Chained: Free Will in the Bible
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18-02-2016, 12:23 PM (This post was last modified: 18-02-2016 12:45 PM by Atothetheist.)
Chained: Free Will in the Bible
Wrote a blogpost here. Think its an excellent topic for conversation and a really good argument using textual verses from the Bible. If you are following "Atothetheist Reads the Bible," then you might have gotten the verbal first draft of it, but I think that its something a lot more people should use.

The Post is as follows:
One of the many different ways to disprove a particular deity (especially one of the Christian flavor) is to point out the God as described is fundamentally incompatible with the world that we observe. As explained here, the only idea of God that can’t be disproved is one that is either fundamentally un-testable (and therefore unjustifiable in belief) or one that is vague enough that he has no definable and comparable characteristics. However, the Christian God is no one of those Gods. In fact, there are many traits assigned to him and as such, skeptics have come up with arguments that attack the traits that God has (google God-Rock paradox, Problem of Evil, etc). However, there is one “refutation” to some of these arguments (especially those that attack God’s goodness based on the evil in this world) and it can safely be surmised in two words: Free Will.

Free Will is a complicated concept, and its because of its complexity that I have shied away from talking about it in-depth. I am not even completely made up my mind on the existence of Free Will, but that is irrelevant to refute the Christian argument of Free Will. As such, I will simply define what I am talking about, and go about how The Bible goes about challenging the argument its followers give in defense of God. Most people I have encountered and argued with have agreed that Free Will is defined as follows: A God-given gift that grants humanity the ability to consciously and freely make choices ( click here for an interesting video about Free Will), and as such when I refer to Free Will, that is the definition to which I am referring.

When asked why God allows evil in the world, the answer the typical Christian gives is that he has given us Free Will and refuses to infringe upon the gift that he has so lovingly given us. However as one will see when they read the Holy Bible, that argument falls flat on its face after you made barely a dent in Genesis. The God of the Old Testament seems to know nothing about human autonomy or not care enough about it as he orchestrates a dynasty and prevents adultery with wild abandon and interferes with the lives of people so often that the reader might even infer that the people are mere slaves of God for his desires.

Abraham, the father of Judaism and its two spin-offs, upon coming into the land of Abimelech, asked his wife Sarah (Sarai) to pretend to be his sister, his reasoning was that Sarah (Sarai) was so beautiful that he might be killed by the jealous men if they found out that he was married to her. Setting the fact that Abraham has done this con multiple times (his son Isaac did it to Abimelech as well), It sets up this interesting scenario, namely, that Abimelach, the ruler of Gerar, seizes Sarah with the intention of marrying her. Naturally, he thought he was within his right to lay claim to the woman, after all she was single, and had given her husband brother Abraham livestock and other things for her hand. However, God appeared to Abimelech in a dream and told him that Sarah was claimed and that if he lay with her (in the Biblical sense) God will punish him. Abimelech claims that he has not sinned, and God says,“Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. 7 Now therefore, restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours. ( Gn: 20:6-7 NASB).”

Let’s put aside all of the other unfair treatment doled out by God in this story. It should be obvious why this verse is a problem for those that says God doesn’t intervene, because the story clearly states that he made Abimelech not sin. Is this not an infringement of Free Will? After all, had not God intervened, Abimelech would haven’t had known about the truth, and might have committed a sin against him. However, God interfered and stopped this supposed evil from happening. Yet, in today’s day and age, women get subjected to the cruelest of sexual violence (sometimes state supported) and God doesn’t lift an all-powerful finger to save them. Instead, he lets these things and worse happen to his children. Children, people can’t seem to say often enough, that God loves completely and unconditionally. The notion of God caring about the will of others is nonsense, or else he wouldn’t have interfered with Abimelech and his people (God made all of his women barren until he let Sarah go, further infringing upon their Free Will to conceive and bare children).

Another thought for you to pursue: What makes this event special enough or evil enough that it warrants divine intervention when murder and genocide doesn’t seem to have the honor? Was it because it happened to Abraham and Sarah? If that’s the case, what does that say about God?

You might think this is an isolated example, but you would be wrong. God floods the earth, killing every human being. Everyone knows the story, but no one seems to understand the theological implications of Free Will in that narrative. Humanity was pervasive with evil, we are told. However, if there was a thing such as Free Will, couldn’t humanity change? Doesn’t the next generation have the ability to NOT be evil? What about the unborn babies who resided in pregnant mothers, were they predestined (a concept that goes directly against Free Will) to be evil, or did God not know enough, so he flooded, robbing them of their Free Will to live and of any real chance of redemption?

The fact is this, Genesis and Exodus is littered with God breaking and infringing upon humanity’s Free Will. In Exodus, He has robbed the innocent firstborn of Egypt their choice to live (punishing them and not the truly guilty party). Now, maybe God needed to kill them? Surely that might be a good reason to do it (putting aside the crime of killing the innocent for a moment)? That’s what we are lead to believe when he hear the story. God unleashed the plagues because Pharaoh was obstinate and refused to let the Jewish Slaves go. However the part most Christians are unfamiliar with is the fact that God was the reason that the Pharaoh refused Moses, in Exodus 9: 12 it is said, ” And the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not listen to them, just as the Lord had spoken to Moses.”

