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God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive (karma: 2)  en>fr fr>en
By Spectermember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 2333, member since Mon Dec 16, 2002
On Thu Apr 15, 2004 10:26 AM

This exerpt is part of a larger paper I was writing on Determinsim for one of my philosophy courses. I am sort of sick of writing it at the moment though, so I figured I would take a few seconds and throw it up here for some discussion. The point (in case you missed the title) is that logically God and free will are mutually exclusive, that they cannot exist with the other. If you have free will there is no God, and if God exists then there is no free will.

The argument is laid out in a pretty simplistic logical fashion. I encourage you to all try to refute it as I would be interested in looking at the options where the argument fails. However please do not waste people's time with "God is really really complicated and we can't even try to understand him." If you feel you cannot logically discuss the problem presented, then there is no need to even post in here. In fact there is no need for this whole board if that is the case.

Anyway, the exerpt is as follows:

The last and possibly most difficult to understand theory is that of Epistemic Determinism. This is commonly known as the problem of foreknowledge, and is uniquely relevant to the film. The following is the most often used argument against free will based on the existence of God.

If x knows that you are going to do (some action) A, then you must do A. But if you must do A, then you have no choice in the matter. Thus if x knows (beforehand) what you are going to do, then you have no free choice. Put another way: foreknowledge is incompatible with free will.

This can be presented in far more religious terms. They are as follows: God is omniscient. He knows everything (that is true) about all of existence, including the past present and future. In addition God has given human beings free will so that human beings can choose between good and evil (if he has not then the argument is invalid and inconsequential.)
But if God knows prior to the fact what you are going to choose, then it is necessary that you choose what He knows you are will choose. If you must do it, then you are not truly choosing based on your free will; you may dispute the matter with yourself, but eventually you are going to choose exactly as God knew you would. There is only one possible choice in which you have. This, in turn, is not a choice at all. Thus if God has foreknowledge, then you do not have free will; or, alternately, if you have free will, then God does not have foreknowledge.



Opinions? This theory is especially interesting when combined with the Problem of Evil. Does anyone realize how?

17 Replies to God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive

re: God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive en>fr fr>en
By pharmadancermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3442, member since Tue Mar 16, 2004
On Thu Apr 15, 2004 11:22 AM
Good post, Specter - you always come up with some interesting points of view! :)

God is omniscient. He knows everything (that is true) about all of existence, including the past present and future.


I believe this. But the crux of my argument stems from the fact that I believe God sees all possibilities. Therefore, although he sees all possible choices and all future consequences and outcomes of those choices (I picture it as an ever-increasing web), he has given us free will, and our choices are, in fact, undetermined until we actually make the choice. I don't believe that God KNOWS what our decision will be, but what our decision might be. And he can see what future choices we may have to face, based on each of these decisions.

I hope that made sense!

~*~ Pharmadancer ~*~
re: God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive en>fr fr>en
By Spectermember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 2333, member since Mon Dec 16, 2002
On Thu Apr 15, 2004 01:46 PM
Thanks for the reply...

The problem is that if god is omniscient he knows everything. He therefore must know which choice you will choose, along with, as you stated, all the possible "choices.". If not that is something he does not know, which would be a limit to his power, stripping him of his godhood. He would not be a god if your argument would be true.
re: God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive en>fr fr>en
By whitneyk Comments: 259, member since Mon Oct 06, 2003
On Thu Apr 15, 2004 02:29 PM
Edited by whitneyk (75243) on 2004-04-15 14:30:10
I beleive that God does know everything. We are free to choose what we will, but he knows what it will be. But just because he knows what we will choose, does not mean we loose are free agency, the decision is ours.

Interesting post.
re: God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive en>fr fr>en
By pharmadancermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3442, member since Tue Mar 16, 2004
On Fri Apr 16, 2004 10:13 PM
Actually, Specter, I disagree (friendly-like). :)

I think you are right when it comes to the fact that God knows everything. But I also believe that he gave us free will. That means that he voluntarily put it into our own hands what choices we will make.

Maybe my logic is being clouded by the fact that I am really really not happy with the idea of "fate" or determinism... But that's just my opinion.

~*~ Pharmadancer ~*~
re: God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive en>fr fr>en
By CheesePlusCakemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 10210, member since Mon Jun 30, 2003
On Fri Apr 16, 2004 10:33 PM
I don't see what one has to do with the other? He may know what you will pick, but you are still the one who picked it. Like I know you are going to write a reply to either my or someone else's reply. Did I MAKE you do it? No, but I still knew you would.

I know my sister is going to get braces when she gets older. Does my knowing what she will pick have any less impact on the fact that she can choose whether to get them or not? No, but I know she is going to pick it.

He just knows what you will pick in advance, but you had the choice to pick anything. It's like yes, he knows what you will pick. Say he knows you are going to eat at Wendy's. You picked Wendy's and are driving there. But wait... Your car breaks down and you are stuck next to a Tacobell and a KFC. There are many factors too. Like, he knew you would pick Wendy's but then something came up. He knows what you will pick next, but you have the choice. You can go wherever you want. You picked as God knew you would but because you wanted to.


I don't think God has your whole life planned out from the beginning. Otherwise, why would he bother making people who would deny him? Why wouldn't he just make the people he knew would go to heaven? It's because of your free will. You choose the path your life will take, for better or worse.

Anyways- What we imagine a God or god to be doesn't mean that's what it has to be like. Our definition of a god may not be what the actual God is like. So your theories may be for a being that is completely different than how you imagine him to be.
re: God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive (karma: 1)  en>fr fr>en
By Spectermember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 2333, member since Mon Dec 16, 2002
On Sat Apr 17, 2004 01:45 AM
I don't see what one has to do with the other?

I thought I had spelled that out quite clearly. They are mutally exclusive.

He may know what you will pick, but you are still the one who picked it.

I will assume for the sake of argument that for the time being this statement is true. I'll come back to it soon.

Like I know you are going to write a reply to either my or someone else's reply.

Incorrect through and through. You have a reasonable suspicion that I am going to that. At best, you have a 99.9999 percent of certainess. However you do not know I am going to respond. There could be any number of options that happen to stop me from posting. My computer could break, dance.net could go down, I could die... You do not know everything or anywhere near most things. All you can do is make a guess about will happen.

Say he knows you are going to eat at Wendy's. You picked Wendy's and are driving there. But wait... Your car breaks down and you are stuck next to a Tacobell and a KFC. There are many factors too. Like, he knew you would pick Wendy's but then something came up. He knows what you will pick next, but you have the choice. You can go wherever you want.

Faulty logic. God knows everything. He can never be wrong. If your car was going to break down, he would know that it would, and already have factored that in in advance, and therefore know you weren't going to go to Wendy's afterall but KFC. There is nothing that could happen that he could not forsee, and thus he would not be proven wrong. You will pick what you have to pick because God knows in advance what you will pick. If you didn't pick that, then god would be wrong and that is impossible.

You can go wherever you want. You picked as God knew you would but because you wanted to.

You don't think it's slightly odd that in the billions of choices people have made through the ages, they by some stroke of luck they always picked what God wanted?

I don't think God has your whole life planned out from the beginning. Otherwise, why would he bother making people who would deny him? Why wouldn't he just make the people he knew would go to heaven? It's because of your free will. You choose the path your life will take, for better or worse.

Is that why you are trying so hard not to believe this. Frightening isn't it. Either you have no choice in what you do and your life is already determined, or God does not exist. Sort of a blow to the day to day life isn't it...

Anyways- What we imagine a God or god to be doesn't mean that's what it has to be like. Our definition of a god may not be what the actual God is like. So your theories may be for a being that is completely different than how you imagine him to be.

This is a philosophy board, it is neccecary we ask these questions. If you don't think you can discuss God, then go somewhere else. However some people choose to try. If they didn't the philosophy departments of ever university and college would be much emptier.
re: God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive en>fr fr>en
By newtoballet Comments: 3404, member since Sat Feb 16, 2002
On Sat Apr 17, 2004 03:43 AM
Edited by newtoballet (21852) on 2004-04-17 03:46:05
God only knows as much of the future as is knowable. Perfect knowledge means knowing all that there is to know. If God built chance into the system, then perfect knowledge would be fully understanding the probability, likelihood, chance involved in every present moment. Perfect knowledge would not be ascribing “yes or no” values to present moments that are probabilistic nature. Doing that would be imperfect... it would actually be misrepresnting the true nature of the present.

There is a second part to this answer, but it's late at night--I just woke up b/c the light was on in my lizard's cage so I got out of bed to turn it off, saw my computer was on and wound up here. Nite all.
re: God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive en>fr fr>en
By CheesePlusCakemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 10210, member since Mon Jun 30, 2003
On Sat Apr 17, 2004 04:40 PM
What I meant by God's not being what you think him to be... Well, obviously, he isn't. You have this one definition of a god. That definition is not the same one as I see. You think God has to do this and this and has to be able to do this or he doesn't exist. I don't see it that way. Even the Bible itself said that God makes mistakes. I forgot who it was, but God appointed some king that turned out to be super crappy and God got mad at him. I don't remember if he was cursed or not. If God knew this was going to happen, would God have picked him to be king just to get mad at him?
re: God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive en>fr fr>en
By VelvetRagamuffinmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 6013, member since Wed Nov 19, 2003
On Sat Apr 17, 2004 09:30 PM
im not sure i understand what "mutually exclusive" means, but heres what i got. from one of your posts, you said somethin like "are you sayin that out of billions of people, a lot chose exactly what God wanted?" yes, because a lot of people follow God, its called our religion. all religions try to be perfect, because thats what their god or whatever they worship has "told" them to be. so, yes, because they follow God, he laid out his plan for us, it was our choice to follow it, and several followed it. however, not all people follow it. just look at God's chosen people the Jews. they didnt follow what he wanted, so they ended up wandering in the wilderness for 40 years.
re: God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive (karma: 1)  en>fr fr>en
By KMonstermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3594, member since Mon Aug 04, 2003
On Sat Apr 17, 2004 10:34 PM
Edited by Somber_Angel (70839) on 2004-04-17 22:38:22 thoguht of more stuff i posted on another site once
I think there might be a flaw in my logic here but I'm going to post it anyways. Let me know if you guys find anything:

Let me define free will as having control of what one's self wills (does).
>The opposite thereof having no control of what one's self wills.

If one does not have free will, then one cannot choose for one's self what to do; one's will is controlled by another and thus not free.
Free will can be demonstrated by the fact that one does not always do what is commanded.
Ex: A person walks up to you on the street and says "Jump up and down and bark like a dog." You ignore them and walk away.
One's free will has thus been demonstrated. Without free will, it wouldn't matter who does the willing; one would have to go along, not having a free will of one's own.

Man's free will independant of God has been shown.

When putting God into the equation, one must remember that to the Judeo-Christian idea of God, all our objective reality is still subjective to God. What one has been given (free will) can be taken away.

Inasmuch as God does not take away from us (man) our free will, free will can once again be shown through the same process.
Ex: God appears to man and commands him to do something, the man refuses and does something else.
Examples of this may even be found in scripture. Granted man often chooses to do God's work through the circumstances God has put him in (Jonah in the belly of thw whale) but one nonetheless *choses* to do it.

A simpler way this may be shown. To shown free will of a Judeo-Christian God, simple look to the Torah. The 10 commandemnts are listed, God's Laws. This is what God *commands*.
People break the 10 commandments.


The arguement of free will is one that is overdone and drawn out.
You MUST understand if you are able to type on this keyboard it's partially because of your free will. No one is making you read these messages with a gun to your head and likewise; God isn't forcing you with the threat of dying to your bodies.

