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If God is omniscient is free will an illusion?

I'm agnostic but interested in the truth so I do a lot of thinking and research on philosophy and religious issues in order to keep an open mind. It occurred to me when I was thinking one day that if God exists and he already knows everything I'm ever going to do then every decision I'm ever going to make has effectively already been made. This would mean that there is no such thing as free will. Since free will is a necessary ingredient for sin to be meaningful this has some pretty astounding implications. Thoughts?

Topics: religion
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    Feb 1 2013: I believe a lot of religions have some facts wrong, but that does mean we should assume that they have all their facts are wrong.
    If god is omniscient that does not mean god based religions are also omniscient.
    Note that they say god is all-knowing and not all controlling, so it’s like that you know the sun will rise in the morning and that does not mean you have control of the sun rising.

    I had/have a life changing health-issue and even though god knew I would get it and placed events in my path that prepared me for it, I believe it was my own free will that decided how it affected me.
    Many with my health issue got stuck in thinking “Why me!”, but I had the free will to ask “Why me? to and grow spiritually“
    Rather or not god knew I would spend years looking inward and thinking about the meaning of life, I don’t know.
    And really that does not matter, I’m going to live my life and take paths in it as I will.
    And if god already knows, that does not change things.
    • Feb 1 2013: Cool reply. I've had similar experience.
  • Feb 2 2013: There is an intrinsic problem with this question : when you say God , be sure everyone hears something different.
    In my understanding ( standing under ), God is almighty, because it doesn't exercise any power and omniscient not because IT knows everything , but because IT is everytning.
    God doesn't have Free will. We do , it's a kind of limitation, free will bears the quality of a code, everything which IS does ; we have to choose to create this reality and we are determined to fallow the rules this reality dictates.
    "... if God exists and he already knows everything I'm ever going to do..."
    God is not watching you , God is you, experiencing itself through you, unfolding in everything else.

    Something like this ... :)
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      Gail . 50+

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      Feb 2 2013: Everything that IS, DOES. I like that. God is "being". God is not "a" being.
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      Feb 2 2013: It is contradictory for a God to be 'everything' but to have no 'free will', as this either separates 'us' from God and the deity from 'everything', or we get included, and the deity its 'free will'...

      Either way I turn it, my logic-module is not getting it... any help? :o)

      Or is this 'everything' in this context to be seen like infinity, of which its half still stays infinite even though it just lost an infinite portion? If so, we definitely get know 'our' place then ... :o)
      • Feb 2 2013: Maybe God doesn't care for logic ? :)

        Let's put it like this : God doesn't HAVE Free will, God IS Free will.
        Is it any better ?

        ".. we definitely get know 'our' place then "
        I don't, can you help ?
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          Feb 3 2013: I could have helped before I read your second comment and your explanation. But now I know I would have been wrong... ;o)

          So my best guess is somewhere in between 0 and 1 and this because we just don't know if the 'creation' has already finished ... :o)
      • Feb 2 2013: Or, let me try to language God- Free Will relationship, i am doomed to fail...let me fail :)

        God is absolute, non dual hence not existing in usual/logical sense . The mathematical expression of God is 0, IT becomes 1 at/with creation. Creation comes with Time ( not in Time ) and here the show begins. Time lasts and in a way it's two with God for God is eternal. Eternity has no duration at all. " Time is moving image of Eternity" ( Plato )
        Creation is God's image that lasts.
        Lasting means change, Time generates space where change occurs. Moving in Time through space the flow is broken into 2 possibilities A and B, and here free will enters to the picture to choose A or B. The chosen A (or B) again splits into two possibilities and so it goes on and on ad infinitum.
        Does God choose ? No, for God A is B, the end occupies exactly the same place where the beginning is, it is ITS image that chooses and must have free will to do so. Image has free will of its own, but it never leaves the domain of 0/God /Eternity, they are entangled like a particle and the wave that encloses it. They are One.
        I have serious doubts that it helps, but i tried :)
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          Feb 3 2013: I think you already lost me right after the smiling emoticon, just behind your '... let me fail' comment ... ;o)

          And not because you failed, it was me being quicker to do so.

          If 'God is not existing in logical sense' how on earth can it then be, that its 'mathematical expression is 0'? At least before 'creation'... I do not know any other discipline than mathematics, which is rooted that deep into logic.

          Also you mentioned, that God is 'non dual', yet time in a way 'two' with God... how can that be? And what about its entangled 'image' as the domain for a 'free will' to hop partially in existence in its creation? Isn't this conflicting the 'non dual' concept as well?

          That's why I like emoticons. You just have to turn your head 90° counter clockwise and what you see is understandable ... :o)

          Maybe that's why I like to picture 'Turtles all the way down', as my mind is capable at least to imagine the first one... :o)

          In any case I thank you very much for trying, and it is not the lights fault if there is nothing to shine on ... :o)
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        Feb 3 2013: May I "try"?

        Consider the idea of 1 hour. That hour can also be seen as 2 half hours, or 3 twenty-minute periods, or 4 fifteen minute periods, or 60 one-minute periods, or 3600 one-second periods, etc.

        If god is the metaphorical hour, and you are a metaphorical second, then there is no division in the ultimate sense. You ARE "one-with" god - made of the same stuff. This makes you a god. You observe an aspect of the hour, but the second is not complete without the hour and the hour is not complete without the second. The division that you see is then an illusion.
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          Feb 3 2013: Thank you very much, Grace, for your bravery of another try to make me understand. :o)

          Actually I have no difficulty to imagine some form of a 'wholeness', in which gods, time, space, dimensions, matter, energy and everything is part of just ONE SOMETHING, even though it may not look like such from all places within it.

          The problem I have is, to be certain about it.

          Any averagely creative mind is capable to project several possible constructions of what it may all be about, and not all of them need to be combinable or even compatible. And this was the outcome of just one mind...

          And even though I like Natasha's and your ideas, as both are trying to integrate and to generate some sense out of all, they still remain as ideas and can not be known for sure...

          This is why I choose to be agnostic, as my mind isn't capable to recognize 'the truth' in between all possibilities, and this only for the case that 'the truth' was existent.

          What if there is no 'wholeness' in the given context? What if there is no eternity at all and it just looks, of 'feels' this way within the limitation of our simple minds?

          If it comes to this sort of topic, we seem to become quite willing to except all forms of superlatives. Unlimited time, or no time at all. Endless space, dimensions and expansions yet we aren't even capable to grasp the simple number of one million.

          And what about 42.000? Can we really imagine in our minds how much that is? Not approximately, exactly, as this is really a tiny number compared to what a 'wholeness' would be.

          So how comes, that from a certain digit on, our minds just dare to 'get it all'?
          Somehow this stays mysterious to me about our nature. If I look at your and Natasha's explanations, I sense some incorporated concepts of modern astronomy, quantum-physics and mathematical ideas which are blended by some traditional transcendental elements.

          All in all as contemporary as the Yggdrasil tree was at its time within the Nordic culture.

          Just a Remix?!
        • Feb 5 2013: Thanks Grace !
          As simple as convincing !
          At least, for the for the converted :)
      • Feb 3 2013: To be everything, God would not need free will.
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          Feb 3 2013: What makes you certain about this? What if there is this unwritten law, that no God is allowed to be 'everything' and has to have 'free will'? Would we on earth 'feel' and difference if this law was followed strictly ever since? Or is it the 'geometrical' beauty of this 'everything' thought which is so tempting to us? And would such attractions indicate any 'truth'?
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        Feb 4 2013: logic can constrain a mind. In this case "A God" "The one God" or "the paramount God" In this conversation has led people back to adding rules to it or "God" A painter is not subject to his creations 2-d reality, he chooses to use paint and canvas and a frame to stretch it out on then starts to work on the canvas but is separate from it.

