Resolved! God Caused The Problem of Evil/Needless Suffering.

This argument is intended to show that the problem of Evil/Needless Suffering is actually a result of the creation process and that Humans only have the appearance of Free Will.

* God is omniscient.
* God is timeless.
* God Created everything.
* God Chose how to create the world and knew how it was going to react after he made it.
* God Chose how to create people and knew how we were going to react after he made us.
* If he knew what was going to happen to us, then before we were made, our destiny was recorded.
* If he made us with free will, and he knew what was going to happen to us before he made us, then any exercise of that free will was already known by him and was really only the appearance of free will.
* In the course of our life, because we can not know the future, it appears to us that we have freewill.
* We can not change our destiny if we want to because it was already recorded.
* We do not have freewill, we have the illusion of freewill.
* Our problem of evil/needless suffering was a result of our illusion of free will.
* Our illusion of free will is the cause of the Problem of Evil/Needless Suffering, therefore Genuine Free Will as a premise for the cause of the Problem of Evil is refuted.
* If we only have the appearance of free will, and the problem of Evil/needless suffering is a result of Mans exercise of his apparent free will then the Problem of Evil/needless Suffering was determined before the world was made. God knew it before he made it. The process of the creation of the universe is the cause of the Problem of Evil/Needless Suffering. It is Gods Plan, it is a result of the way he chose to make things.

He knows what I am going to do in five years. No matter what I do now, I will do what god knows about in five years.
Any choice I make will not make a difference. It will appear to me that I am freely making choices but all of them lead to what god knows I will be doing in five years. I do not really have free will, I only have the appearance of it because I can't know the future.

If one stays Christian, one goes to heaven, if one loses faith, one goes to hell, but god knew it before it could be chosen. No matter what anyone does, God knows the outcome.

So stop worrying be happy, if you get to heaven, you get there, if you don't you really didn't have a choice anyway.

Christians can explore atheistic ideas without fear because if they were not made with the properties needed to be atheist, they cannot be.

If God is Omniscient, then there must be predestination.

191 comments:

J.L. Hinman said...

the problem is your argument rests on too many premises that are either not in evidence or illogical or factually wrong.


* God is omniscient.

Not any more



* God Chose how to create the world and knew how it was going to react after he made it.

(1) that falls to the calculus argument

(2) not in evidence (if p1 is not true than this one doesn't follow)


* God Chose how to create people and knew how we were going to react after he made us.

only if you buy certain theological schemes.



* If he knew what was going to happen to us, then before we were made, our destiny was recorded.

an assumption not in evidence. Boethius proved that foreknowledge is not predestination.

* If he made us with free will, and he knew what was going to happen to us before he made us, then any exercise of that free will was already known by him and was really only the appearance of free will.

this is not a proof that foreknowledges is determinism. Its' a fallacious understanding of foreknowledge.

* In the course of our life, because we can not know the future, it appears to us that we have freewill.
* We can not change our destiny if we want to because it was already recorded.

assumption not in evidence

* We do not have freewill, we have the illusion of freewill.

very clearly fillacious


At this point there is not enough left to justify your argument.

John W. Loftus said...

Joe, good to see you back. Don't get frustrated with us simply when we disagree, but in this case...

Joe said...only if you buy certain theological schemes.

Agreed. As you know the POE only affects certain types of theologies and it doesn't show that some kind of God still might exist. But I think Lee is taking aim at theologies that grant the premises. If God can predict with absolute certainty that a person commits a horrible crime, and that person cannot do otherwise than commit that crime, then how is it possible for him to truly have libertarian free will?

Joe said...Boethius proved that foreknowledge is not predestination.

Boethius "proved" this? That's a strong word, no? But even if so, he had to argue God was not in time to do so, another problematic viewpoint contested by a growing number of Open Theists. If God is outside of time, then explain how God knows what time it is in order to act within a specific moment in history.

I think the best way to debunk the notion of God's having foreknowledge of future contingent human actions is that there is no known mechanism for God to do so. If God foreknew I would write this very sentence today, then upon what basis did he know that I would?

Even if you can answer that problem, and I think you can't, unless my actions can change the past, i.e. what God knew I would write before writing that sentence, he cannot have foreknowledge of what I would write.

If the past can be changed then prayers offered up today can change the past. If that's so, why does is seem impossible for prayer to change a tragic event in the past, like the Holocaust or 9/11? Why don't YOU start praying for such a thing today? Moreover, if the past can be changed then why doesn’t God just start all over?

So for some theologies the dilemma is this one: if the past cannot be changed, then God cannot have foreknowledge, but if the past can be changed. i.e. that God has foreknowledge of our actions, then why doesn't God just start all over?

Jason said...

No matter what anyone does, God knows the outcome.

Here's the crux of your problem. Yours is a fundamental misunderstanding (and misinterpretation) of what 'knowing' actually does.

Just because God knows how we're going to act before we do doesn't remove freewill. Knowledge of the outcome doesn't force the outcome. For example, we know our children are going to lie but this doesn't force them to lie. God knows beginning from end but this knowledge doesn't force anyone from choosing Door A over Door B.

This is why man is held accountable for his actions. A corrupt government results in the population suffering. A woman cheating on her husband results in a breakdown of the marriage. Drug use during pregnancy results in infants being born with deformities, etc. etc.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi all,
just checking in. I plan on defending this, but right now I'm preparing for new years and may not get to a defense until the 2nd.

John, thanks for coming to my defense! hopefully, I'll make you proud!

but, I have to say that I'm taken aback by a christian saying that god is not omniscient anymore.

And how can I not understand what 'foreknowledge' is? either you know ahead of time or you don't right?

And jason, i think I know what you are saying, I think I used to say it to and I'll show you why it doesn't work later.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Joe,
by the way,
would you mind filling your argument a little better so I can see what you are talking about? maybe some references that I can look at.
thanks in advance.

Michael Ejercito said...

I see.

So then you never chose to post this.

How is it that, if we do not have free will, that we are capable of debating whether or not we have free will?

Furthermore, if there is no free will, then there can be no good nor evil.

openlyatheist said...

Where's Bill Gnade when we need him?

Just another example of how we atheists are behind the times concerning the latest fashions in God-apparel.

Omniscience is SO last Winter.

zilch said...

jason- you say:

Just because God knows how we're going to act before we do doesn't remove freewill. Knowledge of the outcome doesn't force the outcome. For example, we know our children are going to lie but this doesn't force them to lie. God knows beginning from end but this knowledge doesn't force anyone from choosing Door A over Door B.

But I am not God: I may know some very general things about what my children will decide to do, so that I could predict that they will occasionally lie; but unlike God, I cannot say "Adam will eat an orange at 9:23 tomorrow morning, and deny that he did so at 9:44". And unlike God, I did not make Adam precisely in such a way that he would do exactly this, and know that he would do this.

Thus, if God is omniscient and omnipotent, there is no free will. We might have the feeling that we are making decisions, but it is an illusion: God has made all the decisions for us, by knowing them in advance and making us in such a way that we will do exactly as He knows we will do.

Michael, you say:

How is it that, if we do not have free will, that we are capable of debating whether or not we have free will?

As I said, just because we think we have free will doesn't mean we do: we could be mistaken. Sherlock Holmes and Watson can debate whether they have free will or not, but they don't. Nor do Fred and Wilma.

Furthermore, if there is no free will, then there can be no good nor evil.

Now that's a can of worms and no mistake. What exactly could "free will" mean? What are "good and evil?" For me, "free will" means something like "the elbow room to consider courses of action without external compulsion". If the world is deterministic, then it might be that all of our decisions are predestined. But since no one is privy to this knowledge, and no one made us in such a way that we would decide in a particular way, then the process we go through making decisions is part of the dance we do, and we can choose to take responsibility for our dance. I seem to have the power to make up my mind, and affect the world with my decisions: I call that free will. But that's just my relatively unreflected opinion. I will do some more pondering about it.

About "evil"- with no God, there's just good and bad, and we have them without free will too. Happy New Year from rainy Vienna, zilch

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Hi Lee!

There are a couple points I would like to challenge and one that I, in part, agree with and feel is consistant with what Y'shua included as the foundation of the gospel message.

At any rate, just from an overall survey of your logic here, I want to raise a concern of a an omission in this line of reasoning. If you are going to debunk Y'shua's expression of God, then this equation lacks addressing something He Himself acknowledged, which is the existance of an antagonistic influence. I think in order to be complete, you ought to negate the existance of this because the God of Easter addresses such.

At any rate, moving along, you wrote, "God is omniscient". As such, He cannot be overcome by His own creation and therefore is not intimidated or corrupted by a dissension in it.

You wrote, "God chose how to create people and knew how we were going to react after he made us". I think Y'shua demonstrated a God who created us and loved us. If a god is narcissistic and makes only carbon copies of himself, then that would not be a relationship -He relates to us as separate individuals. God acknowledges and allows independence and as such, also, dissension - otherwise He would only be in a relationship with carbon copies of Himself. He is not narcissistic and that is demonstrated in that He allows for another way to exist and mature separate from His own Way. He isn't intimidated by dissension nor does He abort creative expression in fear of opposition, nor is He distracted by it, but ultimately, provides a place for it to exist separate from Himself.

Then you wrote: * In the course of our life, because we can not know the future, it appears to us that we have freewill.

I challenge this statement, "we cannot know the future". Why then do people shop for a week's worth of groceries or buy life insurance or make house payments if they do not anticipate a future? Why do people buy funeral services if they do not know the future? What sort of foreknowledge do you want? People anticipate future outcomes for themselves and prepare for the provision of their futures in accordance to what they sense and value. Most of us live in accordance with keeping material security intact as our priority but neglect to seek spiritual security first.

Then you wrote: * We can not change our destiny if we want to because it was already recorded."

The gospel message is not about making converts but setting people free from condemnation (e.g. "we cannot change our destiny") to bond with God (Who, Himself is a free spirit) and be set free from the prison of a condemning notion of predestination (victim/victimizer roles).

Then you wrote: "* We do not have freewill, we have the illusion of freewill."

This is where I have to, at least in part, agree and I feel it is included in what Y'shua described as well. I don't believe we are born into freedom upon our physical birth - we born independent and separate from God, but freedom is inherited from God in a spiritual way. Y'shua offered both enlightenment (because of our blindness/illusion) and salvation from our captivity.

Why would God make a command to say "Do not keep slaves"? To do so would be to presume that He sees some of us as free. But instead, He addresses us on a wholesale basis, as slaves, and His main value and priority is in our spiritual salvation and freedom first over our physical bodies and material pursuits.

While we are still captives, I believe we do possess the ability to recognize and sense love - even the least capable have the ability to do this. Our attraction towards it is the mustard seed of faith.

Also, my understanding of freedom has changed since I have come to faith - I used to romanticize freedom as being footloose and uncommitted, but in fact my version was a way that left people feeling rejected and abandoned and a symptom of my fear of intimacy. Instead of this corrupt defintion, God's freedom is not void of relationship, but instead provides for a secure relationship - a trusting bond that serves as the foundation and door to progress into faithful and eternal freedom.

Finally, John wrote,"that God has foreknowledge of our actions, then why doesn't God just start all over?" I searched my own heart to ferret out the reason I used to feel this way myself. As a result, the best response I can give to this is to apolgize for not being a better example of the love of God to others.

Thanks and hope you have a fun new year's celebration planned.

J.L. Hinman said...

Blogger John W. Loftus said...

Joe, good to see you back. Don't get frustrated with us simply when we disagree, but in this case...

O sure John, thanks for the welcome. btw happy New year to all all!

Joe said...only if you buy certain theological schemes.

Agreed. As you know the POE only affects certain types of theologies and it doesn't show that some kind of God still might exist. But I think Lee is taking aim at theologies that grant the premises. If God can predict with absolute certainty that a person commits a horrible crime, and that person cannot do otherwise than commit that crime, then how is it possible for him to truly have libertarian free will?

Yes, but as I say I don't buy that God can predict all actions. For example I don't think he can predict the uncertainty principles, or rather can't predict molecular motion. There has to be a chaotic system possibility or else everything is determined we can't even have decay or any sort of molecular process.

Moreover I disagree that knowing the future obligates a person to a particular course of action in a sense that abrogates the will.


Joe said...Boethius proved that foreknowledge is not predestination.

Boethius "proved" this? That's a strong word, no? But even if so, he had to argue God was not in time to do so, another problematic viewpoint contested by a growing number of Open Theists.

Not for my Berkley influenced theology. The world is a thought in the mind of God time problems are merely illusory.



If God is outside of time, then explain how God knows what time it is in order to act within a specific moment in history.

I'm outside Spain but I know what Spain is. More importantly, God is not outside time, time is inside God. Time is just a conventional point of reference in a fictional senerio running in God's head, a day dream we call "reality."

I think the best way to debunk the notion of God's having foreknowledge of future contingent human actions is that there is no known mechanism for God to do so. If God foreknew I would write this very sentence today, then upon what basis did he know that I would?

sorry John, you seem to miss the point. In my view God doesn't have foreknowledge. He merely has really good predictive powers. my reason for that is that time is not a done deal,there is no future yet it hasn't happened. So God doesn't know it except in a theoretical way, but not down to the browinan motion.

Even if you can answer that problem, and I think you can't,

;-)



unless my actions can change the past, i.e. what God knew I would write before writing that sentence, he cannot have foreknowledge of what I would write.

I had a pretty reasonable idea of what you would right and I don't have foreknowledge. Remember now I"m arguing God doesn't have foreknowledge.

btw you should read Boeithius, Consolation of Philosophy. That's the the view I'm defending but it is a good possible defense.


If the past can be changed then prayers offered up today can change the past. If that's so, why does is seem impossible for prayer to change a tragic event in the past, like the Holocaust or 9/11? Why don't YOU start praying for such a thing today? Moreover, if the past can be changed then why doesn’t God just start all over?

I don't understand how you go from God doesn't have foreknowledge to wanting prayer to change the past? The past was once the future and when it was God didn't know for certain what it was. That's why it happened the way it did, and it can't be changed because it's over.

So for some theologies the dilemma is this one: if the past cannot be changed, then God cannot have foreknowledge, but if the past can be changed. i.e. that God has foreknowledge of our actions, then why doesn't God just start all over?

If I ws aruging for forekoneldge and for god outside time I would say it's because God has to keep time's arrow for our sake; we need conventional frames of reference such as time's arrow.

8:37 AM, December 31, 2007

J.L. Hinman said...

but, I have to say that I'm taken aback by a christian saying that god is not omniscient anymore.


well I really don't men this asn insul. I just really don't. But you do need more exposure to liberal types of theology. In most liberal sorstso f the theolgies today, especially process theology, the omnis are left out.

when I say "not anymore" I don't mean God actually lost his foreknowledge, but that he never had it. The doctrine was wrong.

the omnis actually come form Aristotle's views, not the Bible.The Bible God has to go looking for good men in Sodum and repents of making man, as though the didn't know at the time how ti would be.


And how can I not understand what 'foreknowledge' is? either you know ahead of time or you don't right?

foreknowledge is not just really good probability analysis it's actual knowledge of the future. If the future hasn't happened yet that's not really possible. It's a matter of how one construes God relation to time.

Lee Randolph said...

HI all,
all right for the moment I'll stipulate that god is not omniscient, and that he's just really good at probability.

So how good at probability is he? So good that there is not much risk to things turning out as he plans? He has a plan. And certain things have to come to pass, they were prophesied. What is the book of revelation if its not a prophesy.

So now we have the problem of the heap again. How much foreknowledge does god have? If he has enough foreknowledge, then he can skew probability can't he? And what benefit is there to skewing probability in your favor if not to cheat? Or in less aggressive terms, reduce risk.

God has introduced a certain amount of uncertainty into the equation but how much? Did he know what was going to happen to Jesus? It seems like it. Does he know the world is going to degrade to the point that he needs to come back again? It seems like it. Did he know because of decisions he made in the beginning, that things would probably turn out as they have? He took a pretty big risk coming down as Jesus, because he could have been wrong.

Nahh, thats ridiculous, he wouldn't have risked that much. So he loves us more than the sparrows yet he gives us enough free will to condemn ourselves to eternal damnation, He's willing to accept that much risk. But that goes against his will that "he gave his son so that none shall perish but have eternal life".
He's willing to accept the amount of risk that allows children to be the ongoing subject of witch hunts in Nigeria. That doesn't sound very loving or perfectly Just.

Deos god risk everything? Does he even the playing field?

When god answers prayers does he know how it will affect the rest of the world? If he's not omniscient, is he not omnipotent too? Would praying for rain in germany prevent it from raining in africa?

No wonder god doesn't answer prayers because it introduces yet more uncertainty into the equation. The evidence is in my favor on this.

Does he know what I am going to be doing in five years from now? Can I surprise him? If god can anticipate infinite probabilities then he doesn't necessarily know the one I will pick. Does he generally know that by theists not coming up with any evidence for god or any arguments better than, "Lee your are wrong, because even though my viewpoint is not unanimously accepted, it does preserve the ability to place the blame for the problem of evil back on man, who is not competent to manage himself". The two year old with a razor blade debate aside, man has free will and most are competent to manage it. Its only the inequitable distribution of harm that occurs by the free will decisions of a few or the lack of thoughtfulness of many that create the most noticeable amount of harm. Where is the justice in that? Or is god not perfectly Just either?

My position is just as valid as any other and it can be supported by scripture and observation. I have spent months accumulating data on biological bases for behavior to show that people behave fundamentally based on the chemical state of that meatball behind their face.

How much does god Know? I think we can measure it. He knows only enough to keep him from entering into a logical contradiction. If god has created things in such a way that he knows to a large degree of probability what is going to happen, the the process still causes the problem of Evil.

If god does not minimize his risk to chance then he is still culpable, and even then i'd argue that the bible is wrong on many counts about how much he loves us and our culpability for our behavior and the justification he uses to punish and not live among us teaching.

If god does minimize his risk to chance then the christian god doesn't exist and we have a Deist type of God.

If the bible is wrong, then god is not trustworthy, because he, at least, approved of it.

I think I like this liberal theology because, with the help of liberal theologians, we can logically start whittling away at the biblical god till all we have is a human.

It leaves open the possibility that god can be wrong.

John W. Loftus said...

An analysis of Paul Helm’s “God and Spacelessness,” Philosophy 55 (1980).

Helm begins with two authors who made similar claims against the timelessness of God. J. R. Lucas made this claim: “To say that God is outside time, as many theologians do, is to deny, in effect, that God is a person.” He reasons that to be a person is to have a mind, and to have a mind requires that it be in time (i.e., thoughts require a sequence of events, etc.). A.N. Prior claimed that a proposition such as “It is raining now” is not equivalent in meaning to “It is raining on Tuesday,” and that an omniscient God who knew the latter would not necessarily know the former, and would not know it if he were timeless, since he could not be present on the occasion on which it was raining.”

Helm argues against both authors by merely showing that such a claim also entails the denial that God is spaceless, which in turn denies that God is infinite--something these authors want to maintain. Helm writes that “the arguments used to show that God is in time, in effect support the view that God is finite, and so anyone who wishes to maintain that God is infinite, as the traditional theist does, will either have to find other arguments for the view that God is in time, or eschew the idea of God being in time altogether”—this is the dilemma Helm presents to these authors.

Helm does not try to show that God is in fact timeless, nor is his purpose to show that the logic of these two authors is wrong. He admits that he doesn’t even fully understand what it means to say God is both timeless and spaceless. He’s only claiming that a denial of God’s timelessness is also a denial of God’s spacelessness.

After making his arguments he leaves the reader with three alternative consequences to choose from:

1) The belief in God is even more incoherent than previously thought, in that it requires unintelligibilities such as a timeless and spaceless existence;
2) Recognize that since the belief in God requires an infinite and spaceless God there must be something wrong with the current arguments against the timelessness of God; or,
3) The burden of proof is on these authors to present an argument against God’s timelessness that does not also apply to God’s spacelessness.

That is, one can either, a) Deny (or accept) the unintelligible existence of both a timeless and spaceless God, b) Accept the consequences of a God who is both in time and finite, or, c) Supply other arguments on behalf of a God who is in time which does not also deny God’s spacelessness. Not being able to do (c) presents the dilemma of choosing either (a) or (b).

Helm closes with these words: “Nothing in the argument of this paper requires one of these consequences as against either of the other two to be the correct one.”

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

To JL - I like what you wrote about the "omnis" - in my previous comment I erroneously equated omniscience with omnipotence, but nonetheless...

I do believe God is omipotent and I will hold to that omni, although He did state that He determiines when to lay down His life and when to take it up - He is not under compulsion.

I think that while scripture describes prophetic foresight, I agree that revelatory manifestation is not in accordance with a set time - to me that is another indication that God is relational rather than rote.

At any rate, I liked your comments.

J.L. Hinman said...

Lee, your comment is so long I'm considering answering it on my blog. But I will say this here:

I don't believe the Revelation is a prophesy. It doesn't have to be. That's an reinterpretation. If it is, it doesn't have to be about the end of times. It can be about the period immediately following the death of John, the fall of Rome. All the events can be understood in any number of ways because it's like an ink blot. The true meaning is lost to us because it was a complete literary genre of the Jews of the interdepartmental period.

It was a code that they understood, and we do not, because it was never given to gentiles. One thing to note is the presence of the Whole riding on the beast in kabolistic writings. The groups that went on to form the Kabala were closer to that apocyliptic end of thigns.

How firmly can we trust that gets the future right? two things to remember:

(1) he's smart enough to know all knowable things (that excludes the whereabouts of all subatomic partials at any given moment but it does include the price of tea in china.

(2) He can make things happen. When says "I will bring magog up against Israel" (pretend for a minute that's really bout the end times--which I don't believe in--but for argument's sake he can make magog do that because the power.

so when he says "this will happen" the has to power to make it happen the smarts to know the implications and ramifactions and permutations of it happening.

so God's promises are trustworthy. that doesn't mean we get a free crystal ball to tell us about the end of times.

J.L. Hinman said...

To JL - I like what you wrote about the "omnis" - in my previous comment I erroneously equated omniscience with omnipotence, but nonetheless...

I do believe God is omipotent and I will hold to that omni, although He did state that He determiines when to lay down His life and when to take it up - He is not under compulsion.

I think that while scripture describes prophetic foresight, I agree that revelatory manifestation is not in accordance with a set time - to me that is another indication that God is relational rather than rote.

thank you mani

I have problems with the term "omnipotent." I don't think it's a meaningful term. I agree that God has all power that is logically possible in a self consistent manner. But that doesn't mean that God can ignore logical necessities. so God can't make a square circle or smell next Thursday.

but he can do what he says he's going to do.


btw on that escatology thing I think D.H. Lawrence hit the nail on the head with his analysis of the motivations of the book of revelation, even though he didn't know what he was talking about in terms of the culture or the history. I can't remember the title of that book now. Yes, D.H. Lawrence author Sons and Lovers and other great fiction, wrote a non fiction about the book of Revelation.

J.L. Hinman said...

John, I am going to do a larger blog piece on God and time, and I'm going to include the comments you make here as part of that. If you are interested watch by blog over the next couple, but I will try to get it up today.

happy New year guys!

Jason said...

Zilch,

Whether or not you’re God is irrelevant. My point is that even though we know something is going to happen, we’re not forcing that thing to occur. Let’s look at your example:

Adam will eat an orange at 9:23 tomorrow morning, and deny that he did so at 9:44.

There’s no active involvement by a second party forcing Adam to eat the apple. Your example contains nothing more than an observation. Nothing in this shows that God forced Adam to eat an apple.

And unlike God, I did not make Adam precisely in such a way that he would do exactly this, and know that he would do this.

God made Adam with freewill, the same way He’s made the rest of mankind. God knowing you were going to use the above example didn’t force you to write those exact words. Foreknowledge doesn’t force the outcome.

God has made all the decisions for us, by knowing them in advance and making us in such a way that we will do exactly as He knows we will do.

No, you're confusing the issue. As seen in your example above, all you’ve shown is that God has infinite knowledge. No further conclusions can be drawn. God knows but God doesn't force.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

hl wrote: "don't believe the Revelation is a prophesy. It doesn't have to be. That's an reinterpretation. If it is, it doesn't have to be about the end of times. It can be about the period immediately following the death of John, the fall of Rome. All the events can be understood in any number of ways because it's like an ink blot. The true meaning is lost to us because it was a complete literary genre of the Jews of the interdepartmental period."

I'd like to offer some insight about Revelation writing - I've heard it said that the perspective held by some is that it us the account of a pattern of spiritual awakening that repeats itsself throughout time. On the flip side of this coin, are those who believe it describes one period of time only - an end time.

For me, I believe it is a combination of both theories - that one can look at the history of mankind and see a gradual cycle of spiritual awakening but also a progression of the cycle towards increased enlightenment - as many nonbelievers point out here, we can see that our treatment of one another is not as overtly barbaric as in some past history cases.

At any rate, in light of a belief in eternity, and a creative, progressive God, I do not believe that the "age of man" is God's ultimate and final creative expression.

Thanks!

Lee Randolph said...

HI Joe,
you have not answered my assertion. Non-omnicience doesn't get god out of responsibility for the problem of evil. If hes not 100% ominicient, he's at least some percentage enough to guarantee that his plan will probably succeed. He's got do design it that way to make sure it works.

Are you willing to commit to the idea that god has 99% omniscience and 1% chance of being surprised or being wrong?

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

oops - correction -

I wrote: For me, I believe it is a combination of both theories - that one can look at the history of mankind and see a gradual cycle of spiritual awakening

I intended to say that one can look at the history of mankind and see a repeated cycle - but also a gradual progression. A pattern of spiritual awakening or overcoming.

Lee Randolph said...

I like this liberal theology,
first we throw out the omni's now we throw out a whole book of the bible and not a lame one like ruth or something, now maybe we can talk about why we should take the rest of it seriously if the canaanite religion is myth and the israelites heritage is canaanite!

Beautiful Feet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zilch said...

Jason- if God knows I will eat an apple tomorrow (omniscience), and made me precisely in such a way that I would "decide" to eat an apple tomorrow (omnipotence), then there is no free will.

It's as if I wrote a computer program that simulates decision making. If I know the program perfectly, so that I know exactly what "decisions" it will make, it doesn't matter if I also program in a simulation of weighing alternatives, debating possibilities, and so forth: the program makes decisions that I know in advance, and the program has no free will.

How is this not exactly comparable to our situation, if God is omniscient and omnipotent? Our minds are simply very complex biochemical computers, running programs whose output was known before we were created down to the smallest detail, and God made us in such a way as to guarantee exactly those outcomes. Whatever we may feel about our decision making, we can have no free will, if God is omnipotent and omniscient.

God must want us to make exactly the decisions we do. If he doesn't, then He can't be omnipotent. So my being an atheist, and having a very warm future, is something God wanted from the very beginning.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Zilch wrote: So my being an atheist, and having a very warm future

yes, a very warm future....

Jason said...

Zilch said: if God knows I will eat an apple tomorrow (omniscience), and made me precisely in such a way that I would "decide" to eat an apple tomorrow (omnipotence), then there is no free will.

I don’t know where you’re getting this ‘forced decision’ concept from…? Scripture makes it clear that God has given mankind the ability, and responsibility, to choose between “good and evil” and “life and death” (Deut 30). This is what constitutes ‘freewill’.

It's as if I wrote a computer program that simulates decision making. If I know the program perfectly, so that I know exactly what "decisions" it will make, it doesn't matter if I also program in a simulation of weighing alternatives, debating possibilities, and so forth: the program makes decisions that I know in advance, and the program has no free will.

Flawed. Again, you knowing anything in advance doesn’t mean you’ve chosen the outcome. In your example, your perfect knowledge allows you to know the decisions the program will make before it does. However, this perfect knowledge doesn’t force the computer to behave in a specific way; it still has freewill.

Our minds are simply very complex biochemical computers, running programs whose output was known before we were created down to the smallest detail and God made us in such a way as to guarantee exactly those outcomes.

No, He hasn’t. Perfect knowledge doesn’t affect the ability to choose. For example, I have a perfect knowledge of the laws of gravity. My young son claims he can make a glass vase float in the air using only his mind, even after I warn him about the outcome. When he lets go of the vase, it drops to the ground and shatters. I didn't force the vase to break any more then I made my son let go of it in the first place. His freewill remains intact even in light of my perfect knowledge.

God must want us to make exactly the decisions we do. If he doesn't, then He can't be omnipotent.

How so? God wants all sinners to repent but repentance is still something that has to be freely done by the individual. A father wants his children to love and respect him but these emotions can only be freely given by the child.

So my being an atheist, and having a very warm future, is something God wanted from the very beginning.

Hardly. ☺ At some point down the road, you decided you didn’t want or need God. This is a decision you made. God just happened to know this was the path you were going to take long before you took it.

J.L. Hinman said...

you have not answered my assertion. Non-omnicience doesn't get god out of responsibility for the problem of evil. If hes not 100% ominicient, he's at least some percentage enough to guarantee that his plan will probably succeed. He's got do design it that way to make sure it works.

Are you willing to commit to the idea that god has 99% omniscience and 1% chance of being surprised or being wrong?

please read my essay. I put it up yesterday. you have to scroll down. next one down


http://metacrock.blogspot.com/

J.L. Hinman said...

Are you willing to commit to the idea that god has 99% omniscience and 1% chance of being surprised or being wrong?

I don't know what it would mean to try to think in those terms. I'm sure it would be a mistake.

I like this liberal theology,
first we throw out the omni's now we throw out a whole book of the bible and not a lame one like ruth or something, now maybe we can talk about why we should take the rest of it seriously if the canaanite religion is myth and the israelites heritage is canaanite!


hey congratulations! you have managed to combine slippery slope with black is white slide into one unique fallacy.

can you throw something out if it's not in to begin with? didn't i say the omnis are not from the Bible? yes, I think I did. they are from Aristotle.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Joe,
I'll read your article but I don't do offsite internet debate. I don't have time to go chasing around the internet.

I'll take the hit for the fallacy, being an off the cuff, reduction to the absurd attempt. Then I'll explain it.

I don't know what it would mean to try to think in those terms. I'm sure it would be a mistake.
You don't know why its wrong, it just is. That doesn't sound very reasonable.

can you throw something out if it's not in to begin with? didn't i say the omnis are not from the Bible? yes, I think I did. they are from Aristotle.
yours is one color in a swirl of colors of bible theology. You don't think its in the bible but others do. Are you right and they are wrong? How are you so sure? If you are the authority then I made a fallacy. If you are not, then it may not be a fallacy.

how can you be so sure the israelites are right and their ancestors were wrong? We have anecdotal evidence in the form of the bible, but then we know that that bible is not a history book don't we? The fact that it is wrong about the exodus does not weaken its authoritative status? Where is the most recent evidence for any miracles or intervention from god?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Joe,
I read your article, a couple of comments.
Your article flies beautifully and elegantly like a bird that has no ground to rest on.

First, you start with the assumption that god exists, no problem, but you have built your hypothesis on an assumption. Fine.

Second you add the assumption that you are right about your theology. Then you proceed to argue your point. Fine.

But, where does it intersect with reality? Where are your grounds? Where is the evidence? What can I observe that uniquely lends any plausibility to your argument?

If your theology is right, you may be right. If your theology is right and there is a god you may be right. Thats two pretty big ifs.

zilch said...

Jason says:

Scripture makes it clear that God has given mankind the ability, and responsibility, to choose between “good and evil” and “life and death” (Deut 30). This is what constitutes ‘freewill’.

