would be eminently better because the choice to do good comes from within and not from without.


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