Why Does God Let Satan Roam Free?

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”

—1 Peter 5:8

“Only-begotten Son, seest thou what rage
Transports our Adversary? whom no bounds
Prescribed, no bars of Hell, nor all the chains
Heaped on him there, nor yet the main Abyss
Wide interrupt, can hold…”

—John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book III

One of the aspects of Christian theology that has always made the least sense to me is why God, having defeated Satan, now permits him to roam freely across the Earth tempting people to do evil. Why wouldn’t an all-powerful creator have imprisoned the Devil and all his demons permanently so that they could not exert any influence on human beings or earthly affairs? Surely, his doing so would have saved the souls of at least some people who, in the current scheme, fell prey to temptation and ended up eternally damned. Christianity says that eternal damnation is Satan’s sentence anyway, so why would God delay that sentence and permit him to roam free so that he could drag as many people as possible down with him?

The first possible explanation is that Satan escaped because God was not powerful enough to restrain him. John Milton gives this explanation in the verse above, yet even he must have recognized the illogic of it. According to Christianity, God is omnipotent and Satan is not. In Milton’s own story, the only reason Satan was able to escape Hell is because God, quite literally, gave the keys to one of the prisoners.

A second possibility: God lets Satan roam free merely as a way of twisting the knife further on his own punishment. A different chapter of Paradise Lost proposes this explanation:

So stretched out huge in length the Arch-Fiend lay,
Chained on the burning lake; nor ever thence
Had risen, or heaved his head, but that the will
And high permission of all-ruling Heaven
Left him at large to his own dark designs,
That with reiterated crimes he might
Heap on himself damnation, while he sought
Evil to others, and enraged might see
How all his malice served but to bring forth
Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy, shewn
On Man by him seduced, but on himself
Treble confusion, wrath, and vengeance poured.

This, too, cannot be correct. Satan’s malice did not only produce grace and mercy for humankind, as Milton claims. Instead, according to Christianity’s own theology, it will result in a huge majority of human beings suffering the wrath of God and being cast down into the fiery abyss along with him. This explanation does not accord with even basic Christian beliefs, so it must be thrown out.

A third explanation holds that God permits freedom for the Devil so as to give human beings the ability to choose freely between right and wrong, and to teach them that disaster always results when they turn away from God’s commands:

God allowed Satan, the epitome of evil, to enter the Garden of Eden and discuss his view of life with Adam and Eve. They then had to make a choice. They chose to follow Satan rather than God. Satan’s tragic delusion of mankind has been the result.

This is the first explanation that is even vaguely plausible. If Satan’s role were merely to act as a devil’s advocate, so to speak, it might even work. But the problem with it is that, by Christian teaching, Satan is the “great deceiver”. He does not present his position honestly, but instead tries to trick humanity into sin through lies and treachery. A choice made in ignorance, because the chooser was deceived about the likely result, is not free at all. Thus, God’s permitting Satan to roam free does not further his goal of giving humans a free choice between good and evil – instead, it actually decreases their freedom, by making it possible for them to fall through misstep or mistake rather than as a conscious, willed choice.

Surely, we do not need the temptation of Satan in order to be free. If we have free will, then a person still has the ability to choose evil, regardless of whether there is outside temptation urging them that way. (In the last of the Left Behind books, set in Christ’s millennial kingdom, vast numbers of people still turn to evil even though Satan is locked away from the world at that point.) And, presumably, God does not want us to choose evil, even if he does leave that option open. Why, then, would he not remove as many enticements to evil as possible, to ensure that the greatest number of people make the right choice? God’s decision to let Satan roam free, in the Christian worldview, can only be seen as an act of incompetence or malice. It ensures that more people end up damned than otherwise would have been. If there was any evidence that any of this was true, such a plan of action would cast serious doubt on the goodness of the planner, and raise the question of whether a deity who unleashed a being as evil as Satan on the world would be truly deserving of our devotion or our worship.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • http://ellisillustration.blogspot.com/ David Ellis

    Interesting topic. I have to admit, its not something I’ve ever really given much thought to—either when I was a christian or after I became a nonbeliever.

    None of the options you’ve listed seem particularly plausible. I’ll be interested to hear if any of our christian friends can come of with more reasonable alternatives.

  • http://ellisillustration.blogspot.com/ David Ellis

    Interesting topic. I have to admit, its not something I’ve ever really given much thought to—either when I was a christian or after I became a nonbeliever.

    None of the options you’ve listed seem particularly plausible. I’ll be interested to hear if any of our christian friends can come of with more reasonable alternatives.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    One observation I made from reading the Gospels are their frequent references to Jesus confronting and casting out demons from people. The casting out of demons was supposed to be one of the ways that Jesus demonstrated his power.

    Now, if Satan were real and presumably clever, it would make far better sense for Satan to keep his host of demons as far from Jesus as possible. If there are no demons for Jesus to cast out, then the fame of Jesus is lessened. Even more so, Satan could have cause the sick, the blind, the lame etcetera to be cured before Jesus came into contact with them.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com Tommykey

    One observation I made from reading the Gospels are their frequent references to Jesus confronting and casting out demons from people. The casting out of demons was supposed to be one of the ways that Jesus demonstrated his power.

    Now, if Satan were real and presumably clever, it would make far better sense for Satan to keep his host of demons as far from Jesus as possible. If there are no demons for Jesus to cast out, then the fame of Jesus is lessened. Even more so, Satan could have cause the sick, the blind, the lame etcetera to be cured before Jesus came into contact with them.

  • jk

    God allows satan to currently roam about the earth, as he was cast out of haven, by jesus and gods angels. (revelation) he is allowing satan activity for a short while only, and will in time, lock up satan and his group of fallen angels (demons) for 1000 years, after which they will have a very short time free.

    Revelation 20:1-3

    20 ”And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 And he hurled him into the abyss and shut [it] and sealed [it] over him, that he might not mislead the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After these things he must be let loose for a little while.”

