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Does God Have Free Will?

God Free Will omniscience

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#1 oolongcha

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Posted 17 May 2012 - 03:58 PM

If we conceive of a god as being omniscient i.e. all-knowing, as I understand a number of Christians, Jews and Muslims do, and that he knows the future, does this god have free will? Surely God would know what he was going to do before he does it; and as he is also usually conceived to be omnipotent, he presumably must know that he will be successful in whatever it is he wishes to do, and by virtue of knowing everything, whether or not he will do it.

But if he doesn't have free will, how can he said to be in some sense the creator of the universe and all that it contains? This implies an act of volition, of free will, on his part - to say otherwise, that he was somehow forced into an act of creation, would at least question his omnipotence.

Just a thought.

#2 orphadeus

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 11:21 AM

Does a coin have heads or tails?

#3 oolongcha

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Posted 18 May 2012 - 04:30 PM

View Postorphadeus, on 18 May 2012 - 11:21 AM, said:

Does a coin have heads or tails?
You can accept a coin can have both without any obvious contradiction - but you wouldn't claim that a coin has free will...

#4 orphadeus

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 04:45 PM

The first part of your reply can, I believe, apply to the topic.

#5 rederic

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 05:09 PM

It's said that God is a perfect entity. How could a perfect being bear to create imperfection?

#6 oolongcha

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 11:07 PM

View Postorphadeus, on 21 May 2012 - 04:45 PM, said:

The first part of your reply can, I believe, apply to the topic.
The first part of that reply implies that omnipotence and omniscience are NOT two sides of the same coin - the suggestion in the opening post is in fact precisely one of their inherent incompatiblity, which may perhaps be seen when you consider something like free will and "God" (as commonly conceived).

#7 oolongcha

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 11:17 PM

View Postrederic, on 21 May 2012 - 05:09 PM, said:

It's said that God is a perfect entity. How could a perfect being bear to create imperfection?
Perhaps his perfect understanding allows him to understand that, sometimes, that's life...?

Not sure, though, that it follows that a perfect being has to create perfect things or that it is unable to tolerate the imperfect :doh:

#8 orphadeus

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 10:57 AM

If you consider Albert Einstien's view that the past, present and future happen simultaneous..

That would indicate no contradiction between fate and free will.

#9 oolongcha

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 05:31 PM

View Postorphadeus, on 22 May 2012 - 10:57 AM, said:

If you consider Albert Einstien's view that the past, present and future happen simultaneous..

That would indicate no contradiction between fate and free will.

The contradiction is between omnipotence and omniscience - not fate and free will. We're talking specifically knowing the future and being all powerful - under those circumstances, can you be said to have free will?.

#10 orphadeus

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Posted 29 May 2012 - 06:14 PM

Quote

'having complete or unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding; perceiving all things.'


http://dictionary.re...owse/omniscient

I don't see any contradiction with omnipotent.

Edited by oolongcha, 30 May 2012 - 03:43 AM.
reformated for legibility


#11 oolongcha

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 03:42 AM

If you have "unlimited" and "complete" knowledge, there can be NOTHING that is unknown - including the future. By definition.

If you are all-powerful, there is, equally by definition, NOTHING you cannot do.

But being all-knowing means that it would be literally impossible to do something for which the outcome is in any meaningful sense unknown to that which is all-knowing - which then surely would imply a lack of omnipotence?

But more specifically, if something is all-knowing, in what sense can it be said to 'freely' choose to do an action? It already knows the choice it's going to make - otherwise it couldn't claim to know everything. It's not fated as such - there's no "fate" saying that x WILL choose A over B; just simply that x knows beforehand what x in fact is going to choose.

#12 Harlequin

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Posted 30 May 2012 - 10:29 AM

Hi Ooloncha. Nice to see you still alive. :-)

As regards the question...

God set it all up, so he had choice in the outcome, he had the free will to do whatever he wanted, so one can safely assume there IS free will (on his part) and if he had the choice to set it up, he has the choice to change it at whim. Presumably this all happens at a level to vast for us puny mortals to see or comprehend. (Unseen hand of God etc.)

Or to put it another way, when they wrote the attributes of God, they had to trump or one-up all other Gods currently being used, so they used a stupid semantic argument that keeps you tied up trying to unravel a contradiction, rather than realising it's all just sleight of mind and the stupid deity doesn’t exist, and in fact using their rules CAN’T exist.

#13 oolongcha

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 03:36 AM

Hi Harlequin! Good to see you still drop in!

View PostHarlequin, on 30 May 2012 - 10:29 AM, said:

Or to put it another way, when they wrote the attributes of God, they had to trump or one-up all other Gods currently being used, so they used a stupid semantic argument that keeps you tied up trying to unravel a contradiction, rather than realising it's all just sleight of mind and the stupid deity doesn’t exist, and in fact using their rules CAN’T exist.

Pretty much a case of nail, head and appropriately applied percussive force, I'd say.

I was thinking that the omniscience-omnipotence contradiction as I've put it above was bit of a Zeno-type paradox, but I now realise it wasn't Zeno I was thinking of, but Epicurius. Although not strictly relevant, it's the quote that goes:

Quote

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.

Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.

Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?

Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?


#14 ai21

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 07:27 AM

you understood that free will is somehow manipulated - nice one.

there are three ways in which "free will" is manipulated:
the first can be called "by force" or "in reality": the fact it is possible for you to kill don't make you a murderer.
the creator "created a void" - chosing not to use his powers so that the creatures will have "free choice".
one of the results is murder - an innocent man can be killed because of another man decision.


the second is "irrelevance":
I can't predict the future, but if I play a game of chess with Boris Gelfand - I know I will lose.
so most of what we consider "free choice" is made irrelevant later (a man stealing from his grandmother which later dies giving him smaller inheritance compared to his brothers).
the only relevant thing is did we "chose the good" or not.
this can be likened to "collecting points" - and having events according to the points you accumulated.


the third is a stronger version of the "irrelevance viewpoint" suggest that even the choices we make are irrelevant - as we decide them according to past decisions we made (like the Pharaoh decision not to "let my people go" resulting from his past cruelty reflecting in - "I have hardened his heart").
this means that every moral decision, even minor ones have huge impact as they will effect how we will decide in important ethical decisions, choosing the bad denies us of choice.
but it also means that things like "how ethical are the friends I choose"? "how ethical are the neighbours in the house I choose"? "what books to read"? "what movie to watch"? are the important decisions I make and many other decisions are the result of this "free will choice".


these views suggest the same thing - while the future is not "predetermined", it is limited.
most of the "possible futures" were cancelled, so that the possible outcomes that the creator desire will happen no matter what we do.
but we choose the route we take - choosing between these possible futures.

#15 oolongcha

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Posted 31 May 2012 - 08:08 AM

View Postai21, on 31 May 2012 - 07:27 AM, said:

you understood that free will is somehow manipulated - nice one.

A swing and a miss...

Not for the first time, you've misunderstood what I've said. Nice one.




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