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    i like the idea of free will, and i wish we were free, but i think life is much more deterministic than that. i don't belive in fate, but i think our choices are tied to our social and economic background and our experiences.
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    I feel that free will does not exist because of the following argument:

    Each 'choice' you reach is like a crossroads or a fork in the road. There are thousands of these on different scales all interacting with each other. But break any action down repeatedly until you come to the root of the choice. Your choice has an effect. However this effect is predetermined because of your choice. Your choice is predetermined because of the cause. Whatever options you have in front of you the one you choose will have always been the one you were inevitably going to choose.

    Use a magnet analogy. For every choice you are in the middle of two magnets. The magnets will be of different strength and size. Depending on your position relative to the two fields you will be pulled to one magnet of the other. It's as if you are entirely inanimate. There is no free will - the pull of one magnet will always be greater, and the combination of input factors will always give a fixed output. However incomprehensible or irrational this decision it was predermined just nor predictable.

    Perhaps if you could compute every interaction of bodies (as some thought you could with Newton's laws) using a form of physics we don't yet know then everything could be predicted. However I am very skeptical of this as there are billions of interactions of bodies and forces going on every second of every day and these billions of different causes and effects all form the river of life.

    Therefore we are where we are because of the path that lays behind us, everything is predetermined but in an incredibly complex and macrocosmic way.

    Because of the sheer scale of predeterminism and its incomprehensibility I don't think that the notion is as worrying as many would make out. Sure it has implications for crime etc etc but I feel that the cause is still your doing even if it was predetermined.
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    (Original post by piginapoke)
    It doesn't actually matter, does it, whether we actually have free will or we don't? We don't really know and we wouldn't know the difference either way.
    Indeed - nor does it matter whether God exists (bar religions), but people discuss them anyway. Most things when reduced don't matter anyway. I think it's an interesting concept anyway and certainly can be applied if only theoretically to morality.

    Consider the validity of blame/punishment if free will is indeed an untrue concept.
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    (Original post by Weejimmie)
    There's nothing wrong with me...with me...with me...
    He said through a mouthful of carpet.


    If you reject the idea of free will, you can reject every argument or action in its favour by simply stating that it was inevitable that that would happen anyway. If you toss a coin and decide "Heads- i go left. Tails- I go right" then fate, destiny or whatever determines how the coin falls. If you decide to ignore the coin, it was going to happen like that anyway. Even your decision to believe or not believe that there is such a thing as free will was not a decision on your part. It would happen like that anyway.
    Yes - the problem is that we can't go back in time and choose to do things a second time differently, having exactly the same conditions as the first time around.

    What gets me is that even if you rationally refuse to believe in the idea of free will, you can't escape thinking and acting as if you believe in it (although many of your actions are controlled without our express orders - the heart's beating etc). So, if we don't have free will, why have we been lumbered with the illusion of having it - what's the point?

    Also, believing in free will allows moments when one's will seems to have no say in what happens to you - eg continuing to fall out of a plane; whereas that isn't the case the other way around - more flexibility!
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    (Original post by rIcHrD)
    Indeed - nor does it matter whether God exists (bar religions), but people discuss them anyway. Most things when reduced don't matter anyway. I think it's an interesting concept anyway and certainly can be applied if only theoretically to morality.

    Consider the validity of blame/punishment if free will is indeed an untrue concept.
    Yeah - but whatever would happen as a consequence of re-appraising free will would have happened anyway - so no worries - it's not as if we had any say in the matter!
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    Let me start by saying that I'm firmly in the determinist camp when it comes to this argument.To try to simplify my own view of it: If you are either the culmination of a set of genetic factors(the nature side) or the sum of a set amount of social factors(the nurture side), then who you are and who you become isn't controlled by whatever you refer to as 'I',be it the mind,the body or soul.Therefore,if you do not control who you are then you can't control any 'decisions' you make because essentially they're only the effect of a cause outside yourself.This doesn't constitute a 'free' choice as it is dependent on factors out of your control.That said, let me attempt to take up the other side of the argument.

