Argument against free will of man


This weekend my non-Christian mother asked me a question about free will. She asked “if God knows everything, as Christianity claims, then how can man have free will?” I have heard about the argument against free will but haven’t really studied it very much and am looking for sources that would effectively support the Christian view of human free will. My mother says that if God knows what you are going to choose, before you choose it, then you really have no choice at all… you have to choose what God knows you will choose.
I sat there dumbfounded because the whole argument sounded so ridiculous to me. In the end, I said that the fact that we are even presented with a choice, shows that we have been given free will. If God was imposing His will upon us, there would be no choices presented. Further, I pointed out that God’s knowledge of what we are going to do, does not inhibit our choices–WE are still the one’s deciding if we are going to do one thing or another or believe one thing or another. She did not agree.

Any thoughts on how to argue this?


She’d be wrong.

Jimmy Akin has this analogy:
A man stands on top of a building, at the corner, looking down. There are 2 cars coming toward each other at top speed, who can’t see each other because of the building. The man on top of the building has the vantage point, however, and knows that it is a physical certainty that they will hit each other. There is no time to stop. So, are the drivers not in control because someone else knows what they will do?


I tried a similar analogy with no luck. She says that a human onlooker is totally different than God (well, of course, that much is true). Her point is that because God knows the outcome, there is no choice. It has to happen the way God knows it will happen. In other words God’s omniscience is incompatible with human free will. To me this is totally backward “logic”, but I was surprised when I googled the issue and found out a lot of people hold to this philosophy.


But there is a difference between “fore-knowledge” and “fore-ordained”. Just because God knows something will happens, doesn’t mean He caused it to happen.

Take, for instance, sin. Just because God knows that I’m going to commit a certain sin doesn’t mean He made me do it, does it? :eek: What kind of Love is that?!?


How is God different though? In the example given, the person at the top of the building knows probably as surely as God does what is going to happen, for that moment he is almost equally knowing.

She thinks that because God CAN intervene and micromanage our lives, that somehow means He must do so, and that He always does do so, and that the wrongs that happen to us are His fault if He opts not to?

According to this sort of logic your mother, assuming that she can bail you out of jail if you end up there, must and always will bail you out. And that you have no choice if you end up there, it’s all her doing because she didn’t bail you out.


She didn’t break the analogy of the man on the roof. The analogy lies in the vantage point, not whether one person is a deity or not. Unfortunately, this line of thinking is for people who desire to drive a wedge into classic Christian thinking and it does not stand on its face. And it may also be difficult to understand if she has motives to not believe. Personally (and you know the situation better than me) I would back off of her and try to preach the Gospel as St. Francis did…without words. Her line of thinking entirely justifies murder…after all, we don’t have the will to stop…right? I’m sure she would understand if someone assaulted her in an alley…just a predetermined collection of molecules interacting. No big deal.

I’m sorry…that may have been a little over the top…but if you use such an analogy, I hope you do it lovingly for the dear woman. :slight_smile:


If we accept that God created you, isn’t it true that God created you knowing exactly what you would do at every point in your life, and chose to create you that way?


So? I might choose to have a child knowing that at some point that child is going to tell me it hates me. All kids do at some point. That’s not to say that by choosing to have the child I somehow make the child say it, or force the child to say it, or that the child doesn’t exert its free will in saying it. (If it didn’t I wouldn’t punish it for saying such).


I prefer to see free will as having the right to choose which of God’s plans we follow (though we do not know what the plans are or that we are actually following them). Imagine this: we are walking along a path (the road of life :wink: ) God already know all the paths- which turn into which, where each would lead us, which would branch off and how, even the paths we are most like to take. Sometimes He lets us walk without interference (this doesn’t mean He abandons us). Sometimes He wants us to take a particular branch, so He nudges us every now and then into paths leading to that branch. But at the end of the day it is us who choose.


Well…actually it’s difficult to know exactly why God gives us free will. But I do believe that although we choose wrong side but we still try hard to do God’s will though prayer then God will guide us to find the right path.
Example: to go to one certain point let say to go to “A”, we have 3 ways (1,2, or 3) to go there. Actually God’s will is that we should choose 1st way, but we choose 2nd because of course by our free will, we can choose any of them. When we chose it, we bring it to God through prayer and said that we want to do His will. Then after a few paths, God will guide us and show us that our way is wrong then He will guide us to go to the right way which is 1st way then we will choose 1st way by our free will too.


Your comments bring up an angle of the argument that I had not thought of previously. My mom has a very strong sense of “justice” as she is a clerk at the courthouse. She has seen it all-- child rape, murder, etc. And she wants every one of those that are found guilty to pay for what they did (including the death penalty). But, in light of her thoughts on free will, why should human justice be necessary? After all, that child murderer didn’t have a choice to bludgeon a child to death, right? Because God knew what he was going to do.:rolleyes: So, why have any punishment if everything is God’s will?


[quote=LilyM]So? I might choose to have a child knowing that at some point that child is going to tell me it hates me. All kids do at some point. That’s not to say that by choosing to have the child I somehow make the child say it, or force the child to say it, or that the child doesn’t exert its free will in saying it. (If it didn’t I wouldn’t punish it for saying such).

You do not create the childs mind, or its behavior patterns, though.

A God, in creating us, would engineer every single aspect of us (unless you believe that humans have a sort of irreducible determinism - although you should have evidence of this, and acknowledge that God would not know 100% of the future).


This brings to mind this Parable:

1 And he began to speak to them in parables: A certain man planted a vineyard and made a hedge about it and dug a place for the winefat and built a tower and let it to husbandmen: and went into a far country. 2 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant to receive of the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 Who, having laid hands on him, beat and sent him away empty. 4 And again he sent to them another servant: and him they wounded in the head and used him reproachfully. 5 And again he sent another, and him they killed: and many others, of whom some they beat, and others they killed. 6 Therefore, having yet one son, most dear to him, he also sent him unto them last of all, saying: They will reverence my son. 7 But the husbandmen said one to another: This is the heir. Come let us kill him and the inheritance shall be ours. 8 And laying hold on him, they killed him and cast him out of the vineyard. 9 What therefore will the lord of the vineyard do?


This is similar to another thread on these boards.

Maybe something in that thread will help you.


I found some good answers to this question in this thread…

Maybe some of those answers can help you.


I would guess it has at least in part to do with love. There cannot be love without choice. Forced love is not love.




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