Smith begins by considering three distinct concepts of freedom. The relevant one for our purposes is logical freedom: “A person is logically free with respect to an action A if and only if there is some possible world in which he performs A and there is another possible world in which he does not perform A.” (107) Smith then notes that God is logically determined toward good actions yet retains his freedom in other senses.
Incidentally, ad intra, God has a will but not free will, since He is perfectly happy and is under no necessity to make choices by picking one good while setting aside another.
Recall that Plantinga argues that it is conceivable that
(b) □∀(x)(x is depraved ≡ □(x is depraved)).
Our author’s argument quickly takes a bizarre turn. Why, he asks, couldn’t God have created men logically determined or “necessarily good” with respect to good acts? The obvious answer is: if God could not create beings who would be always actually righteous (because of their transworld depravity), then a fortiori, neither could He create beings who would be necessarily righteous. Smith argues
for the stronger claim that there is a different sort of creature, rational persons who are internally-externally free but logically determined to do what is right, and… there is a possible world containing only them and God.
This stronger claim is needed to withstand Plantinga’s criticism that it is possible that if God created the persons in question, they would choose to do some wrong acts, even though they might not have. (115)
Did Smith imagine that the stronger claim can better “withstand” criticism (it’s bigger and tougher, after all) if the weaker claim fails? Quentin, it’s the other way around!
In philosophy, a “strong” argument is one that’s ambitious and grand and affirms a great deal. Thus, “everything is made out of water” is an extremely strong statement and for that reason is easy to refute, such as by suggesting that there is no water in fire. A weak argument is one that affirms a modest claim which as a result is easier to defend.
But perhaps Smith raises the issue of whether there could be rational creatures who would have such a nature that they would be necessarily good for the following reason: if God is logically determined toward good, why couldn’t He make humans (or call them whatever) who would be exactly like Him in goodness?
If by goodness we understand God’s “3rd-level” goodness, such as His mode of causation, then it is uniquely God’s, and no creature can ever be at all good in this sense.
If by goodness we understand God’s 2nd-level Trinitarian perfection, then humans can be good, as they are made in this God’s image and likeness; however, God is infinite and creatures can only be finite. God, after all, begot only one Son who is equal to the Father in all respects. Now can a finite humanoid creature ever be truly safe from sin? The Christian story of the fall of man suggests that even perfect nature of both oneself and the environment is no guarantee of perpetual virtue; any finite being, no matter how naturally uncorrupt (as Adam was), will in infinite time sin. It is permissible, i.e., not contrary to revelation, to hold that Adam had survived in his Garden for a million (or billion) years and succumbed to temptation only at long last. But succumb he did.
(God then created our present corrupt universe in anticipation of Adam’s sin, having foreseen it.)
The good angels never fell, but they were tested only once and merited their destiny with a single decision. But Adam was presumably subject to the temptation to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil continuously over his entire initially immortal life. Adam’s original sin was then inevitable, and God, foreseeing this bothersome problem, has with all His later actions aimed to make the best out of a bad situation. If true, then Plantinga’s Free Will Defense discussed in the previous post acquires additional merit if we speak of merely natural (ungraced) humans and infinite life: if Adam could not in the end avoid sin, then a fortiori, neither can any other sufficiently human-like creature. Thus, the Genesis story, if it is a truthful account of the creation of man, provides massive empirical support for the theory of universal transworld depravity and therefore for the truth of
(c) □∀(x)(◊(x is depraved) ≡ □(x is depraved)).
The perfect security of happiness obtains only in heaven / paradise in the state of glory where the process of self-making will cease. Creatures can never fully relax while away from God.
Hence, there can be no such thing as a created humanoid who is “logically determined” toward good. These aren’t the droids you are looking for, Quentin.