Here's a thought that I dug out of Tolkien, who was a devout Catholic all his life, and seems to have been familar with a number of theoligical and philosophical arguments and theories regarding the nature of God, evil and free will.

Elves and Men are both called 'Children of Illuvatar', because Eru Illuvatar, Tolkiens' fictional supreme being, concieved of them himself and directly inserted them into the Music which ws thr basis of the creation.

Both are composed of spirit or soul and body. But the spirits of the immortal Elves are bound to Arda (the physical universe). So if they are killed, or die of sorrow, their are taken to the Halls of Mandos - still within Arda - to remain there in meditation. After a certain amount of time, those who wish or need to, and are judged worthy by the Valar, can be givn a new, identical body and return, either to Aman or, in exceptional circumstances, to Middle-Earth. They are bound to the Music of the Ainur and can only perorm the actions laid down for them by that Music. Such free will as they have only allows them to decide whether they play their part cheerfully or begrudgingly.

The spirits of mortal Men, however, are not so bound. They can, indeed must, go beyond Arda. This is the the 'Gift of Men'. But it indicates that the spirits of Men are different from those of Elves or even the Valar. That they might, like the original Ainur, be part of Illuvatar. This is why, alone among the beings of Arda, Men are not bound to or by the Music, but can 'shape their own fate amid the chances of the world', in other words, full free will.

What effect their actions in life might have on what occurs after their spirits leave the world is never discussed. But it does raise a question.

Is human free will and our capacity for evil the result of a special relationship with God? Does the fact that God created us in His own image and breathed His life into us mean that He cannot interfere with us? That in preventing us from doing certain things would be to prevent Himself? Or simply that, by giving us free will, He cannot now prevent us from exercising it however we choose without breaking His own rules or somehow damaging Himself?

Because God must be finite, his power must have limits. A perfect creator would not be content with, or even capable of, an imperfect creation, after all.

Snapper-up of unconsidered trifles, walker of paths less travelled by. Advocate-in-Ordinary to His Satanic Majesty.

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