Sunday, 6 April 2008

Free Will?


Is it even possible to have free will? Supposedly, it's OK that god allows/causes evil, because we have a choice in what we do. Apart from the fact that our choices don't make it OK for god to damn us, isn't He omnipotent and omniscient? Doesn't that make free will logically impossible?

Think about this. When god created the universe, even before he started creating, he knew what all of us would do, down to the smallest detail. He knew what we would think, feel, act upon, etc. Knowing all of this, he set the universe in motion. Had he wanted it to be different, he would have set up the universe to work differently; but he didn't. Since god knows all that I will do, say, think, feel - and has known it from the beginning - my path has been determined since god willed the universe into existence. If he didn't want me to be an infidel, then why did he make me one?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

isn't He omnipotent and omniscient? Doesn't that make free will logically impossible?

Not at all. Knowing how something will turn out does not imply control over it. Every time you add 2+2 it will be 4, and there's no way around it. That does not imply control over numbers.

Thus, we do have the question of determinism. Does everything ultimately come about by the way the universe is engineered? If that's the case, God does not control you per se, but did mandate your actions by setting forth certain rules. However, determinism seems demonstrably false. I certainly experience making decisions/willing actions, and in order to counter that the determinist needs something quite excellent to counter what seems self-evident.

Since god knows all that I will do, say, think, feel - and has known it from the beginning - my path has been determined since god willed the universe into existence.

Not necessarily. To hold that God knows all can entail at least two things. First, it can mean that God knows all that is able to be known, and if that's the case, and it's impossible to know all the outcomes of your actions, then God can't and does not know that. The other is that God really does know all things, even things which cannot be know (all the numbers of Pi, and God can ignore Heisenberg, since for God nothing is uncertain, etc.).

The first solves your case rather obviously, but the second is...odd. If God does know things, which simply cannot be know, then God would be a being quite unlike us. That is, God can know things which defy the scope of knowledge, and so cannot be limited by math, logic, or the laws of physics, etc., all, and so must be something beyond and independent of such things. That's consistent, technically, but it also seems to necessitate that we jettison other ideas about God. For instance, Omnibenevolence is no longer a problem, because God's "good" becomes unknowable for us, since what God means by "good" and what we call "good" would be quite different sorts of things, and so while it's now easily reconcilable, it also becomes meaningless and unimportant to us. How in the world you manage to have a "personal" relationship with such a being, is, it seems, now unfathomable (at least as far as I can tell).

If he didn't want me to be an infidel, then why did he make me one?

See "good" above.

However, if being infidelic in the "conventional" sense is somehow important to God, either God finds your free will far more important, and thus outweighs your being an infidel, or perhaps God's forgiveness really does know no bounds, and so this will all be cleared up in the afterlife anyway. Thus, being a good Christian is just a nice way of speeding up the process, and avoiding that long layover in purgatory.

GCT said...

anonymous,
"Not at all. Knowing how something will turn out does not imply control over it. Every time you add 2+2 it will be 4, and there's no way around it. That does not imply control over numbers."

I suggest you read past the first couple sentences where I go into detail about why free will is logically impossible.

"If that's the case, God does not control you per se, but did mandate your actions by setting forth certain rules."

You aren't controlled, but god makes you act certain ways? Make up your mind.

"However, determinism seems demonstrably false. I certainly experience making decisions/willing actions, and in order to counter that the determinist needs something quite excellent to counter what seems self-evident."

You think you can demonstrate that determinism is false because you think you can make choices? If god is omni-max, then you simply have the illusion of free choice, not actual free choice, hence you can't show that the universe is not determined by using your illusory free choice.

"The first solves your case rather obviously..."

No it doesn't because you are describing a god that is not omni-max. If the set of all knowledge is larger than the set of god's knowledge, then god is not omnipotent.

"How in the world you manage to have a "personal" relationship with such a being, is, it seems, now unfathomable (at least as far as I can tell)."

You're damned if you do and damned if you don't it seems, which is why free will is logically impossible.

"However, if being infidelic in the "conventional" sense is somehow important to God, either God finds your free will far more important, and thus outweighs your being an infidel, or perhaps God's forgiveness really does know no bounds, and so this will all be cleared up in the afterlife anyway."

First off, following my argument above, it's inescapable that I would be an infidel according the the determined world that god set up. According to the Bible, I'm bound for hell. Yet, most claim that god doesn't want anyone to go to hell, that he desires all of us to love him and join him in heaven. I think we've seen that this is simply not the case. If I end up in hell, it is because god destined me to hell when he started the universe and I had no choice in the matter at all. This is the only logical conclusion based.

The Nihilist said...

The Bible is full of references to God having predestined souls unto some mysterious Divine purpose, salvation, even damnation... examples: Eph. 1:3-5; Rom. 8:28-30; Act. 4:27-28; 2Ti. 1:9; Rom. 9:16-18; etc. The last verse even depicts the loving, free-will loving God hardening men against Him.

Should I even go into all the Biblical references to The Elect and election?

Where is the free-will in such verses, anonymous?

GCT said...

Good point. god also hardens Pharoah's heart so that he can inflict the plagues upon Egypt in Exodus. god also changes Saul's heart so that he can become Paul. Surely, both of their free wills were violated by god.

Steven Bently said...

God can do anything he wants as long as it's what people want to believe. Christians can paint their god any color they want as long as it suits them and what they want to believe.