My argument is that an omniscient, omnipotent God is irreconcilable with free will. What Scripture claims about free will is perhaps interesting, but beside the point.

About my computer program analogy, you said:

Flawed. Again, you knowing anything in advance doesn’t mean you’ve chosen the outcome. In your example, your perfect knowledge allows you to know the decisions the program will make before it does. However, this perfect knowledge doesn’t force the computer to behave in a specific way; it still has freewill.

I think this is the first time I've ever heard someone claim that a simple, utterly predictable computer program has free will! Now, in the case of a computer program complex enough to make decisions that I can't predict perfectly in advance, for instance a chess playing program, one might make a case for some kind of "free will", especially if there are random or environmental factors out of my control that influence the decision.

But I specified a program that I know perfectly, a program for which I can perfectly predict the outcome of any decision. An example would be a program that always picks the larger of two integers supplied. It is forced to make this decision, because I programmed it in such a way that it couldn't do otherwise.

I submit that if God is omnipotent and omniscient, then we are in exactly the same position as this simple program: designed with foreknowledge of how we will decide, and thus forced to decide certain ways, no matter what our subjective feelings about the decision making may be.

Perfect knowledge doesn’t affect the ability to choose. For example, I have a perfect knowledge of the laws of gravity. My young son claims he can make a glass vase float in the air using only his mind, even after I warn him about the outcome. When he lets go of the vase, it drops to the ground and shatters. I didn't force the vase to break any more then I made my son let go of it in the first place. His freewill remains intact even in light of my perfect knowledge.

Once again, you are not God- although if you have "perfect" knowledge of the laws of gravity, then you know more than any physicist and deserve a Nobel Prize! But God, who made the vase, your son, and the laws of gravity, and knew that your son would drop the vase, most certainly did force the vase to break, just as certainly as my computer program is forced to pick the higher integer. Your son might have the feeling that he made the decision on his own, but that feeling was programmed in by God as well. No free will here.

God wants all sinners to repent but repentance is still something that has to be freely done by the individual. A father wants his children to love and respect him but these emotions can only be freely given by the child.

If God is omnipotent, and wants all sinners to repent, then all sinners will repent. If God knows that I will not repent before He made me, and then made me in such a way that I will not repent, then He must have wanted me to not repent. Again, the case of the father and his child is not comparable, because the father is not omnipotent and omniscient.

At some point down the road, you decided you didn’t want or need God. This is a decision you made. God just happened to know this was the path you were going to take long before you took it.

Nope, I never decided I didn't want or need God: I just never saw any evidence that God existed. Did you ever decide you didn't want or need the Invisible Pink Unicorn? And God didn't "just happen" to know this; He made me in exactly the right way that compelled me to take the path I've taken. That is, if He exists, and is omniscient and omnipotent. Something has to give here.

Jason said...

Zilch said: My argument is that an omniscient, omnipotent God is irreconcilable with free will. What Scripture claims about free will is perhaps interesting, but beside the point.

A knowledge of God is based on Scripture so I would say it’s very much the point. Scripture (God’s Word) says man has the freedom to choose between good and evil.

I think this is the first time I've ever heard someone claim that a simple, utterly predictable computer program has free will!

This comes back to your ‘forced decision’ theory. You didn’t actually make the decisions for the computer even if its decisions are predictable. My argument still stands: you knowing anything in advance doesn’t mean you’ve chosen the outcome.

...An example would be a program that always picks the larger of two integers supplied. It is forced to make this decision, because I programmed it in such a way that it couldn't do otherwise.

False argument. In your example, your perfect knowledge came about due to a result of an action - programming. By comparison, God's perfect knowledge of events existed an infinity before any action was carried out (creation).

I submit that if God is omnipotent and omniscient, then we are in exactly the same position as this simple program: designed with foreknowledge of how we will decide, and thus forced to decide certain ways...

No. Knowledge by itself doesn't have the power or ability to directly interfere with someone else’s ability to choose. This is a basic, logical principle. By definition, knowledge is simply the “the state or fact of knowing”, nothing more. Person A knowing how Person B is going to behave doesn’t remove Person’s B freewill. Person A knowing a traffic light will change from red to green doesn't force it to happen. God knows what every human will ever do, but He does not make every human do those things.

But God, who made the vase, your son, and the laws of gravity, and knew that your son would drop the vase, most certainly did force the vase to break, just as certainly as my computer program is forced to pick the higher integer.

You’re arguing semantics. We have a perfect knowledge of what will happen when an object suspended in the air is released: the laws of gravity take over and the object falls to the earth. This knowledge doesn’t in any way, shape or form interfere with someone else’s decision to drop a glass or throw himself off a bridge. Likewise, God has known the free choices everyone will ever make for all eternity, and thus, in His omniscient mind, as sure as we know the outcome of a falling object, the future is also fixed. However, I could choose to reach out and grab my son's arm before he drops the vase or I could just as easily grab the vase before it hits the floor. This is me acting on my perfect knowledge to change the outcome. And I will happily submit that in some instances, God also does the same (Romans 9).

If God is omnipotent, and wants all sinners to repent, then all sinners will repent.

This would only be true if God needs to have all sinners repent. But He doesn’t.

If God knows that I will not repent before He made me, and then made me in such a way that I will not repent, then He must have wanted me to not repent.

Wrong. Let’s look at what you’ve just said. Statement #1: God knows I won’t repent. True. This is the perfect knowledge part. Statement #2: He then made me in such a way that you won’t repent. False. Perfect knowledge doesn't automatically demand action.

Nope, I never decided I didn't want or need God: I just never saw any evidence that God existed. Did you ever decide you didn't want or need the Invisible Pink Unicorn?

Argumentative and irrelevant. My point is that you never saw evidence God existed.

And God didn't "just happen" to know this; He made me in exactly the right way that compelled me to take the path I've taken.

Two different arguments. God having perfect knowledge isn’t a logical argument for proving God makes people to behave in a certain way. It does not logically follow, for the reasons listed above, that God's perfect foreknowledge of all human choices means that God dictates those choices.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jason, Joe,
I think it would be very enlightening to all concerned if you two would hash out whether god is omniscient or not.

Its frustrating trying to argue against something that the opposition can't agree on.

I think Jason and IrishFarmer think god is omniscient so that makes it 2-1 against Joe. I know that IrishFarmer posted his rebuttal article about this on Frank Waltons site and he didn't have a problem with the premise that God is Omniscient. He did have a problem with the timelessness though.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jason,
A knowledge of God is based on Scripture so I would say it’s very much the point. Scripture (God’s Word) says man has the freedom to choose between good and evil.
Jason evidently thinks that Omniscience is one of Gods attributes but doesn't agree with the more or less consensus that it contradicts free will. He's got scripture verses that contradict the contradiction between omniscience and free will.

Since a good number of people agree that logically Gods omniscience contradicts Free will (not that consensus makes a thing logically sound), this SHOULD show that the authors (and or interpreters) of scripture got their claims wrong when they say that free will is possible. Since god at least approved of scripture, he got it wrong too. He failed to make scripture clear enough on this point to avoid misunderstandings. However this would be consistent with a with a non-omniscient god.

This would be explained by Joes less than omniscient God, because to my way of thinking a god that is less than omniscient can make mistakes.

Joes case is getting stronger.

Michael Ejercito said...


Since a good number of people agree that logically Gods omniscience contradicts Free will (not that consensus makes a thing logically sound), this SHOULD show that the authors (and or interpreters) of scripture got their claims wrong when they say that free will is possible. Since god at least approved of scripture, he got it wrong too. He failed to make scripture clear enough on this point to avoid misunderstandings. However this would be consistent with a with a non-omniscient god.

So how is understanding possible without free will?

Michael Ejercito said...

There are many people here who claim that we do not have free will.

On September 6, 2006, Vinson Filyaw kidnapped a fourteen-year-old girl named Elizabeth Shoaf and held her in an underground bunker. He raped her every day. She escaped when she tricked him into borrowing his cell phone, and then texting a message. Filyaw was later sentenced to 421 years in prison.

Now, if there is free will, then what Filyaw did to that girl was very evil, and those who prosecuted him were pursuing justice as well as keeping him fro kidnapping and raping other girls.

But if there is no free will, then how can it be true that kidnapping and raping a fourteen-year-old girl is evil? After all, if there is no free will, then Filyaw did not choose his actions. And how could rape cause harm to a girl? After all, if she does not have free will, she could not have been violated in any way.

Rape is defined as sexual intercourse without consent, or with force or the threat of force. But if there is no free will, then there is no consent, and with no consent everyone who participated in sexual intercourse was raped.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Lee wrote: "god that is less than omniscient can make mistakes."

Or is it that His grace makes allowances for our mistakes?? People are the ones that tend to get infected with the notion that "mistakes" should not be allowed.

Jason said...

Lee,

Firstly, your discussion with Joe is your discussion with Joe. I’m not interested in getting involved.

Secondly, a good number of people don’t believe God’s omniscience removes their free will so this should also show that Bible critics have got their claims wrong.

He failed to make scripture clear enough on this point to avoid misunderstandings.

How difficult is this to understand: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live…” (Deut 30:19) or what about “…choose you this day whom ye will serve…” (Josh 24:15) or “I have chosen the way of truth:” (Psa 119:30) or “For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD:” (Prov 1:29)

For hundreds of generations Jews and Christians alike have rightly understood these words to mean God has given mankind the ability to freely choose. I fail to see what's so complicated about these simple verses that would leave you confused about their true meaning...?

zilch said...

Jason- Lee said it: the Biblical claim that we have free will is irreconcilable with God being omniscient and omnipotent. In any case, my present argument has nothing particular to do with the Bible, but just with these three qualities being irreconcilable. Our claim is that there is a logical problem with this, so it doesn't matter what the Bible says about our having free will for the moment.

You say:

This comes back to your ‘forced decision’ theory. You didn’t actually make the decisions for the computer even if its decisions are predictable. My argument still stands: you knowing anything in advance doesn’t mean you’ve chosen the outcome.

If you really believe that a simple computer program has free will, then we have very different ideas about what "free will" is. Saying that my program is not forced to choose the larger of two integers, when I write it so that it cannot do otherwise, is very peculiar. How is the computer "deciding" not my decision? Is it because the computer can make the "decision" when I'm not in the room, or some time after I've written the program?

Let's say I write the program, and instead of letting the computer run it, run it myself, with a pencil and paper. As you probably know, in theory, any computer program could be run this way. In practice there are obviously difficulties, but a program to determine the larger of two integers is simple enough that even I could run it. Suppose I work out, with a pencil and paper, that 77 is larger than 75. Is the program still exerting free will, or is it my free will, that now decides the answer? There's no logical difference between running the software on a computer, on paper, or even in my head, provided the steps followed are the same. Where exactly is the "free will"?

In your example, your perfect knowledge came about due to a result of an action - programming. By comparison, God's perfect knowledge of events existed an infinity before any action was carried out (creation).

So it's the order in which things are done that is decisive? Seems a bit contrived to me, but fine. Let's say I forsee a program, not yet written, churning out correct answers to the question: which integer is larger? Then I sit down and write the program. My perfect knowledge of events existed before any action was carried out- not an infinity before, to be sure, but we're not debating the age of God here.

[...]However, I could choose to reach out and grab my son's arm before he drops the vase or I could just as easily grab the vase before it hits the floor. This is me acting on my perfect knowledge to change the outcome.

If you did so, your knowledge is beside the point: God, by making you as He did, forced you to grab your son's arm. Your perception of "changing the outcome" is an illusion, because the outcome was planned by God, and cannot be changed, any more than Fred Flintstone can decide to smoke Salems instead of Winstons.

I said:

If God is omnipotent, and wants all sinners to repent, then all sinners will repent.

To which you replied:

This would only be true if God needs to have all sinners repent. But He doesn’t.

So God only does what He "needs" to do, but not what He "wants" to do? I'll take your word for it, but if He is omnipotent, then it doesn't make sense to say that He "wants" to do something, but doesn't do it. What can "want" possibly mean in this case?

Michael- yes, everyone here is aware that there is all kinds of nastiness in the world. This has nothing to do with the topic at hand, in which we are assuming for the sake of argument that God exists and is omniscient and omnipotent. If you believe that God is omnipotent and omniscient, then you must believe that He wants, or needs, all these nasty things to happen, since He knew from the beginning they would happen (omniscience) and created the world in such a way that they would happen exactly as He forsaw (omnipotence).

I find the position Joe takes to be more defensible: that God is not omnipotent. Omnipotence all by itself is not a coherent quality- can God make a rock so big even He can't lift it? Can God make 2+2=5? Can God move faster than light- without changing His position? Omniscience and omnibenevolence have similar problems.

Jason said...

Zilch,

If you really believe that a simple computer program has free will…

Let’s make the analogy even simpler: God is a man on the street. He walks up to you one day and says, “Zilch, I’ve got a hundred dollars in one of my hands. If you can tell me which hand I have it in, I’ll give you the money.” You pick his left hand and lo and behold, you’re right. Then God says, “I’ll meet you here every day for as long as you’re able and we’ll play this game again.” Years go by and you meet God hundreds and hundreds of times and every time you guess right. On your deathbed, God stands beside you and says, “Zilch, I knew which hand you were going to pick, every single time, before you were even born.” (He leaves and you die rich and happy).

Question: Did God force you to choose a particular hand each time or was it your decision?

My point: Perfect knowledge doesn’t remove free will. Think about it – you wake up one day and have perfect knowledge of every thought and action your unborn child will ever experience until the day he dies. What exactly does this knowledge do?

God, by making you as He did, forced you to grab your son's arm.

Not only is this impossible to prove, it’s also wrong and illogical. My perfect knowledge that the vase would hit the floor when released didn’t force it to hit the floor. My perfect knowledge simply allowed me to know what was going to happen before the event unfolded. I could therefore decide, freely, to act on this knowledge or not. On a massive, universal scale, God is similar.

Your perception of "changing the outcome" is an illusion, because the outcome was planned by God, and cannot be changed, any more than Fred Flintstone can decide to smoke Salems instead of Winstons.

This is precisely what makes God all-powerful and incredible. God’s divine plan consists of and takes into account every single action every human and animal has ever carried out from the beginning of time to the end of time. From the first recorded events in Genesis to the last prophecies in Revelation, the outcome may be fixed but ‘achieving’ this outcome is simply a result of the summation of these events – events where free will exists. Whether the Israelites complained in the wilderness or not, God’s plan would still have been achieved. Whether Jerusalem was burnt to the ground twelve times or a thousand times, it wouldn’t have mattered – God’s plan would still have been achieved. Whether I freely repent of my sins or not, God’s plan is still going to be carried out. There’s one beginning and one ending with an infinite number of paths in between.

I'll take your word for it, but if He is omnipotent, then it doesn't make sense to say that He "wants" to do something, but doesn't do it. What can "want" possibly mean in this case?

You’re making this far more complicated then necessary. A parent wants their child to obey them. Who carries out the act of obedience: the child or parent? God wants people to follow His commandments. Who carries out the act of following His laws: man or God? Likewise, God wants people to choose life. It’s pretty straightforward, no?

Act 15:18 "Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world."

Scott said...

Jason: "...Question: Did God force you to choose a particular hand each time or was it your decision?"

If I traveled though time to observe each hand chosen, I could have foreknowledge without forcing a specific choice. But I didn't create the one doing the choosing or his free-will. God supposedly did.

Let's try the software angle again....

God has a problem, so he creates a use-case describing it: I want to know if my creation really loves me, so I need to give them a way to choose between good or evil. While I think this use-case in itself is has serious problems of it's own (why would a perfect being be insecure or need to be loved, as it implies that he needs something outside of himself?) I'll go with it for the sake of discussion.

Now that God knows what he wants, he needs to decide, in detail, how free-will interacts with our environment and our minds. After all, he's creating it from absolutely nothing. What inputs will it receive? How does it interface with our senses?

But that's not all. A interface in itself doesn't do anything. God has to create a implementation for free-will. He has to decide exactly how free-will responds in every situation based on the inputs he identified earlier. If he does not, he'd be simply creating us to randomly choose how we would react. It's one or the other.

If God is perfect, then free-will must work exactly how God designed it to work. In every situation. Perfect beings don't write buggy software, nor could a omnibenevolent being simply randomize our responses in matters of importance. He must make some kind of detailed system for 'calculating' how we react.

When faced with the choice of good or evil, we run the 'code' God wrote and get the results he wanted. Every time.

J.L. Hinman said...

btw part II of the post I did yesterday, with my answers to John's comments found above.

http://metacrock.blogspot.com/

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Scott,
obviously you are programmer, but there are a couple of things, in light of new information that you have left out. The small chance of god being wrong and not accounting for every possibility creating an 'unhandled exception' in the code. A bug. A Blue Screen of Death.

Since, to get around the logical contradiction of omniscience we have the theology of the non-omniscient god, we now have the explanation that there is a small amount of uncertainty which leaves the possibility open that he could have a bug in the software, or a mistake, or error or oversight or whatever else you want to call. This might be a simpler solution and might explain more things.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Michael E.
I don't normally like to respond to you because I think you are insincere but I'll make an exception in this case.

how is there understanding with no free will? If we are acting as god made us, then we only understand what we are capable of. Intelligence is not the same for everyone.

Does god know what you are going to be doing five years from now? Do you think you can change that right now? What would you do to keep god from knowing what you are going to be doing in five years or five minutes from now. Try an experiment. Try to fool god into thinking you are going to raise your arm and then don't.

And about the rape scenario. They are either acting as they were programmed or god is not omniscient and not omnipotent or either or and he's powerless to do anything about it, doesn't care to, or wants it to happen, because he could stop it, and either he is there watching or he's not, or he doesn't care enought to stop it or the free will of the attacker trumps the free will of the victim, etc, etc, etc,

the simpler solution is that he's not there. to say anything other than "God does not exist" should be blasphemy.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Lee wrote: "leaves the possibility open that he could have a bug in the software, or a mistake, or error or oversight or whatever else you want to call."

Whatever else you want to call - how about a dissenter? "Satan, get thee behind me..."

Lee Randolph said...

Hi mmm,
Gods non-omniscience makes it less likely that a Satan would be needed to account for evil since evil could be just a result of gods one in a billion chance for oversight. In all the billions and billions of moments that the earth has been here, there would be at least one opportunity to make a mistake.

But, maybe that mistake was Satan and now he's out of control and the there is a war between good and evil being waged right under our noses and we are just pawns or trophies in the invisible war!

And that means that our precious free will that we decide our destiny with is being influenced by supernatural forces that we don't understand every day! yeegads!

Fine, now where does this theory intersect with reality? Where is the evidence that uniquely supports that hypothesis over any other?

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Lee wrote: "And that means that our precious free will that we decide our destiny with is being influenced by supernatural forces that we don't understand every day! yeegads!"

It sure is difficult to resist the temptation to express lovingkindness in the face of rejection, but I can't help myself, (no free will, no other choices) so I guess I have to succumb - - the best to you! Peace out! May many kindnesses prevail in your life.

zilch said...

Jason: after your story, you ask:

Did God force you to choose a particular hand each time or was it your decision?

Yes, God forced me, by programming me so that I could only choose the hand He forsaw me choosing, just as I forced my computer program to choose the larger of two integers. My dying rich and happy was also chosen and forced by God, supposing that He exists, and is omnipotent and omniscient.

Perfect knowledge doesn’t remove free will. Think about it – you wake up one day and have perfect knowledge of every thought and action your unborn child will ever experience until the day he dies. What exactly does this knowledge do?

Again, you forget the premisses: whether we can have free will or not, supposing God's omniscience and omnipotence. It's a very different thing, merely having perfect foreknowledge, and having perfect foreknowledge plus omnipotence. In your case I did not (or will not) create my unborn child omnipotently, and thus I have no (or not perfect) control over its actions. God, by the terms of the argument, is Creator and omnipotent, and thus creates in such a way that what He forsees comes to pass.

God’s divine plan consists of and takes into account every single action every human and animal has ever carried out from the beginning of time to the end of time. From the first recorded events in Genesis to the last prophecies in Revelation, the outcome may be fixed but ‘achieving’ this outcome is simply a result of the summation of these events – events where free will exists. Whether the Israelites complained in the wilderness or not, God’s plan would still have been achieved. Whether Jerusalem was burnt to the ground twelve times or a thousand times, it wouldn’t have mattered – God’s plan would still have been achieved. Whether I freely repent of my sins or not, God’s plan is still going to be carried out. There’s one beginning and one ending with an infinite number of paths in between.

Where do you get these "whethers" from? If God is omniscient, He knows exactly what will happen- no "ifs", "buts", or "whethers" allowed, no "infinite number of paths" possible. Unless "omniscient" means "not knowing the path, but knowing the outcome". But what can "omniscient" mean, if not "perfect foreknowledge of what was, is, and will come to pass"?

Jason- I don't think you've carefully thought out what "omnipotent" and "omniscient" mean. You continually make analogies with human beings, who are not omnipotent and do not "create" in the sense that God "creates"; that is, creating with absolute power over outcomes. As I said, a better analogy would be to a human who writes a computer program which is forced to produce a certain outcome. Do you still maintain that such a program has free will? If so, as I said, that is a very different concept of "free will" than mine. Is following causality "free will"? If I kick a computer, and it goes "thump", is the computer exhibiting "free will"? You have not responded to my questions so far.

Jason said...

Scott said: If I traveled though time to observe each hand chosen, I could have foreknowledge without forcing a specific choice. But I didn't create the one doing the choosing or his free-will. God supposedly did.

Creation isn’t the issue. The point is perfect knowledge doesn’t remove free will.

Let's try the software angle again....

There’s no point - it’s flawed. An all-powerful God doesn’t have problems, God doesn’t need to create something to know how it’ll behave, an all-knowing God doesn’t need to decide in real-time, etc. etc. etc.

Michael Ejercito said...


And about the rape scenario. They are either acting as they were programmed or god is not omniscient and not omnipotent or either or and he's powerless to do anything about it, doesn't care to, or wants it to happen, because he could stop it, and either he is there watching or he's not, or he doesn't care enought to stop it or the free will of the attacker trumps the free will of the victim, etc, etc, etc,

the simpler solution is that he's not there. to say anything other than "God does not exist" should be blasphemy.

How would a fourteen-year-old girl being kidnapped and raped repeatedly for ten days debunk the idea of God?

Is God supposed to prevent that?

Jason said...

Zilch said: Yes, God forced me, by programming me so that I could only choose the hand He forsaw me choosing, just as I forced my computer program to choose the larger of two integers.

It was His omnipotence that created you. It was God’s omniscience that dictated which hand would hold the money.

It's a very different thing, merely having perfect foreknowledge, and having perfect foreknowledge plus omnipotence.

No, it’s not a very different thing and this is exactly what people here are getting hung up on. Does perfect knowledge alone remove free will? You say no and I happily agree. Settled. Now, you must also agree that an omnipotent God, by definition, has unlimited power. So why then would an omnipotent, all-knowing God need to force or control anything? Right, He doesn’t. Free will doesn’t restrict an all-powerful God and it doesn’t prevent His will from being established. This is what makes Him “all powerful”.

From a Christian/Bible perspective, we decide if we’re going to follow God’s laws or not. If we don’t, we die. If we do, we live. It’s a brutally simple equation. God’s kingdom will be established – if there are a hundred people in it or a billion, it makes no difference. The outcome is still exactly as He planned.

God, by the terms of the argument, is Creator and omnipotent, and thus creates in such a way that what He forsees comes to pass.

That’s right. And God creates people with free will because what He foresees is people making free will decisions about whether to accept Him or not.

Where do you get these "whethers" from? If God is omniscient, He knows exactly what will happen- no "ifs", "buts", or "whethers" allowed, no "infinite number of paths" possible.

Again, you’re refusing to separate perfect knowledge from omnipotence. God told the Israelites, “If you follow my commandments, I will bless you. If you don’t, I will punish you.” Scripture is filled to the brim with “if” statements. It's also filled with "whethers" and "buts". This doesn’t make God imperfect, it simply makes God a God who allows man to make and live by the decisions they make.

Do you still maintain that such a program has free will?

No, it doesn’t have free will. But it’s still a flawed analogy. We’ve already established that perfect knowledge doesn’t remove free will. Omnipotence doesn’t remove free will either since an all-powerful God can do anything He wants, including removing robot-like control over His creation. In other words, as a computer programmer you can choose, in your omnipotence, to program your computer with free will. With omniscience, you’d also be able to know every decision your computer would make before it was made. Congratulations, you’ve just become the God in the “which hand has the money” analogy and you've done it without infringing on your computer's free will.

(Michael's comments fit in nicely here)

Scott said...

Jason: "Creation isn’t the issue. The point is perfect knowledge doesn’t remove free will."

To get from something from nothing, God has to define every part of that something or leave it to chance. This is a side effect of his proposed omnipotent nature and role of a creator.

If God created our free-will, then he must define exactly how that will responds. Otherwise, he would appear to be happy with us randomly making choices on issues of importance.

Does this sound like the decision of a omnibenevolent God?

In other words, are you saying that God just randomly typed in something and hoped it would turn out for the best?

Jason said...

Scott said:Otherwise, he would appear to be happy with us randomly making choices on issues of importance.

God says, "Choose life or choose death". What's so random about this?

Does this sound like the decision of a omnibenevolent God?

God isn't omnibenevolent so no, it doesn't. It does however sound like a decision of a God who wants people to choose to follow Him out of their own free will. Scripture clearly supports this premise.

In other words, are you saying that God just randomly typed in something and hoped it would turn out for the best?

Hope is a foreign concept with God. He's all-knowing. What I'm saying is that the ultimate fulfillment of God's plan, as far Scripture tells us, is to have His kingdom established on earth. God wants everyone there but He knows many won't because of the decisions they make. This is the consequence of free will.

Scott said...

Jason:"God says, "Choose life or choose death". What's so random about this?"

Precisely. It's not random. It fact, can't be random because even the idea of random didn't exist before God. God must create randomness where it did not exist before or randomness must have existed before God.

In software, if you want something to happen you have to call code you wrote or code written by someone else.

If you can find one that fits your needs, you can use an off the shelf code library or have one custom made to your specific requirements.

However, God doesn't have any other code to work with but his own. He's the only developer that exists. Therefor he can't call someone up and ask for a free-will library that does x, y, and z and not define exactly how x, y and z happens. He can't farm it out to anyone but himself.

Jason: "God wants everyone there but He knows many won't because of the decisions they make. This is the consequence of free will."

If God didn't define free will, then how would he know anyone would choose him? he must have designed free-will so a least one person would choose him. Otherwise, his plan would fail completely. But if God made sure that at least one would choose him, he could ensured two, three or 50% or everyone would choose him. He's making a choice, regardless.

You make it sound like God simply pulls up to a drive though window and says "I want a cheeseburger with fries" and they appear without God figuring out what a cheese burger or fries is in the first place.

If God can't make a round square, then how can he create anything without defining it first?

Scott said...

One could use the technique of cartoon animation to illustrate this point as well.

Cartoons are made up of thousands and thousands of frames which all need to be drawn by an artist.

One group of artists draw characters at specific times in a cartoon. These times are known as key frames and usually represent important things or events that occur in the story. Another group draws all the frames which moves the character from one key frame to another. These artists are called 'tweeners' because they draw all the frames in-between the key frames.

However, as the creator of everything, God doesn't have a group of tweeners at his disposal, he must draw both the key frames and the in-between frames. He must fill in every blank frame - in detail - with something, otherwise they are left blank.

zilch said...

Jason- I asked you, about my program that picks the larger of two integers:

"Do you still maintain that such a program has free will?"

You replied:

No, it doesn’t have free will.
But it’s still a flawed analogy. We’ve already established that perfect knowledge doesn’t remove free will. Omnipotence doesn’t remove free will either since an all-powerful God can do anything He wants, including removing robot-like control over His creation. In other words, as a computer programmer you can choose, in your omnipotence, to program your computer with free will. With omniscience, you’d also be able to know every decision your computer would make before it was made. Congratulations, you’ve just become the God in the “which hand has the money” analogy and you've done it without infringing on your computer's free will.


So you're saying that my proposed program does not have free will, but that I could write a different program that had free will, which I would be able to predict perfectly? I don't see how any possible program I could write, if I could control all the parameters perfectly (omniscience), and if I could predict perfectly what it would do (omnipotence), would be a different case than my simple program. No matter how complicated the cogitations, representations of inner states, self-modelling, etc., the program went through making its decisions- it has no free will, any more than my paper and pencil implementation of the same program has free will. Or does it? If so, where do you draw the line?

Jason- you seem to be saying that we have free will because the Bible says we have free will, and because God is omnipotent and wants us to have free will, and being omnipotent can do so. I claim that despite what Scripture says, if God is omnipotent and omniscient, we can have no more free will than cartoon characters, or computer programs, whose every decision is already known and fixed. If there is a logical problem, it doesn't matter what Scripture claims: you might as well say (some Christians do) that the Bible is true because it says it's true.

The only way I can see for free will to coexist with God, is if He is not omnipotent and omniscient, but is constrained by logic (He cannot make a stone so large that He can't move it) and human autonomy (He cannot know how we will decide, or cannot create us in such a way that we decide in a particular way). Otherwise all these omni's trip over one another.

Jason said...

Scott said: Precisely. It's not random. It fact, can't be random because even the idea of random didn't exist before God. God must create randomness where it did not exist before or randomness must have existed before God.

I’m not sure the point you’re trying to make. There are two important choices God has given mankind: life or death. God says we have the free will to decide between either. What’s the problem? God's kingdom will still be established irrespective of the choice we make.

Jason said...

Scott said: If God didn't define free will, then how would he know anyone would choose him?

Because He’s all-knowing.

He must have designed free-will so a least one person would choose him. Otherwise, his plan would fail completely.

This is a logical fallacy. An all-knowing, all-powerful God doesn’t ‘fail’. God has always known how many people would freely choose Him as a result of being faced with the choice between life and death.

But if God made sure that at least one would choose him, he could ensured two, three or 50% or everyone would choose him. He's making a choice, regardless.

‘Could have’ isn’t proof, it’s speculation. Deut 30:19, Josh 24:15, Psa 119:30, Prov 1:29 clearly say the choice is ours.

If God can't make a round square, then how can he create anything without defining it first?

He has defined it: His kingdom will be established. Man can choose to be there or not. Simple.

Jason said...

zilch said: I don't see how any possible program I could write, if I could control all the parameters perfectly (omniscience), and if I could predict perfectly what it would do (omnipotence), would be a different case than my simple program.

You don't see it because you're not all-knowing... ;) As we’ve already established, omniscience doesn’t remove free well and omnipotence simply allows you to create it, or remove it, whenever you’d like.

Or does it? If so, where do you draw the line?

It does have free will because the outcome doesn’t change based on its decision. Right is still right, wrong is still wrong. God’s kingdom, the ultimate realization of His plan, will still be established whether I eat a hundred eggs in a row, walk the dog instead of talking to my wife, call in sick, or curse the Holy Spirit. It’ll also still be established whether I choose life or I choose death. The boat leaves at noon whether people are there or not ☺

You seem to be saying that we have free will because the Bible says we have free will, and because God is omnipotent and wants us to have free will, and being omnipotent can do so.

Sounds about right.

I claim that despite what Scripture says, if God is omnipotent and omniscient, we can have no more free will than cartoon characters, or computer programs, whose every decision is already known and fixed.

And I can just as easily claim you’re wrong. ‘Known’ doesn’t change anything and ‘fixed’ is only fixed because from God’s perspective, we’ve already made every choice we’re ever going to make.

