Free Will and Omniscience

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Regenhund

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I posted this one on the apologist’s board, but I wouldn’t mind hearing any of your thoughts on the subject. One of the other threads here reminded me of it.

The biggest stumbling block to my faith is synching up the concepts of Free Will and an Omniscient Creator. If God is Omniscient then He already knew every decision we would ever make before He made anything at all. This being the case, free will would be an illusion because God, having created us into a specific time, shaped by specific events, etc, created us in that way intentionally. The only way I can rectify the idea is if He somehow set aside His omniscience until He created the world so that he really didn’t know how thing would turn out. But I don’t know if that is even possible! :confused:

Metaphorically, it’s as if I set up dominos to fall in a line. There is no longer any possiblility at that point that the dominos will fall any other way or somehow choose not to fall.

Help! 😦
 
I will add my questions to yours, if you don’t mind.

God is all about freedom. A Peter Kreeft Proverb:

Freedom and Fate
The two aren’t contradictory;The two aren’t even different. Freedom is my fate. My fate is to be free.

God only promises to bring us to freedom. That freedom will be either a hell to us or a heaven. We just have difficulty imagining true freedom. Or, rather, we don’t have the faith and trust that God wants us to be ‘divinized’ in this way.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that God does not understand the concept of hell, or maybe that he cannot ‘see’ it at all…or something like that.
 
Here is my view and it could definitely be wrong.

Although God is aware of our decisions he still leaves those decisions up to us. One argument that I get against God being fallible is that he obviously didn’t know that man would fall as we did in the garden of Eden and what about the flood!

God does not intervene at all times and in all instances. He allows us to choose and fail. When he sees fit it intervene he does. He is aware of our choices but that does not mean that our choices are already made. We live in a state of time and linear progression, God does not. Time is a product of our realm. I said this on another thread.

“We as humans are confined by our reliance on all things being more or less linear and within their own domain. Eternal and eternity does not mean, “having infinite duration” when applied to God it means timeless, without measure. He is the “A and Z” not the “A through Z” he exists in all places and times as one.

The first lines of the Bible – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth” shows that God always was and that the concept of time did not come into place until the creation of our realm.”
 
I struggled with this issue for years, but I finally realized an answer that satisfied me:

Who won the World Series last year? The Florida Marlins did. Do you know that? Yes. How do you know it? I remember–I watched it myself. Does your remembrance of it make it necessary? In other words, does the fact that you remember it mean that it had to turn out that way? No, the Yankees could have won it just as easily if things happened differently. So your knowledge of who won does not necessitate the outcome? No.

Now keep in mind that God is eternal. In other words, in him there is no past, no present, and no future. So he knows the future in the same way that he knows the past. In fact, his knowledge of temporal events is much like our remembering the past. He “remembers” the future much like we remember the past. And since our remembering of the past does not necessitate it, so his “remembrance” of the future does not determine it. He knows what is going to happen–he knows what choices we will make–but that does not determine it.

I hope that makes sense to you the way it does to me.
 
Knowing that something is going to happen does not mean that God willed it that way. He created us with free will precisely because he is pure love and desired to create a creature that could truly love Him. The only way we can truly love is to have free will. While God knew that one on the consequences of free will is the capacity to chose to turn away from God, this does not mean that He willed it. If we did not have that capacity then we would not truly be free. The choice is still ours. God already knows which of us will ultimately end up in heaven (He knew this from the beginning, long before we were born).
 
I think I see where you are going, but for it to answer my question it would have to have been you who put the Marlins out on the field at that time, knew they were each going to be well rested, etc. and knew all this before, during, and after the game.

I just can’t see God who creates everything and God who knows everything not being God who controls everything.
 
Dr Paul:
God already knows which of us will ultimately end up in heaven (He knew this from the beginning, long before we were born).
Sounds depressingly like predestination.

Please believe me when I tell you all that I’m not trying to bait anyone.
 
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Regenhund:
Sounds depressingly like predestination.

Please believe me when I tell you all that I’m not trying to bait anyone.
No so if you are equating this with the protestant belief. Protestants believe in double predistination. God knew and God willed that some are saved and others are not. As Catholics, we believe that God wills all to be saved even though He knows that not all will be. The choice is still ours.
 
God is not bound by time he sees all things as there are with out having to wait. He saw that I would write this but did not force me to do so. He knew I would marry my wife because he is not traped inside of time. This shows his Love for us already knowing that Adam and Eve were going to mess things up did not change the fact that he loved us enough to give us the choice even though he already could see the choice.

My son is a joy and there was a time when he was learning to walk that I could see that he was going to fall down, however I did not make him fall, I simply let him make his own decsion to let go of the couch, now when he fell I helped him up so he could try to do better the next time. Now I am not God (everybody should be thankful for that), he sees everything in all time all of the time that does not mean he is forcing us to do anything. He loving us enough to give us the freedom to choose.

God Bless and have a great day.
 
Protestants believe that our being saved is always once it occurs but we do not believe in double predestination. It falls along the same lines as it what is being said here. I can choose to reject God but that does not mean that he will reject me.
 
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Shibboleth:
Protestants believe that our being saved is always once it occurs but we do not believe in double predestination. It falls along the same lines as it what is being said here. I can choose to reject God but that does not mean that he will reject me.
Sorry, but I’m not all that familier with Double Predestination. What I can’t wrap my brain around is: If God knew “Bob” was not going to choose eternal life even before the beginning of the universe, why did He create Bob that way? Why didn’t God surround Bob with a reverent family, supportive friends, and holy priests, etc, who could guide Bob towards salvation?
 
Sorry for lumping Calvinistic beliefs with general protestant beliefs. There are clear differences between protestant denominations (that is why there are so many). There is a good descripition of this issue in the Catholic Encyclopedia
 
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Regenhund:
I posted this one on the apologist’s board, but I wouldn’t mind hearing any of your thoughts on the subject. One of the other threads here reminded me of it.

The biggest stumbling block to my faith is synching up the concepts of Free Will and an Omniscient Creator. If God is Omniscient then He already knew every decision we would ever make before He made anything at all. This being the case, free will would be an illusion because God, having created us into a specific time, shaped by specific events, etc, created us in that way intentionally. The only way I can rectify the idea is if He somehow set aside His omniscience until He created the world so that he really didn’t know how thing would turn out. But I don’t know if that is even possible! :confused:

Metaphorically, it’s as if I set up dominos to fall in a line. There is no longer any possiblility at that point that the dominos will fall any other way or somehow choose not to fall.

Help! 😦
And what did the Apologist’s Board Reply?
 
Every time we speak of God we use thoughts and words based upon our “being” in a finite existence. We cannot imagine infinite existence. Infinite or infinity are words grossly misused by us.

God created for us a finite world. Everything is change, nothing remains the same, not even for an instant. Time does not exist. Time is a system developed by the human mind to help us keep track of the constant changes we experience. An hour does not exist any more than something called a mile exists. An hour and a mile are merely mental shortcuts to keep track of change. What is an hour? It’s one twenty-fourth of one earth rotation (change). The only existence in an hour is the material changes that took place. Same thing with a year, which is one orbit of the earth around the sun. We can’t even give it a fixed number of full days, because the rotation of the earth and its orbit around the sun do not mesh evenly. Therefore, we adjust the even number of days every four years (leap year), and it’s still not correct, so it’s adjusted every century, and again every 1000 years, etc.

We cannot imagine anything happening that does not happen in sequence, one event following another. Therefore, we cannot imagine exitence without change and change in sequence or time.

God is Infinite. I am capitalizing the word because only God is Infinite. He told Moses: “I am Who am.” “Yahweh” means “I am.” God feels no time, no sequence, no change. What we would call yesterday and tomorrow are always and forever NOW for God. We describe God with all kinds of attributes: almighty, all-loving, merciful, just, all-knowing, and many more. But God does not have attributes, God is absolutely simple. That means ABSOLUTELY simple. God is infinitely just and infinitely merciful. In our world justice and mercy are considered opposing attributes. To be merciful we must temper justice. To insist on strong justice, we must temper mercy. God’s mercy and justice IS One and IS infinite. We cannot understand that, but God gives us the capacity to know it through the intelligence He creates in us. To expect to know how that could be is to expect to understand the existence of God.

God cannot change. If God changed in any way, He would not be Infinite and therefore would not be God. God is the First Mover, the First Cause. There is a false theology which claims that there is a good god and a bad god and they spend eternity fighting each other. Well, if there were two gods, there would have to be a place where one ends and the other begins, therefore, not Infinite, not God. Some claim the universe is infinite. That cannot be; the universe displays constant change. Infinite things cannot change.

When it is said that God created us from nothing, I cringe a little bit because technically that is inaccurate. First our creation is not “past tense,” but is “eternal tense,” which the closest we can apply is the “present tense.” God creates us. Next, He does not create us from any existing material, but He uses one ingrediant, that is God’s Will. Like any product, if you withdraw all the ingrediants, the product will cease to exist. If God withdraws His Will we will cease to exist.

He creates us and the angels each with a free will… God does not have need for us. He creates us from Infinite Love to share in His Divine Happiness. A rock, a tree, a dog does not have a free will. They cannot choose to obey or disobey God’s law. Whatever any of those things do, no matter what our opinion, they follow the Will of God WITHOUT ANY exceptions. They will not share with God His Infinite Happiness. The free wills which He gives each angel and each human allows us to chose to follow His Will or not. Therefore, He Wills that to follow His Law merits the happiness of heaven, and our free and conscious choice to disobey His Law will merit hell.

This exclusion of time is ours during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. While the Mass is a celebration and a rememberance of Christ’s Passion and Death on the Cross, during the Consecration our world of time is withdrawn and we are miraculously present on Calvary. That miracle and the Real, True, Physical Presence of the Risen Christ under the accidental appearance of bread and wine is what we have and what no other church has.
 
Thanks for the reminder, George, that my tiny meat brain may not be capable of understanding until i am with God and he explains it to me himself.

As Augustine said: “Inscrutabilia sunt judicia Dei” (the judgments of God are inscrutable).

