Free will and a sovereign God

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Travelsong, Jul 24, 2004.

  1. Travelsong

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    How does one reconcile a God who is infinite in all of His attributes with a belief in free will?

    If God knows everything, weren't our lives determined from birth, nay from the beginning of creation and even to whatever preceded that?
     
  2. Stratiotes

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    Many times I know my kids so well that I know exactly what decision they're going to make before they make it. Little in this world is as pleasent as knowing yuor child is going to make the right choice in a decision and then watching them do it. You give them the free will to choose but all the while you know already what their choice is going to be...and, part of the reason you know is because you are the one who raised them. So, in a sense, they are only choosing what they have been pre-programmed to choose and one might argue they are conditioned to make that choice from the fact that they grew up in the home that they grew up in - they are conditioned to make the choice but they still have a free will to make it. That's one aspect. God knows us better than we know ourselves and he already knows all the choices we will make - but, at the same time, the choices we make are ultimately because of the environment he has created around us.
    Van Til uses this very concept in his response to Bertrand Russell's "Why I am Not a Christian":
    http://www.reformed.org/apologetics/why_I_believe_cvt.html
     
  3. BobRyan

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    This is the classic Calvinist form of "IF I were God I couldn't figure out how to give my creation free will as long as I knew everything".

    It is a fun game playing "if I were God" -- but showing that "You can't figure it out" does not prove that God can't either.

    The clear "indicator" that you are in error here is that IF God's knowing ALL - is what deprives us of Free will - then Christ had no free will.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  4. Travelsong

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    I'm not playing any games of any kind Bob. If God knows everything, then He knows every decision you will ever make. Yes? If He doesn't know every decision you will ever make then He wouldn't know everything would He? Now if you agree that God does in fact know everything, then you must concede that before creation even existed, there was only one possible course of events, and that is the one which God had already foreknown.

    Now if you agree with my premise and conclusion, all you have to do is answer my original question:

    If you feel my logic is in error, and my conclusion unwarranted please feel free to show me where I am going wrong.
     
  5. Stratiotes

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    I think its a very good question. Does God's forknowledge *create* reality or just *predict* it? When it comes down to it, is it not really the same thing? We make our choices based on the conditioning God has given us in the reality he created (from the beginning). So, our choices are ours but he is their source and we can do nothing without him.
     
  6. Southern

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    Stratiotes,
    I am not a great Philosopher (haha) but, If God just "foreknew" (in the philosophical sense not the Biblical sense) what would happen, would'nt that leave most of what comes to pass as either chance or fatalism?
    The reason I point this out is because of your statement about those two ideas being the "same" thing.
    The difference I would see, would be that while behind one their is a Divine hand and will working everything out (predestination).
    While on the other hand things just happen to work out after God tried His best.
    I welcome any corrections to my reasoning.

    In Christ
     
  7. Stratiotes

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    Southern, That is precisely what I'm not saying ;) . But, I understand your point. No, it isn't a fatalism that leaves all to chance. It is God creating the very reallity that he foreknows. But, I say it is, for all practical purposes, the same thing since he foreknows it but one reason he foreknows it is because he set events into motion to end that way anyhow.

    Here's an example - when Pharoah refused to let Moses take his people into the wilderness, he was simply acting out of his own nature or free will. But, God knew he would do so because God knew Pharaoh better than Pharaoh knew himself. God knew what choice he would make because God knew Pharaoh. At the same time, Pharaoh had been conditioned by his entire life and culture preceding the events - that life and cultural context were created by God to begin with. And so, scripture says Pharaoh hardened his heart in one place and that God hardened Pharaoh's heart in another.
     
  8. npetreley

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    Does it follow that if Almighty God foreknows every detail, He also foreordains every detail? Yes, otherwise He is not Almighty.

    I think it's pretty clear from the Bible that every detail, even to the point of what would seem absurdity in the eyes of man, is not only foreknown but foreordained. Every hair on your head is numbered. That doesn't mean God happens to know how many hairs you have on your head, but that they are numbered. A bird does not fall to the ground apart from the Father's will. That does not say God simply knows when a bird falls to the ground, but that it doesn't happen unless the Father wills it to be so.