    Hell (as in eternal damnation) is not a biblical teaching, it is a doctrain thought in some churches though. the bible speaks of the dead as not having a consciousness.

    ecclisiaties 9:5
    “For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all”

    so in short, at this current time satan is confided by god to the vacinity of the earth (not allowed in haven) he will soon (at a time determined by god) be bound up and abyssed, for 1000 years (our literal time presumably )and then be allowed once again to be free. (so free a second time) and then finally removed.

    god allows satan to be free to satisfy the issues satan has brought up with god. (in genisis and a second time in job)once that issue (universal sovereignty) has been settled, satan will be destroyed once and for all.

    Humans have always possessed free will. you are correct in observing that god allows humans choice and subsequent folly’s to be used as an example of reasons that serving god, and living by his principals is whats best for mankind. (humans choice bring about war and other man made problems, verus a paradise type condition god originally created in the garden of eden, which god plans to restore in the future)

    its nice to see non-religious types (if that is a safe assumptions) still considering spiritual things. hope this answer helped.

  • jk

    God allows satan to currently roam about the earth, as he was cast out of haven, by jesus and gods angels. (revelation) he is allowing satan activity for a short while only, and will in time, lock up satan and his group of fallen angels (demons) for 1000 years, after which they will have a very short time free.

    Revelation 20:1-3

    20 ”And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 And he hurled him into the abyss and shut [it] and sealed [it] over him, that he might not mislead the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After these things he must be let loose for a little while.”

    Hell (as in eternal damnation) is not a biblical teaching, it is a doctrain thought in some churches though. the bible speaks of the dead as not having a consciousness.

    ecclisiaties 9:5
    “For the living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all”

    so in short, at this current time satan is confided by god to the vacinity of the earth (not allowed in haven) he will soon (at a time determined by god) be bound up and abyssed, for 1000 years (our literal time presumably )and then be allowed once again to be free. (so free a second time) and then finally removed.

    god allows satan to be free to satisfy the issues satan has brought up with god. (in genisis and a second time in job)once that issue (universal sovereignty) has been settled, satan will be destroyed once and for all.

    Humans have always possessed free will. you are correct in observing that god allows humans choice and subsequent folly’s to be used as an example of reasons that serving god, and living by his principals is whats best for mankind. (humans choice bring about war and other man made problems, verus a paradise type condition god originally created in the garden of eden, which god plans to restore in the future)

    its nice to see non-religious types (if that is a safe assumptions) still considering spiritual things. hope this answer helped.

  • O. Wolcott

    David Ellis: As Ebonmuse said, the only explanation that is even vaguely plausible is the notion that Satan was merely playing “devils advocate” to god’s position. This is the epitome of a false dilema that is utterly confounding to me, in that believers do not see the paucity of this argument. Christians (myself a former culprit) tout this false dilema out ad nausea when confronted with explaining away god’s responsibility in the ultimate fate of human beings. It is their panacea when backed into a corner – “we have free will. God has given us the choice to accept his mercy and teachings, or to deny him/her/it and follow the road to perdition.” As Ebonmuse very aptly pointed out, Satan is the ultimate deciever. How in the world are we as mere mortals to ever make an informed decision if the information we have to work with is skewed and misleading? This is a point that I have never heard dealt with in any honest way by a believer. I find an odd and yet sad parallel in the form of supporters of the ongoing quagmire that is the Bush administration and the Iraq war. When confronted with criticism about the handling of the war they (supporters of the administration) continually claim that everyone was working with the same intelligence in the lead up to the war. As such, those who question the decisions and dissent today are equally at fault. Again, if the information presented to those who have a decision to make (people in congress, or human kind regarding their eternal fate) on a terribly important issue is misleading or false in any way, can they really be held accountable for making a bad decision? I await a convincing response.

  • http://www.de-conversion.com Roopster

    Another possibility is that Satan doesn’t exist :)

  • http://blog.dmcleish.id.au Shishberg

    Another possibility is that Satan doesn’t exist :)

    Sssshhhhh!

  • http://blog.dmcleish.id.au Shishberg

    Another possibility is that Satan doesn’t exist :)

    Sssshhhhh!

  • Polly

    There is another reason that is actually quite clearly stated somewhere in Romans (I’m too lazy to look it up right now). God wants everyone under condemnation – everyone- so that all are dependent on him for salvation; he will not share the glory with anyone else.
    The NT, as it’s understood in many Protestant denom’s, clearly teaches against “earning” one’s way to heaven. So, for god to get all the glory, everyone has to fall. And the harder the fall, the greater his glory when he either:
    a)judges the sinners who’ve heaped up their condemnation
    or
    b)forgives a whole lot of sin, thus displaying his great mercy for which he will receive thanks and praise from his beneficiaries, and the angels, for all eternity

    It’s all pretty self-serving and, naturally, humans are mere pawns in this cosmic contest of egos.

    **One other reason I’ve heard was that Satan wanted to rule by force, where JC/god wanted to rule by love. History is just god allowing the working out of the two views with the results on display for all to see that love is better blah blah blah. I don’t remember if I got that idea from Milton or Mormonism.

  • Polly

    There is another reason that is actually quite clearly stated somewhere in Romans (I’m too lazy to look it up right now). God wants everyone under condemnation – everyone- so that all are dependent on him for salvation; he will not share the glory with anyone else.
    The NT, as it’s understood in many Protestant denom’s, clearly teaches against “earning” one’s way to heaven. So, for god to get all the glory, everyone has to fall. And the harder the fall, the greater his glory when he either:
    a)judges the sinners who’ve heaped up their condemnation
    or
    b)forgives a whole lot of sin, thus displaying his great mercy for which he will receive thanks and praise from his beneficiaries, and the angels, for all eternity

    It’s all pretty self-serving and, naturally, humans are mere pawns in this cosmic contest of egos.

    **One other reason I’ve heard was that Satan wanted to rule by force, where JC/god wanted to rule by love. History is just god allowing the working out of the two views with the results on display for all to see that love is better blah blah blah. I don’t remember if I got that idea from Milton or Mormonism.

  • ex machina

    its nice to see non-religious types (if that is a safe assumptions) still considering spiritual things. hope this answer helped.

    Actually, your explanation was not all that helpful. It seemed to me that you did not address any of Ebon’s original arguments for and against the restraining of Satan.

