Free Will and Punishment

No, not a sequel to Dostoyevsky’s classic, just a simple conclusion:

God-given Free Will and Inherited Sin are mutually exclusive concepts.

(Inherited Sin naturally refers to Original Sin in the Bible, but applies to any type of company punishment.)

The conclusion can be drawn from the postulate that any concept of free will entails voluntary choices made by a person, and consequently from all religious texts granting free will to man.

Certainly, so much is true for followers of the Bible, and Genesis chapter 2 and Deuteronomy chapter 30 are used by believers to strengthen the concept.

Here, Dawkins expounds on the vengeful nature of Yahwe, and questions why God’s son had to be the ransom paid for the inherited sin of everyone born from the tainted bloodline of Adam. (Everyone who has ever lived, according to the Bible.)

The purpose of this article is to make obsolete the need for character descriptions of Yahwe and the topic of substitutionary atonement, so that the discussion can move on. It is simply this:

“If God gave individuals free will and expected them to behave, individuals could act in a way God liked, and he could choose to reward those, or in a way he didn’t, and he could choose to punish those. If he didn’t, individuals are not responsible for their actions and God could choose to reward or punish at whim. If he did, he couldn’t punish descendants of Adam for the sins of Adam.

In other words: if we’re to be punished for the actions of others, he didn’t give us free will, and if he did, we’re not to be punished for the actions of others. Therefore, God-given Free Will and Inherited Sin are incompatible concepts.

Remains the permutation that God could reward or punish the righteous and sinful at whim, in other words the ‘God works in mysterious ways’ or ‘it is not for us to know’ card. Playing this card only stresses the incompatibility. Even He could then no longer claim to have given free will to me and you, and he could not be credited for it.”

The incompatibility lies in the concept itself, so that there is no escape; if the choice isn’t made by you, you don’t have free will.

Note that this article only addresses the Bible’s own internally incompatible definitions. The religious definition is based on an opposition of the will of the individual to the will of the deity or deities, instead of incompatibility with determinism or other concepts in Philosophy.

Therefore, do not take this article to endorse specific religious concepts of free will for philosophical discourse.


About maximilion

I seek truths and try to make you see them. View all posts by maximilion

3 responses to “Free Will and Punishment

  • Christ Centered Teaching

    The sin nature is from the transformation that took place in Adam and Eve. We inherited that. We know right from wrong like they did after they changed.
    We understand the difference and that makes it sin. That is free will.

    • maximilion

      This is the definition that you have been taught and the one that I address. I do not address the common definition of free will, but the specific one interpreted from the Bible.

      The point of this article was that if you understand the reasoning in the quote and can’t find a fault with it, it invalidates what you have been taught. This should be of some concern to you, so that you should point out a flaw in my reasoning or consider the Bible’s definition of free will as incorrect.

  • Christ Centered Teaching


    A better question then? One from a song writer’s perspective.

    What is the human conscience?

    “There’s two angels sittin on my shoulders,
    All they ever do is disagree,

    One is on the side of rhyme and reason,
    The other on the reckless side of me.”

    The Steeldrivers

    BTW- Nobody has been able to do more than say what it does.

    Harris and Dawkins haven’t gotten past Kant.

    If you CAN define it, share that with developers of AI.
    Intelligence can be artificially duplicated, but nobody can Artificially duplicate a conscience that will always choose right from wrong, and never become self-centered.
    This is our biggest concern in making AI.

    Have fun with this one Max. One of my favs.

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