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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 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 "

        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:


          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.

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