Thursday, March 23, 2023
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If stabbing myself doesnt violate my free will, then God could make it be equally painful to stab someone else without having it violate my free will

Basically this is another take on the Problem of Evil.

God doesn’t have to remove the choice to do evil things. He could just make it have consequences to do those evil things. I am using stabbing people as an example of evil things, but you can use any action where doing it to yourself causes pain as a proxy. This wouldn’t cover all cases of evil, but it would make a pretty big dent.

An all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing God would seek to minimize evil and suffering in the world. The free will defense is commonly used to explain why humans are allowed to commit crimes anyway, but if the pain of hurting myself doesn’t violate my free will, then if I experience the same pain on hurting someone else, that shouldn’t violate my free will either.

And if the pain of stabbing myself DOES violate free will, then we see that God is already willing to compromise on free will in some areas, so why not others?

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Mary Johnson
Mary Johnson
I have been reading and writing for over 20 years. My passion is reading and I would like to someday write a novel. I enjoy exercise and shopping.


  1. You realize that all evil things do have negative consequences? Stabbing self -> pain. Alcohol -> psychological and liver issues. Lying -> guilt and/or getting caught. etc

  2. An interesting question.

    Interestingly enough, anger seems to be made in large part of a desire to make another feel the pain they caused you and others you love, and this is part of the point of punishment. Perhaps that’s what Christ might have been getting at with “living by the sword” comment: that those who cause suffering to others will come to receive suffering as a consequence.

    Needless to say, I think a more general question to ask here would be “why did God make it so that we would have to communicate our thoughts and feelings through a physical medium?” And I think the answer to that question is because this symbolizes the interdependence of the persons of the Holy Trinity.

  3. Yeh but you evolved. God granted free will in letting this evolution process play out. Genesis 1 says the land brought forth the animals.

    The reason why it hurts you to stab yourself but it others probably has more to deal with what helps us survive as a species. And it helps us to feel pain when we stab ourselves but not others.

    The point is we can’t expect God to intervene in every aspect of the human condition. I accept many theists get that wrong too.

    Besides we can stop pain to ourselves. You could take some drugs and then you could stab yourself to hearts content. The freedom is whether you want to.

    Finally most of us do feel pain in we stabbed others. At least psychologically (and we can have a whole discussion whether that is better or worse than physical pain).

  4. More generally, if there are people who enjoy making others suffer, God could make it so that they don’t enjoy making others suffer. I don’t enjoy making others suffer, and I don’t feel that my free will is impaired as a result of this.

  5. Wouldn’t that just make pain a God in our eyes? If pain your talking about is the same pain that we all experience, then that is all we would go off of because it is a singularity by nature; since, it alerts us through our physical nerve cells. Meaning we all would follow the Holy guidance of the pain we would feel, and that also wouldn’t lead people to God like it would in this present reality. Another problem would be coming to the understanding that the physical realm as we know it would need to be infinite if implemented into our world right now. Since its not so much about the “recognize god” feeling that draws interference, but the “hotwired to do evil” part where we are more inclined to do evil because of the past and our environment. Another point I want to make is that is kind of what the world is now in some ways. We get pain from blasting loud music or pushing to hard when using the restroom. Pain is in the world to outline the upper limit that the physical human body can undergo before causing lasting or permanent damage. I also think that creating this world would violate free will in the sense of stealing the pain and time. For example, if someone stabs someone then the person who stabs would feel the pain of the person who was stabbed meaning the free pain they were supposed to experience didn’t go to them. Violating their free pain. How would you expect people to change in a world that violates free pain? Also some people would like to commit painful acts just to get that feeling and overload a infinite meter indefinitely never truly changing for the good.

  6. From a creator Gods perspective, there is no such thing as evilness or suffering in nature, especially not the way people in general define them.

    A creator God would have created the universe exactly the way he wanted it, exactly as we see it today.

    Evilness and suffering only exists from a human perspective to explain things that are undesirable to us, which obviously varies greatly between individuals, time and place.

    Though no rational, mature adult would use these words in serious conversations to describe things they dislike, being an extremely superficial and ambiguous description of something while not really explaining anything.

    When did you ever seriously use the word “evil” to describe your boss who refused to give you a raise or a big business who avoided paying tax and dumping toxic waste in a lake, knowing in your heart that nobody is actually “evil” in the words true meaning, and that everyone has a, to them, perfectly reasonable explanation for why they act the way they do.

