9
Sep

Why God’s Omnipotence Does Not Make Us Robots

imagesMy last post conveyed some reflections on the origin and purpose of free will. I tried to make the case that free will is not a design flaw that condemns us to hell; it is rather a valuable gift which we should use wisely. Not every agrees, though, that we actually have free will, or that the concept of free will is at all compatible with the Christian view of God. As one skeptic put it:

To rephrase the skeptic’s question: If God be omniscient and omnipotent, how can we be anything but robots?

            The first step in answering this question requires that we define the terms used. Roughly speaking, “omnipotent” means possessing all power while “omniscient” means having all possible knowledge. A “robot” is a machine designed to perform particular functions. Robots possess only that amount of power or knowledge that a designer places into them. Robots do not, consequently, possess free will. They don’t imagine better ways of performing tasks, nor do they complain that they are not appreciated by their masters.

As Christians, we believe God is omnipotent and omniscient. Stated in another way, we believe that there is nothing beyond God’s power or beyond his knowledge. All things that are capable of being done – all things that power can accomplish – He can do, and all things that are knowable, He knows. There is nothing doable or knowable that is beyond His reach. We also assert that human beings are not robots. While they are created, they are living beings and not machines. Moreover, they possess free will, so that even though there are limits as to the choices they can make, they are in fact exercising meaningful choices about their future.

One further term needs to be considered: foreknowledge. It is this concept that lies implicit in the skeptic’s challenge. Spelled out, it would go like this: if God has total knowledge, then he has foreknowledge of events in our future. But if the future is already set in God’s mind, and God cannot be wrong, then we must act in the way that God “foresees.” But if that is the case, then it is God, and not us, that directs our actions.

Two things come quickly to mind: the first is that this challenge has no intuitive appeal. Even as I write these words, I am well aware that I could choose otherwise. While there are many things I have no desire to choose, it is plainly apparent to me that writing this is simply not something that I must do. The more I reflect on it, the more I realize that I am controlling much of my destiny. In other words, I feel nothing at all like a robot. Even if some outside force began to control my body, or affect my ability to think, I realize intuitively that some part of me would remain aware of this, and would will to resist it. In short, I am at my essence a willful “I” that controls certain things around me, beginning with my body and mind.

The second, and more important, thing is that foreknowledge does not require control of the future. As limited and temporal beings, our minds cannot really grasp what foreknowledge entails. The passage of time, in the sense that we experience it, is a serious limitation upon us. We move in one direction only; we see only dimly the past and the future is at best an exercise of our imaginations. While God may be in some sense temporal, time – as we experience it – could not limit His potentiality. For God, all things must exist in an eternal present, which His omniscience allows Him to access without limitation.

Consider an analogy: football fans around the country look forward to Sundays this time of year. They like nothing better than sitting back and enjoying the game unfold, as their favorite players and teams implement a game plan tailored to taking advantage of their opponent’s weaknesses. Knowing how the game will end takes a lot of the fun out of seeing it played out. That’s why many people who can’t watch the game live will record it, and will intentionally keep themselves in the dark about what occurred. As they watch the recording, others who have already seen the game will not, however, be in the dark. They will have complete knowledge of what occurred. And no amount of wishful thinking or cheering on the part of the later viewer can alter what they “know” is about to occur on the screen.

Though some in the audience have “foreknowledge” of the event, that foreknowledge does not involve control of the players. It would be foolish indeed for the later viewer to accuse the person who knows the outcome of the play of having controlled it. Nothing about that knowledge of the outcome of the game could in any way influence the game. The two are simply not causally related.

The skeptic fails to see that God’s “view” is similar. He “knows” what we are about to do, because to Him, we already did it. There is no before or during or after time for him. All times (and places) exist in His present. But knowing what we do does not require that God control what we do, any more than it did in my example. Indeed, to hold to such a view would be to lessen God’s power. It would mean that He lacks the power to create beings who possess free will, simply because He has knowledge of how they used that free will without having to “wait” for it.

