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Passions in Poetry

Free Will and Omniscience

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Crazy Eddie
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50 posted 04-13-2003 02:24 PM       View Profile for Crazy Eddie   Email Crazy Eddie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Crazy Eddie


Running what if scenarios is my cup of tea, how else would you get an atheist to accept, for the sake of argument, that God exists?

I understand what C.S. Lewis was trying to say, I just think it falls apart when you ask the obvious question -Ėdoes God possess a free will?

If there is a fixed future for God to see it has to be by definitionÖwell, fixed. If it is fixed he canít do anything to influence or change it, he has no choice but to play the hand that will culminate in that future coming to fruition Ė he has in effect no free will.

The alternative is that there are innumerable possible futures and God knows them all and can take action to influence which one becomes reality. In this scenario I have the free will to choose any colour I like but God can make me choose red Ė which means I have no free will I just think I have.

It could be though that there are innumerable possible futures and God knows them all but chooses to allow fate and our free will to dictate which one becomes reality. In this scenario God plays no role in the destiny of man and has no influence upon man beyond the influence that man decides to afford him. God can see all the possible futures of man but doesnít know which one we will choose.
Local Rebel
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51 posted 04-13-2003 03:02 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

And now Heisenberg with a side of Kapra...

Ron
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52 posted 04-13-2003 03:10 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
You're not too far from string theory at this point.

Define "not too far," LR? Redefining the complexity of space-time into 10 dimensions (or 11, for M-Theory), seems a far cry to me from flattening it into 0-dimensions.

quote:
The alternative is that ...

You're missing a third alternative, I think, though that's hardly surprising since it runs completely contrary to the way our minds operate. It's so contrary, in fact, that it can't easily be put into a language that is necessarily mired in past- and future-tense.

God has free will and can make any decisions He wishes. In fact, He already has made all those decisions. Outside of time, remember?

And before someone asks if God can later change His mind, ask instead why would He? All of his decisions were/are/will be perfect.
Local Rebel
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53 posted 04-13-2003 03:24 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I'll answer you later Ron (but you do know I have an answer don't you...)

For now I don't want to disturb the thread.
Crazy Eddie
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54 posted 04-13-2003 03:46 PM       View Profile for Crazy Eddie   Email Crazy Eddie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Crazy Eddie


LR

You forgot Russell

Ron,

I thought I had that covered with God knowing the past present and future simultaneously. Doesnít your assertion that he may already have made the decisions, and that those decisions wonít change as theyíre perfect, suggest he has no choice?

Perfect or not if God has made all the decisions for us how can any of our decisions be deemed to be free?

As far as string theory is concerned I have to admit my knowledge is limited, for instance I always believed that M-Theory was the name for the yet undiscovered unified string theory, the mother of all string theories so to speak. With that in mind Iíll leave the string theory discussion to LR.
Local Rebel
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55 posted 04-13-2003 06:54 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Walter or Robert John?
Local Rebel
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56 posted 04-13-2003 07:03 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Sorry but you're just begging this one Ron:

quote:

God has free will and can make any decisions He wishes. In fact, He already has made all those decisions. Outside of time, remember?

And before someone asks if God can later change His mind, ask instead why would He? All of his decisions were/are/will be perfect.



So... does God have the free will to make the wrong choice?

enjoy...
Ron
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57 posted 04-13-2003 07:23 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
I thought I had that covered with God knowing the past present and future simultaneously.
No, because you're still differentiating between them.

Hold out your hand and look at it very closely. Done? Now tell me, were you looking at the breadth or the depth of your hand? Unless you very consciously make the effort, chances are you don't make that distinction at all. We "see" and "think" in three dimensions, and only in unusual circumstances do we attempt to limit our thoughts to less.

I was just being cute when I suggested God had "already" made all of His decisions (I never said He made any of ours). I could just as easily have said He hasn't made any decisions yet, but someday will. When you're not constrained by time, both statements are equally valid, equally possible. When you suggest that for God to know the future, he "has no choice but to play the hand that will culminate in that future coming to fruition," you're necessarily thinking sequentially. You're saying that "this" will lead to "that." To live outside of time, cause and effect no longer exist apart from each other, but are merged into a single "what is." God isn't playing a hand that will culminate in the future, because the hand being played and the future both already exist as part of a single something we can't quite imagine let alone easily see. There is no past, present, or future to know. There is only "what is."
Ron
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58 posted 04-13-2003 07:26 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Same answer, LR. There is no wrong choice, except as a distinction you or I make. There is only "the" choice, because there is only "what is."
Crazy Eddie
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59 posted 04-13-2003 07:50 PM       View Profile for Crazy Eddie   Email Crazy Eddie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Crazy Eddie


LR

JackÖ

I mean Bertrand

Ron,

I understand the proposed timelessness of Gods action in relation to the sequential constraints of mans existence, under such conditions Gods action will have occurred yesterday today and tomorrow all at the same time as far as heís concerned. The timing of his decision isnít an issue, whether he has any free will in arriving at that decision is the question Iím interested in.