    Ask yourself, did you, at some point in your life, act purely evil on full purpose? Everything you have ever done, you at least tried to do the right thing, to the best of your ability you had then. Right? Because nobody would consciously and on purpose chose to, what appears to them, be the evil thing.

    So, this applies to every other human, ever. Sure, people make mistakes which affect other people. But we’re supposed to be compassionate, understanding, and forgiving towards others and their actions that negatively affect us.

    As for suffering, it is often over used, vastly overstated, wrongly used in place for, and diminishing the meaning of actual physical and mental pain, to the point of its meaning becoming so diluted and watered down that all inconveniences and obstacles in life now counts as suffering.

    Physical and mental pain is curable, necessary for our biological bodies to know what to avoid and what to seek and, if nothing else, is always temporary.

    Do you actually suffer? Or do you just feel sorry for yourself, preventing you from looking for an actual solution to you problems?

  7. I don’t get the free will argument at all. I can know god exists with 100% certainty but still choose not to follow that god. Proof of god’s existence only forces me to acknowledge his existence. It doesn’t force me to worship him.

  8. From a Christian perspective:
    Whats good is what glorifies God, not what’s good for any particular part of his creation. Maybe this glorifies God the most.

    From an atheist perspective:
    Evil things happening to conscious individuals shouldn’t happen. So why do they? Because there is no omnipresent force for good capable of preventing their occurrence under any constraints.

  9. I still get hung up on the thought that there isn’t supposed to be sin in heaven, so does that mean no free will (since free will seems to be so closely connected to sin and harm and crime on earth?). Which then makes me wonder what is the good part of this ‘gift’ of free will here to compensate for the amount of hurt it causes people

  10. The only aspect of free will that matters in regards to the problem of free will is the ability to choose good.

    That ability only truly exists if you can choose not-good.

    If God ensures you won’t choose not-good, you can’t choose not-good. Therefore, you can’t truly choose good.

    There is no middle ground that eliminates the problem of evil, because if it exists, it will be considered a problem.

  11. I think an example that illustrates your point more vividly is that god has removed my free will already. I want to be able to fly but I can’t. I don’t have free will in that regard. God has made it impossible for me to fly no matter how much I want to. What difference is it making it impossible to rape or murder? If he can fix a parameter stopping me defying gravity then he could fix a parameter to stop someone committing rape.

  12. I want to ask theists this:
    In what way does god stopping a murder infringe on the murderers freedom?
    If I am in the situation where I can easily save someone from getting killed and I do it did I infringe on their freedom?
    I don’t think it’s within their freedom to kill. They did not have that right so why is god giving them the right to do it so that “he doesn’t infringe on their free will” what kind of lame excuse is that? God is giving murders, rapists etc the freedom to do whatever they want.
    God is evil, yes by human standards but that’s all we have.
    If it were in our power, we would ban murder not just by law but by physically preventing it.
    It’s just that we do not have the power to enforce such a thing.
    God has but does not so according to our human standards, the only standards we have to make moral judgements, god is evil.
    Or he would be if he was real somehow.

    And of course god does not give a damn about the violation of the freedom/rights/free will of the victims. He won’t intervene to save their freedom/rights/free will.
    He only cares about the freedom of the evil people.

  13. > An all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing God would seek to minimize evil and suffering in the world.

    Predestination doesn’t exist.

    God knows all things in existence, and if He knows a thing it is either shall come to existence or has happened. He doesn’t decided what His subejcts will do, so He is not responsible for people which end up in hellfire.

    God knows, and if He hadn’t created and hadn’t decreed about it, then He doesn’t know.

    God can do anything but He cast rules on Himself, He doesn’t act in erratic behaviour.

    God is all good, but He doesn’t stop Himself from being fair to all acts, there are good acts and there are better acts.

    The 3 notions come from Buddhist teachings define the government of judicial, administrative and legislative parts of never functioning in concordance state.

  14. Physical pain is the simplest way to learn to trust other people. When someone else says [s]he really has to pee, you don’t feel that yourself. So you have an option of either listening and providing the person an appropriate opportunity, or trying to pressure him/her to hold it a while longer. Sometimes it turns out that [s]he can hold it longer than realized. Sometimes it is unnecessary additional suffering. But it’s a really simple way to learn to trust others. Without this for practicing, how on earth are we going to learn to trust each other on far more sophisticated matters, where no one person can become an expert in everything?

