Free Will and God

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by MadMardigan, Aug 5, 2002.

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  1. MadMardigan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2001
    star 4
    This is not intended to be a bash against Christianity. Instead I'm using it solely as an example.

    Many Christians claim God doesn't stop evil because he gave Man free will. Now for some of my problems.

    1) How is it possible to have free will with an omniscient being floating around? Don't our future choices have to conform with what the being already knows we will choose?

    Example: Say tommorrow night I have the option of ordering a pizza or ordering Chinese. God knows I will order pizza. When tommorrow night rolls around, can I do anything but order pizza. If I order Chinese, then God wasn't all-knowing. But God is all-knowing, therefore I cannot freely choose to order anything but pizza or that will contradict his omniscience. So I'm locked into ordering the pizza simply because God knows I will.

    2) How can we have free will with the threat of Hell pointed at our heads? Doesn't a legitimate threat compromise free will?

    Example: A mad rapist holds a woman at gun point and tells her to either have sex with him or die. Can she freely choose one way or the other with a gun pointed at her head?
  2. Maveric Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 17, 1999
    star 4
    The way I look at it, it is kind of like watching the prequels of Star Wars.

    We know that Anakin will turn to the dark side, because we have seen the future. He does have the capability to choose a different path, but will not do so.

    It is the same way with God. He knows what the future holds, and whether we choose left or right, whichever we choose, he knew we would make that decision.
  3. Terr_Mys Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2002
    star 6
    Yes, and to add to what Maveric said, we do have free will. God just knows what we're going to do with it, he doesn't dictate it.
  4. phantom31415 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 3, 2002
    star 1
    The way I've thought of it is that God doesn't know what we will do because He just does. He knows because he is watching us do it [/i]right now[/i]. He is omnipresent in time.

    As for the hell argument, two major misconceptions need to be adressed. I am attaching two links, the first one especially goes into a huge amount of detail.

    1: Hell is not some torture party.

    http://www.christian-thinktank.com/gr5part2.html


    2: The idea of hell being a threat is wrong anyway.

    http://www.christian-thinktank.com/meorburn.html

    The following quote is a very small section of the article in the above link.

    One pattern I have noticed over the past 5+ years of the Tank, is that the positions objected to by skeptics often should be objected to, and some of the portraits of Jesus rejected by non-believers should be rejected--they are abysmal caricatures of His character and heart...

    ...But this being said, this imaginary situation leaves out a couple of major and constitutive components of the biblical description of the situation. Two come immediately to mind: the element of removal of the abusive and the aspect of rescue.


    Hope this helps!
  5. WormieSaber Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 22, 2000
    star 5
    If you don't know evil, then how will you know good? I think we have free will, but there is also an ultimate plan for everyone's life, and there is also free will. But we can not escape our destiny.
  6. MadMardigan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2001
    star 4
    We know that Anakin will turn to the dark side, because we have seen the future. He does have the capability to choose a different path, but will not do so.

    How come he will not do so? Can Anakin even possibly choose the lightside? Doesn't our knowledge of the OT compromise the fate of Anakin in Ep3?

    God just knows what we're going to do with it, he doesn't dictate it.

    You are right. But that's not what I'm saying. Our free will is limited by that which God already knows. Imagine you are faced with 2 options: X and Y. God knows you will choose X. Is there even the remote possibility you can choose Y. Because choosing Y would negate God's omniscience.

    As for the hell argument, two major misconceptions need to be adressed. I am attaching two links, the first one especially goes into a huge amount of detail.

    Your links were quite lengthy. Care to summarize their viewpoints?

    I think we have free will, but there is also an ultimate plan for everyone's life, and there is also free will. But we can not escape our destiny.

    How can you have your cake and eat it too? Or are you suggesting we have free will in little things, but when it comes to larger choices we are controlled by destiny?
  7. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    How come he will not do so? Can Anakin even possibly choose the lightside? Doesn't our knowledge of the OT compromise the fate of Anakin in Ep3?

