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Omnipotence vs Free Will

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by Daniel09, Jul 4, 2010.

  1. Daniel09

    Daniel09 Akera-Heru

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    Ok, so Christians state that God gives humans Free Will. Also, God is Omnipotent. Omnipotent means God knows "everything;" the past, the present, and the future. So, God knows exactly what choices a person will make, knows what sins they will partake in, and in a sense, the person's judgment is already decided before they are even born. A person's fate is sealed, because no matter how you argue it, God knows in his Omnipotence what will happen. People are created to be sent to hell and/or heaven, free will or not.

    If this made sense to you, then how do you explain things? God cannot be Omnipotent and we still have Free Will. It is a contradiction. Either God is not all-knowing, or people really don't have a choice in what happens after they die. It is known before they even exist.
     
  2. Evandr

    Evandr Stripling Warrior

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    You can know something is going to happen or that someone is going to do something but that does not release the individual from judgment for doing it. We all have been created on an equal plain in the beginning (pre-mortal existence) but that is where we all started to develope our own character. The fact that God knows from all time to all eternity does not negate the fact that we are individually responsible for our own destiny, God giving us the tools and managing things so that we get as far as we are capable on an individual basis.
    Mortality is more for our benefit in that we will learn with perfect assurance that God's judgments are just, something we would otherwise have to take God's word for it and that would leave room for denial. For justice to be perfect, those under the law have to see and understand the truth and justice involved. Gods plan enables us to excel to the greatest extent of our capabilities and that is hinged upon our character. Our Heavenly Father, although He knows where we will end up, cannot arrange for us to be somewhere we do not belong because that would deny justice and the whole program would collapse in on itself.
     
  3. averageJOE

    averageJOE zombie

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    This is just a bunch of nothing.

    What if I take my baby boy and ONLY teach him how to steal cars, traffic illegal drugs, pimp women, break into peoples homes, beat up and rape old ladies; then when he gets to be a teenager and starts doing these things, because that's ALL he knows, I call the cops on him and demand he goes to prison for the rest of his life for making bad desicions...?

    Who's at fault, me, for raising him to be a career criminal, or him, for doing exactly what I raised him to do?
     
  4. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    You're just confusing your terms. Omnipotent is not a blanket term.

    Some things should be self evident. And you should allow yourself to hold some things as self evident.
    If not, you will never be able any declaration...and you will spend yourself seeking affirmation for every little detail.
    Good luck with that.

    As for this topic...
    Free will is essential to your life and living.
    It is also what makes you interesting to God.
    Your linear existence makes you an individual.

    At the end of your breathing, a decision will be made...whether you may follow...or not.

    That decision is formed in part...how you deal with your fellow man.
    Therefore...do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    It is a code of behavior...and fair warning.

    As for God knowing in advance what will become of you?...perhaps.
    But wouldn't that be like reading the last chapter of a novel,
    and spoiling the end?
     
  5. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest I have the kavorka
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    Still, the OP has it right. If your entire life is known (or knowable) to God, then every decision you made/make is a fixed course.
    If you were ever to make a decision contrary to what God knew, then God would be wrong, violating the premise of omnipotence.
    So it must be possible to have a real choice, one which isn't knowable in advance.

    I'd say, redefine omniscience & omnipotence to be something less than than every detail for all of time. Then the idea of free will works.
     
  6. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    I think we are on the same page.
    God might be able to know the end of your life...and the results of it.
    But He refrains.

    Having ability is one thing...using it would be something else.
     
    #6 Thief, Jul 5, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
  7. Scott C.

    Scott C. Just one guy

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    I believe that God knows the future, but I don't know how he does it. I have thoeorized that God knows the future because he sees the future as if it were the present. There's a big difference between 1) accurately predicting the future based on your knowledge of present circumstances and 2) accurately predicting the future because you observe the future as if it were present.
     
  8. Dunemeister

    Dunemeister Well-Known Member

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    God's knowledge (as ours) is passive. He knows a thing because it's true; it's not true because he knows it.
     
  9. Evandr

    Evandr Stripling Warrior

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    Your scenario is from within a vacuum and therefore not applicable. That being said, if such were true then the boy could not be guilty because justice can only have claim on those who exercise the right to choose between good and evil, having a knowledge of the same. In such a case you would be held liable much the same way a dog owner is help liable for what he trains the dog to do; we are not dogs. Thank goodness that God is no such mentor. This life is a test after many millennia of being trained, as sons and daughters of a living god, to meet this challenge. What you do will be your own doing and you will not be able to blame any one but yourself for failure because God has provided all you need to succeed.
     
  10. Madhuri

    Madhuri RF Goddess
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    Whether or not someone (God) knows what will or will not happen does not influence what will or won't happen. What you are saying is, if it can be known, then free will must do exist. Where is the science in that? Why should free will not exist if the future can be gleamed? Why isn't it possible that people make choices, and someone (God) has the 'power' to see those choices in advance? Seeing or knowing does not take away the power of choice.

    A better question would be: if God can see that many will go to hell and suffer, make bad choices, why does he bother? Or why doesn't he set things up in such a way to better help people to make the right choices?

    On a different note, without bringing God into question, do we really have free will anyway? Is choice an illusion? Do all the sequence of events throughout history pretty much dictate what will happen next?

    But anyway, I don't understand why people have a problem in understanding that choice and the ability to see the choices that will be made (in advance) is a contradiction to the idea of free will.
     
  11. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest I have the kavorka
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    Not quite. To refrain from knowing when knowing is possible still means that the fixed course exists.
    If God chose to know, then the your entire path would be there to be seen.
     
