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If God Didn't Satisfice, We Could Still Exist

If God Didn't Satisfice, We Could Still Exist

Rick Repetti

Department of History, Philosophy & Political Science, Kingsborough Community College, 2001 Oriental Blvd., D-223, Brooklyn, NY 11235, 718-368-5226, USA.



Theodicies of satisficing – defenses of God’s goodness that justify creating minimally satisfactory beings/worlds – originate with Robert Merrihew Adams (1972, 1979). Adams (1972) argued that in creating imperfect beings God was graceful in giving the undeserved gift of life. There have been many objections to Adams’s argument; e.g., Jerome A. Weinstock (1975) objected that God still would have been graceful in granting undeserved life to superior beings, and, among others, E. Wielenberg (2004) objected that grace doesn’t erase the imperfection of creating imperfection. However, Adams’s theodicy arguably maintains two points: (a) non-existing superior beings cannot be harmed by not being created, and (b) if God must create superior beings, we wouldn’t be them. Setting aside whether God is justified in satisficing per se, I target one element of Adams’s satisficing theodicy, viz. (b), his “non-identity” thesis: we would not be the superior beings God could have created. I argue that this thesis is inconsistent with the theology informing Adams’s theodicy. That theology identifies us not as our bodies, but as our nonphysical souls. On that theology’s “identity thesis,” identity of subjects of experience is preserved through conception, life, death, and the after-life, and thus is capable of preservation in alternate bodies. Thus, God could have created us as better beings in a better world, exhibiting grace and avoiding imperfection. Thus, (b) cannot support God’s satisficing. I entertain an objection that God could create souls whose identities vary with their bodies, but reply that He could create souls whose identities do not vary trans-corporeally.


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Science, Religion and Culture


Vol. 5, Sp. Iss. 1 Pages 1-82


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