        If you were the first intelligence and their was nothing else, just blackness then nothing is impossible. We're in the bubble not on the outside, none of us here on this planet has a spherical sense of vision beyond our eye's, we can't zoom out to satellite orbits and then zoom in seeing all. Nope, I'm afraid we don't have that capability. We are the ones constrained and limited to 13.7 billion visual light years but it has been calculated to be bigger yet we will never know or could if it did get to what we think.

        But i can't prove it as it is my belief.
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          Feb 4 2013: Thank you Ken for sharing your views.

          Personally I think our minds are just one constrain in itself and incapable to ever get to know,
          to understand the true meaning of what we are part of. Many people choose explanations, which suits them best, or just grow up by them and keep it.

          But I can't belief, as I have doubts.
      • Feb 4 2013: Thanks Lejan !
        You didn't say " Nonsense !!!
        So i may try again :)

        If 'God is not existing in logical sense' how on earth can it then be, that its 'mathematical expression is 0'?

        '0' is the event horizon; dual logic, rational mind can't enter there. Call it Singularity, it's the 'place' where all physical laws as we know them are inoperable.
        God doesn't care for names, choose any name and IT will answer ' Yes, it's me ' :)

        The God in the Bible causes a great confusion to a rational mind and maybe i know why.

        The Bible tells the STORY of creation and i love this story , but as the genre demands, God is a character here, the Being. And a rational mind seeks for the proof of God's existence. Here is the trap, because in the context of existence God does not exist, ITS image does.

        "God is 'non dual', yet time in a way 'two' with God... how can that be?

        Try ' non dual ' logic :)
        You may google it, it shows how, by starting in unity we make imaginary complexity and how that is related to the original unity.
        Or maybe you would like to ponder this " Time is the theatre of God's becoming "

        Edit
        From your comment above : But I can't belief, as I have doubts.

        If you have no doubts, you are dead ...or God :)
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          Feb 5 2013: You seem to believe what you are patiently trying to explain to me, the in-convertible, which takes the 'non' from your 'sense' to me.

          But as usual, the candy jar sits always safely on the highest shelf and out of reach of the arms of the little ones. For similar reasons we choose this place for valuable yet fragile things, so they don't break in playful and curious little hands ... ;o)

          And as long as I haven't crossed the 'event horizon' yet to return 'in peace' and, more healthy, 'one piece', I have nothing to argue about your beautiful belief, so I look up to it as I do to all the other candy jars on that same shelf... :o)

          There is so much candy up there in this long line of jars and no furniture in the kitchen tall enough to get me there, not even stacked, so I just move on 'playing', as the weather is nice outside... :o)

          As I mentioned to Grace before, I can imagine a multitude of 'sweets' to stuff my 'jars' and there have been several 'willow trees' for me to struck me in awe..., gently of course... yet the realm of these our 'deeper insights' is a tricky one and has lead me on thin ice in several occasions before, because of which I came to name it my 'spiritual blind spots' in analogy to the ones of my vision, in which my mind also interpolates 'reality', at least my visual one.

          I don't know if you have seen the incredible TED Talk of Jill Bolte, in which she describes her personal experience of what our minds are capable of:

          http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

          Yet even though I was deeply touched by what I learned from her, it remained uncertain to me, if the level of personal intensity can be taken as a ladder to a higher understanding, to finally reach the highest shelf... :o)

          No sweets for me, the mental lefty, I am afraid, but I haven't behaved anyway... ;o)

          Thanks for trying!
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        Feb 5 2013: But I can't belief, as I have doubts.

        Nothing wrong with doubts or wanting actual proof.
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        Feb 5 2013: Lejan, I'm not sure if this will be in the right place in this thread, but I will attempt to answer your fundamental question. How can you be sure?

        You can't. No one can. But you cannot survive without a belief system. Without a belief system, you are not able to make the most basic decisions.

        When you become an adult, your belief system is your CHOICE. You can change it any time you want. You can change it to whatever you can legitimately accept. You do not have to substantiate your belief about God or gods or the lack thereof unless you are trying to push your view on others, or you are trying to defame others' beliefs. Once you do either of those two things, then evidence is required. Otherwise, you can complain all you want, but without evidence, what you have to say is without merit, and your voice in the matter is meaningless.

        As I moved from theist through agnostic to atheist, I had to face and resolve deep questions each step along the way. All who cross such barriers must do the same. The idea that certainty can exist seems to be an anathema to me. I don't expect certainty. But I "DO" expect evidence. And my belief system, that makes it possible for me to survive, does rest on evidence. Evidence is not proof.

        There is zero evidence supporting the definition of "God" that is popular today. On the other hand, there is an abundance of evidence that supports a different way of looking at the world. Proof that there is no god ? Absolutely not! But evidence that if there is one, it bears no similarity at all to the God of Abraham is abundant. Evidence is much more potent than fear, desire, anger, frustration or uncertainty.

        For me, knowing the role that "belief" plays in anyone's life, I have taken my questions deeper than you (so far). I have explored my beliefs to remove contradictions and untested assumptions. It is a journey. It took courage to start that journey.

        So what "evidence" supports your candy-jar reality?
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          Feb 6 2013: Well-articulated, Grace.

          I would only add that if one is waiting for proof, one is wasting precious time - if questions such as these are something that one finds interesting.

          I agree that It is most likely that there will never be proof, but evidence =/= proof, so it matters little to me. My worldview is rooted in what I have learned - mostly but not entirely - from science.

          I would also add that once these probing questions were answered to my satisfaction, life became INORDINATELY easier and more satisfying.
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          Feb 6 2013: On the given topic I do not agree with your thesis that one 'cannot survive without a belief system', by the fact, that I keep on surviving for quite some while now in this state and feel comfortable doing so. Maybe because my questions didn't reach the depth of yours... who knows? ;o)

          My 'fundamental question' is a rhetorical one, as I am aware about its answer, yet it does provoke in a certain way to get discussions started and makes people explain in more detail what their believes are, which is interesting to me.

          When there is something in those explanations which I don't understand, or which doesn't seem 'coherent' to me at first reflection, I then usually ask for further detail by pointing out on what confuses me. Patience people like Natasha and you give further help and guidance in their 'beliefs' so that I may get to understand what it is about.

          The 'candy-jar' metaphor is my reality to finally fail to 'follow' all the way through and its usual evidence would be me, smiling or holding my breath for some time, while searching for words to frame my capitulation... :o)

          I truly hope my words didn't appear to 'push 'my' view on others' or to 'defame others' beliefs', as they weren't meant this way. On the contrary, even though provoking at times, I did come to read some very interesting details about how this 'world' can be seen.

          On your 'evidence' thesis we could open another thread on its own for me to get to understand your meaning behind it, yet I assume this was pushing your patience to far... :o)

          Anyway, I thank you very much for all your views and explanations, as it was interesting to see, that you and Natasha seem to have found quite similar 'explanations', or at least you seem to agree with one another on some of them. And the fact, that I am not 'following', doesn't mean, that I didn't learn anything. And what I learned from you, I thank you for it!
      • Feb 5 2013: Thanks ,Lejan!
        Your response is a pleasure to read, i've enjoyed it!
        You are right , but there is one point i'd like to clarify , which will make you right
        even more :)
        I am not trying to convince you , i am not convinced myself ! What i am trying to do is to explain to you my explanation to myself, i kid you not ! I have very serious problems with beliefs; religious or scientific. But i have to believe in something, what else do we have ? Everything i think i know it's my belief system and i try to keep it lightly. But experience is real , it sets the agenda.
        It is the matter of choice , i guess, whether you trust your felt experiences or don't.
        I do, what else can i trust ? All the rest is supposed to be believed in.
        Out of all stuff which i have in my head i try to make a model, which, hopefully, may have some relevance to what can only be felt at 'now'
        Simply put : you don't believe me and you shouldn't :)
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          Feb 6 2013: I knew that you weren't trying to convince me, Natasha, even though it would be interesting to know how long I could have withstood your brilliant argumentation skills and depth of thinking to finally make a copy of your candy jar for my personal nibbling only ... :o)

          In your initial comment of my first response you said 'In my understanding...', and because I could not understand your 'understanding',yet wanted to, I framed my first provocative reflections... :o)

          At no time was any missionary zeal, which, as much as I 'know' about you, would have surprised me if they were... :o)

          So as not even you have found MY final answers, or if you did, I am not getting them..., I am afraid that my very last hope is gone now and forever... ;o)

          So let's get back to those 'little things' in life, which, after all, may not be as 'little' as they seem and can be quite convincing at times... :o)

          Thank you for sharing your thoughts! :o)
    • Feb 3 2013: If you were watching a bug crawl around on the ground and that bug were able to comprehend you,
      you would be god to that bug.
      We, are able to comprehend ourselves, thus what we comprehend is a god to us, and it is us.
      I remember once looking at a willow tree swaying in a soft, gentle breeze and said out loud to myself,
      "God doesn't exist. God just is."

      Natasha, I very much like what you have said.
      • Feb 4 2013: I remember once looking at a willow tree swaying in a soft, gentle breeze and said out loud to myself,
        "God doesn't exist. God just is."

        That's it !
        You've just answered Lejan's question "What makes you certain about this?''
        Actually, It's not about certainty or knowledge ...it is not mental, one can only intuit it.
        How ?
        " looking at a willow tree....." you feel as if you are in love with everything you look at, it's soooo beautiful ... perfect !.
        At this very instant you get to know something you can't tell.
        All my thinking about God, mental modeling how it all could possibly work is a kind of a residue of this experience.
        Maybe you liked what i said because you recognized that very moment behind my fuzzy wording :)
        Thank you !
        • Feb 7 2013: Natasha:

          Oh thank you so much.
          I have copied and pasted your words into another document so that I might reread your ideas again and again and try to reach the real meaning, substance and value of your explanations and ideas. They are beautifully put.

          Thanks a lot for them. They sound like they have come from a very clear mind and..... I don't know what to say.

          At my best, maybe, don't really know, I practice neither positive nor negative thinking.
          But, I pause, when agitated or disturbed and "ask" for the right thought or action.

          In other words, I try and practice "pausative thinking" if that makes any sense.
          It actually works. The rest is just to relax and go on.
  • Feb 1 2013: Aha, this is a great question! God does know everything, but He doesn't cause it. There is no such thing as fate or destiny, but yes, God does know what is going to happen. You can choose whatever you want to, but yes, God does know what you're going to choose. There's a fine line here for sure. As for why God even bothers to let us live out our lives when He knows already what they're going to be like, you've got to think about the purpose of life. We're here mainly for our own benefit. We're here to experience things we couldn't in heaven, like pain, disease, and suffering. We need to learn how to stand up after mistakes and repent, how to grow. After this life we'll be judged on what sort of person we have become. God knows who we'll become, but we still have to become that person. No one else can do that for us. This life is a stepping stone in our eternal progression, and even if God knows what that progression will be, only we can make that progression. It's like a parent that lets their child experience the consequences when they do something stupid. If the parent's always stopping the child from doing stupid stuff, then what does the kid want to do? Yep, do stupid stuff. So God lets us do stupid stuff here so we know how stupid it is. He knows it's stupid, and He knows we're going to do it, but we need to experience that for ourselves. Does that make any sense?
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      Feb 1 2013: Scot: “We're here to experience things we couldn't in heaven, like pain, disease, and suffering.”

      I agree we are here to experience things we couldn't in heaven, but not only just to experience but also to learn so we spiritually grow. God is like a teacher in that if a teacher just gives you that answers, the teacher knows you will not learn.

      Also I believe we are here to experience and learn from the positive events in our lives.
      The joy of parenthood, the joy of being charitable, or the wow of a first love are also none heavenly experience we need to learn from for your heavenly lives.
    • Feb 1 2013: I like your thought process but I have a question. So you're saying then that God doesn't have the power to create people in any way that he wants? By that I mean without having to do anything but will that they exist exactly the way he wants them to start with. Only if he can't do that does it make sense for him to have to go through a more extended process.
      • Feb 4 2013: You're right. It's not exactly that God has limitations, it's that He chooses to not do certain things. In order to be a perfect being, there are things He can't do. Like be unfair. It's impossible for God to be unfair. It's also impossible for God to force anyone to do anything, because that wouldn't be fair. Growth is a personal thing, and always has been. He created our spirits in an infantile state where we were all equal. To do anything else would have been unfair. Our growth then took place due to our own choices before we were even born here. We don't know how long we were with Him before this life, but since we lived with Him in heaven, there were lots of things we couldn't experience there because it was a perfect place. So therefore we have this life. Does that answer your question? If it won't let you reply then send me an email.
  • Feb 6 2013: One of the reasons I'm concerned about this question comes from classical mechanics and to a more limited extent modern quantum mechanics. When Isaac Newton first discovered his three laws of motion it started some speculation among the scientific community that has lasted until today. That discussion centered around the fact that if the force position and velocity of every particle in the universe are known then their future trajectories could be determined forever. Since we are made of these particles doing this would predict every action that we would ever take. Also, since the data is set in stone so are our future actions. If this is all true then there is no free will. There are some extra issues due to nonlinear dynamics and the non-analytic nature of the solution to multibody problems. They are all solvable with infinite knowledge.

    Quantum Mechanics comes closer to restoring free will since it is impossible to determine the results of experiments in advance given that a particle can be in a superposition of multiple quantum states at one time and you can only determine the probability that it will be in one state or another. In my mind, this doesn't really help much since we've just replaced the 100% predetermination of the classic theory with random chance. Admittedly it removes our ability to completely determine the exact course of events, but it bases things on randomness. I doubt that anyone would want to believe that their choices in life are random and if they are random that doesn't sound much like free will.

    When you add God into the mix you provide the complete knowledge that is necessary for the classical view and for God quantum mechanics isn't random at all. Every result is already known. Since the entire path of the universe on a microscopic level is thus predetermined the macroscopic path that contains our actions is too.
  • Feb 5 2013: "This is why I choose to be agnostic, as my mind isn't capable to recognize 'the truth' in between all possibilities, and this only for the case that 'the truth' was existent....."

    Reflect upon your own statement.... If you have reached this stage in your self-investigation, then accept this incapability as your "truth"...at which point you'll be free to see, hear, smell, taste and experience things as they really are.

    Free will, Omniscience, Omnipotence and their like are all mental constructs...they cloud your vision
  • Feb 4 2013: Omniscience has nothing to do with "will", consider a person who has seen a movie too many times, that person knows every little bit of the story from beginning to end, but that doesn't mean that person has the interest or will to change the events, so an omniscient divinity is not the source of the debate around "our free will"...

    The 3 characteristics of divinity are: omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent, in that order of precedence. This means: God is all mighty because it knows everything, and knows everything because it is everywhere. So the key issue is: how wide the meaning of "omnipresent" is???... if it includes only space, that would mean that God is subject of the same constraints regarding time we do, so it cannot be 100% sure of the future and your free will is perfectly real and safe. But if omnipresent includes space and time, that is a whole different story, because that would mean that God sees past, present, future and space as a single static object. But even if the last case was true, your "free will" is not necessarily compromised, because God might be just an spectator who only pushed the play button and doesn't have the desire, interest or will to intervene.

    Now, since God is omnipresent, its essence cannot be separated from the rest of the universe, so no one could ever prove either its existence or nonexistence, which means your free will is as real and safe as your definition of "God" and your beliefs about if its desire, interest and will of intervene in our destiny.
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    Gail . 50+

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    Feb 2 2013: For the sake of argument:

    What if beyond this moment, there is nothing but potentials. Some potentials are more probable than others, but all potentials have a valid existence. Tomorrow hasn't happened yet, so it's nothing more than a potential. Yesterday is gone, so it's nothing more than a potential. The only moment that we can be sure that exists is the (infinite) moment of "now" - which could be said to be God.

    If God is omniscient, then it can still be aware of all moments of now that exist NOW. This would leave room for free will. There is even room for free will if God is aware of all of the new potentials at the exact new moment that you make a choice that changes the probabilities of potentials. If God's omniscience is complete in the moment of NOW, then it chooses with you (because you are of it and with it as one - thus you choose for it and as it)

    To better understand what I am saying here, you could look at the "Many Worlds Theory" (it used to be called the "Split Universe Theory"), as well as the supporting scientific evidence upon which it is founded.

    But if you conflate "omnipotence" with "omniscience", the whole thing breaks down very quickly If God is omnipotent AND omniscient, then God is either 1) responsible for every decision that you make, and everything that happens to you, so there is no free will and even Holocaust survivors can credit God with the Holocaust. Or 2) That God knows the potential consequences of your pre-known decisions and refuses, in spite of your prayers, to intercede on your behalf - making him a rather worthless God. Even worse would be 3) That God picks and chooses which prayers to answer and you never know if it will choose to answer your prayer or not - which is provably a rather abusive thing to do.

    NOTE: I will not argue with Biblical theists. I'm merely answering a question with information that offers an evidence-based way of viewing the world that we live in. (evidence =/= proof)
    • Feb 2 2013: Excellent reply. The many worlds theory is interesting. It arises from quantum mechanics wherein the state of a physical system is described as a sum of probabilities that it is in two or more discrete quantum states. The observation of the system by an experimenter results in an answer that belongs to only one of the constituent states. It is usually held in the multiple worlds theory that all possible states are actually observed but that the Universe instantaneously splits into enough universes to account for all possible outcomes.

      I think the theory is probably wrong. If for example a particle is in a state such that it has a 25% chance of having energy E1 and a 75% chance of having energy E2 then a minimum of 4 universes must spring into existence three of which result in E2 and one with energy E1. My feeling is just a personal opinion of course but Occam's razor seems to apply here.
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        Feb 2 2013: But what if reality doesn't split into all possible outcomes - which given that every possible outcome exists in potential - seems to my mind to be an improbable potential - then free will can still exist.

        If you and a friend are walking down a sidewalk and you come upon a cat in a box. One of you says "Look! A sleeping cat". The other says, "Look! A dead cat". At that point, one of you kicks the box and reality splits in two. In one reality, the cat jumps out of the box and runs away. In the other, it's dead. It only splits into two because a third wasn't present saying, "Look, an unconscious cat", or a fourth who says "Look, a stuffed cat that looks like its sleeping", or a fifth, who says, "Look, A freeze-dried cat in the sleeping position", or a sixth asking "reality is an illusion, so what does this mean to me".

        You can simplify this further. Let's say you're walking down the sidewalk alone, coming upon the same box. You look and CURIOUSLY wonder - considering several options - including the option of what else could it be. As you kick the box, the universe splits and the same number of possibilities as you considered continue with various yous seeing only one outcome - with the other yous existing with equal validity in their own realities, all of which exist in the present of the super-positioned you, that exists with all new presents as part of its "now".

        The super-positioned you could be called a god, all the various yous could be called gods, and your free will is still intact, as a god's should B.

        Combine this with the Big Bang, where all existed as aware singularity, then at the moment of explosive expansion, (kicking the box) the singularity still exists in superposition, outside of your ability to observe it directly though it knows self as yous. All are therefore one, and all are gods - and if all are gods, does god mean anything - especially if "God" is only a super positioned observer of its self at any given moment of now.
    • Feb 2 2013: I just had another thought about the many worlds theory. If all possible eventualities actually happen just in separate copies of our Universe then for each of us there are Universe where we go to Heaven and just as many where we go to Hell. The whole thing is pure speculation of course but interesting to think about.
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        Feb 2 2013: Yes, but as we can always choose to consider new questions, (Part of your being exists in the timeless and is in communication with you in order to know what you are up to) no one is stuck where they don't want to stay. Again, it's a matter of free-will (combined with the awareness of your own innate power)
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        Feb 2 2013: Here is where the value of "fear" comes in. In my experience, fear calls forth questions and questions are ALWAYS answered. thus the latent question of "how can I get out of here" WILL occur, and at that moment, reality provides an answer.(if you find yourself in Hell) or "Is this all there is?" if you find yourself in heaven
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      Feb 2 2013: Hi TED,
      "But if you conflate "omnipotence" with "omniscience", the whole thing breaks down very quickly"

      In our opinion God is both, and uses His power and His knowing to get us as far from hell as possible. But He created us in His image and likeness, so we have the power of free choice. If we could not choose we are no more than LEGO puppets. God did not create evil, we did by wanting to get away from Him and love ourselves. He still loves those who chose to go to hell and live with people just like them.
      http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/studies/Permission_of_evil.pdf

      If we could only manage the approach that whatever happens to us, only happens to give us a chance to improve our character.
      We are now in the 'womb' of heaven, its seedbed. We are not here for our entertainment or comfort but to become angels. Nothing else.

      We can pray for any car or a higher income but that is very much the same as what we used to ask Santa, with the same result.

      To take the Adam and Eve story literally is silly. You believe serpents talked at one point? :) You believe we are in this anti-God state because someone ate from the wrong tree?
      Adam means 'mankind' and there are strong indications there were pre-Adamites..

      If correctly understood, the parables about Creation and Adam and Eve and others can be applied to every single person in this whole world now.
      http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/studies/Parable_of_Creation.pdf
      http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/studies/Parable_Adam_Eve.pdf

      And this is the real heaven and hell. There is a strong parallel beween us as parents and Him as God. See if it makes sense to you.
      http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/studies/Real_HeavenandHell.pdf
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        Feb 2 2013: I was a Christian for 30 years. I have studied Christianity in depth - including many of its manifestations. I have studied its history, many of the oldest texts in their original languages and through various translations (for comparison). I have studied the differences between the teachings of Jesus and the opposing teachings of Paul. There is a reason that I said that I would not argue with a theist.

        I find it rather hard to believe that there is an adult in the world, who is able to converse on an adult level on a site such as this, who is not fully aware of what your God stands for.
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          Feb 2 2013: I started with a quote from your post, and you say I'm not aware what my God stands for??
          Were you also one of most Christians that believe in three Gods?

          BTW most would not like where Paul is now.. not good.
          Have a great weekend
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    Feb 2 2013: Hello Tedsters,

    After reading some comments, I've become compelled to dig a bit.

    Why did the Judeo-Christian God make Adam and Eve with anything forbidden in the first place?

    I view it as: you're cute pets that I programmed and here is a toy I'm going to dangle right within your reach, and I'm going to see how long you last in this environment while not touching it, then I will train you to be who I ultimately want you to be like if you fail to abide by my laws, even though I could have either created you to always obey my laws or give you absolute freedom to do whatever you like, so I would never have to see my creations scrapped and have to make new ones.

    I just don't get why this God had to be the shepard that led his flock out to graze and pointed at a random patch of grass and told it not to graze that specific patch.

    I could probably continue with these analogies, but it just seems irrelevant for someone so mighty to create something that seems more like amusement to this God than creations to "work with God". I can only assume that is where humankinds need to make reality tv shows comes from.

    On the other hand, religion is amazing for the fact that it spreads collaborative and kind ideals usually. I find that to be the best side about religion, but some of the tales are a bit too tall for me to fathom.

    So, in response to the question, God is either not omniscient and ultimately imperfect, but has a lot of pull in what happens in the universe or another great tale made by humankind.
    • Feb 2 2013: Those were exactly my conclusions as well.
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      Feb 2 2013: Derek, do you think we may all have stories we live by that are how we assemble our understanding of the world? People often believe they have "real" evidence for their own stories while other people's stories are myth. Some stories have names- religions, particular mystical traditions or pseudoscience that may be closely associated with a particular person who disseminates (and offers "evidence" for) that teaching, cultural/traditional- and some are more individual, with not enough popular following to have a name.

      It is ironic that this commonality among people instead turns into such a source of hatred, disrespect, intolerance, and strife.
      I appreciate your consistently open-minded attitude of looking for the value in others
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        Feb 4 2013: Thank you for such a high compliment Fritzie! I think I should give credit to the numerous mistakes I have made in my life that I am now consistently open-minded in looking for the value in others. Like the saying goes "do unto others, as one wants done unto thyself", or something like that.

        I usually see something similar in everyone's strife, and that also gives me understanding and pre-used solutions that can be reshaped, then reused to aid in those similar issues, or at least that is what I think I'm aware of.
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      Feb 3 2013: Hi Derek, maybe this will help. In the Swedenborgian understanding of the Garden of Eden, in fact of everything in the first 11 chapters of Genesis, is that it is has a spiritual meaning. It was copied into the Old Testament by Mozes from an earlier Revelation.

      The whole story has nothing to do with an actual garden or actual trees. The Tree of Life (which was in the midst of the garden) portrays a willingness to be led by God and do His will. To love Him and the neighbour.

      The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is an approach to life that is totally wrong. It is trying to figure out spiritual things (and God) based on sense experiences and human ideas and arguments. This approach is so wrong, and useless, that it was, and still is, forbidden. The story of the serpent (which portrays the human senses) is to warn that we cannot explain and proof higher, spiritual, things from our lower, natural level.

      As you may know, at some point later in Genesis, that bad tree has taken the place in the midst of the Garden instead of the Tree of Life. In many minds it still is.

      This is only the tip of the tip.. but if you'd like more details on the subject this is the link and if there are any questions or concerns, I'd love to hear them. http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/studies/Parable_Adam_Eve.pdf

      Come to think of it, if you'd like to see the actual book all this is based on, which deals with Genesis chapters 1 to 9, then this is it
      http://sites.google.com/site/liveitupspiritually/home/writings/Arcana%20Coelestia%2001.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1
  • Feb 2 2013: Then again we might look it as a stoic or Meister Eckhart. We might also think in terms of Kosmos as Marcus Aurelius would Now I have a headache as there is nothing infinite about my ego. Cna we really answer such questions in ways that would satisfy everyone?
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    Feb 2 2013: Hi Robert. thanks for the age old question :)

    Now we are given the opportunity to approach the spiritual side of life with our understanding or smarts. So now we can not only say "I believe" but also "I understand what I believe."

    First, what is the reason for creation? In short, God loves people so much He wants us all to come to heaven. The more the merrier. But for someone to go to heaven, that person needs to have heaven within him/her already when the body dies, or that person would hate to live in heaven.

    In order to have heaven within us, we need to love doing good and love truth (for the sake of good and truth, not to become rich or famous). In order to love something we need the freedom to do so. Love can only exist in a condition of freedom. That is the case in every relationship, whether it is a spouse or a God.

    This describes If we had no freedom: http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/studies/Freedom_No.pdf

    God is indeed omniscient because He is in time but not a part, or limited by, time. The same with space.
    This means God is in the past as well as the present and in the future. Part of the reason for that is because time and space are conditions of this material world. In the spiritual world there is no time and space but only an appearance.

    No matter how detailed God's knowledge is about what we will do tomorrow, He leaves it totally up to us which side of the bed we decide to come out of. We have no control what happens to us but we do have total freedom (if mentally healthy etc.) how we will react to what happens to us.
    It is how we decide to react to what happens to us, which determines what kind of a person we are and will become. We are what we love and our character is the result. In fact it is our character that determines our eternity.

    This world is the seedbed of heaven. But we are not forced to go there, it's up to us. I hope this book will help.
    http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/documents/Heaven%20and%20Hell.pdf
    • Feb 2 2013: I myself have often said that even if I thought there was a Heaven I'm not sure I'd want to go. I'm having way too much fun right here. So, I can understand your thoughts about needing to have Heaven in you before you are ready to go there.
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    Feb 2 2013: The view that God’s exercise of his foreknowledge is infinite and that he does foreordain the course and destiny of all individuals is known as predestinarianism.

    Its advocates reason that God’s divinity and perfection require that he be omniscient (all-knowing), not only respecting the past and present but also regarding the future.

    According to this concept, for him not to foreknow all matters in their minutest detail would evidence imperfection.

    This concept would mean that, prior to creating angels or earthling man, God exercised his powers of foreknowledge and foresaw and foreknew all that would result from such creation, including the rebellion of one of his spirit sons, the subsequent rebellion of the first human pair in Eden, and all the bad consequences of such rebellion down to and beyond this present day.

    So then, it follows that all the wickedness that history has recorded (the crime and immorality, oppression and resultant suffering, lying and hypocrisy, false worship and idolatry) once existed, before creation’s beginning, only in the mind of God, in the form of his foreknowledge of the future in all of its minutest details.

    If the Creator of mankind had indeed exercised his power to foreknow all that history has seen since man’s creation, then the full weight of all the wickedness thereafter resulting was deliberately set in motion by God when he spoke the words: “Let us make man.”

    The alternative to predestinarianism, would have to harmonize with God’s own righteous standards and be consistent with what he reveals of himself in his Word.

    If God already foreknew and foreordained millenniums in advance precisely which individuals would receive eternal salvation and which individuals would receive eternal destruction, then Bible verses speaking of God's ‘patience’ and of his genuine desire that ‘all attain to repentance’ are kind of meaningless.

    In summary, I personally have trouble believing that God is omniscient.
    • Feb 2 2013: I like your thought process on this I've been on similar paths myself. I hadn't heard of predestinarianism though. I think I'll see what "Da Google" has to say.
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      Feb 2 2013: The fact that there is a Bible means there is no predestination. We can choose to read the Bible or decide not to read it.
      There are 10 commandments we can obey or not obey.

      When the Lord says He will knock on our door and suggest we open that door... we have a choice.

      There are prisons because we can change our minds.