    If free will is to be believed as a transcendental 'gift' from God then attempting to understand it becomes irrational.As a transcendental quality it follows that we cannot understand in the same way in which we cannot comprehend God.God is an infinite being and we are not.Having no concept of an infinite being means that we cannot understand it.Not being able to understand it means that we cannot understand the qualities associated or given by it.We therefore cannot understand 'free will' and rationalise the idea through descriptions of illusion.

    I remember an argument of philosophical determinism(which somewhat supported free will-I disagreed and was told to accept it or leave) that states whenever a choice becomes internalised,it constitutes free will.To apply this to the fork in the road analogy: Sure you were already heading home but why were you going home?At some point,there must have been a decision made(the cause of which can be a matter of conditioning and social learning and not constitute a choice,but meh) to go home and choose the direction to take.
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    (Original post by fussy)
    Yes - the problem is that we can't go back in time and choose to do things a second time differently, having exactly the same conditions as the first time around.

    What gets me is that even if you rationally refuse to believe in the idea of free will, you can't escape thinking and acting as if you believe in it (although many of your actions are controlled without our express orders - the heart's beating etc). So, if we don't have free will, why have we been lumbered with the illusion of having it - what's the point?

    Also, believing in free will allows moments when one's will seems to have no say in what happens to you - eg continuing to fall out of a plane; whereas that isn't the case the other way around - more flexibility!
    Even if we could travel back in time, it doesn't change the issue much - as long as you observe the same universe, the same events would happen the same way. If they don't then why did they happen in the first place?

    Most things aren't for a reason. We're not really lumbered with the illusion - we create and accept it. It (like many other ideas e.g. spiritual existence) provides us with comfort without which our subsequent emotional instability from purposelessness would contradict the evolutionary causes for our existence.

    Yes, belief in free will is beneficial to mental stability - or at least it would seem so. I'm not sure what you mean by flexibility though.

    (Original post by fussy)
    Yeah - but whatever would happen as a consequence of re-appraising free will would have happened anyway - so no worries - it's not as if we had any say in the matter!
    Not sure what this is supposed to mean. If it's some argument that the discussion is pointless because it was inevitable, then all i can do is :rolleyes: .
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    (Original post by rIcHrD)
    We're not really lumbered with the illusion - we create and accept it. It (like many other ideas e.g. spiritual existence) provides us with comfort without which our subsequent emotional instability from purposelessness would contradict the evolutionary causes for our existence.

    Yes, belief in free will is beneficial to mental stability - or at least it would seem so. I'm not sure what you mean by flexibility though.
    I don't think we 'create and accept' the 'illusion' of free will - I would be pretty confident that people have an innate sense of having a free will, regardless of their culture. Rather, we 'create and accept' the arguments denying free will without truly feeling that they are right.

    Why, if we do not have free will, is it important to us that we have 'mental stability'? What's the point of the self-conscious mind and its multifarious negotiated acts of planning, wishing, lusting etc if our actions are pre-determined and unaffected by it? If you argued yourself into disbelieving 'free will' would you then be spared all the inner anguish of decision-making - and the sense that YOU to make the decision, whatever it may be? I say, NO!

    As far as 'blame' goes, it's not an abstract concept dreamt up by humans which subsequently leaches into our emotional/moral lives - it's a term used to describe attitudes and actions that are profoundly human and precede their naming. For this reason, I don't think denying free will through dry reasoning (which, as I've said, does not entail real felt conviction) will bring down 'blaming', 'revenging', 'judging', 'punishing' like so many dominoes, as the latter are actions that are pre-linguistic, cross-cultural (and often inter-species too). Scientific and philosophical explanations cannot change basic human nature and our private dispositions - even if free will were definitively disproved, we would still be doomed to 'judge' and 'blame' much as before, except perhaps the objects of our judging and blaming would change (we would judge and blame those who aren't judging and blaming dispassionately, or rationally enough!)

    I challenge you to come up with a novelistic account of the inner life of someone spending a day bereft of a sense of free will.
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    On the risk of being stoned to death by atheists -

    Conflicting as these ideas seem: I believe in God, predestination, and free-will

    I believe in an all-powerful God, who as far as we can comprehend is infinite. Our actions are as we understand 'predestined'. However, the crucial point to my theology is that this infinite God is not bound by the concept of time (as he is infinite).

