Paul Copan and Free Will in Heaven

One comment below asked the question about free will in heaven and whether or not the saved will have it. It's a good question, and Christian philosopher Paul Copan has dealt with it. Here's my response:

Paul Copan offers three possibilities with regard to free will in heaven [in “That’s Just Your Interpretation”, (Baker Books, 2001), pp. 106-108].

1) That through our truly libertarian free actions on earth we gain access to heaven where we no longer have this freedom to sin. But if heaven is a place where we longer have the freedom to sin, then God could’ve bypassed our earthly existence altogether. If there is no free will in heaven then why not just create us all in heaven? What does it matter what we did or didn’t do on earth? Furthermore, why reward someone by taking away their free will? If free will can be taken away without a loss of goodness, then why create us with it in the first place?

2) That God foreknows that no one who enters heaven will freely choose to sin. But if God has that kind of foreknowledge then again, what is the purpose of creating this particular world? It appears to be a cruel game of hide and seek, where God hides and we must find him, and only the few who find him will be rewarded while the many who don’t are punished when they die. If God has foreknowledge then why didn’t he just foreknow who would find him even before creating them, and simply place them in heaven in the first place?...then there’d be no one punished for not finding him. If heaven is a reward, then “it seems absurd for a wholly good God to force humanity into a position of ignorance regarding correct moral choice and then hold people accountable for such a choice.” [Suffering Belief, Weisberger, p. 136]. Furthermore, if this world is to teach us the virtues of courage, patience, and generosity in the face of suffering, then most all of those virtues are irrelevant in a heavenly bliss where there is no suffering or pain.

3) That those who enter heaven will be in “the unmediated presence of God” such that “not sinning will be a ‘no brainer’—even though it remains a possibility.” But if this is the case, then why do Christians think the Devil rebelled against God, since he was supposedly in the direct unmediated presence of God? How was it possible for the traditional Devil to have such an experience of absolute goodness and absolute power and still rebel against God?

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