In its simplest form, the famous problem of evil goes as follows:
Premise 1: If God (an omnipotent, omniscient, and benevolent being) existed, then it would prevent evil.
Premise 2: Evil occurs.
Conclusion 1: Therefore, God does not exist.
The primary theological response to this problem is that God allows us to exercise free will (and thus commit and be subjected to evil) because 1.) a world of free beings who experience evil is better than a world with neither free beings nor evil and/or 2.) God desires that we choose to worship him freely. In short, our free will is so valuable that God would actually have to be less than perfectly benevolent to violate it.
One of the most popular rebuttals to this “resolution” is that it is possible to prevent actions without interfering with free will. Consider the following example:
Humans cannot simply exercise their free will to fly by flapping their arms. However, no one argues that this physical impossibility truly interferes with free will. We understand that free will, if it exists, is contextual: for any given being, it applies only to those behaviors that the being is able to perform. Therefore, God could have also taken away some of our other abilities, such that we could not cause the sort of harm of which we are presently capable.
But God need not go so far. It could have simply made moral actions so pleasurable or immoral actions so displeasurable that we would not choose to do evil, even though we would still have the free will to do so.
This brings us to the second problem of Heaven in this series:
Premise 1: In Heaven, we either will or will not have free will; there is no third possibility.
Premise 2: In Heaven, we will be incapable of or unwilling to commit sin.
Conclusion 1: Therefore, either God will take away our free will or we are capable of acting perfectly even with free will.
Premise 3: If we are capable of acting perfectly even with free will, then God could have created us in the first place to have free will but not commit evil.
Premise 4: If God will take away our free will, then it was not important and God could have created us without it in the first place, saving everyone a lot of unnecessary trouble.*
Conclusion 2: Therefore, the problem of evil is not resolved by an appeal to free will.
*Many theists would also find the loss of free will to be undesirable, further weakening Heaven as an incentive.
Some theists, in an effort to escape the second conclusion, might object to premise 2, which I gleaned from a Biblically supported description of Heaven that I addressed in my previous post. However, if sin is possible in Heaven, then suffering must be possible as well, which is inconsistent with standard descriptions of Heaven.
It appears that theists are forced to choose between an already shoddy resolution to the problem of evil and a popular conception of Heaven. Both choices have considerable consequences.