    God allows satan to currently roam about the earth, as he was cast out of haven, by jesus and gods angels. (revelation) he is allowing satan activity for a short while only, and will in time, lock up satan and his group of fallen angels (demons) for 1000 years, after which they will have a very short time free.

    Revelation 20:1-3

    20 ”And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 And he hurled him into the abyss and shut [it] and sealed [it] over him, that he might not mislead the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After these things he must be let loose for a little while.” . . . etc . . .

    I hear you saying that God let the Devil free for a certain amount of time, but the whole post to which you responded was dedicated to three reasons against this idea. I could restate them here, but it would be redundant for me to say anything except “read the original post,” as it thoroughly addresses your argument and points out it’s flaws. You’ve yet to offer any new information or perspective on the issue.

    To use an analogy: Imagine that we are trying to raise the speed limit on a particular street. We’d go over the benefits of raising that speed limits and the possible drawbacks in an attempt to show the city council that the current speed limit is unacceptable and raising it would be the best solution. In that instance would pointing to the sign and saying “see look, it says 25 right there, so that’s the speed limit,” be an effective counterargument? I think you can see that it wouldn’t be as everyone is already familiar with the status quo, and have presented arguments as to why it’s not acceptable. One might feel that maintaining the speed limit is the best option, but they would to better to demonstrate why rather than merely stating that it is currently 25.

    So, to be persuasive, try addressing each of Ebon’s arguments systematically, one at a time. Remember, most people on this board are “non-religious” and as such, typically don’t consider the Bible an authoritative source so bible quotes don’t hold any weight unless they demonstrate some kind of empirical explanation (ie, it should give a good reason for the speed limit and not simply states it).

    Thanks for posting, I look forward to your response.

  • http://blog.atheology.com Rastaban

    If Satan really is the “ultimate deceiver” then Christians who believe in Satan’s existence might ask themselves whether they’ve fallen for Satan’s ultimate deceit. I mean, the central promise of the new testament is that Christians will be rewarded with eternal life. But wait — in Genesis God was so concerned that humans might eat of the tree of life and live forever that he placed cherubim with flaming swords to block the way to that tree. It seems pretty clear from Genesis that God doesn’t want human to have eternal life.

    Just as the serpent of eden smooth-talked Adam and Eve into eating the apple of knowledge (which apparently raised the risk of humans becoming gods like those elohim in heaven), Satan appears to be at it again. This time using a “new” testament to convince people to grab for that other tree God forbids to us, tree of eternal life.

    I mean, if you take your Bible literally, and if you really believe Satan is the ultimate deceiver, wouldn’t it be prudent to worry that he may have pulled off the ultimate deceit with Christianity?

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    The whole moronic ‘satan’ legend has no other possible conclusion than to paint god as a sadistic psychopath who gets off on torturing humans.

    jk, does that stand for just kidding? Come on, the 1,000 years bit? I guess 1,000 years sounded really long to the ignorant itinerant scribes who penned this slop. They never dreamed anyone would be reading it now. But even so, why the need for the drama? If god is all-powerful, why not just snuff satan and get it over with?

    Oh, right. They needed an antagonist for their story.

  • http://www.blacksunjournal.com BlackSun

    The whole moronic ‘satan’ legend has no other possible conclusion than to paint god as a sadistic psychopath who gets off on torturing humans.

    jk, does that stand for just kidding? Come on, the 1,000 years bit? I guess 1,000 years sounded really long to the ignorant itinerant scribes who penned this slop. They never dreamed anyone would be reading it now. But even so, why the need for the drama? If god is all-powerful, why not just snuff satan and get it over with?

    Oh, right. They needed an antagonist for their story.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Satan is the best friend the church ever had. He’s what they get to blame all their problems on

  • Javaman

    If these two entities, God and Satan, do exist, why are they such drama queens? They both sound very maladjusted and I do not identify with either one. And why am I being pulled into their mutual struggle? Just keep me out of it. You two children go play outside.

  • mithraman

    This whole Satan and God thing, where God allows Satan to carry on his mischief, reminds me of the Austin Powers movies. Instead of killing Austin Powers outright, Dr. Evil rigs an elaborate death trap but doesn’t stay to watch Austin actually die. Of course, he always gets away. I particularly like when Dr. Evil’s son asks, why don’t you just shoot him right now? And Dr. Evil says, “Scott, you just don’t get it, do ya?”. Well, its the same thing with god and the devil. If you don’t understand why god lets him loose, maybe you “just don’t get it.”

  • Matt R

    Hello All,

    As many of you well know, satan is the adversary or tempter. Presumably God allows this tempter to roam free to test or refine the character of humanity. If I were to venture a guess as to the reason why God could do this I would say that perhaps God wishes that people learn to deal with temptation and aversity and learn lessons from it. Regarding those who fall into Satan’s deception I would say, under this answer, that they did not meet standard. Not a very nice “omnibenevolent” type of God, but who on earth reads the Bible and thinks “now there’s a softie!”. Not me.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • OMGF

    Actually, quite a lot of people think god is omni-benevolent.

    Anyway, why does god need to allow Satan to tempt us? He already knows what we’ll do (omniscience and all that) so if he allows us to be tempted into harming others, then he is culpable.

  • Jeff T.

    As a former religious fundamentalist, I will offer the explanation that was given to me by the Church of God:

    If we were not tempted by a ‘trial of fire’ in this life, then we would only be as angels are created. Since God did not want another set of mere angels (ie holy autobots), he created this entire testing phase so that when we pass it, then we will be evolved on a higher plane of existance than the angels.

    We are tested by Satan, who is a higher form of life than we are, in order to build our faith in God. Without this faith in God, then we cannot reach the next level of our existance. God gives us the power to resist Satan by the gift of the Holy Spirit which is part of the Trinity. By accepting Jesus as our personal Savior and being baptized in the Holy Spirit as evidenced by the speaking in tongues, then we have the power to understand and resist Satan and his scheme to prevent our eternal life in a higher plane of existance with God himself.