You asked me to look at my hand, which I did, but I didnít need to if I do indeed possess a free will, I could just have easily looked at my foot. In a thousand years from now God could decide that I should in fact look at my knee and with a wave of his hand I would be looking at my knee Ė but when? God could be outside time but Iím not. One day a thousand years from now is the same as today and the same as yesterday as far as God is concerned but his timeless decision still acts to remove my free will the second I look at my knee.

Darn it Ė I just looked at my knee!
Local Rebel
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60 posted 04-13-2003 08:33 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Ah.. actually Walter probably fits my reference better.. I was into a harmonic paradigm long before I even studied him just as a matter of my own conclusion... interesting stuff -- too bad (he was a crackpot)

But Bertrand will do

Ron... but if there is only 'THE' choice then doesn't that force the obvious?  (to a finite corporeal being that can only percieve a Cartesian model of the universe?)

[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (04-13-2003 08:43 PM).]

Ron
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61 posted 04-13-2003 08:49 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Does God have free will? When you remove the "He has to preserve a fixed future" from the question, because there is no such thing as a future, then the obvious answer is, "Why not?"

As to your knee, the promise of the Bible is that God will not force you to look at it. He knows if you did/do/will, but still leaves the choice to you. One might even surmise that our entire physical universe is expressly designed to eliminate foreknowledge that might otherwise obstruct that freedom. The restraints imposed by reality, like the one about not travelling faster than the speed of light, sometimes seem completely arbitrary and meaningless. But those very restraints are the things that define our concept of time. Those very restraints are the things that seem to shield us from "what is."
Crazy Eddie
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62 posted 04-13-2003 09:31 PM       View Profile for Crazy Eddie   Email Crazy Eddie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Crazy Eddie


LR

Was Walt the geezer who drew the vortex image of life and death and the nine wave-string harp?

Ron,

Sorry to seem dumb here Ron but are you saying that God in this scenario does or does not have the ability (and the free will) to force my decision making process to his end?
Ron
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63 posted 04-13-2003 10:02 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

The way you've worded your question makes it irrelevant to the issue of your own free will. Do you have the ability and free will to murder someone close to you? Ah, but would you? The fact that you can takes someone's life isn't, by itself, reason for them to fear you. Translate that mortal trust into an absolute trust and the ability to do something is much less important than the promise to not do it.
Local Rebel
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64 posted 04-13-2003 10:12 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Among other things Ed... yes...

Most interesting was his periodic table of elements http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/8989/russtbl.gif

he actually had the respect of men like Tesla -- for more -- http://www.altenergy.org/3/new_energy/early_pioneers/russell/russell.html

wierd wild stuff -- but, still a crackpot when you get right down to it...

interesting how some of his notions are actually panning out in quantum mechanics  -- if he just would have said -- what if?  instead of 'I recieved it by divine enlightenment!'
Local Rebel
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65 posted 04-13-2003 10:17 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Sorry about that -- that gif is on geocities -- you can't access it through a back door...

go here http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/8989/ and then click on the periodic table
fractal007
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66 posted 04-14-2003 01:24 AM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

I don't know that the question of whether or not God has free will has any merit.  If the universe does indeed have time as a "property" then does it not stand to reason that God created time too?  But then, I'm no theoretical physicist, so perhaps someone could help me out of any foolish ignorance, with regard to that subject, in which I my be trapped.

2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2
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Local Rebel
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67 posted 04-14-2003 02:28 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

You've hit on a major point there Mr. Fractal -- time (and space) only exists in the universe... this universe -- other universes have different laws and properties. If there are extra-universal universes beyond infinity (another property of this universe) then the existence of a 'god' must also be extra-universal and lie beyond infinity.

And isn't it good to know the big crunch is dead?

[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (04-14-2003 02:31 PM).]

Crazy Eddie
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68 posted 04-14-2003 05:35 PM       View Profile for Crazy Eddie   Email Crazy Eddie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Crazy Eddie

LR,

Doesnít the introduction of infinity allow multiple Gods?

Ron,

Do I have the free will to murder someone close to me? Ė Yes.

