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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 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.

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