  12. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    Do you not say as you please?
    Or maybe you posted as someone else twisted your arm.

    If your hand does anything at all...was it not that you thought you should?
    and maybe you felt like it?

    Can you really say you do not have free will?
    I suspect you have sufficient will to make denials....though I think denial of free will is rather....unsupported.
     
  13. Madhuri

    Madhuri RF Goddess
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    But don't you see, there is only one course in the end. There is a stream of time and many choices made within it, many actions performed, many consequences etc. If you get to the end of time and look back, there is just one stream of time that cannot be edited or changed. 'God' is Time itself, and an observer of time (so to speak). God exists at the begining, middle and end. Time knows its contents. Time is aware of everything. But does it follow that Time is responsible for every choice made within it? I personally do not think so, don't see the logic in such a conclusion.

    But if you ask me, whether God exists or not, what happens within that stream of time and its contents is fixed anyway. I think its because I look at all of time as something that exists simultaneously and can look at it from beginning, middle and end. A bit like a novel, actually.
     
  14. Peacewise

    Peacewise Active Member

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    I do not accept that someone else knowing what I will do means that I have no choice, seems like sloppy and illogical to me.
    My mum knows that I'm going to eat every serve of Lasagna when its served for tea, but that does not imply that I have no choice in the matter, merely that she knows what my free choice will be.

    Knowing the outcome is not the same as controlling the outcome.
     
  15. Thief

    Thief Rogue Theologian

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    Nay.
    Your path can be influenced, at many levels.
    That God is willing to stand back and let it happen is more to allowance.

    And the allowance is what allows you to alter your course.
    Are you really going to blame God for what you have said or done?
     
  16. Madhuri

    Madhuri RF Goddess
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    Actually, the idea of lack of free will is no stranger in the world of physics. But then, I have found that different people define free will differently, especially when it comes to religious people vs philosophers or scientists.
     
  17. Zadok

    Zadok Zadok

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    I think you have offered some thoughts to be considered. I would like to go a litter deeper into the concept you mentioned concerning what you identify as a “pre-mortal existence”. If we existed as individuals prior to receiving a mortal physical body there is another very distinct possibility to explain the variety of stations for the individuals in this earthly state. That is - that during that pre-mortal existence we had input and choice into our own life experience. That being the case it is possible that we also possessed knowledge as did G-d concerning what happens during our “mortal existence”.

    This knowledge concerning the risk of individual choice (free will) of what would come to pass was perhaps the primary concern voiced in the rebellion of Lucifer and his followers.

    Zadok
     
  18. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest I have the kavorka
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    Illogical, eh? Where's your argument?

    I'm quite rusty on proofs & such, but consider a more defined approach:
    Supposition: An omniscient & omnipotent god is incompatible with free will.

    Premises:
    1) God is omnipotent: He makes no mistakes. He can do anything. He created everything we can see.
    2) God is omniscient: Every detail of all of history (past & future) is knowable to God. He may choose to know or not know some details.
    3) We have free will, defined as being able to choose either (A) or (B), with both choices possible.

    A scenario:
    You're faced with a choice of (A) or (B).
    You choose (A).
    By premise #2, it was knowable to God that you would choose (A).
    No problem so far.
    Now, allowable by premise #3, suppose that you instead choose (B) - We're testing to see if you have free will now.
    But it was already knowable to God that you would choose (A).
    This would make God in error, which violates premises #1 & #2.
    Since God makes no errors, your selection of (B) would not happen, so this choice is unavailable to you.
    But if only choice (A) is available to you then this violates premise #3.
    Premises #1 & #2 cannot be true if premise #3 is true, QED.

    I think the premises need to be adjusted for free will to work.
    (Btw, for God to choose to not know what is knowable has no effect on this line of reasoning.)
     
    #18 Revoltingest, Jul 5, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2010
  19. Peacewise

    Peacewise Active Member

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    The argument presented misses time.
    A choice once made is over. One cannot make one choice about the event that occurs and then go back in time and change the choice.

    Being omniscient God will know the outcome of our choice between A and B.
    Having made the choice A, we cannot go back and choose B.
    We could go back and make a new choice that is similar say A1 and B1, but the circumstances have changed for time has moved forward.

    So We may chose A rather than B and then move forward in time and instead chose B1 instead of A1, yet God is still omniscient in his knowledge that we selected A in the first instance and B1 in the next.

    Will I have a coffee > becomes I chose to have a coffee. One cannot have that coffee and then go back and chose, No I'm not having a coffee. However I can have that coffee, then moving forward in time when I next ask Will I have a coffee > answer no coffee for me. This is a new choice.

    One does not make the same choice twice for time progresses onwards.
     
  20. Zadok

    Zadok Zadok

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    I believe there is something else that you are not considering. If you are presented with choice A and choice B – How can you say you are making a choice based on your individual free will if there is any ignorance concerning your choice? If you do not know all connections and possible results concerning such a choice – how can that choice be an expression of one’s free will? A choice made out of any degree of ignorance is not a choice of individual free will but rather a choice based on the will of whatever controls the circumstance and appearances in the illusion of such choice.

    With that consideration – I challenge anyone to prove that any choice a person makes in this life is in any way associated with individual “free will”. With what is known in this life – no one but possibly G-d has free will. And if one does not believe in G-d there is no possibility for any expression of anyone ever to a possibility of “free will”. We are all instead slaves of ignorance to the inevitable conclusion of our ignorant and uninformed choices. Free will is nothing more than a temporary illusion.

    Zadok
     
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