Results are out! Find what you need...fast. Get quick advice or join the chat
Hey there Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free

Free will Vs. God's plan

Announcements Posted on
    • Thread Starter
    • 4 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    This is a thought experiment aimed primarily at theists who believe that what happens in life does so in accordance with Gods plan.

    A brief clarification on omniscience and God's plan: God must have known everything that was going to happen in the universe before he created it - he foresees all. God therefore does not foresee certain events 'based on' certain events, nor does anything happen that he didn't already know would - he knew everything from the start. If he knew everything from the start, everything was preordained. It is therefore impossible for anyone to choose an alternative outcome to God's vision and will.

    A simple scenario: A man shoots somebody in a domestic dispute. Was this part of God's plan?

    'Yes' - God interfered with the free will of the murderer. As this event was ultimately foreseen by God, and formed part of his plan, the man was always going to shoot somebody and ultimately had no choice in the matter, as this was preordained by God. A choice requires the possibility to freely select an outcome from available options. If there could only ever be one outcome (as God knew it from the start), then the other options were never really available and the man had no control over his destiny, but will still be punished for his actions in hell. The man was already destined to go to hell with no possibility of going to heaven. All efforts to 'save' people, or to attempt to gain a place in heaven, are therefore pointless.

    'No' - Something happened outside of Gods plan. God therefore cannot or does not control certain events. If God foresaw this event, he always knew it was going to happen, therefore it was preordained, therefore the answer couldn't have been 'no'. But if God did not foresee the event, God is not omniscient. If God did not control the event, God's plan does not involve everything or everybody. If the plan changes, then God is changing it on new information. If God is having to change it on new information, then God did not know things beforehand.

    To summarize, we either have no free will or control over our destinies, or God is not omniscient or omnipotent, and if God is not omniscient or omnipotent, he is not God.

    EDIT: A lot of people are mentioning the problem with 'time' and perspective of time. However, as long as God's perspective (or one of his perspectives) of time is ahead of our own conscious perspective (the one in which we are allegedly choosing our destinies), the principle of my argument still remains.
    • 4 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    there is a 3rd option you haven't mentioned. we can be without free will and without a godly predestined plan. I think we probably are too.
    • 5 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Religion and logic don't go very well together
    • Thread Starter
    • 4 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by SnoochToTheBooch)
    there is a 3rd option you haven't mentioned. we can be without free will and without a godly predestined plan. I think we probably are too.
    That is more or less the first option - if God can interfere with our free will, then it isn't really free will, therefore we have no 'free will'.
    • 15 followers
    Online

    ReputationRep:
    "Plan" is probably the wrong word to use when describing God's omniscience. What it connotes, rather, is omnipotence: an ability to guide occurrences, not simply predict them.

    I don't think free will and determinism are incompatible. The fact that you're going to do what you're going to do doesn't constrain the process of your deciding to do it.
    • 2 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    No no no, it's about perspective. God can know what you're going to do, but as long as you don't get that information, from your perspective you retain free will. That's fairly standard for the universe to be honest.

    Or you could see it as God being outside of time, which he must be by any reasonable definition. Time is static with relation to him, so even though here it might be the thirteen billionth year since the universe started, he exists simultaneously (from our perspective) in our time and at the end of the universe after all the stuff has happened, choices made.
    • 5 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    This topic has come up quite a bit before.

    Anyway, I've argued the same before, but I'll play the devil's advocate this time.

    There's a subtle difference between knowing the outcome of an event and influencing the outcome of an event. It's a subtle point that some proponents of the argument tend to miss.

    If we assume that the Judeo-Christian God exists for a moment, He would be outside of space-time; in other words, time would not function in the same way as it does here, if it does at all. It's hard to speculate how exactly God would perceive the passage of time, but it's more than likely that he's got out the whole future panned out without a continuum.

    So, let's think of the scenario where God does not exist. Your example would be a perfectly feasible act of 'free will' without any paradoxes associated. Now, all you have to do is add a being outside of the universe that 'sees' everything - past, present and future - without having any direct effect on what actually goes on. Bingo, you don't have a contradiction.

