Wouldn’t people be happier in a world in which they were programmed to respond to God’s loving advances so they didn’t commit evil?
While it’s true the world would be less violent where God was in charge and people had no volition towards doing evil, it does necessitate that this would be a loving world. Yes, people would certainly experience goodness and harmony between themselves and with God. Now, while this ‘programmed’ arrangement might work for a time between God and humanity, there is good reason to suppose that humans might eventually come to resent this control over them and their inability to make free and determined choices for themselves. All of which brings us to the dynamics of what constitutes a loving relationship.
In seeking to explain the love dynamic, CS Lewis in his book ‘The Four Loves’ outlines various types of love of which ‘agape’ is one. This love is different from the other three because it is unconditional in nature and always directed toward its recipients in selfless ways. A love, most commonly associated with the activity of God and done in ways that makes no demand of the receiver to respond or even show gratitude for whatever benefit has occurred.
In terms of our discussion, the ‘agape’ of God would then be seen as the unconditional love that humanity experiences through the ability to make their own free and determined choices while enjoying the resources of a world that sustains life. Within this there is no requirement that those who receive this blessing acknowledge God as provider or anything for that matter – such is the expectation that the gift be accepted or responded to in terms of a relationship with the Creator. Which leads us in the nest post to a useful caveat in understanding freedom and love as found in the power dynamic of God and humanity as drawn by French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre.