Why is it so hard for theists to see free will doesn’t exist?

26 Jan

This is just beyond me, I don’t see how people can argue that an all knowing god also allows free will. This argument is so old it’s ridiculous, and still people keep bringing up this paradoxical idea that free will can somehow coexist with an all knowing god.

Look, if god knows the future, which according to the bible and general views of his being omniscient he does, then he already knows exactly what is going to happen, to everybody. He knows exactly what decisions you are going to make, and exactly what the outcome will be. Because of this, you can’t decide anything other than what he knows you are going to do. It might look like you can decide, that you have free will, but that is just an illusion. Here is a graphical representation of this if it helps:

choice1You stand in the present. You have two immediate choices open to you. God, being all knowing, knows which one you will pick. He then knows what you will pick at time 1,2, and finally 3. It might look like you have 26 possible choices, but god knows you will pick left, center, right.

You, knowing this might think “Ok, I’m going to act as if I’m going to pick left, center, right, but at the last moment I’m going to suddenly change my mind and pick another combination. But god is all knowing. He would know that you plan on suddenly changing your mind and plan on not picking left, center, right. In that case the diagram above would not exist in the first place, instead it would show your new choice:

choice2And still god knows what the final outcome will be. No matter how much it seems like you have many options from which you can freely choose, it’s already known what you will do, and you can’t not do it, ergo, free will does not exist.

One could say that what he knows is going to happen isn’t exactly what he wants to have happen, but he is the creator of everything, so he has the power to change the future if he wanted to. Some might argue that since he doesn’t change the future (or does he? There is no possible way you could tell) that this is him leaving us to our free will, but again, this explanation doesn’t escape the above argument.

It is just sooooo much simpler to accept that god does not exist and thus you do have free will. You are responsible for your actions, and you control your reactions to the various situations that might arise. It’s much more empowering than being trapped in an inescapable system where somebody already knows everything you’re going to do.

7 Responses to “Why is it so hard for theists to see free will doesn’t exist?”

  1. scaryreasoner January 26, 2009 at 12:26 am #

    [quote]It is just sooooo much simpler to accept that god does not exist and thus you do have free will.[/quote]

    Uh, no. Absence of gods won’t get you free will. Free will is an incoherent concept.

    Here is my argument against the existence of rree will.

  2. God is a comedian... January 26, 2009 at 12:29 am #

    Free will exists in that we are free to accept whether we want to believe that God exists or not. You choose not to believe. I choose to believe. In the future, should we both change our current position that will be our individual choice at the time. Aside from faith, there is onlyt one way to know whether or not God exists. You have to die. I don’t like waiting. I choose faith.

  3. augustine January 26, 2009 at 5:47 am #

    I agree – simply removing God from the equation doesn’t guarantee free will. Most forms of determinism actually don’t assume the existence of an omniscient God – this is an issue that theists and atheists alike have to face.

  4. xmasfish February 18, 2009 at 5:02 pm #

    Is this a correct summary of your argument?

    1. The Bible claims that man has free will i.e. the ability to make decisions freely
    2. The Biblical, and indeed generally accepted concept of God includes omniscience i.e. knowledge of all true propositions.
    3. If Person X has a choice between A and B, and he chooses B God knew it would happen, due to his omniscience.
    4. Therefore, Person X did not make a free decision.
    5. Therefore the biblical concept of God is incoherent
    6. Therefore the God in the Bible doesn’t exist.

    It is possible that I miscontrued your argument, but I don’t think that I did. If we read it this way, it should become clear that the argument fails, because there is no justification for premise (4). Just because God knows that the proposition “Person X chose B” is true, doesn’t mean He had any causal input into the decision. If Person X had chosen A instead, God’s knowledge would have been different from the beginning of the time.

    Does this make sense to you? I’d be happy to go deeper into the issue if it doesn’t.

  5. godlesspaladin February 18, 2009 at 5:30 pm #

    First off, my argument never asserted #6. As for #4, you’re correct that god did not have causal input into the decision to choose B, he didn’t physically force the person to choose B, but none the less, person X cannot choose anything but B. Free will might seem very real, but in the end it’s still just an illusion.

  6. xmasfish February 19, 2009 at 12:42 pm #

    Okay, I thought that 6 was the conclusion that you were trying to imply. My mistake.

    If number four isn’t true, then I can’t see your argument. Person X could’ve chosen A instead of B, and had he, God’s omnscience would have included the proposition “It is true that Person X chooses A” instead of “It is true Person X chooses B”. God’s timeless knowledge of propositions often depends of the temporal actions of creatures.

    I think your complaint is that “If God knows that person X chooses B then, since the beginning of time, there is no chance that he will choose A”. This is true. But where does God’s knowledge that Person X will choose B come from? Why, it comes from Person X’s CHOICE made at a particular time. It is possible that he could’ve chosen A instead, but because he didn’t at that time, God, being timeless, knew He wouldn’t. It is still LOGICALLY possible that he would choose A and that is all that is needed for a decision to be free.

    Are you familiar with the concept of Molinism?

  7. xxannexx April 29, 2009 at 12:42 am #

    It seems to me that many atheists share the same close minded idea of what ‘God’ truly is. If atheists do not believe in a man that sits up in the clouds twirling his beard knowing everything then call me atheist. Why can’t God be considered a mysterious presence or energy.. something no one will ever be able to understand but something that is in all of us. And why can’t religion simply be seeking something more to believe in than day to day life? Why can’t we all be open minded and try to find God and spirituality in average moments? This is my idea of God.

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