Free Will Argument
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26-02-2014, 06:54 PM (This post was last modified: 26-02-2014 07:28 PM by Zephiel16.)
RE: Free Will Argument
(26-02-2014 02:31 PM)Impulse Wrote:  I'm not a theist, but there was a time when I was one. Reaching back to those days, my answer to this would have been as follows:

Knowledge of the future is not the same as it being predetermined. God simply knows what choices you will make because he can see into the future to see what you will do. He is not making you choose things and you do have the freedom to choose them yourself. But he simply knows beforehand what choices you will make.

Of course, I don't believe this today. I also think the whole idea of seeing into the future is ludicrous. But if you believe in an omnipotent, omniscient god, then you would believe this ability is possible and the whole idea of future knowledge without infringing upon free will becomes easy to accept.

Welcome to the forum by the way. Smile

I'm an atheist as well and I want to know if any theist can come up with a good argument against this, because the ones I heard in my philosophy class are so mind numbingly stupid, that I'm starting to doubt their intelligence.

And if a theist gave me that response, I would reply with this:
"If your God knew everything that was going to happen to you before you even came into existence and he is never wrong, then there is no possibility that things could have gone differently, because that would imply that there is a possible that God can be wrong, and if that is true then he can't know everything because he can't be certain of the future, which means that he in fact does not know everything. If the possibility of things being different never really existed, then the choice never existed. And if there is no choice there is no free will, because if one has free will, then they have a choice when it comes to matters, and a choice would imply the possibility of things going differently based on said choice. In turn you don't really have free will, you just have the illusion of free will."

Now I would provide an example involving buying ice cream, but this is getting too long.

And Thanks Smile

(26-02-2014 03:22 PM)alpha male Wrote:  First it's important to note the reason that critics make the argument against free will. The idea is that, if we don't have free will, then it is unjust for god to judge us.

I'm not sure where your classmates were going with the book analogy, but I use it myself sometimes. You're right that the characters in the book have no free will. If god's omniscience means that our every thought is predetermined by god, then we are characters in a book written by god. No one claims it's unjust if a character in a book is judged or has something bad happen to them, because a character in a book has no rights to just treatment. Same with us if our very thoughts are predetermined. Another way to look at it is that it's been said, "I think, therefore I am." If omniscience means what your professor claims, then we don't think, and are not, i.e. we are not autonomous beings with rights to just treatment.

A more common counter is that "future" is meaningless with respect to an omniscient being, and so the whole argument falls apart.

Another is that the definition of free will used in the argument is based on possibility of alternative outcomes, but free will can also be defined in other manners, such as by processes. An interesting exercise is to try to make the argument using classical logic.

That's another way of using it, but the reason we brought up free will was because the professor was addressing the counter argument to the "problem of evil", which states that God allows evil because he doesn't want to affect free will. So the question became: "Do we really have free will?" And he was using the argument to prove that we can't have free will if God exist, therefore God couldn't be allowing evil to preserve free will, being that we don't even have it.

On your other point, omniscience means all knowing, which in itself implies the future as well, since knowledge of the future is a form of knowing, thus if you know all, you must therefore know the future. But even if I'm wrong about omniscience implying knowledge of the future, I'm not the one making the claim about God knowing the future, theists are, and if they're right then free will doesn't exist.

Could you explain exactly what you mean by "processes." I would love to try and approach it from that angle to see the outcome.
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26-02-2014, 07:58 PM
RE: Free Will Argument
(26-02-2014 06:54 PM)Zephiel16 Wrote:  
(26-02-2014 02:31 PM)Impulse Wrote:  I'm not a theist, but there was a time when I was one. Reaching back to those days, my answer to this would have been as follows:

Knowledge of the future is not the same as it being predetermined. God simply knows what choices you will make because he can see into the future to see what you will do. He is not making you choose things and you do have the freedom to choose them yourself. But he simply knows beforehand what choices you will make.

Of course, I don't believe this today. I also think the whole idea of seeing into the future is ludicrous. But if you believe in an omnipotent, omniscient god, then you would believe this ability is possible and the whole idea of future knowledge without infringing upon free will becomes easy to accept.

Welcome to the forum by the way. Smile

I'm an atheist as well and I want to know if any theist can come up with a good argument against this, because the ones I heard in my philosophy class are so mind numbingly stupid, that I'm starting to doubt their intelligence.

And if a theist gave me that response, I would reply with this:
"If your God knew everything that was going to happen to you before you even came into existence and he is never wrong, then there is no possibility that things could have gone differently, because that would imply that there is a possible that God can be wrong, and if that is true then he can't know everything because he can't be certain of the future, which means that he in fact does not know everything. If the possibility of things being different never really existed, then the choice never existed. And if there is no choice there is no free will, because if one has free will, then they have a choice when it comes to matters, and a choice would imply the possibility of things going differently based on said choice. In turn you don't really have free will, you just have the illusion of free will."

Now I would provide an example involving buying ice cream, but this is getting too long.

And Thanks Smile
My reply would be yes the choices did exist even though God knew. Think of it this way: A week ago, you didn't know what would happen today. But, a week ago, if you could have fast-forwarded time somehow and observed today and then returned to a week ago, then you would know what would happen today a week beforehand. Yet, all the choices that people made between a week ago and today still would have happened and still would have been free will choices. You would just have foreknowledge of them. In my theist days, this is what I would have argued and it's why I don't agree that the concept of God knowing the future automatically rules out free will.

