I call this the free will excuse because that's what it is. It's an attempt by believers to excuse God for the massacre in Colorado by James Holmes. I've already suggested reasonable ways a good God could've acted to avert this tragedy but didn't. Now I want to briefly address the objection that God does not interfere with our free choices, even if that means some of us will do heinous crimes on occasion.
You don't have to accept the idea that God doesn't interfere with our free choice to be a Christian. It's an intramural debate among Christians and neither viewpoint is a litums test for orthodoxy or salvation. I realize that Loftus is primarily arguing a straw man from my point of view because I reject the idea that God does not interfere with our free choices even if it means some of us do evil sometimes.
If God doesn't interfere then there is no way he could ever answer any prayers involving other people. Don't bother praying for anyone to be saved, since God won't interfere with one's free will. Nor for safety when traveling, since a drunk may cross the center line and crash into you of his own free will. Don't pray for the cessation of conflicts around the world either. Don't even pray over your meal, since a food handler may have been negligent such that it contains toxic levels of e-coli bacteria. I had already mentioned this.
This one paragraph above is one of the most clearest things I've ever read Loftus write. I think he is 100% right. That is why I reject the notion of libertarian free will. According to the Bible, no one is saved unless God supersedes their will. On our own, we don't even know we need salvation. Even that realization comes from God.
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. - Romans 8:5-8
If God does interfere on some occasions then let me humbly suggest he should at least interfere when it comes to the most heinous of crimes.
Who says God doesn't? Just because God does not interfere in everything, all the time, in the same way, does not mean that God does nothing every time.
Why bother answering a prayer that a baseball, basketball, or football team wins a game when he should reserve his interference for the times when he is needed the most?
Who says when God and how God should interfere? Last I checked, only God does.
It's these kind of heinous crimes that we should see him interfering with by stopping before they happen. Since we don't see him doing anything about them it's clear he doesn't interfere with anything at all. And if he doesn't interfere at all then his existence is indistinguishable from his non-existence.
I don't think Loftus, or any of us, can say we know when God does or does not interfere from stopping terrible things from happening. If God stops something evil, most of the time, we would not know what God has held back from us and protected us from. Sometimes we are shown what we have been protected from, but if we truly knew what it was or everything that could have gone wrong for us, we wouldn't get out of bed in the morning.
Furthermore, I think it's obvious that the more power someone has to avert a tragedy then the more of a moral responsibility he has to interfere with it. If I encountered a gang of thugs beating up some kid I cannot be expected to physically stop them. But a superman who came upon them doing so should. So also with God, the ultimate superman.
So why? For what reason is the one who is to hold such a superman accountable for his or her action or inaction? If you believe this, then you can't really accept a relativistic morality. So who is God accountable to? Us? No way.
The fact of the matter is that we do not have as much free will as commonly supposed, if we have any at all, as I wrote about here. Since we don't have that much free will anyway, there should be no objection to interfering when someone wants to commit a heinous crime like James Holmes did.
Why would a lack of free will mean that James Holmes (or anyone) is not accountable for our actions? James Holmes decided to kill people. He decided to sin. It's the same way when anyone of us sins. I disagree that there should be no objection because a lack of libertarian free will does not mean you are absolved from responsibility for the things you say and do.
If an omniscient God somehow needs to judge us then he can judge our thoughts and intentions alone. He should therefore stop people like James Holmes dead in his tracks before he acts on his thoughts.
Who says God doesn't ever stop anyone? If God didn't intervene we'd have far more examples of such incidents.
That he does not do this is strong convincing proof, empirical proof, that such a God does not exist.The extent of suffering in our world makes the existence of God implausible.
It's not proof of anything. Loftus' logic assumes that the extent of suffering in our world is as bad as it could be. He assumes that no one is stopped from doing more evil that they already do. There is no way he can prove that. Also scripture tells us that the suffering of the world is for a reason. There is no purposeless suffering.
18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children. ” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. - Genesis 50:18-21
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[h] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.- Romans 8:18-25
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. - Romans 8:28-30
Debunking Christianity: James Holmes and the Free Will Excuse