    The world is not as it would appear to be and the wisdom of man is foolish in the eyes of God and His Wisdom is foolish to man’s pitiful logical reasoning.

    As I am now an Atheist, I obviously no longer accept any of that reasoning, but it is a better Xian rebuttal than any that I have seen posted so far.

  • Mrnaglfar

    So….. just trying to follow that would-be Xian rebuttal:

    God wants us to have eternal life with him in a high plane of existence and worshipping him, kind of like angels, but he didn’t want to make more angels. He wanted something on a higher order, but choose rather then to just create them in that higher order. So instead he made people and tried to let them choose. In the process of choosing, he made the devil in order to try and make us not choose him (even though choosing him is the desired result). He wants us to have faith, yet does not create us with an inborn faith, opting instead for free will, which of course he would later punish us for for not choosing him, even though he created someone to help us not choose him. So God tries to give us ways to resist satan (the being he created in the first place), so in other words, he tries to give us a gift to resist the very thing he set against us in the first place.

    Very clearly, I must just not be seeing something. It’s like god is some retarded child. In case I missed something, I’ll try again in bullet point:

    - God wants us to be higher than angels in some plane of existence
    - God does not create us there, but puts us on earth instead
    - God wants us to choose him in order to get there
    - God creates something to try and make us not choose him
    - God creates ‘gift’ to help us avoid that thing that makes us not choose him that he also made
    - God punishes all who do not choose him and rewards those who do
    Conclusion:
    - God doesn’t want more autobots, but only chooses to associate with those who’s opinions do not differ from his wishes. Therefore God, is in fact, completely retarded

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    “Hell (as in eternal damnation) is not a biblical teaching…”

    I’m sorry, jk, but you’re very much mistaken about this. I’ve recently been in a debate about hell with a liberal Christian, and I went through the Gospels to find the places where Jesus talks about hell, damnation, eternal fire, etc. They’re quite extensive. The list is here (sorry for the self-linkage, everyone, but it really is relevant).

    This seems to be a common belief among many Christians: the idea that the Bible doesn’t talk about Hell, or doesn’t describe it as a place of fire and torture, or doesn’t do so extensively enough for it to be significant. At least, I’ve been running into it a lot lately. But I really don’t know where it comes from. At the risk of sounding snarky, it does seem as if atheists and other non-believers are often more familiar with the history of religion and the details of religious teachings than the believers themselves are.

  • Matt R

    Hi OMGF,

    Actually, quite a lot of people think god is omni-benevolent.

    You are correct that many would jumpt to defend the idea of God’s omnibenevolence, but I think that if these people want to base their idea of God on the Bible, they will have a hard time reconciling Omnibenevolence with God as described in the Bible. I think that I would have jumped to defend Omnibenevolence too before giving it careful thought. I suppose that a way to reconcile the Bible with Omnibenevolence is to define Omnibenevolence in just the right way. That seems contrived to me, so I think it is more appropriate to discard Omnibenevolence.

    Anyway, why does god need to allow Satan to tempt us? He already knows what we’ll do (omniscience and all that) so if he allows us to be tempted into harming others, then he is culpable.

    I don’t know if it is reasonable to discuss what an Omnimax God “needs” to do. Presumably an ultimate-ultimate being does not need to do anything and the best estimate I could venture as to such a God’s motivation would be that God wanted to. Of course this is not helpful to the argument at all beause it reall does not add much helpful information, but it would seem that an Omnimax God needs nothing at all.

    With that being said, I suppose that it is possible that the process of testing humans produces something in humans that God values for some reason. Charachter, wisdom, perseverance, tenacity, who knows… but possibly something along those lines. Of course the logical next question is, “Why couldn’t God create beings which already have those attributes?”. Well, in the universe we find ourselves in, that is impossible because when Baby humans are created, they lack the capacity for such qualities. So the next question is “Why not make the universe differently, so that it is possible?” And the answer to that is perhaps such a universe is not logically cohesive. I certainly cannot show that it is not and I doubt that I could show that it is. Another possible answer is that it is possible but this way is preferable to God. Perhaps the “journey” is very important. Of course, that is a hard one to swallow because sometimes the “journey” really is miserable. On the other hand, I have never lived in a world without suffering, so maybe it is not that great. Then again… heaven is supposed to be without suffering…

    See… I don’t need any help to have an argument. I can do it all by myself! :)

    In all seriousness, I think the only satisfying answers are:

    1) A universe with beings such as ourselves and which is free of suffering is not logically possible, like a square triangle (or the FSM, curse his marinara saturated noodles!) On a side note, did you catch that Kirk Cameron & Ray Comfort vs The rational reaction squad debate? The FSM made a cameo there, I think.

    2) God is not limitless in his creative abilities. Maybe God “ran out” of power after creating this universe and cannot fix these things as easily as we might like, or something along those lines.

    I recognize that these are probably not satisfying in that they suddenly fill you with the compulsion to become a theist or Christian, but they are logically cohesive answers which (I think) are free of contrivances.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Matt R

    Hi Greta Christina,

    I’m sorry, jk, but you’re very much mistaken about this. I’ve recently been in a debate about hell with a liberal Christian, and I went through the Gospels to find the places where Jesus talks about hell, damnation, eternal fire, etc. They’re quite extensive. The list is here (sorry for the self-linkage, everyone, but it really is relevant).

    This seems to be a common belief among many Christians: the idea that the Bible doesn’t talk about Hell, or doesn’t describe it as a place of fire and torture, or doesn’t do so extensively enough for it to be significant. At least, I’ve been running into it a lot lately. But I really don’t know where it comes from. At the risk of sounding snarky, it does seem as if atheists and other non-believers are often more familiar with the history of religion and the details of religious teachings than the believers themselves are.

    I think that JK may have focused on the *eternal* aspect of the punishment of Hell. I think there are few christians who think that there is *no* punishment, but there is a diversity regarding what that punishment is. One of the key differences is whether the “damned” suffer eternally or suffer for some time and then are destroyed. There are several logical reasons derived from scripture which support the concept of destruction. There are also reasonable exegetical (def. of or having to do with interpreting the bible) reasons to hold this belief.