I bolded the last part because it also shows how twisted and misinformed a view the typical Christian has with this story, God told Moses that Pharaoh would refuse him, because He (God) would not let him. Now, what is his justification for infringing on the Free Will of Pharaoh, of the animals, and of all of the first-born children died, as well of all the mothers who had no choice but to see them die? Well, in Chapter 10 Verse 1-2 of Exodus, God says to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of Mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and of your grandson, how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them, that you may know that I am the Lord (NASB).”

That’s right, his justification is so that Moses and the Israelites and their descendants might know that he is God because he made a mockery of the Egyptians. It was not out of necessity that he preformed these signs, but because he wanted his people to serve him. In other words, Yahweh was trying to impress his whining children, at the cost of actual children’s lives. Is that something that was worth all of the pain? Especially when it was God that was making Pharaoh and his people refuse the Jews?

Let that sink in.

I could go on and on with examples from the bible, but I fear that it might just get boring after a while, but lets just say that this is not merely an Old Testament phenomenon In fact if several other books in the Bible are to be believed, everything that happened to Jesus was predestined to happen, and that makes Free Will problematic as well.

Now, some people might read this and say something along the lines of, “Well, so what? God decides when to infringe upon Free Will or not. He interfered in the past, and doesn’t do it now because he cares about us.” This is where it gets really good, because the Bible has a refutation to that argument as well. I kindly point you to Hebrews 13:8 : “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (NASB).” and Malachi 3:6 :“For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed (NASB).”

But one doesn’t need to go to the Bible for a refutation, one would simply just use the logic of perfection to eviscerate the claim of God changing. Most people when they describe the Christian God will call him perfect. Perfection as defined by Merriam-Webster is “being entirely without fault or defect.” Now, if they believe, and almost everybody does, that God was always perfect that means that he was “without fault or defect”when he was interfering and playing around with humans. Any change from that would change perfection, would it not? And therefore God wouldn’t be perfect if he changed himself, because if you think that he improved, then he wasn’t perfect to begin with, and if he was perfect back then, then he is not perfect now because he changed that behavior which contributed to his perfection with something that directly goes against his past behavior.

And if he doesn’t interfere in the lives of others because he respects Free Will, then why have miracles? Why do they exist? If God is perfectly willing to interfere in the lives of people by healing them, why not stop the affliction altogether from existing, the crime from being committed? The argument from Free Will is nonsense, it doesn’t even hold up to the other views that Christianity has!

Discuss.

-Steven

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18-02-2016, 12:47 PM
RE: Chained: Free Will in the Bible
Move this thread. A little delirious from the meds, sorry.

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18-02-2016, 12:55 PM
RE: Chained: Free Will in the Bible
(18-02-2016 12:47 PM)Atothetheist Wrote:  Move this thread. A little delirious from the meds, sorry.

Ha!

I didn't notice which section you posted in. New post view is such a bother. Big Grin

Moved to Atheism and Theism.


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And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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18-02-2016, 02:21 PM
RE: Chained: Free Will in the Bible
Everyone turns to the hardening of pharaoh's heart as an example of free will being violated, and that's a reasonable enough example. But people tend to forget the exact passage and often remember it as just him being stubborn without God keeping him that way on purpose.

My favorite go-to is Jonah. Mostly because you don't need to remember any particular verse -- the overall scope of the story is enough.

God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and prophesy about its upcoming destruction. Now already you've got free will getting questionable here, as God's actually giving direct instruction, to in turn give more direct instructions. But Jonah promptly runs the other way... and God really doesn't let him. A boat, a storm, and... some sort of fish-with-habitable-digestive track later, and Jonah gets spit out on land right where God wanted him to go.

So, how much free will did Jonah have?

Oh, and then the only reason that Nineveh and its people aren't destroyed is because they promptly reformed and carried on miserable under the threat of imminent destruction. How much free will did THEY have?

Finally, as an off-topic question... how the hell did people of his time figure out that Jonah was a prophet? He only gave one prophecy, the destruction of Nineveh, and it was quickly shown to be a FALSE prophecy. Nineveh wasn't destroyed. The only other thing that would point to his being anything other than an ordinary charlatan is a small boat crew off in the other direction who remember him as the guy who ran away from God and who they cast overboard to calm the storm... hardly an act worthy of being named a prophet. Even if he did get ranked among the prophets, how the hell would anyone KNOW that in order to write it down? Shouldn't the newly-devout people of Nineveh stoned what would have seemed an obvious false prophet to death as the Law required, and just let that be that? After the false prophesy of Nineveh's destruction, who would have listened to the lying liar's fishy fish story anyway? The only scenario that makes any sense is that God then reveals to some scribe everything in that book and the scribe wrote it down. (Which still makes no sense, because God.)
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18-02-2016, 03:33 PM
RE: Chained: Free Will in the Bible
Come to think of it, every time this god took a life, this obviously stopped any free will of the person who's life he took.