    Let's say that we go back in time to Germany in 1932, when Hitler rose to power. Now, we have also made the commitment that we will remain observers and not actively interfere with the normal flow of time. Now, we have the opportunity to see exactly what happens, the events leading up to the Holocaust and WWII. Does that mean that we are forcing Hitler to commit those acts? Have we in any way limited his ability to choose between right and wrong? Does he still not have the capability to do good, even though we know that he will choose evil?

    How can we have free will with the threat of Hell pointed at our heads? Doesn't a legitimate threat compromise free will?

    Hell is not a threat. It is a consequence. You could ask the same question but phrase it differently. "How can we have free will with the threat jail time over our heads? Doesn't a legitimate threat compromise free will?" Prison is the natural consequence of breaking the laws. In the same way, Hell is the natural consequence of violating God's commandments.

    Kimball Kinnison
  8. GeistDesFritz Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 25, 2002
    star 3
    We can have free will because God made us in his image, thus making us with free will. Plus, God is, as phantom said, omnipresent. "I am that I will be."

    A mad rapist holds a woman at gun point and tells her to either have sex with him or die. Can she freely choose one way or the other with a gun pointed at her head?

    Is god supposed to be the equivalent to the rapist? If so, then I have to say that I don't view God's omnipotence (sp?) as being a gun to my head. If god made me the way I am, he obviously knows me better than I know myself. The same could go for you. He would know that maybe you wanted Chinese, but that circumstances would lead you to order pizza.
    I guess I'm saying that it all fits into some sort of 'God's plan'. We all have certain strengths and weaknesses that God gave us for a reason to see how we handle them. Sometimes we handle them in a good way, sometimes in a bad way, but it's all part of God's plan, even if we can't see it.
  9. Terr_Mys Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2002
    star 6
    But that's not what I'm saying. Our free will is limited by that which God already knows. Imagine you are faced with 2 options: X and Y. God knows you will choose X. Is there even the remote possibility you can choose Y. Because choosing Y would negate God's omniscience.

    That's not the point, either. You WILL choose X, no matter what. And you will WANT to pick X.
  10. MadMardigan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2001
    star 4
    Does that mean that we are forcing Hitler to commit those acts? Have we in any way limited his ability to choose between right and wrong? Does he still not have the capability to do good, even though we know that he will choose evil?

    First the analogy doesn't work because we are human and not omniscient like God. But let's assume we are omniscient.

    Does that mean that we are forcing Hitler to commit those acts?

    Yes. By sheer force of knowledge. His actions have to conform with what we know. If he does anything else than we are not ominscient. So in that sense we are passively forcing his hand if we omnisciently know what he will do.

    Have we in any way limited his ability to choose between right and wrong?

    Yes. If we know he will choose wrong and we are omniscient, then he will choose wrong. He is not free to choose right because we thought he was going to choose wrong, But since we are omniscient we cannot be wrong. Therefore, no matter what he feels, no matter how hard he tries, Hitler must choose that action which we already know he will choose. He is bound by our omniscient to only do that which we know he will do. To do anything other wise would mean we are not omniscient since we didn't know he was going to do that.


    Does he still not have the capability to do good, even though we know that he will choose evil?

    Once again, he's bound by our knowledge of what he will do. Yes, he has the option, but he still cannot do anything other than what we have foreseen he will do.

    Hell is not a threat. It is a consequence. You could ask the same question but phrase it differently. "How can we have free will with the threat jail time over our heads? Doesn't a legitimate threat compromise free will?" Prison is the natural consequence of breaking the laws. In the same way, Hell is the natural consequence of violating God's commandments.


    Not a good analogy. Humans have already agreed whether through social contract or governmental constitution that it is okay to take away some of our free will for the sake of the bigger whole. And yes jail does put a damper on our free will. But Christians claim God has given us complete unadulterated free will.