What is the point, the skeptic may ask. I submit the point is that only one thing is really at play and that one thing is love. Love, as we know, must be freely given and received to have any value. So, if we are to share an eternal loving relationship with God, we must be sufficiently free to make that choice real. We may lack the ability to do many things, including the ability to earn our way to heaven, but what we do possess is the ability to accept the gift God has in store for us, or to reject it and remain in rebellion against Him.

Robots can do many things, of course, but learning to love their creator is not one of them.

Posted by Al Serrato 

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22 Comments

  1. Jordan says:

    I think the skeptic’s point is a little deeper. I think he is saying that a God with knowledge of the future, and the power to create an individual any way he desires and place him in any set of situations he desires, in knowing what an individual will do (including rejecting Him) and creating him anyway, He is prescribing what the individual will do. In other words, the skeptic would claim that a specific person in a specific situation with a specific past faced with a specific decision will make the same choice every time. Being that the individual is most likely a naturalist (the physical world is all there is, there is no spiritual aspect), this conclusion logically follows from his worldview. The Christian’s views of God and man are needed to come to the right conclusion. An truly omnipotent God is, as you said, Al, able to create beings with free will (beings not limited to acting based solely on genes, chemicals, experience, environment). This is seen in His special creation of man, a being that is not simply an animal, but rather created in His image.
    This view is further supported Biblically in 2 Timothy 1:7 (paraphased) –
    “God has not given us a spirit that must succumb to fear, but one with ability to overcome, ability to love, and ability to decide.”
    As Al said, God doesn’t lack the power to create beings who possess free will (otherwise, He is not omnipotent). He simply has immediate knowledge of how they will use that free will. Although any decision we make can never “surprise” God, we were always the one (not He, nor our past, nor our circumstances, etc.) in control of that decision. Thus, although God does not desire for anyone to use their will to reject Him (2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord…is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing [His will is not] that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.) He gives us the free will to choose (Revelation 22:17 [paraphrased] God call to all saying “Come.” And whosoever WILL [wills it so, decides to so do], let him take the water of life FREELY.)
    The choice is yours. May the reader choose to end his rejection of God today.

  2. Frank Grau says:

    Although it’s a popular view to believe God is currently outside of time, that’s not something taught in the BIble (though there are verses which make time irrelevant to God, insofar as He is not finite and has no need to give consideration to any temporal schedule). The doctrine of divine atemporality developed because we were trying to understand how it is that God could know the future (I even developed this view on my own early in my Christian walk for the same reason, and was surprised to find others held the same belief. I later learned that this doctrine creates more problems than it solves). This is a complex issue which cannot be dealt with here, but for anyone interested, they might read William Lane Craig’s work on God and time.
    Regarding human free will, it seems that divine middle knowledge (Molinism) helps solve the problem with the least amount of tension. It preserves both human free will and God’s sovereignty.

    • Al says:

      Frank, thanks for weighing in. I agree that Craig’s work on time and eternity is excellent. I also agree that the issue is complex and my post was obviously not meant to be an exhaustive treatment. I am curious however: what problems do believe are created by a view that God created temporality and is not controlled or limited by it?

      • Jordan says:

        One of the main problems I find with both Calvinism and Molinism (at least how I understand it; correct me if I am wrong) is that they indirectly make God the author of sin. If God purposely placed us in situations that He knew we’d sin, then He chose us to sin. In reality, this is not free will also, as I think the skeptic would agree. If a specific person in a specific situation with a specific past faced with a specific decision will make the same choice every time, that “decision” is not his, but is rather the decision of the “one” who created the person, situation, past, and decision itself in the first place. To the naturalist, nature is that “one” and then decides everything for us. The naturalist cannot argue for true free will then either. But if God in His omnipotence can truly create man such that a specific person in a specific situation with a specific past faced with a specific decision is not limited by such, then true free will exists, and such a situation is the only one I can think of in which true free will exists.