    As a matter of fact, of the arguments I have heard, the best ones have been in favor of the idea of annihilationism, the idea that the damned are sent to hell where there punishment is destruction. If you are interested, I can dredge up some links for you.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.gretachristina.com/ Greta Christina

    “I think that JK may have focused on the *eternal* aspect of the punishment of Hell. I think there are few christians who think that there is *no* punishment, but there is a diversity regarding what that punishment is. One of the key differences is whether the “damned” suffer eternally or suffer for some time and then are destroyed.”

    You could be right; that may well be what he meant. But Jesus’s words in the Gospels do still talk about “eternal fire,” “eternal punishment,” and “eternal sin.” It’s less frequent than the general references to hell and burning, but it does show up more than once. (And I haven’t even looked at Paul — I was just sticking with Jesus’s words in the Gospels.)

    There may be better arguments for “hell as destruction” or “temporary hell followed by destruction” (and sure, I’d be curious to see them!)… but it’s still just not the case that there’s no biblical teachings about eternal damnation. If it’s internally contradictory… well, surprise, surprise.

  • http://www.gretachristina.com/ Greta Christina

    “God doesn’t want more autobots, but only chooses to associate with those who’s opinions do not differ from his wishes.”

    I’m just now tracking on this, and am giggling. It’s like God is a CEO who says he doesn’t want to be surrounded by yes-men, but fires anyone who disagrees with him. (And in this case I mean “fires” literally.)

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Hi Matt,

    If I were to venture a guess as to the reason why God could do this I would say that perhaps God wishes that people learn to deal with temptation and aversity and learn lessons from it. Regarding those who fall into Satan’s deception I would say, under this answer, that they did not meet standard.

    I’d like to point something out: Your position here implies that Satan is God’s agent – that he did not rebel of his own free will, but rather, God deliberately set him up to fall so that he could be the agent of temptation. And furthermore, if some humans didn’t meet the standard necessary to withstand that temptation, then who could be responsible for that other than God? Why wouldn’t he just create us all so we could withstand temptation? It seems to me your position leads straight to Calvinism.

    Not a very nice “omnibenevolent” type of God, but who on earth reads the Bible and thinks “now there’s a softie!”. Not me.

    I’d venture to say that most atheists would agree with you there, and that that is in large part the reason why many of us are atheists.

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Hi Greta,

    Here is the link to a debate where I found the arguments I found interesting:

    http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?t=95317

    but it’s still just not the case that there’s no biblical teachings about eternal damnation.

    Anyone who tells you otherwise is probably selling something! :)

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Jeff T.

    Mrnaglfar–

    The Mormons hold a belief that may sound less retarded. The belief is that we were in fact angels before we were born as humans and knowingly accepted this test. By passing this test, we will be on the road to godhood ourselves. By resisting Satan and the trials of temptation offered in this life, we will become gods.

    With this belief, at least the old saying of ‘you asked for it, you got it’ would be applicable. In fact, this is the only belief that makes sense at all to me as religious basis for our existance. I am not saying that it is true, but if it were, then at least we all knew what the hell we were getting into and can blame no one but ourselves for our greed to become a god.

    We could have been happy go lucky singing hymnals in heaven, but instead we are down here in a material world with spiritual beings dead set on preventing our godhood.

    We should have taken the other pill…

  • Jeff T.

    Mrnaglfar–

    The Mormons hold a belief that may sound less retarded. The belief is that we were in fact angels before we were born as humans and knowingly accepted this test. By passing this test, we will be on the road to godhood ourselves. By resisting Satan and the trials of temptation offered in this life, we will become gods.

    With this belief, at least the old saying of ‘you asked for it, you got it’ would be applicable. In fact, this is the only belief that makes sense at all to me as religious basis for our existance. I am not saying that it is true, but if it were, then at least we all knew what the hell we were getting into and can blame no one but ourselves for our greed to become a god.

    We could have been happy go lucky singing hymnals in heaven, but instead we are down here in a material world with spiritual beings dead set on preventing our godhood.

    We should have taken the other pill…

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Hi Ebonmuse,

    Good to speak with you again! I hope all is well.

    I’d like to point something out: Your position here implies that Satan is God’s agent – that he did not rebel of his own free will, but rather, God deliberately set him up to fall so that he could be the agent of temptation.

    If God created Satan with the intent that he would rebel and provide a means for trying the souls of mankind, then it was a setup. If God created Satan with another intent, and there is such thing as “free will”, then it was not a set-up. It is within the realm of possibility that God did not set-up Satan but decided to let him roam free after the rebellion because God saw that it affords people the opportunity to develop character traits he values.

    And furthermore, if some humans didn’t meet the standard necessary to withstand that temptation, then who could be responsible for that other than God?

    That all depends on the nature of humans. If humans really are nothing more than a sum of their genes and environments and they have no ability to control their own destiny then I think it is reasonable to hold God responsible. If, however, people can actually change their destiny and identity through choices, then I think it is reasonable to hold the people accountable.

    Why wouldn’t he just create us all so we could withstand temptation?

    It may be logically contradictory, or it may not be a suitable process to achieve God’s ends (whatever those may be). Maybe God thinks that is boring; of course it is not very nice at all to get kicks at the eternal expense of another! :(

    It seems to me your position leads straight to Calvinism.

    A pox on me if it does! Of course, the ideas espoused by Calvin and company are within the realm of possibility…

    I’d venture to say that most atheists would agree with you there, and that that is in large part the reason why many of us are atheists.

    I must say I am shocked! I would not expect that the reason that many people believe God does not exist is because they think he is mean. Certainly you must be referring to the contradictions between what the Bible teaches and what popular Christianity seems to espouse about God. Am I correct, or have I misunderstood?

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Mrnaglfar

    Jeff

    The Mormons hold a belief that may sound less retarded. The belief is that we were in fact angels before we were born as humans and knowingly accepted this test. By passing this test, we will be on the road to godhood ourselves. By resisting Satan and the trials of temptation offered in this life, we will become gods.

    So just so we’re on the same page, which part of that is more rational?

    Matt,

    If God created Satan with another intent, and there is such thing as “free will”, then it was not a set-up.

