Why doesn’t God stop people in the act of committing a crime?
Following on from the Freewill Defence, Augustine’s arguments poses an interesting question in regard to how the Creator is considered to operate in our world. Many believers hold to the idea God has the power to overrule our personal freedom by changing our mindset so that we do not pursue a particular course of action – but this goes against the very nature of God who has chosen not to intervene in our decision making.
But what does it mean in regard to the world, evil, and suffering? Well, it might be argued that the instant humanity’s freewill is taken from them, God would be diminished as what need is there of God’s agape love for the slavishly obedient who have no need for forgiveness nor understanding of love?
Conversely, while God’s limitations on Himself may enable Him to remain true by not overruling directly in our human affairs, it may also lead to decisions that go against the good God desire for us.
Naturally, the course the issue of maintaining human freewill means that God is powerless to intervene – consider the example below…
… imagine that I go out to buy some milk from the shop on the corner of my road. As I am leaving the shop, I am spotted by a man who takes an immediate dislike to me. He produces an axe and begins to chase me down the street. Given that the volition of the man is totally bent on seeing me injured, do we suppose that God might overrule the man’s mind so that he becomes less disposed to this outcome? No. If this were the case surely no evil would ever occur in the world because God would intervene and stop every instance where it was likely that one person would harm another, and experience tells us this does not happen. Instead, if I am to survive through some intervention of God, it seems more likely that my urgent prayer for fast legs will be answered in such a way that I get away from my assailant or maybe I happen across the path of a police officer who is able to arrest the man.
The important thing to note here is that the axe man’s freedom to choose to injure me is not directly usurped by God in that the Divine does not perform some kind of mind meld on the man encouraging him to think nice thoughts about me. Rather, the man’s choice is allowed to occur even though it is evil. The solution that results, in which the axe man is arrested, happens in ways that still allows the man to indulge his desire to chase and injure me but now (thankfully) he is thwarted.