      This book (actually two books) is about God and His government. In detail.
      http://sites.google.com/site/liveitupspiritually/home/writings/DLW_DP.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1
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      Feb 2 2013: Consider Acts 2: 23 and Romans 8:29, 30. God's foreknowledge is an integral part of the Holy Bible. To deny God's foreknowledge is to deny the Word of God. See also I Peter 1:2. Such denial is dishonoring to the God of the Holy Bible. You are embracing an error in soteriology. You believe God saves someone not because he chose them to be saved before the foundation of the world as it clearly states in Ephesians 1:4, 5, but that he saves them because they demonstrate some meritorious act of belief for which he has been waiting and watching, never knowing how they would choose? Such teaching is of human origin and is not to be found in the Holy Bible. People are saved by God's grace whereby He grants the gift of faith, not by ANYTHING they do, otherwise man could rightfully boast about saving himself. Read Ephesians 2:8, 9.
      • Feb 2 2013: Mr. Long.

        Okay, so why does God grant the gift of faith?
        And what is that gift exactly?

        I ask because you seem to be very intelligent, well-read and well-versed in the bible, among
        other topics and subjects.

        I don't believe in a God, but I do believe there is something that many call faith.
        Hope to me is a completely false concept, although one can come to a place
        where to continue on, they grasp at something in perhaps a real, but short-lived
        form of hope, that the new thing they reach for, might work.

        But afterwards, hope goes nowhere because it is false.
        Something has to be done. Along the way, faith of a kind, is built but that too becomes
        like hope if it doesn't transform into something else. It will remain like hope, blind.

        It is that last or next transformation I find to be of utmost importance and,
        I believe that most people, along with not really knowing what it is they believe in,
        not really trusting what they say they believe in, either.

        I don't know if you will see this post or will even care to respond to it and that's okay.

        I assume you believe in God, from your posts and quotes and would like to ask another question.
        Do you ever become afraid? If so, what would being afraid mean or represent to you?
        Hope you don't mind.
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          Feb 3 2013: I can only answer according to what the Holy Bible says about your four very important questions.Why does God grant the gift of faith? God made Man in his own image for the purpose of knowing Him and enjoying Him forever. Adam messed it up for everybody. God made a way of forgiveness and restoration. That way is based entirely on God's grace. To save the objects of His mercy from perishing forever God gives them the gift of faith.What is faith? Becoming born again is the only way a person can avoid perishing in what you rightly call the last transformation, or death. To become born again a person must believe in God. To believe requires faith. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Jesus Christ is the Word of God. In accordance with His grace God grants the gift of faith to the objects of His mercy. Without faith it is impossible to please God. If you ask what you must do to be saved the Holy Bible answers that you must believe. But, iIn and of yourself you cannot believe. As you say, apart from God there is no hope. But with God there is hope. That hope has its substance in faith. Faith is essence of things not seen (spiritual things).As a believer (Christian) do I become afraid? Yes. As often as I let my thoughts drift away from God's truth as revealed in the Holy Bible I become partially disconnected from the awareness of God's love. The cares of this world cause doubt, fear and lack of peace. The simple truth is the God is love, perfect love. Perfect love casts out fear. By keeping my eyes upon Jesus the things of Earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and Grace.What does fear mean? Personally it means I have allowed myself to lose sight of the sure promise of God to all who believe in Him that all things work together for good and there is no reason to fear, ever. Thank you!
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        Feb 6 2013: Wow Ed, I owe you an apology.
        Totally forgot about this conversation, and now I realized that I did not word my ending correctly in my original comment.

        What I meant to say at the end of my comment was that I do believe in Gods's "all knowing" but not that he foreordains, or knows how we will choose.

        I am more in line with the original thinking by the Jews.......God's purpose "unfolds"....it takes time to see his purpose because He is dealing with humans as well as angelic beings who have free will. And as Ephesians brings out........God's wisdom is....."multi-faceted" or has "rich variety" or another translation says, it is "greatly diversified". So God is able to deal with this free will of ours while at the same time moving towards his purpose. Patiently he waits for us to choose and then mercifully he helps us carry out his will. That is how I have always seen it.

        In Ephesians 1:4-5 it says God foreordained individuals, yes, but as to which individuals, isn't it possible that we get to choose if we want to or not? I don't get the meaning that you get. That is, that already God knows who will serve him and who won't ahead of time.

        Because if that is the case, why drag out all this suffering. Why not end it all and allow evil to be done away with already?

        We have to exercise faith to be saved. The choice to exercise faith or not is ours.
        The gift of everlasting life to those who have exercised faith belongs to our Creator through provision of salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord. And note I said "exercised faith".....works are required Ed, it's not just about believing. We have to act on our faith, and we have Jesus' example to lead us.
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          Feb 6 2013: If salvation required even one, small work no one would ever be saved because since Adam's fall there is a guilty verdict on all mankind. Only by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ is there an acceptable sacrifice. Sorry Mary, the Holy Bible allows no human effort to participate in the salvation process. If you embrace such a belief you are not getting it from the Bible. Salvation is all of God. Be well friend.
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        Feb 6 2013: I think we are talking apples and oranges Ed.

        You are either not understanding me, or you are choosing not to understand me.
        In either case, I've cleared the air on my original post.
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          Feb 6 2013: I understand your original post which reads: "I personally have trouble believing that God is omniscient." Do you stand by that statement? I commend you for your perspicuity in that statement, but not for your understanding of the Holy Bible. Please, Mary, I am not choosing to misunderstand you, nor are we talking apples and oranges. The OP is about God's omniscience, which is precisely what you addressed and precisely what I responded to. It is apples and apples here. If you wish to hold to your position that God is not omniscient OK, I will not try further to convince you otherwise. But don't prolong this by saying I don't understand you. We do not misunderstand one another, we understand but we disagree and I gladly leave it at that.
  • Feb 1 2013: Isn't this a little like asking who can go faster, Superman or the Flash.
    If you have a made up character and then give it made up characteristics and then pose questions about what some oddball ramification might be given one of your characteristics you sound like to nerds arguing over comic book heros.
    • Feb 1 2013: I have no problem saying that God is made up as I'm reasonably sure he doesn't exist. However, it is impossible to prove a negative and if you are intellectually honest you must always admit the possibility that you are wrong. If I must admit that I may be wrong then I must always keep an open mind and must always examine new evidence. As part of evaluating that evidence I had the thought that led to this question. The answer to the question and the process of debating it can lead to further evidence and new thoughts that may lead to better understanding.
      • Feb 2 2013: Naturally you can not prove a negative however it would be an error to assume that positive and negative always have equal probability.
        In this case, god not existing or at least not being required has mountains of evidence behind it and god existing or being required none or next to none (depending if you have any stomach for circular arguments or not)
        I will always change my world view based on evidence and in fact have had to throw away many earlier beliefs upon better evidence.
        I have never found it necessary to change my world view to include a god.
        I wonder why that is.
        • Feb 2 2013: I agree with you for the most part and have had several major shifts in beliefs in my life as well. The logical contradiction I thought I found got me curious to see what others made of it. It is also pretty controversial topic and, being new to TED, I wanted to see how people would treat it. So far I'm impressed with the results, which also include your thoughts on the matter.
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          Feb 2 2013: Gordon, you have total and complete freedom to believe what you choose to believe. That is what makes you, you.

          It is made impossible by God to proof anything spiritual on this natural level. He protects our spiritual freedom as the apple of His eye. It is that freedom that makes us human.

          As humans we have total freedom to do good (or evil) and to believe truth (or falsity).