Would I - Iíd have to say no with a caveat for certain circumstances.

But thatís just me, youíd get a different set of answers from different people, my question is do you believe God can directly dictate the answers given by those people and the actions based upon those answers? Not does he but can he?

Fractal,

You donít need to convince me that the question has no merit Ė as I said Iím an atheist Ė but itís worth thinking about just in case Iím wrong.  

If God exists and has the free will to override my free will I donít have any to start with.

I think time is a bit of a red herring in all this, the question, before I turned it on itís head to come at it from another angle, was does man possess a free will. Putting God above, beyond or outside time is a neat trick but canít dodge the fact that any specific interaction in the affairs of man must manifest itself at some point in our time.

If God has the free will and the ability to make me look at my knee in 10 seconds from now itís irrelevant what his relation to time is the effect or interaction must occur to me in 10 seconds from now.

Darn it I looked at my knee again!

[This message has been edited by Crazy Eddie (04-15-2003 04:48 PM).]

Stephanos
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69 posted 04-15-2003 04:17 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Whoa... I go do something responsible and civil like going to work for a few days, and you guys take the ball and run!  I'll be back.  


Stephen.
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70 posted 04-15-2003 05:55 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Fractal:

"†I skimmed through Stephanos's replies and was surprised that he did not bring CS Lewis into this complex equation.††But perhaps I did not look closely enough...?"


Actually the argument for theism from reason or rational thought, is touched on by Lewis in his book "Miracles", especially in the third chapter called "The cardinal difficulty of naturalism".  Of course this line of thought does not directly deal with omniscience and free will.  It more has to do with finding out which worldview can provide a framework where rational thought may exist with any meaning.  Do you know of any C.S. Lewis' writings that deal directly with omniscience, omnipotence, and free will?  


I guess that the connection between the question of rational thought, and the question of free will, might be one which has to do with asking how there can be free will without rational thought.  If everything were a result of a naturalistic process inside a purely mechanical universe, then not only our thoughts, but our choices are necessarily mere links in the causal chain.  When there is no mind or "will" involved in the overall scheme of the the universe, how can there be a mind or will within the universe that is not illusory?  Every particular in the universe is forced to exhibit the character of the whole, which in a naturalistic universe is ultimately chemical.  


But how can chemical processes make choices?  This seems to me to result in a much more fatal problem than the one imposed by theism.  For theism, there is at least the boon of having a will to start from.  The thing at the base ... at the rock-bottom reality of the universe, is at least consistent and congruent with the thing we hold in question ...  a will.  The question of how these wills can be "free", no doubt presents us with difficulties.  For example, is freedom more like a gradient, or is it an either/ or situation?  


I see no problem with assuming that a being with ultimate freedom (God) could delegate his freedom to created beings, albeit a limited version.  I also don't see why a being with ultimate freedom could not choose to suspend (but always with oversight) his freedom, or omniscience, or omnipresence, for a purpose ... such as in giving humans wills that somehow matter.  I know this is knotty, but if we start with a willful being, we at least can have other wills to ponder.  Naturalism doesn't have this benefit.  Someone please explain will arising from nonwillful chemistry, in such a way that does not undermine every rational thought and action that we may choose.


Stephen.  

    

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (04-15-2003 07:37 PM).]

Crazy Eddie
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71 posted 04-15-2003 06:53 PM       View Profile for Crazy Eddie   Email Crazy Eddie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Crazy Eddie


Hello Stephanos

I can imagine a non interfering God (see below) but itís the ďwills that somehow matterĒ in your post that worries me, free will presumes a freedom of choice for the individual made without direct interference from a third party, that includes deities. If God directly intercedes to influence our choice do we really have a free will?

quote:
I also don't see why a being with ultimate freedom could not choose to suspend (but always with oversight) his freedom


This is one possible explanation - a non-interfering God Ė but is that the type of God some people claim to know and love, added to that Iím not sure it allows for a particularly rosy future for mankind.

If free will is due to suspension of Gods ability to interfere directly in mans free will then presumably when that suspension comes to an end so too will the illusion of free will afforded to man. I donít know about you but losing my free will doesnít seem like paradise to me.
Stephanos
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72 posted 04-15-2003 07:15 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Crazy Eddie:

"does or does not (God) have the ability and the free will to force my decision making process to his end?"


Your statement is presupposing something.  It states, in an a priori fashion, that you possess the ability to make decisions.  This is at least some measure of freedom ... or you could not be the one making the decisions.  I believe that we have the ability to choose.  This is free will as commonly understood.  Is it the same freedom of will that belongs to God alone?  I would describe it as a limited or "creaturely" free will.  What is it limited by? ... nature, time, influences, heredity, etc...   But limited does not mean non-existent.  Could it be possible that the question of freedom runs more on a gradient?  And just because you don't possess the fullness, does it mean that you possess no measure of freedom?


