In my previous post, I argued that God would not create any person who has any chance of suffering forever. In other words, no person will refuse union with God—and if they do, they accept union again with there being a final acceptance not followed by any rejection.
However, in defense of the argument, I failed to motivate a key premise, namely that if God were to create someone who had a 99.999999999999999% chance of suffering forever, then given an infinite number of chances to accept union with God, their chance of accepting union with God is 100%.
In this post, I will support this key premise by drawing off the work of Jeremy Gwiazda.
In defense of the opening premise, which reads
Premise 1: A perfectly good God would not create someone who has a 99.999999999999999% chance of suffering forever
I appealed to an intuition about what God—being a perfectly good being—would do. Could God, e.g. allow for 99.999999999999999% of the people in Gabon, Africa to suffer forever because of their background culture and innate personalities? Intuitively, no, God would not.
However, knowing that this intuition would not have much persuasive power for card-carrying infernalists, I maintained that even if God were to create someone who had a 99.999999999999999% chance of suffering forever, then given an infinite number of chances to accept union with God, their chance of accepting union is 100%.
In support of this, I wrote the following:
Suppose God creates Alice, the most rebellious rebel. Alice’s chances of refusing union on any occasion of choice is .9. Give this rebel an infinite number of chances to accept, and the chances are 1 that she accepts some time or other. But, of course, on every occasion of choice, her chances of refusing the offer are by hypothesis .9. So, even supposing that Alice knows she will accept at some time or other, she is certainly free to refuse or accept on each occasion. In fact, she is likely to refuse on each occasion. All the more, she is likely to refuse on the occasion when, finally, she does not refuse; but, no doubt, she is really choosing when she does choose union with God.
So why think offering Alice an infinite number of chances to accept union with God entails that she eventually chooses, and with guarantee? Jeremy Gwiazda offers us one reason for believing this. He writes:
Imagine that Joe is an alcoholic who has given up drinking at the age of 30. Assume that on any given day Joe has a 99.99% chance of choosing not to drink. Joe will live to 85, which is roughly 20,000 days. First let us ask: What is the probability that Joe will make it one year without a drink? The answer is given by raising 99.99% to the 365th power, which equals roughly 96%. Next let us ask: What is the probability that Joe will make it through his entire life never choosing to take a drink? Now the answer is given by raising 99.99% to the 20,000th power, which equals roughly 14%. On any given day Joe is very likely not to drink; however, as the number of days grows, the probability that Joe will not drink over all of those days decreases, and can even become quite small, e.g., 14%. The general point is that repeatedly choosing the same state of affairs becomes difficult (success is less likely) as the number of choices grows. Even if there is a very high probability that a person will succeed on a single choice, the probability that the person will succeed over many choices diminishes, and can diminish drastically given enough choices.
The idea is simple, even though the probability of refusing to accept union on any single choice may be high, refusing to accept union eternally seems to require infinitely many choices. And if there is a very high probability that a person will succeed on a single choice, the probability that the person will succeed over many choices diminishes, and can diminish drastically given enough choices.
Now, Gwiazda does note that if a person’s “probability of choosing to remain in hell on a single choice approaches 1 quickly, then [that person] can end up with a probability of remaining in hell that is greater than 0.” He expands on this, writing:
This conclusion follows from a counterintuitive mathematical result, namely, that an infinite product of factors, each factor strictly between 0 and 1, can converge to a number greater than 0. See Knopp, K. (1990). Theory and Application of Infinite Series. New York: Dover: 220. And so if [a person] P’s probability of choosing to remain in hell very rapidly approaches 1, then P does have a chance of remaining in hell eternally.
But, this should cause us no worry because
These are remarkably strong conditions, and [there are] serious doubts that they would be ever be met by any person P, though the situation is not logically impossible. But the situation is not likely enough to alter the fact that I would bet that any P would leave hell, and I would place this bet at any odds.