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The New Wineskin's avatar

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As some of you may already know, I enjoy playing devil's advocate when I see arguments from those debating Christians that I feel are lacking. When confronted with the problem of evil, I often present the idea of free will. However, I was given a very strange counter-argument to this rebuttal that I thought was very interesting. Simply put, the person who responded to me stated that free will contradicts the idea of omniscience. Most people would point out that knowing what will come does not mean that that person did not choose freely. However, he rebutted this by saying that, if one is certain something can happened, than that person cannot freely choose the other option, as he is "destined" (if you will) to choose one over the other.

What are you thoughts on this argument?
Do you think he is right? Wrong?
Do you have any rebuttals to this idea?
Pseudo-Onkelos's avatar

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One can know all possibilities without interfering with free will. It's not true until it has been done.
The New Wineskin's avatar

Conversationalist

Pseudo-Onkelos
One can know all possibilities without interfering with free will. It's not true until it has been done.

It is true even when not done if the answer is certain. I never said one can know all possibility, I said one can know what choice will be made beforehand; if someone knows something, than it is impossible for the thing to be anything different than what it is. Likewise, if an omniscient being knows you will choose something, then it is impossible for you not to choose that something, because it is known.
CuAnnan's avatar

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Pseudo-Onkelos
One can know all possibilities without interfering with free will. It's not true until it has been done.

I certainly tend to take this line of reasoning.
Free will is not undermined by omniscience because with omniscience you get all of the choices the person could have but did not choose to make.
Pseudo-Onkelos's avatar

Adored Admirer

The New Wineskin
It is true even when not done if the answer is certain. I never said one can know all possibility, I said one can know what choice will be made beforehand; if someone knows something, than it is impossible for the thing to be anything different than what it is. Likewise, if an omniscient being knows you will choose something, then it is impossible for you not to choose that something, because it is known.


That assumes time is linear. If it is, your friend is probably correct. If not, why assume this thinking is correct?
Pseudo-Onkelos's avatar

Adored Admirer

CuAnnan
Pseudo-Onkelos
One can know all possibilities without interfering with free will. It's not true until it has been done.

I certainly tend to take this line of reasoning.
Free will is not undermined by omniscience because with omniscience you get all of the choices the person could have but did not choose to make.


This is just an alternative to the other view that permits knowing all other possibilities, but is restricted to only one outcome actually occurring. It seems more reasonable.
There is free will, and there isn't.

Quote:
The power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one's own discretion


God let's us choose, and doesn't restrict what we do in most cases. Maybe in the biblical times, he "smites", but more recently its the opposite. Smiting means that God is forcing our free will away from us.

But many people don't see it that, and who is to say that God ever actually smited? Who is to say that he ever really did anything for humanity?

So I believe that we have free will. God knows we are going to sin, but that does't mean that it is the only path we have before us. How does God knowing that I am going to rob a bank, change the fact that it is my own actions that have led me to this? God isn't forcing me to rob this bank. God knowing, doesn't change anything, and it doesn't mean I have any less "free will" than before.

Besides, I think we all have the wrong perspective about God. If God knows everything, then what point is there to have an Earth? To have life? Our life is created so that we may know our decisions of Good and Evil, not for God to know. That is his justice.
The New Wineskin
As some of you may already know, I enjoy playing devil's advocate when I see arguments from those debating Christians that I feel are lacking. When confronted with the problem of evil, I often present the idea of free will. However, I was given a very strange counter-argument to this rebuttal that I thought was very interesting. Simply put, the person who responded to me stated that free will contradicts the idea of omniscience. Most people would point out that knowing what will come does not mean that that person did not choose freely. However, he rebutted this by saying that, if one is certain something can happened, than that person cannot freely choose the other option, as he is "destined" (if you will) to choose one over the other.

What are you thoughts on this argument?


It opposes counter-causal free-will, but not free-will in the sense of not being coerced by something outside one's nature.
You don't even have to be omniscient to find possible explanations that render that line of reasoning meaningless.

Example: Bob. Bob is a non-human entity that is outside of our space-time continuum. Bob is not omniscient, but since he is not a part of our timeline he can look into events whenever he wants, at any time he wants. Bob looks into 10/4/2012 and hears Craig and Lucy discussing meatloaf for dinner on Saturday. He cannot read their minds but, curious as to their decision, he takes a peak at Saturday night. Looks like tacos won out over the meatloaf. Bob moves on.

