How do you answer that the objection that free will contradicts God's omnipotence?

Hey everyone. I am debating a person on another website and they are saying that free will contradicts God’s omnipotence. How do I answer this? Here is what they said:

I get that this is how it is understood… I wasn’t so much questioning whether free will exists or not, but rather just saying that IF free will exists, God must not be omnipotent, omnisentient and omnipresent (in short, not all powerful)… such an all-powerful god could not limit itself to give free will. I argue this by saying that, by definition, in order to be “all powerful”, there is no limit to your being… everything is within your control, and in essence you the entirety of everything, all of it’s past, present and future. The only way for “free will” to exist is for such a being to limit its power somehow… which means that IF free will exists, then God must not be all-powerful.

In other words, I think the concept of “free will” gives us a small bit of insight into the nature of God. We cannot be both separate from God, and have God be all-powerful at the same time. We are either separate from a God that has limited power, or we are part of a God that is all-powerful. So I guess you can say I can agree with you about free will, but I was just taking things to the next step and seeing if we can understand something more about God because of this… just little philosophical debates that I like to bounce around in my mind. I like to believe the latter, actually, that God is all-powerful, and that we are all parts of him… manifestations of an eternal fight between “good” and “evil”, “Order” and “Chaos”, “Harmony” and “Discord”, “Construction” and “Deconstruction”, “Moral” and “Immoral”… all of which are synonymous in some way. Since the dawn of Religion, virtually all of them have grappled with these basic concepts, and I personally believe that they are all speaking to the same God, the same basic principles and the same basic ways of being. I believe that there is more than one path to the top of the mountain, and I also don’t believe that we have just one shot at life and it’s over (although we need may need believe that). I beleive as the Mormons once taught me, that the only way to go to “hell” is to know God and reject him, not just by making mistakes in life. Life is a lesson, not a trial in my mind. You are learning a lesson, and many… most even will fail that lesson, and THAT is not what sends you to hell. It is the rejection of the lesson and the principles that does that.

Anyway, I guess that’s just a big incoherent mess of my beliefs. I don’t really trouble myself with such concerns, though, since I don’t think I have to, it’s not my purpose at this time. My purpose is to learn a lesson, I can worry about the grander scheme in the after life.

Holly I know how my child may react to something, that doesn’t cause my child to do the action. My child is free to do the positive or the negative thing.
God knows you wrote this question but God didn’t force you to.
You were free to ask this question or not.
God knew you would but it was only because you chose to of your free will.

God bless!

Brilliant!

His argument is basically that because God limits His power over us that He therefore is not all powerful.

But if have the ability to lift 300 pounds but choose to limit my exercise to only 150 pounds, that doesn’t mean I don’t have the power to lift 300 pounds it only means I chose not to.

Just because God doesn’t do something does not mean that He cannot do something.

Have you ever read one of those books where you read a paragraph or two, and then it states, if you decide to do this turn to page 40, if you decide to do this turn to page 157, if you decide to do this turn to page 73. There are large sections of the book you will not read since you never took that path.

Right there is your free-will to choose what to do. But God knows the entire book (because he is the Author), and the consequence of actions you never took. That is omniscient and omnipotent. To be able to see what could be if you chose the path you did not take.

I don’t see the problem.:shrug:

Just a thought:

Free will is contained within God’s omnipotence. God is both omnipotent and omniscient, and his knowledge includes knowledge of:

  1. what we chose to do and the consequences thereof, and,
  2. what we could have chosen to do and the consequences thereof.

Omnipotence only contradicts free will if we assume that free will is not constrained in some way. But the fact of the matter is:

  1. I may will to walk to the Moon, but that’s impossible (however, the laws of nature do not violate free will - they are simply above it)
  2. I may will to travel faster than light, but that’s not possible either (ditto)

It seems to me that a lot of critics of God’s omnipotence have no problem accepting the constraints of quantum mechanics, gravity or even neurobiology, but they have an issue when the constraint is God himself. Frankly, I have no problem being told that I cannot save myself on my own, no more than I cannot fly on my own - both are laws of the universe that God created, except that one is natural and the other is supernatural.

Interesting. If one is not using his maximum powers at all time one does not have those powers??? If one chooses not to use his powers for wahtever reason, he can be said not to have them? An odd way of thinking. I caan see how it can lead the following pantheism you mention.