    He does know our actions before they happen, which would seem to us like they have already been predetermined (therefore our actions are inevitable, therefore no free will, etc).

    HOWEVER, as he is outside the realm of time, this is not the case. Being not bound by time, he doesn't know our actions because we have no choice, but he knows our actions because effectively, we have already carried them out.

    So in actual fact he doesn't know our actions before we do them (although it seems this way, as we ourselves are bound by the concept of time - and we associate him with this momentary point - when in actual fact he is not confined to any momentary point whatsoever). Instead he knows our actions BECAUSE we did them.
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    (Original post by piginapoke)
    This has probably been said here already, but this is my take. Either we have free will, or 'God' exists in places where we can't determine. By this I mean that the brain is very undeterministic to us even at a basic level; even if we knew exponentially more about how the brain works we'd still be left with the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics to add indeterminism. So, we can either take the fact that we'll [given current science] never be able to predetermine an action to mean we have free will, or equally validly include God as being the force behind the indeterminism.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but you're essentially stating that the 'undeterministic' of the human mind is a result of either a metaphysical 'free will' or metaphysical 'God'. I don't this is valid logic, at least - it is restricting the range of answers beyond what you have evidence to suggest. You can have more answers beyond those of free will and God, albeit that the two answers you give are rather convenient. I'd argue that they are nontheless non-functional as they create as many problems as they attempt to solve.

    Without going into tedious explanation about why I think such things are the case; suffice it to say that even if what you proposed were correct (the part about non-determinism) it would not exclude the validity of the claim that it is an illusion. Certainly, it should be conceivable that at a higher level (e.g. god if we assume it plausible) that the universe is constant. This would be true if causality applied, i.e. if time were hypothetically reversed and reinitiated from a different point, then all occurences would be expected to be the same - as otherwise they would not have happened in the first instance. Thus, at this level free will is an illusion, but at our level could easily be accepted as reality.
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    (Original post by fussy)
    I don't think we 'create and accept' the 'illusion' of free will - I would be pretty confident that people have an innate sense of having a free will, regardless of their culture. Rather, we 'create and accept' the arguments denying free will without truly feeling that they are right.

    Why, if we do not have free will, is it important to us that we have 'mental stability'? What's the point of the self-conscious mind and its multifarious negotiated acts of planning, wishing, lusting etc if our actions are pre-determined and unaffected by it? If you argued yourself into disbelieving 'free will' would you then be spared all the inner anguish of decision-making - and the sense that YOU to make the decision, whatever it may be? I say, NO!

    As far as 'blame' goes, it's not an abstract concept dreamt up by humans which subsequently leaches into our emotional/moral lives - it's a term used to describe attitudes and actions that are profoundly human and precede their naming. For this reason, I don't think denying free will through dry reasoning (which, as I've said, does not entail real felt conviction) will bring down 'blaming', 'revenging', 'judging', 'punishing' like so many dominoes, as the latter are actions that are pre-linguistic, cross-cultural (and often inter-species too). Scientific and philosophical explanations cannot change basic human nature and our private dispositions - even if free will were definitively disproved, we would still be doomed to 'judge' and 'blame' much as before, except perhaps the objects of our judging and blaming would change (we would judge and blame those who aren't judging and blaming dispassionately, or rationally enough!)

    I challenge you to come up with a novelistic account of the inner life of someone spending a day bereft of a sense of free will.
    People have an innate sense of balancing inputs to produce outputs - choice. However I don't think this is identical to saying they have an innate sence of free will. We have a concept of choice as it is an essential requirement of survival, however, we essentially choose based on our principles - e.g. to stay alive, raise children, feel good etc. From my consideration of the definition of free will, this ONLY constitutes free will when there is the possibility of more than one choice. Yet this is paradoxical as only once choice can be made. I can understand what you mean in that the concept free will is seemingly 'natural' amongst cultures - but I don't think this is related to some innate correctness, merely (like most similarities within cultures), it provides a convenient way to live.