    That should pretty much sum up how much power we have in "free will".
     
  9. Travelsong

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    I occasionally pass through this forum to check things out but I rarely contribute because it's the the same arguments over and over.


    Don't tell me I'm able to come in here and silence the free willers in just one thread. Doesn't anyone want to take a stab at my question? I'd be more than willing to answer it myself.
     
  10. Southern

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    npetreley said:
    Does it follow that if Almighty God foreknows every detail, He also foreordains every detail? Yes, otherwise He is not Almighty.

    Well to me it seems that He Foreknows 'because' he forordains. What do you think?

    Again, I am not a philosopher! [​IMG]

    Thanks for the pointers
     
  11. BobRyan

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    TS said
    No doubt.

    The problem is that you are not God so you have no way to figure out how free will exists in the mind of God - when the mind of God already knows everything. I think we can agree on that.

    My point was that IF you were to make the "mistake" of thinking that just because you can not solve the problem - so God Himself can not solve it -- THEN you are stuck with the result that EVEN God does not have free will because He Himself "takes action" in the future that "He knows to exist".

    So the path you are trying to suggest - is in error.

    (I have already pointed this out and instead of solving the problem - you are repeating your question). However, my response points out an error in your logic - that you simply continue to ignore.

    Not a compelling response.

    In Christ,

    Bob
     
  12. npetreley

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    Well, since I'm not God, it's purely speculation, of course, but it would seem to me that God conceived a creation (that is, all of history from the beginning to end) that was pleasing to Him, and then actually made it all happen according to His good purpose. We are experiencing the working out of all of this in chronological time, and from our perspective it seems like our personal will can change what happens. But it is actually God who works in us to will and to do according to His good purpose.

    But to get back to the original idea, the way I see it is that the foreknowing and the foreordaining go hand-in-hand.

    Perhaps he imagined some other ways to do creation, in which case He "foreknew" other possibile creations but chose not to create them - in which case the foreknowing did not result in foreordination. But that's so speculative I am hesitant to take it any farther.
     
  13. Southern

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    npetreley,
    Thanks for the input bro!

    In Christ
     
  14. Travelsong

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    I really don't know what you are talking about here. I do know that you are avoiding my question.

    Allow me to provide you with an illustration which I think will help you understand how free will is impossible.

    Imagine that I am a great software engineer. In fact I am the best there ever was. Now let's say I decide to design a program that will be exaclty like the real world. I create all of the code necessary to simulate the earth and support all the life that inhabits it, and I even make little digital sentient people to live on it. These people are just like you and me except that they are in my little computer program. Now Imagine that I have the ability to know every single detail about my program because I am the one who wrote the code and I know it all backwards and forwards. These digital people would go about their days doing the same things that you and I do. Some of them might even go home after work and debate the topic of free will on message boards. Of course I would know that they are going to do this because after all I wrote the whole program, and they're just doing exactly what I designed them to do. They can argue for as long as I let the program run that they have free will, but the fact is, every decision they ever make, and everything they ever do is exactly as I designed it.

    How is it any different with God? God wrote the program of life. He knows every single detail and because of this He knows everything that you and I will ever do even if we believe we have made all of our choices on our own.


    You have yet to demonstrate how.


    The only problem here is that you are ignoring my question, yet from what I gather you seem to be willing to acknowledge that God is indeed infinitely all knowing.

    If God knows everything than everything you ever do is the only possible thing that could have happened. There really was no alternative, because God already knew the outcome before the foundation of the world.

    So I'll restate my question differently: If God is all knowing than how can you make a decision differently than what He already knows you will do?
     
  15. Me2

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    Man cannot for it is outside the scope of the sovereignty of His God.
    Man is a creature and must abide within the parameters set by the creator.
    Man is made from an image. a preexisting plan of God whereas God has chosen every action and intention to bring his creation to its intended completion.

