Philosophical discussion about free will

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Skandelon, Mar 3, 2007.

  1. Skandelon

    Skandelon
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    So, what makes a man free then is not just his ability to act according to his desires, but his ability to know the difference from right and wrong, is that correct? I still fail to see how this is any real distinction considering that dog can be taught the difference between right and wrong...you know that if you have a dog who hides from you after messing on the floor or tearing up something.

    According to you what makes a choice free/undetermined is simply "choosing according to what one desires," but that means nothing in a system were the desires themselves are determined. Regardless of whether a choice is deemed "moral" or not this doesn't affect its "freeness." You have only simply proven that people and animals choices are both as equally determined and the only difference is that man is held morally accountable.

    Scripture. I need to read the text that teaches men are unable to believe the gospel. You can answer this one on the other thread...

    Yes or no. Supposing you lied yesterday at noon. Could you have resisted that tempation to lie? Could you have "not lied." Trust me, this is not "immaterial" to our discussion. This is at the very root of our discussion and it cannot be avoided.
     
  2. donnA

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    Man apart from the indwelling Holy Spirit can not desire the things of God, can not desire to do anything of eternal value, he is according to scripture, dead. Before Jesus, man's morals are the morals of satan, not God's. Would satan choose God? I think not.
     
  3. Skandelon

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    Even after confronted by the powerful message of the gospel? The message that is sharper than an two edged sword? The message Paul calls the "power of God unto salvation?" That message is not sufficient to create a new desire within an otherwise "dead" man?

    Oh, can you show me where the analogy of being "dead" is equated with total inability? Also, can you explain to me why Christians still sin when Paul clearly says that we are "dead to sin?" Could it be that you take the analogy of being "dead" too far by concluding that not even the life giving message of the cross is sufficient to allow for a free response of one previously dead?

    Could it be that when Paul speaks of being dead he is speaking of our being seperated and unreconciled to God? Like when a father is hurt by his son and says, "You are dead to me." Being dead doesn't necessarily connote complete inability, it could only connote the need to be reconciled.

    The Spirit indwells us through faith, not the other way around.
     
  4. donnA

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    could it be that you want to be in control, where only God is in control? could it be that when scripture speaks you don't believe it? the bible says you do not seek God, but you think thats wrong, that you do seek God. have you ever seen a dead man make choices? i haven't. your theory serves you, not God, you make your own choices, based on what you want and what you want to achieve in life. thats a 'you' religion.
     
  5. dwmoeller1

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    Not necessarily the ability to know the difference between the two, but at least the fact that man is a moral being and all decisions are moral ones.

    "Do this" and "don't do this" aren't right and wrong. There is no MORAL aspect to the does and don't of dogs. Dogs cannot relate to God in a moral sense. Man does. So for an, decisions aren't ultimately about 'does' and 'don'ts' but about 'done in faith' or 'not done in faith'.

    First of all, people's and animals choices cannot be equally determined - they are essentially different things to begin with so any equation of the two has to make false assumptions. It would be like saying that a sphere and a circle are equally round - thats true only if one insists on viewing the sphere and circle from the same 2 dimensional view.

    Second, any choice which is not 'determined' in some sense would equate to a choice one made for no particular reason. Either one makes a choice 'because' (implying causation, implying determination of some sort), or one makes a choice randomly and for no reason at all. If you reject all senses of determination' then you must hold that choices can be without any cause at all.

    More precisely, they are unable in and of themselves. That is, they have the faculty for believing the gospel, but they have no basis in themselves for freely doing so.

    "Could" I have? A simply yes or no is impossible. In one sense, yes, in another, no. Was the option open to me? Yes, so in that sense, I 'could' have. Is there any logically conceivable reason that, given the *exact* same set of circumstances and thought processes, I 'could' choose otherwise? No. To argue otherwise would require that my choice could be causeless.