    Your discussion of the utility of choice when essentially all is predetermined is arguing about a different definition of free will to what I've been referring to. Our choices are determined by our mind, which is itself constructed from our experiences - which themselves are independent factors. This means inevitably, the same experience on the same individual at the same time gives the same response (produced from the mind). You are right, we do make decisions - but that doesn't make them free. It's all part of the concept of an illusion resulting from the nature of our minds.

    You have interesting thoughts on blame/judging/punishment. I agree with you - accepting the position that free will is not valid isn't compatible with our current existence, though I'm not sure if that's an irrepressible instinct as you suggest.

    Err - as to your challenge, well I'm not entirely sure the answer to that. At the very least, not sure of a pleasant answer to that. Presumably (and simplistically) there are 2 possible scenarios. Indifferent acceptance - i.e. I have no free will, but that's not meaningful as it serves me no purpose. Absolute acceptance - i.e. all concepts are abstract, values are meaningless, existence is thus meaningless. The 2nd position can have all sorts of responses, but I think competition with basic survival instincts drives people to reject any such (or similar positions) and thus a return to position 1 is favoured. This shows how and why such principles do not confer mental stability and why they are thus not 'natural' within (at early) societies.
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    (Original post by corey)
    This is a contradiction in itself. You are saying that we do not have free will...except to refuse something.
    I'm not saying we don't have free will!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (Original post by corey)
    Free will entails we can do whatever we wish.
    I agree.
    (Original post by corey)
    Lets take the example of a decision that we must either 'accept' or 'refuse'. Taking your statement as a premise that would mean that if we 'accept' the decision that is not free will...however if we 'refuse' the decision that is free will.
    No, that's not what I mean. Sorry, I should have phrased it better. We can only do something if the opportunity arises for us to do it. Sometimes we are able to manipulate things in order to force the situation in a particular way. When opportunities do come along we can only decide whether or not to do whatever it is... So for every situation/opportunity that arises, the only choice/decision we have is to do the thing or to refuse to do the thing.
    Hope that makes a bit more sense.

    (Original post by corey)
    I think you are confused about what is meant by determinism and free will.
    I'm not.
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    (Original post by Amrad)
    I feel that free will does not exist because of the following argument:

    Each 'choice' you reach is like a crossroads or a fork in the road. There are thousands of these on different scales all interacting with each other. But break any action down repeatedly until you come to the root of the choice. Your choice has an effect. However this effect is predetermined because of your choice. Your choice is predetermined because of the cause. Whatever options you have in front of you the one you choose will have always been the one you were inevitably going to choose.

    Use a magnet analogy. For every choice you are in the middle of two magnets. The magnets will be of different strength and size. Depending on your position relative to the two fields you will be pulled to one magnet of the other. It's as if you are entirely inanimate. There is no free will - the pull of one magnet will always be greater, and the combination of input factors will always give a fixed output. However incomprehensible or irrational this decision it was predermined just nor predictable.

    Perhaps if you could compute every interaction of bodies (as some thought you could with Newton's laws) using a form of physics we don't yet know then everything could be predicted. However I am very skeptical of this as there are billions of interactions of bodies and forces going on every second of every day and these billions of different causes and effects all form the river of life.

    Therefore we are where we are because of the path that lays behind us, everything is predetermined but in an incredibly complex and macrocosmic way.

    Because of the sheer scale of predeterminism and its incomprehensibility I don't think that the notion is as worrying as many would make out. Sure it has implications for crime etc etc but I feel that the cause is still your doing even if it was predetermined.
    Can anyone counter this arguement? (Because I can't and surely those who believe in free will have an antithesis?)
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    (Original post by madman500)
    On the risk of being stoned to death by atheists -

    Conflicting as these ideas seem: I believe in God, predestination, and free-will

    I believe in an all-powerful God, who as far as we can comprehend is infinite. Our actions are as we understand 'predestined'. However, the crucial point to my theology is that this infinite God is not bound by the concept of time (as he is infinite).

