I've seen lots of exploration and answers to the nature of free will and how this gives rise to the possibility of choosing evil because choosing good is meaningless if it's the only choice to make. But this leaves me with questions, one in particular that I'll ask after some brief explanation, followed by the best answer I can muster:

I understand that Adam and Eve were made wholly good, but naive to the knowledge of good and evil so it's understandable that Lucifer/Satan could trick them fairly easily as he did. Lucifer was also created wholly good, and it seems unlikely that a being with the knowledge of good and evil would choose not to be wholly good as that's not a wholly good thing to do, it's a bad thing to do.

Question: How is it possible that a wholly good being, which by definition would never choose evil, chose evil? It seems like a logical contradiction, I just can't get my head around that without invoking the non-answer of "it's a mystery".

If angels don't suffer like humans do, i.e. if pain and emotional torment aren't a thing for them then it's entirely possible that they might make their choices in a different way, i.e. there are no safeguards to keep them from choosing evil. By contrast humans can suffer, but until we experience pain first hand we don't learn to fear it and so I can see how God would use evil to teach us so that when he makes us wholly good again we'll know and fear choosing evil, so we'll still have meaningful free will but we won't choose evil despite it being a choice. (I will call this "free-bias").

Because God can't create evil beings he'd have to have some way to introduce evil to wholly good beings with complete free will to teach them and introduce a bias to them that they choose for themselves due to experience, had he just created the angels with a free will that was already biased then that bias wouldn't be their choice and so they'd have an incomplete free will - God doesn't create beings like this, he doesn't need slaves. (I will call this innate-bias).

The raises more questions, but I don't expect answers to these, I'm only mentioning them to share them in context: Wouldn't this mean that God basically knowingly made beings (angels) that would sacrifice themselves to achieve what God could never do otherwise without creating evil himself? And if so is it fair? Is fairness dependent on the nature of the being perhaps rather than being an absolute for all beings?

Thanks :)

God be with you!


The notion of a "wholly good being" never choosing evil depends upon two prerequisites. 1) That there always being a clear choice between "good", on the one hand, and "evil" on the other; and 2) everything is either intrinsically good or intrinsically evil for everyone in the same way, and at the same time. This just plain does not hold up in the real world. Consider on the one hand, a person who grows cactus commercially, and a person who raises catfish. The former needs little water, the latter a great bit, so the conditions that are "good" for one are "bad" for another. And someone wanting to dispose of a pile of old wood by burning it will consider a calm day to be a good thing, while the same weather conditions on the same day might not be good for a person who makes his money providing glider lessons. Finally, sometimes the choice is not between good and evil, but blessedly sometimes, between "better" and "merely good", and unfortunately at other times, between "bad" and "worse". And how is the determination made as to whether some choice is good or evil made? Is it on the basis of the intent of the choice, or the consequences of the option chosen? Red Sovine's song Phantom 309 is a story about a truck driver who deliberately chooses to have an accident which will kill himself. Sounds like a bad choice, right? But if you know the song, he chose to immolate himself instead of colliding with a school bus full of children. So what might be evil in one context becomes an act of love ("Greater love hath no man") in another.

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  • That's the relativity of the moral value of the action based on circumstances, to choose evil means to know that something is bad already before choosing to do it and also doing so where there is some relatively better action to take instead. Evil is choosing the worse option deliberately in full knowledge that it's wrong? I'm also curious about the idea that God makes anything less than wholey good things and creatures, does he make relatively good creatures too? – seefree Jun 20 '14 at 6:40
  • It still seems to me that the whole of you query rests upon a foundation that there is only a choice between a set of options that are always, everywhere, and for everyone, intrinsically good, and a set of options that are always, everywhere, and for everyone, intrinsically bad, and that it is always instantly evident to everyone which things are good, and which are evil. – brasshat Jun 20 '14 at 10:44

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