Last week, when asked about the problem of suffering, Frank Turek did as so many apologists do and responded with free will. God doesn’t want us to suffer, you see, but he values our free will so much that he’ll let us make bad choices that result in suffering like the starvation of children.
This argument sucks harder than a black hole.
First, as others have rightly pointed out, that does nothing to absolve god of suffering that has zero to do with the choices we make. Hurricanes, for instance, appear to be a creation of god’s that just kill whoever the hell happens to be in their way. Ditto the earthquakes he made. Ditto the wide assortment of animals with sharp teeth that are both faster and stronger than we, and that also think we’re delicious.
But also, it’s clear that we don’t need every option in order to have free will. Go outside and try to jump over your house. You can’t do it, you simply do not have that option. But you can kick it, hug it, hang things on the walls, etc., so you still have free will. Free will doesn’t mean having every option (otherwise you would be able to leap over your house). In fact, god could take away your ability to kick your house and you would still have free will. So, if free will doesn’t mean having every option, why do we need the option to harm one another in order to have free will?What’s more, nothing is sinful until god declares it so. It’s not like gay sex is against some cosmic law that god had nothing to do with (otherwise you could hardly call him the author of the universe pre-existing laws bind him). The only reason gay sex could be a “sin” and punishable by an eternity of torment is if god, for whatever reason, decided it to be so. And then he made it appealing to some people. And then he left them with the option to do it, when he could’ve removed it without negating our free will. These are the actions of a being who wants to see some people in hell, not of someone who laments our suffering slightly less than he values our free will.
The free will argument, as presented by Frank Turek, does nothing to excuse god for suffering or his unwillingness to stop it. In fact, if that god does exist, the free will argument confirms only that he’s an asshole.