    Now yes, the 'causeless choice' is an attractive option if one is trying to eliminate all senses of 'determinism' (its the only way to do so as far as I can determine). However, the end result would logically have a person making choices that are against what he wants. While 'choosing what you want' may not be the complete definition of free will, a choice which is contrary to what you want would certainly not be included in free will.
     
  6. dwmoeller1

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    A dead man, by definition, can't have desires. Thus, to 'create new desires within a dead man' is a logical absurdity. Now yes, that may be taking the analogy farther than is warrented so I won't harp on that.

    But consider what you are saying. If the message goes out with power, then the man choosing with that power action on him is no longer choosing 'in and of himself'.

    Also consider this: What does the power of the message act upon?

    In my thinking, that answer is found here: Ro 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

    I could was philosophical on this if you want :)

    In your analogy, it is the son who is considered dead to the father. IOW, in the father's mind, the son is dead. The son is in no way dead to the father beyond how the father views the son. Is that what you are arguing?
     
  7. Skandelon

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    Listen, I was a Calvinist for 10 years of my life and the only reason I reject it teaching now is because I don't believe it is biblically founded. God has as much control as he want and if he wanted forced worship he would have just skipped the part where he seeks those who worship him in spirit and truth and just made the rocks cry out. I believe God finds pleasure in creature who freely choose to worship him, not in creature causally determined to do so.

    Additionally, our disagreement has nothing to do with whether or not God does the seeking. We both agree God seeks out man, the question is whether men are capable to respond to God's seeking when he sent the apostles, the scripture and the Holy Spirit into this world. No, men don't seek out God, but that doesn't mean that men cannot respond to a God actively seeking them.

    Please study the doctrine and the scripture and I trust God will lead you to the correct understanding.
     
  8. Skandelon

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    Oh, there is a cause. The cause of a choice is the chooser. The cause of the act is an actor. The cause of a decision is a decision maker. To insist that we answer what determines an actor to act in one way rather than another is just to beg the question because it demands that a deterministic answer is required and rejects the very mystery of what volitional freedom is all about.

    To better understand this one must only look to the choices of God. Is there anything that would have prevented God from not choosing to save you, for example? Could he have passed you over?


    If you can't in any sense then you can't. If anything is preventing the other choice from being possible then the simple answer is NO.

    Wrong. How was the option "open to you" if there is ANYTHING preventing you from choosing otherwise than what you ended up choosing? Either you are free or you are determined, period. Either you could do otherwise or you couldn't.

    No, it would require that you accept that the choice was caused by the chooser, period, and accept the mystery of the infinite number of causal influences upon that person and that circumstance. There is nothing biblical which supports the idea that you could not have resisted temptation. Consider Cor. 10:13 where Paul clearly teaches that believers will not ever be tempted beyond what they can bear. If your system of thought is accurate then any time someone sins then it must be because they were tempted beyond what they could bear, because afterall they could not have done otherwise. This contradicts the clear teaching of scripture.

    Additionally, if you take your system to its logical end it would have God as the foundational cause for all temptation, sinful thoughts, sinful choices and sinful acts, which is abhorent and completely unbiblical. God is said not to even tempt men to evil, yet your system of thought would have him causally determined not only all tempations but all choices to sin. That is unacceptable, and thus it is best to accept the mystery associated with free agent causation.
     
  9. 2 Timothy2:1-4

    2 Timothy2:1-4
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    In this case the dog has not determined wrong based on morality. The dog remembers bad consequeces. There is a difference.
     
  10. donnA

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    He already has. I was a stanch Armenian and then i studied the bible.
     
  11. Skandelon

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    I seriously doubt you were an Arminian, you didn't even spell it correctly. You may have been "not a Calvinist" but you were probably not an Arminian in the true since of the word.

    Can you tell me anything about the doctrine of judicial hardening and how it relates to the teaching of Paul in Romans 9-11 from an Arminian perspective? Could you have done so prior to your conversion to Calvinism?
     
  12. Skandelon

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    DW,

    Lets try this analogy to better illustrate my point...

