“Mikey, you wish there was a benevolent God. There totally is a benevolent God. What greater gift could He have given than to die in our place. He wanted us to have the perfect world all along. No suffering or pain...but we had to go and mess it up.” -- Amanda
Amanda, I respect your response. Perhaps you’re right, and there is a benevolent God who has given us free will to act without God’s knowledge or prediction. However, if we are acting outside Her wishes, then She cannot be omniscient. This simple impossibility is mentioned in my blog post “The Free Will/Omniscience Paradox.” What should be noted here is that if God isn’t omniscient, then the very foundation on which Christian theology is based becomes significantly compromised.
“I still think there is both. Yes, God has a plan. But He can not decide what you will do with it. . .There is no way I can ever believe that we don't have free will. People do too many stupid, cruel, and selfish things.” -- Kathryn
Kathryn, your steadfast belief in free will makes a lot of sense and appears to be grounded in reason, because you have seen concrete empirical evidence which suggests that you and everyone you know makes many choices on her own, every day. The notion of free will, in this context, is merely a philosophical, not religious, principle with connotations ranging from religion to ethics to science. I am sure that you will see what I mean when I say that ‘free will’ can exist without divine origin; however, if you’re saying God has a general plan, but doesn’t know if we will follow it, then you’re suggesting that God might not be omniscient. Once again, God-given free will disproves the notion of omniscience, which is a central tenet of Christianity.
'All share a common destiny—the righteous and the wicked, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, those who offer sacrifices and those who do not. As it is with the good man, so with the sinner; as it is with those who take oaths, so with those who are afraid to take them.’ Ecc. 9:2 -- KD
KD, this was a good find. Certainly, if there is a preponderance of biblical evidence to support an omniscient God’s divine plan, then this must suggest that free will cannot exist, as proven in my article “The Free Will/Omniscience Paradox.” However, since many have responded to my blog posts in firm support of the notion of God-given free will, it appears the very existence of God must be put under tough scrutiny.
“I pretty much stopped studying religion when I was 12. (I also started slacking in science, until college, because well, studying the two of them together at the same time made for alot of confusion). . .Yes, logic, reason, science, in most cases they make the most realistic case, and against them, God does not make sense. Alot of things in this world do not make sense to me though, and therefore, I don't believe everything has to fit into the 'realistic' category. . .Though I don't KNOW God exists, I feel he does. I don't really know how to explain it.” -- Kathryn
Well, Kathryn, it appears you found an interest in philosophy. We can never profess to know everything. We should never profess to know anything without proof. Emily Dickinson penned “faith is doubt.” Perhaps the reason science makes the most sense is because it is the correct path. Perhaps the reason God does not make sense is because She just isn’t sensible, having been conceived by man before the advent of science, and hence subsequently and continually disproved by the slow but consistent momentum of scientific progress. If, however, realism is unnecessary, and you only need to just feel that God exists, well, it sounds like you don’t need to be having this exercise of free thought.
“As far as God being omniscient, I believe that He is, to a point. He may know what is going to happen, He may know what situations we will find ourselves in, and He may even know how we will react, but I don't believe that means He chose our reaction. Its more like a prediction. Perhaps He even hopes for us to prove Him wrong at times, though we can never really know.” -- Kathryn
There is no such thing as God being omniscient ‘to a point.’ Nor can an omniscient God hope to ever be proven wrong. Those very statements are a paradox. Perhaps God is not omniscient?
“Hurricane Katrina didn’t take the lives of over 1000 people...the levee’s that man made that broke did, and then they went and rebuilt them. There’s weather everywhere, God doesn’t have to stop that, but maybe not building levees where ocean is SUPPOSED to be might have let over 1000 God-loving, church-going, poor black people keep their lives....annnd I believe most of them were warned to evacuate and they didn’t...so that’s not God’s fault.” -- xoTLExo
Alright, I will give it to you that an argument can be reasonably presented which proposes that God didn’t kill people in New Orleans, but rather our government’s mismanagement of a levee system in a city constructed below sea level. However, this does not disprove my original point, which was that if there is a God, She is not benevolent. If mismanagement of levees killed NOLA’s poor, what killed over 225,000 innocent people in the tsunami in December 2004? There are plenty more examples, but I think you’ll get my point. There was no free will, nor was there any possibility of mortal lapse. This was purely a deadly “Act of God.”
“As for Skid Row, well...Getting addicted to crack or heroin is your own choice, not God’s. If you’re stupid enough to do drugs because your friend told you it was cool or for whatever reason people get into drugs and now you can’t work because of it, that’s your own fault.” -- xoTLExo
I think it would be a good thing for you to learn more about Skid Row and how people wind up in such circumstances. Yes, often humans make decisions to do drugs which will ruin their lives, but what about the children which are born into this life? What about the babies who are born addicted to crack? What about the children who grow up on the streets of Los Angeles and are raped and beaten and uneducated and hungry? Surely you can see that free will does not apply to them, right?