        • Al says:

          I think it’s fair to say that he knew we would sin, as sin is simply a departure from his will, and since he gave us free will, there would have to be some instances of sin. So, that makes God “responsible” for our sin in the same way that I am responsible for my children’s misbehavior. I gave them the freedom to so act (ie by not constraining them) but it was their free will and not mine that was at play, even though I may remain responsible in some sense. The thing the skeptic seems to neglect is that God also provided us the means to reunite with him. Nothing is required of us in terms of working to impress God or earn salvation. He does all the work. The issue for us is will be assent, by placing our trust in Christ, or will we die in rebellion to him. Either way, we get the consequence that we have chosen.

          • Jordan says:

            Fully agree. Where I disagree with many people is where they say, for instance in Adam’s case, that God saw a situation he could have placed Adam where he would choose (of his own will, but moved by circumstances) not to sin, but God instead purposely picked a situation where Adam would certainly choose (still Adam’s choice) to sin, just so that He could save the day later. In other words, God set Adam up to fail so He could save him. I disagree with those that take this specific view.

          • Al says:

            As do I. This makes God seem needy, as if he sets fires so he can then put them out. A perfect being has no such needs. If Adam was placed in a situation where there were no choices for him to make, he would be a robot acting on programming and not a free will being. The point, I think, is that God intends to do a work in us if we assent to it. That requires free will and, consequently, sin, in the short run, but something much greater in the long run.

  3. zilch says:

    The problem with your analogy about the football fans watching the game later, al, as I believe I pointed out some time ago here, is that the football fans are not the omnipotent creators of the football players. If God knows what we are going to do (omniscience) and has the power to create us in such a way that we will end up doing or not doing anything He pleases (omnipotence), then God is indeed responsible for everything, including evil. He says as much in Isaiah 5:7.

    Your first objection, that it feels to you as though you are exercising free will, doesn’t affect God’s role. You may feel as though you are making decisions freely, and indeed you are in a way, from your point of view: you can’t know what you will decide beforehand. But from God’s point of view you are a robot following a destiny that was set in stone before the beginning of the World.

    Jordan- you seem to appreciate the skeptic’s position. But then you say that we have free will even so, because God in His omnipotence can simply make it so. I have a question for you, then: can God create a stone so heavy He cannot pick it up? Can God make two plus two equal five?

    cheers from rainy Vienna, zilch

    • Al says:

      Zilch,
      Good hearing from you again. Hope all is well with you, whatever the weather is in Vienna.

      I think where we disagree is on the issue of what “omnipotence” means. If God wills to create beings with free will, but cannot because of omnipotence, he would be in the rather ironic position of having omnipotence becoming a weakness or limitation. What he “pleases” is that people use their free will to freely accept or reject him. His omnipotence gives him the power to do so; it does not limit him by forcing him to produce robots. As to your point regarding my intuitive knowledge that I can act freely, I would point out the folly in God providing Scripture to beings who are entirely robotic. His word clearly paints us as free to rebel against him, which would make little sense if he were a puppeteer pulling strings. Isaiah 45:7 is not proof that God created evil, or that he does not give us free will. I would suggest you read some of Augustine’s work on evil to see that it is not a thing at all, and certainly nothing God created. It is the measure of the degree to which free will beings rebel against God’s perfect will.

    • Jordan says:

      Zilch,
      Good to hear and speak with you again. Please excuse the early absurdity of my response as I quote a comedian:
      “Well let me answer that by asking you this: how much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood? I think I’ve made my point.”

      Now, joking aside. Isaiah 45:7. I will also ask in order to answer. What is the meaning of the Hebrew word translated “evil” in this verse? How is the same word used elsewhere in the OT? What is it contrasted with in the same verse? What do NASB and other modern translations use synonymously with this word?
      Also:
      Is the God who created the place of punishment for the evildoer (hell) evil himself (assuming that the evildoer has free will of course)? Is retribution for wrongdoing (compare with the Hebrew word for “evil”) evil itself?

