The skeptic asks why God could not have made us to always choose good. Philosophers of note have raised this as the sharpest edge of their challenge to Christianity. But here, too, the challenge violates reason.
Alvin Plantinga of the University of Notre Dame, who is considered by many to be the most respected Protestant philosopher of our time, has made a strong and compelling argument against this challenge of the skeptic. He argues that this option bears a false view of what God’s omnipotence means. We must realize that God cannot do that which is mutually exclusive and logically impossible. God cannot make square circles. The terms are mutually exclusive.
Plantinga is right. I might add that if God can do anything at all, even that which is mutually exclusive, then He can also contradict His character, which would by implication render the problem of evil moot, needing no defense. The very reason we raise the question is because we seek coherence. In a world where love is the supreme ethic, freedom must be built in. A love that is programmed or compelled is not love; it is merely a conditioned response or self-serving.
Once again, even thinkers hostile to Christianity inadvertently assert truths that agree with Christian thought. For example, Jean Paul Sartre, in Being and Nothingness says:
The man who wants to be loved does not desire the enslavement of the beloved. He is not bent on becoming the object of passion, which flows forth mechanically. He does not want to possess an automaton, and if we want to humiliate him, we need try to only persuade him that the beloved’s passion is the result of a psychological determinism. The lover will then feel that both his love and his being are cheapened…. If the beloved is transformed into an automaton, the lover finds himself alone.
How insightful! Love compelled is a precursor to loneliness. Having the freedom to love when you may choose not to love is to give love legitimate meaning. This is why I said earlier that David Hume had more of an answer in his question on the problem of pain than he may have known. Is not an ultimate purpose of love the only way you can square the problem of pain? To ask that we be denied freedom and only choose good is to ask not for love, but for compulsion and for something other than humanity.
Both doors of escape for the skeptic are shut tight. You cannot posit evil without a transcendent moral law, which macroevolution cannot sustain. And you cannot gain the highest ethic without the possibility of freedom. The first sends us into lives of contradiction. The second demands a contradiction of God.
— Ravi Zacharias, from Jesus Among Other Gods, p. 117