    Secondly, jail is a threat until one violates laws and then it is a consquence. Same could be said of Hell. "Break my commandements and you go to hell" is a threat. Once you break the commandments and actually go to Hell then it is a consequence. So my logic still stands. God uses Hell as the gun he points to our heads.

    On to Geistdesfritz

    We can have free will because God made us in his image, thus making us with free will.

    Circular logic. Please rephrase.

    Plus, God is, as phantom said, omnipresent. "I am that I will be."

    Okay?? And what does that mean?

    If so, then I have to say that I don't view God's omnipotence (sp?) as being a gun to my head.

    Not his omnipotence, but rather his threat of Hell.

    If god made me the way I am, he obviously knows me better than I know myself. The same could go for you. He would know that maybe you wanted Chinese, but that circumstances would lead you to order pizza.
    I guess I'm saying that it all fits into some sort of 'God's plan'. We all have certain strengths and weaknesses that God gave us for a reason to see how we handle them. Sometimes we handle them in a good way, sometimes in a bad way, but it's all part of God's plan, even if we can't see it.


    Don't really know what you're trying to say here?? Maybe you're trying to say "don't think too hard about it or else the logic of God's omnipotence falls apart"?
  11. FlamingSword Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 2001
    star 6
    Hmmm, interesting topic :)

    MadMardigan: Example: A mad rapist holds a woman at gun point and tells her to either have sex with him or die. Can she freely choose one way or the other with a gun pointed at her head?

    This woman does have a choice in front of her. I'll admit that most of us know which one we think she'll take. She can still choose even if one choice is much much more appealling than the other.

    This example does not equate well to the threat of hell, however. First, the rape or death is direct and immeadiate; the heaven or hell is in the future. Second, the rape or death can and will happen in that situation; heaven and hell is based on belief and people can choose not to believe. They can't do that with the rape situation.

    How is it possible to have free will with an omniscient being floating around? Don't our future choices have to conform with what the being already knows we will choose?

    An omniscient being can see all the possible paths we can take and which ones we are likely to take. It doesn't mean that there is only one path or one choice. Even though it is extremely likely you may order pizza, there is a chance that you order Chinese.
  12. MadMardigan Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2001
    star 4
    This woman does have a choice in front of her. I'll admit that most of us know which one we think she'll take. She can still choose even if one choice is much much more appealling than the other.

    Yes she can still choose to die, but the gun limits her free choice by favoring being raped. Her choice isn't 50-50 either way. But more like 90-10 to submit.

    This example does not equate well to the threat of hell, however. First, the rape or death is direct and immeadiate; the heaven or hell is in the future.

    Rape or death is just as immediate as heaven or hell. Our lifetime is a blink in the span of eternity and is equivalent to the amount of time the woman has to choose.

    Second, the rape or death can and will happen in that situation; heaven and hell is based on belief and people can choose not to believe.


    I'm an atheist playing devil's advocate (love that pun). Assume for the sake of argument the Judeo-Christian God exists without a doubt.

    An omniscient being can see all the possible paths we can take and which ones we are likely to take. It doesn't mean that there is only one path or one choice.

    So what you are saying is that the omniscient being isn't 100% sure which path we are going to take? Doesn't that limit his omniscience?



  13. annikinstarkiller Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 1999
    star 1
    Hell is not a threat, like prison is not a threat. Neither one has any hold on you unless you choose to let it. If for example, the government/police force/judicial process had the omnipotence of God, then you would know that when you break a law you will go to jail. Therefore, you are not choosing to break a law, you are choosing to go to jail. Same in the Religious sense, you are never forced to choose Hell, as you are never forced to choose to obey God's Commands.

    Oh, and a threat never removes a choice from being an option. (Coutesy of Robert Jordan and SW NJO) You take what you want and then pay the price for it. If a rapist holds a gun to your head, you can still refuse if your death is not oo high a price to pay too you for refusal to comply. (I'm not recommending any course of action in this case, it is just to state my point.)
  14. FlamingSword Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 4, 2001
    star 6
    MadMardigan, replying from a strictly Judeo-Christian viewpoint isn't as exiting [face_devil]

    Rape or death is just as immediate as heaven or hell. Our lifetime is a blink in the span of eternity and is equivalent to the amount of time the woman has to choose.

