The preclusion of Freewill

The presence of an Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent creator God precludes any meaningful idea of free will. The proof of this is fairly simple.

You sit and watch as a man walks up to a stream. He is faced with a decision which he makes of his own free will: to continue on or go back. Seeing no dry way across he goes back.

You now jump in your time machine and go back one hour. You drag a log so that it crosses the stream at the location where the man will approach it. You wave to yourself and sit down to watch.

The man approaches and finding a way across decides to cross the stream.

Back to the time machine back an hour again. Laugh politely as your previous incarnations make a joke about it getting crowded in here. And then…

What? What do you do? Do you put the log where he can find it or remove it? By doing so you determine the man’s actions because you already know how he responds to the give stimuli. Free will for the man is an illusion based on his ignorance of your power to control the scenario he finds himself in.

You know how the subject will behave under give circumstance
God (omniscient) knows how everyone will ever behave under every possible circumstance
You have the power to control the circumstances and thereby determine his action
God (omnipotent) has the power to control every circumstance and thereby determine every action
You have access (via the time machine) to the instance in question
God (omnipresent in time and space) has access to every instant ever
The only question is if you choose to exercise your power by creating a scenario
God (creator) has created the scenario by creating the universe, nothing happens in it that he did not choose to have happen

Hence the notion of an Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresnt Creator diety negates the possibility of free will.

There is a flaw in your logic. Will and action are not the same thing. It can be my will to fly like a bird, but that doesn’t mean I can. Same thing in your scenario. The man already willed to go forward if he could do so, but in the first instance is unable to. This doesn’t change his will. He is simply incapable of carrying it out. By making it possible for him in the second scenario you in no way influence his will but rather his ability to carry it out.

In the same way, God can very easily make it so we are capable or incapable of carrying out an intent, whether good or evil, but that does not mean that it changes our will to do it.

[quote=Tlaloc]The presence of an Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent creator God precludes any meaningful idea of free will. The proof of this is fairly simple.

You sit and watch as a man walks up to a stream. He is faced with a decision which he makes of his own free will: to continue on or go back. Seeing no dry way across he goes back.

You now jump in your time machine and go back one hour. You drag a log so that it crosses the stream at the location where the man will approach it. You wave to yourself and sit down to watch.

The man approaches and finding a way across decides to cross the stream.

Back to the time machine back an hour again. Laugh politely as your previous incarnations make a joke about it getting crowded in here. And then…

What? What do you do? Do you put the log where he can find it or remove it? By doing so you determine the man’s actions because you already know how he responds to the give stimuli. Free will for the man is an illusion based on his ignorance of your power to control the scenario he finds himself in.

You know how the subject will behave under give circumstance
God (omniscient) knows how everyone will ever behave under every possible circumstance
You have the power to control the circumstances and thereby determine his action
God (omnipotent) has the power to control every circumstance and thereby determine every action
You have access (via the time machine) to the instance in question
God (omnipresent in time and space) has access to every instant ever
The only question is if you choose to exercise your power by creating a scenario
God (creator) has created the scenario by creating the universe, nothing happens in it that he did not choose to have happen

Hence the notion of an Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresnt Creator diety negates the possibility of free will.
[/quote]

The notion that an Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Creator diety that is bound by limitations of will negates the existence of Omniscience, Omnipotence, and Omnipresence, not to mention the notion of will it’self.

[quote=Dr. Colossus]There is a flaw in your logic. Will and action are not the same thing. It can be my will to fly like a bird, but that doesn’t mean I can. Same thing in your scenario. The man already willed to go forward if he could do so, but in the first instance is unable to. This doesn’t change his will. He is simply incapable of carrying it out. By making it possible for him in the second scenario you in no way influence his will but rather his ability to carry it out.

In the same way, God can very easily make it so we are capable or incapable of carrying out an intent, whether good or evil, but that does not mean that it changes our will to do it.
[/quote]

I disagree, free will inherently means the ability to choose your own course of action. If that is co-opted by an outside source which can perfectly determine your actions for you as god can/did then free will does not exist.

If you set up a stack of dominos do they have free will? Of course not their behavior is predetermined by your actions. So it is with the Christian concept of God.

Free will is the ability to will your choice of action, but just because you have free will, say, to murder does not mean that you will choose to murder. . .or, even if you choose to attempt murder, that you can carry it out.

Your problem is that you insist on limiting an omniscient, omnipotent God to your limited human viewpoint, bounded in time/space and predicated on an artificial limitation of that boundary existing for God as well as for us. . .

