Milton’s Justification of God
In the epic poem Paradise Lost, the author John Milton tells his story of Man’s fall from paradise and God’s punishment on mankind. Milton, in his opening statement, says that he will “justify the ways of God to men” (Milton 1.26). Milton achieves this purpose by addressing the issues of the paradox of man’s free will and God’s introduction of evil to mankind, and giving a logical explanation as to why each was rightfully intended as part of God’s plan.
The argument against God states that if God is the creator of everything and that everything starts in him, and he knows everything that is and will be, then we cannot justify his ways because that implies that he created man knowing man would fall. This creates an unsettling paradox: If God really created us intending for our fall then do we really have free will such as God claims, if we have a predetermined fate? This question makes out God to be at fault for man’s fall, not man himself. This argument also puts God in bad standing because it means that if everything originates in God, then the introduction of evil and suffering was intended by God also.
Milton does not draw on faith alone to prove his purpose; he provides several explanations to the free will paradox. To the suggestion of it being God’s fault for man’s fall God says “…whose fault? Whose but his own? Ingrate, he had of me all he could have; I made him/sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.” (Milton 3.96). “Ingrate”, by saying this God seems to be insulted at the suggestion. He says that he had given man all he could, made him in his image, and the idea of saying man could never be strong enough to resist temptation is insulting to God himself. He also goes on to say “Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault” (Milton 3.118), this simply meaning that his knowing of the event played no actual part in their choice to eat the fruit. Saying that man does not have free will is false. The fact that man...
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