Does God have free will?


#1

I have spoken with friends about this, and none of us can seem to agree!

If free will is the ability to choose between right and wrong, to make moral decisions for ourselves, and God must always do good (God can not do evil, nor would He ever want to do evil, nor does He have the ability to want to do evil). So God does not have free will. He must do the right thing on all occassions, right? At least that’s the conclusion I’ve come to.

Some of my Catholic friends tell me they believe God has the ultimate free will because … well … He’s God, and He can do anything.

Does God have the ability to make choices? Or must He always do what is right?

Or perhaps my understanding of what free will is is just messed up? :o Just curious on other people thoughts on this matter. From just being here a month, my fellow froum posters have taught me a lot! :slight_smile:


#2

Is God a ‘Utilitatarian’, so by definition whatever he wants/does is right? Or is God governed by right and wrong? Or is it both? (which really means the former). Tricky.


#3

Do we not deem what is right and wrong through the knowledge that he gives us? How can the Creator even be brought down to our simple forms of right and wrong when he is who is…
It’s like the question “Can God make a boulder so heavy that he cannot lift it” or the Simpson’s variant "Can God microwave a burrito so hot even he can’t eat it"
He could, but why would he do so? Just trying to think it through boggles the mind…

God is perfect… So can he do wrong? Or does he set the standards?

(If I made any errors or mistakes, feel free to slap and correct me… well… maybe not slap)

:thumbsup:


#4

[quote=InSearchOfGod]God cannot do evil, nor would He ever want to do evil, nor does He have the ability to want to do evil.
[/quote]

If God is omnipotent, then God can do anything, including evil. Fortunately for the rest of the universe, God chooses not to.


#5

[quote=cynic]Is God a ‘Utilitatarian’, so by definition whatever he wants/does is right? Or is God governed by right and wrong? Or is it both? (which really means the former). Tricky.
[/quote]

As discussed here, the Bible argues that Good is separate from God. God does it because it is good, not the other way around. However, under omnipotence, “governed” would not be quite right, either.


#6

God always freely chooses to do what is good.

– Mark L. Chance.


#7

From the observation that God always does good it does not necessarily follow that He is not free to do evil or make choices.


#8

But isn’t it in God’s very nature of being that He must only do good, and therefore be God? If by sinning we distance ourselves from God, and God had the ability to sin, then that would mean God would have the ability to distance Himself from Himself, which doesn’t make any sense. He would have the ability to not be God?! No, I can not believe that God would have the ability to do evil. Wanting to do evil itself is evil, and God can not do it. That perhaps makes Him seem less powerful … oh, goodness, something God can’t do? :eek: YES.

As for the Old Testament, I don’t believe God ever changes His mind. What we must understand about such passages is that God knows the thoughts of who He’s talking to, He knows everything they will say before they say it … so He can’t change His mind, because He always knew what He would end up doing.

As for the question of whether God can make a rock so big He can’t pick it up … seems rather irrelevant, but simply acts to challenge the belief that God can do everything, because if He can do one thing, there must be something He can’t do. But God not being able to do something doesn’t make Him any less God.

What is God anyway? He is certainly not bound by any thing we can conceive. He is not the ultimate consciousness, He is not made of atoms. He is something much different. Why then would we be afraid to say He can’t do evil, when we can not even fully comprehend the power He has over everything that evil does not have to be a part of? Not being able to do evil makes Him infinitely more powerful!


#9

Yes. He has an infinite amount of Free Will.

He can and does change His mind. He will give you the opportunity to persuade Him. " … Well, what if there are only ten good people in this town, would you destroy it then?.."]

God is INFINITE. He has INFINITE patience. BUT, whatever you do, don’t do anything to “tick” Him off !!! [Be nice to His Mother, for example!!! ]

He also has an infinite amount of humor. So, He created the platypus, for example. And He braided the rings of Saturn “OK, you smart guys, go figure that one out!!!” ] In other words, be careful what you ask for, because you may get it, literally!!!]

Remember, we are merely creatures, and He is THE CREATOR.

In fact, we may only be figments of His imagination. Doodles.

Consider, that each atom consists of some electrons orbiting some other electrical charges in the nucleus. And some “mass”, whatever that is. There is NO SOLID MATTER, merely bits of … electrical energy… in some “orbit” *. And 99.999% of each atom is merely empty space.

And we (and all matter) are made up of atoms, artfully arranged and contrived. Molecules, etc.

So, God’s Free Will may be far more mysterious than we can imagine.*


#10

ewtn.com/vexperts/showresult.asp?RecNum=384127&Forums=0&Experts=0&Days=2003&Author=&Keyword=make+a+square+circle&pgnu=1&groupnum=0&record_bookmark=1&ORDER_BY_TXT=ORDER+BY+ReplyDate+DESC&start_at=

I am not trying to be rude or funny. I believe in God’s almighty power, but was asked an interesting question by my daughter and her friends after they had a discussion about God. I didn’t have an answer for them. The question, “If God is all powerful, and can do anything, could He create an object so heavy, huge, etc, that even he could not move?” How does one answer that question. I hope just wondering about such a question is not blasphemous. They didn’t ask it in a smug way; they weren’t trying to “trip up” our Creator with a puzzle. Thanks for your help.
Answer by Richard Geraghty on 12-06-2003: Dear Joanne, There is nothing that God can make that he cannot lift. The critic then says that God, therefore, cannot be almighty. That is the trick, so to speak. But neither can God make a square circle, a man who is not a man, a tree that both exists and does not exist at the same time. This inability on the part of God is not a sign that he is not almight. It is a sign that contradictory things cannot exist.