    If god knows all, there cannot be free will. If there is free will, we get punished for using it and god only ends up associating who those who do as he says, making it kind of pointless no?

    If, however, people can actually change their destiny and identity through choices, then I think it is reasonable to hold the people accountable.

    If people are capable of changing, they can be to a degree, held responsible. But under that logic, god is still far more responsible for creating them the way they are, and the world the way it is, and having his whole ‘divine plan’. Think of the Saw movies; same basic idea.

    Maybe God thinks that is boring

    Maybe god doesn’t exist. Seems a little more plausible. Or maybe it’s the wrong god, which of the thousands are we talking about?

    I would not expect that the reason that many people believe God does not exist is because they think he is mean.

    There is no empirical evidence for god, yours or otherwise. Period. None. That’s a good reason to not put faith in something.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Jeff

    The Mormons hold a belief that may sound less retarded. The belief is that we were in fact angels before we were born as humans and knowingly accepted this test. By passing this test, we will be on the road to godhood ourselves. By resisting Satan and the trials of temptation offered in this life, we will become gods.

    So just so we’re on the same page, which part of that is more rational?

    Matt,

    If God created Satan with another intent, and there is such thing as “free will”, then it was not a set-up.

    If god knows all, there cannot be free will. If there is free will, we get punished for using it and god only ends up associating who those who do as he says, making it kind of pointless no?

    If, however, people can actually change their destiny and identity through choices, then I think it is reasonable to hold the people accountable.

    If people are capable of changing, they can be to a degree, held responsible. But under that logic, god is still far more responsible for creating them the way they are, and the world the way it is, and having his whole ‘divine plan’. Think of the Saw movies; same basic idea.

    Maybe God thinks that is boring

    Maybe god doesn’t exist. Seems a little more plausible. Or maybe it’s the wrong god, which of the thousands are we talking about?

    I would not expect that the reason that many people believe God does not exist is because they think he is mean.

    There is no empirical evidence for god, yours or otherwise. Period. None. That’s a good reason to not put faith in something.

  • Matt R

    HI Mrnaglfar,

    Good to speak with you again.

    If god knows all, there cannot be free will.

    I disagree. I think that knowing the future is different than manipulating the future. Now, if God knows the future because God manipulates it to suit what he “knows” is going to happen, then free will is negated, however this is not foreknowledge as much as it is a “set-up”. I think that the nature of God’s hypothetical “foreknowledge” is such that God can know the future without necessarily working to bring it about. That is to say, hypothetically, God can know what you are going to write in response to this post of mine without influencing your decision in any way. Such is the nature of foreknowledge, I think.

    If there is free will, we get punished for using it and god only ends up associating who those who do as he says, making it kind of pointless no?

    It is only pointless if one thinks about free will only in terms of accepting God versus rejecting God. It is possible that there are other aspects of free will which reccomend it to God and the ability to choose “evil” is simply an unfortunate but unavoidable consequence. It is possible that God’s plan was not to have to have this choice between good and evil and it is a byproduct of seeking some other aim.

    If people are capable of changing, they can be to a degree, held responsible. But under that logic, god is still far more responsible for creating them the way they are, and the world the way it is, and having his whole ‘divine plan’. Think of the Saw movies; same basic idea.

    I am confused because in the first part of your statement you seem to acknowledge that humans can be held responsible if they have control over who they are, then in the second part you still want to hold God responsible despite the fact that you have acknowledged, hypothetically, that humans are the ones responsible for their destiny. Are you trying to propose a third option in which humans are marginally responsible for who they are but mostly are destined, due to their makeup, to mostly be a certain way?

    If the latter is the case, then I think that the *amount* of change or decision that God “requires” also must be considered. For example, if humans are only responsible for, say, 10% of who they are and God only requires a standard that involves a 5% change or independent choice, then I think that God has set a reasonable standard and a human can still be held responsible. Or another way of saying the same thing:

    Suppose God’s “requirement” is that someone recieve a score of 50 on a 100 point examnination. Let us suppose that people due to their own control of their destiny, have the ability, apart from what God has granted them naturally in their biological makeup, are able to achieve that score, then it is fair to hold them (us actually) accountable for failure.

    Maybe god doesn’t exist. Seems a little more plausible. Or maybe it’s the wrong god, which of the thousands are we talking about?

    Why do you say things like this? Surely you must know that I recognize your atheism and that you feel this way. It is implicit in all of your posts. The reason I ask is because little comments like that come across as though they were meant to be flippant or inflammatory. If you really think that I had not thought of the idea that God does not exist, then I withdrawl my statement, but if you were just throwing out a little jab there, I want you to know that those sort of statements do not foster a pleasent intellectual climate. To put it in perspecitve, I am sure that you do not like it when Christians come here with their own “cheap shots” such as “you are only atheist because you want to be immoral” or “you really know there is a God, you just want to rebel against him”. I know those comments are probably very irritating and I try my best to be sensitive. I respectully request that you do the same.

    There is no empirical evidence for god, yours or otherwise. Period. None. That’s a good reason to not put faith in something.

    Those are the reasons which I am more used to hearing. I think that if you feel there is insufficient evidence to believe in God, it is your perrogative as a choosing person to not believe in God.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Polly

    Hello Matt R (Why do I feel compelled to include the R?)

    My only contention or need for clarification for my own understanding of the above is the part about freewill and god’s foreknowlege.

    God can know what you are going to write in response to this post of mine without influencing your decision in any way. Such is the nature of foreknowledge, I think.

    The question is HOW does god know what I will do? It seems that any way he has of knowing leads directly to my actions being predictable, moreover, 100% predictable. If our actions are 100% predictable by god (or anyone) then we are not free, we are very complex systems, but not free. Even god’s being outside of spacetime can’t overcome the problem that our actions are already set in stone in some future. Without freewill, we are left with Calvinism. I know you don’t like that idea from your comment above. But, that idea does have some pretty strong biblical support.

    Oh, btw, I am an atheist…you know, just in case you didn’t realize it ;)

  • Polly

    Hello Matt R (Why do I feel compelled to include the R?)