    (Original post by Dandaman1)
    if God is not omniscient or omnipotent, he is not God.
    You mean, every religion that asserts those properties of God. There are many religions that do not.
    • Thread Starter
    • 4 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Arekkusu)
    No no no, it's about perspective. God can know what you're going to do, but as long as you don't get that information, from your perspective you retain free will. That's fairly standard for the universe to be honest.

    Or you could see it as God being outside of time, which he must be by any reasonable definition. Time is static with relation to him, so even though here it might be the thirteen billionth year since the universe started, he exists simultaneously (from our perspective) in our time and at the end of the universe after all the stuff has happened, choices made.
    So if I entered a competition where the makers of the competition knew there would be no chance of winning, as long as I didn't know, I still had the chance of winning?

    'When' God is doesn't really change anything. The universe is still bound by time, therefore at its start our actions were preordained, with God knowing them both before and after.
    • Thread Starter
    • 4 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Xotol)
    This topic has come up quite a bit before.

    Anyway, I've argued the same before, but I'll play the devil's advocate this time.

    There's a subtle difference between knowing the outcome of an event and influencing the outcome of an event. It's a subtle point that some proponents of the argument tend to miss.

    If we assume that the Judeo-Christian God exists for a moment, He would be outside of space-time; in other words, time would not function in the same way as it does here, if it does at all. It's hard to speculate how exactly God would perceive the passage of time, but it's more than likely that he's got out the whole future panned out without a continuum.

    So, let's think of the scenario where God does not exist. Your example would be a perfectly feasible act of 'free will' without any paradoxes associated. Now, all you have to do is add a being outside of the universe that 'sees' everything - past, present and future - without having any direct effect on what actually goes on. Bingo, you don't have a contradiction.
    There is a contradiction where that being judges us based on our actions, and promises us salvation if we behave, as though he is still to judge us. From that perspective it isn't a fair test if he already knows the outcome. You are also demoting God to a mere observer - many theists believe God directly interacts with the universe and has preset events in accordance with a 'plan', and these were the people my thought experiment mainly targeted.

    Your point also assumes that I believe 'free will' exists in the absence of God. We are, after all, a product of our neurology and environmental influences.

    Your points are still well reasoned and intelligent however.
    • 7 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    Amun-Ra only wants your ka to go down the path of Osiris and stray from going down the path of Set; he doesn't foresee your every actions or care about your personal affairs, despite Ra being king of humans. Humans have complete free will.
    • 2 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Dandaman1)
    So if I entered a competition where the makers of the competition knew there would be no chance of winning, as long as I didn't know, I still had the chance of winning?

    'When' God is doesn't really change anything. The universe is still bound by time, therefore at its start our actions were preordained, with God knowing them both before and after.
    "Start" has no meaning as time is an illusion. The universe is a static object made of information. The perception of time just depends on where the observer is positioned in relation to all the information, what he can see and what he can't. That's the situation whether God exists or not, so we don't have free will at all (the global perspective), but from our perspective we can see stuff like quantum collapse so for us it's not.

    Just consider what happens when someone falls into a black hole. From his perspective, he's over the event horizon in a flash and then even quicker is liquidated. However, from the spaceship, his clock ticks ever slower, and he never reaches the horizon. I'm sure you've read this a million times before.

    It's not that the observers' viewpoint is misguided in any way - time has literally slowed down and in "their" universe/observational perspective him falling into the black hole literally never happens.

    It's a decent analogy because the people on the spaceship would be like "he hasn't passed the event horizon, he still has the free will to escape".
    • 10 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by OMG TOOTHBRUSH)
    Religion and logic don't go very well together
    You should meet Dr. William Lane Craig and Ravi Zacharias.
    • 2 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    • Thread Starter
    • 4 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Arekkusu)
    "Start" has no meaning as time is an illusion. The universe is a static object made of information. The perception of time just depends on where the observer is positioned in relation to all the information, what he can see and what he can't. That's the situation whether God exists or not, so we don't have free will at all (the global perspective), but from our perspective we can see stuff like quantum collapse so for us it's not.

    Just consider what happens when someone falls into a black hole. From his perspective, he's over the event horizon in a flash and then even quicker is liquidated. However, from the spaceship, his clock ticks ever slower, and he never reaches the horizon. I'm sure you've read this a million times before.