Under the free will argument, there is no justification for taking anyone's life- except when god doesn't give a fuck about free will. Rolleyes

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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18-02-2016, 03:53 PM
RE: Chained: Free Will in the Bible
(18-02-2016 02:21 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  Everyone turns to the hardening of pharaoh's heart as an example of free will being violated, and that's a reasonable enough example. But people tend to forget the exact passage and often remember it as just him being stubborn without God keeping him that way on purpose.

My favorite go-to is Jonah. Mostly because you don't need to remember any particular verse -- the overall scope of the story is enough.

God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and prophesy about its upcoming destruction. Now already you've got free will getting questionable here, as God's actually giving direct instruction, to in turn give more direct instructions. But Jonah promptly runs the other way... and God really doesn't let him. A boat, a storm, and... some sort of fish-with-habitable-digestive track later, and Jonah gets spit out on land right where God wanted him to go.

So, how much free will did Jonah have?

Oh, and then the only reason that Nineveh and its people aren't destroyed is because they promptly reformed and carried on miserable under the threat of imminent destruction. How much free will did THEY have?

Finally, as an off-topic question... how the hell did people of his time figure out that Jonah was a prophet? He only gave one prophecy, the destruction of Nineveh, and it was quickly shown to be a FALSE prophecy. Nineveh wasn't destroyed. The only other thing that would point to his being anything other than an ordinary charlatan is a small boat crew off in the other direction who remember him as the guy who ran away from God and who they cast overboard to calm the storm... hardly an act worthy of being named a prophet. Even if he did get ranked among the prophets, how the hell would anyone KNOW that in order to write it down? Shouldn't the newly-devout people of Nineveh stoned what would have seemed an obvious false prophet to death as the Law required, and just let that be that? After the false prophesy of Nineveh's destruction, who would have listened to the lying liar's fishy fish story anyway? The only scenario that makes any sense is that God then reveals to some scribe everything in that book and the scribe wrote it down. (Which still makes no sense, because God.)

I rather like that. I think is an excellent addition to the argument!

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19-02-2016, 07:21 AM
RE: Chained: Free Will in the Bible
(18-02-2016 12:23 PM)Atothetheist Wrote:  I bolded the last part because it also shows how twisted and misinformed a view the typical Christian has with this story, God told Moses that Pharaoh would refuse him, because He (God) would not let him. Now, what is his justification for infringing on the Free Will of Pharaoh, of the animals, and of all of the first-born children died, as well of all the mothers who had no choice but to see them die? Well, in Chapter 10 Verse 1-2 of Exodus, God says to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of Mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and of your grandson, how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them, that you may know that I am the Lord (NASB).”

That’s right, his justification is so that Moses and the Israelites and their descendants might know that he is God because he made a mockery of the Egyptians. It was not out of necessity that he preformed these signs, but because he wanted his people to serve him. In other words, Yahweh was trying to impress his whining children, at the cost of actual children’s lives. Is that something that was worth all of the pain? Especially when it was God that was making Pharaoh and his people refuse the Jews?

And if they try to weasel out of that, it's flat-out stated that this was done on purpose in Romans 9 (the Calvinist's favorite chapter, where God chooses the elect and reprobate).

Romans 9:14-18 Wrote:14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So it depends not upon man’s will or exertion, but upon God’s mercy. 17 For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy upon whomever he wills, and he hardens the heart of whomever he wills.

So, there you have it. YHWH flat-out says that your bullshit free will doesn't factor into his decisions.
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19-02-2016, 09:38 AM
RE: Chained: Free Will in the Bible
I always wonder how much free will Mary had in the storybook. Could she have said "no!" to being angel-raped? The angel comes and announces that she's been picked out to be the mom of some important fellow but does she have any say so in the matter? Doesn't look like it to me. Of course, she was probably around 12 to 14 years old and girls/women had to follow the customs of the times which didn't allow women much free will anyway. So what the hell, the God character picks on some little 12- 14 year old to do his dirty work. How can that possibly be free will. Geesh!

Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.... on Donald J. Trump:

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless every where;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
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19-02-2016, 10:34 AM
RE: Chained: Free Will in the Bible
(19-02-2016 09:38 AM)dancefortwo Wrote:  I always wonder how much free will Mary had in the storybook.

One simply does not say no when it is god who offers sex. Also considering that woman to this day scream oh god during the act Mary must have quite good time.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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19-02-2016, 12:51 PM
RE: Chained: Free Will in the Bible
(19-02-2016 10:34 AM)Szuchow Wrote:  
(19-02-2016 09:38 AM)dancefortwo Wrote:  I always wonder how much free will Mary had in the storybook.

One simply does not say no when it is god who offers sex. Also considering that woman to this day scream oh god during the act Mary must have quite good time.

A god with a big dick would scare the hell out of a little 14 year old girl. Shocking

Hence the term, "don't be a dick!!" Yes

Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.... on Donald J. Trump:

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless every where;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
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