    God knows everything for he planned everything. He doesnt know because he "sees" into the future.
    He Has planned every second of the future to occur. every thought and every action. every change of every molecule. every choice, wether it be good or evil. yet everything towards bringing glory to himself.

    God plans everything to occur before you decided it should occur. God placed the ideas within your mind to think of making decisions. from hopes to dreams. from pressures occurring outside to fears occuring inside. God controls everything.

    That is sovereignty

    God doesnt wait for you to decide and he reactes thereafter...
    God decided your choices before you were even created!
    as he created every human being before time.

    Every second. every atom. every thought.

    That is a perfect creator. perfect sovereignty.


    Me2
     
  16. ILUVLIGHT

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    Hi Travelsong;
    It's called a personal relationship.
    No it doesn't determine anything in your life. What is said in God knowing the end from the beginning is simply that God is not subject to time. Because our lord knows it, doesn't mean He is making it happen as in predestination. I know the sun will come up tommorrow but that doesn't mean I'm making it happen
    Maybe you can tell me what freewill has to do with Sovereignty. Didn't Adam have freewill to choose to eat that fruit? If so then did God have to give up His sovereignty, to allow it to happen?
    May God Bless You;
    Mike [​IMG]
     
  17. npetreley

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    You didn't create the sun, create the earth and put the earth in an orbit around the sun. God did. So the fact that He foreknows it and foreordained it are the same thing. You're not God, you didn't create the universe, so the fact that you know the sun will rise in the morning is irrelevant to the issue.
     
  18. Me2

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    even adams destiny was subject to the will of God...

    Rom 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected [the same] in hope,

    Adam didnt have free will to choose. His choice was already determined.

    If one were to investigate the "image" that man was to be conformed into. He would discover the need for a savior before the need became necessary.

    Before Adam Chose. he was determined to become a saved "sinner".
    for even he would need to be placed under the propitiation of Gods savior to be made into the image.

    hence the idea of the sacrifice after the act of sinning. God is pointing of adams need to be conformed into his planned image. under his lamb sacrificed befor the foundation of the world.

    Free will doesnt exist in My Gods universe. yet he allows the illusion of Choice (if you find yourself far enough away from his sovereignty. at least, until he comes calling for your soul.)
     
  19. Skandelon

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    You didn't create the sun, create the earth and put the earth in an orbit around the sun. God did. So the fact that He foreknows it and foreordained it are the same thing. You're not God, you didn't create the universe, so the fact that you know the sun will rise in the morning is irrelevant to the issue. </font>[/QUOTE]Still, we gave birth to a son and raised him but that doesn't mean we are held responsible for all his choices. Creating someone doesn't necessarily mean you CAUSE them to make certain choices, especially when those someones are given the ability to reason and choose for themselves. You guys can't seem to understand the fact that God is also the creator of volition.
     
  20. Me2

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    Have you ever noticed the jealousy of God. that he doesnt allow any competition when it comes to an opposing will?

    Try to look at a few scriptures....

    Exo 34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name [is] Jealous, [is] a jealous God:

    Psa 82:6 I have said, Ye [are] gods; and all of you [are] children of the most High.

    1Co 8:4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol [is] nothing in the world, and that [there is] none other God but one.
    1Co 8:5 For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
    1Co 8:6 But to us [there is but] one God, the Father, of whom [are] all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom [are] all things, and we by him.

    2Co 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

    But yet he created every "other god"..
    but He is the only Creator.
    He is the only Living God.

    1Ti 2:5 For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

    Now we can wonder if God is yanking mans leg by telling him of all of these other opposing wills of these other "gods". yet if his sovereignty is perfect and infinite. then there cannot exist any competing wills. but what he "calls" competition and what he "calls" "other gods".

    yet there really isnt any other gods..
    no other competition.
    no other creators of opposing wills.

    there is only One Sovereign God.

    there is no other God but one....

    no opposing wills.

    But I guess you can think what you want seeing that man has "free will". [​IMG] ..(not!)
     

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