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Free Will (Merged)
Posted: 28 November 2010 08:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2896 ]
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inthegobi - 28 November 2010 03:41 PM

Nothing that can be done is beyond [God’s] Will

So why did He get pissed off after Eve ate the apple?

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Posted: 28 November 2010 09:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2897 ]
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inthegobi - 28 November 2010 03:41 PM
Scott Mayers - 28 November 2010 01:12 AM

[First Objection:]
(1) If God grants us free will . . . then He has a domain for which he has no control over. (2) [And,] if God is all powerful and ever present according to their own beliefs, then, he is all-knowing. (3) But [then], God would know your every move and actions before they occur; (4) which means that your behavior is fated or destined to be. This is determinism.

[Second Objection:]
If God answers your prayers, is He not demeaning the idea of “free will”?

[A Question:]
And, if God did give “free will”, because it is beyond his control, could it be possible that his intentions may be to extend reality beyond which He himself could contain? In other words, would He not favor will that goes beyond merely favoring Him but rather beyond Him?

[Conclusion]
The argument is really affective on believers.

One Christian’s Replies:

To the first objection:
Statement (1) is ambiguous, for God may put our freedom to believe or act beyond His control *by His own choice*, and still have the power to negate it. Nothing that can be done is beyond His Will, is the posit, and it seems obvious that He can make our freedoms cease. Statement (3) does not follow from (2), under at least three different interpretations:
For first, statement (2) as it stands says nothing whatever about what God knows in the future - only the present. I at least am quite comfortable with God not seeing into the future, for I am one of those who believe the future has no existence - only the present exists. Thus there may well be *nothing whatever* that God, or anyone else, can know ‘observationally’ about the future. No-one, not even God, can observe what does not exist.
But suppose a more common view, that God somehow knows the future ‘observationally’, it still would be false that this knowledge entails that our wills are not free. That God knows *what* we shall choose is distinct from the fact *that* we choose freely. For say His knowledge of past, present and future is like a man on a hill-top, who can see all at once a large stretch of train-track. The conductors make their choices, and suppose those choices mean that there will be a smash-up. The man on the hill knows all this because of his vantage-point, but his knowledge makes the conductors’ decisions no less free as decisions.
Then there is the opinion that God knows the future like a very intelligent man knows the future: he knows observationally only the past and present, but can infallibly extrapolate into the future. But this scenario is even weaker than the previous one, for now there is not even future events ‘out there’ - there is just a certain kind of knowledge, which of itself has no causal effectiveness over another’s actions.

To the Second objection:
I assume the objection refers not to prayers for understanding or insight, but prayers that God perform some miracle, or intervene in some such way. To this can be replied that the Christian is not to suppose that prayer is a mechanical process - it is not putting quarters into a candy-machine. God’s will to reply is as free as is mine to ask; humility and mercy in the face of bad consequences do not seem demeaning. Moreover, it is doubtful that asking for deliverance from the bad consequences of one’s actions is demeaning to someone with free will, to say nothing of being demeaning to free will itself (whatever that might mean).

To the Conclusion: I reply that effectiveness can be effective toward particular individuals, and still be incorrect.

First of all, the last statement was not how “effective” the argument was. It was how “affective” it was and you just proved my point with your emotional response. Also, the statement was a afterthought rather than a conclusion. My conclusion to the argument was that determinism was true (your label 4).

Your first disagreement says that my first statement is ambiguous but you seem to understand clearly. You just don’t like it. You grant God the right to renege freedom of an individual’s will. If He can then what is the deciding factors? Whim? Why did He not take away Hitler’s freedom of will? And as George points out, He was pissed at Adam and Eve for picking the fruit of The Tree of Knowledge. Why should he be disappointed at his own will to grant freedom of will that may go against him? If I write a computer program enabling it to randomly flip a coin, should I think that there is something bad about the program as I run it when it gives me tails when I desire heads?

You misquoted your (2) from me. Given all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present, all-..., is what I have come across with most religious people. Perhaps you don’t define God as having these powers. I would have to take a different line of argument with you. But the argument indeed has been effective and affective to those I’ve argued with personally. Do you perceive your God as more of an advanced form of being rather than a superior absolute being?

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I eat without fear of certain Death from The Tree of Knowledge because with wisdom, we may one day break free from its mortal curse.

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Posted: 29 November 2010 02:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2898 ]
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inthegobi - 28 November 2010 03:41 PM

But suppose a more common view, that God somehow knows the future ‘observationally’, it still would be false that this knowledge entails that our wills are not free. That God knows *what* we shall choose is distinct from the fact *that* we choose freely. For say His knowledge of past, present and future is like a man on a hill-top, who can see all at once a large stretch of train-track. The conductors make their choices, and suppose those choices mean that there will be a smash-up. The man on the hill knows all this because of his vantage-point, but his knowledge makes the conductors’ decisions no less free as decisions

Yep.

