Must God Create the Best Available Creatures?

Philosophia Christi 23 (2):271-289 (2021)
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J. L. Mackie distinguished himself in twentieth-century philosophy by presenting an important objection to the traditional free will explanation for why God would allow evil: If evil is due to the free choice of creatures, why wouldn’t an omnipotent God simply create free creatures who would choose better? Alvin Plantinga, in turn, distinguished himself with his critique of Mackie. Plantinga’s main point is that Mackie made a mistake in assuming that it is within the power of omnipotence fully to create just any possible world. However, Mackie made a second questionable assumption which Plantinga does not critique, and which I aim to clarify in this article. Mackie assumes that a God, as construed by classical theistic belief, who could create either of two people—one of whom would freely choose right and the other of whom would freely choose wrong—must create the one who would freely choose right. This assumption motivates Plantinga’s own account of trans-world depravity, which suggests that every free creature God might have created would have sinned had God created them. I consider Plantinga’s suggestion highly improbable. More importantly, under Mackie’s assumption, if there is at least one possible creature who would choose rightly, then there is no possibility of God ever allowing any other creature to sin, which would seem to be incompatible with their having any free will. This version of the paper does have the same pagination as the published version. Permission has been granted from the Editor of Philosophia Christi to upload this contribution according to Philosophy Documentation Center terms of use. Learn more about the Journal by going to wwwepsociety. org/philchristi.
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