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  #1  
Old May 22, '12, 8:25 pm
Poseidon Poseidon is offline
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Default How are omniscience and free will not contradictory?

No matter how I think of it, I can't find any way to logically allow the coexistence of omniscience and free will. How do you view this, and how do you justify the two seemingly contradictory propositions?
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  #2  
Old May 22, '12, 9:32 pm
Armor of Light Armor of Light is offline
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Default Re: How are omniscience and free will not contradictory?

From Wikipedia:

Quote:
There is a distinction between:
inherent omniscience - the ability to know anything that one chooses to know and can be known.
total omniscience - actually knowing everything that can be known.

Some modern theologians argue that God's omniscience is inherent rather than total, and that God chooses to limit his omniscience in order to preserve the freewill and dignity of his creatures.[2] John Calvin, among other theologians of the 16th Century, comfortable with the definition of God as being omniscient in the total sense, in order for worthy beings' abilities to choose freely, embraced the doctrine of predestination.
This actually is pretty accurate, from the catholic view (the bolded portion). I'm comfortable in this life realizing that I'm not going to understand fully the mind of God. I'm not comfortable in this life giving up trying to learn and grow in that regard however.

I look forward to how this thread will pan out.
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  #3  
Old May 22, '12, 10:00 pm
maltmom maltmom is offline
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Default Re: How are omniscience and free will not contradictory?

I've always believed that God is totally omniscient and that we have free will to accept or reject Him, to sin or not sin. In His omniscience I believe He knows what choices we will make. He doesn't make those choices for us. Personally I never had a problem reconciling the two.
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  #4  
Old May 22, '12, 10:12 pm
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fermat fermat is offline
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Default Re: How are omniscience and free will not contradictory?

The key to understand this is knowing that knowledge of an event does not cause the event.

Let's say I can go forward in time and I jump to tomorrow. I see you go to the store and buy chocolate ice cream. I zip back to today. Tomorrow rolls around and I know that you are going to go to the store and buy chocolate ice cream. Does my knowledge of that fact compel you to buy the ice cream? No.

Free will is just that, free. I can chose G-d or not. He will not force me to do one or the other. He already knows what I will freely choose to do, but he isn't causing or forcing the matter.

At the end of the day, we are all responsible for the choices we make.
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  #5  
Old May 23, '12, 3:10 pm
Poseidon Poseidon is offline
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Default Re: How are omniscience and free will not contradictory?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fermat View Post
The key to understand this is knowing that knowledge of an event does not cause the event.

Let's say I can go forward in time and I jump to tomorrow. I see you go to the store and buy chocolate ice cream. I zip back to today. Tomorrow rolls around and I know that you are going to go to the store and buy chocolate ice cream. Does my knowledge of that fact compel you to buy the ice cream? No.

Free will is just that, free. I can chose G-d or not. He will not force me to do one or the other. He already knows what I will freely choose to do, but he isn't causing or forcing the matter.

At the end of the day, we are all responsible for the choices we make.
But your knowledge does compel me to buy ice cream. I may think that I'm acting of my own accord, but in reality I'm just following along a preset path that I can't deviate from, because any choice I make is already set. For example, if I went to buy ice cream but then decided I wanted to thwart this preset path and buy a milkshake instead, you would already know that I was going to do that. Anything I decide to do would already be known by you, because you already saw it happen and there's nothing I can do to change it.

Obviously here I'm assuming that when you go back in time I do the same thing that I did before you came back.
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  #6  
Old May 23, '12, 7:09 pm
davidv davidv is offline
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Default Re: How are omniscience and free will not contradictory?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poseidon View Post
But your knowledge does compel me to buy ice cream. I may think that I'm acting of my own accord, but in reality I'm just following along a preset path that I can't deviate from, because any choice I make is already set. For example, if I went to buy ice cream but then decided I wanted to thwart this preset path and buy a milkshake instead, you would already know that I was going to do that. Anything I decide to do would already be known by you, because you already saw it happen and there's nothing I can do to change it.

Obviously here I'm assuming that when you go back in time I do the same thing that I did before you came back.
How does another persons thoughts compel you to do anything? Who preset the path? The observer did not set the path - did they? How could they possibly do so?
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Old May 23, '12, 7:16 pm
Poseidon Poseidon is offline
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Default Re: How are omniscience and free will not contradictory?

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidv View Post
How does another persons thoughts compel you to do anything? Who preset the path? The observer did not set the path - did they? How could they possibly do so?
It's not the fact that you know what I will do, it's the fact that the knowledge of what I will do exists. No one has to know it - it could just be written on a piece of paper, for example. It's the fact that what will happen in the future has already been decided, therefore I am not making the choices - something or someone else is.
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  #8  
Old May 23, '12, 7:18 pm
davidv davidv is offline
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Default Re: How are omniscience and free will not contradictory?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poseidon View Post
It's not the fact that you know what I will do, it's the fact that the knowledge of what I will do exists. No one has to know it - it could just be written on a piece of paper, for example. It's the fact that what will happen in the future has already been decided, therefore I am not making the choices - something or someone else is.
What if you were the one who wrote it down on paper?
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  #9  
Old May 23, '12, 7:23 pm
Poseidon Poseidon is offline
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Default Re: How are omniscience and free will not contradictory?