Then there is the opinion that God knows the future like a very intelligent man knows the future: he knows observationally only the past and present, but can infallibly extrapolate into the future. But this scenario is even weaker than the previous one, for now there is not even future events ‘out there’ - there is just a certain kind of knowledge, which of itself has no causal effectiveness over another’s actions.

Nope. If God can make this calculation then there is only one possible future, given the way God made the world.

Adam would have avoided eating the apple if God had made the world appropriately differently but God did not.

God knew all the possible ways he could make the world and he knew that a consequence of selecting the world that he did was that Adam would eat the apple.

edit: God knew that whether Adam ate the apple or not depended upon which way he made the world.

Stephen

[ Edited: 29 November 2010 03:32 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 30 November 2010 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2899 ]
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George - 28 November 2010 08:27 PM
inthegobi - 28 November 2010 03:41 PM

Nothing that can be done is beyond [God’s] Will

So why did He get pissed off after Eve ate the apple?

Understanding the idea that nothing is done beyond God’s will which means Adam and Eve were granted the freedom to choose how to act.

I understood it to mean not that God was piss so much at the action but at Adam and Eve’s pretense the eating of the fruit didn’t occur.

God is supposed to be big on forgiveness, however you have to acknowledge your actions before you can be forgiven.

And they didn’t take responsibility for their actions. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent.

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Posted: 30 November 2010 11:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2900 ]
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Gnostikosis - 30 November 2010 10:25 AM
George - 28 November 2010 08:27 PM
inthegobi - 28 November 2010 03:41 PM

Nothing that can be done is beyond [God’s] Will

So why did He get pissed off after Eve ate the apple?

Understanding the idea that nothing is done beyond God’s will which means Adam and Eve were granted the freedom to choose how to act.

I understood it to mean not that God was piss so much at the action but at Adam and Eve’s pretense the eating of the fruit didn’t occur.

God is supposed to be big on forgiveness, however you have to acknowledge your actions before you can be forgiven.

And they didn’t take responsibility for their actions. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent.

Don’t blame the snake. According to inthegobi, “nothing that can be done is beyond [God’s] Will.” If Adam and Eve acted according to God’s will, I have no idea why He regretted making them. (I am also not sure why God couldn’t find them when they were hiding from Him, feeling ashamed and scared. But I am not a theologian, so what do I know…  grin )

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Posted: 30 November 2010 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2901 ]
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George - 30 November 2010 11:03 AM

Don’t blame the snake. According to inthegobi, “nothing that can be done is beyond [God’s] Will.”

The explanation is that God’s will sets the boundaries it does not determine the choices humans make.

[

If Adam and Eve acted according to God’s will, I have no idea why He regretted making them. (I am also not sure why God couldn’t find them when they were hiding from Him, feeling ashamed and scared. But I am not a theologian, so what do I know…  grin )

According to the Bible God regretted making man when they made the choice to have evil in their heart.

Perhaps God only asked the question of where they were to see if they would choose to answer honestly.

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Posted: 25 December 2010 06:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2902 ]
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Uh Oh. Doc Occ won’t be happy about this post popping up again. LOL

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Posted: 25 December 2010 07:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2903 ]
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ExMachina - 25 December 2010 06:13 AM

Uh Oh. Doc Occ won’t be happy about this post popping up again. LOL

Spammer, too ...  cool grin

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Posted: 25 December 2010 08:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2904 ]
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See, Doug is too fast for me.  I didn’t even get a chance to see it and get P.O.ed.  LOL

Occam

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Posted: 26 December 2010 05:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2905 ]
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It is true that everything in the universe is connected, but that does not mean all parts are communicating or exercising free will. This whole notion of spritual communication can all be explained as scientific analogies and metaphors. In the end the question is if the Sum Total Whole is intelligent in the human sense of thought, or is an expression of mathematical order, which appears to act in a logical way, as IF it were intelligent.

Theist: “I saw gods curtains in the sky with his face showing occasionally as if he was trying to tell me something”.
Scientist: “Yes, I saw the same Aurora Borealis, it was indeed very active and warned me of a possible instability in earth’s magnetic field.”

[ Edited: 26 December 2010 12:40 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 28 December 2010 01:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2906 ]
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Off-topic cleanup in Aisle 3.

George sed:
If Adam and Eve acted according to God’s will, I have no idea why He regretted making them.

To be precise (accurate?) that’s not the story. He finally gets the regrets by Noah’s time.

And this:
I am also not sure why God couldn’t find them when they were hiding from Him, feeling ashamed and scared. But I am not a theologian, so what do I know…  grin

It’s meant metaphorically - like making the silly, grinning idiot Mr Toad a toad (since a toad has a silly grin). It describes a non-physical state using physical language. Adam and Eve became ‘far’ from God by their acts.

At least, that’s the usual interpretation. Most Christian theologians, throughout most of Christianity’s history, have not been literalists.