    Theoretically rape is just as immeadiate if you take the universiality of time into account. However, our perceptions are different. We live but a short while but the young think they will live forever and that death and hell are something that can be worried about later. The rape case is in the now. You can't go do something else or walk away for a day.

    I'm an atheist playing devil's advocate (love that pun). Assume for the sake of argument the Judeo-Christian God exists without a doubt.

    I could assume that but I would also have to assume that people believed in him for this to work.

    So what you are saying is that the omniscient being isn't 100% sure which path we are going to take? Doesn't that limit his omniscience?

    That's what I would say, but I'm arguing from my personal viewpoint. It still fits with certain Judeo-Christian beliefs. God is not always all-omniscient.

    Yes she can still choose to die, but the gun limits her free choice by favoring being raped. Her choice isn't 50-50 either way. But more like 90-10 to submit.

    No one said life or its choices were fair. I could choose to walk onto a busy road or wait till the light changes. The choice isn't even, but I think few choices truly are. Only the desperate or stupid would walk into traffic, yet we all have the choice. So do we have free will? Yes. But in many cases it is apparent by the very people that we are what choices we are going to make. We can make choices but we are limited by who we are.
  15. Kimball_Kinnison Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2001
    star 6
    Yes. By sheer force of knowledge. His actions have to conform with what we know. If he does anything else than we are not ominscient. So in that sense we are passively forcing his hand if we omnisciently know what he will do.

    Wrong. He is acting independent of our knowledge and is therefore unaffected. You are confusing foreknowledge with causality. That is not the case at all.

    Not a good analogy. Humans have already agreed whether through social contract or governmental constitution that it is okay to take away some of our free will for the sake of the bigger whole. And yes jail does put a damper on our free will. But Christians claim God has given us complete unadulterated free will.

    Wrong. No one can take your agency (ability to choose) from you. You can choose to surrender it to someone else, but they cannot forcefully take it away from you. If the "threat" of jail time limits our free will, why are there still criminals around? It didn't seem to limit their ability to choose to break the law.

    Secondly, jail is a threat until one violates laws and then it is a consquence. Same could be said of Hell. "Break my commandements and you go to hell" is a threat. Once you break the commandments and actually go to Hell then it is a consequence. So my logic still stands. God uses Hell as the gun he points to our heads.

    Wrong again. Is gravity only a threat until you decide to jump off a cliff to defy it? If I warn you before you jump of what the consequence of your choice will be, does that limit your choice in any way? Am I threatening you? No. Let's look at the definitions of those two words:
    threat
    1 : an expression of intention to inflict evil, injury, or damage
    2 : one that threatens
    3 : an indication of something impending <the sky held a threat of rain>

    consequence
    1 : a conclusion derived through logic : INFERENCE
    2 : something produced by a cause or necessarily following from a set of conditions
    3 a : importance with respect to power to produce an effect : MOMENT b : social importance
    4 : the appearance of importance; especially : SELF-IMPORTANCE
    As you can see, a threat is "an expression of intention to inflict evil, injury, or damage" (the applicable definition) while a consequence is "something produced by a cause or necessarily following from a set of conditions". If you break the law, you will go to jail. It does not become a consequence after you break the law. It has always been the consequence if you choose to meet its conditions.

    Every choice has consequences, even the choice of chocolate vs. vanilla. What you are misunderstand here is the idea that the consequence does not limit your choice, but it can influence it. For example, I do not shoplift, not because I cannot, but because I do not wish to face the consequence of that choice. My right to choose has in no way been compromised. I am still fully capable of choosing to shoplift and facing the consequence of that choice.

    We are free to choose, but we are not freed from the consequences of our choices.

