I am quoting here something from The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus:

The problem of 'freedom as such' has no meaning. For it is linked in quite a different way with the problem of God. The absurdity peculiar to this problem comes from the fact that the very notion that makes the problem of freedom possible also tries to take away all its meaning.

You know the alternative: either we are not free and God the all-powerful is responsible for evil. Or we are free and responsible but God is not the all-powerful. All the scholastic subtleties have neither added anything to nor subtracted anything from the acuteness of this paradox.

I can't quite see how free will and the idea of an omnipotent God are incompatible ideas. Is it not possible that we can fully exercise our will under an entity that is 'all-powerful'? Maybe God just doesn't wish to exercise his powers. Sorry but it's impossible for me to understand just how the existence of a God automatically negates the idea of freedom and free will.

I'd like for the answer to be closely tied with the philosophy of Albert Camus.

  • There's several question on this SE about the potential compatibility or incompatibility of an omni-God with human freedom. Have you looked at any of those? The basic challenge revolves around the existence of evil in the world and the difficulty of that being simultaneous with a good but all powerful God.
    – virmaior
    Nov 1, 2015 at 6:17
  • 1
    @virmaior I've looked at many of them. My question has almost exclusively to do with Camus' Absurdism, which is why your edit comes for the better. At its bare-bone level, this argument seems to have little to do with God's morality and much more to do with the logical possibilities of such an arrangement. Nov 1, 2015 at 6:28

1 Answer 1


We are confronted with two possibilities here: Either free will, or God. But why? Well, let's see what omnipotence implies for free actions.

If our will is free, it is free in every concious action of a rational being (I take rationality to be important from "scholastic subtleties").

Either God is omnipotent, then he is able to intervene in our actions, too. Or our actions are free (our own sphere of freedom), then God would not be able to intervene, as in any other case the freedom would be his freedom to let us do what we want, but not ours. That is why "Maybe God just doesn't wish to exercise his powers" will not be able to perserve our freedom.

Freedom in a meaningful notion means freedom from every external determination, either by God or nature.

An all-powerful God will take away all the meaning of freedom, because only he would be free in the full sense in letting us make our choices. And that surely brings a philosopher of the absurd to state that the notion of an omnipotent God is absurd, because it is metaphysical "knowledge" that will not make any difference in our practice.

That said, Camus himself surely adds a moral dimension by saying "God the all-powerful is responsible for all evil". That leads to the old problem that scholastic tradition takes God to be good and omnipotent by definition. Both is meant to lie in the notion of God. But this is another paradox, as you correctly stated.

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