          For that reason we cannot measure love, or say what colour is has or how much it weighs, It is a spiritual substance and thus cannot be seen on a screen or in a test tube. This also means we can pretend to love something or someone.

          In fact that is the process of life. Kids learn that pretending to act nicely means presents and kindness. It is after pretending for a while (and seeing the benefits) that we learn to love it and so become a kind and nice and loving person.

          It is this process that is the spiritual meaning of the Creation Story. To go from a spiritually void person to a fully spiritual person. As is described here,
          http://sites.google.com/site/liveitupspiritually/home/source/The%20Real%20Creation%20Story.pdf?attredirects=0

          But the ball is in our court..
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      Feb 2 2013: If you believe God is no more than a comic book character why did you not pass right on by this post? What is there about it that attracted you? Are you hoping to rescue, or convert those of us who believe differently than you do? Do you have a rational basis for not believing in God? If so the entire world is waiting for you to share it. Or do you have no rational basis for not believing in God but choose to not believe anyway? If so you are arational. Or do you think there is rational reason to believe in God but choose to not believe abyway? If so, you are irrational. I am unaware of a fourth classification of Atheism so may I ask which you are? Thank you!
      • Feb 2 2013: This is a forum for conversations. I would not want you to labour under the assumption that I tacitly agree with you simply because I choose not to reply.
        So, my comment is that the question sounds a little silly, like two kids arguing over superhero powers and I wonder why you don't see that.
        I certainly am not attempting to convert anyone and I don't expect you to be converted as I hope the reverse is true with you.
        Most if not all athiests have rational reasons not to believe but if you are stuck in a 2000 year old paradigm, it is unlikely that you would understand or accept it
        Rather than spend your time attempting to place me in a "quadrant" of athiesm, I would rather you spend your time trying to come up with a rational reason to believe in god that does not refute experimental observation.
        I think the world has been waiting for that for a long time.
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          Feb 3 2013: I will return the ball if and when you hit it back to me. Right now it is in your court as evidenced by the unaswered question, namely, are you a Rational Atheist, an Arational Atheist, an Irrational Atheist, or some new denomination? The subject of this post is God's omniscience. If you do not believe God exists what on-topic contribution could you honestly add?
      • Feb 3 2013: For what good it does, I am a rational athiest according to your limited categories. I actually don't use the word athiest as I also do not used the word a-astrologist or a-alchemist.
        My contribution to the topic is that it is a ridiculous topic. You have made up the concept of god, given the concept certain powers and then argue about them.
        How many angles can fit on the head of a pin.
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          Feb 3 2013: I trust you know that to avoid the use of the word Atheist neither lessens its validity nor affects its applicibility. Is your last sentence a question? If so, is it about angles or angels? Anyway, If the only contribution you have to this conversation is to label it "rediculous" and impugn those who participate in it then you violate the spirit of TED Conversations and of common respect. By the way the categories are not mine. They are from an MIT philosophy course:
          Three Levels: (MIT course “Problems in Philosophy” Fall 2010)
          1.RATIONAL ATHEISM: there is a rational basis (sound reasons) for not believing in God.
          2.ARATIONAL ATHEISM: there is no rational basis for not believing in God, but do not believe anyway.
          3.IRRATIONAL ATHEISM: there is a rational basis for believing in God, but do not believe anyway.
          Thank you!
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    Feb 1 2013: If you have not already I would encourage you to read this… I found it enlightening…

    http://www.samharris.org/free-will
    • Feb 2 2013: A book! You've found my weakness. I'll check it out.
  • Feb 1 2013: Robert,
    I am not seeing omniscience as related to free will. Omniscience means to know all, but how can God know the decisions of persons not yet born? Even God cannot know the unknowable. Each person is sovereign over his will and this God does not usurp or in any way abrogate the will of any individual.

    Each person has the gift of will to choose to know God (more so in time) or to reject a relationship. Omniscience may be a fact for God to know human nature and all the possible choices we humans face, but to know in advance what the will of a person will decide, is probably too much to ascribe even to God.

    Your concept revealing potential astounding implications suggests we humans could be lazy and never DO anything to correct an error or to help anyone!!! It suggests we can't do anything to change the outcome of any situation! To know we are going to sin? It just takes the concept too far if one accepts we are endowed with free will. Like you say, what is the point of human choice if God's choices are made in advance, which would invalidate our choices. I have trouble accepting our choices are made in advance and that we have no power to improve life for self or others.

    Is this helpful or not?
    • Feb 1 2013: Great comment. The implications are that we cannot do anything but follow the program that is already laid out. Therefore, we can only be lazy if it that is what God has foreseen. I don't pretend to know the answer fully one way or the other. I just thought it would make a good conversation topic. Our acceptance of reality often has little impact on its actual course.
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    Feb 1 2013: I believe I can choose to eat a sandwich for lunch. I don't think God made me choose it, but He knew I would. Analogies are the best we can do when we talk about the temporal in terms of the spiritual or the spriritual in terms of the temporal. So, free will becomes a human construct to explain an unexplainable thing. In daily life, I have free will. In the eternity of God, I don't.
    • Feb 1 2013: I don't think that you are necessarily facing the question if you must invoke a spiritual reality in order to side step it. If we are to have a consistent temporal reality then it must stand on its own. Maybe if you explained in more detail. Thanks for the comment though.
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        Feb 4 2013: Perception, to a certain extent, is about choice. Religion tangles up my perception in this case. I like to think free will exists as an aspect of being human. If God is omniscient, though, then He knows everything I will ever think, say, or do, which makes me think there is no free will, at least on God's scale of existence. Free will becomes a matter of my perception and, therefore, choice rather an absolute truth or falsity.
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    Feb 1 2013: Hi Robert.
    Good question & one discussed from time immemorial. God lives in eternity, we live temporarily in time. God created time & put us in it. He gave us free will, so that we could chose His way, or our own way. As He can see the whole of time, He knows the result, but we are responsible for our choices day by day.
    This gives us the ability to blame God for our wrong choices, which we do with great enthusiasm. However we are to a large extent operating beyond our understanding. God made the universe, I can whittle a stick; time for a bit of humility. Any universe creator who is willing to undergo the humiliation & suffering that Christ suffered gets my vote. He can explain the finer parts of doctrine at His liesure in eternity. When you throw a small child in the air it doesn't need to know how gravity operates to trust that you will catch it.

    :-)
    • Feb 1 2013: I'm willing to admit that foreknowledge doesn't mean control. However, when you combine foreknowledge with the act of creation then the responsibility is much harder to duck. God knew what would happen when he created the Universe and was free to either do it or not. The ultimate control was God's at that time.
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        Feb 2 2013: By accepting this, you are agreeing to the existence of God. Do you really think you are on the moral high ground, or is it not possible God has an answer to this objection? Either way, I don't think the point is important enough to gamble your eternity on it.

        :-)
        • Feb 2 2013: Not really, For the purposes of this conversation I was willing to let the assumption that God exists be made. Given that, I have to base my arguments and conclusions on that assumption, at least up to the point that I find something that calls that assumption into question.