    Suppose there are two rooms each of which as a rib eye steak and a bowl of salad. A hungry lion is put into one room and a hungry man is put into the other. Both are presented with the option to eat either the steak or the salad. Let's first suppose they both eat the steak. I think we can both agree that they chose according to what they wanted. They both wanted the steak. They also both had the opportunity and thus ability to eat either the steak or the salad.

    Therefore, according to your definition of what makes a choice "free" both of these creatures chose freely. This is why I disagree with your very broad view of "free will."

    What makes a choice free is NOT simply defined by it being according to one's desire. Even instinctive choices fit within that catergory. What makes a choice free is whether or not there is ANYTHING that would prevent/hinder the choice from being other than what it ends up being. Make sense?

    Let's go back to our analogy. You can certainly argue that the Lion's choice to eat a steak was determined by his inborn instinct as a meat eater and not a plant eater, right? Thus, there was something preventing the Lion from choosing otherwise. His creator made him so that he would alway choose meat over plants. Therefore, the Lion's choice is is NOT a free choice, it is an instictive choice.

    The man however is another story. The man has nothing preventing him from choosing the salad over the meat. He is FREE to do either. His creator has not made him so that he would instinctively choose meat over salad. The man has the ability to reason and deliberate. His choice is thus undetermined by anyone outside himself. He is self determined and thus has something the Lion does not, free agency.

    The problem with your system is that it leaves no room for this distinction. We become like animals who are made by a creator to simply respond to stimuli in such a way that we could not have done otherwise. Not only is this not biblically supported it is an impractical way of living.

    I look forward to your rebuttal. Thanks
     
  13. donnA

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    spelling has nothing to do with what a person believes, unless one believes them self to be better then others.
     
  14. dwmoeller1

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    Yet the lion's choice was informed solely be instinct - 'what lions do' - and nothing more. Lion sees the steak, it eats the steak. End of story. The man's choice could have been informed by things like
    - What do I want at this moment?
    - Which one is better for me?
    - What would my mom/wife tell me to eat? Do I care about pleasing them?
    Etc. etc. Again, the choice the lion makes and the man makes are so totally different that its like comparing spheres and circles - sure, there are some similarities, but only on from a limited point of view.

    I can why you think that. I am saying that the choices are really comparable in the way you are trying to make them. To use an analogy, you are taking a 2-dimensional approach when one of the objects you are observing is 3-dimensional. In the 2-dimensional view, you are correct, but observed from 3-dimensions and the things you are comparing become essentially different. If you, however, insist on what I consider to be the 2-dimensional view of man's choice, then I can't do anything but simply disagree with your POV and insist that 3-dimensional view is more proper.

    What man 'wants' and what a lion 'wants' are so totally different as to be a false basis for comparison. The lion's 'wants' are two dimensional, the man's 'wants' are 3-dimensional (or more). Do you see the distinction I am making?

    Yes it makes sense. However, it leads logically to choices being causeless. Are you willing to take that position?

    Agreed. That is because the lion's choice is informed by instinct only. The lion can't transcend his instinct.

    Agreed again. Maybe the difficulty with my definition is that you are including 'instinct' with 'desire'. I am not. I would seperate the two. What a lion 'desires' is so different from what a man 'desires' that the two are comparable. So read my defintion and eliminate 'instinctual desire' from the word 'desire'.

    My system does leave room for the distinction...I just hadn't made that distinction clear. "Instinct" is not to be included in the concept of "desire". Does the answer the issue you bring up?
     
  15. Skandelon

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    That is MY point! I agree that they are totally different. My argument is that your system of thought doesn't allow enough distinction between them...I've shown that in numerous ways.

    I understand that a man has more to consider...that is my point. His choice is not determined by his inborn instinct and thus he must deliberate. What you have failed to do, IMO, is to establish the distinction between a free choice of a human being and simply a choice which is "according to one's desires."


