Was God obligated to create the best of all possible worlds?

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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Is God obligated to create the best of all possible creations?

If He did not do so, would this then reflect a deficiency of His character?


If He does so, can we assert any reason for this world to qualify as the best of all possible worlds besides, "This is the best of all possible worlds precisely because this is the one that God made. Therefore it must be the best."

If the best of all possible worlds included sin, then, in order to make the best of all possible worlds, was God obligated them to permit sin to enter this world, so that the best of all possible worlds (one in which Christ would maximize the attributes of God in wrath, justice and mercy, and love) could come into being.



Sorry, been reading Leibniz again.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
I don't know about this.

I don't believe that the Old Creation was the best of all possible worlds, in the sense that I think it likely that the New Creation will be the best of all possible worlds because it will be made for Christ and His people.

The Bible doesn't say that the Old Creation was the best of all possible worlds, but merely that it was good, that it was capable of corruption, and that Man was capable of falling and leading the world into corruption.

Maybe the Old Creation was the best of all possible worlds with a view to God's ultimate purpose of the New Heavens and New Earth, incorruptible and undefiled, a home for His Son and His redeemed people (?)
 

MMasztal

Puritan Board Sophomore
I'd say the first question, "Is God obligated to create the best of all possible creations?" is self-refuting.

"Obligated"? To whom?

If to anyone else, God would not be God.

But since we know God is perfect and holy, he is "obligated" only to Himself and cannot create or even do anything which would be contrary to His nature nor should anything He does be subject to man's scrutiny.

Like Leibniz, most philosophers err in their worldview which is where questions like these arise.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
It seems like there are several different angles from which to tackle the precise questions you've asked, but they all come out to the same result.

Was God obligated to create the best of all possible worlds? Well, God was not obligated to create at all, so right there is an answer.
Given the decree to create, is God obligated to create the best possible world? There you run into a difficulty: you have no standard of best and you have no conception of possible that can be derived from any source other than God's will.

The Reformed have traditionally held that God, being free, could have willed things extrinsic to Him to have turned out differently. For instance, the lot could have fallen on Justus rather than Matthias. But He has done what He pleased: that He do what He wills is best, that He do what He does not will is the only impossibility. God is not patient of psychoanalysis, so it seems best to leave it there.
 

ClayPot

Puritan Board Sophomore
The best of all possible worlds in what sense?

- That glorifies God the most?
- That results in the most people being saved?
- That allows people the most "freewill"?

Best is relative to what you are talking about. Roundup may be the best weedkiller but it is a terrible ice cream topping.
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
If God wants to make a bad pot fitted only to destruction, He can do it since He is God.
 

WAWICRUZ

Puritan Board Freshman
God is not on Plan B.

Reality as it has been, as it is now, and as it shall be is as God wants it to be.

Is man to be the determiner of what the best "kind" of reality must be? Surely his finitude incapacitates him for this task.
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Calvin's Institutes Book 3, Chapter 21, Section 1
But before I enter on the subject, I have some remarks to address to two classes of men. The subject of predestination, which in itself is attended with considerable difficulty is rendered very perplexed and hence perilous by human curiosity, which cannot be restrained from wandering into forbidden paths and climbing to the clouds determined if it can that none of the secret things of God shall remain unexplored. When we see many, some of them in other respects not bad men, every where rushing into this audacity and wickedness, it is necessary to remind them of the course of duty in this matter. First, then, when they inquire into predestination, let then remember that they are penetrating into the recesses of the divine wisdom, where he who rushes forward securely and confidently, instead of satisfying his curiosity will enter in inextricable labyrinth[1]. For it is not right that man should with impunity pry into things which the Lord has been pleased to conceal within himself, and scan that sublime eternal wisdom which it is his pleasure that we should not apprehend but adore, that therein also his perfections may appear. Those secrets of his will, which he has seen it meet to manifest, are revealed in his word - revealed in so far as he knew to be conducive to our interest and welfare.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
The best of all possible worlds in what sense?

- That glorifies God the most?
- That results in the most people being saved?
- That allows people the most "freewill"?

Best is relative to what you are talking about. Roundup may be the best weedkiller but it is a terrible ice cream topping.

Once God decreed to create, did He create in such a way as to maximize the "best" - i.e., a world which would maximize His glory?

