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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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    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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