    My only contention or need for clarification for my own understanding of the above is the part about freewill and god’s foreknowlege.

    God can know what you are going to write in response to this post of mine without influencing your decision in any way. Such is the nature of foreknowledge, I think.

    The question is HOW does god know what I will do? It seems that any way he has of knowing leads directly to my actions being predictable, moreover, 100% predictable. If our actions are 100% predictable by god (or anyone) then we are not free, we are very complex systems, but not free. Even god’s being outside of spacetime can’t overcome the problem that our actions are already set in stone in some future. Without freewill, we are left with Calvinism. I know you don’t like that idea from your comment above. But, that idea does have some pretty strong biblical support.

    Oh, btw, I am an atheist…you know, just in case you didn’t realize it ;)

  • Matt R

    Hey Polly,

    I hope things are well with you, and I did know that you are on the “A-Team”. :)

    Without freewill, we are left with Calvinism. I know you don’t like that idea from your comment above. But, that idea does have some pretty strong biblical support.

    As far as I know, most Christian scholars hold to reformed theology and therefore there are probably quite good arguments to be made for the postition from scripture. I have found them unconvincing so far, but I am still young….

    The question is HOW does god know what I will do? It seems that any way he has of knowing leads directly to my actions being predictable, moreover, 100% predictable. If our actions are 100% predictable by god (or anyone) then we are not free, we are very complex systems, but not free. Even god’s being outside of spacetime can’t overcome the problem that our actions are already set in stone in some future. Without freewill, we are left with Calvinism. I know you don’t like that idea from your comment above. But, that idea does have some pretty strong biblical support.

    Assumptions:

    1) God can only foreknow 100% that which is 100% predictable
    2) 100% predictablility is incompatible with free choice
    3) Actions being “set in stone” in some future precludes free choice

    I think that the first assumption is valid because by definition that which has been predicted is predictable. It is important to recognize this as the definition of “predictable” and separate it with the connotation of “deterministic” which the word “predictable” sometimes is tagged with in discussions such as these. So, while something may be predictable, it may or may not be deterministic. Those words speak to two qualitatively different characteristics of a thing.

    Assumption two is the crux of the matter, I think. If one already thinks that free will does not exist, then there is no way to show that foreknowledge does not preclude free will (obviously), but if one does believe that there is such thing as free will, then I think it may be possible to imagine scenarios in which something is predictable yet free.

    Let us suppose that I know a man who always takes the same way home from work always has always will. He always approaches his house from the north side of the block. There are routes to take him on an approach from the south side of the block, but he always chooses to take the north approach. Suppose I observe him every day for five years and note this trend, and start to make bets on it. Suppose for the next 20 years until the man retires, I successfully predict his route (and make lots of cash in the process). I have achieved 100% accuracy and his behavior was 100% predictable. But since there were other choices, other approaches to his house, could it truly be said that he lacked a choice in the matter. I think it would be more accurate to say that he freely chose the same thing every time.

    You may say that my “predicting” was different than God’s “foreknowledge” but I will remind you that your argument was that “If our actions are 100% predictable…then we are not free”. There is nothing logically contradictory about my scenario and it is possible. By definition, the man was 100% predictable because I was never wrong in my prediction, yet he had another choice regarding which way to go home.

    It is also possible that if God is outside of time (whatever that means) that he has the ability to “fast forward things” to look ahead, then put them back where they started and let things go on as they will. In this way, God is not creating a concrete future from which we cannot swerve, just causing reality to play out as it will, with all the free choices being made, then rewinding things so that we can experience them. Presumably since time is being altered, we would have no perception of the whole process.

    Regarding assumption three, it is important to note that there is only one course of action which a person will eventually take. In a way, our future is in stone since there is only one future for us. This does not preclude our free will. To put it another way, the fact that we can only make one choice from a number of options does not mean that those options did not exist, it just means that it is only logically possible to choose one.

    It is also possible that God derives his foreknowledge from the fact that reality has already happened for him. It is possible that from his extra-temporal perspective, he has already seen the free choices we will make and therefore knows them.

    I w

  • Polly

    Hello Matt R,

    You may say that my “predicting” was different than God’s “foreknowledge” but I will remind you that your argument was that “If our actions are 100% predictable…then we are not free”. There is nothing logically contradictory about my scenario and it is possible. By definition, the man was 100% predictable because I was never wrong in my prediction, yet he had another choice regarding which way to go home.

    But, it is different in that you have the possibility of being wrong or those people betting you are being swindled. (You wouldn’t swindle people would you? No, of course not) Though you’ve been proven right so far, you cannot be 100% sure, looking forward that you will always be right. God makes claims about the eternal future and claims to know for sure (100%). The only way he could, is if there is no other option, either by a limitation of options or a limitation in our ability to choose differently. So, I thing it is, and must be, different for god.

    It is also possible that if God is outside of time (whatever that means) that he has the ability to “fast forward things” to look ahead, then put them back where they started and let things go on as they will. In this way, God is not creating a concrete future from which we cannot swerve, just causing reality to play out as it will, with all the free choices being made, then rewinding things so that we can experience them.

    But, if we have freewill the second time around, it should be possible that we’d choose differently so that the it’s not a perfect replay. Even if we do everything exactly the same (which I think is unlikely) god still shouldn’t be able to predict the results with 100% certainty the next time around because each “replay” is unique. Even while “fastforwarding” the first time, we had to be aware and choose. I don’t think you can have a “dry run.”

    (I’m not 100% sure I believe in freewill; but, I like to think I’m free.)

  • Matt R

    Hi Polly,

    But, if we have freewill the second time around, it should be possible that we’d choose differently so that the it’s not a perfect replay. Even if we do everything exactly the same (which I think is unlikely) god still shouldn’t be able to predict the results with 100% certainty the next time around because each “replay” is unique. Even while “fastforwarding” the first time, we had to be aware and choose. I don’t think you can have a “dry run.”