He was under no obligation to create, and yet, by creating, allowing the Fall, and having Christ be incarnate and successfully do His Work, then God's justice, wrath, goodness, mercy, love, etc, are shown forth in a way to the universe to its maximum degree.


Once God decided to create, He ordained a world where the Fall occurred. And through it, glorified Himself all the more.



Leibniz's theodicy seems to be a better attempt than the attempts of many other philosophers. What other theodicies are in print that you would recommend?


In general, I am studying various theodicies at present, and would welcome any thoughts on theodicies.

-----Added 11/25/2009 at 12:55:25 EST-----

If God wants to make a bad pot fitted only to destruction, He can do it since He is God.

But this verse speaks of God enduring these vessels with much longsuffering so that He might make known His mercy to the vessels of mercy.

So, the possibility that God would merely make a lump of humanity for their damning would be contrary to the nature of our God, who delights to work mercy.

And, in a sense, God cannot do all things merely because He is God. God does all things that are consistent with His nature. God does what He does because of who He is.

-----Added 11/25/2009 at 12:56:59 EST-----

It seems like there are several different angles from which to tackle the precise questions you've asked, but they all come out to the same result.

Was God obligated to create the best of all possible worlds? Well, God was not obligated to create at all, so right there is an answer.
Given the decree to create, is God obligated to create the best possible world? There you run into a difficulty: you have no standard of best and you have no conception of possible that can be derived from any source other than God's will.

The Reformed have traditionally held that God, being free, could have willed things extrinsic to Him to have turned out differently. For instance, the lot could have fallen on Justus rather than Matthias. But He has done what He pleased: that He do what He wills is best, that He do what He does not will is the only impossibility. God is not patient of psychoanalysis, so it seems best to leave it there.

I think Leibniz was probably trying to tackle this problem:

1) If God were all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, then this world would be the best possible world.
2) But surely this world is not the best possible world.

3) Thus, God is not all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good.


Ruben, do you have any thoughts on theodicies in general?

-----Added 11/25/2009 at 12:59:49 EST-----

I'd say the first question, "Is God obligated to create the best of all possible creations?" is self-refuting.

"Obligated"? To whom?

If to anyone else, God would not be God.

But since we know God is perfect and holy, he is "obligated" only to Himself and cannot create or even do anything which would be contrary to His nature nor should anything He does be subject to man's scrutiny.

Like Leibniz, most philosophers err in their worldview which is where questions like these arise.

Obligated to whom? The answer would be obligated to His own nature; which is all-good, all-powerful, and all-knowing. Many atheists suppose that the traits of God which most assert are self-contradictory.

-----Added 11/25/2009 at 01:01:10 EST-----

Roundup may be the best weedkiller but it is a terrible ice cream topping.

This might be the Quote of the Day! :D Do you speak from experience?
 

Zenas

Snow Miser
Is God obligated to create the best of all possible creations?

If He did not do so, would this then reflect a deficiency of His character?


If He does so, can we assert any reason for this world to qualify as the best of all possible worlds besides, "This is the best of all possible worlds precisely because this is the one that God made. Therefore it must be the best."

If the best of all possible worlds included sin, then, in order to make the best of all possible worlds, was God obligated them to permit sin to enter this world, so that the best of all possible worlds (one in which Christ would maximize the attributes of God in wrath, justice and mercy, and love) could come into being.



Sorry, been reading Leibniz again.

Define best. Best in what sense? Best for whom?

As we understand, God created the best of all possible worlds to effect His purpose and His glory. I do not think we can say He was obligated to do any of this, as He is free in His will, bound by nothing but consistent with His own nature.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Is God obligated to create the best of all possible creations?

If He did not do so, would this then reflect a deficiency of His character?


If He does so, can we assert any reason for this world to qualify as the best of all possible worlds besides, "This is the best of all possible worlds precisely because this is the one that God made. Therefore it must be the best."

If the best of all possible worlds included sin, then, in order to make the best of all possible worlds, was God obligated them to permit sin to enter this world, so that the best of all possible worlds (one in which Christ would maximize the attributes of God in wrath, justice and mercy, and love) could come into being.



Sorry, been reading Leibniz again.

Define best. Best in what sense? Best for whom?