      Let me rephrase your rebuttal if I may. Feel free to correct me if I err:
      “i refuse to believe in an infinite being because my finite mind is unable to understand infinite things.”
      Truly, to fully understand all that God is, is to be god yourself. Nevertheless, let’s see if we can’t bring the abstract into at least a slightly sharper focus.

      A probing questions first sparked in my mind do to this debate that I’m curious to hear your thoughts on: Can you think of a situation in which TRUE free will exists where it is not expressly given by a Creator with both the power and freedom of will Himself to do that which He desires? I can’t.

      Another couple questions in answer to your questions (how do I phase this to agnostics/atheists?):
      Is the God that you don’t believe exists able to sin? Does that limit his omnipotence?

      Mathematically now:
      Is infinity (God’s strength) minus infinity (immensity of non existent boulder previously brought up) greater than/equal to (able to be lifted by) zero or is it negative?

      Again to absurdity:
      Can God become ~God (not God)? Can a God of perfect order become of imperfect order that He might create that which is of imperfect order (2+2=4 always, changing to 2+2=sometimes 5)? (sarcastically) If not, He must not be omnipotent.

      Perhaps it is best if we chuck the proverbial woodchucks aside along with any invalid refusals to believe based on irrelevancies.

      Thus I will provide statements whose validity may be debated. Simply put, I find that man has free will. I also find that not only is it logical for God to give man free will (wanted to talk about the existence of the soul, but out of time, so I will save it for another day), it is also the only logical explanation for the existence of free will in the first place.

      Good day to all from VERY VERY rainy Colorado (check the news)

      • zilch says:

        Jordan- thanks for the reply.

        First off- yes, i know that “evil” in Isaiah is sometimes translated as “calamity” and is interpreted as the response to evil, not evil itself. I’m not fluent in Hebrew so I can’t argue with that, although I suspect this is just another place in the Bible where the authors probably didn’t think through exactly what they were trying to say themselves. But that still leaves the question: how can God have created everything yet not have created evil, knowingly and intentionally?

        You seem to think that God cannot make two plus two equal five because that would make Him “imperfect”. But you are thus elevating your idea about what perfection is above God’s omnipotence. Where do you get the parameters for this idea that even God must obey? I would say that God is not perfect if He makes the world look a lot older than the Bible says it is, and He’s not perfect if He creates us in just such a way that we must sin.

        Which brings us back to free will. You do not respond to the logic of my argument against free will if God is omnipotent and omniscient, but merely say that I simply admit to not understanding an infinite being. But if you are correct in saying that God cannot suborn logic, or rather that that would make Him “imperfect”, then I can say the same: if God is omnipotent and omniscient, then He cannot suborn logic, lest He become imperfect, and give us free will.

        It’s simple logic: if God knows what we are going to do, and makes us knowing that we will do it, and has the power to make us to do anything, then we have no free will, from His point of view. It’s just as logically airtight as saying that two plus two equals four in base ten Euclidean arithmetic.

        If you don’t grant God a pass on two plus two equals four, or picking up that rock, then I don’t see why you do so for free will.

        cheers from rainy Vienna, zilch

        • Al says:

          Zilch,

          God need not “obey” the rules of logic, and making two plus two equal 5 would not make God “imperfect,” as if math stands above God. These rules that bind us are simply parts of his nature, just as sunlight emanates from the sun. It’s like asking whether light would be wave or particle if there were no sun; the question is nonsensical because without the sun there would be no light. Without God, there would be no rules for us to perceive and consider.

          As to your free will argument, you say “and has the power to make us do anything, then we have no free will….” God has the “power” to make us do anything, but does not will that. Consequently, he uses his power not to bind us but to make us free will actors (who he will hold responsible for our choices). If he lacks the power to give us free will, but must control our actions to be “omnipotent,” then he is not really omnipotent after all; there is this thing – giving us free will – that he cannot do. I’m not sure why you don’t see that you are misunderstanding what “omnipotence” means and making it a limitation. I would grant you that to see everything as if in the present might take the “fun” out of seeing how things “turn out.” But I trust that from God’s perspective he has his reasons for creating us in the first place, giving us free will, and letting this temporal process play itself out. Yes, he knows the outcome, but knowledge does not equal control.