I am not accountable to any God. I am accountable to myself - and not because I think I am God as some theists would try to assert - but because, no matter what actions I take, thoughts I think, or words I utter, I have to be able to live with myself.
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26-02-2014, 08:32 PM
RE: Free Will Argument
(26-02-2014 07:58 PM)Impulse Wrote:  My reply would be yes the choices did exist even though God knew. Think of it this way: A week ago, you didn't know what would happen today. But, a week ago, if you could have fast-forwarded time somehow and observed today and then returned to a week ago, then you would know what would happen today a week beforehand. Yet, all the choices that people made between a week ago and today still would have happened and still would have been free will choices. You would just have foreknowledge of them. In my theist days, this is what I would have argued and it's why I don't agree that the concept of God knowing the future automatically rules out free will.

I've been going over this for a minute and still can't wrap my head around the logic.

If you were to know what was going to happen in a week, would you be able to make decisions or take actions that would change the outcome? If not, then you wouldn't have free will.

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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26-02-2014, 08:43 PM (This post was last modified: 27-02-2014 10:06 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Free Will Argument
One's choices are not "free". There is no such thing as "free will". It's a fiction.
The choices that humans make are entirely constrained by the possible electrical pathways in individual brains, and the possible acts that nature "permits". Those pathways are the result of learning. People cannot do things they have not, in some sense, "learned", or learned about. It's "conditioning". At any given point, your choices are constrained by your "conditioning". You cannot "chose" to fly (like a bird) to LA. The fallacy also includes the principle from Moral Theology, that humans are only responsible for things they "consciously" chose to do. Neuroscience has proven that choices are made in human brains BEFORE we are fully conscious of them. That's hardly "free".

edit : "Those pathways are the result of learning." should say learning and genetics, and epigenetics.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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26-02-2014, 08:58 PM (This post was last modified: 26-02-2014 09:03 PM by Zephiel16.)
RE: Free Will Argument
(26-02-2014 07:58 PM)Impulse Wrote:  My reply would be yes the choices did exist even though God knew. Think of it this way: A week ago, you didn't know what would happen today. But, a week ago, if you could have fast-forwarded time somehow and observed today and then returned to a week ago, then you would know what would happen today a week beforehand. Yet, all the choices that people made between a week ago and today still would have happened and still would have been free will choices. You would just have foreknowledge of them. In my theist days, this is what I would have argued and it's why I don't agree that the concept of God knowing the future automatically rules out free will.

That's why I brought the situation to this forum. I feel like there's a hole in this argument and I just want to find it. So I will pick at your point a bit.

It's hard to word, but this would be my reply (I'm using the definition of free will that implies freedom of choice):
"Think of this scenario: I see an ice cream truck. Now God knows that I will buy that ice cream, he knew this even before he created the universe(This is a key point to consider when thinking about this), and this man is never wrong. Now keep in mind that God didn't go to the future in order to confirm that I would actually buy the ice cream (Correct me if I'm wrong. but to my knowledge, the bible never said anything about God time travelling), he just knows this, before even creating anything, and he can't be wrong. Is it then possible that I could chose to not buy that ice cream? Thus making this perfect being, who can't be wrong, wrong Consider, and if he can be wrong, how can he be all knowing? And if I can't chose to not buy the ice cream, how can I have free will?"

(26-02-2014 08:43 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  One's choices are not "free". There is no such thing as "free will". It's a fiction.
The choices that humans make are entirely constrained by the possible electrical pathways in individual brains, and the possible acts that nature "permits". Those pathways are the result of learning. People cannot do things they have not, in some sense, "learned", or learned about. It's "conditioning". At any given point, your choices are constrained by your "conditioning". You cannot "chose" to fly (like a bird) to LA. The fallacy also includes the principle from Moral Theology, that humans are only responsible for things they "consciously" chose to do. Neuroscience has proven that choices are made in human brains BEFORE we are fully conscious of them. That's hardly "free".

That's an interesting way of looking at it and I agree, but "free will" here is being used to mean freedom of choice. Now that I think about it, "free will" is kind of a bad choice of words, but that's how the dictionary more or less describes it, and that's how I'm currently using it Big Grin
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26-02-2014, 09:24 PM
RE: Free Will Argument
(26-02-2014 08:58 PM)Zephiel16 Wrote:  That's an interesting way of looking at it and I agree, but "free will" here is being used to mean freedom of choice. Now that I think about it, "free will" is kind of a bad choice of words, but that's how the dictionary more or less describes it, and that's how I'm currently using it Big Grin

No one has "freedom of choice". You can only chose what you know about, (from learning, and what is possible), and no one can "chose" something their brain does not "do". If ANY decision is made before one is conscious of the process, the word "choice" with respect to human behaviors is meaningless.








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26-02-2014, 09:31 PM
RE: Free Will Argument
Bucky speaks knowledge. But even for arguments sake we grant that free will exists, putting an all knowing god into the equation renders it illogical.

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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26-02-2014, 09:56 PM
RE: Free Will Argument
Couldn't decide which of these two memes was better for the ungoing question so I'll let you decide...

[attachment=1911]

[attachment=1910]

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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26-02-2014, 10:28 PM
RE: Free Will Argument
(26-02-2014 09:56 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  Couldn't decide which of these two memes was better for the ungoing question so I'll let you decide...

"Ungoing question"?

I hope that was intentional! Laughat

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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27-02-2014, 06:29 AM
RE: Free Will Argument
(26-02-2014 06:10 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  Absolutely........ Wrong.

For your statement to have any merit, you still have to be arguing from a position that god exists.
Er, yes, that's the position atheists are arguing from regarding omniscience v. free will. For them it's a hypothetical. Some people are capable of discussing concepts which they don't believe to be true.
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