    He does know our actions before they happen, which would seem to us like they have already been predetermined (therefore our actions are inevitable, therefore no free will, etc).

    HOWEVER, as he is outside the realm of time, this is not the case. Being not bound by time, he doesn't know our actions because we have no choice, but he knows our actions because effectively, we have already carried them out.

    So in actual fact he doesn't know our actions before we do them (although it seems this way, as we ourselves are bound by the concept of time - and we associate him with this momentary point - when in actual fact he is not confined to any momentary point whatsoever). Instead he knows our actions BECAUSE we did them.
    No go, I'm afraid. Our actions- indeed, the whole of the universe, past present future- are all one complete solid.. To your god we are a perfect and completely immobile multidimensional block.
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    (Original post by rIcHrD)
    You are right, we do make decisions - but that doesn't make them free. It's all part of the concept of an illusion resulting from the nature of our minds.
    Yeah - I remember reading in the New Scientist about an experiment that suggested that we 'decide' to do something after that something has already been done - thus, our choosing was illusory. For instance, I would think 'yes, I'll move right hand over there and hit that button' without realising that my arm had already started to shift in that direction before the thought had occured to me. Freaky, really.

    I think one of the proposed explanations for this was that the self-conscious aspect of the brain was a by-product of its complexity, existing in order to help it run more smoothly, by giving some bits things to do when not in use (relating back to a point you made earlier).
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    (Original post by Amrad)
    I feel that free will does not exist because of the following argument:

    Each 'choice' you reach is like a crossroads or a fork in the road. There are thousands of these on different scales all interacting with each other. But break any action down repeatedly until you come to the root of the choice. Your choice has an effect. However this effect is predetermined because of your choice. Your choice is predetermined because of the cause. Whatever options you have in front of you the one you choose will have always been the one you were inevitably going to choose.

    Use a magnet analogy. For every choice you are in the middle of two magnets. The magnets will be of different strength and size. Depending on your position relative to the two fields you will be pulled to one magnet of the other. It's as if you are entirely inanimate. There is no free will - the pull of one magnet will always be greater, and the combination of input factors will always give a fixed output. However incomprehensible or irrational this decision it was predermined just nor predictable.

    Perhaps if you could compute every interaction of bodies (as some thought you could with Newton's laws) using a form of physics we don't yet know then everything could be predicted. However I am very skeptical of this as there are billions of interactions of bodies and forces going on every second of every day and these billions of different causes and effects all form the river of life.

    Therefore we are where we are because of the path that lays behind us, everything is predetermined but in an incredibly complex and macrocosmic way.

    Because of the sheer scale of predeterminism and its incomprehensibility I don't think that the notion is as worrying as many would make out. Sure it has implications for crime etc etc but I feel that the cause is still your doing even if it was predetermined.

    Regarding the magnet analogy: I assume these magnets are meant to symbolise the drives or motives that decisions are made on.In trying to think of an argument to counter this,I was drawn completely to questioning this analogy.Would it be any different in the analogy if you controlled or possessed these magnets.Whilst still remaining inanimate and dependent on the stronger pull, does ownership make this a choice? What interests me regarding the free will argument is how it can be dependent on the view of self.You could view yourself as being the walking slate of internalised experiences gained from an independent source as determinists would or could you view yourself simply as the result of the independent source alone?That may not be too clear.What when you say 'I chose to..' when supporting free will, the 'I' is defined as who you are now,experiences and all rather than the seperated mind with foreign experiences making the decision.I may be trying to force that.

    (Original post by Madman500)
    HOWEVER, as he is outside the realm of time, this is not the case. Being not bound by time, he doesn't know our actions because we have no choice, but he knows our actions because effectively, we have already carried them out.
    As he is an infinite being, his understanding and knowledge also knows no boundaries and thus attempting to paint God as this ignorant figure because of his own supposed qualities doesn't work in this case.God is Omniscient,Omnipotent and Benevolent.Apparently.
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    Apologies for the the layout of this post I havent bothered to read the help files on this forum and dont know who to quote someone else post in sections with my points in between them so that their part is highlighted and mine isnt. Rather than retype it later I have put original paragraphs in inverted commas whilst mine are not. Hope this is clear enough. Will find out how to do it properly before attempting to be a smartarse again.