“He gave the world to us all and we went and f%#&ed his s!*^ up.” -- Noelle
I would agree with you if each child born into this world shared an equal shot, but the very fact that this isn’t true completely disproves the idea of a benevolent, omniscient God who give us all free will. A simple brainstorm will raise plenty of examples where you will see that we are born into this already-cruel world. Perhaps human history has created the cruelty, but the simple fact that we cannot control it is what contradicts the idea of equal dissemination of God-given free will.
“I am a realist, you may disagree with that based on my faith but then as you do not personally know me.” -- Claire
Claire, faith requires you to let go of a certain measurable amount of realism.
“Like Claire said, God gave us free will and I believe that as he gave us, he leaves us free to help others. . .God is not good, God is Just.” -- Bruna
Bruna, is God just? A simple history query will raise plenty of doubts on this point. One that immediately comes to mind is the dogma which proclaims that a benevolent nonbeliever will go to hell even if she haphazardly follows the Ten Commandments. That is not divine justice; it makes me believe that I, and most people I know, can be more just than God.
“You want to know why i dont blame God....because he gave us free will.” -- Claire
A Christian God is proclaimed to be omniscient. Its a central pillar of the faith. If God gave us free will, then She understands that She gave us the ability to defy the will of God; hence, God would no longer be omniscient. If God knows how and when we will defy Her, then she is not benevolent and also the idea of free will ceases to exist because our actions are predestined. Please see “The Free Will/Omniscience Paradox.” Perhaps there’s nothing to blame for the way things are except the slow progression of history, evolution, nature, etc. Remember, I’m not arguing against the notion of ‘free will,’ I am only arguing it in the sense that it is given to us by an omniscient God.
“There are many many countries where survival is very hard, but this is MAN MADE, how can you blame God who gave us all free will.” -- Joanna
The point I was attempting to make is that free will can be overridden by a host of circumstances, or can be precluded by forebearers. The notion of God-given free will in the context which you write can only apply to the very people who messed these places up originally. This is not a religious debate point, however. This is merely an empirical observation.
“Do you really want God to wave a magic wand, to dictate what we can & can't do, so you want to be a robot in fairy land? Ever heard of Idi Amin???” -- Joanna
I’m not sure what you’re talking about, and yes, I am quite familiar with Idi Amin. I’m not sure how he supports your argument. Idi Amin stripped an entire people of free will.
“I have many instances where God has stepped in I can never not believe.” -- Joanna
In one sentence, you say that God doesn’t intervene because he gave us free will, which is how such tragedies can occur under the nose of a benevolent, omnipotent God. Now you are suggesting that God has chosen to intervene in your life. If you say She did, (and I cannot argue that She didn’t) are there others on this planet who might deserve some divine intervention? If so, why has God chosen you and not them?
“Yes he can wipe out whole nations, he can destroy the Taliban & all terrorists, he can hold back nature BUT YOU DONT WANT TO BE A ROBOT, YOU WANT FREE WILL WHICH IS WHAT WE HAVE.” -- Joanna
Joanna, this is not about being robots, and it most certainly isn’t about what we want. If God exists, it’s exclusively about what She wants, isn't it?
“As for science DNA has proved we come from one set of parents, that all babies start as female.....” -- Joanna
Please produce concrete scientific evidence to support this fantastic claim. It should also be mentioned here that even the discoverers of DNA are nonbelievers.
"You know if enough people followed your beliefs you would be considered a religious icon, then would that make you a hypocrite?" -- Noelle
I think I can see your point, but it deserves mentioning that Agnosticism and Atheism merely suggest a lack of belief. Therefore, no one would be following my beliefs, since I don’t have any regarding God.
“No proof????!!! proof is everywhere...in everything you "can't explain" -- emotion, nature, death, EVERYTHING.. that's god, because there is no need for explanation when we all know the un- tangible feeling.. the all knowing, all powerful, all good god.” -- Noelle
Noelle, please put down the Koolaid. Proof is everywhere in everything we can’t explain? That’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever read one. Furthermore, if your God is all-knowing and all-powerful, She has not given you free will and She certainly isn’t ‘all good.’
“Sometimes I find myself changing the way the bible goes.” -- Noelle
Read above about the Koolaid.
“We can update the bible a bit. IF he can forgive a murderer, not to sure he'd mind an updated bible, especially for some new aged truth. maybe with new true stories and a pixstar advertisment campagin, we might have some REAL people back on our side... FOR REAL.” -- Noelle
One more time, sweetie.
“What is the definition of a god? The presence of mountains, the colors of a flower, the smile you got from your dad, the way you feel when you get hurt, the knowledge of the difference between green and red.” -- Noelle
If you're looking for the origin of the presence of mountains, I’d point to geology; the color of flowers, botany; the smile you get from your dad, love; the way you feel when you get hurt, doctors; and the knowledge of difference between green and red? Well, I’m red-green colorblind.
“The death of the people helping at ground zero did not come from God hating us. . . Yes he created those people who f#%^ed our s&*t up, but he also gave them free will to kill or love.” -- Noelle
I’m sure you can see how this is a perfect example of a few Islamic terrorists overriding the free will of thousands of Americans.