Dr. Geraghty


#11

[quote=Al Masetti]He can and does change His mind. He will give you the opportunity to persuade Him. " … Well, what if there are only ten good people in this town, would you destroy it then?.."]
[/quote]

I don’t think Moses was persuading God at all. He was asking God questions, and God was answering them. God didn’t take a time-out to think about it … and why should He? He knows everything! Why should He need to have His mind changed? He can certainly respond to you (“ask and you shall receive”) but that doesn’t involve Him changing His mind about anything.

[quote=Al Masetti]So, God’s Free Will may be far more mysterious than we can imagine.
[/quote]

But if we can’t imagine it, then it wouldn’t be the same “Free Will” that I don’t think He has …


#12

Answer by Richard Geraghty on 12-06-2003: Dear Joanne, There is nothing that God can make that he cannot lift. The critic then says that God, therefore, cannot be almighty. That is the trick, so to speak. But neither can God make a square circle, a man who is not a man, a tree that both exists and does not exist at the same time. This inability on the part of God is not a sign that he is not almight. It is a sign that contradictory things cannot exist.

Beautifully answered! So … wouldn’t God having “Free Willl” (if that is defined as the ability to choose between right and wrong) be contradictory to His very nature?


#13

[quote=InSearchOfGod]Beautifully answered! So … wouldn’t God having “Free Willl” (if that is defined as the ability to choose between right and wrong) be contradictory to His very nature?
[/quote]

Whether God has free-will?

Objection 1. It seems that God has not free-will. For Jerome says, in a homily on the prodigal son [Ep. 146, ad Damas.]; “God alone is He who is not liable to sin, nor can be liable: all others, as having free-will, can be inclined to either side.”

Objection 2. Further, free-will is the faculty of the reason and will, by which good and evil are chosen. But God does not will evil, as has been said (9). Therefore there is not free-will in God.

On the contrary, Ambrose says (De Fide ii, 3): “The Holy Spirit divideth unto each one as He will, namely, according to the free choice of the will, not in obedience to necessity.”

I answer that, We have free-will with respect to what we will not of necessity, nor be natural instinct. For our will to be happy does not appertain to free-will, but to natural instinct. Hence other animals, that are moved to act by natural instinct, are not said to be moved by free-will. Since then God necessarily wills His own goodness, but other things not necessarily, as shown above (3), He has free will with respect to what He does not necessarily will.

Reply to Objection 1. Jerome seems to deny free-will to God not simply, but only as regards the inclination to sin.

Reply to Objection 2. Since the evil of sin consists in turning away from the divine goodness, by which God wills all things, as above shown (De Fide ii, 3), it is manifestly impossible for Him to will the evil of sin; yet He can make choice of one of two opposites, inasmuch as He can will a thing to be, or not to be. In the same way we ourselves, without sin, can will to sit down, and not will to sit down.
newadvent.org/summa/101910.htm


#14

Answer: yes.

Reference: Jesus in the desert. The story would be meaningless, if there wasn’t the possibility of Jesus giving in.

Just a personal belief, not a theologically rigorous evaluation.

: Prodigal :


#15

[quote=InSearchOfGod]I don’t think Moses was persuading God at all. He was asking God questions, and God was answering them. God didn’t take a time-out to think about it … and why should He? He knows everything! Why should He need to have His mind changed? He can certainly respond to you (“ask and you shall receive”) but that doesn’t involve Him changing His mind about anything.

But if we can’t imagine it, then it wouldn’t be the same “Free Will” that I don’t think He has …
[/quote]

It wasn’t Moses.


#16

[quote=Mystophilus]If God is omnipotent, then God can do anything, including evil. Fortunately for the rest of the universe, God chooses not to.
[/quote]

God IS good. All God does is good. God cannot do evil because He would have to deny Himself. However God’s will is infinite and is bound to nothing therefore it is free.


#17

[quote=bogeyjlg]God IS good. All God does is good. God cannot do evil because He would have to deny Himself. However God’s will is infinite and is bound to nothing therefore it is free.
[/quote]

So you do not believe that God is omnipotent, then. I find this interesting, because I could not worship a God whom I did not understand as being omnipotent, since such a being would merely be a more powerful version of me.


#18

[quote=Mystophilus]So you do not believe that God is omnipotent, then. I find this interesting, because I could not worship a God whom I did not understand as being omnipotent, since such a being would merely be a more powerful version of me.
[/quote]

I do believe God is infinite. What I said was God can do no evil because He is all good. If God does something, it is good.


#19

[quote=bogeyjlg]I do believe God is omnipotent. What I said was God can do no evil because He is all good. If God does something, it is good.
[/quote]


#20

I meant omnipotent but infinite works too.


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