          Al

          • zilch says:

            al, you say:

            If he lacks the power to give us free will, but must control our actions to be “omnipotent,” then he is not really omnipotent after all; there is this thing – giving us free will – that he cannot do.

            I agree. The problem is, the concept of omnipotence is inherently incoherent: there will always be some imaginable powers that conflict with one another. But who decides which powers God has and doesn’t have? You really want us to have free will, so you have God grant us free will. Trouble is, you ignore the fact that that interferes with another supposed power of God: the power to create us in just such a way that we do just what He wants us to. You can’t logically have both.

            If you prefer calling that limitation part of God’s “nature”, that’s up to you. But it does make the concept of “omnipotence” incoherent. Another example: I can sin, God cannot. I thus have a power God does not have, and therefore God is not omnipotent.

            cheers from rainy Vienna, zilch

          • Al says:

            Zilch,
            You’ll need to support your contention that “omnipotence” is incoherent. When I use the term “omnipotent” I mean possessing the power to do all things that power can do. There is no incoherence in the concept.

            At the very least, you’ll need to specify what “imaginable” powers you think would be incompatible. The example you raise of free will is not well founded. You seem to think that God needs to control all outcomes in order to possess all power. But possessing power does not require use of the power. A nuclear sub captain has the “power” to destroy a city; he also has the “power” to not use the weapons. That is the nature of power. If God wants to control people, he can do so; if he wants to give us free will, he has that power as well. Your insistence that only by exercising his power to control does he actually possess that power is itself illogical.

            Your other example of sin misunderstands the nature of sin. Perhaps you should define that as well. “Sin” is the intentional action (by thought or deed) of a free will being that contravenes God’s perfect will. Since God does not contravene his own will, he does not sin. Asking whether he has the “power” to contravene his own will is nonsensical; his will is already perfect. Why would he change it? Again, you are treating perfect power as a limitation, asking in essence why he can’t make himself imperfect like the rest of us.

  4. zilch says:

    Oops, typo: that’s Isaiah 45:7 of course.

  5. Jordan says:

    Zilch,
    You say, “I suspect this is just another place in the Bible where the authors probably didn’t think through exactly what they were trying to say themselves.” Beware of “suspecting.” In essence, you’re saying, “In my worldview, I already ‘know’ the Bible to be false, and because I ‘know’ this, I will assume this is an authors mistake.” Early science was often hindered by individuals “knowing” something that was untrue and interpreting everything based on what they “knew.” An unbiased look at the passage doesn’t prohibit an Author that doesn’t make mistakes.

    Second, free will does not suborn logic. May a triangle have more than one right angle? Not in plane geometry, no; however, spherical Geometry allows triangles with 3 right angles. If we lived in a 2 dimensional world, we’d have no knowledge of this. We would say that a multi-right-angled triangle “suborns logic,” yet the fault lies in our minds not being able to understand things beyond our own existence. Yet, when we think in terms of the abstract and infinite, I still think that even here we can come to an understanding (albeit imperfect given our limitations) of the free will that all seem to intuitively know exists.

    I will attempt to use your own statements (with a little tweaking) to show what I’m getting at.
    God knows what we are going to CHOOSE to do (and I believe, what we would again CHOOSE to do in all possible situations). He makes us knowing that we will do it, and has the power to make us to do anything, (as well as the power to put us in any situation He desires). Yet He MAKES us do nothing, allowing us the choice, yes a choice He knows the outcome of, but yet still a choice.

