God and Free Will

God cannot do anything he wants.

I know that sounds partly heretical (of course he can, he’s omnipotent!), and partly nonsensical (what does it even mean for God to want something that he can’t have?). But I’m serious, and I’m going to give my argument for why this is true. I don’t know if it is heretical or not, and I’m not sure whether I believe this argument or not, but it is certainly intriguing.

(Note that my argument presupposes free will on the part of humanity.)

The argument goes as follows:


  1. God created the world.
  2. God could have created the world differently than he did.
  3. God is omniscient.
  4. Existence is meaningless unless there are beings to do the existing.
  5. To exist is to be free.


  1. God knows what the world would have been like if he had created the world differently (>premise 2).
  2. This knowledge is perfect (>p3, >conclusion 1).
  3. The only difference between the real world and this perfectly imagined world is our inhabiting the real world as metaphysical beings (>p4, >c2).
  4. God cannot control our actions, for we are free (=p5).
  5. God must know what would result from any possible action we take as free beings (>p3, >p5).
  6. If God had created metaphysical beings in every world, such that c3 was a false distinction, we would not be free, because we would take every possible action (=c5), and there would be metaphysical beings who had taken every possible course of action, which is tantamount to contradicting c4.
  7. God could not have actually created every universe he is able to imagine perfectly (>c6).

(I use “>” to mean “is derived from” and “=” to mean “is a restatement of”.)


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