    Kimball Kinnison
  16. gwaernardel Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 5, 2001
    star 4
    Hell is not a threat, like prison is not a threat. Neither one has any hold on you unless you choose to let it. If for example, the government/police force/judicial process had the omnipotence of God, then you would know that when you break a law you will go to jail. Therefore, you are not choosing to break a law, you are choosing to go to jail. Same in the Religious sense, you are never forced to choose Hell, as you are never forced to choose to obey God's Commands.

    Actually a better comparison would be if you were told by thirty different people thirty different laws that you have to obey (some conflicting with each other), and and even within the group that believes you're going to jail if you do something bad, there are different degrees of crimes that could get you there. One guy is telling you that you can rape and pillage and kill all you went but apologize before your trial and you won't have to go to jail. One guy says you have to tell some guy about everything that you've done and ask for forgiveness and then you won't have to go to jail. One other guy is telling you that you have to do everything you can to fix the problems that you've created, ask for forgiveness and never do evil again and you won't have to go to jail. And so on, and so on.
  17. farraday Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 7
    Forknowledge only limits freedom of choice if the person making the choice has the foreknowledge. There mere fact someone else knows what I'm going to do in no way keeps me from making the choice.

    Even with a gun to your head you still have freedom of choice. You however seem to be obsessed with percentages for some reason. Even without guns being involved, all possibilites are not equally probable. One of my current choices right now is to run outside naked and rub my butt on some guys car. It is not probable, but is a possibility.

    You're rapist scenario has no connection to the debate and can really only be an attempt to confuse the issue.

    The real issue is if God having foreknowledge of your actions takes away your ability to chose your own actions.
    God is not picking your path, thats what freedom of choice is. This doesn't mean that God doens't know what path you'll take.
  18. Terr_Mys Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2002
    star 6
    Again, farrady just reiterated the points I made in my first reply. The debates on this subject essentially just run around in circles.
  19. EnforcerSG Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2001
    star 4
    An omniscient being can see all the possible paths we can take and which ones we are likely to take.

    The key word there is 'likely.' Which means that we can chose something unlikly; he would be wrong and therefore not all knowing.

    Hell is not a threat, but many people treat it as such.

    I remember a quote from something, where I guy threw a ball at a person, and the guy caught it before it hit him. He was asked why did he catch the ball, and the guy said "it would hit me." The response was "But it didn't."

    I dont know how that was important, but it seemed like it fit somehow. Maybe someone can use an example like that.

    Maybe just from our primative point of view, God is 'all powerful' but he does have his limits that we just cannot comprehend.

    Maybe he knows every couse of action we could take, but not which we will take. Maybe God 'gave us some of his power' in that we can disobay him, or his 'thoughts.'

    EDIT: A friend of me said it is like we dont know we only have one choise, that one being the one we think we chose.

    EDIT 2: By the logic being used, does God have free will? He should know everything (all knowing), including what he will do, and he cant be wrong (all powerful), so in the same way some are saying we have no free will, the same is sort of true with god?
  20. Coolguy4522 Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Dec 21, 2000
    star 4
    What is this "Fork now ledge?"

    I think it is a secret conspiracy to deprive us of free will.

    On a more serious note, what does it matter if God knows what you are going to do? You don't know what you are going to do until you do it, so how does the fact that God know what you are going to do deprive you of free will? You do not know, you are free to make your choices.

    Say you put a plate of dog food in front of a very hungry dog. You know he is going to eat it before he even sees it, does this affect the dog's ability to choose if he is going to eat it?

    Mabey if you eat a lot of dog food then your tears would smell like dog food and the dog would come to you before you give him the tray of dog food.
  21. Sar-Tamber-lac Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 24, 2002
    star 5
    As for the free will question, you get into more theological realms then you can shake a stick at! :) You can go anywhere from our every move is dictated by God, to the deist belief that God created and is just sittin back under His umbrella with His iced tea watchin us, to whether or not God knew beforehand that Adam and Eve would sin, or did He start having foreknowledge after the fall? Or does He (like one of my professors believes) put a limitation on Himself not to know the future or our choices? Or does He only know up to a certain point? Or, as most Calvinists believe, only certain people are predestined to go to Heaven, and the rest are condemned to Hell, and it's God's choice from before the conception of the person (and that, my friend, is a whole discussoin in itself!) All these are theological ideas which are believed and studied in many different arenas.