“I personally know that God does not enjoy suffering or cause it to happen. I know He orchestrates everything for good even in the midst of despair.” -- Lisa
How do you know? And you cannot say that you ‘just know.’ There’s an abundance of abject misery in this world. If you know that God is good, then why and how does She arbitrarily ‘test’ so many with such intolerable cruelty, while others are given comfort and ease? And if God is orchestrating, then there’s no place or need for free will. It simply ceases to exist by definition of Divine Orchestration.
“i believe that God has given us free will because of His love and allows us to use it, rather than control us.” -- Lisa
This contradicts what you said above about God orchestrating everything. Please see "The Free Will/Omniscience Paradox."
“Christian belief is that God is holy & perfect and we are sinful (since the Garden of Eden), so the only way anybody can be with God in relationship or in heaven is by having his or her sins atoned for... in Judaism it's through sacrifices of animals, but Christians believe that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for everyone's sins.” -- Lisa
If Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, then why must we worry about sinning? If God is holy and perfect, than why has She created such an imperfect species as the human race?
“God gave us free will, 9/11 was a result of that. We can torture eachother and kill eachother all we want, we can kill our unborn children, and even our children after they are born... We think and act for ourselves, God doensn't do it for us. We lie, cheat, steal, and God has nothing to do with how we behave.” -- Kathryn
I can see your point, but therefore God cannot be omniscient. Also, the act of killing removes free will from the victim. Why would God allow such a loophole?
“I believe that God does have wrath - but that the wrath of God was satisfied in Christ.” -- Lisa
Given the overabundance of misery in this world, it’s hard to see how God (assuming She exists) has gotten all her wrath out on Jesus.
‘The other thing was the way you described the Bible - if you actually study the Bible it is not a message of laws and damnation, but rather a huge story of God's love for the world, expressed most fully in Jesus.” -- Lisa
No reasonable person argues the fact that the Old Testament is rife with messages of strict laws, cruel vengeance, and fierce damnation. For a mere handful of examples, please see “My God Your God His God Her God.” Furthermore, it is not “a huge story of God’s love for the world expressed most fully in Jesus,” as the simple exercise of dividing the Bible at the end of the Old and beginning of the New Testaments will prove that the Bible is much more heavily weighted toward the Old.
“In response to the above, yes there were people on that list who i have also respected but i personally just because i respect someone doesn't mean they will shape my beliefs.” -- Claire
Actually, many of the people on that list have shaped your beliefs; its just that you might not even think about it since their contributions to the scientific world are, by now, so widely dispersed and part of general knowledge. You believe in Ego, yes? Freud shaped your beliefs. The Socratic Method? Thank Socrates. Do you wish for the return of Monarchy? No? Thank John Locke for your freedom. Do you support the practice of Civil Disobedience over violence? Thank Henry David Thoreau and Gandhi. Evolution? Thank Darwin. I’ll stop myself. I think you’ll see my point.
“You did have alot of people I've spent my life respecting in there too though, so I'll give you that. I can only hope that they are the ones who are wrong though.” -- Anonymous
If I were you I would be thankful that these people were right. Otherwise, we would not be here having this conversation.
“In my opinion, the first Biblical passage that should have been mentioned regarding free will is in Genesis when God told Adam & Eve not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil, and they did (therefore introducing sin into the world). That was a free will decision. God didn't prevent them from eating the fruit.” -- Lisa
You’re right. I should have mentioned this; however, the question remains: Did God know that they would eat the fruit? If so, it was predestined, and therefore disallows free will. If he did not know that they would eat the fruit, then God is not omniscient. The two are mutually exclusive.
“He created us and knows us intimately, so that is why He knows what we will choose. He doesn't force us to do what He wants, or we wouldn't have any sin in this world at all. He doesn't cause us to sin or hurt others.” -- Lisa
If God knows our moves before we make them, then free will does not exist. However, for the sake of argument, if God knows what we will do, but chooses not to intervene, then not only does free will not exist, but God is also not benevolent. If an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God would choose to stand and watch in cases where free will is overridden by bad people exercising free will to commit atrocities and overriding the free will of his people, then only one reasonably conclusion can be reached: God is malevolent.
“Jesus called us to start fixing things down here - "the Kingdom of God is at hand" - the Kingdom God created where there is no suffering and pain and inequality (even though that's what you are saying that God endorses).” -- Lisa
If God is omnipotent, why doesn’t She just fix things Herself? If Jesus, as the flesh of God, called on us to fix things for Her, why did God create such a flawed species in the first place? Did God make some kind of mistake somewhere along the line? If God is omniscient, didn’t She know things would come to this level of misery and chaos for so many of Her people?
“I think one thing, though, that would be nice is if you at least had some respect for believers, understanding that they might have used reason and logic to arrive at a faith decision.” -- Lisa
Since only 10% of the United States are nonbelievers, it’d take an awful lot of disrespect. I love people. I love seeking knowledge and asking questions. I love diversity. If you have searched within, asked yourself all the tough questions, found all the contradictions and malevolence in the Bible, learned all that science has discovered, exhausted your free will to challenge assumptions and prophesy, and learned in depth about all the other other religions that exist and have existed rather than accepting the one you’ve been given or is closest in proximity and history, and you still come back to Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior, I will not only have the highest amount of respect for you -- I will want sit down and learn from you.