    No, not causeless. Mysterious. They are caused by the agent. The mystery is how a free agent comes to his choice. Again this can be illustrated by simply looking at the choices of God Himself. Are His choices determined? If so, by what? His nature? What determined his nature? Is God's nature so limited that it only has one truely viable option when it comes to making choices? For example, could God have passed you over and let you go to hell? Was there anything within God's nature preventing Him from choosing not to redeem you? You must deal with these difficult questions to get at the root of this mystery.


    Okay, then help me to see the difference in your system between an instictive choice....one determined because of they way the creator made him...and a free choice where there is nothing preventing the agent from the choice of options A or B????

    How can you arbitrarily dismiss instinctive desires when so much of what influences men is their instinctive desires, such as hunger, sex drive etc????

    In your next post please answer the questions about God's choices...do you believe they are determined in the way human choices are? What is the distinction there?

    Additionally, can you answer the question I asked about whether or not there was anything preventing you from resisting the temptation to lie. Since scripture does clearly teach us that there is no temptation too great for us to resist, can you explain how you can believe that when a believer sins that he could not have done otherwise. Thanks
     
  16. dwmoeller1

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    Either the chooser has a reason for choosing or they do not, correct? Which is the case?
     
  17. dwmoeller1

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    Why should I have to allow for what is obviously and essentially different to begin with. Thats my point - there is no basis for thinking that what I label as 'desire' can be compared to what sort of choice an animal makes. If I make a generalization about spheres, why should I have to take into account what is true or not about circles? You would first have to show that they are like enough to make the comparison between the two valid - otherwise, simply take my generalization about spheres and apply it only to spheres.

    You fallacy is that you automatically included the 'desires' of animals into the 'desires' of man. Yet we both agree that these 'desires' are essentially different. Thus, in context of my statement being about human desire, there is no basis for juxtaposing this with animal 'desires'. - its a non sequitor. It would be like my saying that spheres are 'round' and you using the example of circles to demonstrate how my statement is erroneous. Bringing circles into a discussion about sphere is fallacious to begin with unless you can show the point of connection.

    I am not seeing the difficulty in those questions. The difficulty is that your questions have relied on being complex questions. Thus, even though the complex questions must be answered in both 'yes' and 'no' forms, you won't allow this. So, yes or no, have you stopped beating your wife? Impossible to answer with simple yes or no.

    First of all, can God lie? Scripture says no. Does the mean to you that God is prevented from the option of lying? If not, please explain. If so, then why are you presenting a difficulty that exists equally in your own system. Claim mystery if you want - I prefer to rest on the fact that God *can't* lie. This would be the point at which we would part ways I believer. I read that and take it to be an absolute statement and then define 'free will' upon that premise.

    Influences yes, but then man has so many other influences. The lion is influenced ultimately ONLY by instinct and environment. For man, those things are only a small part of the overall influences which go into making a decision. I don't eliminate instinctive desires, I merely hold that they do no constitute 'desire'. Instinct may inform desire but it is never desire. Not so with the lion - desire and instinct are essentially synomous. Thus, the 'desire' of the lion is essentially different than the desire of man.

    No distinction. I arrive at my definition of free will based on what seems clear in Scripture about the nature of God's will. Scripture states clearly that He *cannot* do certain things. He has the faculty for doing so, so this cannot be what is meant by 'cannot'. Thus, the logically conclusion is that God's choices are also 'determined' in some way.

    I have never stated that I hold that when a believer sins he could not have done otherwise. Where did you get that from?
     
  18. Skandelon

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    DW,

    I'll get to your other longer post in a moment...I think this issue is worth unpacking.

    This question reminded me of something Feinberg wrote:



    [SIZE=-1]"On the one hand, indeterminists claim that we do not act without reasons. On the other hand, they deny that any reasons or other causes serve as sufficient conditions for what is chosen. But if nothing is a sufficient condition to incline the will to choose one thing over another, then how do we choose at all? If the causal influences really were at a stand-off, then we would not choose. Moreover, if causal influences are not sufficient to move the will to choose, [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]then what is[/SIZE][SIZE=-1]? Some indeterminists claim that a person just chooses. Fine, but on what basis? If the answer is that he or she just chooses, surely this is no explanation at all. If the indeterminist argues that the choice is made in accord with what appears to be the best reason(s), then, in fact, the act is causally determined (reasons have functioned as causes sufficient to produce the act)" (Feinberg, p. 36).