[quote]
In other words, I think the concept of “free will” gives us a small bit of insight into the nature of God. We cannot be both separate from God, and have God be all-powerful at the same time. We are either separate from a God that has limited power, or we are part of a God that is all-powerful. So I guess you can say I can agree with you about free will, but I was just taking things to the next step and seeing if we can understand something more about God because of this… just little philosophical debates that I like to bounce around in my mind. I like to believe the latter, actually,** that God is all-powerful, and that we are all parts of him… **

manifestations of an eternal fight between “good” and “evil”, “Order” and “Chaos”, “Harmony” and “Discord”, “Construction” and “Deconstruction”, “Moral” and “Immoral”… **all of which are synonymous in some way. **Since the dawn of Religion, virtually all of them have grappled with these basic concepts, and I personally believe that they are all speaking to the same God, the same basic principles and the same basic ways of being. I believe that there is more than one path to the top of the mountain, and I also don’t believe that we have just one shot at life and it’s over (although we need may need believe that). I beleive as the Mormons once taught me, that the only way to go to “hell” is to know God and reject him, not just by making mistakes in life. Life is a lesson, not a trial in my mind. You are learning a lesson, and many… most even will fail that lesson, and THAT is not what sends you to hell. It is the rejection of the lesson and the principles that does that.

Anyway, I guess that’s just a big incoherent mess of my beliefs. I don’t really trouble myself with such concerns, though, since I don’t think I have to, it’s not my purpose at this time. My purpose is to learn a lesson, I can worry about the grander scheme in the after life.
[/quote]

If we are all parts of God, why does one choose evil? Unless it is God who chooses evil? Since in our (Catholic) way of thinking, God cannot choose evil (God is goodness itself), we must be separate from God when we do evil.

It does nor mean that at some point we cannot be aligned with God’s will and do Good, however.

So your friend is not entirely incorrect. We must somehow be united with God to do any Good.

The question is, how is your friend certain of His union with God, given that he does morally wrong things (as we all do)?

peace
steve

God would not be omnipotent if He could not grant us free will. God is power - yes, but even more so, He is love. Love is the exercise of freedom.

Omnipotence does not translate to contradiction. Can God sin? Can God make a square circle? What you are asking is can God make freewill unfree.

I think the answers given thus far a very good, and I think the person you’ve been speaking with is not working through the issue in a logical way. The answers given by others illustrate that point.

I would also point out that God has seen fit to give man free will. God sees this as something valuable and essential to the nature of man. Granting man free will does not impinge upon the sovereign will of God. God allows us, within the desires of His permissive will, to choose and act within the parameters of our free will. Without it, we would be more like robots.

I would also point out that our free will in no way impinges on God’s knowledge, nor does God’s knowledge impinge upon our free will. We can look back in history and “know” that John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln. Our knowledge has no bearing on the actions of John Wilkes Booth. Knowledge of future events, which God possesses, works in the same fashion as does our knowledge of past events. God’s knowledge does not mean that God caused something to happen. God chooses to do as He wills, and He may or may not choose to cause something to happen regardless of his foreknowledge.

God does not limit himself by giving us free will, and thus somehow make himself less than all powerful. God is God and His nature cannot be altered. A choice to give a creature free will has no impact on the nature of God. It only has an impact on the nature of the creature.

I hope that helps and God bless.

To this I would ask why delegating power would infringe on the omnipotent one. It doesnt make sense. The premise actually destroys itself because it claims that an all-powerful being wouldn’t be able to do X (in this case, grant a free will to someone)

I get that this is how it is understood… I wasn’t so much questioning whether free will exists or not, but rather just saying that IF free will exists, God must not be omnipotent, omnisentient and omnipresent (in short, not all powerful)…

God is our creator and as such we are constantly being held in existence every moment by his power.
For if he withdrew his power, we would fall into non existence. Therefore God does not lose control when he gives us freedom since every fiber of our being depends every moment upon his upholding hand for supporting us in existence. That is what omnipotence means; everything comes from God every moment and depends on existence from God every moment. This includes all powers that surround us and are in us as well. Power means control. In God’s case, complete control over every physical molecule as well as non-physical “molecule”. Therefore God is omnipotent even with regard to our power of freedom as men.

There is a real difference between God supporting and God approving. Just as we support building cars but don’t always approve of what they might be used for. And so God’s disaproval of man’s use of freedom does not mean his withdrawal of support for that freedom, or that one dosen’t always allow for the other. For the two are distinct.

Great posts!!

I believe in predestination and free will.

When we move God’s way, it’s because of His grace - He changes our nature. That’s the key. We’re still choosing what we want, but God’s grace changes us so we want different things. We’re not forced to choose something that we really do not want. We’re not robots. It’s not mere determinism. We do actually choose.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.