As we understand, God created the best of all possible worlds to effect His purpose and His glory. I do not think we can say He was obligated to do any of this, as He is free in His will, bound by nothing but consistent with His own nature.

Best = most glorifying to Him.
 

tdowns

Puritan Board Junior
I love this quote...always have.

Calvin's Institutes Book 3, Chapter 21, Section 1
But before I enter on the subject, I have some remarks to address to two classes of men. The subject of predestination, which in itself is attended with considerable difficulty is rendered very perplexed and hence perilous by human curiosity, which cannot be restrained from wandering into forbidden paths and climbing to the clouds determined if it can that none of the secret things of God shall remain unexplored. When we see many, some of them in other respects not bad men, every where rushing into this audacity and wickedness, it is necessary to remind them of the course of duty in this matter. First, then, when they inquire into predestination, let then remember that they are penetrating into the recesses of the divine wisdom, where he who rushes forward securely and confidently, instead of satisfying his curiosity will enter in inextricable labyrinth[1]. For it is not right that man should with impunity pry into things which the Lord has been pleased to conceal within himself, and scan that sublime eternal wisdom which it is his pleasure that we should not apprehend but adore, that therein also his perfections may appear. Those secrets of his will, which he has seen it meet to manifest, are revealed in his word - revealed in so far as he knew to be conducive to our interest and welfare.

Since I first started studying these topics, I loved the above quote, and this one:

VIII. The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care,[18] that men, attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election.[19] So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God;[20] and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.[21]
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
I think Leibniz was probably trying to tackle this problem:

1) If God were all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, then this world would be the best possible world.
2) But surely this world is not the best possible world.

3) Thus, God is not all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good.​


Ruben, do you have any thoughts on theodicies in general?

There are many things that can be said to someone who is struggling with the harsh realities of life in the world. But the affirmation of the Psalms that the Lord is righteous in all His ways is not negotiable: understand it or not, agree with it or not, that is the reality. Although I know that Job was not satisfying to Jung, God's questions to Job or Paul's question to the one replying against God still stand as fundamental: Who art thou, O man, that repliest against God? We do not have the ontological stature to question God. Once that is made plain and accepted, you can proceed to point out other aspects: such as that we are not yet at the end of the story; that God did not refuse to bear the cost of His decisions, but in fact the Son became man and was subject to the curse; and so forth.

I notice you said that God does all things that are consistent with His nature. Everything that God does is consistent with His nature (but of course, "God wills precisely because He wills it: the divine willing is the divine nature"), but that does not mean He does everything that could be consistent with His nature.
 
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Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
God is perfectly holy and wise, so what He does/decrees is perfectly holy and wise in it's purpose. The creation in which we now reside is transitory, decreed so by God for His own good and perfect purpose. There is a day and place coming that will be eternally perfect and without sin.

It seems to me whether God was obligated to do anything is beyond the pale of our determining. That what He has done, is doing, and will do is perfect is evident because that is in keeping with His nature.

-----Added 11/25/2009 at 01:59:43 EST-----

we do not have the ontological stature to question god.
amen!
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I think Leibniz was probably trying to tackle this problem:

1) If God were all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good, then this world would be the best possible world.
2) But surely this world is not the best possible world.

3) Thus, God is not all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good.​


Ruben, do you have any thoughts on theodicies in general?

There are many things that can be said to someone who is struggling with the harsh realities of life in the world. But the affirmation of the Psalms that the Lord is righteous in all His way is not negotiable: understand it or not, agree with it or not, that is the reality. Although I know that Job was not satisfying to Jung, God's questions to Job or Paul's question to the one replying against God still stand as fundamental: Who art thou, O man, that repliest against God? We do not have the ontological stature to question God. Once that is made plain and accepted, you can proceed to point out other aspects: such as that we are not yet at the end of the story; that God did not refuse to bear the cost of His decisions, but in fact the Son became man and was subject to the curse; and so forth.

I notice you said that God does all things that are consistent with His nature. Everything that God does is consistent with His nature (but of course, "God wills precisely because He wills it: the divine willing is the divine nature"), but that does not mean He does everything that could be consistent with His nature.

Ruben:

Your quote:

that does not mean He does everything that could be consistent with His nature.