    [/SIZE]
    This appears to be essetially what you are asking and attempting to argue, right?

    What you need to realize is that the drive to explain a truly free choice in this manner is really just a game of question begging because it assumes that a deterministic explaination is required. Ciocchi, who debated Feinberg, put it this way: "[SIZE=-1]the choice between available options "is what free will is all about . . ., and it is finally mysterious, beyond full explanation, for full explanations presuppose the very determinism the libertarian rejects" (Ciocchi, p. 94).[/SIZE]






    So, while there are influenctial "reasons" a person might have for making a choice these cannot necessarily be defined in terms of what "determined" the choice..for the agent himself is the determiner of his choices. That process is beyond our full comprehesion and thus remains mysterious...

    Again, this can be best illustrated if you address God's freedom in making choices. I notice you avoided that again in your last post...why?







    Let me ask again. Was there anything preventing God from not saving you? Could he have chosen otherwise
     
  19. Skandelon

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    That is the position you seem to be defending, called compatiblism. I believe in contra-casual freedom..[SIZE=-1]."A choice to act is free if it is an expression of an agent's categorical ability of the will to refrain or not refrain from the action (i.e., contra-causal freedom)."

    It is my understanding that compatiblists (Calvinists) attempt to maintain that men are free in the since that they are "doing what they desire." It is the indeterminists contention that this is an insufficient explaination to maintain true freedom considering that compatibilists believe that even the desires and thoughts of men are decreed by God.

    [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=-1]This is an important circularity in the claim by Calvinists that humans can be considered genuinely free so long as their actions are in accordance with their desires. Given your belief that all events and actions are decreed by God, then human desire (the very thing that compatibilists claim allows human choices to be considered free) must itself also be decreed. But if so, then [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]there is nothing outside of or beyond God's decree on which human freedom might be based. [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]Put differently, there is no such thing as what the human [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]really [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]wants to do in a given situation, considered somehow apart from [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]God's [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]desire in the matter (i.e., God's desire as to what the human agent will desire). In the compatibilist scheme, human desire is wholly derived from and wholly bound to the divine desire. God's decree encompasses everything, even the desires that underlie human choices.

    [/SIZE]
    [SIZE=-1]This is a critical point, because it undercuts the plausibility of the compatibilist's argument that desire can be considered the basis for human freedom. When the compatibilist defines freedom in terms of [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]desire[/SIZE][SIZE=-1] (i.e., doing what one [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]wants[/SIZE][SIZE=-1] to do), this formulation initially appears plausible only because it tends to (subtly) evoke a sense of [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]independence[/SIZE][SIZE=-1] or [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]ownership [/SIZE][SIZE=-1]on the part of the human agent for his choices. That is, even though the compatibilist insists that God decisively conditions an agent's environment so as to guarantee the outcome of the agent's choices, we can nonetheless envision God's action in doing so as being compatible with human freedom so long as the human agent in question has the opportunity to interact with his conditioned environment as an independent agent, possessing his own desires and thus owning his choices in relation to that environment. But once we recognize (as we must within the larger deterministic framework encompassing compatibilism) that those very desires of the agent are equally part of the environment that God causally determines, then the line between environment and agent becomes blurred if not completely lost. The human agent no longer can be seen as owning his own choices, for the desires determining those choices are in no significant sense independent of God's decree. For this reason, human desire within the compatibilist framework forms an insufficient basis on which to establish the integrity of human freedom (and from this the legitimacy of human culpability for sin). [/SIZE]



    [SIZE=-1]
    [/SIZE]
     
  20. Plain Old Bill

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    Skandelon,
    Please pardon the interruption. You seem to state your case very eloquently. I would be interested to know two things,first do you believe OSAS?,secondly who have you been reading?I maintain I am niether calvinist or arminian.
     

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