    (Original post by Amrad)
    "I feel that free will does not exist because of the following argument:

    Each 'choice' you reach is like a crossroads or a fork in the road. There are thousands of these on different scales all interacting with each other. But break any action down repeatedly until you come to the root of the choice. Your choice has an effect. However this effect is predetermined because of your choice. Your choice is predetermined because of the cause. Whatever options you have in front of you the one you choose will have always been the one you were inevitably going to choose. "

    Why should the effect be predetermined because of your choice, you have just stated this but not demonstrated it.Also that it was inevitable which choice you would make, even if you tossed a coin you say this is predetermined but how do you demonstrate this sweeping statement.

    "Use a magnet analogy. For every choice you are in the middle of two magnets. The magnets will be of different strength and size. Depending on your position relative to the two fields you will be pulled to one magnet of the other. It's as if you are entirely inanimate. There is no free will - the pull of one magnet will always be greater, and the combination of input factors will always give a fixed output. However incomprehensible or irrational this decision it was predermined just nor predictable. "

    Is it not possible that you could be faced with identical magnets holding you between them requiring some kinetic imput from yourself ie a choice. This is too simply an analogy to have real meaning.

    "Perhaps if you could compute every interaction of bodies (as some thought you could with Newton's laws) using a form of physics we don't yet know then everything could be predicted. However I am very skeptical of this as there are billions of interactions of bodies and forces going on every second of every day and these billions of different causes and effects all form the river of life. "

    You have just stated everything is pre dermined which must include the behaviour of every single atom, sub atomic particle, neutrino etc in the universe or the whole theory cannot hold up.

    "Therefore we are where we are because of the path that lays behind us, everything is predetermined but in an incredibly complex and macrocosmic way."

    How can something be behind us in relation to the continuum of time as we know it if it wasnt previously in front of us, at that time before the alleged predetermined action was taken?

    "Because of the sheer scale of predeterminism and its incomprehensibility I don't think that the notion is as worrying as many would make out. Sure it has implications for crime etc etc but I feel that the cause is still your doing even if it was predetermined.
    "

    This one takes the biscuit, how can the cause be your own doing if it was predetermined ie you never had a choice. How can there then be any concept of responsibility? You final brief mention on implication of crime doesnt even scratch the surface on implications does it? The whole concept of responsibility is what anyone who supports the idea of free will begin their arguement on and thats just for starters.
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    (Original post by Weejimmie)
    No go, I'm afraid. Our actions- indeed, the whole of the universe, past present future- are all one complete solid.. To your god we are a perfect and completely immobile multidimensional block.
    Expand please
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    Madman500:
    If we accept your theory of a god outside time- such a being would have to be outside "space" as well I think- which creates the universe, then the whole universe is a solid to its perception, as fixed in time as it is in space. We must do something, because what someone else does- which is known to your god- in a week, or even in a million years is entirely dependent on our doing that thing now.
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    (Original post by Weejimmie)
    Madman500:
    If we accept your theory of a god outside time- such a being would have to be outside "space" as well I think- which creates the universe, then the whole universe is a solid to its perception, as fixed in time as it is in space. We must do something, because what someone else does- which is known to your god- in a week, or even in a million years is entirely dependent on our doing that thing now.
    An all-powerful god is by definition neither bound by time or space, or any of our demensions for that matter. When i use the word bound - I mean he is not limited by space.

    (Original post by Weejimmie)
    We must do something, because what someone else does- which is known to your god- in a week, or even in a million years is entirely dependent on our doing that thing now.
    I AGREE TOTALLY - indeed we must do that thing now, and it is completely up to us what that thing is. He knows what it is as he is not limited by time - and can therefore see us do the action in the future. To put it more clearly

    Usual Argument
    Perfect knowledge (seeing all future events) = Predestination (decision already made argument)

    However
    Perfect knowledge + God not limited by time = Perfect Knowldege + Free Will for us
 
 
 
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