Eventually you must understand that God does know our future based on the fact that he knows our hearts. The basic thing we have to do is learn that we better fill our eyes with things that are good and healthy or else we will make bad decisions in the future. If we do not act responsible now and at least START, we will never get to the point of destination we have.

So, to say better; free will doesn't come from a devine revelation from a book, but rather from God himself.

We need to understand that God's only son, Jesus or Yeshua gave up his free will to die for our sins that we could understand the concept of salvation. Even if you don't beleive that Jesus was real, the story of what happened to him is proof enough that we have free will.

At no time did God force the people surrounding the events to make the decisions they were going to make, yet he knew every move they would make.

I know this is all very hard to understand, but reveiwing the topic helps me understand more about my free will, kudos to who reopened the topic.

Kayla*-
re: God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive en>fr fr>en
By Spectermember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 2333, member since Mon Dec 16, 2002
On Sun Apr 18, 2004 01:15 AM
Edited by Specter (52082) on 2004-04-18 01:16:09
God only knows as much of the future as is knowable.

That so far is the only acceptable answer to the get out of this problem. However whether God can know the impossible or not is room for another discussion, and I think we've had it on here. I'll try to dig up the thread.

Well, obviously, he isn't. You have this one definition of a god. That definition is not the same one as I see.

God: An singular omnipotent omni-good being and or force. Does that about cover it? If so then this equation applies. If not, then you have one very differant view of God from most religions.

You think God has to do this and this and has to be able to do this or he doesn't exist.

No, I think he has to be able to do everything, but only willing to do purely good things.

im not sure i understand what "mutually exclusive" means

mutually exclusive: adj 1: unable to be both true at the same time

but heres what i got. from one of your posts, you said somethin like "are you sayin that out of billions of people, a lot chose exactly what God wanted?" yes, because a lot of people follow God, its called our religion. all religions try to be perfect, because thats what their god or whatever they worship has "told" them to be.

Thats not what I meant. You got it wrong. Read the original post and my reply in context.

Let me define free will as having control of what one's self wills

Thats a faulty definition. For starters you are using circular logic, that is to say defining something by itself, insomuch as assuming the concept of will already. My definition would be the ablility to make choices regarding your actions that are unconstrained by outside forces.

Free will can be demonstrated by the fact that one does not always do what is commanded.
Ex: A person walks up to you on the street and says "Jump up and down and bark like a dog." You ignore them and walk away.
One's free will has thus been demonstrated. Without free will, it wouldn't matter who does the willing; one would have to go along, not having a free will of one's own.

I wouldn't say that proves anything. Free will is demonstrated by being able to do an action unconstrained by any outside force, not only the one in your immediate perception. You still have no free will if you ignore one person's influence if you are under the influence of another force. Being subject to one force is enough to say that I have no free will regardless of how many other forces I can disregard. This is applicable to this argument because if I am subject to God I have no free will while still being able to ignore any other person in my world.

When putting God into the equation, one must remember that to the Judeo-Christian idea of God, all our objective reality is still subjective to God.

If that is the case then our reality is hardly objective at all. If it is subject to the whims of an outside force then it does not need to be the way it is, and is thus not actual reality.

A simpler way this may be shown. To shown free will of a Judeo-Christian God, simple look to the Torah. The 10 commandemnts are listed, God's Laws. This is what God *commands*.
People break the 10 commandments.

God can do anything. He is all powerful. If a person can so force another to do their bidding so easily, or if not "force" make it highly likely that they will choose it themselves, then shouldn't God be able to just as easily be able to do that? If he cannot MAKE someone avoid evil, then perhaps he could make it very easy for them to avoid it? God doesn't want people to steal? Then he simply need provide them with what they need. Problem solved. Yet he doesn't.

Eventually you must understand that God does know our future based on the fact that he knows our hearts.

You had a decent argument going until this came up. Again, if God doesn't know our future because it is logically impossible I will concede a loop hole in the argument. But if he does know our future for certain for ANY reason, then that is the only way we can act, because we must fulfil the vision. If we must act that way then we do not have free will.