If there is a logical problem, it doesn't matter what Scripture claims: you might as well say (some Christians do) that the Bible is true because it says it's true.

Thank goodness there’s no logical problem ☺

Otherwise all these omni's trip over one another.

They don’t. Omniscience doesn’t force decisions, as we’ve already proven, and omnipotence gives God the power to give His creation free will. Both omni’s work in perfect harmony with each other.

Scott said...

I’m not sure the point you’re trying to make. There are two important choices God has given mankind: life or death. God says we have the free will to decide between either. What’s the problem? God's kingdom will still be established irrespective of the choice we make.

And what faculties does man use to make that choice? He must use the faculties provided to him by God. Either they work as God designed them to work or they do not.

For the sake of argument, let's look at the composition of a chicken sandwich.

Chicken sandwiches are made of cooked chicken, which come from animals called chickens, which are made of a very specific combination of skin, bones, arteries, neurons and muscles, which are made using proteins and enzymes, which are made of molecules, which are made of atoms in a very specific arrangement, which are made of sub-atomic particles. Even this is a highly simplified version and we haven't even touched other ingredients or the process in which chicken sandwiches are made.

Can God pull up to a drive though window and say, "I'd like something to eat" and have fully formed chicken sandwich appear without first defining what a chicken sandwich is? If God had not decided all of the above, which defines exactly what a chicken sandwich is, then who or what did?

If God created everything from nothing, we have to get from nothing to free-will and only God can fill in every blank frame in detail. He must define exactly how free-will works, or it wouldn't work at all.

If God did not define every part, this would be like God pulling up to a drive though window and asking for free-will without defining exactly how free-will works first. How would he know free-will would do what it's supposed to if he didn't define it? And if he defined it, he must do so in every way, which means he knows exactly how it will respond in every situation and scenario.

Again, God can't farm this out to anyone. He must do it himself. He must know the vast and intimate details of every single thing and force he created because he had to design and implement each and every aspect.

Scott said...

Scott: "He must have designed free-will so a least one person would choose him. Otherwise, his plan would fail completely."

Jason: "This is a logical fallacy. An all-knowing, all-powerful God doesn’t ‘fail’. God has always known how many people would freely choose Him as a result of being faced with the choice between life and death."

Jason, you seem to be stuck on foreknowledge taking away free will. This is not what I'm saying.

If failure for Gods kingdom to be established is impossible and God knows this is true, then he must have made some prior arrangement to ensure failure will not occur. This means he must have defined free-will so at least one person would choose him. Otherwise he'd need to use his omnipotence to create everything in it's final state. Since we're having this conversation, this doesn't appear to be the case.

Are you saying it's possible that God could establish his Kingdom even if no one would decided to choose him? He would be without subjects. Is considered a non-failure scenario?

If this would be a failure, and if failure is impossible for God, then true free-will is impossible.

And if God ensured that at least one person would choose him, then he could have ensured that any number would have chosen him while defining free will.

‘Could have’ isn’t proof, it’s speculation. Deut 30:19, Josh 24:15, Psa 119:30, Prov 1:29 clearly say the choice is ours.

As Zilch mentioned, this is special pleading. Otherwise, please show me how this is speculation.

Jason said...

Scott said: And what faculties does man use to make that choice? He must use the faculties provided to him by God. Either they work as God designed them to work or they do not.

The faculty is called a brain and it works exactly how an omnipotent God planned for it to work.

For the sake of argument, let's look at the composition of a chicken sandwich.

This analogy is so far fetched it’s not even worth considering. Sorry.

If God created everything from nothing, we have to get from nothing to free-will and only God can fill in every blank frame in detail. He must define exactly how free-will works, or it wouldn't work at all.

Free-will has been defined. Hence the word “free”. We are FREE to decide between the two choices He has given us: life or death. We are FREE to curse God 24/7 just as we are FREE to have faith.

And if he defined it, he must do so in every way, which means he knows exactly how it will respond in every situation and scenario.

And? We’ve already established that omniscience has doesn’t affect free will so God knowing exactly how it will respond isn't relevant.

He must know the vast and intimate details of every single thing and force he created because he had to design and implement each and every aspect.

Why? God setup laws to govern the universe and since His creation operates within these laws, we’re subjected to these laws. God doesn’t need to micromanage the specifics of his creation any more then He needed to design the moon to ensure it didn’t turn into a fish. Likewise, God doesn’t need to force us to make a decision between life and death because He’s stated the kingdom will be established on earth, irrespective of the number of righteous people. It could be said the law of the establishment of the kingdom is in place – if we want in, we’re free to accept life. If we don’t, we’re free to accept death. Doesn’t get much simpler then that.

If failure for Gods kingdom to be established is impossible and God knows this is true, then he must have made some prior arrangement to ensure failure will not occur.

He wouldn’t have chosen to setup a kingdom if He knew it’d be empty. This is why He chose not to establish His kingdom on Pluto in 1847.

Are you saying it's possible that God could establish his Kingdom even if no one would decided to choose him?

Scripture says there’ll be people there so no, it’s not possible. This is why God chose the final outcome that He did. I don’t see the difficulty here.

As Zilch mentioned, this is special pleading. Otherwise, please show me how this is speculation.

Sure: Speculation: ‘a message expressing an opinion based on incomplete evidence.’ Sounds about right.

zilch said...

This is getting pretty confusing here. I'll have to recap a bit. I said:

"I don't see how any possible program I could write, if I could control all the parameters perfectly (omniscience), and if I could predict perfectly what it would do (omnipotence), would be a different case than my simple program."

You replied:

You don't see it because you're not all-knowing... ;) As we’ve already established, omniscience doesn’t remove free well and omnipotence simply allows you to create it, or remove it, whenever you’d like.

I am not all-knowing, I will admit. But in the toy universe of a simple computer program, I am indeed all-knowing: I can know in advance, perfectly, every decision the program makes. And while I agree that omniscience alone doesn't interfere with free will, we have not established that omnipotence simply allows you to create it, or remove it, whenever you’d like. That's what you claim, but so far I'm not convinced.

You said:

In other words, as a computer programmer you can choose, in your omnipotence, to program your computer with free will. With omniscience, you’d also be able to know every decision your computer would make before it was made. Congratulations, you’ve just become the God in the “which hand has the money” analogy and you've done it without infringing on your computer's free will.

I asked (sorry for all the repeats, but I want this properly untangled)

"So you're saying that my proposed program does not have free will, but that I could write a different program that had free will, which I would be able to predict perfectly? I don't see how any possible program I could write, if I could control all the parameters perfectly (omniscience), and if I could predict perfectly what it would do (omnipotence), would be a different case than my simple program. No matter how complicated the cogitations, representations of inner states, self-modelling, etc., the program went through making its decisions- it has no free will, any more than my paper and pencil implementation of the same program has free will. Or does it? If so, where do you draw the line?"

You replied:

It does have free will because the outcome doesn’t change based on its decision. Right is still right, wrong is still wrong.

Let me get this straight. You say that my simple program which picks the higher of two integers does not have free will. Correct? But you say that a more complex program, to which I somehow add "free will", does have free will, even if I implement it with paper and pencil, and know perfectly how it will make every decision, having designed it so that it will decide exactly as I predict?

In that case, the "free will" I built in is not worth the electrons it's made of, or the scribbles on paper: although there may be all kinds of illusions of choice, flashing lights and whirring noises, the outcome is exactly as I planned, following rigid rules of the formal logic of computer language: it is simply causality, one sum following another exactly as planned, and there is no choice possible.

Jason, you seem to think that "free will" is a simple quality, like "redness" or "strength" that one can simply add or subtract from a person. I suppose if being omnipotent means not being subject to logic, that could be true. But then all speculation about anything is vain.

Scott said...

David,

Did God merely decide he needed something to give us light, provide us energy and keep the earth in our solar system, thus the sun popped into existence?

If so, the fact that the sun generates light and energy by burning hydrogen must be just a unimportant detail. The fact that it is held together by vast gravitational forces is just how it turned out. God doesn't need to be involved. He's way to important for that.

But the fact that our sun consumes hydrogen *is* important. So is it's gravitational pull and mass. When our sun runs low on hydrogen 5.4 billion years from now, it will expand and scorch life from the face of the earth.

Is this something God would leave to chance? I don't think so. The details of how the sun works is just as important as what it does.

I'm saying God must have been involved with how free-will works because it's details - how it actually works - cannot be separated from our ability to choose.

Scott: "And if he defined it, he must do so in every way, which means he knows exactly how it will respond in every situation and scenario."

Jason: "And? We’ve already established that omniscience has doesn’t affect free will so God knowing exactly how it will respond isn't relevant."

He knows how it will respond due to his omnipotence, not his omniscience. He knows because he made it and defined how the choice will be made.

If you make something and it perfectly does what you want, you must have known how to construct or define it in exactly the way necessary to achieve that result. If you do not, you may not get the result you want.

As you have stated, not having one person in his kingdom due to non-belief is not possible for God. therefore God must have designed free in such a way that at least one person will choose him.

However, for the sake of argument, let's say that God could somehow separate himself from the details of how free-will works.

If God's definition of free-will existed as nothing more than "everyone can choose to accept or reject me", then would there not be a possibility that everyone could reject him? Is that not his definition?

Since this is off the table, it seem obvious that Gods definition of free will must be "at least one person will choose me but the others may not." But this means God could have said two, four or even every person would choose him.

Jason: "Free-will has been defined. Hence the word “free”. We are FREE to decide between the two choices He has given us: life or death. We are FREE to curse God 24/7 just as we are FREE to have faith."

I think Zilch is on to something here.

Could God create the moon by starting out with the sun and saying it should be more moon-like? What would that mean? How can something be more moon-like if the definition of the moon does not yet exist?

Instead, the definition of the moon is based the specific, detailed ways it differs from the sun. The thing comes after the details, not vice versa.

You're implying God did the same thing with us. He said our will should be free without defining what free-will is first. How is that logical?

Jason said...

Zilch said: And while I agree that omniscience alone doesn't interfere with free will, we have not established that omnipotence simply allows you to create it, or remove it, whenever you’d like. That's what you claim, but so far I'm not convinced.

There’s nothing to establish. Omnipotence means: “Having unlimited or universal power, authority, or force; all-powerful.” An omnipotent being can do anything, include create and remove free will. This is only logical by sheer definition of the word.

Let me get this straight. You say that my simple program which picks the higher of two integers does not have free will. Correct?

Correct.

But you say that a more complex program, to which I somehow add "free will", does have free will, even if I implement it with paper and pencil, and know perfectly how it will make every decision, having designed it so that it will decide exactly as I predict?

Yes. After all, you’ve designed the machine to think for itself – hence “free will”.

…the outcome is exactly as I planned, following rigid rules of the formal logic of computer language…

You’re again confusing omniscience with omnipotence. God created men and women with free will. The outcome God has planned for is the establishment of His kingdom. If men and women want to be there, they’re required to make a decision between good and evil. God knows the decision they’re going to make but He hasn’t forced it.

You seem to think that "free will" is a simple quality, like "redness" or "strength" that one can simply add or subtract from a person.

The complexness of a quality is irrelevant to an omnipotent being.

Jason said...

Scott said: Could God create the moon by starting out with the sun and saying it should be more moon-like? What would that mean? How can something be more moon-like if the definition of the moon does not yet exist?

I’m not sure what your point is since the definition of ‘moon’ has always existed for God.

Instead, the definition of the moon is based the specific, detailed ways it differs from the sun. The thing comes after the details, not vice versa.

Sure, except the details have always existed for God.

You're implying God did the same thing with us. He said our will should be free without defining what free-will is first. How is that logical?

When exactly do you think God “defined free will”?

zilch said...

jason, you say:

An omnipotent being can do anything, include create and remove free will.

So an omnipotent being can make a rock so big he can't pick it up? But then he can't pick it up, so he's not omnipotent. Can he change his mind and change the future? But then he's not omniscient.

My point was that the combination of God's omniscience and omnipotence with our free will is not logically possible. But if omnipotence means that one is not subject to logic, then anything goes, and there's no point for further discussion.

Of course, that means that there's no particular reason to think that God is not tricking us, or that Xenu is God, or that good people will go to Hell. But it's your game, and you are welcome to it.

Scott said...

Jason,

You're ignoring the parts of my comments that illustrate my point. I'll combine them for your convenience.

If God said an apple in a painting should be redder, then he must define a specific pigment that is actually redder than the original color to replace it with. If he does not do so, the apple would not actually become visibly redder.

If God wanted a man to be stronger, he must actually change the composition of the man's muscles so they exert more force than they did previously. God must decide exactly what this new composition must be to achieve this result, otherwise, he wouldn't be able to make the man stronger.

Or are you saying that God doesn't have to know what this new composition would be?

Since the composition of the man's muscles *would* change, there must be some other thing or being that decides what this new composition is, in detail. But if God created everything, there is no thing or being he can farm this job out to.

If we can make our own decisions, then God must actually design, in detail, how free-will would work. Otherwise, our will wouldn't be free.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jason,
the problem of omniscience and freewill is a well know philosophical problem and it is recognized as being so significant that there is a theology(?) called "Open Theism" that addresses it. I just learned about "open Theism" from this post and corresponding with JL Hinman and John.

I think you might be interested in seeing what other Christians are thinking about regarding this problem.

I didn't pull this out of the air, and Scott and Zilch are not talking crazy, they are echoing valid widely accepted viewpoints.

zilch said...

I should add here that I still am not sure what free will is- it seems surrounded with paradoxes. But omniscience and omnipotence alone are paradoxical.

In any case, I still don't see how I can grant a computer program free will, if I know exactly what it will choose: I made it so that it would choose A when given B, and C when given D; how can any "free will module" make its decisions free from my programming? Can I draw every frame of a cartoon that shows Fred trying to decide between Winstons and Salems, and draw the frame of his choosing Winstons, and not be controlling his decision, rendering his "free will" an illusion? God draws every frame of our lives, if He is omniscient and omnipotent, doesn't He? So just calling something "free will" doesn't make it free, if you ask me.

This reminds me of a quote from Abraham Lincoln: How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.

cheers from starry Vienna, zilch

Michael Ejercito said...


In any case, I still don't see how I can grant a computer program free will, if I know exactly what it will choose: I made it so that it would choose A when given B, and C when given D; how can any "free will module" make its decisions free from my programming? Can I draw every frame of a cartoon that shows Fred trying to decide between Winstons and Salems, and draw the frame of his choosing Winstons, and not be controlling his decision, rendering his "free will" an illusion? God draws every frame of our lives, if He is omniscient and omnipotent, doesn't He? So just calling something "free will" doesn't make it free, if you ask me.

How could there be good and evil if God draws every frame of our lives?

Evil is defined as disobedience to God, so evil would not be possible if none of us had the capacity to disobey Him.

Your writings imply that you believe that:

God made Hitler do the Holocaust.

God made Stalin conduct the purges.

God made Vinson Filyaw kidnap and rape Elizabeth Shoaf. (Of course, if there is no free will, all sex would be rape.)

God made you type what you just typed.

Scott said...

Zilch: "You seem to think that "free will" is a simple quality, like "redness" or "strength" that one can simply add or subtract from a person."

Jason: "The complexness of a quality is irrelevant to an omnipotent being."

You're making it sound like we're claiming that some things are too complex for God to make. That's not what I'm saying.

We're saying that if God creates anything that does what he wants, God must fully define how that something would work, in all of it's complexity, otherwise, it would not actually work.

Since God is omnipotent, he has the ability to define properties to tolerances we could never achieve.

For example, if God decided to, he could create a car with a frame that would bend or crumple during some collisions, but not others.

But as a consequence of being omnipotent, God must decide exactly what level of force would cause the frame to bend or crumple. Let's call this force x. Correspondingly, God would need to formulate the alloy used to construct the frame so it actually withstood impacts of force x. If God did not actually do this, the frame may not even keep it's form under the earth's gravitational force!

Therefore, God knows any crash with an impact greater than force x, would cause the frame to bend.

Or, God would need to locally change the laws of physics during a collision to cause the frame to bend when it might normally not, or vice versa. Again, if God changes the laws of physics, he would need decide exactly the degree in which the laws should be changed in each specific impact. Otherwise, the entire fabric of local space / time may be adversely effected. The extent of the change God applies would ultimately decide if the frame did or did not bend during each collision.

As such, God would know if the car's frame would bend or crumple in every crash it was involved in.

If God created our will, he must know exactly how that will would respond in every situation.

Jason said...

Zilch said: So an omnipotent being can make a rock so big he can't pick it up? But then he can't pick it up, so he's not omnipotent. Can he change his mind and change the future? But then he's not omniscient.

Your examples are irrelevant because there's nothing logically impossible about God creating and removing free will. God creating free will doesn't remove His omnipotence.

Jason said...

Scott said: If God said an apple in a painting should be redder, then he must define a specific pigment that is actually redder than the original color to replace it with. If he does not do so, the apple would not actually become visibly redder.

This has nothing to do with God creating free will. Free will didn’t ‘replace’ anything.

If God wanted a man to be stronger, he must actually change the composition of the man's muscles so they exert more force than they did previously. God must decide exactly what this new composition must be to achieve this result, otherwise, he wouldn't be able to make the man stronger.

This doesn’t have anything to do with free will either. God wanted man to be created with free will, so He created man with free will. The composition was never changed.

Or are you saying that God doesn't have to know what this new composition would be?

I’m saying there is no new composition because there’s no old composition. Free will is free will and God always planned for man to be created with it.

If we can make our own decisions, then God must actually design, in detail, how free-will would work. Otherwise, our will wouldn't be free.

It has been designed. It works like this: “I set before you life and death. Choose life.” God doesn’t force our decision, He simply defines what the choice is and the outcome of both.

Scott said...

Scott: "God must decide exactly what this new composition must be to achieve this result, otherwise, he wouldn't be able to make the man stronger."

Jason: "This doesn’t have anything to do with free will either. God wanted man to be created with free will, so He created man with free will. The composition was never changed."

Yes it does.

What I've shown that is if a man is to have a particular strength, God must define the detailed composition of his muscles if he is to actually have that strength. Whether it had a previous state or not is irrelevant.

I've already anticipated this response and addressed in in my car analogy.

Scott: "Or are you saying that God doesn't have to know what this new composition would be?"

Jason: "I’m saying there is no new composition because there’s no old composition. Free will is free will and God always planned for man to be created with it. "

But there must be *a* composition. And God must have defined it or it would not exist.

Jason: "It has been designed. It works like this: “I set before you life and death. Choose life.” God doesn’t force our decision, He simply defines what the choice is and the outcome of both."

This is like saying God threw a bunch of neurons in a blender, turned it on puree for thirty seconds, then asked it to choose right and wrong. Why would they decide anything at all? God must arrange the neurons so they can become aware of their environment, think thoughts, etc. After completing this process, he would know exactly what they will choose in all situations. This is a consequence of his omnipotence.

Or you saying we simply organically evolved to the point we gained the ability to think and reason independently from God? Either God designed us, down to the last detail, or he did not. Which is it?

zilch said...

michael, you say:

Evil is defined as disobedience to God, so evil would not be possible if none of us had the capacity to disobey Him.

Your writings imply that you believe that:

God made Hitler do the Holocaust.

God made Stalin conduct the purges.

God made Vinson Filyaw kidnap and rape Elizabeth Shoaf. (Of course, if there is no free will, all sex would be rape.)

God made you type what you just typed.


1) I don't believe in God, so I don't believe God made anyone do anything. Moreover, I try to say "bad" instead of "evil", because of the religious baggage of "evil", but sometimes I slip. I guess I'm just an evil person.

2) For the purposes of this argument, I'm assuming that God exists and is omnipotent and omniscient. My argument is that if God exists, and is omnipotent and omniscient, then free will cannot exist.

3) Perhaps Stalin was inspired to emulate God's treatment of the Midianites- he did go to seminary, after all. And Hitler was raised Catholic and inspired by Martin Luther, who said some pretty nasty things about Jews. So if God does exist, and the Bible is His Word, then He has a certain amount to answer for, imho. Of course, most Christians nowadays would say that Stalin and Hitler were not doing God's work, and if they were inspired by the Bible, they were misinterpreting it. But I don't really see much difference between what they did and what God commanded the Israelites to do.

4) How would all sex be "rape" without free will? It would just be neutral, like amoebas dividing.

jason, you say:

Your examples are irrelevant because there's nothing logically impossible about God creating and removing free will. God creating free will doesn't remove His omnipotence.

That's your claim, indeed. But so far you've just asserted it, but not demonstrated what is wrong with scott's and my illustrations of how no real freedom is possible, if God made us so that we do exactly as we do, and cannot do otherwise. Simply saying, as you do, that if God is omnipotent, He can give us free will if He so desires, is exactly like claiming that He can create a square circle, unless you can show where our freedom comes into play.

As scott says, the ability to make decisions is not a simple quality, but something that must be designed to function. And if the Designer is omnipotent and omniscient, then the design is ineluctable: it forces every decision by its structure. Simply calling it "free will" doesn't remove this logical problem, any more than calling a tail a leg makes it a leg.

Lee Randolph said...

Bravo Zilch,
for telling Jason
"But so far you've just asserted it, but not demonstrated what is wrong with scott's and my illustrations of how no real freedom is possible, if God made us so that we do exactly as we do, and cannot do otherwise."
I wanted to point that out but I've been too busy to keep up with the dialog and you and scott are saying what I would say anyway.

richdurrant said...

Does Omnipotence have to include unlimited physical strength? Or is that a great amount of physical strength, combined with unlimited knowledge, equals omnipotence? Then if this is true is seems that God could logically make a rock too big to lift physically, but he could still move it. It's a thought so I would like to hear ya alls thoughts.
Thank you in advance

richdurrant said...

"2) For the purposes of this argument, I'm assuming that God exists and is omnipotent and omniscient. My argument is that if God exists, and is omnipotent and omniscient, then free will cannot exist."

So this same omni God couldn't present us with situations that are meant to guide us to salvation, but leave open the possibility for us to choose different paths?

Jason said...

Lee said: The problem of omniscience and freewill is a well know philosophical problem and it is recognized as being so significant that there is a theology(?) called "Open Theism" that addresses it. I just learned about "open Theism" from this post and corresponding with JL Hinman and John.

There is no problem. Firstly, Zilch has already confirmed omniscience doesn’t infringe on free will. Secondly, as stated many time prior, knowing something in advance doesn’t force the outcome. I know a traffic light is going to turn green but I don’t force it to happen. I know the sun is going to set each night but I don’t force that to happen either. The argument that omniscience alone removes free will is silly.

And sure I’m interested in what other opinions are out there but let’s at least call a spade a spade: Open Theism isn’t a ‘widely accepted’ viewpoint by any stretch of the imagination and for you to say it’s valid is also strange considering your opinion of Christian theology.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jason,
I don't think zilch said anything of the sort. If he did, will you please cut and paste it into a comment.

And sure I’m interested in what other opinions are out there but let’s at least call a spade a spade: Open Theism isn’t a ‘widely accepted’ viewpoint by any stretch of the imagination and for you to say it’s valid is also strange considering your opinion of Christian theology.
as usual your reading comprehension is terrible, and that is why I don't interact with you very much. I said
"the problem of omniscience and freewill is a well know philosophical problem" not open theism. Open theism arose to acknowledge the problem and sidestep it by reducing gods super powers.

Lee Randolph said...

come on rich and jason, how can you not get it?
Can you fool god?
can you do something he doesn't expect?
No to both because he is omniscient. Since that is the case, anything you do he knew about before he created the world right?
That means you were made with certain criteria and he knew every instant of your life what you would do ahead of time. So Try to fool him.
You can't, because he already knew. You are forced into doing what he already knows about because if you did something he didn't expect, he wouldn't be omnicscient would he?

If you have free will and god knows about infinite options at any given instant, then he only knows the options exist and he doesn't know which one you will choose. In that case he is not omniscient because you have surprised him and picked an option that he didn't know you would pick.

If he limits his knowledge to give you free will, then by definition he's not omniscient because he doesn't know what you would do because he has limited himself. I have no doubt that he should limit himself, but to tell us one thing and do another, such as saying all who are saved are written in the book of life makes him less trustworthy.

Ps. 139:16: "Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them." God knows who are his, even before they are born, everyone who lives is written in the book of life.

Other portions of the bible ssem to contradict this statement like here
Rev.3:5: "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." We overcome by our faith which is exhibited by faithfulness.

So if god says he's omniscient, he sure does look like he's working on a timeline and doesn't really know ahead of time who's going to be saved or not because
Exod. 32:33: "And the LORD said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book." If one dies without forgiveness of their sins their name vanishes out of the record book of life.

Omniscience cannot be supported by scripture, it contradicts itself, and it is logically inconsistent.

Its a bust, and one more reason to believe the bible was not "god breathed".

Michael Ejercito said...

3) Perhaps Stalin was inspired to emulate God's treatment of the Midianites- he did go to seminary, after all. And Hitler was raised Catholic and inspired by Martin Luther, who said some pretty nasty things about Jews. So if God does exist, and the Bible is His Word, then He has a certain amount to answer for, imho. Of course, most Christians nowadays would say that Stalin and Hitler were not doing God's work, and if they were inspired by the Bible, they were misinterpreting it. But I don't really see much difference between what they did and what God commanded the Israelites to do.
God did not order Stalin nor Hitler to do the purges or the Holocaust.
4) How would all sex be "rape" without free will? It would just be neutral, like amoebas dividing.
Rape is defined as sex without consent.

Without free will, there can be no consent.

Jason said...

Zilch said: In any case, I still don't see how I can grant a computer program free will, if I know exactly what it will choose: I made it so that it would choose A when given B, and C when given D; how can any "free will module" make its decisions free from my programming?

KNOWING how your computer is going to behave doesn’t FORCE your computer to behave that way. You didn’t MAKE it to choose A, you simply KNOW it’s going to choose A.

Can I draw every frame of a cartoon that shows Fred trying to decide between Winstons and Salems, and draw the frame of his choosing Winstons, and not be controlling his decision, rendering his "free will" an illusion?

Er, yes - you’re omniscient. You KNOW how Fred is going to act so it’s simply a matter of drawing in what you already know is going to happen. Fred maintains his free will, you maintain your omniscience.

But so far you've just asserted it, but not demonstrated what is wrong with scott's and my illustrations of how no real freedom is possible, if God made us so that we do exactly as we do, and cannot do otherwise.

I’ve explained, many times, the problem with your illustrations.

Simply saying, as you do, that if God is omnipotent, He can give us free will if He so desires, is exactly like claiming that He can create a square circle, unless you can show where our freedom comes into play.

For some incredibly bizarre reason, you think an omnipotent God creating a being with free will is a logical impossibility. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why.

zilch said...

For some incredibly bizarre reason, you think an omnipotent God creating a being with free will is a logical impossibility. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why.

For some incredibly bizarre reason, jason, you think that an omnipotent God can decide exactly what a being will do, make that being so that it does exactly that, and say that the being's feeling of having made a "decision" is "free will". For the life of me, I can't figure out why.

zilch said...

michael, you say:

God did not order Stalin nor Hitler to do the purges or the Holocaust.

How do you know this?

Rape is defined as sex without consent.

That may be one definition, but there are others- Webster's has:

unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against the will usually of a female or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent

Without free will, there would be no consent, true. But there would also be no not-consenting: the whole concept of consent would not exist, like with amoebas. Thus, if there were no free will, "rape" would be meaningless.

Jason said...

Lee said: I don't think zilch said anything of the sort. If he did, will you please cut and paste it into a comment.

Sure: J said – “Perfect knowledge doesn’t remove free will. Think about it – you wake up one day and have perfect knowledge of every thought and action your unborn child will ever experience until the day he dies. What exactly does this knowledge do?” Z said – “…In your case I did not (or will not) create my unborn child omnipotently, and thus I have no (or not perfect) control over its actions.”

Hence, omniscience alone doesn’t control actions.

...Since that is the case, anything you do he knew about before he created the world right?

No one’s debating otherwise.

That means you were made with certain criteria and he knew every instant of your life what you would do ahead of time. So Try to fool him.

What would this accomplish? Free will simply allows you to decide to try to fool God.

You can't, because he already knew. You are forced into doing what he already knows about because if you did something he didn't expect, he wouldn't be omnicscient would he?

Lee, you’re getting as stuck on knowledge as the rest of the folks here. Let’s say you woke up tomorrow as the world’s first omniscient human. You know everything that will ever happen for the rest of time. Next weekend, a thief will break into your neighbor's house and kill the family. Their next of kin subsequently sue you. They claim your omniscience forced the thief to kill. Do they have a case? In China, a mine explosion kills 100 people. The government claims you forced the mine to explode and sentence you to life in jail. Do they have a case? Zilch would say no. You?

If he limits his knowledge to give you free will, then by definition he's not omniscient because he doesn't know what you would do because he has limited himself. I have no doubt that he should limit himself, but to tell us one thing and do another, such as saying all who are saved are written in the book of life makes him less trustworthy.

Explain why God’s knowledge has to be limited to give man free will.

Omniscience cannot be supported by scripture, it contradicts itself, and it is logically inconsistent.

Where does Scripture expressly state that God’s knowledge is limited?

Jason said...

Zilch said: For some incredibly bizarre reason, jason, you think that an omnipotent God can decide exactly what a being will do, make that being so that it does exactly that, and say that the being's feeling of having made a "decision" is "free will". For the life of me, I can't figure out why.

Seems as though you've been misreading my posts then :) Allow me to summarize with a conclusion to an old analogy: It was God's omnipotence that created you. It was God’s omniscience that dictated which hand would hold the money.

Jason said...

scott said: ...We're saying that if God creates anything that does what he wants, God must fully define how that something would work, in all of it's complexity, otherwise, it would not actually work.

That’s right, God designed man and woman with the ability to think for themselves. It’s been fully defined as “You have the ability to choose – here are the outcomes if you choose A, here are the outcomes if you choose B. However, I will establish the kingdom no matter which you choose."

Therefore, God knows any crash with an impact greater than force x, would cause the frame to bend.

Who cares? God isn’t forcing the car to crash. God knowing how the car will behave in a collision doesn’t force a collision to occur.

If God created our will, he must know exactly how that will would respond in every situation.

That’s right, He does. I have no problem with this. But knowing isn’t forcing. Knowing how a car’s frame will behave in a crash doesn’t force an accident to happen. Knowing how we’re going to behave in a situation doesn’t force this behaviour. Knowledge, by itself, impacts nothing. Knowing we’re hungry doesn’t make food magically appear.

What I've shown that is if a man is to have a particular strength, God must define the detailed composition of his muscles if he is to actually have that strength. Whether it had a previous state or not is irrelevant.

Sure it’s relevant. How do you suppose a composition can change if it didn’t exist in a previous state? God created man with free will. He always intended man to have free will. There was no previous composition.

But there must be *a* composition. And God must have defined it or it would not exist.

Of course. But there’s a huge difference between ‘a’ composition and an ‘old’ composition. Which is it?

Why would they decide anything at all? God must arrange the neurons so they can become aware of their environment, think thoughts, etc. After completing this process, he would know exactly what they will choose in all situations.

Knowing a decision before it’s made doesn’t force that decision to be made. Free will was designed by God to work exactly the way it’s working now. We choose between life and death. It’s OUR choice. The only thing that’s been decided for us is the outcome of each decision. Likewise, we can't change the fact that the wages of sin is death. We voluntarily sin, we involuntarily die.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jason,
Let’s say you woke up tomorrow as the world’s first omniscient human.
Oh I see, you've conveniently separated gods omniscience and his omnipotence. That is a mischaracterization of the premises as zilch pointed out, and doesn't follow from scripture without some weird interpretation.