OK, lets take your scenario; the man goes to the stream and sees the log.

You are presuming he will take the log and put it across the stream.

Perhaps, instead, he will gather some brush, and start a fir on the log.

Perhaps, instead, he will see the log, change his mind about going across the stream, and instead go back home to get an axe with which to reduce the log to firewood.

Or perhaps, on seeing the log and going back home to get the axe to make firewood, when he returns, he will change his mind and carve out a dugout canoe.

Or lumber for a building.

Your basic problem is that you are seeing God in time, when God is outside of time. God is not sitting watching; that implies that God is in time. All things are present to God at once; there is no past or present or future. That does not preclude us from having a free will, as we are in time and bound by it. But being bound by it does not mean that we are only subject to stimulous/response, and does not preclude changing our mind.

[quote=Tantum ergo]Free will is the ability to will your choice of action, but just because you have free will, say, to murder does not mean that you will choose to murder. . .or, even if you choose to attempt murder, that you can carry it out.
[/quote]

We are free to will what ever we choose. The freedom to carry it out is what is limited. The environment man attempts to carry out his freedom limits that freedom to act according to what he wills. That limitation is evidence of free will as well since there are no limitations of the freedom to act that hasn’t been determined by man himself.

[quote=Tlaloc]I disagree, free will inherently means the ability to choose your own course of action. If that is co-opted by an outside source which can perfectly determine your actions for you as god can/did then free will does not exist.

If you set up a stack of dominos do they have free will? Of course not their behavior is predetermined by your actions. So it is with the Christian concept of God.
[/quote]

do you admit the possibility that the ability to determine a reality isn’t a proof of it’s existence?

[quote=Tlaloc]I disagree, free will inherently means the ability to choose your own course of action. If that is co-opted by an outside source which can perfectly determine your actions for you as god can/did then free will does not exist.
[/quote]

By that definition even a nihilistic universe in which everything happened by chance would preclude free will. If action=will and will=action then the fact that I cannot fly means that I don’t have free will, regardless of the existence of a Christian God.

If you set up a stack of dominos do they have free will? Of course not their behavior is predetermined by your actions. So it is with the Christian concept of God.

Again, the issue is not behavior. Will and action can differ. Were a domino to suddenly gain sentience, it could easily wish not to fall. Its will would be to remain upright. But external influence could easily override that will and make it fall anyway. Does that mean that the domino’s will is preempted? No, rather its ability to act on that will is preempted. The idea of free will is that we are able to make decision based on reason, not that we will be guaranteed the ability to act on those decisions.

[quote=Tlaloc]The presence of an Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent creator God precludes any meaningful idea of free will. The proof of this is fairly simple.

You sit and watch as a man walks up to a stream. He is faced with a decision which he makes of his own free will: to continue on or go back. Seeing no dry way across he goes back.

You now jump in your time machine and go back one hour. You drag a log so that it crosses the stream at the location where the man will approach it. You wave to yourself and sit down to watch.

The man approaches and finding a way across decides to cross the stream.

Back to the time machine back an hour again. Laugh politely as your previous incarnations make a joke about it getting crowded in here. And then…

What? What do you do? Do you put the log where he can find it or remove it? By doing so you determine the man’s actions because you already know how he responds to the give stimuli. Free will for the man is an illusion based on his ignorance of your power to control the scenario he finds himself in.

You know how the subject will behave under give circumstance
God (omniscient) knows how everyone will ever behave under every possible circumstance
You have the power to control the circumstances and thereby determine his action
God (omnipotent) has the power to control every circumstance and thereby determine every action
You have access (via the time machine) to the instance in question
God (omnipresent in time and space) has access to every instant ever
The only question is if you choose to exercise your power by creating a scenario
God (creator) has created the scenario by creating the universe, nothing happens in it that he did not choose to have happen

Hence the notion of an Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresnt Creator diety negates the possibility of free will.
[/quote]

This is only a problem if you are a Determinist. If you believe that
circumstances are somehow a sufficient condition for a free action.
This is not the case, so there isn’t a problem. The philosophical
presupposition is built into the example. It supposes, rather than
proves, that if the man put the log over the stream the man would
cross it.

No I insist on the oppposite, or at least the opposite (true omniscience) is needed for the logic to flow.

No again I said the opposite of what you claim. I am seeing god as present simultaneuosly in all time, thats why in the example the person had to use a time machine to accomplish what god can do automatically. Changing your mind is irrelevent god already knew which choice you would make based on how he started the universe and chose for you (and everyone else).