If we do not act responsible now and at least START, we will never get to the point of destination we have. So, to say better; free will doesn't come from a devine revelation from a book, but rather from God himself. We need to understand that God's only son, Jesus or Yeshua gave up his free will to die for our sins that we could understand the concept of salvation. Even if you don't beleive that Jesus was real, the story of what happened to him is proof enough that we have free will. At no time did God force the people surrounding the events to make the decisions they were going to make, yet he knew every move they would make. I know this is all very hard to understand, but reveiwing the topic helps me understand more about my free will, kudos to who reopened the topic. Kayla*-

Insert fuzzy religious preaching and remove any actual philisophical debate here.
re: God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive en>fr fr>en
By Kekoamember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 8866, member since Sat Jul 19, 2003
On Sun Apr 18, 2004 09:42 PM
Let me try to explain to you clearly specter...

God knows everything you will do. Key word, KNOW. He doesn't influence it. If two years from now, you were to make a major decesion, it would be 100% your choice, even if ultimatly, it was the wrong one. God knows you will choose this, but because of free will, he doesn't infringe on your free will, allowing you to make the decesion, as bad as it may be. In a book i read, a young woman was raped as a girl. a person asks why god would let that happen to her, and a young man replies that while the rapist was meant for the girl's destruction, she was now able to counsel women who were also raped, and in turn save many people from self harm. you see? god works like that.
re: God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive en>fr fr>en
By AdvocatusDiaboli Comments: 287, member since Mon Nov 03, 2003
On Sun Apr 18, 2004 11:19 PM
SilenceBroken,
"A young man replies that while the rapist was meant for the girl's destruction, she was now able to counsel women who were also raped, and in turn save many people from self harm. you see? god works like that."


One cannot make an omelet without breaking some eggs[or raping women], even if one is omnipotent.
re: God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive en>fr fr>en
By deftonermember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 1565, member since Sun Jun 08, 2003
On Mon Apr 19, 2004 10:14 AM
think of God's knowing-all-ness (no i don't feel like thinking of the actualy word or spelling it) as a window. you can look out the window, and you see that there's a man tied down in the middle of the street. you also notice that some guy is driving his car insanely fast while yelling into his radio at the dodger's game, unaware of the innocent soul lying in his way. you see all of this, you know what you see. however, you did not cause it, nor did you influence it. the only way for you to influence it is to have someone open the window for you (by believeing you are there) and then letting that man crossing the street call out and ask you for your help. then you can jump out the window and help that man. in other words, beleiving in God opens the window, and praying for God's help changes what could have happened without God's interference.

blessed be
re: God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive en>fr fr>en
By newtoballet Comments: 3404, member since Sat Feb 16, 2002
On Mon Apr 19, 2004 01:35 PM
Edited by newtoballet (21852) on 2004-04-19 13:35:57
"a young woman was raped as a girl. a person asks why god would let that happen to her, and a young man replies that while the rapist was meant for the girl's destruction, she was now able to counsel women who were also raped, and in turn save many people from self harm. you see? god works like that."

Sounds like a rather barbaric way to get people to volunteer, IMHO. And I believe in God.
re: God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive en>fr fr>en
By Dacia Comments: 22, member since Tue Apr 27, 2004
On Tue Apr 27, 2004 09:50 AM
I think you passage is based on your conception of God. Frist i would be interested in understanding how you view God.
I view God as all the energies of the universe combined. That is, me, you and every thing else is God. If we are just one little part of what God is then the remaining part is a sronger force. Nevertheless, we are all conected because we are one.The fact that we are all conected means that all our desires are known; we make and are responsible for our decisions. But faith in God which is the larger force is believing that the entire universe is working with you.
re: God and Free Will Mutually Exclusive en>fr fr>en
By Spectermember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 2333, member since Mon Dec 16, 2002
On Tue Apr 27, 2004 06:25 PM
That is a perfectly fine conception, but "God" with a capital G typically refers to the Abrahamic, Jedeo-Christian god. That is to say a singular omnipotent, omnigood being.

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