Tuesday, May 14, 2024

An argument against strong universalism

  1. It is impossible end up in heaven without forgiving all evils done to one at least by other people who end up in heaven.

  2. Some people have had evils done to them by other people who end up in heaven.

  3. No one is necessitated to forgive evil done to them by other people.

  4. So, at least one person is not necessitated to end up in heaven.

This is an argument against a strong universalism on which God necessitates everyone to go to heaven. It is not an argument against a weaker universalism on which there is a possibility of eternal damnation but no one in fact chooses it. (For the record, alas, I think the Biblical evidence is that the weaker universalism is also false.)

Why do I think the premises are true?

Premise 1: Heavenly beatitude is that of a perfect community of love. Such a community of love is impossible if one has failed to forgive evils done to one by other members of the community.

Premise 2: St Paul did evil to a number of people before his conversion.

Premise 3: This is probably the most controversial of the premises. There are two ways of arguing for it. One is by saying that necessitating someone to forgive is unfitting, and so we have good reason to think God wouldn’t do that—and presumably nobody else but God would be capable of necessitating forgiveness. The second is to note that it is impossible to be forced to forgive. It’s just not forgiveness if it’s forced. One can be forced to stop resenting, one can be forced forget, but that’s not forgiveness. This is akin to promising: it is not possible to force someone to make a promise—the words just wouldn’t be binding.

It's worth noting that the argument also tells against Calvinism.

1 comment:

StMichael said...

The universalists simply deny premise 3. Talbott et al. think God would necessarily necessitate us to forgive others and that, if He did not, He would be a moral monster. So, I don't think this is very persuasive dialectically, since they just accept its contrary.