This, in essence, is how dimensions work - and hopefully physics has more than done their share of research to show that time is just another dimension. Just like if you drew a line on a piece of paper, since you are more multidimensional than the line, you can put your fingers both at the start of the line, the end of the line, or anywhere else you want freely - because you are not bound by just those two dimensions of that piece of paper the way that line is. In the same way, any entity not bound by time can easily just take a glance at a different spot in time with the same ease you would give to looking through a window on a different floor of your house.

In all examples, nothing is done to coerce the outcome. Craig and Lucy made their decision on their own.
Free-will will only result in one course of action. There are no possible actions in the sense that one will happen. As omniscience is patently a mystical quality, precognition on such things doesn't interfere with the free-will of the individual.
That X action will undoubtedly occur does not preclude free-will. It just references the discrete nature of choice.
Admiral Dardanos's avatar

Hallowed Hunter

The New Wineskin
As some of you may already know, I enjoy playing devil's advocate when I see arguments from those debating Christians that I feel are lacking. When confronted with the problem of evil, I often present the idea of free will. However, I was given a very strange counter-argument to this rebuttal that I thought was very interesting. Simply put, the person who responded to me stated that free will contradicts the idea of omniscience. Most people would point out that knowing what will come does not mean that that person did not choose freely. However, he rebutted this by saying that, if one is certain something can happened, than that person cannot freely choose the other option, as he is "destined" (if you will) to choose one over the other.

What are you thoughts on this argument?
Do you think he is right? Wrong?
Do you have any rebuttals to this idea?


I've honestly never considered free-will a particularly good argument against the problem of evil. There are countless ways a God could prevent evil without impeaching on free-will. Unless free-will means; freedom form ANY godly intervention, which I don't consider it to.

As for the matter you present; If a god, or anyone for that matter, knows exactly how everything is going to play out, and is correct in that knowledge, then we do not truly have free will, only the illusion of it.
If however, we take omniscience to mean the knowledge of every possible way things could play out, but not the knowledge of which one will, then yes, I believe free will could work within that context.
In the case of the latter, omniscience is not a particularly godly trait, as we could, theoretically, build a super-computer to do just that. We could do it ourselves, but as there are infinite possibilities for every situation, we'd have to be immortal and dedicate eternity to writing them all down.

So. as far as I'm concerned, It's either everything we do is part of God's plan OR God gave us free will. Pick one and stick with it.
The New Wineskin
As some of you may already know, I enjoy playing devil's advocate when I see arguments from those debating Christians that I feel are lacking. When confronted with the problem of evil, I often present the idea of free will. However, I was given a very strange counter-argument to this rebuttal that I thought was very interesting. Simply put, the person who responded to me stated that free will contradicts the idea of omniscience. Most people would point out that knowing what will come does not mean that that person did not choose freely. However, he rebutted this by saying that, if one is certain something can happened, than that person cannot freely choose the other option, as he is "destined" (if you will) to choose one over the other.

What are you thoughts on this argument?
Do you think he is right? Wrong?
Do you have any rebuttals to this idea?

The most surprising thing here for me is that this is apparently an uncommon thought.
I've argued this point several times. Sure, knowing what happens doesn't negate free will, but knowing everything, means that something then exists which determines the “choice” for them.
When I debate this topic, my opposing debaters attempt to refute my argument by equating it to a movie or book. Where watching a movie you've seen before doesn't effect their decisions.
My reply is, of course my knowledge of that doesn't. But guess what does? The creator(s) of the movie or book, who wrote out the script and the development for every character.
You don't need to "rebut" what is a s**t defense against the Problem of Evil to begin with.
The New Wineskin
Pseudo-Onkelos
One can know all possibilities without interfering with free will. It's not true until it has been done.

It is true even when not done if the answer is certain. I never said one can know all possibility, I said one can know what choice will be made beforehand; if someone knows something, than it is impossible for the thing to be anything different than what it is. Likewise, if an omniscient being knows you will choose something, then it is impossible for you not to choose that something, because it is known.

Consider what the cause of the choice is. Your choice certainly isn't caused by an omniscient being's knowledge. Can we not accept the possibility that this being knows what choice you will make and that your choice will be made on your own free will?
The mistake people make is that they get the causal relationship backwards: your will determines the being's knowledge; the being's knowledge does not determine your will.

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