So are you saying god is not omnipotent if he's omniscient?

Don't take this out of context but if I am not omnipotent and I have perfect knowledge, then my knowledge does not force anyone to do anything. However God is omnipotent so if he created people and he has a plan and he knows things such as who was going to be written in the book of life ahead of time, then those that are written in the book of life are born ready to be received, he knew they were saved ahead of thier birth. They can't do anything to get themselves kicked out can they?

However the scriptures that contradict this concept seem to say that he can blot them out for not having their sins forgiven. So why write them in there if you know you are going to blot them out? Either he doesn't blot them out because he's omniscient, or he blots them out because he only thought they were going to be saved and he made a mistake, which means no omniscience.

What would this accomplish? Free will simply allows you to decide to try to fool God.
It would accomplish verifying that you can't fool good even if you decide to try. This is the proof but you don't see it.

Explain why God’s knowledge has to be limited to give man free will.
I can't do it any better than the other two or three attempts from scott and Zilch.

Where does Scripture expressly state that God’s knowledge is limited?
Expressly state? Is that a criteria for understanding? All things you believe are expressly stated in the bible?
Exod. 32:33: "And the LORD said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book." If one dies without forgiveness of their sins their name vanishes out of the record book of life.
If god knows who is written in the book of life before they are born, what good does it do to write people in that are going to be blotted out? He would know they are going to be blotted out and it would be dumb to write them in there knowing full well they are going to be blotted out. Therefore to write them in there means he is being dumb or he didn't know. If he didn't know, his knowledge was limited.

Scott said...

Jason,

It seems my analogy wasn't clear enough.

The car's frame is our free-will. God designing it to bend in some crashes but not others.

Car crashes represents God asking us to choose.

Here's another analogy...

God creates a battery, wires, switch and a light bulb. He then hooks the battery to the switch and then the switch to the bulb. When God flips the switch, what happens? Unless God purposely created defective parts, obviously, the light goes on.

Can God suddenly make the exact same circuit work some times and not others?

The only way God could do so would be to explicitly and purposely change the laws of physics to prevent electricity from flowing before flipping the switch. If he does not decide to change the laws every time the switch is thrown, the results will always be the same.

He could intentionally unplug one of the wires before flipping the switch, but then that wouldn't be the same circuit any more. Instead, it would be the equivalent of a circuit that was intentionally designed not to work at all. Again, if God did not hook up the wire before flipping the switch again, resulting in the equivalent of circuit that was designed to work, the light would never come on, regardless of how many times God flipped the switch.

In fact, by changing the laws of physics in the first example, God created the equivalent of a universe that was intentionally designed to prevent electricity from flowing at all.

In case it's not clear, our free-will is the circuit and God asking us to choose is flipping the switch.

Scott said...

To summarize...

By virtue of God either intentionally changing the laws of physics or intentionally hooking or unhooking a wire, God would have known if the light would turn on before flipping the switch - every time.

This is because, the only way God could make a circuit that worked sometimes, but not others, was to intentionally decide to change it into either (a) functional equivalent of a circuit that was designed to work all the time or (b) the functional equivalent of a circuit that was designed to work work none of the time, every time he flipped the switch.

This can be scaled up to even the most complex things, such as free-will.

richdurrant said...

So if you have choices A and B, and I know ahead of time that you are going to choose B and I only present you with choice B because of my foreknowledge, that in my mind is forcing a choice. However, if you are presented with choice A and B where does my foreknowledge of your choice force the decision? You still are left with 2 choices, regardless of my knowledge of the outcome.

Jason said...

Lee said: Oh I see, you've conveniently separated gods omniscience and his omnipotence.

Lee, if you’d have been reading the posts up until this point, you’ll have noticed this very popular but incorrect opinion: since God knows something is going to happen, we mustn’t have free will (since via His knowledge, He’s forced us to make this decision). My point, once again, as illustrated in my examples to you, is that omniscience doesn’t remove free will. There is no logical reason whatsoever to claim that if God knows what choices we are going to make, we’re somehow not free. My knowledge that the sun will set doesn't force it to happen.

So are you saying god is not omnipotent if he's omniscient?

Perhaps it’s you who should think about a reading comprehension course…? ;)

Don't take this out of context but if I am not omnipotent and I have perfect knowledge, then my knowledge does not force anyone to do anything.

Agreed.

However God is omnipotent so if he created people and he has a plan and he knows things such as who was going to be written in the book of life ahead of time, then those that are written in the book of life are born ready to be received, he knew they were saved ahead of their birth. They can't do anything to get themselves kicked out can they?

Again, knowledge doesn’t force anyone to do anything. Therefore your question is a logical impossibility because we’re discussing an all-knowing God. If someone wanted to get themselves ‘kicked out’, God would have already known about it already.

However the scriptures that contradict this concept seem to say that he can blot them out for not having their sins forgiven.

There are no contradictions. When we read passages in which God appears to change His mind, what we’re reading is a highly anthropomorphised account of actions which (a) He said He would carry out if certain conditions were not met, or (b) He said He would not carry out unless certain conditions were met.

Either he doesn't blot them out because he's omniscient, or he blots them out because he only thought they were going to be saved and he made a mistake, which means no omniscience.

Or He simply uses this sort of language ((i.e. anthropomorphised accounts) to help people understand the fine line their walking and spur them into action. For example, it was Moses who made the original ‘book of life’ comment (Exo 32:32). God responded in kind, using language that Moses, and the average person, would clearly understand. This kind of ‘layman’s communication’ is found all over the place in Scripture, from prophecy, to God’s description of Himself, to the relationship between Himself and His creation.

It would accomplish verifying that you can't fool god even if you decide to try. This is the proof but you don't see it.

No one can fool God because He’s all knowing. We’ve already established this. We’ve also established that perfect knowledge doesn’t interfere with our freedom and ability to choose.

Expressly state? Is that a criteria for understanding? All things you believe are expressly stated in the bible?

It’s a simple question, Lee. No need to get your back up. ☺

If god knows who is written in the book of life before they are born, what good does it do to write people in that are going to be blotted out…

You’re asking the wrong question. The answer is an all-knowing God doesn’t need a book. However, for a small-brained creation that can’t fathom the greatness or timelessness of God, the idea of writing names into a book is easy to visualize and grasp. He describes it this way so people can better understand.

Jason said...

Scott, your analogies have reached a new low. Thanks, but no thanks ☺

Richdurrant, I couldn't agree more.

zilch said...

rich, you say:

However, if you are presented with choice A and B where does my foreknowledge of your choice force the decision? You still are left with 2 choices, regardless of my knowledge of the outcome.

That sounds logical. But as scott, lee, and I have been arguing, with perfect knowledge and omnipotence, it may look like a choice to us, but it's a forced move programmed by God. If I write a program that, when presented with two different integers, always picks the larger one, then that program has no free will. Right? I wrote it; I have perfect knowledge of how it will choose; and I have perfect knowledge of how each step that I wrote contributes to each choice.

If God is omnipotent and omniscient, it is only different in degree: we hem and haw and have the impression that we are free to make whatever choice we like, but since God knows what choice we will make in every case, and has perfect knowledge of how each structure in us (and the environment) contributes to each choice we make, and has the omnipotence to create all these incredibly complex programs we call ourselves in such a way that they will run His program without a hitch, then we are exactly as free as that computer program I wrote.

Jason seems to be arguing that if God is omnipotent, He can somehow make our choices free, even if He programmed them, and they are thus His choices. I don't see how that would be any different than putting a sticker on my integer-picking computer that says "this computer has free will". That is, unless God can make square circles and such, in which case, as I said, discussion is fruitless.

Scott said...

Jason,

Are you claiming some kind of special pleading because we don't know how our conciseness works?

This is irrelevant as, regardless if we know how free-will works or not, God must know. Otherwise it would not exist.

Scott said...

Zilch :"Jason seems to be arguing that if God is omnipotent, He can somehow make our choices free, even if He programmed them, and they are thus His choices. I don't see how that would be any different than putting a sticker on my integer-picking computer that says "this computer has free will". That is, unless God can make square circles and such, in which case, as I said, discussion is fruitless."

I agree.

God could take an active role by changing the way the program is interpreted each time it was run. This would return "different" results. But even then, the perception of free choice would only be an illusion since God would need to intentionally and explicitly choose a different interpretation for different results to occur. As such, the outcome would ultimately still be his choice.

This is similar to God changing the laws of physics so a circuit would work differently every time he flipped the switch.

richdurrant said...

zilch: "But as scott, lee, and I have been arguing, with perfect knowledge and omnipotence, it may look like a choice to us, but it's a forced move programmed by God."

I have been following along here, so I am familiar with the discussion. I will agree that there is a chance that we only have the illusion of free will. My familiar term for this is agency instead of will but that is probably nitpicky. If your computer was able to be programmed to weigh consequences of its choices and then make decisions and also if it were able to make choices contrary to your desires, I think we would be closing in on our design.
I won't be picky about your example of the computer because it's never easy to draw a good analogy and it works good enough for this discussion.

You add omnipotence in and presume that since God is all powerful that only leaves us with an illusion of freedom. The way you put it together is logically possible. On the other hand it remains logically possible to have both omnis and follow my A/B example while leaving both omnipotence and free agency in tact.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Rich, jason,

Perhaps it’s you who should think about a reading comprehension course…? ;)
nice try jason, but that was a rhetorical device and framed in a question, which at least suggests that If I was uncertain I was asking for clarification.

I don't really think omnipotence is necessary to impede free will in a closed system such as illustrated in the "book" example below.

As a human, I use a book/movie analogy because it seems to me to be a good way to simulate (to a non-programmer) how a human can be god like.

I want to write a book that has an ending that depends on the actions of the characters in the book. If I write the book by myself, I have a good chance at making it internally consistent and follow logically to the end. I know how the characters are going to act because I thought them up, I committed them to ink and thier actions bring about the logical ending to the book. There is no uncertainty. This would be omniscience.

If I were to introduce co-writers in the book and delegate some of the chapters, then I wouldn't know how they were going to make the characters behave. Presumeably they write the characters in such a way they do not contradict the ending, but I would not know the details until I read them or discussed them with the other writers. There is uncertainty. This would not be omniscience.

If the characters in the book in both cases were aware, they would not know that they could not change their mind, or act any other way than they were written. If they did, then the ending would change and run the risk of not turning out the way the book was planned.

By being omnisciecient, then uncertainty is minimized as is free will even for the omniscient one. Being omniscient minimizes free will in any case because any uncertainty undermines the omniscience.

However jason wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to have an omniscient god that permits uncertainty but is not uncertain about anything. Isn't that at least a contradiction?

introducing free will into omniscience negates omniscience, and if this is true, then it negates omnipotence since it would be impossible for an omnipotent being to introduce free will and maintain omniscience.

And then Jason falls back to the anthropomorphized scripture to explain logical contradictions. If this is the case then we should apply this principle to the rest of the bible and realize that we can't know anything about god with any certainty since we don't know what is NOT anthropomorphized. But I'll bet he doesn't get this either. The problem of the heap. When is a bunch of sand a heap? When are the details of god godlike or humanlike? What scripture is anthropomorphized and what is not? Where is the demarcation?

I've made my case, and I'm closing my participation at this point to work on my next article and I'm leaving the decision to the reader.

richdurrant said...

Good day Lee,

Pretty good analogy, but it doesn't quite match our existence is some areas. First of all the God being the writer wants all to come unto Christ, follow him and be saved. So why doesn't everyones book end this way?
Either we have the illusion of freedom and can't make any changes to our life which is already decided as characters in Gods book, or we have freedom to make our life as we see fit.

"introducing free will into omniscience negates omniscience, and if this is true, then it negates omnipotence since it would be impossible for an omnipotent being to introduce free will and maintain omniscience."

This is one way to look at it. However there is another possibility. Omniscience is not effected at all by free agency because the omniscient can know what choice you will make before you make it without forcing or interfering in the outcome. I know my son would much rather have a cookie after school then an apple. I want him to take the apple. So when he gets home I offer him the apple only and he will eat it, this is forcing my will. If I offer him the choice of an apple or a cookie, he will take the cookie, Free agency and omniscience working together.

In your book analogy, if you presented your characters with your ending and then showed them things they needed to do so that ending will happen and then left them with other options so that your ending could be changed would be closer to our situation here. You would still know your characters and what choices they would make throughout you book, omniscience. Since all you have given them is what you expect the end to be and a road map to follow while they navigate through the various choices offered, (cookies, apples, oranges, cake, ect...) all they have to do is follow your road map and your desired ending will happen for each character. But by giving them the opportunity to be co-writers of their book you have given them free agency. Your omniscience and omnipotence are still not compromised, but remain in tact, while your characters get Free agency.

While there is a possibility that we have either freedom, or the illusion of freedom, I maintain that we have freedom. And that our freedom doesn't remove either omniscience or omnipotence from God. I also believe I have presented a good enough case to show that the possibility of us having freedom is real. I could always be wrong too;)
Thank you Lee for the post. I will continue as long as the thread does though.

Jason said...

Zilch said: Jason seems to be arguing that if God is omnipotent, He can somehow make our choices free, even if He programmed them, and they are thus His choices.

God doesn’t program our choices because He doesn't need to. For example, you create a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. You conjure up a huge online world, and inhabit it with monsters, plants, food and buildings. You create universal laws that govern this world (gravity, morals, etc.). You then create players with the ability to choose and dictate their fate – they have free reign to behave however they want within the confines of the world you’ve placed him in. You tell the players that after 100 years of game world time, the world will end and only those with 1000 points or more will be allowed to continue playing. So off the players go, interacting with each other, killing monsters, starting families, setting up communities, etc. Every now and then, you interact with the players, perhaps giving them a new technology or a catastrophe to deal with. Depending on how they react, they can either build up their score or they can lose points. For the most part though, you let the world govern itself through cause and effect. Person 394 gets drunk and falls off a cliff. Person 29 has a baby with Person 39 and they accidentally smother it in the night. Person 294, who’s great grandparents were chain smokers, is born with a weak heart. And so on and so on. With one week of game time left, you give your players a warning: “You have one week left. You need 1000 points or more to keep living.” A week passes and the game comes to a close. Every player that has less then a 1000 points is deleted, removed forever from the system. Every player that has 1000 points or more lives on.

Omnipotence and omniscience doesn’t change or affect anything in this model. The world governs itself while the outcome remains unchanged.

Jason said...

Lee said: I want to write a book that has an ending that depends on the actions of the characters in the book.

This isn't a relevant analogy since God’s ultimate ‘ending’ doesn’t depend on the actions of the characters. His kingdom will be established whether you choose life and I choose death or Sue chooses to wear the skirt instead of the blouse and Jimmy chooses the burger instead of the hotdog. It doesn’t matter. God asks His creation to choose – that’s it.

He wants to have an omniscient god that permits uncertainty but is not uncertain about anything. Isn't that at least a contradiction?

Sure it's a contradiction but why are you talking about uncertainty? Certainty or not doesn't affect free will. Just because God knows something will happen doesn’t force it to happen. We’ve been through this already. Many, many, many times.

introducing free will into omniscience negates omniscience, and if this is true, then it negates omnipotence since it would be impossible for an omnipotent being to introduce free will and maintain omniscience.

Lee, we’ve been through this as well. Have you already forgotten? If you’re omniscient and a space ship blows up in space, did you cause it to happen?

If this is the case then we should apply this principle to the rest of the bible and realize that we can't know anything about god with any certainty since we don't know what is NOT anthropomorphized.

Why would one apply this to the rest of Scripture? Humans already have a tendency to anthropomorphise things. We do it with our pets, we do it with "nature", vehicles, any number of things. Anthropomorphism is used as a literary device to convey a particular meaning, and it’s use in the Bible is no different. It makes perfect sense to me, and many others, that whenever God is described in the bible, He has human characteristics. It's something that humans can understand and relate to (like a "book" of life). Whether or not God actually looks like a person, we aren't told explicitly. All we can say is that he has human characteristics when He is described, and is anthropomorphised so we can understand better.

zilch said...

Jason, you're still treating choice as though it were something magical, a black box with the label "free will" on it, and not thinking about what choices are. If we accept that our choices are the result of causal relationships playing themselves out, just as our movements are, then there are physical reasons for all of our choices, just as there are physical reasons for the movements we make to get up in the morning. And these physical reasons have to do with the way we are created, and the way the world is created, and how they interact (given a creator God, of course).

If I am sitting on a tree limb, and someone knocks me off with a brick, am I choosing to fall? No. If my brain is made of atoms, just like the tree, and an idea also made of atoms causes me to say "I think I'll go to the zoo today", do I have a choice? Also not, if God created me, and also created everything that pushed and pulled me into this decision, omnipotently and omnisciently. God set it up, just as though he had directed someone to lob a brick at me. It's exactly the same case with my "decision", just more complex: a case of straight causality.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi zilch,
bravo,
I'll be posting an article on this type of thing this month as part of a series. I'd enjoy seeing your comments if you're inclined.

Scott said...

Zilch "Jason, you're still treating choice as though it were something magical, a black box with the label "free will" on it, and not thinking about what choices are. "

I think Jason is trying to invoking some kind of special pleading since we, as beings who are not omniscient, currently do not know exactly how our consciousness and ability to make choices works.

This is similar to how, until science discovered otherwise, Christians believed that it was God that decided whether or not to open a woman's womb. But, in this case, he's claiming the exact opposite: God is utterly and completely not responsible for our choices. He's simply not there.

In other words, there really is no process behind our choices which can be ultimately broken down into discrete omnipotent instructions from God, because we can't see them.

But, if God is the omnipotent creator of the universe, he would have intimate knowledge of each and every one of these instructions because he was the sole issuer of them. And If God is omniscient, he would know the ultimate individual and cumulative effect these instructions would have.

Jason said...

Zilch said: If we accept that our choices are the result of causal relationships playing themselves out, just as our movements are, then there are physical reasons for all of our choices...

This seems to be a description of the world with or without God.

If I am sitting on a tree limb, and someone knocks me off with a brick, am I choosing to fall? No.

Falling off a tree is proof mankind doesn't have free will? What about this: If you're standing on the ocean floor and someone shoots with you a harpoon, are you choosing to bleed and then have sharks eat you? No. What does this prove? Only that you shouldn't be at the bottom of the ocean fighting with a guy with a harpoon gun.

If my brain is made of atoms, just like the tree, and an idea also made of atoms causes me to say "I think I'll go to the zoo today", do I have a choice?

Of course you do. You could always say, "On second thought, I don't really feel like seeing the lions. Instead, I'm going to stay inside all day and eat soup until I pass out."

Also not, if God created me, and also created everything that pushed and pulled me into this decision, omnipotently and omnisciently.

You haven’t been pushed and pulled into making a decision any more then you’ve been pushed and pulled into making a decision about whether or not to go to work tomorrow.

God set it up, just as though he had directed someone to lob a brick at me. It's exactly the same case with my "decision", just more complex: a case of straight causality.

If God had a reason to have a brick thrown at you, sure. If He didn’t, then He’s simply allowing the events to play themselves out. Assuming this is the case, the person threw the brick at you via his free will, and you fell via the laws of gravity. Also a case of straight causality. The only thing we know God was involved in for certain was giving life to both of you in the first place.

Jason said...

Scott said: I think Jason is trying to invoking some kind of special pleading since we, as beings who are not omniscient, currently do not know exactly how our consciousness and ability to make choices works.

How is this special pleading?

But, in this case, he's claiming the exact opposite: God is utterly and completely not responsible for our choices. He's simply not there.

First, where did I claim God isn't there? Quote me please. Secondly, of course God isn't responsible for our choices. That's the whole premise behind free will. We take responsibility for our own actions. Could God step in and stop something from happening? Sure He could, but then we'd never learn from our mistakes, or learn about the wickedness of man, or learn about cause and effect. God is still there the same as the creator of the role playing universe is still there. To what extent they choose to get involved in someone's daily life is up to them.

And If God is omniscient, he would know the ultimate individual and cumulative effect these instructions would have.

Here we go again. Knowing something doesn’t force it to happen. I know that ice is slippery but my knowledge isn’t what’s making it slippery. An omniscient God knows everything but this knowledge doesn’t force us to make the decision we do. He simply knows what we’re going to do before we do it because to God, who isn’t restricted by a 24-hour day, we’ve already made the decision.

Scott said...

Jason: "How is this special pleading?"

We live in a universe with physical laws. Any thing that happens in this universe must either work within the confines of these laws, or God would need to explicitly step in and change the laws to allow them to occur.

However, you're implying that free-will is somehow unique compared to everything else. It is incredibly complex, yet atomic in that it cannot be broken down into smaller parts. It has no basis on a underlying system. This would be like similar to Pinocchio: a wooden doll that can think and speak without any concrete system to do so.

Scott: "But, in this case, he's claiming the exact opposite: God is utterly and completely not responsible for our choices. He's simply not there."



Jason: "First, where did I claim God isn't there? Quote me please. Secondly, of course God isn't responsible for our choices."

For God not to be responsible, our ability to choose would have needed to come about without his involvement. it would be effectively as if he wasn't present.

Again, you seem to be using some kind of non-God of the gaps theory here. If we can't open up the "black box" of free-will and show you the "program" God wrote that makes us choose the way we do, then God must not responsible for it's contents and how it works.

The point being made here is that everything created by God, including something as complex as free-will, must be able to be broken down until all that remains is a series of irresistible, omnipotent instructions given by God. Otherwise, they would not exist. And for that thing to exist in our universe, it must work within the natural laws he created.

These instructions could only be manifest exactly as God commanded since he is an omnipotent being. God can't make defective wires, unless he wants them to be defective.

Why is this? Omnipotent instructions cannot be ambiguous. Wouldn't you agree?

That would be like saying God could create a line without defining it's start or ending point, whether it was straight or curvy, thick or thin, blue, green or some other color. He'd need to define every aspect of it, omnipotently, or that aspect would not exist.

Therefore,"free-will" couldn't be based on an omnipotent instruction, because it leaves something ambiguous: each and every choice we make.

Scott said...

Jason: "Here we go again. Knowing something doesn’t force it to happen."

If you made a car with windows of bullet proof glass rated up to 9mm projectiles, you'd know that shooting it with bullets below 9mm would not penetrate. Correct?

Why would you know this? It's not because your omniscient, it's because you know the rating of the glass and you know the windows on the car you created were built with that glass.

Now, if you shot the window of the same car with a 10mm round, you would be effectively FORCING the glass to break. You know it cannot withstand a 10mm round, yet you fired the shot anyway. No other result could have occurred (unless the dealer accidently send you glass that could withstand 12mm rounds or the bullet or gun was defective.)

But God, being omniscient and omnipotent, created everything and knows the tolerances of everything. Nor can God unintentionally build defective things, because he's just that - omnipotent and omniscient. He cannot escape this.

God cannot create bullet proof glass without defining (and thus knowing) the exact projectile rating. It's a logical impossibility.

Even if this was somehow possible, he'd have no way of knowing if the glass could withstand any bullets at all because he didn't specify any rating at all. Since this may result in glass that is not at all bullet proof, which could result in a failure, this is impossible for God as his will must come to pass.

So, let's say God put you in a car he knew could only withstand 9mm rounds. Then, God then sent that car traveling down a tunnel lined with automated machine guns that fired 10mm rounds at any thing that moved. Is God merely, "letting everything work itself out?"

No. God would be forcing your death. The result would be the same as if God pointed the gun direct at you and pulled the trigger. This is often called "stacking the deck". If God created the universe, and everything in it, and he is omnipotent and omniscient, then he must have "stacked the deck" at a universal scale.

Jason said...

Scott said: We live in a universe with physical laws. Any thing that happens in this universe must either work within the confines of these laws, or God would need to explicitly step in and change the laws to allow them to occur...

That all sounds wonderful but free will doesn’t violate physical laws any more then free will violates physical laws without God. Free can't change the heat of the sun, it can't change the force of gravity, it can't even change the fact we grow old. I touched on this in my last analogy: “….they have free reign to behave however they want within the confines of the world you’ve placed him in.”

For God not to be responsible, our ability to choose would have needed to come about without his involvement. it would be effectively as if he wasn't present.

God is always present but it’s a false assumption to suggest that being present forces Him to act directly in our lives. We are free to choose and we take responsibility for these choices.

If we can't open up the "black box" of free-will and show you the "program" God wrote that makes us choose the way we do, then God must not responsible for it's contents and how it works.

I happily admit neither one of us will ever be able to examine God’s free will 'program'. This makes it a non-argument for either side and it’s one I haven’t been participating in.

The point being made here is that everything created by God, including something as complex as free-will…

We’ve been through this already. Free will isn’t complex to God so there’s no point in describing it this way.

…must be able to be broken down until all that remains is a series of irresistible, omnipotent instructions given by God. Otherwise, they would not exist.

Of course. The instructions given by God are “You have the ability to choose. I’d like you to choose one way, but you’re free to choose the other.”

And for that thing to exist in our universe, it must work within the natural laws he created.

Naturally.

These instructions could only be manifest exactly as God commanded since he is an omnipotent being. God can't make defective wires, unless he wants them to be defective. Why is this? Omnipotent instructions cannot be ambiguous. Wouldn't you agree?

The instructions aren’t ambiguous: “Choose life or choose death." How much clearer could this be?

He'd need to define every aspect of it, omnipotently, or that aspect would not exist.

He HAS defined it. “If you choose life, I’ll save you. If you choose death, I won’t.” Everything’s been defined already, no matter which choice we make. The point is, the choice is still ours.

If you made a car with windows of bullet proof glass rated up to 9mm projectiles, you'd know that shooting it with bullets below 9mm would not penetrate. Correct?

Correct.

Why would you know this? It's not because your omniscient, it's because you know the rating of the glass and you know the windows on the car you created were built with that glass.

Sure.

Now, if you shot the window of the same car with a 10mm round, you would be effectively FORCING the glass to break. You know it cannot withstand a 10mm round, yet you fired the shot anyway. No other result could have occurred (unless the dealer accidently send you glass that could withstand 12mm rounds or the bullet or gun was defective.)

Completely wrong. Your knowledge doesn’t make the glass break, the bullet does. This is sheer common sense. What's the difference? Without taking a specific action (firing the gun), your knowledge achieves absolutely nothing. Knowing the glass will break if you shot a window with a 10mm round still requires the action of picking up the gun, loading the bullet, and pulling the trigger. Knowledge can’do this by itself.

But God, being omniscient and omnipotent, created everything and knows the tolerances of everything. Nor can God unintentionally build defective things, because he's just that - omnipotent and omniscient. He cannot escape this.

Er, God absolutely can build defective things. Omnipotent and omniscience has nothing to do with whether or not God can, in His omnipotence, intentionally design a car that falls apart.

God cannot create bullet proof glass without defining (and thus knowing) the exact projectile rating. It's a logical impossibility.

If God created bulletproof glass, the glass would be bulletproof. Projectile ratings would be irrelevant.

The result would be the same as if God pointed the gun direct at you and pulled the trigger. This is often called "stacking the deck". If God created the universe, and everything in it, and he is omnipotent and omniscient, then he must have "stacked the deck" at a universal scale.

First of all, stacking the deck doesn’t force an outcome, it only makes it highly probable a specific outcome will occur – stacking the deck isn’t forcing an outcome. Second of all, you could absolutely say God has His finger on the trigger. If we choose death, we die, if we choose life, we live. He’s not forcing us to pick one in particular, He’s only forcing us to accept the consequence of our choice.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Scott,
Bravo,
This is often called "stacking the deck". If God created the universe, and everything in it, and he is omnipotent and omniscient, then he must have "stacked the deck" at a universal scale.
This is exactly the point I want to make with my series of article this month.

He's not the god christians think he is because he either stacked the deck against us, or its all just Chance mistaken for a god.

Scott said...

I happily admit neither one of us will ever be able to examine God’s free will 'program'. This makes it a non-argument for either side and it’s one I haven’t been participating in.

I'm sure that's what theists though about the act of conception. However, science eventually figured out that it wasn't God that actually opened a woman's womb. Instead, we found a complex system that could be explained, in detail, and worked within the physical laws of nature.

While we might not know the exact details, it's clear our ability to choose is highly dependent on our brain. Physical events, such as damage to tissue in specific areas of our brain, can negatively impact our ability to choose. So can drugs, such as Sodium Pentothal, which can suppress of the higher cortical functions. As such, our "will" is the function of a incredibly complex and interwoven system, which works within the laws of physics. This is in contrast to a property God could bestow as an atomic function to just anything. If God created us down to the last detail, he must have designed our ability to choose as an integrated function of this system.

We’ve been through this already. Free will isn’t complex to God so there’s no point in describing it this way.

While our ability to choose may not be complex to God, it must be complex none the less. Or are you suggesting that God could ask something as simple as a wooden toy to choose life or death and actually have it respond?

In our universe, wooden objects cannot think, let alone choose to tell a lie. If God were ask a wooden toy to choose, and it actually replied, he'd either have to actively "pull it's strings", by locally changing the laws of physics, or he'd have to change the composition of the toy so it could actually think and make choices. Again, in our universe, the only things that can do this are conscious, living organisms with elaborate and complex nervous systems.

Of course. The instructions given by God are “You have the ability to choose. I’d like you to choose one way, but you’re free to choose the other.”

You make it sounds so simple, it's as if God could ask a rock the same question and get a response. Yet rocks can't even think thoughts, let along choose between right and wrong.

The instructions aren’t ambiguous: “Choose life or choose death." How much clearer could this be?

Just because God gives you two specific things to choose from, it's not ambiguous?

This would be like God deciding he want's to create a single ball that is green or red. It can't be both. He has to decide or it wouldn't exist. And, since he is omnipotent, the ball can't turn out purple.

Completely wrong. Your knowledge doesn’t make the glass break, the bullet does. This is sheer common sense. What's the difference? Without taking a specific action (firing the gun), your knowledge achieves absolutely nothing. ... Knowledge can’do this by itself.

The act of physically creating everything, including human beings, wouldn't be an action?

Er, God absolutely can build defective things.

Huh? This is an illogical statement. While something may appear defective to us, it's wouldn't to God.

If God created bulletproof glass, the glass would be bulletproof. Projectile ratings would be irrelevant.

Again, since the glass exists in our universe, God must either personally intervene and defect the bullets himself, or he must actually make the composition of the glass so that it can actually withstand the bullet's impact according to the laws of physics. Take your pick.

First of all, stacking the deck doesn’t force an outcome, it only makes it highly probable a specific outcome will occur – stacking the deck isn’t forcing an outcome.

That's like saying it's only 'highly probable' that God could create a circle if that's what he decided to create.

Nor did God just stack one deck and leave others to chance. He supposedly created EVERYTHING from NOTHING. He created all the decks, thus they are all stacked. And he did so as an omnipotent and omniscient being. While God may occasionally intervene and swap a few cards in the deck, he must decide exactly which cards to swap - otherwise they wouldn't get swapped at all.

Second of all, you could absolutely say God has His finger on the trigger.

Are you saying there could be some other outcome? How? God is omnipotent. He made the car, the tunnel, the tracking systems, the guns and the bullets. They cannot be 'defective.' They must hold to tolerances. Then he put you, with full knowledge that your body is not bullet proof, in the car and sent it traveling down the tunnel. The only way you could escape death is if God actually intervened and deflected the bullets himself.

Scott said...

Note: A real world example of Zilch's computer analogy exists. It's called Quantum Computing.