          Asserting that God doesn't exist always makes large numbers of people very angry for some reason even though they wouldn't go to Hell for me if I was wrong. Strong emotion is often a sign of insecurity.
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    Feb 1 2013: God is omniscient and free will is not an illusion but a reality. The path of virtue and the path of sin are clearly laid out, and it is now up to me to take which ever path I think is right. Adam was told to enjoy his Paradise with Eve, but not to partake of the 'forbidden tree' Adam used his free will and we all know the result - here for centuries we are arguing and justifying :))
    • Feb 1 2013: You are simply asserting that free will is real without providing evidence or a line of reasoning that supports your claim. If you disagree with my line of reasoning then you must provide one of your own that disproves mine. Nevertheless, I appreciate your participation.
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    Feb 1 2013: According to Christian doctrine as delineated in the the Holy Bible God created Adam as a person able to obey his one and only rule (do not eat the fruit of one particular tree). Although perfectly able to not sin (disobey God) Adam chose to eat the forbidden fruit and the prescribed penalty (death) was carried-out. Death entered the world through one man, and ever since, all men die. Adam was not predestined to sin. It was possible for him to not sin. He chose of his own free-will to join in an alliance with his wife Eve (who was the first to eat the fruit and subsequently offer it to Adam) against God's clearly declared law. The God of the Holy Bible must, by necessity, be omniscient. If God is not omniscient the name is undeserved. Does God's omniscience demand the impossibility of free will? It does not. As a worldly example someone who knows you very well can predict what you will do in a particular situation. Does the fact that they knew what you would do mean that they influenced you to do it? Of course not.
    • Feb 1 2013: God knew when he created the world exactly what everyone in it would do. He created it anyway. Since he is the prime cause his is the prime responsibility.

      If I, in my imperfection, think I know beforehand what someone will do that is very different from an infallible being not only knowing what they will do but setting the whole thing in motion to begin with.
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        Feb 1 2013: Correct, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the one, true God. He is the uncaused cause of the universe. He made Man upright, able to not sin (die) but Man (Adam) chose not to obey. God did not force Adam to choose disobedience. When a person dies their eternal fate depends upon whether, or not, they had their many acts of disobedience forgiven and made right while they were alive. If they did not, then they perish through no fault of God. If they did, then they have eternal life. Again, just because God knew beforehand they would refuse His offer of forgiveness does not mean God forced them to perish.
        • Feb 1 2013: God caused Adam and Eve to exist in the first place. He created them in just a certain way even though he knew that way would cause them to disobey. In fact, if the entire rest of the Judeo-Christian belief system was to be created as God wanted then they had to disobey. If God had not wanted things to happen the way they did he could've just made them incapabale of disobeying and an entirely different world have resulted. He could've just as easily not done anything at all, but he chose to set in motion the events he knew would occur.

          If I am responsible for the consequences of my actions even though I often don't know how they will turn out why isn't God when he does know?
      • Feb 1 2013: It won't let me reply to your post about Adam and Eve. You're right, God created Adam and Eve like that on purpose. It was part of the plan for them to fall. If they hadn't fallen, they would never have had children and we wouldn't be here! And besides, a fallen world full of sin and pain and death was the whole point anyway. We can't grow in a perfect world. This life is a school, after all. We're here to get experiences we couldn't get any other way. On your note about responsibility, anyone who doesn't know the difference between right and wrong is not responsible for their actions. However, most people do. I mean really, in your heart of hearts you know what's right. You can feel it, but so many people just choose to bury that sense or smother it. God gives everyone plenty of chances to accept the truth and do what needs to happen. If they turn away, that's their own fault. He knows they'll reject Him, but He gives them the chance anyways just so nobody can say, "that's not fair!"
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        Feb 1 2013: Well Robert, you are missing my previous point. God did not commit the act of disobedience, Man chose to disobey, not because God pre-programmed him to do so, but because Adam freely selected from two available choices. Could God have made Adam (mankind) without free choice? Yes. But he didn't. Salvation (forgiveness and cleansing which brings eternal life) is available to all men. Most people reject the Christian message of salvation in Jesus Christ. They say it is just a fable and not worth considering. Those who adopt that assessment are bound to perish. In all this remember that God is not altogether like us. He is Spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His wisdom, being,power, holiness, justness, goodness, and truth. We humans are made in His image, but we are not altogether like Him. Do you want God to be resposible for your disobedience so that you can plead blamelessness? Each time you disobey God, whether knowingly or not, you move further away from eternal life and that is your choice, not God's. God says, "Come, let us reason together." Most of mankind responds, "Sorry, that's not for me." Free will, as Mr. Law points-out above, is one of many unfathomable mysteries which are beyond human grasp.
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        Feb 2 2013: Well put, Robert. You've answered your own question (in large part)
  • Feb 1 2013: To quote someone I read somewhere (real specific I know);

    If you can fault neither my assumptions nor my logic then you must accept my conclusion.

    This means you shouldn't just say free will is real when my conclusion was that it is not given my assumptions and logic. Attack the assumptions and the logic if you wish to teach me. Not that some of you haven't done that and not that I haven't learned from your replies so far.
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    Feb 1 2013: To follow pre-programmed behavioral sets or the choice to ignore them and master them giving you the power of choice over feeling and acting with little regard to thought.

    God created Adam and Adam was in the garden for quite sometime. God brought every animal to him so Adam could name it, we don't know whether Adam was in the garden for a thousand years or ten thousand years or ten million years. Eden was outside of time, distinct, alone. The sentence of death, of genetic aging was Adams birth into this world of time hence he only survived for a thousand years after of it's pronouncement. When Eve was brought to him she was a new being, new to the world and young in mind and development, naive. It was not her fault she lacked the age to understand consequence and so she was the easy target rather than Adam. She, once convinced to partake of the fruit sought Adam out. It might get a bit esoteric here but please just bear with me. When God took a bone from Adam to create Eve he also deleted from Adam's behavioral sets and reprogrammed him and gave to Eve those things he had taken from Adam.

    When God created Adam he was the perfect being in organic form, genderless in mind, singular, but God changed him and took from him and created Eve so when Eve brought the fruit to him, in his own way he himself was naive to social interaction and the new behavioral sets that were kicking in yet he had something Eve didn't have, Age and experience and should of taken the fruit off her and explained that it was dangerous for them but instead chose the ultimate sin. Chose to ignore what he knew and break the one rule he and she was given.

    God allows billions upon billions of uncountable variables and probabilities to exist because he can. There is nothing in the bible that states that he is subject to human levels of physical constraint anywhere. Human Logic cannot be applied to something that is outside of this physical reality.
    • Feb 1 2013: Thanks for replying. I don't really take much issue with anything you have to say although I think you may be speculating for some of it. What I do have an issue with your last statement though. If our physical reality is to remain based in logic as it seems to be then the things that act on this physical reality must follow the rules regardless of where they come from.
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        Feb 3 2013: Mate, it's all speculative and my post is full of holes even the last paragraph but the best way to probably get a feeling of something like this is to ask a question "Is logic a force on it's own?" From my perspective ,no but from yours it might feel like it is.

        I'm constrained by the absolutism of the bible so in this Q i can only use it and it says basically God knows what every particle in this physical reality is doing at any given time to any other particle but i think with us he wrote us in as random point yet still subject to this physical realities rules. That random point is our minds. What a lot of people say is that we don't have free will because all actions are predetermined by actions from before said event but they can only judge it by past event lines not predict future lines. Logic dictates that this is the only way it could have happened as it had already happened, now use logic to predict the future actions of the planets weather system?

        We're good at predicting weather but not at pin point weather events, it will rain at 7.00am for 15 minutes heading east of your position. It would take knowing the where abouts of each particle in our atmosphere in real time to be able to forecast with exact precision.

        Free will comes down to self mastery which a poster Kurt above me mentioned in a conversation on trollism. My personal view is that probability only exists because it took an intelligence to think and set it in action and it takes another intelligence to see those probabilities in motion to comprehend probability.