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The Risk of Creation

Why does God allow humans and angels the power to go against his will? To put the question in more practical terms, Why does God allow certain agents the freedom to do harm to others?

The answer is lies in our understanding of love. People cannot have the capacity to love others without also having the capacity to harm them. Potential to choose love requires the potential to choose its opposite. Therefore, our capacity to freely love one another must imply that, to some extent, we have the capacity to freely harm one another.

This is the risk. We all know this from personal experience. Our parents, friends, spouses, and children have tremendous power to bless or hurt us, and we them, precisely because we also have the capacity to love. The implicit covenant we enter into with those we love is that we will not abuse the power the beloved has given to us.

This risk (the possibility of being hurt by our partners) is always present. It could be no other way. We cannot conceive of the potential to love without the potential to do harm. For God to give us the capacity to love is for God to put us at risk with each other, thereby making us morally responsible for each other.

The potential to love (or not) is intrinsically relational, which means that our moral choices affect others.

We can see this in our personal relationships and in our impact upon creation. We are commanded to love each other, and also to care for (love) the whole animal and plant kingdom (Gen 1:26-28). We are a part of a tapestry of interlocking free agents that connects all of humanity with creation itself. However, because it is a tapestry of free agents, it can potentially destroy itself, resulting in the destructive fragmentation of creation. For this reason, Jesus taught us that we all share some responsibility for one another.

Because of this, God cannot guarantee that a specific harm will not be done in a specific situation. The price of such a guarantee would be that humans could not be morally responsible for one another, which would mean that we would not have the potential genuinely to love one other.

Such a world might be risk free and pain free, but it would not be a world worth creating. The consequence for creating a world that can produce good parents and neighbors, people who sacrifice themselves for others, and people who care for the planet must also be a world in which people might possibly choose to do the opposite.

—Adapted from Satan and the Problem of Evil, pages 163-166


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