God chose for Lucifer to fall. God chose for Cain to kill Abel. God chose for Judas to betray Jesus. That is the logical conclusion of an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent creator God.

[quote=Dr. Colossus]By that definition even a nihilistic universe in which everything happened by chance would preclude free will. If action=will and will=action then the fact that I cannot fly means that I don’t have free will, regardless of the existence of a Christian God.
[/quote]

No in a nihilistic unverse at the stream you make the choice. In God’s universe he made the choice at the beginning for you by determining the circumstance you’d encounter.

If you have a choice to make and I have 100% control over which choice you make do you have free will? No.

Again, the issue is not behavior. Will and action can differ. Were a domino to suddenly gain sentience, it could easily wish not to fall. Its will would be to remain upright. But external influence could easily override that will and make it fall anyway. Does that mean that the domino’s will is preempted? No, rather its ability to act on that will is preempted. The idea of free will is that we are able to make decision based on reason, not that we will be guaranteed the ability to act on those decisions.

Again free will always presumes the ability to make decisions for yourself otherwise it is not free will. The person in the example did not make his decision, the time traveler made it for him because he could predict perfectly which circumstances lead to which response.

[quote=dennisknapp]This is only a problem if you are a Determinist. If you believe that
circumstances are somehow a sufficient condition for a free action.
This is not the case, so there isn’t a problem. The philosophical
presupposition is built into the example.
[/quote]

No because god saw every potential universal action and chose which to create, what you are arguing for is a limiting of the omniscience of God which Christianity claims is unlimited.

It supposes, rather than
proves, that if the man put the log over the stream the man would
cross it

Wrong he proved it by observing it happen. Just as God has observed (knows) every potential outcome to every potential starting condition.

[quote=Benadam]do you admit the possibility that the ability to determine a reality isn’t a proof of it’s existence?
[/quote]

You’ll have to explain what you mean.

[quote=Tlaloc]You’ll have to explain what you mean.
[/quote]

I’m asking if you can accept that an Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent Creator can allow a created being complete autonomy.

The reason God gave us free will:

Love.

We are not forced to do His will – that would not be love. We must chose to come closer to Him, not as smitten automatons, but as sincere lovers. Without free will, we cannot chose to love Him freely.

This is why, in this life, we will chose either Heaven or Hell. As CS Lewis says, “The doors to Hell are locked. From the INSIDE.”

Anyone who says anything else is looking for an excuse to justify their own bad behavior and rationalize a nagging conscience.

Tlaloc,

I am not sure what your position is. Is your first post an argument for some position? Is it a thought experiment that is supposed to show something? Are you illustrating your point or are you making an argument for a position?

Could you state your contention clearly and then offer an argument for it? Thanks.

Matt

What a limited view of reality you have, Tlaloc. You seem to think that we are slaves to our environment. By implication, all our actions, according to your argument, are the product of an elaborate formula. We are the sum of our environment, incapable of making a decision on our own, according to your argument; all our decisions are the results of the stimuli to which we are exposed. Thus, how could there be either good or evil? We have no choice, we act how we act based on to what we’re exposed. Hitler had no choice but to kill 6 million Jews. Stalin had no choice but to kill 20 million to 60 million people. Anyone of us in the same situation would’ve done exactly the same thing. Isn’t that implicit in your argument? Are you also willing to take the next step in this argument and say that Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and those like them are merely victims of their respective environments?

I have to admit, it’s quite an elaborate justification of evil, pantheistic in its tone. My roommate indulges these ideas as well, that there is no free will. Are you a pantheist, too?

[quote=Tlaloc]If you have a choice to make and I have 100% control over which choice you make do you have free will? No.

Again free will always presumes the ability to make decisions for yourself otherwise it is not free will. The person in the example did not make his decision, the time traveler made it for him because he could predict perfectly which circumstances lead to which response.
[/quote]

Okay, let’s assume the time traveler used his machine to go back one hour, but did not put the log across the stream. Let’s further assume that the time traveler wanted to see if the man wanted to cross the stream badly enough that he would devise some method to do so by his own effort, or simply get wet.
In other words, the time traveler limits himself to observing rather than acting.
In this case, the other man has free will to either turn around and go home or devise his own method of staying dry and crossing the stream. The time traveler had no influence whatsoever on the other man.
God! Omnipotent, Omnicient, Omnipresent, Creator.

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.