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidv View Post
What if you were the one who wrote it down on paper?
Then it wouldn't be the future, because I'd know what I was "going to" do and be able to do something else. God, however, already knows that "something else" that I'm going to do, so the future I have is false, and the future God has is the real, inescapable one.

Think of it this way: that future on paper was never true. God already knew that I would discover my "future" and work to change it, meaning that it was never my future at all. And even if I didn't work to change it, God still knows that I'm going to do that too. No matter what choice I make, God already knows I'm going to make it, so no matter what I do I'm going to do the action that God knows I'm going to do. Therefore I have no free will.
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  #10  
Old May 23, '12, 7:28 pm
davidv davidv is offline
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Default Re: How are omniscience and free will not contradictory?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poseidon View Post
Then it wouldn't be the future, because I'd know what I was "going to" do and be able to do something else. God, however, already knows that "something else" that I'm going to do, so the future I have is false, and the future God has is the real, inescapable one.

Think of it this way: that future on paper was never true. God already knew that I would discover my "future" and work to change it, meaning that it was never my future at all. And even if I didn't work to change it, God still knows that I'm going to do that too. No matter what choice I make, God already knows I'm going to make it, so no matter what I do I'm going to do the action that God knows I'm going to do. Therefore I have no free will.
Your choices are what wrote it on paper, they are not in your future, eventhough God sees them. So again your conclusion does not follow. It would appear that you cannot even begin to imagine what it is like to see all of reality in an eternal now.
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  #11  
Old May 23, '12, 7:37 pm
Poseidon Poseidon is offline
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Default Re: How are omniscience and free will not contradictory?

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidv View Post
Your choices are what wrote it on paper, they are not in your future, eventhough God sees them. So again your conclusion does not follow. It would appear that you cannot even begin to imagine what it is like to see all of reality in an eternal now.
Of course I can't. Neither can you. And how are things that I haven't done yet not in my future?
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  #12  
Old May 23, '12, 11:44 am
MichaelTDoyle MichaelTDoyle is offline
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Default Re: How are omniscience and free will not contradictory?

Quote:
Originally Posted by maltmom View Post
I've always believed that God is totally omniscient and that we have free will to accept or reject Him, to sin or not sin. In His omniscience I believe He knows what choices we will make. He doesn't make those choices for us. Personally I never had a problem reconciling the two.
This

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  #13  
Old May 23, '12, 3:09 pm
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Default Re: How are omniscience and free will not contradictory?

I think that God's omniscience does logically allow Him to co-exist with mankind's free will in that although God's omniscience makes it possible for Him to know in advance the choices people are going to make, His omniscience certainly doesn't mean that people are unable to make their choices willingly. And it certainly doesn't mean that people, after making a choice on their own volition, lose any of the human nature they had before making the choice; in other words, making choices do not make people less human and more machine-like. God's all-knowingness, then, neither contradicts nor interferes with mankind's decision making.
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Old May 23, '12, 3:15 pm
Poseidon Poseidon is offline
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Default Re: How are omniscience and free will not contradictory?

Quote:
Originally Posted by maltmom View Post
I've always believed that God is totally omniscient and that we have free will to accept or reject Him, to sin or not sin. In His omniscience I believe He knows what choices we will make. He doesn't make those choices for us. Personally I never had a problem reconciling the two.
God knew the choices we would make before we even existed. If I didn't exist, but the choices I would make did exist, then I didn't make those choices. I wasn't around to make them. Therefore, someone else made them for me.
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  #15  
Old May 23, '12, 11:25 am
TheTrueCentrist TheTrueCentrist is offline
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Default Re: How are omniscience and free will not contradictory?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Armor of Light View Post
From Wikipedia:



This actually is pretty accurate, from the catholic view (the bolded portion). I'm comfortable in this life realizing that I'm not going to understand fully the mind of God. I'm not comfortable in this life giving up trying to learn and grow in that regard however.

I look forward to how this thread will pan out.
But there are numerous examples in the bible and from contemporary stories where people claim to have learned of the future from God. If God were actually limiting his omniscience, this would not be possible. In other words, we would have to admit that any prophecy is illegitimate.

You might argue that prophecies are about natural phenomenon, not free will choices. However, not only is this not always true, but they are intermixed. Take for example the prophecy that Jesus would be betrayed by a friend. That is clear evidence that God knew the free will choices that someone would make ahead of time.
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