In the elaboration of his soul-making theodicy, John Hick agrees with a controversial point made by compatibilists Antony Flew and John Mackie against the free will defense. Namely, Hick grants that God could have created humans such that they would be free to sin but would, in fact, never do so. In this paper, I identify three previously unrecognized problems that arise from his initial concession to, and ultimate rejection of, compatibilism. The first problem stems from the fact that in two important texts, Hick rejects compatibilism (after having endorsed it as effective against the free will defense) for different and seemingly contradictory reasons. His various explanations of soul-making theodicy’s relationship to compatibilism are therefore in conflict. The second problem is closely related to the first. It turns out that when Hick’s concession to compatibilism is closely examined, soul-making theodicy appears unable to explain the existence of moral evil. The final problem consists in understanding why Hick would have made any concessions to compatibilism in the first place given that he ultimately opts for incompatibilist free will. After identifying these three problems, I develop a distinctive way in which to interpret Hick’s soul-making theodicy that solves the first two. This distinctive interpretation, moreover, has the added benefit of solving another, well-recognized problem that has long plagued Hick’s exposition: the problem of the hypnotist metaphor. Finally, I address the third problem by suggesting a rationale for Hick’s initial concession to the compatibilists.
International Journal for Philosophy of Religion – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 2, 2017
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