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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: 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.
        • 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,

          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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