God give us freedom to choose.  His ability to "force" your decision making process to his own ends, does not mean that he necessarily forces your decision.  For example, My four year old son can freely scribble some dots on a piece of paper.  I can connect those dots in such a way as to make a picture.  Drawing the picture of course is an act of my own will and freedom that does not violate his.  In the same way, why couldn't God have the unlimited ability and freedom to orchestrate our choices to conform to his own will and design ... without being forced to eliminate our real ability to choose?  


So in this scenario, your choices would be God's raw material to construct something of his own.  You might argue that God's freedom would be compromised by the fact that he becomes dependent upon and limited by our choices.  But this is precisely where the glory lies in the claims of Christianity.  God's most alluring description is as the condescending one, the sacrificing one, the incarnate God who became flesh.  So God gives up his freedom, in a sense, to give us ours ... even to the point of dying on a cross for sins (another word for abused and ill-wrought freedom).  But even though he condescends, he doesn't compromise.  The artist who is able to take someone's scribbles, and scratches, and wrong brush strokes, and make of them a breathtaking masterpiece is perhaps the greatest artist of all.  So I guess looking at it this way, the Christian view is one of a God who gives up, if not omniscience and omnipotence, at least it's priviledges and perks for a time... who though he fully takes it up again (that is, his Godhood and the absolute sovereignty implied in the title), has in a real and personal way layed it down for humankind.  What a secure freedom it is which doesn't have to grasp it with white knuckles.  


Stephen.        

[This message has been edited by Stephanos (04-15-2003 07:23 PM).]

Ron
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73 posted 04-15-2003 09:05 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
If God exists and has the free will to override my free will I don't have any to start with.

Sorry, but I just don't see where the premise leads to the conclusion. Imagine that I handed you a big, juicy, bright red apple. Best looking apple in the whole world. If I turned around five minutes later and asked you to give it back (assuming you were still admiring it and hadn't already slurped it down), would you willingly return it to me? I'm guessing, being a decent and accommodating fellow, that you likely would. Did the apple ever really belong to you? Your question seems to indicate you think not. And, you know, I would probably agree.

But what if I didn't ask for it back? Ever? Would the fact that I "could" ask prevent you from accepting the gift and eventually eating the apple? I might even understand that kind of response if I had given you gifts in the past only to turn around and take them back again. But if I had given you countless apples, never asking they be returned, it just wouldn't make sense for you to keep putting them in a drawer in anticipation that I "might" rescind my gift this time?

Yes, I believe God has the power to revoke His gift of free will. Should He ever exercise that power, I might even agree with you that the gift was never a true gift. But He hasn't, and the promise is that He won't. I see no reason, given those stipulations, to let my apple rot in a drawer.

Not incidentally, some believe there is a third alternative in our apple scenario. Imagine, for a moment, that the apple you were given tasted even better than it looked. A thousand thousand times better! Instead of greedily eating the whole thing, you might well find yourself satisfied after a few bites and feel so appreciative that you want to share your gift with the one who gave it. Does free will cease to be free if it is freely given?

Or, to return to your own analogy, what if you asked God to make you look at your knee?
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74 posted 04-15-2003 09:12 PM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

Eddie:

quote:
If God exists and has the free will to override my free will I donít have any to start with.


Isn't that a bit like saying that we're all walking deadmen because there exist murderers in our society who have the ability to kill us?

quote:
Putting God above, beyond or outside time is a neat trick but canít dodge the fact that any specific interaction in the affairs of man must manifest itself at some point in our time.


What does that have to do with the question of whether or not we have free will?  Besides, I don't think anyone here would think anything to the contrary of your statement.  Why?  Because we live in a universe in which just about everything takes place at specific points in time.  That includes your knee and any amount of staring at it you might engage in, whether divinely inspired or not.

Stephanos:

quote:
Do you know of any C.S. Lewis' writings that deal directly with omniscience, omnipotence, and free will?


I only know of the passage I cited earlier.  It is found in the book you introduced me, as a matter of fact.  Check out Book 4: Chapter 3 of Mere Christianity, entitled "Time Beyond Time."  It's near the end.

As far as your other comments are concerned, I'll read them over and see if I can find any objections or other thoughts.



2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2
--Smit
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[This message has been edited by fractal007 (04-15-2003 09:19 PM).]

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