    It's not that the observers' viewpoint is misguided in any way - time has literally slowed down and in "their" universe/observational perspective him falling into the black hole literally never happens.

    It's a decent analogy because the people on the spaceship would be like "he hasn't passed the event horizon, he still has the free will to escape".
    The speed of time varies with location of perspective. God is in all places - therefore can see 'ahead' of us, therefore knows what we will do before we do. If he knows what we will do before we do, he has already pre-judged us, therefore it is pointless for us to try and get into heaven at all - nothing we can do from our perspective will change anything; he's already made his mind up. We only get the illusion of choice from our perspective, just like the people on the space ship get, because their perspective is 'behind' the man in the black hole's.
    • 23 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    From the Islamic perspective.

    God knowing what you're going to do, does not mean God chooses what you're going to do. You may be in any given situation, however the choice is always yours to make on what you do. God simply creates that action and permits you to have a choice in the first place.

    When a man shoots someone, God already knew he was going to do this, however it was the man himself who inevitably decided that he will pull the trigger.

    Just because I state here that Dandaman is going to convert to Islam in a years time, and then Dandaman does just that - does not mean I just took Dandaman's own free will to decide to convert away.
    • 1 follower
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    It's simple.

    God's plan is for us to have free will.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    God did not know, and cannot know what a free will person will do before they are created. There is nothing to know. If God decided not to create us, do we still make choices? So our choices don't pre-exist us, that is not logical at all.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    I would argue that free will always wins out, take the most famous story of the old testament, adam and eve, they were told not to eat from the tree of knowledge and yet they did and God was hurt "proof" that God didn't know it was going to happen as if he had he wouldn't have been hurt or surprised especially not if he had planned it to happen
    • 5 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Dandaman1)
    There is a contradiction where that being judges us based on our actions, and promises us salvation if we behave, as though he is still to judge us. From that perspective it isn't a fair test if he already knows the outcome.
    That isn't a contradiction. At the worst, that is just God being a complete ******* by making us wait that long. That does not mean, however, that he has affected our decisions in any way, so a judgement could still be warranted by his criteria.

    It is a 'fair' test ultimately; everyone is still making their own decisions without the direct influence of God.

    (I'd still say his 'criteria' for believers and non-believers is just about the most despicable way of choosing who goes to heaven or hell.)

    You are also demoting God to a mere observer - many theists believe God directly interacts with the universe and has preset events in accordance with a 'plan', and these were the people my thought experiment mainly targeted.
    Yeah, but if God wasn't an observer in this instance, it would be completely logically contradictory to the omniscient property of God.

    Your point also assumes that I believe 'free will' exists in the absence of God. We are, after all, a product of our neurology and environmental influences.
    Of course, but that is irrelevant to my point. I was talking about free will in terms of 'here's an apple and orange, which one you gonna choose?' Without God, it would be 50-50 if we didn't have any preferences. All the existence of God does is add an 'observer' who knows what you're going to do, but didn't choose himself.

    (Original post by .eXe)
    You should meet Dr. William Lane Craig and Ravi Zacharias.
    Not sure about the other guy, but WLC is a horrible debater. All he does is flood the opposition with his 5 logically flawed arguments and complain when the other guy doesn't respond to them all adequately, even though there is no feasible way they could have done in the given time.
    • 0 followers
    Offline

    ReputationRep:
    God doesnt affect our free will as he is a make believe character in a very old book.

Reply

Submit reply

Register

Thanks for posting! You just need to create an account in order to submit the post
  1. this can't be left blank
    that username has been taken, please choose another Forgotten your password?
  2. this can't be left blank
    this email is already registered. Forgotten your password?
  3. this can't be left blank

    6 characters or longer with both numbers and letters is safer

  4. this can't be left empty
    your full birthday is required
  1. By joining you agree to our Ts and Cs, privacy policy and site rules

  2. Slide to join now Processing…

Updated: May 11, 2012
New on TSR

Find out what year 11 is like

Going into year 11? Students who did it last year share what to expect.

Article updates
Useful resources
Reputation gems:
You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.