    For a human example, suppose I as a teacher assign homework. I then offer the reward of a $50 bill to each student that does his homework. I go home that night with perhaps 90% certainty that the reward I gave is enough to get my students to do their homework. My knowledge of the students (although not 100% certain as God’s is) along with my power to change circumstances (although not perfect as God’s power is) certainly changes the likelihood that they will make a decision. However, the decision is still theirs. Even is I were omniscient and omnipotent, unless I use that omnipotence to MAKE my students do certain things (in which case they are nothing more than a robot) then they still make the choice (one that I may know about, yes) to either succumb to circumstances or rise above them. Although I have capability of full control, I allow them the decision.

    Here I think is the crux of the matter: whether our surroundings, genetic makeup, history, etc. fully determine for us what we will choose, or whether there is something more. Not being a naturalist, I see that there is something more: the soul of man, which allows us to rise above the things that a naturalist would see as the sole determining factors of a decision. When God (who has a WILL) decided to make man in His image, and breath in his nostrils the breath of life so that man became a living SOUL, man was given the ability to choose; choices are made REGARDLESS of that which God predetermines (our surroundings, genetic makeup, history, etc.). I gave verses above, but here they are again in context:

    An truly omnipotent God is, as you said, Al, able to create beings with free will (beings not limited to acting based solely on genes, chemicals, experience, environment). This is seen in His special creation of man, a being that is not simply an animal, but rather created in His image.
    This view is further supported Biblically in 2 Timothy 1:7 (paraphased) –
    “God has not given us a spirit that must succumb to fear, but one with ability to overcome, ability to love, and ability to decide.”
    As Al said, God doesn’t lack the power to create beings who possess free will (otherwise, He is not omnipotent). He simply has immediate knowledge of how they will use that free will. Although any decision we make can never “surprise” God, we were always the one (not He, nor our past, nor our circumstances, etc.) in control of that decision. Thus, although God does not desire for anyone to use their will to reject Him (2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord…is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing [His will is not] that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.) He gives us the free will to choose (Revelation 22:17 [paraphrased] God call to all saying “Come.” And whosoever WILL [wills it so, decides to so do], let him take the water of life FREELY.)

    Can I experiment on the supernatural? No. Yet, natural experience says I have a free will. The Bible also says I have a free will, and explains why and how (without given us details we wouldn’t understand as humans with limited understanding, as discussed above). Yet again, the Bible matches perfectly the world I see around me. And again, true free will, the free will which we so evidently have, cannot be explained by one who does not believe in something beyond the natural world.

    You’re correct, Zilch. Your logic is simple and sound; but only as you restrict your mind to the natural realm, just as no mind can grasp multi-right-angled triangles while restricting their mind to Euclidean geometry. Your free will that you use elsewhere to “unrestict” your mind enough to accept multiple universes is the same free will that you use to reject God, not because it is more unreasonable to believe in something beyond the physical than it is to believe in multiple universes, but because you will to be ignorant of Him. 2 Peter 3:5.

    P.S. In answer to things left out above, God is a God of order. That is His nature. God is a God of Holiness. That is his nature. Omnipotence does not imply a lack of nature. It implies ability to do all, yet willing (having a will to) do only certain things because of who He is. Thus He will never sin, nor create a world where 2+2=5.

    As to the age of the world, God’s desire to not create chicken as eggs, man as babies, stars as invisible for millions of year, etc. are not illogical. The converse is. Also, we would not agree on every thing purported as evidence of an old earth.

    “must control our actions to be ‘omnipotent,’
    No, omnipotence does not equal perfect control, but ability to control all if so chosen.

    “You really want us to have free will, so you have God grant us free will.”
    No, I believe a book that says we have free will. Not to mention it is apparent in the world we see.

    “You ignore the fact that (free will) interferes with another supposed power of God: the power to create us in just such a way that we do just what He wants us to.”
    No interference; power doesn’t imply will.

    • Jordan says:

      Copied and pasted from Word file because it was so long. Didn’t write a closing =(. My apologies. Let me close with a few verses this time.

      Luke 11:28, 2 Peter 3:9, Philippians 1:3.

  6. alla says:

    The article is stating that under this scenario there is only one possible outcome.