While still in it's infancy, scientists are able to define an initial series of quantum states that represent a particular computational problem. When these states are actually realized, the laws of quantum mechanics act on these states to "choose" the correct results. Essentially, quantum computing uses the universe as a natural computer.

If we, as non omnipotent and non-omniscient beings, can use the very laws of the universe to create and execute "programs", what about God?

Again, since our brains exist and function in our universe, our ability to choose must have some basis in our natural laws, such as quantum mechanics. Otherwise, God is simply intervening and "pulling our strings"

Jason said...

I'm sure that's what theists though about the act of conception. However, science eventually figured out that it wasn't God that actually opened a woman's womb. Instead, we found a complex system that could be explained, in detail, and worked within the physical laws of nature.

Firstly, free will operates within the laws of nature. Secondly, understanding conception isn’t the same as understanding free will. Understanding how free will works will never be able prove or show to what extent God is involved in our decision-making processes.

While our ability to choose may not be complex to God, it must be complex nonetheless.

Only from our perspective.

Or are you suggesting that God could ask something as simple as a wooden toy to choose life or death and actually have it respond?

Nope, I’m not suggesting that.

Again, in our universe, the only things that can do this are conscious, living organisms with elaborate and complex nervous systems.

And...? How does is this relevant to free will? With or without God, a wooden object still can't think.

You make it sounds so simple, it's as if God could ask a rock the same question and get a response. Yet rocks can't even think thoughts, let along choose between right and wrong.

It sounds simple because it is simple. God asks a person the question and gets a response. People can think thoughts and choose between right and wrong.

Just because God gives you two specific things to choose from, it's not ambiguous?

Ambiguous = having more than one possible meaning. So no, the two specific choices aren’t ambiguous. We live or die. Seems pretty clear.

This would be like God deciding he want's to create a single ball that is green or red. It can't be both. He has to decide or it wouldn't exist. And, since he is omnipotent, the ball can't turn out purple.

This doesn’t even make sense. The ball God creates is blank, He asks it to choose a colour. He doesn’t need to choose what colour it’ll be because He already knows what colour the ball will choose for itself. In terms of God's final outcome (His kingdom), does it matter which colour the ball chooses? Absolutely not.

The act of physically creating everything, including human beings, wouldn't be an action?

But God's knowledge didn't create man. Just admit your analogy is wrong. Your knowledge didn’t break the glass.

Again, since the glass exists in our universe, God must either personally intervene and defect the bullets himself...

Like I said, if God wanted to create bulletproof glass, the glass would actually be bulletproof. Likewise, God wanted people to make their own decisions, so this is how He created them.

That's like saying it's only 'highly probable' that God could create a circle if that's what he decided to create.

Irrelevant. The definition of ‘stacking the deck’ isn’t ‘forcing an outcome to occur'.

While God may occasionally intervene and swap a few cards in the deck, he must decide exactly which cards to swap - otherwise they wouldn't get swapped at all.

Precisely. And when He doesn’t intervene, life simply gets played out - via free will.

Are you saying there could be some other outcome? How?

Er, God either pulls the trigger or He doesn’t. He won't pull the trigger if we pick Door A, He does if we pick Door B. Those are the two outcomes.

Scott said...

The ball God creates is blank

This is impossible. A ball cannot have a "blank" color. Even black or white is a "color." God, being the omnipotent creator of everything, must have decided the ball should be white, or some other color, or it would not physically exist in our universe.

Ambiguous = having more than one possible meaning. So no, the two specific choices aren’t ambiguous. We live or die. Seems pretty clear.

Again, I'm not saying the choices are ambiguous, I'm saying the resulting choice is ambiguous. Just like the resulting color of the ball.

But God's knowledge didn't create man. Just admit your analogy is wrong. Your knowledge didn’t break the glass.

Either God used his omniscient knowledge to omnipotently create man or he didn't. This is the crux of the issue.

Er, God either pulls the trigger or He doesn’t.

Let's break this down. Does pulling a trigger on a gun actually kill someone? No.

First, the gun must be loaded will bullets. Second, the gun must be pointed at a location on the victim that would cause a mortal wound. Third, the gun must not be in a state of disrepair (operating inside the parameters which it was designed). Fourth, the trigger must be pulled, which starts a chain reaction of even more steps. This results in a bullet being fired from the gun and eventually impacting whatever the gun was pointing at.

This chain reaction intentionally results in a bullet being fired because the gun was created using the knowledge of physics, metallurgy, manufacturing, chemistry, etc.

So, if God pulled the trigger of a Gun, it would be no different than God setting up the scenario I described earlier.

Scott said...

Jason,

As mentioned by Lee Randolph, Frank Zindler and others, we no longer live in the three-story world of the Bible, with rocks that cry out the glory of God and bushes that burn without consuming fuel. This world was replaced with a massive universe which operates within the laws of physics.

In the three-story world of the Bible, God walked on the second and third floors and his reference was the center of an immovable world. But if God created the universe we live in, his point of reference is the universe, since he is said to exist outside it.

If God created a boulder at rest on the earth's surface, it would only appear to be at rest to us. God would need to compensate for the earth's own rotation (.5km/sec), the rotation of the earth around the sun (30km/sec), the rotation of our solar system around the Milky Way galaxy, (250km/sec), and the movement of the Milky Way galaxy relative to our local group of galaxies (300km/sec). This does not include the movement of these galaxies in relation to the universe itself.

To position the boulder on the earth surface, He'd literally have to calculate the earth's exact position, velocity and heading at the exact time the boulder would appear. Then he'd need to calculate the boulders velocity and heading so it would actually stay there going forward.

However, if God omnipotently created the universe and is omniscient, this wouldn't be a problem.

If God did not do this, it would be as if the boulder was was created already moving at astronomical speeds, from our perspective. The earth may violently may slam into the boulder, vaporizing it, along with anything in it's path. Or the boulder may immediately fly off the ground and strike buildings or aircraft on it's way into space as the earth traveled away from it at fantastic speeds.

As such, it's clear that God must define an initial position, velocity and heading for everything that he created in our universe, Otherwise it would not exist in our universe at all.

So, in my example where God sent you and the car traveling down the tunnel or a 10mm projectile was shot at a sheet of bullet proof glass which can only withstand impacts from 9mm rounds, he could have simply created things it in such a way they were already in motion and the resulting events would have to occur. In fact, he'd have to specify a specific position, velocity and direction to ensure they did *not* occur. They cannot be left to chance.

In contrast to the three-story world of the Bible, creating something in our universe is an action that has physical consequences.

Jason said...

This is impossible. A ball cannot have a "blank" color. Even black or white is a "color." God, being the omnipotent creator of everything, must have decided the ball should be white, or some other color, or it would not physically exist in our universe.

Okay, enough with the coloured ball analogy. This is getting us nowhere.

Again, I'm not saying the choices are ambiguous, I'm saying the resulting choice is ambiguous. Just like the resulting color of the ball.

You asked: Just because God gives you two specific things to choose from, it's not ambiguous? I said it’s not. God asks us to choose life or death. This is a pretty specific choice and each has a specific outcome.

Either God used his omniscient knowledge to omnipotently create man or he didn't. This is the crux of the issue.

Great, so we’ll agree that your knowledge didn’t break the glass which means your analogy is wrong. Secondly, God’s omnipotence created the first man and woman. His omniscience allowed Him to know exactly how His creation was going to turn by giving man free will and the ability to choose between good and evil, right and wrong, life and death.

So, if God pulled the trigger of a Gun, it would be no different than God setting up the scenario I described earlier.

It’s a false analogy either way so it doesn’t make a difference. The ‘mortal wound’, as you so aptly put it is the rejection of the wicked at the judgment seat when Christ returns. This is well documented in Scripture. The ‘mortal wound’ isn’t God controlling our robot-like lives in all its relevant and irrelevant detail.

As mentioned by Lee Randolph, Frank Zindler and others, we no longer live in the three-story world of the Bible, with rocks that cry out the glory of God and bushes that burn without consuming fuel. This world was replaced with a massive universe which operates within the laws of physics.

And?

In the three-story world of the Bible, God walked on the second and third floors and his reference was the center of an immovable world. But if God created the universe we live in, his point of reference is the universe, since he is said to exist outside it.

And?

If God created a boulder at rest on the earth's surface, it would only appear to be at rest to us. God would need to compensate for the earth's own rotation…

No, no, He doesn’t need to do any of the sort. God’s actions aren’t restricted by the laws He created. This is what makes Him omnipotent.

As such, it's clear that God must define an initial position, velocity and heading for everything that he created in our universe, Otherwise it would not exist in our universe at all.

Nope, not true at all. God can define wind and hair but He doesn’t need to control how individual hairs are going to move when said wind blows by. The laws He’s set in place dictate this. If a pregnant mother chooses to drink herself silly for 9 months straight and her baby comes out with fetal alcohol syndrome, God didn’t force this to happen, it’s the mother’s fault. Likewise, if people choose death and they die, it’s their fault.

They cannot be left to chance.

Of course not. But your analogy is still false because God doesn’t need every man, woman and child to behave in a specific way to have His plan fulfilled, as in the case of your analogy. He knows what they’re going to do but He doesn’t need to control every single one of them in every instance. God doesn’t need to control a leaf falling from a tree or a sparrow migrating in the winter because they play no part in His divine plan. Same goes for the vast majority of an individual’s every day existence.

Scott said...

Scott: If God created a boulder at rest on the earth's surface, it would only appear to be at rest to us. God would need to compensate for the earth's own rotation…

Jason: No, no, He doesn’t need to do any of the sort. God’s actions aren’t restricted by the laws He created. This is what makes Him omnipotent.

So your saying God wouldn't have created the boulder already in motion? This is physically impossible in our universe.

Again, the boulder MUST be moving the moment it was created if it is to appear still on the surface of the earth because you, I and everything on the earth are HURLING THROUGH SPACE THIS VERY MOMENT. If it the boulder was created completely at rest, the consequences could be catastrophic, as I described.

Just as the Space shuttle must be moving at the same altitude, velocity and direction to be able to dock with the International Space Station, a boulder appearing on the earth's surface must be moving at the same velocity and direction as the earth at the point of contact.

God would know the correct position, direction and velocity of the boulder because he is omniscient and can materialize the boulder because he's omnipotent.

If we can't agree on this point, further discussion is pointless.

Jason said...

Scott said: So your saying God wouldn't have created the boulder already in motion? This is physically impossible in our universe.

No, what I’m saying is God isn’t restricted by the laws He created. What’s physically impossible in this universe isn’t impossible for a God you’ve already claimed exists outside of this universe.

If we can't agree on this point, further discussion is pointless.

What exactly did you want us to agree on? Perhaps of more relevance is, what does your point have to do with free will? You ignore the vast majority of my points and come up with more of your own. Free will doesn’t violate anything, including the laws that govern this universe or God’s omnipotence. Christ’s kingdom will be established. God has given man the FREE will to decide if they want to be there. If they don’t, so be it. If they do, wonderful. God doesn’t need to force a decision between white socks or blue socks because the choice is irrelevant to the fulfillment of His plan. Man has free will. God’s kingdom will be established irrespective of what you or I choose.

Scott said...

No, what I’m saying is God isn’t restricted by the laws He created. What’s physically impossible in this universe isn’t impossible for a God you’ve already claimed exists outside of this universe.

Last time I checked, we're talking about things God supposedly created inside our universe, not outside it.

Things God omnipotently creates inside our universe ARE restricted by the laws he created once they exist. Otherwise, God must omnipotently and intentionally sustain them. You seem to be blissfully unaware of this fact.

When God omnipotently creates the boulder, it must be moving at just the right speed and heading in just the right direction. Otherwise, it wouldn't stay there once it popped into existence. God would need to intentionally and explicitly define these properties since he'd be omnisciently aware of the incredibly complex impact of creating something as simply as a rock on the ground has on the universe.

In light of this information, the idea that God just "let's everything work itself out" seems pretty naive, don't you think?

What exactly did you want us to agree on?

Which universe we exist in.

While a belief that God can simply ask anything a question and get an "free" answer might have appeared reasonable in the three-story world of the Bible, it's an incredibly uninformed position to hold given our knowledge about our universe.

You ignore the vast majority of my points and come up with more of your own.

That's because your points ignore the reality of our existence. It's as if God made our free-will while wearing a blindfold, yet it still somehow actually works.

God couldn't design something that chooses without intentionally defining the exact process it uses to choose. Otherwise it wouldn't choose at all. Therefore, he would know what choices it would make.

God has given man the FREE will to decide if they want to be there. If they don’t, so be it. If they do, wonderful.

Again, adding the word "FREE" before something in a sentence doesn't magically make something free in our universe any more than a customer writing the word "FREE" on a new SUV at a car dealership.

Jason said...

Last time I checked, we're talking about things God supposedly created inside our universe, not outside it.

It doesn’t matter. God still isn’t restricted by the laws He created. What’s physically impossible in this universe isn’t impossible for God.

Things God omnipotently creates inside our universe ARE restricted by the laws he created once they exist. Otherwise, God must omnipotently and intentionally sustain them. You seem to be blissfully unaware of this fact.

I’m well aware of this fact. What’s physically impossible in this universe, God sustains. What isn’t physically impossible in this universe, He doesn’t. God sustained the burning bush in the days of Moses but God didn’t force Moses’ to choose to strike the rock. The former is physically impossible, the latter isn’t. Works for me.

God would need to intentionally and explicitly define these properties since he'd be omnisciently aware of the incredibly complex impact of creating something as simply as a rock on the ground has on the universe.

A decision to drink a half glass of water or a full glass of water doesn’t impact the universe. Neither does a decision to wear a t-shirt instead of sweater, or blinking five times in a row, or buying a new pen. Your analogy doesn’t apply to every day life.

In light of this information, the idea that God just "let's everything work itself out" seems pretty naive, don't you think?

Absolutely not. If a parent wants to chain smoke in their car with their newborn baby and the kid gets cancer, this is cause and effect. Events have taken a natural course. There’s no requirement for God to be involved. If I want to eat crackers on a Saturday morning instead of chewing on an apple, this decision isn't going to alter the universe either.

What exactly did you want us to agree on? - Which universe we exist in.

What are my options?

While a belief that God can simply ask anything a question and get an "free" answer might have appeared reasonable in the three-story world of the Bible, it's an incredibly uninformed position to hold given our knowledge about our universe.

How??? God asking someone if they want to live or die doesn’t affect the laws of the universe. You’re making mountains of molehills just to fit your theory.

God couldn't design something that chooses without intentionally defining the exact process it uses to choose. Otherwise it wouldn't choose at all. Therefore, he would know what choices it would make.

How many more times do we need to go through this? Of course He knows the decision we’re going to make. He’s omniscient. Knowing doesn't force a decision. Faith is capable in every one of us but it’s a free will, conscious decision made by the individual whether or not to believe in things unseen (Hebrews 11:1). This is the process God has hardwired into everyone. The process involves choosing one of two answers: Yes or No. Basic, simple, logical stuff.

Again, adding the word "FREE" before something in a sentence doesn't magically make something free in our universe any more than a customer writing the word "FREE" on a new SUV at a car dealership.

Lol Okay, how’s this: God has given man the ability to decide if they want to be there. If they don’t, so be it. If they do, wonderful.

Scott said...

The former is physically impossible, the latter isn’t. Works for me.

Again, this is special pleading.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_pleading

When it could infer that God is culpable, God's creations which exist in our universe are simply except from his own laws. Just because.

Can God create a deck of playing cards without defining the order of each card in the deck? No he cannot. It's logically impossible.

The very definition of a deck of playing cards is a stack of 52 specific and unique cards. For a deck of cards to exist, the order of each and every card must be defined. The closest God could get is a stack of 52 cards with intentionally blank faces, which is by definition, is no longer a deck of playing cards.

Again, this is an example of how God 'Stacks the deck' by virtue of being omnipotent and omniscient.

Jason said...

Again, this is special pleading.

You're obviously missing the point. God can make something that's physically impossible in this universe possible. He also doesn't need to control every detail of something that can and does exist naturally in this universe - e.g. man's ability to decision make.

When it could infer that God is culpable, God's creations which exist in our universe are simply except from his own laws. Just because.

What does this have to do with free will?

Can God create a deck of playing cards without defining the order of each card in the deck? No he cannot. It's logically impossible.

Playing cards don't have the ability to think, procreate, live, die, etc. so I'm not sure how this is relevant to the discussion of free will (or whatever you'd prefer to call it).

I'm not sure why you're skipping over the majority of points in my last post. Specifically these two:

1. In light of this information, the idea that God just "let's everything work itself out" seems pretty naive, don't you think?

Absolutely not. If a parent wants to chain smoke in their car with their newborn baby and the kid gets cancer, this is cause and effect. Events have taken a natural course. There’s no requirement for God to be involved. If I want to eat crackers on a Saturday morning instead of chewing on an apple, this decision isn't going to alter the universe either.

And...

2. While a belief that God can simply ask anything a question and get an "free" answer might have appeared reasonable in the three-story world of the Bible, it's an incredibly uninformed position to hold given our knowledge about our universe.

How??? God asking someone if they want to live or die doesn’t affect the laws of the universe.

How do you respond? The decision to drink water verses apple juice doesn't affect the laws of the universe and so it isn't controlled by God (because there's no need to). The decision to choose life or death also doesn't need to be controlled by God since it also doesn't affect the laws of the universe.

Scott said...

Scott Again, this is special pleading.

You're obviously missing the point. God can make something that's physically impossible in this universe possible. He also doesn't need to control every detail of something that can and does exist naturally in this universe - e.g. man's ability to decision make.

Did you even read the definition of special pleading?

These are assertions that defy what we know about the reality of our universe. Bushes don't burn without fuel. Human beings do not reason without a nervous system that would have been specifically designed to process information in specific ways.

If God omnisciently designed these systems and omnipotently created them, he'd know how they would work and thus know how they would respond. The very properties assigned to God prevents him from escaping this.

Playing cards don't have the ability to think, procreate, live, die, etc. so I'm not sure how this is relevant to the discussion of free will (or whatever you'd prefer to call it).

The very definition of something, such as a deck of cards, requires complete detailed specification of the thing being created. If God created a deck of cards, he'd know the order in which they would be dealt. Being an omnipotent and omniscient creator, He'd know things about the future because he created them down to the last detail.

Again, if human beings truly had free will, there would be a possibility that not one of them would choose God. If God's kingdom must be established, then God must have designed free will so that at least one person would choose him. If this is the case, he could have ensured 5, 10, 50% or everyone would choose him. He has to choose regardless, otherwise failure would have been possible.

Are car manufactures not responsible when accidents occur due to the way a car was designed? The the accident occurred without any direct intervention from the manufacture after purchase. Surely, they are not to blame, right?

Of course they are. And car manufactures are not omniscient or omnipotent.

How??? God asking someone if they want to live or die doesn’t affect the laws of the universe.

I'm not taking about the results, I'm talking the their ability to choose. Please see above.

Jason said...

Scott said: Did you even read the definition of special pleading?

I sure did. Anyhow, like I said, God can make something that's physically impossible in this universe possible. He also doesn't need to control every detail of something that can and does exist naturally in this universe - e.g. man's ability to decision make.

These are assertions that defy what we know about the reality of our universe. Bushes don't burn without fuel. Human beings do not reason without a nervous system that would have been specifically designed to process information in specific ways.

This whole discussion assumes an omnipotent God exists. Therefore, how is an omnipotent God creating a burning bush considered ‘special pleading’?

If God omnisciently designed these systems and omnipotently created them, he'd know how they would work and thus know how they would respond. The very properties assigned to God prevents him from escaping this.

Absolutely. But for the hundredth time, knowing doesn’t force an outcome. God knew a child was going to born with AIDs but He didn’t force this to happen. God knew the child’s parents were going to be drug users , eventually contract the disease themselves and then have a baby. Cause and effect. God doesn’t need to force anything to happen.

The very definition of something, such as a deck of cards, requires complete detailed specification of the thing being created. If God created a deck of cards, he'd know the order in which they would be dealt. Being an omnipotent and omniscient creator, He'd know things about the future because he created them down to the last detail.

Playing cards still don’t have the ability to think, procreate, live, etc.. Therefore, human beings aren’t a deck of cards. Your analogy is irrelevant to a discussion about free will.

Again, if human beings truly had free will, there would be a possibility that not one of them would choose God.

Naturally. However, since God knew that at least one of His creation would choose life instead of death before He created mankind, He therefore made the Kingdom the ultimate outcome. If He knew that no one would choose life, He would have changed the outcome to ensure at least one of His creation would have chosen Him.

If God's kingdom must be established, then God must have designed free will so that at least one person would choose him. If this is the case, he could have ensured 5, 10, 50% or everyone would choose him. He has to choose regardless, otherwise failure would have been possible.

Not at all. God could quite have simply based the outcome on the decisions every man, women and child would ever make from the beginning of time.

I'm not taking about the results, I'm talking the their ability to choose. Please see above.

You said: While a belief that God can simply ask anything a question and get an "free" answer might have appeared reasonable in the three-story world of the Bible, it's an incredibly uninformed position to hold given our knowledge about our universe.

My response: How??? God asking someone if they want to live or die doesn’t affect the laws of the universe.

How is the car analogy even relevant? How is God asking man to choose between life and death an “uninformed position to hold given our knowledge about our universe”???

Scott said...

I sure did. Anyhow, like I said, God can make something that's physically impossible in this universe possible.

The choices we make must come from two possible sources.

01. A system of choice which God created and works within our natural laws. The choices we make would be dependent on this system going forward.

02. A invoked response that is caused by God explicitly intervening at each inquiry to make the physically impossible happen through sustained omnipotent will. Our choice would be depended on each intervention by God. In other words, God would be explicitly making the impossible temporarily happen due to his power.

However, for God could make the impossible continuously exist without his intervention and sustaining will, then God would need to change the laws of nature so it so that which was impossible is now possible. That is, so it exists and functions in our world due to it's specific composition without God's sustaining will.

Otherwise, your suggesting that our will is both possible and impossible at the same time, which is the equivalent of God making a round square.

He would have changed the outcome to ensure at least one of His creation would have chosen Him.

So, how exactly do you think God would do this?

Jason said...

The choices we make must come from two possible sources...

The problem with Door #1: How is the choice to eat cereal or bread in the morning “dependant on this system going forward”? This doesn’t make sense.

The problem with Door #2: How is making a choice between life or death “physically impossible”? Or better yet, how is simple act of free will, or the ability to choose, physically impossible?

Solution #3 – The choices we make are a result of cause and effect in a universe controlled by natural laws. We get hungry, we eat food. We get lonely, we call up a friend. We don’t have money, we steal. We sin, we die. We have faith, we’re saved.

However, for God could make the impossible continuously exist without his intervention and sustaining will, then God would need to change the laws of nature so it so that which was impossible is now possible.

Why do you keep wanting to discuss the impossible? We’re talking about free will. Does God give man the ability to freely choose between an infinite number of choices, day in and day out, that don’t in any way affect the arrival of His kingdom? Yes. Why? Because nothing about this ability is impossible and nothing about these decisions affects the natural laws He’s put into place or His chosen outcome.

Otherwise, your suggesting that our will is both possible and impossible at the same time, which is the equivalent of God making a round square.

Nope, I’m not.

So, how exactly do you think God would do this?

By simply changing the requirements and details of salvation. Look at it this way: God could have chosen one of an infinite number of ways for man to be saved. He could have told man that in order to be saved, they would have to seek out the golden monkey on the Island of Dread. In His infinite wisdom, if this challenge would have proven to be impossible, He wouldn’t have chosen this as a means for salvation.

Scott said...

The problem with Door #1:

A car moves by turning fuel into kinetic energy via an internal combustion engine. This happens within the laws of physics, without intervention by the manufacture, as long as the car has fuel and is in good repair. Since the manufacturer knows how the car and it's internal combustion engine work, it can predict how it will react.

If someone wanted to design a car so it would run sometimes, but not others, they would need to define exactly which criteria would cause the engine to work or not to work. They would also need to physically create a way to prohibit the engines operation in the presence of this criteria, such as cutting the flow of fuel to the cylinders. If nether an exact set of conditions were defined, nor a way to prohibit operation that worked within the laws of physics were implemented, the car would always run.

Therefore, as long as the car was in good repair, the designer would know exactly when the car would work and when it would not.

The problem with Door #2:

God uses his omnipotent power to move an engineless car without any visible means of propulsion. If God stops actively moving the car (and it's on a flat surface), it eventually stops moving because it's continual defiance of the laws of physics is no longer being sustained by God.

God would know exactly were the car will go because he's the one choosing it's direction and speed. In fact, if God did not specifically choose a direction and speed for the engineless car, it would not move at all.

If God wanted this engineless car to "run" sometimes but not others, he'd have a problem since He's the one doing the moving and the car has no method of "running" on it's own.

However, being omnipotent and omniscient, God would be able to provide the car with an engine as in scenario one. However, as the designer and creator of the car's engine, God would still know under what conditions the car would or would not run, as I've shown above.

Solution #3

This is the same as solution #1. God would have created us so we would get hungry if we did not eat, lonely if we did not have friends to talk to and desperate if we didn't realize we had other options. These things all happen within the natural laws and processes that God would have created.

Scott So, how exactly do you think God would do this?

Jason: By simply changing the requirements and details of salvation.

If there is a chance that, though an act of free will, no one would choose X, then it's just as possible that no one would choose Y or Z either.

Or are you saying that God, if no one would have picked "life", would have changed his demand for salvation to something he'd know people had already chosen, like deciding to eating ice cream?

if this challenge would have proven to be impossible, He wouldn’t have chosen this as a means for salvation.

I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm saying that if people truly have free will it's a possibility that no one might choose God. This is a contradiction with the idea that God's will must come to pass.

01. God knew that at least one person would have chosen him because he purposely selected a demand for salvation based on a choice that at least someone had already made. (God's plan was build around man's choice, not his)

02. God knew that at least one person would choose him because he created man's ability to choose. Therefore he knew at least someone would choose him by design.

Which is it?

Jason said...

A car moves by turning fuel into kinetic energy via an internal combustion engine...Since the manufacturer knows how the car and it's internal combustion engine work, it can predict how it will react.

Firstly, cars aren’t human beings. Secondly, predicting doesn’t force an outcome. We’ve been through this before.

Therefore, as long as the car was in good repair, the designer would know exactly when the car would work and when it would not.

It doesn’t matter. The designer might know when a car won’t work, but he doesn’t force the circumstances leading up to this event to occur. Likewise, God knows people are going to die but He doesn’t force the circumstances leading up to the event.

God uses his omnipotent power to move an engineless car without any visible means of propulsion...

I’ll ask again: How is making a choice between life or death “physically impossible”? Or better yet, how is simple act of free will, or the ability to choose, physically impossible?

God would know exactly were the car will go because he's the one choosing it's direction and speed. In fact, if God did not specifically choose a direction and speed for the engineless car, it would not move at all.

Cars aren’t people. The analogy doesn’t work. Sorry.

However, being omnipotent and omniscient, God would be able to provide the car with an engine as in scenario one. However, as the designer and creator of the car's engine, God would still know under what conditions the car would or would not run, as I've shown above.

Also shown above, in numerous places, knowing the conditions doesn’t force the conditions to occur.

Solution #3 - This is the same as solution #1. God would have created us so we would get hungry if we did not eat, lonely if we did not have friends to talk to and desperate if we didn't realize we had other options. These things all happen within the natural laws and processes that God would have created.

Precisely! But contrary to what you’re saying, God doesn’t force us to eat, He doesn’t force us to talk to friends, He doesn’t force us to drink when we’re thirsty, He doesn’t force us to drive 51km/h in an 80 zone. We operate within a predetermined environment and we're free to act in this environment however we see fit. Likewise, the decision to choose life instead of death isn’t forced on us either. We have the ability to freely choose between the two.

If there is a chance that, though an act of free will, no one would choose X, then it's just as possible that no one would choose Y or Z either.

Of course it’s possible. But God would have already known that before He put X into place.

Or are you saying that God, if no one would have picked "life", would have changed his demand for salvation to something he'd know people had already chosen, like deciding to eating ice cream?

Absolutely. But God doesn't need to 'change' anything since His perfect knowledge means an imperfect plan never would have been implemented in the first place.

I'm not saying it's impossible, I'm saying that if people truly have free will it's a possibility that no one might choose God. This is a contradiction with the idea that God's will must come to pass.

There is no contradiction because God has always known (through His omniscience) that if He implemented salvation (X) using the Bible (Y) and Christ (Z), a specific number of people would choose life. Salvation isn’t being forced on anyone. Instead, salvation has been tailored for mankind taking into account every decision man will ever make.

Which is it?

I’m not sure what the difference is between the two…?

Scott said...

Jason,

If a child, who is taught right and wrong by their parents, doesn't choose God, is he responsible for that choice? He has free will, doesn't he?

Scott said...

Cars aren’t people. The analogy doesn’t work. Sorry.

To you and I, human beings are many orders of magnates more complex that cars. But to God, if he existed, the inner working of human beings would be as transparent as the most simplest things we've ever created.

The analogy does work.

Jason said...

Scott said: If a child, who is taught right and wrong by their parents, doesn't choose God, is he responsible for that choice? He has free will, doesn't he?

If a child understood what 'choosing God' meant, absolutely. Do they? Absolutely not. Nice try :)

Jason said...

Scott said: To you and I, human beings are many orders of magnates more complex that cars. But to God, if he existed, the inner working of human beings would be as transparent as the most simplest things we've ever created.

Does a car understand the difference between good and evil? Does a car have the same ability as a human to choose life? If it doesn't, then the analogy is flawed and irrelevant.

I'd like you to answer my question now: How is making a choice between life or death “physically impossible”?

Scott said...

If a child understood what 'choosing God' meant, absolutely. Do they? Absolutely not. Nice try :)

I'm confused. Their their parents did tell them about right and wrong. Why can't they choose? Did God only give them the free-will equivalent of a driver's training permit?

Scott said...

Does a car understand the difference between good and evil? Does a car have the same ability as a human to choose life? If it doesn't, then the analogy is flawed and irrelevant.

Again, this line of though might have withheld scrutiny 2,000 years ago, but it fails in the universe we live in.

if our God given ability to choose works within the laws of physics, then it must - at it's core - operate using the same physical principles as a car or computer. The only difference would be it's level of complexity. Therefore, God, for whom nothing would be to complex, would be able to predict how this physical system would react.

If our minds are not simply more complex versions of engines or computers, then they must operate outside the laws of physics. Therefore, they would require God's intentional, explicit, constant and omnipotent will to do anything.

I'd like you to answer my question now: How is making a choice between life or death “physically impossible”?

You're suggesting that God doesn't play a defining role in our ability to choose. If this is the case, our ability to choose would have to violate the laws of physics.

But If our choice is physically possible, then our choice must be based wholly on the physical composition of the system that allows us to choose.

God, must have omnisciently designed and omnipotently created this composition to do exactly what it does. Or it wouldn't do anything at all. As such, he could predict it's actions.

Jason said...

I'm confused. Their their parents did tell them about right and wrong. Why can't they choose? Did God only give them the free-will equivalent of a driver's training permit?

If a parent tells a child about safe driving methods, does this mean the child is entitled to get behind the wheel? Of course not. Likewise, just because a child knows about right and wrong doesn't mean they're spiritually advanced enough to know about the importance of baptism or the laws God expects His believers to follow. You're grasping at straws.

Jason said...

Again, this line of though might have withheld scrutiny 2,000 years ago, but it fails in the universe we live in.