BTW I haven’t heard from the apologists yet, but I’m very curious to hear their response.
 
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Regenhund:

Metaphorically, it’s as if I set up dominos to fall in a line. There is no longer any possiblility at that point that the dominos will fall any other way or somehow choose not to fall.

Help! 😦
Hi, Regenhund -

I like your analogy… I would agree that God set up the dominos… however, we can choose not to fall.

I remember seeing something on TV about this guy who set up literally thousands of dominos according to his plan… and was crushed when whole sections didn’t go down, because a single domino was not quite in alignment.

Now, the TV guy set it up knowing that the dominos might not go down the way he wanted it (is this the human version of omniscience?). But he did it anyway - even though he was disappointed with the upright domino (is this the domino version of free will? 😉 )

The difference between God and the domino guy on TV is that God can take bad results and turn them into something greater…

So there’s Adam and Eve in the Garden…
… and they don’t do as God intended…
… and whole populations of humans (all of us, actually) are robbed of the good God had intended.

So what does God do?

He sends His only-begotten Son to redeem us, to take upon Himself the perfect justice of God, Whom we have sinned against…

… leaving us to benefit from His perfect mercy.

Without Adam & Eve’s original sin - we would not have ever known the true depth of God’s love for us, that He would enter into time and space - become one of us, suffer, die and rise again - in order to redeem us.

As the Catholic Mass puts it (I think for Christmas) - “oh happy fault, oh necessary sin of Adam, that gained for us so great a redeemer!”

I’ll be thinking more about the dominos…

In the meantime, here’s another analogy - think of a movie you’ve already seen. You know how it’s going to turn out. Does your knowledge affect the free will of the actors? Nope - turns out the same, whether you knew about it or not.

God wrote the universe with one plot in mind… we keep writing another, and He respects our creative license (a/k/a “free will”). He knows how we will write it, because He’s omniscient - He’s seen the movie “before.”

That’s another thing to keep in mind - “before” and “after” are human concepts, since we are limited to a linear sense of time dictated by our material existence. God doesn’t have that problem. He just “IS.”

And one final comment - God has seen the movie… and He knows that the story will have a happy ending! :cool:

Thanks for some interesting things to ponder!

God bless,

Gryphon
 
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Regenhund:
If God is Omniscient then He already knew every decision we would ever make before He made anything at all.
Read this definition
Omniscient (Omnis"cient) (?), a.
[Omni- + L. sciens, -entis, p. pr. of scire to know: cf. F. omniscient. See Science.]
Having universal knowledge; knowing all things; infinitely knowing or wise; as, the omniscient God. – Om
nis"cient*ly, adv. “For what can scape the eye Of God all-seeing, or deceive his heart Omniscient?” Milton.
It does not imply knowledge of future events. Although God certainly has a plan, and can effect events to achieve His plan, it neither does nor implies He “knows” what specifically will happen. For example in Scripture He seems surprised at times, remorseful at others. This could of course be literary mechanism, or, it could imply He really didn’t expect the event to occur. He knows when every bird of the air falls, it doesn’t say He know before it happens.
 
Everything is caused by God. This includes our future free actions. God knows our future free actions because he is the cause of them. This does not take away our free will. Not only does God cause us to perform our actions, but he also causes us to do them freely. But, some may say, “but if we aren’t the cause of our own actions, then we aren’t free.” I reply, with St. Thomas, that being free does include being the cause of our actions, but it does not include being the first cause of our actions.
 
The greatest mystery is not that God can see the past, present, and future, “all at once.” That’s just His nature. Being outside of time, He sees all things, all events, at once. It’s all “now” to Him.

The greater mystery is that God chose to make creatures who could voluntarily reject Him, --the mystery of free will. It’s as though a master technician makes a robot, but gives it the ability to freely reject its creator.

God could have forced us to love him, simply by revealing himself fully to us. Since his essence is infinite goodness, no one could resist, but they would not have chosen him. He would have destroyed their free will. So he does not reveal himself fully, not yet --that’s the beatific vision. First we must decide.

Would you give your child a drug which would alter his behaviour in such a way that he would no longer have any choice but to be the perfect child? Perfectly loving, perfectly obedient, because lacking any ability to do otherwise?

JimG
 
This question can be answered through examining the scriptures regarding Jesus when He is eternally begotten of God. The question is how can Jesus be fully eternal Omniscient God and fully free willed man at the same time.

Jesus, as man, clearly indicates that He has free will and can fall into temptation. We know that Jesus, as God, cannot sin. It is upon Christ’s ressurection that Jesus assumes His position as eternal Omniscient God at the right Hand of God for all eternity before creation and for all eternity beyond the end of time.

NAB JOHN 17:4

“I have given you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. Do you now, Father, give me glory at your side, a glory I had with you before the world began.”

In Jesus Loves God, all the scriptures describing Jesus’ Omniscience, Jesus free will, and Jesus’ eternal beggeting are presented. Please visit Jesus Loves God and you will see the answer to your question. www.geocities.com/athens/forum/3325/4a.htm

Peace in Christ,
Steven Merten
www.ILOVEYOUGOD.com
 
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