I think nails it. Thanks.

-----Added 11/25/2009 at 02:24:35 EST-----

Pergy,

Seems like maybe you had your own answer to this before you posted.

The PB is a good place to refine ideas and look for internal weaknesses.


And also to look for help.....

Anyone out there have links to theodicies that are better stated than Leibniz?


Also, how would Leibniz compare/contrast with Jay Adams in this bookbelow:

Amazon.com: The Grand Demonstration: A Bibical Study of the So-Called Problem of Evil (9781889032023): Jay Edward Adams: Books


And Edwards; End for Which God Created the World:

Amazon.com: God's Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (With the Complete Text of The End for Which God Created the World) (9781581347456): John Piper, Jonathan Edwards: Books
 

TimV

Puritanboard Botanist
So, the possibility that God would merely make a lump of humanity for their damning would be contrary to the nature of our God, who delights to work mercy.

Rom 9:20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?"
Rom 9:21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
Rom 9:22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,

You're not in a position to say what is and isn't in God's nature.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
So, the possibility that God would merely make a lump of humanity for their damning would be contrary to the nature of our God, who delights to work mercy.

Rom 9:20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?"
Rom 9:21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?
Rom 9:22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,

You're not in a position to say what is and isn't in God's nature.

God shows us His nature in the Scripture.

We can draw upon what God tells us about Himself.

-----Added 11/25/2009 at 02:45:15 EST-----

I am aware. I was not trying to be insulting. Just trying to comment that it seems that you have done much thinking on the subject. That is all. :)

Yes, the problem of evil hinders many, and hindered me when I was young.
 
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earl40

Puritan Board Professor
What is interesting is that God did not create man with the knowledge of good and evil and us with that knowledge man is more glorifying to Him.
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
I think all human philosophy fails to even approach an understanding of why ,what and how God has ordained His decreed purpose to unfold.
33O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

34For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

3When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence.

4For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him

In Light of these passages, as well as Job 38-39, I personally am not at all comfortable even asking or inquiring into these type of philosophical sort of
"possibilities".
If God has given us all that pertains to life and godliness, and has not seen fit to address in more detail that which is more speculative in our defective imaginations, I just draw back from this type of speculation.
It seems as if He is doing and ordering everything that comes to pass for His own glory, so why would there be any half way measures or non essentials included in this eternal purpose.
We are to search out the word of God and seek to grow in grace and knowledge. I enjoy wrestling with many topics, but the philisophical I am not so equipped to help with. I must leave it to others once it goes past some elementary concepts. Sorry I cannot be more helpful with this.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
If God has given us all that pertains to life and godliness, and has not seen fit to address in more detail that which is more speculative in our defective imaginations, I just draw back from this type of speculation.
It seems as if He is doing and ordering everything that comes to pass for His own glory, so why would there be any half way measures or non essentials included in this eternal purpose.
We are to search out the word of God and seek to grow in grace and knowledge. I enjoy wrestling with many topics, but the philisophical I am not so equipped to help with. I must leave it to others once it goes past some elementary concepts. Sorry I cannot be more helpful with this.

Contemplation on the fall and the cross can lead to "speculation" that is alluded to in the scripture. We know that man was created good without a certain quality that The Lord withheld, which was bestowed when Adam ate the fruit. So though it was a sin for Adam to eat was the result good?
 

Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
Contemplation on the fall and the cross can lead to "speculation" that is alluded to in the scripture. We know that man was created good without a certain quality that The Lord withheld, which was bestowed when Adam ate the fruit. So though it was a sin for Adam to eat was the result good?

No.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Contemplation on the fall and the cross can lead to "speculation" that is alluded to in the scripture. We know that man was created good without a certain quality that The Lord withheld, which was bestowed when Adam ate the fruit. So though it was a sin for Adam to eat was the result good?

No.

Would you want to make a bet? It takes a little "speculation" though. :)
 

Amazing Grace

Puritan Board Junior
So, the possibility that God would merely make a lump of humanity for their damning would be contrary to the nature of our God, who delights to work mercy.

Pergy: I know this may digress this thread, but why did you mention this in your inquiry? Can you clarify the connection with the op and this comment?
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
So, the possibility that God would merely make a lump of humanity for their damning would be contrary to the nature of our God, who delights to work mercy.