    I personally believe that God knows our decisions...and we can't say that, since God knows, that we have no choice in the matter. We don't know what God knows! Even if He does know what choices we're goin to make, we don't know what we're goin to make, so the point is kinda moot. I've also wondered this point many times myself, and that's the conclusion I've arrived at.




    About the whole issue of hell, I found a great quote in my textbook about it...

    ...for Orthodox believers, hell is not a place to which God sends the unrepentant; it is a place to which they consign themselves. (p. 114, Handbook of Contemporary Theology, David Smith)

    Hell was originally designed for Satan and the angels whom had rebelled with him

    ...God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment (2 Peter 2:4)

    Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternale fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'(Matthew 25:41)

    By not chosing Christ, one is essentially aligning him/herself with the ruler of this world

    He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. [Matthew 12:30]

    So Hell is not a place that was designed for humans...not at all...but by not living for God in the fellowship that we were originally created to live in, then we are against Him...and that was the place created for the original rebels, and for all rebels against God. It's a choice we make. It's God's desire that all are saved, but unfortunately, some continue to live rejecting Him......we know the final outcome, yet we do nothing about it...the story's already been written, and we know both ends...we make the choice what ending we take...

    Hope this has been helpful...any questions, feel free to ask... :D
  22. GeistDesFritz Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Mar 25, 2002
    star 3
    Circular logic. Please rephrase.
    We have the will to choose what we want to do. There are always options, even when we think there aren't. It's just that those options may not be the kind we want to take. Now how God fits in here: God simply knows what choices will make because he knows us. Maybe it's not the sense of 'knowing' as we think of it, but more like being aware of it. The way I see it is more complex...but not all of it would refer to free will and I don't want to bore you :)

    Okay?? And what does that mean?
    It means what it says. God is now and god is the future. He exists in all time frames. There for, he knows before we do something that we've done it. So us not doing it isn't really an issue.

    Not his omnipotence, but rather his threat of Hell.
    Well, then that's a problem then because I don't believe in hell. The afterlife is, IMO very personal. So yeah, the rape senario doesn't work for me at all.

    Don't really know what you're trying to say here?? Maybe you're trying to say "don't think too hard about it or else the logic of God's omnipotence falls apart"?
    No, but what I'm saying now is that I'm not very good at conveying my meaning in a post and would have to actually sit down and seriously think and write it all out before I posted.
    But if you're really interested in this in the Christian perspective, I'm not the person to talk to. Read "Mere Christianity" by CS Lewis. He does it quite well, even if you do end up disagreeing with him.
  23. stevo Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 14, 2001
    star 4
    Hmmm, why does MadMardigan's argument remind me of "Dogma"?


    Anyways, I agree with MadMardigan, but to discuss it in this thread would prove no purpose. The seven people that have posted above me have shown that(we're just travelling in circles).
  24. EnforcerSG Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2001
    star 4
    I sort of see how we 'have free will' even with an all powerful god. God knows what we will chose rather than we chose what God knows. And we are not limited by God's knowledge of out future, it just sort of exists. But...

    What about god?

    I mean, he knows what he will do, and he cannot be wrong, or else he would not be all knowing, so he will do what he knows he will do. Furthermore, he knows that he must do what he knows he will do, so in a way, God has less free will than us.

    I hope that makes sense, but just apply the logic used that we dont have free will to God. Prove me wrong.
  25. TeeBee Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Apr 2, 2002
    star 3
    Mabey if you eat a lot of dog food then your tears would smell like dog food and the dog would come to you before you give him the tray of dog food.

    ?[face_plain] [face_laugh]

    Sounds like a snippet of some deep Jay and Silent Bob discussion.
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