Don’t avoid the questions. Does a car understand the difference between good and evil? Does a car have the same ability as a human to choose life? Can a car love? Can it feel hungry? Of course not. Therefore, cars aren’t humans which means your analogy subsequently fails.

if our God given ability to choose works within the laws of physics, then it must - at it's core - operate using the same physical principles as a car or computer. The only difference would be it's level of complexity. Therefore, God, for whom nothing would be to complex, would be able to predict how this physical system would react.

First of all, for the hundredth time, predicting isn’t forcing so stop using this as an argument. Secondly, why would the laws of physics have anything to do with our ability to choose? Choosing bread or jam doesn’t have anything to do with physics. Neither does speaking fast or slow, wearing jeans or just a shirt, running around naked or curling up into the fetal position. This isn’t complicated. We live in an environment that is governed by laws (e.g. the laws of physics). We’re free to act within this environment however we see fit. Choosing between life and death doesn't infringe in the laws of physics any more then it infringes on the gravity on the moon. This freedom to choose doesn’t conflict with or jeopardize the laws of physics any more then it does for you in your atheist world.

If our minds are not simply more complex versions of engines or computers, then they must operate outside the laws of physics. Therefore, they would require God's intentional, explicit, constant and omnipotent will to do anything.

I have no idea how you’re coming to this conclusion.

You're suggesting that God doesn't play a defining role in our ability to choose. If this is the case, our ability to choose would have to violate the laws of physics.

Please explain why man’s ability to choose has anything to do with matter or space or time or force or energy?

But If our choice is physically possible, then our choice must be based wholly on the physical composition of the system that allows us to choose.

Of course the choice is physically possible. Right or left, red or green, water or juice, life or death. You and I make these choices every day which means they're possible. These decisions are all the same. One just happens to be asked by God.

God, must have omnisciently designed and omnipotently created this composition to do exactly what it does. Or it wouldn't do anything at all. As such, he could predict it's actions.

Predicting doesn’t force an outcome.

Scott said...

If a parent tells a child about safe driving methods, does this mean the child is entitled to get behind the wheel? Of course not.

Why not? What prevents a child from driving safely?

Likewise, just because a child knows about right and wrong doesn't mean they're spiritually advanced enough to know about the importance of baptism or the laws God expects His believers to follow.

How does someone become "spiritually advanced enough" to choose? What does this mean?

Scott said...

Don’t avoid the questions. Does a car understand the difference between good and evil?

Of course humans and cars have different capabilities. That's because they have different compositions. Cars can't tell the difference between good and evil just as you can't create 300 horsepower and travel at 80 mph for hours on end by drinking gasoline.

These facts do not exclude either man nor machine from operating on specific physical processes that define their behavior. Again, nothing could be so complex that God couldn't understand how it works. Even human beings.

First of all, for the hundredth time, predicting isn’t forcing so stop using this as an argument.

Again, I'm not saying God is using some kind of magic ball to 'predict' the future. I'm talking about God knowing in which order cards will be dealt from a deck of cards because he created that deck of cards. There can be no other way the cards could be dealt. If God created us and the universe from nothing, he "stacking the deck" on a universal scale.

Scott: If our minds are not simply more complex versions of engines or computers, then they must operate outside the laws of physics. Therefore, they would require God's intentional, explicit, constant and omnipotent will to do anything.

Jason: I have no idea how you’re coming to this conclusion.

At what point in this hypothetical chain of thought do you cease to agree?

* God created the universe

* God created the universe with a fixed, complex set of laws, which allows the universe to function and remain coherent. (the sun orbits the earth due to strong gravitational forces at great distance, the strong nuclear force keeps sub atomic particles from spinning off at very small distances, etc.)

* Due to these laws, there are constraints as to what can and cannot occur and exist inside of the universe unassisted by God.

* Things that exist in our universe unassisted by God, must derive their very function from these laws and operate inside these constraints. That is, things can only happen as a direct result interaction of one or more fixed laws.

* We have the ability to choose

* We exist inside the universe

Still with me?

Everything that happens inside our universe, whether small or large, simple or complex, can be distilled down to interactions between these laws. To put it another way, things actually harness these fixed laws to do whatever they do. Even something as simple as existing.

There can be no 'magic' processes in our universe unless God directly and explicitly wills them to happen moment by moment or changed the universe in such a way that these processes really worked. However, this would mean they were no longer 'magic' and could be explained and understood.

Bushes burn they are made of material that, under our laws of physics, combust at a specific temperature. They eventually stop burning when they are converted to another substance due to the process of combustion. Neurons fire because their complex eletro-chemical state is defined and acted upon by specific physical laws. The same can be said for gasoline engines, computers and even liquids, such as water.

If our free will did not function because of and within these fixed laws, they would defy the laws of physics. The only way this could occur is if God existed and he intentional, explicitly, constantly and omnipotently used his will to make use respond at each inquiry.

But if our free will does function because of and within these fixed laws, then they are based on processes that can be understood, reproduced and quantified. Since God would have omnisciently designed these processes to work within our universe and omnipotently created them to exacting standards, he'd know how they would respond under every situation, regards of how complex they are.

Jason said...

Why not? What prevents a child from driving safely?

Are you serious…? We can tell children about gun safety but they still play around with them and shoot their faces off. We can tell children not to take candy from strangers but they still do. Why is this, do you think?

How does someone become "spiritually advanced enough" to choose?

By reading the Bible.

What does this mean?

It means a week-old baby isn’t ready to fulfill the laws of God.

Of course humans and cars have different capabilities....

Great. So the analogy is useless.

These facts do not exclude either man nor machine from operating on specific physical processes that define their behavior.

Perhaps, but it does exclude cars from being people which means a discussion about humans and free will isn't a time to start talking about how cars and humans are alike. I'm done with this analogy. :)

Again, nothing could be so complex that God couldn't understand how it works. Even human beings.

So? God understanding how something works has nothing to do with the ability to choose.

Again, I'm not saying God is using some kind of magic ball to 'predict' the future.

Great.

I'm talking about God knowing in which order cards will be dealt from a deck of cards because he created that deck of cards.

I could create a deck of cards too. I could shuffle them up and since I'm omniscient, I could lay them out, knowing exactly which card comes next. So?

There can be no other way the cards could be dealt.

Only because God is omniscient. It has nothing to do with forcing an outcome.

* Things that exist in our universe unassisted by God, must derive their very function from these laws and operate inside these constraints. That is, things can only happen as a direct result interaction of one or more fixed laws.

You admit that things can exist unassisted by God if there are laws He put into place to govern these things (gravity, etc.). Therefore, you have no problem with people operating freely within an environment controlled by these laws. It’s no different then the analogy I used a while back about the online gaming world. The ‘natural laws’ of the online universe keep everything in check - the sun will rise at 6:00 every morning, it will set at 6:00 every night, etc. etc. etc. Nothing anyone can do will change this. This is no different then the world we live in. We are FREE to act in any way we see fit within the confines of these laws – we’re unable to operate outside the confines of these laws because we have no control over them. If we want to jump off a bridge, we can. If we want to kill a dog, we can. The fixed laws remains in place, our ability to choose remains untouched.

God doesn’t need to ‘will’ the orbit of the moon, it occurs because of the laws He put into place. Our lives are no different. God doesn’t need to govern every aspect of our existence, from the movement of every blood cell, to the way a single strand of hair blows in the wind, to the way we eat a cheeseburger. Likewise, God also doesn’t need to govern our ultimate decision between life and death. No matter what we choose, the natural laws of the universe remain intact.

Since God would have omnisciently designed these processes to work within our universe and omnipotently created them to exacting standards, he'd know how they would respond under every situation, regards of how complex they are.

........knowing isn’t forcing. God knows how we’re going to respond when we get hungry, but He doesn’t force us to eat. How many other ways can this be said?

Scott said...

Scott: Why not? What prevents a child from driving safely?

Jason: Are you serious…? We can tell children about gun safety but they still play around with them and shoot their faces off. We can tell children not to take candy from strangers but they still do.

You're only telling me the consequences. Why can't we trust children with guns or driving cars?

By reading the Bible.

My nieces and nephew read the Bible all the time. They range between 5 and 11 years old.

It means a week-old baby isn’t ready to fulfill the laws of God.

I'm not taking about week-old babies. I'm talking about children.

Again, my nieces and nephew have been reading the bible since they were very little. They've been to funerals of people they knew have died, such as my uncle. They ask questions like, "Did Uncle Bill go to heaven?" Luckily, my mother, grandmother and aunt were not around to hear it. (he wasn't religious)

Obviously, they have been exposed to God's teachings. Why can't they choose?

Scott said...

Scott:Of course humans and cars have different capabilities....

Jason: Great. So the analogy is useless.

Simply because you say so?

Scott: These facts do not exclude either man nor machine from operating on specific physical processes that define their behavior.

Jason: Perhaps, but it does exclude cars from being people which means a discussion about humans and free will isn't a time to start talking about how cars and humans are alike. I'm done with this analogy. :)

Simply noting that cars are different from human beings some ways does refute the validity of the argument. They both exist in the universe, and according to you, function without the direct and constant intervention of God. Therefore, everything they do must be based on an understandable process that works within the laws of physics.

So? God understanding how something works has nothing to do with the ability to choose.

It does not prevent the act of choice from occurring, but it would allow God to know what the choice would be. I've clearly illustrated this several times, but your response has been nothing more than assertions of special pleading.

I could create a deck of cards too. I could shuffle them up and since I'm omniscient, I could lay them out, knowing exactly which card comes next. So?

This analogy illustrates several points.

- God could not leave things undefined during the act of creation
- The composition of things are integral to how they work
- God could use this knowledge, as an omnipotent creator, to know how things will respond.

If I can make a working computer from nothing, then I must know how computers work down to the smallest detail. Correct?

If I do not know make a working computer, then I cannot make a working computer. Correct?

If I can make anything that does anything, I must have intimate knowledge of how it does what it does. Otherwise it wouldn't do anything at all.

The same can be say about God and human beings.

If God can make a human being that can choose, then he must know how to make human beings that choose. He must have intimate knowledge of the exact process humans use to choose, otherwise, they wouldn't choose at all.

Since we human beings exist in our universe, the method we use to choose must be understandable and actually work according to the laws of physics. Otherwise, God would have to make us respond to his own questions.

Simply noting our ability to choose is more complex that things like cars or computers is not enough. Nothing would be to complex for God, because he would have been the one who created it in the first place.

It’s no different then the analogy I used a while back about the online gaming world.

You're simply trying to push the problem elsewhere.

Supposedly God created the universe, and everything in it, from nothing. As such, he had to initially put everything in explicit and specific places and states, otherwise the universe would simply fly apart. His intimate knowledge of how things will respond and occur is a consequence of his supposed necessary role of creator of the universe.

We are FREE to act in any way we see fit within the confines of these laws

I'm not taking about *what* we decide, I'm talking about the *way* we decide. Our ability to decide must operate inside the confines of these laws. Therefore, they must be reducible to a understandable process that occurs in harmony with the laws of physics.

God doesn’t need to ‘will’ the orbit of the moon, it occurs because of the laws He put into place.

Correct. Therefore, we'd know exactly how much explosive power would be needed to blast the moon out of the earth's orbit. As such, we'd know exactly what would happen if we shot missiles of various explosive power at the Moon.

If the explosion was smaller than this amount, the moon would remain in orbit. If it was equal to or larger than this amount, it would be successful. We'd know this before the missile was even launched because we know the moons mass, the earth's mass, the distance from the moon to the earth. This, along with the theory of gravity (which tells us how the natural law of gravity effects objects in our universe) allows us to know how the moon will respond.

In other words, our knowledge of precisely how the moon orbits the earth, allows us to know how it will react. And we're not even omniscient beings.

However, until scientists came up with the theory of gravity, many theists though it was a God that made the moon orbit the earth with his will.

knowing isn’t forcing.

It's God's omnipotent creation of his omniscient design which allows him to know how things will react.

Jason said...

You're only telling me the consequences. Why can't we trust children with guns or driving cars?

This isn’t a family planning session, Scott. Children don’t understand what ‘choosing’ God entails. If they did, infant baptism would be a commonly taught doctrine in the NT and there would be evidence of children being killed for breaking the laws in the OT. There isn't, so it's not. What does this have to do with free will?

My nieces and nephew read the Bible all the time. They range between 5 and 11 years old.

That’s wonderful.

I'm not taking about week-old babies. I'm talking about children.

There’s no difference when it comes to being a follower of Christ.
Hebrew 5:12-14 "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need some one to teach you again the first principles of God's word. You need milk, not solid food; for every one who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil."

Has a 4-year old been “trained by practice to distinguish good from evil”?

Again, my nieces and nephew have been reading the bible since they were very little. They've been to funerals of people they knew have died, such as my uncle. They ask questions like, "Did Uncle Bill go to heaven?" Luckily, my mother, grandmother and aunt were not around to hear it. (he wasn't religious) Obviously, they have been exposed to God's teachings.

Really? Because God doesn’t teach heaven-going.

Why can't they choose?

Because they’re asking if Uncle Bill went to heaven.

Jason said...

Simply because you say so?

Er, no, it's because cars aren't people.

Simply noting that cars are different from human beings some ways does refute the validity of the argument.

It does when we’re discussing one's ability to choose. People have it, cars don’t.

They both exist in the universe, and according to you, function without the direct and constant intervention of God. Therefore, everything they do must be based on an understandable process that works within the laws of physics.

And? You still haven’t explained how being able to decide between life and death somehow conflicts with the laws of physics. If I chose to go blow my brains out, in making this decision have I, for example, invalidated Newton’s laws of motion?

It does not prevent the act of choice from occurring, but it would allow God to know what the choice would be. I've clearly illustrated this several times, but your response has been nothing more than assertions of special pleading.

That’s great. We’ve just established that man can make decisions even though God already knows the answer. Works for me.

This analogy illustrates several points….

What the analogy doesn’t illustrate is that I forced the cards to be in the order I shuffled them in.

If I can make a working computer from nothing, then I must know how computers work down to the smallest detail. Correct?

Correct.

If I do not know make a working computer, then I cannot make a working computer. Correct?

Correct.

If God can make a human being that can choose, then he must know how to make human beings that choose. He must have intimate knowledge of the exact process humans use to choose, otherwise, they wouldn't choose at all.

Correct. And I'd say He's done a good job.

Since we human beings exist in our universe, the method we use to choose must be understandable and actually work according to the laws of physics. Otherwise, God would have to make us respond to his own questions.

What exactly is the ‘method we use to choose’?

You're simply trying to push the problem elsewhere.

There is no problem. My analogy effectively illustrates how, and why, free will exists. And best of all, it’s relevant and car-free.

Supposedly God created the universe, and everything in it, from nothing. As such, he had to initially put everything in explicit and specific places and states, otherwise the universe would simply fly apart.

You’ve established this already by stating God has put laws into effect that govern said universe. I agree.

His intimate knowledge of how things will respond and occur is a consequence of his supposed necessary role of creator of the universe.

Agreed.

I'm not taking about *what* we decide, I'm talking about the *way* we decide. Our ability to decide must operate inside the confines of these laws. Therefore, they must be reducible to a understandable process that occurs in harmony with the laws of physics.

So God designed a brain that, when taking into account an infinite number of variables and biases, makes a decision. What’s the problem?

In other words, our knowledge of precisely how the moon orbits the earth, allows us to know how it will react. And we're not even omniscient beings.

That’s right. But knowledge still doesn’t do anything on its own. Having knowledge of what will happen to the moon if we shot it out of orbit still requires a decision to be made. And a missile. And the only reason why we’re ‘forcing’ the moon out of orbit is due to the laws God has put into place. Likewise, God has ‘forced’ us to remain firmly planted on this planet due to the laws of gravity. Getting our brain to make a decision about jeans or khakis has nothing to do with gravity.

It's God's omnipotent creation of his omniscient design which allows him to know how things will react.

I’ve never argued otherwise. But knowing still isn’t forcing.

Scott said...

This isn’t a family planning session, Scott. Children don’t understand what ‘choosing’ God entails. If they did, infant baptism would be a commonly taught doctrine in the NT and there would be evidence of children being killed for breaking the laws in the OT. There isn't, so it's not.

Sorry, I'm still confused. Children can't drive cars or shoot guns because the Bible says so?

Hebrew 5:12-14

The intended audience of Hebrews was likely early adult Hebrew Christians who were being persecuted for their new faith. Hebrews was written to warn them of the dangers of abandoning Christ and returning back to Judaism.

With this in mind, the author was comparing these early Hebrew Christians to 'infants' in their faith. Are you saying these adult men and women would not be held responsible for returning to Judaism because they had not yet been "trained to distinguish good from evil"?

If they would be held responsible, then wouldn't children be responsible as well? There must be some other reason.

Really? Because God doesn’t teach heaven-going

Great! Then I guess we can finally put an end to this thread.

Scott said...

What the analogy doesn’t illustrate is that I forced the cards to be in the order I shuffled them in.

You're not omnipotent and omniscient.

Are you saying that God could shuffle a deck of cards and not know the new order in which each card was placed in the deck?

That’s right. But knowledge still doesn’t do anything on its own.

Right. But God isn't just described as omnisent, he's also omnipotent.

As I've illustrated earlier, God can't create anything without knowing exactly how that something's mere existence effects our universe, since creating is an action which causes a complex chain reaction.

For example, God could create a massive black hole in close proximity to the earth, which would capture all of the suns light and even the earth itself.

In this scenario, would you say that God was just be letting things "work themselves out"? Since God created both the laws of physics and the black hole, with a specific mass and position, he wouldn't be surprised by this in the least. In fact, since the laws of physics are fixed, there could have been no other result unless God explicitly and continuously used his power to keep the earth from the black hole's irresistible gravitational pull.

So God designed a brain that, when taking into account an infinite number of variables and biases, makes a decision. What’s the problem?

To God, each and every variable is like a button that gets pushed and causes a specific reaction. He knows what all of the buttons do because he created them in the first place.

A piano player can play music because he knows which keys produce specific notes. When pressed in just the right sequence and combination, the pianist can create beautiful and complex harmonies. Unless the piano is out of tune, he knows pressing he right keys will always play the right notes.

To God, we are like pianos with an several orders of magnitude more keys which can be pressed.

That’s right. But knowledge still doesn’t do anything on its own. Having knowledge of what will happen to the moon if we shot it out of orbit still requires a decision to be made.

The moon is orbiting the earth this very moment because the earth's gravitational pull is equal to the force generated by moon's forward motion. If the moon were traveling significantly faster than it is now, the resulting inertia would overpower the earth's gravitational force and it would fly off into space. If it was orbiting significantly slower that it is now, it would crash into the earth's sufface. In other words our moon is forced to remain in orbit around the earth, each and every moment, due to the physical laws God would have created.

But how did it get there? The moon orbits the earth because, at some time in the past, it was close enough to be caught in the earth's gravitational pull. Before that, some event caused the moon to be formed. Before that, some other event, such as the formation of our sun, caused the previous event to occur. Our sun was born because of the death of a another star that died even earlier. And that star was created by some other cosmic event, which can eventually be traced back to the beginning of space and time as we know it.

If God created everything from nothing, the fact that the moon orbits the earth is a specific consequence of God's initial creation of the universe and its laws. God effectively forced the moon to exist and orbit our planet. Since God would have omnisciently designed the laws of physics, he would have known this would eventually occur before the act of creation. And by the act of omnipotently creating the universe and it's physical laws, he would have caused it to come about. This is the decision you speak of.

When I speak of predictions, I'm referring how scientists make predictions based on scientific theories.

If we know the mass of the earth and we know the distance and speed in which the moon orbits the earth, then we can predict the moons mass using the theory of gravity. Unless God is somehow interceding to make the moon orbit the earth at it's current distance and speed, the moon must have the specific predicted mass. The laws of physics demand it. God knows the theory of gravity because he's the one who created gravity in the first place.

It is in this way that God, in creating our ability to choose, would know the theory of human choice. Based on this theory, he could predict what we will choose.

Jason said...

Sorry, I'm still confused. Children can't drive cars or shoot guns because the Bible says so?

I’ll say it again: Children don’t understand what ‘choosing’ God entails. If they did, infant baptism would be a commonly taught doctrine in the NT and there would be evidence of children being killed for breaking the laws in the OT. There isn't, so it's not. Being taught safe driving techniques doesn’t mean a child is ready to drive a car. Being taught right and wrong doesn’t mean a child is ready to choose God.

With this in mind, the author was comparing these early Hebrew Christians to 'infants' in their faith. Are you saying these adult men and women would not be held responsible for returning to Judaism because they had not yet been "trained to distinguish good from evil"?

That’s not what I’m saying at all. What I’m saying is there’s a process to coming to an understanding of God. People who are “unskilled in the word of righteousness” need to be taught the first principles of God’s word. Likewise, a child, who is also unskilled in the word of righteousness and who hasn’t been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil, doesn’t have the maturity or understanding to follow God.

Great! Then I guess we can finally put an end to this thread.

Your nieces and nephews aren’t ready to ‘choose God’. They, like every other child, are unskilled in the word of righteousness.

Jason said...

You're not omnipotent and omniscient. Are you saying that God could shuffle a deck of cards and not know the new order in which each card was placed in the deck?

I created a deck of cards so I’m omnipotent. I know the order I made the cards in so I’m omniscient. I also know the order of the cards every time I shuffle them. When I lay the cards out, I haven’t forced the cards to come out in that specific order. I shuffle, I know the order, I lay them out.

Right. But God isn't just described as omnisent, he's also omnipotent.

My point, once again, is that perfect knowledge doesn’t achieve anything on its own.

As I've illustrated earlier, God can't create anything without knowing exactly how that something's mere existence effects our universe, since creating is an action which causes a complex chain reaction.

Naturally.

For example, God could create a massive black hole in close proximity to the earth…

These analogies aren't working for me. Sorry.

To God, each and every variable is like a button that gets pushed and causes a specific reaction. He knows what all of the buttons do because he created them in the first place.

Knowledge doesn’t remove free will.

A piano player can play music because he knows which keys produce specific notes....

A piano isn’t a person. A piano doesn’t have the ability to choose. Look, you’ve already admitted that things can exist unassisted by God if there are laws He put into place to govern these things (gravity, etc.). Therefore, you should have no problem with people operating freely within an environment controlled by these laws. It’s no different then the analogy I used a while back about the online gaming world. The ‘natural laws’ of the online universe keep everything in check - the sun will rise at 6:00 every morning, it will set at 6:00 every night, etc. etc. etc. Nothing anyone can do will change this. This is no different then the world we live in. We are FREE to act in any way we see fit within the confines of these laws – we’re unable to operate outside the confines of these laws because we have no control over them. If we want to jump off a bridge, we can. If we want to kill a dog, we can. The fixed laws remains in place, our ability to choose remains untouched.

To God, we are like pianos with an several orders of magnitude more keys which can be pressed.

Or better yet, to God we are like little people who make choices in their lives but who are governed by the laws of this universe and subject to cause and effect.

In other words our moon is forced to remain in orbit around the earth, each and every moment, due to the physical laws God would have created.

We’ve already agreed on this.

If God created everything from nothing, the fact that the moon orbits the earth is a specific consequence of God's initial creation of the universe and its laws. God effectively forced the moon to exist and orbit our planet.

Naturally. Just as He forced Adam & Eve to exist. I fail to see the problem with this.

Since God would have omnisciently designed the laws of physics, he would have known this would eventually occur before the act of creation. And by the act of omnipotently creating the universe and it's physical laws, he would have caused it to come about. This is the decision you speak of.

Er, my original statement was ‘Having knowledge of what will happen to the moon if we shot it out of orbit still requires a decision to be made.’ I’m not sure what your last comment as to do with anything…?

It is in this way that God, in creating our ability to choose, would know the theory of human choice. Based on this theory, he could predict what we will choose.

Predicting doesn't force and God doesn’t predict. (it’s one of the benefits of being omniscient). It’s kind of like creating a deck of cards and shuffling them. Being omnipotent and omniscient doesn’t force the cards to come out in a certain order and predicting isn’t required to know the exact order. Ever seen movies were someone travels back in time? If you traveled back in time and could relive a conversation you had with a college buddy, you’d know exactly what he’d say assuming you repeated your part of the conversation word for word. You’re not forcing him to say it, you simply know how he’ll behave in a controlled environment. Now, assuming you started a new conversation but you still knew how he’d respond to anything you say, you’re still not forcing the outcome. If you knew that saying, “I sure am hungry” would make him respond with “I’m hungry too, let’s go get a hamburger”, you haven’t forced him to be hungry and the environment is still controlled.

Scott said...

I’ll say it again: Children don’t understand what ‘choosing’ God entails...There isn't [examples in the Bible], so it's not. ... Being taught right and wrong doesn’t mean a child is ready to choose God.

Again, why not? There must be a reason. Are you saying you just don't know why? Just because?

What I’m saying is there’s a process to coming to an understanding of God. People who are “unskilled in the word of righteousness” need to be taught the first principles of God’s word. Likewise, a child, who is also unskilled in the word of righteousness and who hasn’t been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil, doesn’t have the maturity or understanding to follow God.

But these early Hebrew Christians were "unskilled" too, yet the would have been held responsible. All you're doing is repeating the same argument, which I've shown is inconstant with your own example.

There must be some difference between these adult Hebrews and children. What could it be?

Scott said...

I created a deck of cards so I’m omnipotent. I know the order I made the cards in so I’m omniscient. I also know the order of the cards every time I shuffle them. When I lay the cards out, I haven’t forced the cards to come out in that specific order. I shuffle, I know the order, I lay them out.

Since God is omnipotent, he must define everything he does exactly. There is no "random" for God. Therefore, he does not need to be omniscient to know the order of the cards before and after shuffling them. He knows the order because he himself created and then shuffled the cards.

Again, God can't make a deck of cards without defining the order of each card in the deck. If he did not do this, there would be no deck of cards.

Example: God places three inverted cups and a ball on a table. He puts the ball under the middle cup, then he quickly rearranges the order of the cups for several seconds. As human beings, we could loose track of which cup contains the ball, but this would be impossible for God. He'd know exactly which cup held the ball because he omnipotently rearranged them.

My point, once again, is that perfect knowledge doesn’t achieve anything on its own.

However, we do not live in an empty universe. Therefore, God must have used that knowledge to omnipotently create us.

Scott:For example, God could create a massive black hole in close proximity to the earth…

Jason: These analogies aren't working for me. Sorry.

Of course they don't work for you. I specifically picked them because they show the flaws in your argument.

What exactly is wrong with this analogy? Is it that you don't understand gravitational theory? What other result could have occurred?

Knowledge doesn’t remove free will.

This is only true if God knew how to create the universe, but didn't actually go though with it. The last time I checked, you, I and the universe exists, so knowledge isn't the only factor in the equation.

A piano isn’t a person. A piano doesn’t have the ability to choose.

But both people and pianos exist in our universe.

As such, the choices we are observed to make must occur in one of two ways.

01 Our ability to choose is based on a process that works within the laws of physics. Therefore God defined and created the process and knows how it works. This is the theory of human choice I mentioned in my previous post.

02. God overcomes the laws of physics and causes us to choose something at each inquiry using his omnipotent will. God is "pulling the strings"

However, you seem to be arguing for some other third option, which you haven't elaborated on. This is the special pleading I was referring to earlier.

Usually, in the absence of human knowledge, theists claim that God is behind the scenes making things happen. But in this case you claiming the opposite. God isn't causing us to choose. How do you know if God is behind something or not?

Scott: This is the decision you speak of

Jason: Having knowledge of what will happen to the moon if we shot it out of orbit still requires a decision to be made.

The act of creation is a decision made by God. He knows he ultimate effect of this decision.

Predicting doesn't force and God doesn’t predict.

I've already addresses this above.

God's role as the omnipotent creator of everything provides him with the knowledge of how everything works. Everything does what God wants them to do because he omnisciently designed them to do just that.

If you made a maze, you'd know how to escape that maze because you created it wall by wall. God can't make a maze without deciding where each and every wall goes. And he can't just "forget" where he put them. Therefor he knows the way out without using his omniscience.

The time traveler in your example didn't create everything in the universe in the first place.

Jason said...

Again, why not? There must be a reason. Are you saying you just don't know why? Just because?

Children don’t have the maturity or comprehension or desire to live a life in Christ. They’re kids. Show me a four-year old who’s interested in salvation, who understands the consequences of sin, who has been trained by practice to distinguish between good and evil, who fathoms the wickedness of man or who grasps the vital importance of baptism. Back to my original point: Simply being taught right and wrong doesn’t mean a child is ready to choose God. I’m not too sure why you’re debating this...? What does it have to do with free will?

But these early Hebrew Christians were "unskilled" too, yet the would have been held responsible.

It'd help if you read the verses. Heb 5:12 “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again…” A child isn’t ready to be a teacher since their knowledge level isn’t at a point where they can confidently, and safely, instruct others on Bible doctrine (your nieces and nephews are a case in point). The fact the people in Hebrews had already been taught once AND were teaching means their knowledge level was at a point where they were being held responsible for not knowing better. This 'age of accountability' concept is a common theme throughout Scripture.

All you're doing is repeating the same argument, which I've shown is inconstant with your own example.

And what exactly do you think my argument is?

There must be some difference between these adult Hebrews and children. What could it be?

Their understanding of Scripture.

Jason said...

Since God is omnipotent, he must define everything he does exactly. There is no "random" for God. Therefore, he does not need to be omniscient to know the order of the cards before and after shuffling them. He knows the order because he himself created and then shuffled the cards.

There’s no random for God because God is all-knowing. If He wasn’t all-knowing, He wouldn’t know everything, including the order of cards in His hand after He shuffled them.

Again, God can't make a deck of cards without defining the order of each card in the deck. If he did not do this, there would be no deck of cards.

I happily agree but that’s not the example or the point I’ve used in the analogy.

Example: God places three inverted cups and a ball on a table…He'd know exactly which cup held the ball because he omnipotently rearranged them.

Omnipotently rearranged them…? No, not in this example. You omnipotently rearrange chromosomes, you don’t need to be omnipotent to rearrange cups. You do, however, must have a perfect knowledge to know which cup has the ball.

However, we do not live in an empty universe. Therefore, God must have used that knowledge to omnipotently create us.

Do you agree that perfect knowledge doesn’t achieve anything on its own?

What exactly is wrong with this analogy? Is it that you don't understand gravitational theory? What other result could have occurred?

The problem with this analogy is that you’re not referencing human beings or free will.

But both people and pianos exist in our universe.

So does seaweed. Neither pianos, nor seaweed, have the ability to choose.

However, you seem to be arguing for some other third option, which you haven't elaborated on. This is the special pleading I was referring to earlier.

Actually, I’m simply agreeing with two of your previous points: God has put laws into effect that govern the universe and man can make decisions even though God already knows the answer. This works quite nicely with my analogy, the one you keep ignoring. :)

(I’m still trying to figure out though how being able to decide between life and death somehow conflicts with the laws of physics. If I chose to go blow my brains out, in making this decision have I, for example, invalidated Newton’s laws of motion?)

Usually, in the absence of human knowledge, theists claim that God is behind the scenes making things happen.

Actually, this knowledge does exist. This is why most theists will quote Scripture, using chapters like Deut 30 to prove man has free will.

But in this case you claiming the opposite. God isn't causing us to choose. How do you know if God is behind something or not?

Because Scripture rather clearly states God asks us to choose.

The act of creation is a decision made by God. He knows he ultimate effect of this decision.

Absolutely. God knows the ultimate effect of free will and every decision man will ever make. Like you said, man can make decisions even though God already knows the answer.