God wouldn't damn someone who hadn't sinned as that would be unjust, and God cannot be unjust.

God is now a Man forever. Becoming Man in itself isn't part of Christ's humiliation, otherwise He would be in a state of humiliation forever. God must have wanted to glorify Himself by becoming a Man in the way in which He did. I don't say He needed to glorify Himself.

Was that the best way in which God could glorify Himself? We do not know of other cosmoses to compare with this one, nor do we know the other possiblities that may have been in the mind of God.

But that God chose to do things in this way seems fairly significant, especially since God in His Son is God-man forever.

When God "determined" to make the world and humanity, He knew He was making a world and humanity in which He would dwell by His Son and His Spirit for all eternity.

I haven't studied Leibniz.

A simpler theodicy, that doesn't involve so much speculation about high and difficult matters for our simple minds, may be found in Greg Bahnsen's "Always Ready" in the chapter on "The Problem of Evil"
 
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Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
So, the possibility that God would merely make a lump of humanity for their damning would be contrary to the nature of our God, who delights to work mercy.

Pergy: I know this may digress this thread, but why did you mention this in your inquiry? Can you clarify the connection with the op and this comment?

Romans 9:

20Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

21Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

22What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:

23And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,




There seems to be a different disposition towards those that God endures and those that God delights in. God endures the unsaved, but His real delight is to show His mercy through these vessels of mercy.
 

Iconoclast

Puritan Board Junior
If God has given us all that pertains to life and godliness, and has not seen fit to address in more detail that which is more speculative in our defective imaginations, I just draw back from this type of speculation.
It seems as if He is doing and ordering everything that comes to pass for His own glory, so why would there be any half way measures or non essentials included in this eternal purpose.
We are to search out the word of God and seek to grow in grace and knowledge. I enjoy wrestling with many topics, but the philisophical I am not so equipped to help with. I must leave it to others once it goes past some elementary concepts. Sorry I cannot be more helpful with this.

Contemplation on the fall and the cross can lead to "speculation" that is alluded to in the scripture. We know that man was created good without a certain quality that The Lord withheld, which was bestowed when Adam ate the fruit. So though it was a sin for Adam to eat was the result good?

Hello Earl ,Thank you for your response. I am not the best when it comes to philosophy but I will offer my thoughts to you.
I do believe we are to meditate,think, discuss, ponder,examine Acts17:11
on the scripture. It is when we sort of go over the line that i become hesitant.
God withheld the knowledge of good and evil from Adam and Eve for His own
eternal purpose to unfold as he planned in His decree.
It was Satan who suggested that God witheld something desirable
that placed a doubt on God's law word to them.
The result of sin and death is unnatural, not good. That God overcomes this by having already decreed the incarnation and the cross, does not somehow make the sorrow and suffering from the fall into something good.
God's eternal plan is perfect for the elect, and is just toward the reprobate,although somehow I do not see how it is "good" for the unsaved .

Earl , were you suggesting that the fall was good,because ultimately we get to understand the depth of God's love expressed by the cross? Or am I missing something when I read your post? Let me know:)
Do you understand what I am getting at?
 

steadfast7

Puritan Board Junior
Rather than the question of whether God was obligated to create the best possible world in the past, perhaps we need to answer whether God's continual providence over all history up to now has been perfect. After all, his continual care and meticulous providence must be in accordance with his good nature, as it was in his original intention for creation. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Does God, then, do good to all, at all times?

There's probably a reason why the brightest minds have yet to offer a satisfying theodicy. The epilogue of Job doesn't even attempt to answer the question, but asks the question: ""Who is this that darkens my counsel
with words without knowledge?"

I like what Voddie Baucham once said (paraphrase): The question of why God allows evil in this world is the wrong question. The right question is "How can it be that a holy God did not kill a sinner like me in my sleep last night?
 

Confessor

Puritan Board Senior
It's awkward to say that God is ever obligated in anything, for He is God; but I think it is safe to say that He necessarily acts with perfect wisdom. Therefore, if there is one world which would glorify Him most, He would necessarily choose it -- this necessity not a weakness of His or a hindrance unto freedom, but a strength of His and a conduit unto freedom (I wish I could choose with perfect wisdom every time).
 
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