Suicide and the problem of evil

Attempts to explain the problem of evil often revolve around Platinga’s free will defense, which essentially says that in order for us to be morally good, we must be able to choose to do good things, rather than having no option but to do good things. It therefore follows that we occasionally choose to do evil things instead.

I won’t provide a full rebuttal to the free will defense here, since it has been tackled properly by others (e.g., see here and here). Instead, I want to focus on the issue of suicide, and where it fits in with free will. Is it really possible to believe that free will is so important that it should be allowed to lead people to take their own lives? It seems extremely strange to me that a benevolent god would create beings who, because of the choices their god allowed them to make, decided to destroy themselves. How could a benevolent god not be compelled to stop such a terrible thing from happening to his own creation?

There is no positive slant to suicide that I can think of. It is a deeply sad, wasteful tragedy to all concerned. How can such a thing be justified by academic arguments about free will?

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2 Responses to Suicide and the problem of evil

  1. NFQ says:

    I wonder if suicide really seems that bad to someone who believes in an eternal afterlife. Maybe it’s just another sin, like any other, and all unrepented sins on some level destroy your life in that they send you to hell. Same thing, just maybe a bit faster to hell, in the case of suicide.

    It’s disgusting to me, but I’m just playing “devil’s advocate” (ha).

  2. kpharri says:

    Good point.

    I do wonder, though, about the loved ones of the victim. The free will defense seems to say little about the consequences of evil choices for the innocent.

    To take an extreme example, one might defend the necessity of allowing Hitler to have made the decisions he did, but should 6 million people be allowed to die as a result?

    A little harder to play devil’s advocate for that one, I think 🙂

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