My brother in Christ and Internet bud Rhology has asked me to give my perspective to someone who has brought up the problem of evil. He's given his response, here is mine.
Note: I tried to post it as a comment over there, but Blogger seems to still be having issues with it's commenting system. It's only been what, like three years?
Bible says free will isn't possible due to prophesy:
It would be nice to see a citation here, because the Bible never comes out and says "free will isn't possible" obviously. You say there are a lot of prophecies that present a problem for the free will position. How does foreknowing what will happen mean that it must happen by necessity, or that God predetermined it? It doesn't. God can know what will happen simply in light of knowing only and all true propositions (omniscience) and propositions regarding the future would be included in that. So, God can know what we will freely choose, but don't have to choose, in the future. In other words, when you say, "If the future can be predicted, everything is predetermined," you are stating a non-sequitur.
Your conundrum is, in fact, an example of a modal fallacy. Just because someone knows something WILL happen doesn't mean it MUST or CAN'T NOT (pardon the double negative) happen. It seems quite odd to think it does. I mean we know things will happen all the time. It doesn't therefore mean that they must happen by necessity, or that we predetermined they will happen.
If you want to delve even further into what God knows, there's this concept called middle knowledge in which God knows counterfactuals of creaturely freedom. So He knows what anyone WOULD freely do if placed in any situation. For instance, He knows what I would, in fact, freely choose to do if given the choice to steal a horse in 1895. He also knew logically prior to creating this world that I would respond to your post if placed in the position of seeing it. Given that, it's not hard to see how God can providentially order the world to achieve His ends and not interfere with people's freedom.
Also I agree that free will and determinism are incompatible, but I don't think free will faces any huge philosophical objections at all.
Is free will a good thing:
Well if God granted it to us then, since all He created was good, yes. There are several other possibilities regarding why God allows evil free acts. It may be that there couldn't be a world with this much good without this kind of evil in it (Christ would never have been crucified for instance, which is an immeasurable good). It may be that He has morally sufficient reasons to allow it.The fact is, we don't have that middle knowledge I was talking about, and so therefore don't have sufficient knowledge to judge whether the evil we see is gratuitous. It's awful presumptuous of us to question whether there can't be a sufficiently good reason to allow what God allows.
A sinless heaven is a violation of free will:
How is that? Who says God "alters" our programming? Our programming was "altered" when Adam imputed to us all a sin nature. Perhaps that is removed. Perhaps being in the very presence of THE GOOD we will no longer have any desire, reason, or influences to do evil any longer. None of that entails that free will no longer exists. You've simply asserted that to be the case.
Also, no Christian says God removing free will would make Him evil. It's His prerogative to do that if He wants. But there's no indication He would want a bunch of mindless puppets to control.
So, to answer your three questions:
1. God has middle knowledge and providentially ordered creation in such a way that we freely choose what we want.
2. Free will is from God, and all gifts from God are good. There's no indication that free will is not present in the eschatos. It's not bad, and God allows it because we'd be mindless otherwise (or at least very one dimensional ;-)).
3. They've been solved for centuries, but especially since Alvin Plantinga tore it apart in the 70's.