Chris Kirk

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Posted: 28 December 2010 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2907 ]
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I thought dougsmith’s original post on this thread deserved to be bumped up:

Doug said:
IMO the western notion of “free will” is basically a theological creation, invented in order to get God out of some apparent problems with evil. (For what it’s worth, there is no similar issue in eastern religions). That is: if God created us knowing that we were going to do evil things, then isn’t God culpable for the evil we do?

Supposed answer: God created us with this thing “free will”, whereby our actions are not amenable to God’s power, but done solely by our spontaneous uncaused decision. Our free will is then an “uncaused cause” of our action. (4) So therefore when we do evil things, God isn’t responsible for them since he didn’t cause them ... they were solely due to our “free will”.

Problems:
(Objn 1) How is this “free will” supposed to work? If we look at the brain, there are no “uncaused causes” there ... just physical/chemical interactions between neurons, receptors, and so on. Where does this free will “ghost in the machine” do its causing? It’s got to be something supernatural.

(Objn 2) How are “uncaused” actions really actions? Normally something “uncaused” would be seen as random in nature, like the unpredictable decay of a uranium atom. Muscular motions caused by random things wouldn’t really be actions, they would be more like twitches or jerks, over which we would have no responsibility.

(Objn 3) This model of action in fact has nothing to do with how we know actions to be created from the inside. Take an example: I am thirsty, and I know there is water in the refrigerator. This desire for water and belief about its location causes me to walk to the fridge and open the door. But this explanation of action is causal. It is, at base, deterministic. There are no “uncaused causes” here. Actions are caused by beliefs and desires (or by the brain states that underlie beliefs and desires).

Now, some take determinism to mean that there is no free will. But I think that’s totally the wrong tack. The problem is not with determinism, it’s with an incoherent, theologically based notion of “free will” as an uncaused cause. So I’d say that we are free, and that our freedom is compatible with determinism.

To some (particularly those directly or indirectly steeped in theological notions of humanity) this seems a paradox. Dennett and others work hard to dispel that feeling.

I’d like Doug to confirm his first claim. (A) If the concept of free will was *created* by theologians, which one, when, and in what work? And since until the 17th century most *all* philosophical discussion was either by theologians or philosophers who accepted theism of one sort or another, (B) let’s make sure to discover whether or not the concept of free will was developed *specifically* for theological reasons - rather than being a more generally interesting philosophical concept that was *then* used in theological problems.

Btw, I can think of many notions of free will that aren’t compatibilistic, yet are not ‘radical’ free will. For example, Aquinas’ notion of free will is much weaker than Duns Scotus’, who I *think* was the earliest important philosopher to speak about a completely or radically free will. As I recall his discussion, he doesn’t bring in theology specifically. Buridan has the famous example of the donkey starving between two equally delicious bales of hay - which is meant to be absurd; obviously creatures can choose even if there’s no difference among the choices. The seventeenth-c philosopher Cudworth (is it?) has a more modern example of identical golden balls arranged at the same distance from a man; obviously he can choose one, but there’s no physical reason to pick one over the others.

Chris Kirk

[ Edited: 28 December 2010 01:36 PM by inthegobi ]
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Posted: 28 December 2010 01:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2908 ]
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Actually I no longer believe that this ‘libertarian’ notion of free will was created by theologians, since there is something very like it in Epicurus, which is well before anything one might call ‘theology’.

That said, libertarian free will has been played up as (part of) the standard objection to the problem of evil. Not that it’s a very good objection (since there still remain natural evils), but the notion of God’s involvement with ‘creating free people’, where freedom is part of the standard package of being a person, understood as having a contra-causal capacity to act, is central to modern theology, at least of the comprehensible variety.

So while I would no longer say that libertarian free will is a theological creation, I would say that it’s a central part of theological apologetics.

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Posted: 28 December 2010 02:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2909 ]
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Questions,
If the universe is deterministic, then is an evil act also not deterministic? Is there a choice at all? Or can we choose Not to do evil, in spite of a deterministic causality? Or can there be conflicting causalities, which allows us to choose between one or the other? Where does that fall in the scheme of Free Will?

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Posted: 28 December 2010 02:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2910 ]
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One of my problems in dealing with this is the semantics. I keep seeing ‘religion’ treated as an object rather than a subject. Religion, like government or any species of ‘group think’, is merely a central doctrine around which individuals build and/or act upon mutually agreed behaviors and beliefs. Religion is like pizza dough - it can have any number of toppings but that doesn’t mean that the dough and the toppings *are not* mutually exclusive.

One can discuss Free Will without ever having recourse to bring up religion. To assume that the two must intersect seems to me to come more from the religious than from the philosophical ends. It’s a stand-alone concept that can be debated around many other concepts, religion being only one of them.

It’s not ‘Free Will vs. Religion’, it’s just ‘Free Will’. I do not believe in Free Will yet I am an Atheist.

Pelagic

[ Edited: 28 December 2010 02:29 PM by pelagic ]
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