"Can Appeals to Free Will Solve the Problem of Evil?" by Marilyn McCord Adams (1943-2017)

Marilyn McCord Adams has recently died. She had taught at Rutgers University, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Yale University, and UCLA. She was an important Episcopalian philosopher of religion. Some of her work focused on the problem of suffering (as I prefer to call it).

In the video below Adams dismantles the attempt to shift responsibility for the suffering we experience off from God's shoulders unto human shoulders by appealing to human free will. From the outset I find her focus on the Christian Adam and Eve myth to be both ignorant and parochial. It's ignorant, because there never was an Adam and Eve. Shouldn't that bring an end to this myth, leaving philosophers of religion nothing to discuss based on it? [Source: Christianity in the Light of Science, Chapter 7]. It's parochial, because there are many different global beliefs that deal with suffering, and she doesn't give a thought to them, leading us to think this Christian myth is the only one worth discussing. [Her example justifies my call to end the philosophy of religion discipline in the secular universities. Source: Unapologetic: Why Philosophy of Religion Must End.] For Christians who accept this mythical story though, Adams does a good job. She finds two major reasons why free will solutions do not work.

1) The size gap. God is very very big. We are very very small. God's personal capacities far outstrip ours. Take for example good parents. They are ultimately in charge of their children, and therefore responsible for what they do under their charge. Likewise, God is ultimately in charge of us, and therefore responsible for what we do under his/her charge.

2) Human beings lack the relevant knowledge of pain and suffering to make fully responsible choices. Ignorance diminishes responsibility. In the garden of Eden therefore, Adam and Eve didn't have the relevant knowledge or experience to enable them to be fully responsible for what they chose.

Adams says "further supplementation" is needed before the free will solution can work. In other words more obfuscation is needed. What can that be is beyond my ken.