    How can there be any genuine decisions or actual free will when there is only one possible outcome?

    :

    “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants, so long as it is black.”

  7. Nelson says:

    Al,

    How would you actually know if an external force is guiding your choices?

    We would have to look at how this would be possible first. The easiest solution would be minipulating your mind. Is this even possible?

    We know from diseases such as schizophrenia that you can indeed have your choices changed by the actions of the delusion you are in.

    I think the assertion that “Even if some outside force began to control my body, or affect my ability to think, I realize intuitively that some part of me would remain aware of this, and would will to resist it.” is flawed. We already have examples of people in mental states where they are not aware of what they are doing.

    Now. Your analogy.

    How can you say that we are limiting his pontenial and then turn around and do the same?
    Most apologists hold the view that the attributes of god are in fact part of it’s very essence. If you would say that god’s view of time is non linear, then anything it does is across the board affected. If every moment is the present (past, present and future) then any action that it takes would be present in all concepts of time simultaneously.

    In your analogy (football), the flaw is the both parties are not “beyond” the players. They are apart of the phsycal universe. As such how could they ever exert influence?

    God on the other hand, once again, is outside of the physical universe. The comparison is not the same. We are talking magnitudes away from each other.

    Your stance in illogical.

    God’s omnipotence makes his power impotent.

    With your writing analogy.

    I would say that you are bound by certain rules that, in some ways, you don’t have a choice. How do you want your work to read? How is your grammer? Sentence Structure? What type of feeling, if any, are you trying to convey?

    Although I am sure if I looked I could find some errors, your work has conformed to the preset rules of the Western English language.

    I think this is a better look at the view of god.

    Scripture constantly mentions god’s plan. This plan exists, past, present and future. It must because god is omniscient. The outcome of this plan was known from it’s conception.

    Reagardless of what meaningful choices you think you make, it has already been “written” so to speak. Now remember. God has a plan. Everything works towards his plan and mankind cannot deviate it.

    If it cannot be deviated from, then god is powerless to change his plan. If he has a perfect plan, then his power is used to ensure that his plan comes to fruition.

    Here is my analogy.

    Let’s say I know that if you get into a red sports car this afternoon (for you. I’m outside of time remember).
    Now I remove every other vehicle of the face of the planet except for a red sports car. I’ve also created a situation where you need a vehicle. You use the sports car, crash and die.

    Is my excuse is, “well you had the free will to make a choice!”
    No. Of course not. I set up the situation. A choice in a controlled environment is not the action of a true free will agent.

    Before creation existed, god knew excatly how it would turn out. Then it proceeded to act out what it already knew. So unless it doesn’t want to stick to the plan that it already knows is going to happen, it is powerless to change anything. Where it be direct intervention or situational.

    It’s like the hardening of Pharohs heart. Whether directly or simply bringing about the situation, god doesn’t seem to care much about free will.

    So yes, you are thinking robots according to Christian theology. It’s “I am the creator, what I say goes.” your view of free will is an illusion.

    • Al says:

      Nelson, my assertion is based on my mind working normally, i.e. if you posit that I’m suffering from a mental illness then all bets are off. By that reasoning, I may only be imagining this dialogue. That way of thinking is not particularly productive. You say that mankind cannot deviate from God’s plan. In this you are mistaken. The whole point of free will is that God has given us the freedom to deviate from his plan. While he knows the future, he did not compel it. Consequently, your conclusion that God is powerless to change his plan is fallacious. He could of course change his plan, but by doing so, he would render us robots and not free will beings. You need to re examine your premise that God’s knowledge of the future means that God caused the future.

  8. bang says:

    Al, you say that God’s knowledge of the future does not cause the future, if so God is constantly surprised by everything that happens. Something He could never have imagined can happen.

    • Al says:

      I’m not sure how you came to that conclusion. Only temporal beings can be surprised by future events. A being not bound by time will experience all time periods as within his “present.” He can give us free will to act without being unaware of how our future selves will use that free will.

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