C.S. Lewis – “Free Will & the Problem of Evil” (Video + Transcript)

*For the record I do not agree with the video uploader’s views.


“…That raises problems.

Is this state of affairs in accordance to God’s Will or not?

If it is, “He is a strange God” you will say. And if it is not, “How can anything happen contrary to the Will of a Being with Absolute Power?”

But anybody who has been in authority knows how a thing can be in accordance with your will in one way and not in another.

It may be quite sensible for a mother to say to the children, “I’m not go and make you tidy the school room every night. You’ve got to learn to keep it tidy on your own.” Then she goes up one night and finds the teddy bear, and the ink, and the french grammar all lying in the great.

That is against her will. She would prefer the children to be tidy, but on the other hand, it is her will which has left the children free to be untidy.

The same thing arises in any regiment or trade union or school. You make a thing voluntary, and then half the people do not do it. That is not what you will, but your will has made it possible.

It is probably the same in the universe. God created things which had free will – that means creatures which can go either wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong.

I cannot.

If a thing is free to be good, it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible.

Why then did God give them free will?

Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any Love or Goodness or Joy worth having.

A world of automata – of creatures that worked like machines would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely voluntarily united to Him and to each other. In an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water – and for that, they must be free.

Of course God knew what would happen if they used their freedom the wrong way. Apparently He thought it worth the risk. Perhaps we feel inclined to disagree with Him, but there is a difficulty about disagreeing with God – He is the source from which all your reasoning power comes. You could not be right and He wrong anymore than a stream can rise higher than its own source. When you are arguing against Him, you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all. It is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on.

If God thinks this state of war in the universe a price worth paying for free will, that is, for making a live world in which creatures can do real good or harm and something of real importance can happen instead of a toy world which only moves when He pulls the strings, then we may take it – it is worth paying.

When we have understood about free will, we shall see how silly to ask, as somebody once asked me, ‘Why did God make a creature of such rotten stuff that it went wrong?’

The better stuff a creature is made of, the cleverer and stronger and freer it is, then the better it will be when it goes right, but also the worse it will be if it goes wrong.”

-C.S. Lewis


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