    By the time someone wants to stab you, a lot has gone quite wrong. What if the real problem is that we have insufficient interest in competently dealing with the precursors? If I don’t want you to stab me, perhaps I should do enough to make you not want to stab me. So if you’re hungry and I have excess food, I give some to you. If you’re cold and I have excess clothes, I give some to you. Jesus says this is the kind of behavior which makes you one of his disciples. ([Mt 25:31–46](

    P.S. This is what inspired me to write the above:

    >     The doctrine of the fall means that the question of the right practice of relations (ethics) has to be relocated. The ethical question cannot be equated with possession of the knowledge of the difference between good and evil, for that is precisely the form of self-possession which led to the fall. Adam and Eve thought they could dispute what God’s Word really meant, get behind it to judge both it and God.[35] The assumption that we have the capacity to know the difference between right and wrong and to act upon it is in itself and on its own already a corruption of the image. It isolates one from God and others because what is right for one and others is assumed to be already known. The assumption that one already knows what is right stops communication because no new information or external agency is necessary. In what follows I will describe the image and its redemption as a relational process of seeking what is right in openness to others and God and thereby to the fact that one’s understanding and capacity are fundamentally in question.
    > > The choice between good and evil implies that people are already in touch with reality and their only task is its administration . . . The choice between good and evil calls elements within our environment into question: the real ethical question calls us into question.[36]
    > Consequently the focus on our own possibilities is replaced by an emphasis on our need of, and thereby our relations with, God and others. ([The Call to Personhood](, 43–44)

  15. I agree that God could do that, and in some way we are built for empathy such that for example-those who have taken someone’s life are forever changed. However God has a better way. He receive the hurt and suffering under his wing only after a short lifetime to peace and wellbeing, while permitting the evils of those despicable to destroy themselves without His graces in the lake of fire. He is gracious and merciful that the fullness of our evil deeds aren’t felt immediately upon doing them, giving opportunity for forgiveness and repentance. But life is short, and opportunity to receive forgiveness free of consequence equally short.

  16. As a disclaimer, I don’t believe God is LITERALLY all-powerful. If we have free will, he is not. But, In being the most powerful thing there is, he has most power. Now that’s out of the way, I will say this. Literally everyone, Including Christians, needs to stop viewing morality through an individualistic lens and look at the collective. It doesn’t matter how much pain is felt or not. What matters is the ultimate collective implication of allowing a certain way of thinking, behavior, or feeling to influence society on a grand scale. The example you set which influences not just your friends, but friends of friends, and strangers who see them. And strangers who see strangers. Morality is not just about how the individual is incentivized to do wrong or right. It is about the intelligent awareness of what would happen if how YOU are acting were to be considered permissible by all people. And not only that, what would happen for future generations under this influence? For example, when the internet first came out, we were fine. It was a useful tool. And it still is. But as time passed and future generations were raised up in technology WITHOUT being taught the value of mere restraint, more and more children became addicted to devices at a young age. We see this clearly in the education system. For many other reasons influenced by our collective fear of teaching true right and wrong, young kids are now killing them selves, getting depressed in elementary school, and getting confused about their mere gender identity. There are so many factors at play here. But the point is, if you view morality as your individualistic conception of yourself…and the conception of God as a mere individual, then yes, you are correct, OP. There is a clear fallacy in God’s design with regards to your ability to understand right and wrong. But if you view morality as the measurable implications of a behavior and how your character influences society (which is in essence god-mind, true empathy, one that transcends feeling), than your entire argument is not invalid, but irrelevant. The idea of an outer authority judging right and wrong means even the most pathological individuals who feel no pain are still held accountable because there is a collective acceptance of outer authorities to judge right and wrong in a way that transcends feelings. Feelings ultimately caused not by sin, but the on going trans-generational abolishment of collective wisdom, and acknowledgment of behavioral influence in a Petri dish with an infinitum of future generations, and how they will be affected by said behaviors.

  17. Isn’t that already the case? Are we humans not already capable of feeling compassion and empathy towards other living beings? And isn’t a lack of compassion and empathy a sign of a sociopath?

    (I would remind that in the extermination of the Jews in Poland in 1939-1945, many of the murderers who were not pathological sociopaths had to deliberately desensitise themselves to the suffering of human beings through hard drugs, alcohol and always through ideological training and also measures such as impersonal murder in gas chambers).

    Or how do you imagine such a “solidary” feeling of pain then in addition? How could this work?

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