God's role as the omnipotent creator of everything provides him with the knowledge of how everything works. Everything does what God wants them to do because he omnisciently designed them to do just that.

Which means God can also want people to make up their own minds about salvation. He designed people to do just that.

The time traveler in your example didn't create everything in the universe in the first place.

This isn’t about omnipotence, this about perfect knowledge. Either you know what the person is going to say or you don’t. If you have a perfect knowledge of what someone is going to say, have you forced him to say it?

Scott said...

Jason: It'd help if you read the verses. Heb 5:12

Jason, I've read the verses. The entire book of Hebrews is targeted at adult early Hebrew Christians who are facing persecution.

"For though by this time you ought to be teachers" means that these people are adults, yet their comprehension of Christian scripture is in it's infancy. Either this is simply a metaphor, or they really have an infant's level of comprehension and are not responsible for their choice.

Which is it?

Scott: There must be some difference between these adult Hebrews and children. What could it be?

Jason: Their understanding of Scripture.

We've covered this already. The early Hebrew Christians don't understand either. Therefore, simply not understanding scripture simply isn't enough to prevent them from being culpable.

Jason Children don’t have the maturity...

I think you're on to something here...

Scott said...

There’s no random for God because God is all-knowing. If He wasn’t all-knowing, He wouldn’t know everything, including the order of cards in His hand after He shuffled them.

Go cannot act in a random way because he cannot take an action that is undefined. That's like saying God can make a ball without defining it's color.

Omnipotently rearranged them…? No, not in this example. You omnipotently rearrange chromosomes, you don’t need to be omnipotent to rearrange cups. You do, however, must have a perfect knowledge to know which cup has the ball.

So, you're suggesting that God can decide he's omnipotent one moment, but not another? He can turn omnipotence on and off at will?

Again, there is no random for God. He knew which cup was under when he started, he knew exactly how he rearranged the cups, therefore he knows which cup now holds the ball.

Do you agree that perfect knowledge doesn’t achieve anything on its own?

If I know how to build a computer, but never make one, then it can't do anything because it does not exist. There is nothing to predict.

However, by not creating anything, God would be absolutely sure that nothing would happen because, supposedly, nothing existed except God.

So does seaweed. Neither pianos, nor seaweed, have the ability to choose.

You can't be played by a pianist , survive under water or perform photosynthesis. Your point is?

(I’m still trying to figure out though how being able to decide between life and death somehow conflicts with the laws of physics. If I chose to go blow my brains out, in making this decision have I, for example, invalidated Newton’s laws of motion?)

This is the crux of the issue.

I don't want to sound demeaning, but you seem to lack an understanding about how the universe actually works. Things just don't happen without a reason.

We now know there is a complex chemical process that causes our cells to age. We just don't 'magically' get old, It's programmed into our genetic makeup. And this process works within and because of physical laws of nature. As such, it's predictable.

Unless we figure out a way to interrupt it, (or God chances the laws of physics) we know that the cells our body produces will age and we'll die. It must happen.

In rare cases, some people age very quickly. When we study these people, sure enough, we see that something has gone haywire with this same system. Again, if we understood exactly how this system worked, we could change the rate at which the person aged.

Therefore, if God decided he wanted to make beings that live inside our universe and eventually get old and die, he had to actually include a biological system that causes these beings to age in his design. If he did not explicitly and specifically design this system, then these beings would wouldn't age.

Clearly, we do age and live inside our universe. Therefore, if god did create us, then he omnipotently designed and omnisciently created the complex chemical and genetic system that causes us to get old.

Since he would have omnipotently created this system, he knows exactly how it works. The results of this system would have the end effect God intended it to do because he omnisciently designed it.

Just like aging, our ability to choose must be based on a system that works within our fixed laws of physics. As such, it would be understandable by God and predictable, because he designed and created it.

Jason said...

Jason, I've read the verses. The entire book of Hebrews is targeted at adult early Hebrew Christians who are facing persecution.

Now why would the entire book of Hebrews target just adult Christians if pre-adolescent children are just as able to come to the same knowledge of God’s Word? Surely then there’s a book that targets 4- and 5-year old persecuted Christians…?

"For though by this time you ought to be teachers" means that these people are adults, yet their comprehension of Christian scripture is in it's infancy. Either this is simply a metaphor, or they really have an infant's level of comprehension and are not responsible for their choice. Which is it?

Oh I think you already know the answer. :) What I’d like to know is what this exchange has to do with free will.

We've covered this already. The early Hebrew Christians don't understand either. Therefore, simply not understanding scripture simply isn't enough to prevent them from being culpable.

And I’ve answered already. An age of accountability exists in Scripture which is why no child nor baby is ever punished for their sins. Seems pretty straightforward.

I think you're on to something here..

I’m dying to know what it is.

Scott said...

I’d like to know is what this exchange has to do with free will.

I think you know, but you're not willing to disclose it.

An age of accountability exists in Scripture which is why no child nor baby is ever punished for their sins. Seems pretty straightforward.

So, children can't drive because they are under God's age of accountability?

And just what is this age? Is it 12, 15, or 18 years old? Did God just arbitrarily draw a line in the sand or is there a specific reason for it?

Jason said...

Jason, I've read the verses. The entire book of Hebrews is targeted at adult early Hebrew Christians who are facing persecution.

Now why would the entire book of Hebrews target just adult Christians if pre-adolescent children are just as able to come to the same knowledge of God’s Word? Surely then there’s a book that targets 4- and 5-year old persecuted Christians…?

I think you know, but you're not willing to disclose it.

I have no idea the point you're trying to make with all of this so again, what does this have to do with free will?

So, children can't drive because they are under God's age of accountability?

As per your original statement on this topic, children aren't held accountable for not choosing God because they're under the age of accountability.

And just what is this age? Is it 12, 15, or 18 years old? Did God just arbitrarily draw a line in the sand or is there a specific reason for it?

The age is around 18 and the reasons have already been discussed.

Scott said...

Surely then there’s a book that targets 4- and 5-year old persecuted Christians…?

Perhaps there is. However, you did not quote from one of these books.

I have no idea the point you're trying to make with all of this so again, what does this have to do with free will?

You didn't answer my question. Did God just arbitrary chose the age of 18?

In other words, doesn't it seem interesting that both human beings think children should not drive or own guns before a specific age and God does not conceder a person responsible for their choice until a specific age. Is this merely a coincidence or is there some underlying reason?

Simply saying "An age of accountability exists in Scripture which is why no child nor baby is ever punished for their sins." seems to imply that God just arbitrary drew a line in the sand.

A child's behavior may be arbitrary, but our dedication not to allow them to drive or handle guns is most certainly not. It's based on observable facts about how human beings develop.

Since we've ruled out one's "spiritual maturity", by example of the early Hebrew Christians, what's left?

Scott said...

Just like aging, our ability to choose must be based on a system that works within our fixed laws of physics. As such, it would be understandable by God and predictable, because he designed and created it.

Video: Mapping how the brain works

When professor Nicolelis talks about the "main principals" of how the brain works, he's referring to the "theory of human thought" I was talking about earlier. In fact, he mentions that the choices we make are essentially based on a complex democracy of the neurons in our brain.

Once we understand this theory, we could learn how to predict how a person's brain would react in any situation. In his specific research, he's learning how the brain reacts when someone is thinking about walking or moving, but the principle can go both ways.

If our ability to choose is the function of a "electro-chemical machine", which God omnisciently designed and omnipotently created, he can predict what we will think and how we will react.

Jason said...

Perhaps there is. However, you did not quote from one of these books.

But I will happily do as soon as you let me know which books target 4- and 5-year old persecuted Christians.

Did God just arbitrary chose the age of 18?

Nope.

In other words, doesn't it seem interesting that both human beings think children should not drive or own guns before a specific age and God does not conceder a person responsible for their choice until a specific age. Is this merely a coincidence or is there some underlying reason?

It’s probably just a coincidence.

Simply saying "An age of accountability exists in Scripture which is why no child nor baby is ever punished for their sins." seems to imply that God just arbitrary drew a line in the sand.

Actually, if I wanted to imply this, I would have said “An age of accountability exists in Scripture which is why no child nor baby is ever punished for their sins. This implies God arbitrarily drew a line in the sand.” Instead, I said an age of accountability exists in Scripture.

A child's behavior may be arbitrary, but our dedication not to allow them to drive or handle guns is most certainly not. It's based on observable facts about how human beings develop.

Great.

Since we've ruled out one's "spiritual maturity", by example of the early Hebrew Christians, what's left?

What’s left of what? Children aren't held accountable for not choosing God because they're under the age of accountability. I’m not sure why you, an atheist, are debating this...?

Jason said...

...If our ability to choose is the function of a "electro-chemical machine", which God omnisciently designed and omnipotently created, he can predict what we will think and how we will react.

And? We’ve already established that God has put laws into effect that govern the universe and man can still make choices even though God already knows the answer. I don't see how this theory helps your position.

Scott said...

Scott:Perhaps there is. However, you did not quote from one of these books.

Jason: But I will happily do as soon as you let me know which books target 4- and 5-year old persecuted Christians.

So, you're denying that the book of Hebrews was a letter written to early Hebrew Christians who are contemplating returning to Judaism?

Scott: Did God just arbitrary chose the age of 18?

Jason: Nope.

Let me guess, you have know idea why God chose the age of 18, but you know it's not arbitrary, right?

It’s probably just a coincidence.

Do you really think so?

The intersection of the Bible and biology at the Age of Accountability

Scott: Simply saying "An age of accountability exists in Scripture which is why no child nor baby is ever punished for their sins." seems to imply that God just arbitrary drew a line in the sand.

Jason: Instead, I said an age of accountability exists in Scripture.

Again it's not what you said, but what you didn't say that seems to imply an arbitrary assignment.

If it's merely a coincidence that God's age of accountability and human's age of accountably are roughly the same, then what other reason could God have? Why not 25, 30 or some other age? Is this another part of God's mysterious plan that we can't understand?

Jason said...

So, you're denying that the book of Hebrews was a letter written to early Hebrew Christians who are contemplating returning to Judaism?

Red herring. Which books target 4- and 5-year old persecuted Christians?

Let me guess, you have know idea why God chose the age of 18, but you know it's not arbitrary, right?

First of all, I said the age was around 18, and secondly, I do have an idea, I just fail to see the relevance of the question since we're discussing free will.

Do you really think so?

I really think it doesn't matter to me either way so if you have a point to make, make it.

Again it's not what you said, but what you didn't say that seems to imply an arbitrary assignment.

I'm sorry for your misunderstanding.

If it's merely a coincidence that God's age of accountability and human's age of accountably are roughly the same, then what other reason could God have? Why not 25, 30 or some other age? Is this another part of God's mysterious plan that we can't understand?

Great questions. I would suggest you go through the Bible for answers.

Like I've been saying, children aren't held accountable for not choosing God because they're under the age of accountability. Now, what does this have to do with free will...?

Scott said...

Scott:...electro-chemical machine...

Jason: I don't see how this theory helps your position.

Did you actually watch the video?

If the choices we make are based on a complex democracy of the neurons in our brain, then each and every decision we make is the result of the physical electro-chemical structure of our body.

This is similar to how a garage door opener works.

Both the motorized section that raises and lowers the door and the remote you keep in your car usually have a row of six switches that can each be either set to on or off. The cumulative state of these six switches controls the exact frequency that is transmitted by the remote and the frequency that activates motor which lifts and lowers the door respectively.

If you know the settings of switches on the motor match the settings of the switches on the remote, you know that pushing the button will cause the door to open. If you know the switches do not match, you know the door will 'refuse' to open. It is only by changing the switches can you change the results.

But Instead of having a mere six switches, our brains have over 100 billion "switches". And the culmination of all of these switches determines what we will choose in every situation.

You believe the claim that God exists because of the specific arrangement of "switches" in a specific area of your brain. I reject the claim that God exists because a similar set of switches in a similar area are set in a different arrangement. Unless something causes these switches to change state, our position will not change.

So why did I stop believing in God?

Things we learn and experience cause specific switches in specific areas of our brain to change state. This is how we learn and store information. When I memorized that 2+2=4, my brain physically changed in such a way that I could recall the answer to the question 2+2 is 4. If we knew exactly which of the 100 billion switches in my brain holds this information and knew exactly how to change their state, someone could arrange them so I'd think 2+2 equaled 5 instead.

Our genes and physical environment also influence how our mind develops and how these switches react to external input. This includes mothers who drink alcohol or take drugs during pregnancy (decisions caused by their brain physiology) or learning disorders caused by genetics.

Therefore, the physical structure of our mind IS a program that uses a specific algorithm to process incoming information and return specific results. This includes questions such as "choose A or B, X or Z, etc."

When we are asked to choose, our process of choice happens in just this way. Our answer can be nothing other but what the structure of our brain dictates it must be.

Since God supposedly designed the system by which the "computer" in our minds work, designed how human beings genetically reproduce and created everything in the universe around us from nothing, he would be ultimately responsible for how all of the 100 billion "switches" in each our minds are set.

Each of our brains must physically be in the exact state God intended them to be. Otherwise, the universe would have turned out differently that God had intended it to. As such, we will choose exactly what God intended us to choose. We can make no other choice.

Scott said...

Since you seemed to have either ignored or missed part of the link I provided....

In view of these findings and what the word of God says it dramatically changes the way we must view our teenage children, especially in view of their ability to determine and make correct decisions for themselves. God knew that they were incapable. How many times have I heard a parent say, in regard to one of their children, "they are big enough to make up their own minds about what they choose." The sad thing is that some of these kids are only 13 or 14 years old. The trouble with this kind of thinking is that we as parents are still responsible to correct and teach these children who think that they are grown. They cannot help the fact that their prefrontal lobe in their brains is still developing.

Still think it's just a coincidence?

Jason said...

Still think it's just a coincidence?

We're talking about children not being held accountable for not choosing God because they're under the age of accountability. That's it. Whether or not children have the ability to determine and make correct decisions for themselves in other ways (say, dressing themselves) is irrelevant. So again, what does this have to do with free will?

BTW, did you find those books that target 4- and 5-year old persecuted Christians...?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Scott,
you are doing an awesome job in this debate. In fact I wish I had the patience that you have, and I wish I had the time to do the research necessary for the types of articles that I am doing.

What you are saying closely tracks the theme of the articles that I am working on now.

would you like to collaborate?

If so, you can reach me at debunkingchristianity@gmail.com and put Lee: in the subject.

I only check that email address if someone tells me they have sent me something there.

Scott said...

Lee,

I've sent a response to the DC account.

zilch said...

I just want to second lee's commendation of scott's patience. I've been following the discussion, but haven't had the energy to keep contributing.

One last attempt: reading through the discussion again, it seems to me that the way jason decides whether a person, or a computer program, or whatever, has free will or not, is one of the following:

1) If it goes through the motions of making a decision, it has free will. This is why jason said that a simple computer program has no free will, but a more complex one that is just as predictable, and just as perfectly designed to produce precisely the outcome desired as the simple one, does have free will, if programmed in such a way that it "considers" and "decides". The only difference I can see is the bells and whistles. Logically, the two cases are identical as far as being forced to produce desired outcomes.

2) Using similar "logic", jason says that we have free will, despite God having designed us for one known outcome, because the Bible says we have free will, or that we have free will because God is omnipotent, and gave us free will.

Both arguments boil down to: if it's called "free will", it is "free will". Logic has nothing to do with it. Not much you can do to argue with that viewpoint.

Jason said...

Zilch said: Logically, the two cases are identical as far as being forced to produce desired outcomes.

The computer in the analogy wasn't being forced to produce a desired outcome.

Using similar "logic", jason says that we have free will, despite God having designed us for one known outcome...

The problem here is that God didn't design us for one known outcome. God certainly designed us, but He didn't design us to force us to choose a specific outcome. Perfect knowledge doesn't force an outcome.

Jason said...

If the choices we make are based on a complex democracy of the neurons in our brain, then each and every decision we make is the result of the physical electro-chemical structure of our body. This is similar to how a garage door opener works.

Hardly. As Nicolelis states, the brain is a “dynamic, constantly adapting organ.” My garage door opener doesn’t change or adapt. Does yours?

When we are asked to choose, our process of choice happens in just this way. Our answer can be nothing other but what the structure of our brain dictates it must be.

You mean our dynamic, constantly adapting brain?

Since God supposedly designed the system by which the "computer" in our minds work, designed how human beings genetically reproduce and created everything in the universe around us from nothing, he would be ultimately responsible for how all of the 100 billion "switches" in each our minds are set.

Nicolelis says that brains adapt to their environment. This goes nicely with what we’ve already established: God has put laws into effect that govern the universe and man can still make choices even though God already knows the answer. Nicolelis also states that “perception depends on the internal state of the brain at that given moment of time, and what behavior the animal is using to sample the environment.” If you don’t believe in God, it’s not because your switches have been built that way from birth, it’s because of the state of your brain in this moment in time.

Each of our brains must physically be in the exact state God intended them to be. Otherwise, the universe would have turned out differently that God had intended it to. As such, we will choose exactly what God intended us to choose. We can make no other choice.

First of all, you’re assuming the world is exactly as God intended. This is a false assumption. Secondly, God doesn’t design or continue to design this kind of system in every single brain so on what grounds are you claiming God is still manipulating the system? Brains are dynamic organs, adjusting constantly to their environments. They aren't garage door openers and they aren't switches.

Scott said...

Hardly. As Nicolelis states, the brain is a “dynamic, constantly adapting organ.” My garage door opener doesn’t change or adapt. Does yours?

Would the brain adapt if it was in an absolute vacuum? What would it have to adapt to? Compared to our brains, your garage opener has a extremely limited number of inputs, but it adapts when exposed to environmental factors, like someone manually flipping it's switches or exposure to water, rust or other elements.

If you don’t believe in God, it’s not because your switches have been built that way from birth, it’s because of the state of your brain in this moment in time.

Assuming God exists and is intelligent, who would have specifically designed how my brain adapts to input? That would be God. And why did my brain vary from your brain in it's initial state? That would be the process of reproduction, genetics and random mutation, which would have been doing exactly what God designed it to do for millions of years. And who defined the the initial environment that influenced the first human brains, who then made choices to influence the environment going forward? Again, that would be God. If God did not specifically define and plan the complex interactions of all of these complex processes, we might not have any neurons at all, which would prevent us from processing information altogether.

Let's take the question asked by William Lane Craig - "What does something exist rather than nothing?"

If there is something because God created that something, then God must have defined exactly what that something was. Otherwise, it wouldn't be there and we'd have nothing. God must have defined the initial state of the universe - down to the smallest detail. Otherwise, after nearly 14 billion years of complex interactions, even a slight variance in the way that the first clumps of matter formed could have eventually prevented our star from forming, which would have prevented the Earth from existing or being able to support life. The entire unfolding from that moment to this moment must have been omnisciently designed by God.

First of all, you’re assuming the world is exactly as God intended. This is a false assumption. Secondly, God doesn’t design or continue to design this kind of system in every single brain so on what grounds are you claiming God is still manipulating the system?

Are you suggesting that God is not in control everything? Does he flip a coin to decide who he should help and who he should let suffer?

God can't create anything without considering exactly how it will impact the rest of the universe. Nor can he ambiguously create anything because he is omnipotent.

That's like saying God could crate a house without deciding if it should have hardwood floors or carpeting. If hardwood, is maple or walnut or some other more exotic wood. Was it finished with polyurethane, varnish, or shellac? How many coats? How many square feet is it? Exactly. How energy efficient is it? how many floors is it? Does it have a basement? Was constructed with poured concrete or concrete blocks? Are the blocks smooth or do they have a rough exterior? What is the exact pattern? Is the roof covered with asphalt or wood shingles? How about metal, clay or slate? What color are they? What size are they. What is their thickness?

If a house exists, then everyone of these properties, and thousand of others, must have been defined because they are part of the very definition of that house. We can physically see, touch, measure and verify each and every one of these things. You simply can't leave them undefined or they would not exist.

If a house is build using materials and techniques that fail to meet the code for the area it's built in, it would likely receive above average damage during strong winds or earthquakes. If God created a home, he know exactly how it would stand up to any weather conditions it was exposed to.

God would know the exact impact of each and every one of his acts of creation going forward. If he did not, there could be a near infinite number of consequences that his actions might cause. Nor could God only consider only some consequences, bur remain "ignorant" about others. If he knew about one possible consequence, he'd know about each and every consequence that could occur into infinity. Otherwise, he's simply crossing his fingers and hoping things will turn out the way he wants.

Jason said...

Would the brain adapt if it was in an absolute vacuum? What would it have to adapt to? Compared to our brains, your garage opener has a extremely limited number of inputs, but it adapts when exposed to environmental factors, like someone manually flipping it's switches or exposure to water, rust or other elements.

This is something you’ll have to talk to Nicolelis about. He says the brain is a dynamic, constantly adapting organ. Switches aren’t dynamic.

...And who defined the the initial environment that influenced the first human brains, who then made choices to influence the environment going forward? Again, that would be God.

No it wouldn't. Because Adam & Eve had free will (the ability to choose), it was their decisions which affected the rest of mankind. Sin entered the world through one man. If Adam hadn't sinned, the environment today would be vastly different. Likewise, of John Smith's mom hadn't been an alcoholic, John wouldn't have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. With or without God, man is still the one influencing their environment - God simply chooses when to get involved (aka. the Flood) and when not.

If God did not specifically define and plan the complex interactions of all of these complex processes, we might not have any neurons at all, which would prevent us from processing information altogether.

Like I said, if you don’t believe in God, it’s not because your switches have been built that way from birth, it’s because of the state of your brain in this moment in time. Reproduction, genetics and random mutation have all played their part – you’d be hard pressed to prove God designed the universe to force your brain to reject Him. That’s a tad selfish, don’t you think…?

If there is something because God created that something, then God must have defined exactly what that something was. Otherwise, it wouldn't be there and we'd have nothing. God must have defined the initial state of the universe - down to the smallest detail. Otherwise, after nearly 14 billion years of complex interactions...

It’s tough to take this argument seriously when someone mentions God creating the earth in one breath and in the next breath “14 billion years”.

Are you suggesting that God is not in control everything?

Not at all. Like I said, the world today isn’t the world God intended – a quick read through Romans 1 explains this concept in more detail.

Does he flip a coin to decide who he should help and who he should let suffer?

Nope. Most of the time, God simply allows cause and effect to play itself out by not becoming involved - this is why God/the Bible holds man accountable for his actions.

God can't create anything without considering exactly how it will impact the rest of the universe.

Agreed. And if He decides free will won’t impact His universe, free will is thus created.

Nor can he ambiguously create anything because he is omnipotent.

No one’s argued otherwise.

That's like saying God could crate a house…

Actually, it’s more like saying God created an online universe where He knows exactly how the characters are going to behave and interact, even though He's given them the ability to do as they choose, keeping them limited by the laws of the universe.

Michael Ejercito said...

If Adam hadn't sinned, the environment today would be vastly different.
That is true, although it would be difficult to predict how it would be different, especially since it has been a very long time since the event.

For one thing, someone else after him could have sinned.

Jason said...

That is true, although it would be difficult to predict how it would be different, especially since it has been a very long time since the event. For one thing, someone else after him could have sinned.

Absolutely. Whether it was Adam or Moses or someone in between, my point is that it's man who influences his environment.

Scott said...

This is something you’ll have to talk to Nicolelis about. He says the brain is a dynamic, constantly adapting organ. Switches aren’t dynamic.

Things that are dynamic are things that change. Things that adapt do so under the influence of external environments.

If garage door openers were not dynamic, then you you couldn't change what frequency they operated on and you'd end up opening all the garage doors on the block with you remote. However, your garage door can be adapted to it's environment by selecting a different frequency that's not already in use. This is the exact behavior intended by the designer since it allows each customer to limit the response to one of 64 specific frequencies.

No it wouldn't. Because Adam & Eve had free will (the ability to choose),

Again, you're simply affixing a "free will" sticker to a biological process which is known to be defined by it's electro-chemcial state. This simply doesn't work in the constraints of our universe.

God would have created Adam and Eve in final form. In the process, he would have set all of their switches to specific settings. Therefore, the combined vote of each switch preset by God would have dictated their decisions. Since God omnipotently create the entire universe, including the garden, from nothing, he controlled the environmental aspect of influence as well.

Like I said, if you don’t believe in God, it’s not because your switches have been built that way from birth, it’s because of the state of your brain in this moment in time. ... you’d be hard pressed to prove God designed the universe to force your brain to reject Him.

If this is the case, you'd be hard pressed to prove that God intended human beings to think at all.

It’s tough to take this argument seriously when someone mentions God creating the earth in one breath and in the next breath “14 billion years”.

So we just arrived here by accident? Sounds like the non-thiest position. And the order I described started with the formation of the universes and ended with humans on earth, not vice versa. Either God was at the wheel for the entire 14 billion year trip, or it's possible we could have arrived somewhere completely different than where God wanted to go. Even if it was possible for Go to let go of the wheel, he would have decided exactly when and how long to let go and what known exactly what effect it would have. God, being omnipotent and omniscient, can't put his head in the sand.

Not at all. Like I said, the world today isn’t the world God intended – a quick read through Romans 1 explains this concept in more detail.

Not taking action is an action. This includes not squelching the cumulative results of his creation, of which the consequences he would have known and planed for in the omniscient definition and omnipotent manifestation of the universe. This is merely a more complex version of God creating a black hole next to the earth. No other result could have occurred.

Nope. Most of the time...

God must decide if he will intercede or not in each and every situation. Clearly, God would know the cumulative and ultimate ramifications of each and every decision.

Agreed. And if He decides free will won’t impact His universe, free will is thus created.

Then God can create round squares and rocks so immutable that he can't change them. All bets are off. End of discussion.

Jason said...

Things that are dynamic are things that change. Things that adapt do so under the influence of external environments.

A switch doesn’t change. It’s either on or off. There’s nothing else for it to do.

If garage door openers were not dynamic, then you you couldn't change what frequency they operated on and you'd end up opening all the garage doors on the block with you remote. However, your garage door can be adapted to it's environment by selecting a different frequency that's not already in use...

Come on, Scott. A garage door is created to behave in a specific way without any room, or requirement, for it to adapt to its environment. Dynamic = “marked by usually continuous and productive activity or change.” Be logical here.

Again, you're simply affixing a "free will" sticker to a biological process which is known to be defined by it's electro-chemcial state. This simply doesn't work in the constraints of our universe.

Man can and does influence his environment – this happens with or without God. Adam sinned, freely, and he changed the environment for the rest of mankind. God knew what Adam was going to choose, but God didn’t force Adam to sin. As long as the decisions Adam & Eve made didn’t affect the laws of the universe (and they didn’t), they’re free to make any decision they want.

God would have created Adam and Eve in final form. In the process, he would have set all of their switches to specific settings.

Not at all. God created Adam & Eve with the ability to control their own switches. Like you’ve already said, God knowing does not prevent the act of choice from occurring. Deciding whether to eat from the tree or not eat from the tree doesn’t affect any natural law so, logically, this decision could easily have been made ‘freely’, that is, without being forced by God.

Therefore, the combined vote of each switch preset by God would have dictated their decisions. Since God omnipotently create the entire universe, including the garden, from nothing, he controlled the environmental aspect of influence as well.

Scott, you’ve already claimed God has put laws into effect that govern the universe. These laws either govern the universe or God forces every decision and action ever carried out by anything in His creation. Which is it?

If this is the case, you'd be hard pressed to prove that God intended human beings to think at all.

This is all the proof I need: “…choose you this day whom ye will serve…” (Josh 24:15) How can you prove that God designed the universe from the beginning of time in such a way that would force you to reject Him? What makes you think you’re really that special in the grand scheme of the plan of the universe?

So we just arrived here by accident? Sounds like the non-thiest position. And the order I described started with the formation of the universes and ended with humans on earth, not vice versa. Either God was at the wheel for the entire 14 billion year trip, or it's possible we could have arrived somewhere completely different than where God wanted to go. Even if it was possible for God to let go of the wheel, he would have decided exactly when and how long to let go and what known exactly what effect it would have. God, being omnipotent and omniscient, can't put his head in the sand.

Such drama. ☺ You make it seem that if man had the ability to choose, the world would be tilted off its axis and plummet into the sun. Having the ability to choose between water or juice on a Tuesday morning isn’t the end of the world and it’s certainly not going to affect anything in this universe on a scale that defies the laws of nature. Free will doesn’t mean God removes His hand from the wheel – the natural laws, which He’s set in place to govern this universe, ensure that man’s decisions won’t alter and conflict with the balance of this galaxy. Like I’ve been saying all along, this world is like an online game world. Characters are allowed to do anything they want within the confines of their environment – their free will doesn’t change the time of day, the rise and set of the sun, or the way their lungs use oxygen.

Not taking action is an action. This includes not squelching the cumulative results of his creation, of which the consequences he would have known and planed for in the omniscient definition and omnipotent manifestation of the universe. This is merely a more complex version of God creating a black hole next to the earth. No other result could have occurred.

I’m not sure what this has to do with anything. The world today isn’t the world God intended. Romans 1 explains this. God isn’t surprised by the way the world has ended up, but He wants mankind to know that the perfect model was established in the Garden of Eden when everything was “very good”. Because of free will and the inherent desire to sin, man has moved further and further away from this model. There will come a time when this model is re-established.

God must decide if he will intercede or not in each and every situation. Clearly, God would know the cumulative and ultimate ramifications of each and every decision.

Absolutely. But this doesn’t change the fact that God allows cause & effect to play itself out. This is why He holds man accountable for his actions.

Then God can create round squares and rocks so immutable that he can't change them. All bets are off. End of discussion.

Why are you launching back into the theory that free will is somehow a logical impossibility? All you’re doing is putting two contradicting words next to each other and somehow claiming this is proof free will is impossible.

Free will doesn’t impede on or contradict God’s perfect knowledge. God KNOWS that by giving every creature ever created free will, X will be the ultimate result. As we’ve already established, perfect knowledge doesn’t remove free will. So when God created Adam, He knew that if He allowed Adam to choose between eating the fruit or not, that Adam would freely choose to eat the fruit and thereby affect mankind for the rest of time. This is the power of omniscience. God created Adam nonetheless, Adam ate the fruit, the rest is history, and the outcome is still X. The fabric of the universe, shockingly enough, has remained intact ever since.

Scott said...

A switch doesn’t change. It’s either on or off. There’s nothing else for it to do.

A switch responds to external influences by either allowing current to flow or not. This is what switches do. Computers brains have millions of switches which change trillions of times a second.

Come on, Scott. A garage door is created to behave in a specific way without any room, or requirement, for it to adapt to its environment. Dynamic = “marked by usually continuous and productive activity or change.” Be logical here.

I've purposely used the "old school" garage door opener model to make my point easier to understand. However, these models were not very secure. Using the right equipment, one could discover which of the 65 frequencies was in use by parking near by the home in question and wait for the owner to pull up and open the door. By repeating this frequency they could gain access.

Modern day garage door openers and remotes generate a list of up to 256 "codes" of 40 bits in length using a shared pseudo-random algorithm. Each time the remote is activated it sends the next code on the list to the receiver. If the code from the remote matches one of the 256 codes on the receiver, the door opens. Once used, that code, and any before it in the pseudo-random sequence, are "removed" from the list and additional codes are appended to the end until the list again contains 265 codes. This prevents an intruder from simply reproducing the last used frequency and opening the door. While it's several orders of magnitude simpler than the human brain, it certainly meets your dictionary definition of dynamic.

