Over at the conservative blog What’s Wrong with the World (‘W4’ for short), Lydia McGrew critiques what she calls The Fallacy of the Clickable Universe. Here’s how she starts:
When philosophers talk about the Problem of Evil (aka “the POE”), they sometimes cast the question like this: “Why did God create a universe in which Adam chose to sin rather than a different universe in which Adam did not choose to sin? Was there no possible universe God could have created in which Adam did not choose to sin?” Then they go on to discuss these questions.
I think this is a confusing way for philosophers to cast the issue.
The reason that I think it is confusing is that it implies that God, in an act of creation, makes an entire world-history, an entire possible world with all that happens in it. I call this the Fallacy of the Clickable Universe. The picture it always gives me is of a pretty Microsoft Desktop arrangement, with a tasteful blue background, and all the possible worlds laid out on it as little icons. God has a mouse. He decides which one to create by clicking on it, and when he does so, that whole universe, history and all, is then fated to come into existence.
But that’s not right.
Such a topic ties in rather nicely with that of Apolonio’s post God and Infinite Choices; but the W4 combox discussion, unlike that of Apolonio’s post, centers on the issue of God’s knowledge of future contingents. And that, it seems to me, is how it should be.
For the question Apolonio addressed in his post, namely whether God can be accounted less then perfectly good if he doesn’t actualize the best world he can, cannot be usefully raised unless we first settle the question what it means (or ought to mean) to say that God actualizes a possible world. And answers to the question whether and/or how God knows what free beings will do surely affect, even if they don’t t settle by themselves, the question what it means (or ought to mean) to say that God actualizes a possible world.
There are other questions here too, such as that of whether ‘universe’ and ‘actual world’ have the same referent. But let’s try to tackle one question at a time.