As long as the decisions Adam & Eve made didn’t affect the laws of the universe (and they didn’t), they’re free to make any decision they want.

It appears you're still confused here. Since God created Adam & Eve inside our universe, their ability to choose must operate within or be based on our fixed laws of physics. Therefore, their ability to choose must be based on a concrete process which results in a specific choice from a particular electro-chemical state. If there is no direct state to specific choice correlation, then a person's ability to choose would be in violation of our physical laws. The only way this could occur would be if God actively negated these laws and caused us to choose by explicitly and intentionally "pulling our strings" at each inquiry.

Not at all. God created Adam & Eve with the ability to control their own switches.

While Adam & Eve would have the ability to choose what information they should pursue, these choices would be based on the initial state of their "switches" which would be set by God. The information they encountered, which would have been created by God from nothing, would have changed their electro-chemical state and shaped their choice going forward. As such, their ability to " control their own switches", would only be an illusion of free will.

Scott, you’ve already claimed God has put laws into effect that govern the universe. These laws either govern the universe or God forces every decision and action ever carried out by anything in His creation. Which is it?

Both scenarios result in effectively the same thing. Either God created things so they can do nothing other than what he designed them to or he intercedes and forces them to do something else. If God exists and is both omnipotent and omniscient, these are the only options available. In the end, both prohibit free will.

Romans 1 explains this.

Roman's was written in a three story world where no one had any idea why anything really happened. As such, our ability to choose was attributed to a supernatural being. By created us in a universe with fixed laws and explainable phenomenon, God would have effectively painted him self into a corner.

God decided how human minds work, created a specific universe with specific physical laws to influences these minds, then set these minds to an initial state. At this point, the only things that exist were omnisciently designed and omnipotently created by God. No other factors can should exist to influence their decisions.

perfect model was established in the Garden of Eden when everything was “very good”. Because of free will and the inherent desire to sin, man has moved further and further away from this model. There will come a time when this model is re-established.

How can a perfect creation 'sin' without 'sin' being part of it's perfection? If you get a "perfect score" on a test, how can any of the answers be "wrong"? Clearly, this is a contradiction.

Absolutely. But this doesn’t change the fact that God allows cause & effect to play itself out. This is why He holds man accountable for his actions.

If God replaces our sun with a star that will go super-nova next week, is he simply letting things "play it self out?" Obviously, God knows we cannot escape the earth and travel to another solar system. And he knows that the effect of our sun going super-nova would destroy the earth and everything on it. Therefore, our death would be inescapable. No other result would be possible. God created the universe in such a way that no other result could have occurred.

Why are you launching back into the theory that free will is somehow a logical impossibility? All you’re doing is putting two contradicting words next to each other and somehow claiming this is proof free will is impossible.

Again, if God purposely created our universe from nothing, then he effectively painted himself into a corner. If we existed outside the universe, then anything could happen for any reason. Instead, God decided to create us inside our universe. which we no know that operates because of and within fixed laws. This requires God to actually provide a understandable and comprehendible reason for everything that occurs. God can't simply affix a sticker that causes us to choose anymore than he can affix a sticker that causes us to age. Since we know that aging is caused by a biological system that can be explained, then so must our choice.

God can't create a system that breaks his own physical laws anymore than he can create a create a round square or a stone so immutable he can't change it.

Jason said...

A switch responds to external influences by either allowing current to flow or not. This is what switches do. Computers brains have millions of switches which change trillions of times a second.

A switch isn’t dynamic, Scott. Your garage door opener isn’t dynamic. It doesn’t adapt to its environment. It doesn’t change. It’s either on or off. It either responds to the code or it doesn't. It’s not capable of doing anything else. I’m not sure why you’re trying to debate this.

Therefore, their ability to choose must be based on a concrete process which results in a specific choice from a particular electro-chemical state. If there is no direct state to specific choice correlation...

You’re saying a lot without saying anything at all. Please explain what anyone’s ability to choose has to do with matter or space or time or force or energy. You've already said that “man can still make choices even though God already knows the answer” so either man can make choices or he can't. Which is it?

While Adam & Eve would have the ability to choose what information they should pursue, these choices would be based on the initial state of their "switches" which would be set by God. The information they encountered, which would have been created by God from nothing, would have changed their electro-chemical state and shaped their choice going forward. As such, their ability to " control their own switches", would only be an illusion of free will.

Of course you’re going to say this – it fits with your theory. :) And then I can just as easily say God created Adam & Eve with the ability to control their own switches, pursue their own information, and ultimately take responsibility for their actions.

Both scenarios result in effectively the same thing. Either God created things so they can do nothing other than what he designed them to or he intercedes and forces them to do something else. If God exists and is both omnipotent and omniscient, these are the only options available. In the end, both prohibit free will.

Answer the question please: Laws either govern the universe or God forces every decision and action carried out by anything in His creation. Which is it?

Roman's was written in a three story world where no one had any idea why anything really happened. As such, our ability to choose was attributed to a supernatural being.

Romans 1 doesn’t say anything about our ability to choose being attributed to a supernatural being.

God decided how human minds work, created a specific universe with specific physical laws to influences these minds, then set these minds to an initial state. At this point, the only things that exist were omnisciently designed and omnipotently created by God. No other factors can should exist to influence their decisions.

Yes. However, God created the universe with multiple influences that both push and pull (e.g. the snake vs God), leaving the ultimate decision up to the individual.

How can a perfect creation 'sin' without 'sin' being part of it's perfection?

Where do you get “perfect creation” from?

If you get a "perfect score" on a test, how can any of the answers be "wrong"? Clearly, this is a contradiction.

Clearly.

If God replaces our sun with a star that will go super-nova next week, is he simply letting things "play it self out?"

Absolutely not. But then we’re not talking about stars. Like I said, God allows cause & effect to play itself out - not all the time, but most of the time. There are some instances when He forces an outcome, and there are other times when He doesn’t. This is why He can, and does, hold man accountable for his actions.

Obviously, God knows we cannot escape the earth and travel to another solar system. And he knows that the effect of our sun going super-nova would destroy the earth and everything on it. Therefore, our death would be inescapable. No other result would be possible. God created the universe in such a way that no other result could have occurred.

Er, yes. But again, we’re not talking about exploding suns. We’re talking about mankind. God created the universe in such a way that man can choose between right and wrong, good and evil, life and death, and still never affect His outcome. Whether you choose to eat bread or cereal tomorrow morning doesn’t upset the balance of the universe and it doesn’t affect God’s ultimate outcome. Thus, you’re ‘allowed’ to make this decision freely.

This requires God to actually provide a understandable and comprehendible reason for everything that occurs. God can't simply affix a sticker that causes us to choose anymore than he can affix a sticker that causes us to age. Since we know that aging is caused by a biological system that can be explained, then so must our choice.

Yes but you still haven’t explained why free will is a logical impossibility. You’ve already stated “man can still make choices even though God already knows the answer” so I’m a little confused why you now think decision making is a logical impossibility…?

God can't create a system that breaks his own physical laws anymore than he can create a create a round square or a stone so immutable he can't change it.

I agree. So I’ll ask again: how does the ability to choose break a physical law?

mizzouvetmed said...

Perhaps one should think of foreknowledge as the lack of choices instead of the option between two choices. Perhaps this example will better illustrate my point. If I know what the winning lottery numbers will be on tuesday of next week (ie 5, 7, 41, 18, 25), despite the appearance of a random game of chance, the apparatus that selects the ping pong balls that represent this winning numeral sequence has NO CHOICE but to select the winning ping pong balls in the order of my foreknowledge. Therefore, if god has foreknowledge of our action on Tuesday at 9:23 we, like the ping pong balls, lack the ability to make any other choice because to do so would void the foreknowlege.
I think a more interesting debate, however, is that an omnipotent god could have created beings WITH free will that only made correct choices. Coudn't (and more correctly SHOULDN'T) the all powerful god responsible for an entire cosmos and that is capable of hearing millions of people's thoughts simultaneously only allow sperm and egg unite that create beings that, given choices always make the one that results in the least amount of "evil" or human suffering??
Lastly, is there free will in heaven??
If there is no evil or suffering in heaven does god take away free will upon receiving the "golden ticket"? Can heaven be so great without free will?
This is my first post here so try and take it easy on my logic!!!
-R

Jason said...

R said: Perhaps one should think of foreknowledge as the lack of choices instead of the option between two choices...Therefore, if god has foreknowledge of our action on Tuesday at 9:23 we, like the ping pong balls, lack the ability to make any other choice because to do so would void the foreknowlege.

Yes but the knowledge still hasn’t forced the decision. Instead, it can be said the decision has forced the knowledge. Perfect knowledge simply allows someone to know the outcome before it’s occurred. For all intents and purposes, that future outcome is as much a reality as any one outcome that occurred yesterday.

I think a more interesting debate, however, is that an omnipotent god could have created beings WITH free will that only made correct choices. Coudn't (and more correctly SHOULDN'T) the all powerful god responsible for an entire cosmos and that is capable of hearing millions of people's thoughts simultaneously only allow sperm and egg unite that create beings that, given choices always make the one that results in the least amount of "evil" or human suffering??

An omnipotent God certainly could have created people who only made the right decisions but then what would be the point of anything?

Lastly, is there free will in heaven??...

Heaven doesn’t exist. ☺

mizzouvetmed said...

Foreknowledge of the numberical outcome HAS to prevent the ping pong balls from behaving in ANY other way than in a matter that would confirm the foreknowledge. Every outside force (gravity, friction, air pressure) must act in only one way and the balls can only react in one way. There is an illusion that they are bouncing randomly in the cage, however there can be absolutely no randomness with foreknowledge of the outcome.
Maybe I just cant wrap my head around this issue. It merely seems an illusion of free will in my opinion. Do you know of any good reads on the subject of free will or the lack thereof?


An omnipotent God certainly could have created people who only made the right decisions but then what would be the point of anything?

So there can only be a "point" to something if babies are tortured and innocent women are raped and murdered?

I strongly disagree. I'm just saying that if I, a mere mortal, who encompases none of the attributes of god, could envsion a reality on earth where people lived in harmony and whose decisions were made in a manner to further public good, clearly an omnipotent being could make this vision a reality by only allowing good people to be born. Clearly if there is a god he either does not know evil people are being born, he cant stop them from being born, or he's actually a devious bastard and just doesnt care. Any god with one of more of these attributes does not need to be worshiped and in the ladder case, should be despised.

And I agree, heaven most certainly does not exist. The question was more for the belivers who defend their views here.

Jason said...

Foreknowledge of the numberical outcome HAS to prevent the ping pong balls from behaving in ANY other way than in a matter that would confirm the foreknowledge. Every outside force (gravity, friction, air pressure) must act in only one way and the balls can only react in one way. There is an illusion that they are bouncing randomly in the cage, however there can be absolutely no randomness with foreknowledge of the outcome.

Absolutely. But the knowledge of how the balls were going to behave didn’t force the balls to behave that way. Likewise, if you stepped out of time for a moment and saw a man jumping off a bridge in San Francisco in 2018, you’re not forcing the guy to jump. The outcome you saw is a reality that is guaranteed to occur. No other outcome is possible because if it were, you would have seen the other outcome (e.g. he changed his mind at the last moment).

So there can only be a "point" to something if babies are tortured and innocent women are raped and murdered?

This is a rather dramatic leap. My point is that if God created people who only made the right choices, His creation would live in irrelevance. There would be no hope or faith. There would be no need to worship God or desire something better. But because man does make wrong decisions, there is a desire for something better – the establishment of His kingdom.

I'm just saying that if I, a mere mortal, who encompases none of the attributes of god, could envsion a reality on earth where people lived in harmony and whose decisions were made in a manner to further public good, clearly an omnipotent being could make this vision a reality by only allowing good people to be born.

What’s “good” and “harmonious” in a world without evil or discord? What would be so good about living in such a world? What would be the ultimate point? Regardless though, the world you’re referring to is the world God has promised the righteous. It will happen. It just hasn't happened yet.

Clearly if there is a god he either does not know evil people are being born, he cant stop them from being born, or he's actually a devious bastard and just doesnt care. Any god with one of more of these attributes does not need to be worshiped and in the ladder case, should be despised.

Hardly. Scripture makes it quite clear that God does care but that man takes responsibility for his own actions.

Scott said...

A switch doesn’t change. It’s either on or off. There’s nothing else for it to do.

A switch responds to external influences by either allowing current to flow or not. This is what switches do. Computers have millions of switches which change trillions of times a second.

Come on, Scott. A garage door is created to behave in a specific way without any room, or requirement, for it to adapt to its environment. Dynamic = “marked by usually continuous and productive activity or change.” Be logical here.

I've purposely used an "old school" garage door opener to make my point easier to understand. However, these older systems were inherently insecure by design. Using the right equipment, one could discover which of the 65 frequencies caused the door to open by parking near by the home in question and waiting for the owner to pull up and open the door. By observing and mimicking the process, they could gain access.

Modern day garage door openers and remotes generate duplicate lists of up to 256 "codes" of 40 bits in length using a shared pseudo-random algorithm. Each time the remote is activated it sends the next code on the list to the receiver. If the code from the remote matches one of the 256 codes on the receiver, the door opens. Once used, each code, and any before it in the pseudo-random sequence, are "removed" from the list and additional codes are appended to the end until the list again contains 265 codes. This prevents an intruder from simply reproducing the last used frequency and opening the door. While it's several orders of magnitude simpler than the human brain, it certainly meets your dictionary definition of dynamic.

Since the garage door designer knows that both the remote and the receiver use the same pseudo-random algorithm to create their codes, he knows the door will open when the button is pushed.

Er, yes. But again, we’re not talking about exploding suns. We’re talking about mankind. God created the universe in such a way that man can choose between right and wrong, good and evil, life and death, and still never affect His outcome.

You seem to think that there is a undeniable, specific reason for a start to explode, but there is no undeniable, specific reason for us to choose one way or the other. Yet you haven't provided any reason for this other than "the Bible says so." Clearly this is where we disagree.

A high mass star goes supernova due to a complex chain reaction that occurs when it runs out of fuel. These reactions occur in accordance with and because of the physical laws of the universe. This is why you seem to agree that God wouldn't be 'letting things work themselves out" in the scenario I presented.

However, If God does not intercede at every inquiry to "pull our strings", our specific choice must be like a high mass star going supernova. There must be a specific set of conditions that cause us to choose one way or the other. Otherwise, we wouldn't choose at all.

If God really did create everything from nothing, then God has omnipotently arranged the initially state of the universe in such a way that everything in it, including human beings that inhabit it, will eventually turn out a specific way. Just like a high mass star that runs out of fuel will go supernova. The physical laws of the universe, that God would have created, demand it. Everything man encountered would have planted there by God, knowing it would cause specific changes in his electro-chemical state, which would have shaped each and every one of his choices going forward.

However, if God created us as non-material entities that lived outside our universe, there would be no laws of physics that cause anything to happen. It would all be "magic" and God's creation would not have abide by the physical laws he himself would have created.

Since the laws of physics were relatively unknown to the authors of the Bible, this is the sort of world they though they lived in. The stars were hung in the sky by God. Conception happened when God opened a woman's womb. Rain fell because God opened the heavens and let the waters above firmament fall to the earth. After traveling across the sky, the sun hid in a tent at night. Bushes burned without fuel. Etc. It is the same view that gave birth to the idea that man could choose without God being ultimately responsible for his choice.

Yet, it's quite obvious that we are not immaterial beings that live in some supernatural dimension that has no physical laws. This has significant consequences that God would be quite aware of since he supposedly designed everything in the first place. The choices we make would be one of those consequences.

Jason said...

Scott - a few questions you've been skipping over:

1. Please explain what anyone’s ability to choose has to do with matter or space or time or force or energy. You've already said that “man can still make choices even though God already knows the answer” so either man can make choices or he can't. Which is it?

2. Laws either govern the universe or God forces every decision and action carried out by anything in His creation. Which is it?

3. Where did you get “perfect creation” from?

You seem to think that there is a undeniable, specific reason for a start to explode, but there is no undeniable, specific reason for us to choose one way or the other. Yet you haven't provided any reason for this other than "the Bible says so." Clearly this is where we disagree.

Of course there’s a specific reason for a star to explode. In your example, God replaced our sun with a star that was going to go supernova the following week. He’s not letting things “play themselves out”. However, with man, He does allow things to play themselves out. God placed two influences in the lives of Adam & Eve, the snake and Himself, and then allowed man to choose. He allows us to choose in the same manner - life or death.

A high mass star goes supernova due to a complex chain reaction that occurs when it runs out of fuel. These reactions occur in accordance with and because of the physical laws of the universe. This is why you seem to agree that God wouldn't be 'letting things work themselves out" in the scenario I presented.

I’m only agreeing because you’re implying God specifically created the star to explode next week.

However, If God does not intercede at every inquiry to "pull our strings", our specific choice must be like a high mass star going supernova. There must be a specific set of conditions that cause us to choose one way or the other. Otherwise, we wouldn't choose at all.

As you’ve already stated, these conditions are called “influences”. The influences in our lives today are between the pleasures of sin versus the commandments of God. We choose one or the other and accept the resulting consequences. God created the universe with multiple influences that both push and pull (e.g. the snake vs God), leaving the ultimate decision up to the individual.

If God really did create everything from nothing, then God has omnipotently arranged the initially state of the universe in such a way that everything in it, including human beings that inhabit it, will eventually turn out a specific way.

The “specific way” you’re talking about is the establishment of His kingdom, not the forced admittance of people into His kingdom. God allows cause & effect to play itself out - not all the time, but most of the time. There are some instances when He forces an outcome, and there are other times when He doesn’t. This is why He can, and does, hold man accountable for his actions.

Just like a high mass star that runs out of fuel will go supernova. The physical laws of the universe, that God would have created, demand it. Everything man encountered would have planted there by God, knowing it would cause specific changes in his electro-chemical state, which would have shaped each and every one of his choices going forward.

This is incorrect since you’ve already stated that it’s the laws that God established which govern the universe. See question #2 above.

However, if God created us as non-material entities that lived outside our universe, there would be no laws of physics that cause anything to happen. It would all be "magic" and God's creation would not have abide by the physical laws he himself would have created.

See question #1 above.

Since the laws of physics were relatively unknown to the authors of the Bible, this is the sort of world they though they lived in...It is the same view that gave birth to the idea that man could choose without God being ultimately responsible for his choice.

This is absolutely incorrect. Moses recorded that God “hardened the heart” of Pharaoh. Daniel writes that God “removes kings and sets kings up”. The writer of Kings states that God “provoked David” to number the Israelites. There were no misconceptions about the power of God nor the idea that the individual, in the majority of cases, is responsible for the choices he makes.

Yet, it's quite obvious that we are not immaterial beings that live in some supernatural dimension that has no physical laws. This has significant consequences that God would be quite aware of since he supposedly designed everything in the first place. The choices we make would be one of those consequences.

There is no “significant consequence” to God if we choose life or death. We’re affecting our own lives, not His divine plan. For some reason, you seem to think that by having the ability to choose, we can somehow affect God’s ultimate outcome for this universe. That if we do have the ability to choose between walking and running, bread or toast, running or walking, laughing or talking, that we somehow break or alter the laws of the universe and throw a kink into God’s plan. This is wrong. We determine whether we choose God or not.

Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Since Jason is the primary Christian apologist here, he's the one toward whom my comments are projected... And yes, I read the whole damned thing.

So Jason, if I create a Rube-Goldberg machine which will kill any pedestrian crossing a particular street at a particular time of day, and a qualifying pedestrian indeed trips the machine's mechanism and is killed, am I responsible?

Before you answer, recall that I am neither omniscient nor omnipotent, and that the pedestrian in question has free will.

Is it not the ill-fated pedestrian's free will which has caused his death? Certainly, even with my limited knowledge and power, I *knew* that at some point a pedestrian would spring my trap and find himself killed as a result, but surely the blame for this incident lies with the pedestrian, yes?

--
Stan

Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Something that has been overlooked:

Omniscience and omnipotence are in fact interchangeable -- completely so.

Consider: To be omnipotent, a being must have unlimited power, including the power to know anything at any moment; hence: omniscience.

Consider also: To be omniscient, a being must have unlimited knowledge, including knowledge of how to do anything, what it is like to have done anything, etc. Recognize that this knowledge is logically indistinguishable from having performed the feat itself; hence: omnipotence.

What are the consequences of this?** Nothing, really. It's just a commonly overlooked feature of these particular omni-powers, and part of the reason that they produce paradoxes such as the illusion of free will.


** Another consequence of the amalgum of "omni" attributes results from the concept of timelessness. A truly eternal being is incapable of action/motion. We, as beings *within* time, have a difficult time imagining this, but if a being is truly "eternal" -- without either beginning or end -- then (and I apologize for using temporal terms/tenses, but there are no alternatives) anything it "did" it would already have "done".

This point is confusing, and therefore extremely difficult to explain (especially to those who will most certainly dismiss it out-of-hand), but the notion of eternity means there is no difference between past, present, or future, so there can be no "new" action, nor any "old" action, nor any "current" action.

As an attempted analogy, consider three-dimensional space. How many sets of two-dimensional space can fit inside three-dimensional space?

The obvious (and wrong) answer is an infinite number, since two-dimensional space has no depth, but the correct answer is *one*, since two-dimensional space has *infinite* depth.

Of course, both answers are equally correct, and this is the point, which will hopefully shed some amount of understanding on the "eternal" attribute of god -- basically, an eternal god is also an impotent one; its every action is predestined if we look at them from a temporal perspective.

Even god has no free will.

--
Stan

Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

What Jason et al fail to recognize (intentionally?) is that while omniscience by itself (ignoring the fact that it is indistinguishable from omnipotence) does not inherently deny free will, its combination with omnipotence does deny free will.

The simple computer program example used in the first half of this comment section is exactly right: if I create a simple program which constantly flashes a "1" onto the screen every second (to take an even simpler example than the others), with the only condition being that this only occur if 1 > 0, then I can quite comfortably claim with all certainty that the program will in fact flash a "1" onto the screen every second.

Now then, if I merely consider the program, but do not write it, I have only exercised my "omniscience" -- free will is unaffected, as the program does not exist.

If I also write the program, but do not run it, I have now exercised my "omnipotence" as well -- but again, free will is unaffected, as the program does not function.

However, as soon as I hit "F5" to run my program, I have eliminated free will -- the program will cause a "1" to flash every second it runs until I stop it. The program has no choice -- 1 is greater than 0.

Now, to take this extremely simple example to another extreme, to further illustrate the point, let's say I add to the programming, by creating several different phrases, one of which will randomly pop up every second, offset from the flashing "1" by a half-second. The phrases will be as follows:
1. I should've displayed a "0"
2. I correctly chose to display a "1"
3. I incorrectly chose to display a "1"
4. I have free will


Now, when I run the program, it will still flash a "1" every second, but between each successive flash, one of these phrases will randomly appear. The program could be construed as "thinking" it has free will, by way of its random statements, but clearly it has no true choice.

Jason's argument to this point is ignorant of the truth: he contends that my foreknowledge does not imply responsibility, though I believe I have illustrated how that cannot absolve me of the responsibility even were it to be demonstrated that I somehow did not have foreknowledge. I made the thing. I made everything about it. Nothing it does is by its own true choice, but its actions are instead produced by the functions and parameters I have programmed into it.

[In point of fact, even the notion of "random" is an illusion. In a computer program, "random" numbers are in fact generated by "pseudorandom" events, whereby provided accurate information regarding the computer's 'clock', the outcomes of these pseudorandom events could be determined beforehand, further implicating an omniscient programmer in the actions of his program.]

The same is true of god -- if we are his creations, and if god is omniscient (and omnipotent, for those who claim there to be a difference), then my actions are his fault.

Jason and his cohorts can claim all they want that free will can coexist with the paired attributes of omniscience/omnipotence, but the simple fact is that it cannot. Free will is an illusion, and worse, none of the discussion to this point has addressed the fact that any omniscient/omnipotent being would be culpable in every travesty to have befallen its creation.

--
Stan

Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Furthermore, Jason seems to think that god's plan is immune to the possibility of failure, so if we assume just for a moment that the logical impossibility of an omniscient/omnipotent being creating conscious beings with free will is in fact true, then we must also accept the fact that this same being chose, quite *intentionally*, to cause eternal suffering to these same beings.

If we accept an extremely favorable estimate that the number of "unsaved" sinners exceed the number of "saved" sinners by just one person over the course of human history, then we must also accept that this god intentionally chose a net result of infinite suffering for his beloved creation "in his image".

Not. Worth. Worshipping.

...even if it is true.

--
Stan

Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Jason promoted heresy:

By simply changing the requirements and details of salvation. Look at it this way: God could have chosen one of an infinite number of ways for man to be saved. He could have told man that in order to be saved, they would have to seek out the golden monkey on the Island of Dread. In His infinite wisdom, if this challenge would have proven to be impossible, He wouldn’t have chosen this as a means for salvation.

Sooooo... This omniscient god's plan for salvation was dependent upon [an as-yet uncreated] humankind's reaction to it, and yet this also omnipotent god still chose a salvation plan destined to be rejected by a sizable (some would say exceedingly vast) majority [of as-yet uncreated humans]?

...and I *believed* this crap at one point?

Jason destroys his own argument:

So God designed a brain that, when taking into account an infinite number of variables and biases, makes a decision. What’s the problem?

The problem is that you also claim that this god is omniscient. Even if he is only semipotent (if you will allow the term), by creating us, and by virtue of his innate knowledge of each one of the "[infinite] number of variables and biases", he can instantly compute the outcome. This renders the "decision" as illusory.

Suppose that your decision-making process was as simple as the following pseudo-code:

If A > B then "yes"; Else "no".

I submit that this is fundamentally no different than our actual decision-making process, except that "A" and "B" are extremely complex sums of an exceedingly large (though finite) number of factors, but you may deny that assertion if you wish. Of course, this only accounts for a single decision, and each decision is a result of a certain exponentially larger number of previous decisions (yours or another's, on and on), until we get to "the fall".

The point is that decisions, physical laws, etc. are all based on equations whose form, parameters, and values an omniscient being -- by definition -- must know. Creating humans, and then claiming that their actions are somehow not a direct result of their creation, is an outright lie (if we assume omniscience coupled with basic creative power -- true omnipotence is not actually required)

If we assume this to be the basic decision-making process, then unless we limit god's omniscience to knowledge of all but at least one of the variables in this effectively (for him, at least) simple inequality, then he knows precisely what "decisions" will be made.

You tend to immediately stop and say "Yes! Exactly!", without recalling that god did this intentionally, with foreknowledge. You are exactly right to say that foreknowledge alone is not in itself incriminating, but the coupling of foreknowledge with action most certainly is. The non-omniscient and non-omnipotent human Adolf Hitler, by your apparent logic, is therefore not guilty of organizing the mass murder of millions of Jews, simply because you separate his foreknowledge of what a gas chamber would do to a human from his action of building gas chambers and putting humans into them.

Do not deny this! You say that god created humans through his omnipotence, provided them with free will, yet knows what will result from this free will through his omniscience, and through it all you claim no inconsistencies.

If we ignore the sacrilege and substitute "god" with "Hitler", "created humans" with "interned Jews", "omnipotence" with "governing authority", "free will" with "toxic gas", and "omniscience" with "basic understanding of human mortality", we will have precisely the same case you promote, but I should think we would each consider Hitler to have been at least somewhat responsible for the Holocaust...

In fact, this stupid analogy can be taken a step further, if we assume that Hitler knew that some Jews would escape death, and he can be considered on a par with god as far as salvation plans are concerned... After all, the Jews had free will as to whether they complied with the Nazi internment...

Jason defies all reason:

I created a deck of cards so I’m omnipotent. I know the order I made the cards in so I’m omniscient. I also know the order of the cards every time I shuffle them. When I lay the cards out, I haven’t forced the cards to come out in that specific order. I shuffle, I know the order, I lay them out.

What?! I was sure you couldn't understand any of the arguments or analogies presented to you, but here you've restated the analogy precisely. The only conclusion I can now draw would be insulting to say...

Seriously -- do you not recognize the culpability of god in this scenario? If god creates a deck of cards, creates a table, and creates seats to represent the "players", then deals out the cards for a game of "war", then he is responsible for the outcome. He most certainly has "forced the cards to come out in that specific order", unless he cheats, in which case he has still "forced the cards to come out in [a] specific order".

This doesn't get any simpler, and your excuses for not getting it are running quite thin. In the card game "war", players have no true decisions to make -- this is exactly the same as god creating us with complete foreknowledge of our decisions. The game is predetermined by the order in which the cards are dealt, and the shuffler/dealer is ultimately responsible for the outcome. Since the players themselves would consist of individually different sets of cards individually shuffled and dealt to play an individual game of "war", the analogy holds completely, and since the ultimate shuffler/dealer is indeed god (or so you contend), he is most certainly responsible -- culpable -- for each and every action that occurs in the game.

Jason illustrates his ability to be completely obtuse:

Naturally. Just as He forced Adam & Eve to exist. I fail to see the problem with this.

You recognize that he knows what will result from our alleged "free will", and you recognize that it was god's action that forced us into existence in the first place, yet you cannot add two and two to get four? The 9-11 hijackers surely had no knowledge that their actions would cause the twin towers to fall, so are they absolved of that consequence? The god you describe is infinitely worse than these, for you would claim that he knew every result of his creation -- good, bad, or indifferent -- and chose to do it anyway. His knowledge coupled with his creative action logically denies our ability to freely choose. Are you really so blind?

Jason shows off his poor reading comprehension:

Answer the question please: Laws either govern the universe or God forces every decision and action carried out by anything in His creation. Which is it?

Have you not understood a word of this mile-long post (which I have read in its entirety)? This whole debate centers on your assumptions regarding god's attributes. You maintain that god is omnipotent and omniscient, and that humans have free will. You agree that there exist physical laws and properties which are otherwise immutable (barring divine intervention, which you claim is at best infrequent).

Why, then, do you not recognize that creating physical laws and properties (read: equations and relations), providing them with initial values, and then turning them "on", is exactly the same as preventing them from changing on their own?

There are whole classes of mathematical equations which generate their own inputs -- generating a "next value" from a computation made on the "current value", back through "preceeding values" until one reaches the "initial value". A truly omniscient and omnipotent being who provides a specific "initial value" is absolutely responsible for each and every resultant "next value". The tie to free will stems from god's foreknowledge of every "next value" for every equation he invented -- from quantum mechanics to relativity to maxwell's equations to 2+2=4. Unless you limit his knowledge, he, and only he, is responsible for everything that results from his creation. Creating a bomb and lighting its fuse, god is accountable for all of it.

You can say all you want that "[bombs] are not people, and cannot make decisions", but our contention is that people, if we hold your other assumptions to be true, do not have free will, and therefore the "decisions" they make are as illusory as the one made by the bomb whose fuse has been lit.

Now then, since you are so fond of asking questions, how about these:

What attribute of god's absolves him of the guilt of having created a universe with absolute foreknowledge of each of its infinite details at every instant?

What makes you say that god is responsible for the sunrise, but not for my post?

What fundamental difference is there between the formation of the sun and its gravitational interaction with the earth, and the myriad of processes in my brain which constitute a single thought?

Which reaction, on the atomic or even quantum level, is so intrinsically special, and why?


To anticipate a possible answer, no, it is not acceptable for you to merely say "because the bible tells me so". Yes, Jesus loves you, sure, but I'd prefer something a little more logically concrete.

[I only wish I had noticed this thread when it was still getting comments... I realize the futility of this post, but I had no choice...]

--
Stan