    I am not suggesting that God has lots of “different runs” of reality, but that there is only one reality that happens and God can affect time’s effect on that reality. There is only one “run” of reality which God can move through freely temporally.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Matt R

    Hi Polly,

    But, if we have freewill the second time around, it should be possible that we’d choose differently so that the it’s not a perfect replay. Even if we do everything exactly the same (which I think is unlikely) god still shouldn’t be able to predict the results with 100% certainty the next time around because each “replay” is unique. Even while “fastforwarding” the first time, we had to be aware and choose. I don’t think you can have a “dry run.”

    I am not suggesting that God has lots of “different runs” of reality, but that there is only one reality that happens and God can affect time’s effect on that reality. There is only one “run” of reality which God can move through freely temporally.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • OMGF

    Free will does not exist with an omni-everything god. I know that Matt R doesn’t hold to an omni-everything god, so the question becomes whether god knew the future when he created this universe. I suppose that in terms of free will, if god knew all that would happen at the time of creation, then Polly is correct and we live in a deterministic universe.

    Since this is supposed to be about Satan, if god truly lets Satan roam free, but already knows our choices, then it is superfluous to let Satan run free and tempt us. Worse than that, if Satan tempts me into killing someone else, then that person has just become an innocent bystander in something that god foreknew would happen and set in motion. god becomes a muderer in this situation. In short, this god is not worthy of worship.

  • windy

    “So, while something may be predictable, it may or may not be deterministic. Those words speak to two qualitatively different characteristics of a thing.”

    In natural systems, very small divergences in initial conditions are known to produce large differences in outcomes, as time goes by. If God allows any sort of true non-determinism to enter the system, it is incongruous with his having a detailed “Plan” which he has defined must come true.

    In your example, an omniscient God would also need to know beforehand that the man *would* choose the north route to begin with. You didn’t predict that. Let’s say that if the guy walks the north route every day, he stays out of trouble. If the guy goes the south route every day, he walks past a schoolyard and develops some disturbing pedophiliac fantasies that he nurtures for those long years. Again he has to choose freely if he will act on them, but let’s say that he is an impressionable guy and has a 50% chance of doing something nasty if he is allowed to walk that south route for all of 25 years.

    And how would Satan feature in this example? Is he allowed to put up a “free beer” sign to trick the man into walking the south route more often?

    “It is also possible that if God is outside of time (whatever that means) that he has the ability to “fast forward things” to look ahead, then put them back where they started and let things go on as they will.”

    Ie. God not only condones all suffering in the world, he has checked it out beforehand and “seen that it is good”. How is this benevolent again?

  • Polly

    Matt R,

    There is only one “run” of reality

    I may have misunderstood your first example. When you say “fastforward” to look ahead and “rewind” back. It sounds like god can look at the universe like a video tape, watch the ending, and then go back to the beginning knowing what’s going to happen. Is my understanding of what you’re saying correct? I highlighted the relevant parts of your response below.

    …he has the ability to “fast forward things” to look ahead, then put them back where they started and let things go on as they will. In this way, God is not creating a concrete future from which we cannot swerve, just causing reality to play out as it will, with all the free choices being made, then rewinding things

    N-Joy,
    Polly

  • Polly

    Matt R

    I just noticed you’ve got a few posts directed at you. Sorry to pile on. No pressure, here. I realize I butted into an ongoing exchange.

  • Polly

    Matt R

    I just noticed you’ve got a few posts directed at you. Sorry to pile on. No pressure, here. I realize I butted into an ongoing exchange.

  • Matt R

    Polly, windy, OMGF,

    Hello, this conversation is good but I sadly have to take an internet hiatus for some time. I am sure all interest in this will have blown over by my return, but I have said fundamentally all I have to say about the matter. If you still disagree with me after what I have posted, it is unlikely that anything else I say will change your mind.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Matt R

    Strike that last comment. The hiatus has been avoided.

    OMGF,

    Since this is supposed to be about Satan, if god truly lets Satan roam free, but already knows our choices, then it is superfluous to let Satan run free and tempt us.

    It is possible that the temptation is not to satiate God’s curiosity but to bring about changes in people which God values and which are not possible otherwise. If this is the case then God’s foreknowledge is irrelevant.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • OMGF

    What changes would those be that can not be obtained without the collateral damage?

  • Matt R

    Hi Windy,

    In natural systems, very small divergences in initial conditions are known to produce large differences in outcomes, as time goes by. If God allows any sort of true non-determinism to enter the system, it is incongruous with his having a detailed “Plan” which he has defined must come true.

    This may or may not be true. It would be interesting to think about, however it has little bearing on how God’s postulated foreknowledge effects free will. Keep in mind that I am not investigating the reconciliation of “God’s predetermined plan” and free will, but “God’s foreknowledge” and free will.

    In your example, an omniscient God would also need to know beforehand that the man *would* choose the north route to begin with. You didn’t predict that.

    To the contrary, in my little scenario, I *did* predict that, with 100% accuracy. In fact that was the whole point of the story, to show that something can be predicted without becoming deterministic. Please be careful to note the specificity of this specific argument. It was designed to counter Polly’s claim that something cannot be 100% predictable and without being deterministic.

    And how would Satan feature in this example? Is he allowed to put up a “free beer” sign to trick the man into walking the south route more often?

    IF there is such a being, then it is allowed to do worse than this, by my observation.

    Ie. God not only condones all suffering in the world, he has checked it out beforehand and “seen that it is good”. How is this benevolent again?

    You covered quite a few things in your paragraph there. You even managed to put in a plug for the POE. Although I am comfortable discussing a wide variety of theological paradoxes, and indeed enjoy it, I find that it is more orderly and coherent to do so one at a time. If you place too many divergent arguments in one response, we will mire down quickly.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Matt R

    Hi OMGF,

    What changes would those be that can not be obtained without the collateral damage?

    Overcoming moral temptation seems to produce many positive character traits. To name two, I think it produces moral resolve and moral self-control.

    Whether these things can be produced wihtout “collateral damage” depends on two things: whether God is omnipotent, and if God is omnipotent, whether it is logically possible to produce these traits in people by divine fiat. If God is omnipotent, and it is possible to produce these traits in people by divine fiat then it may be possible to make these changes without collateral damage.

    It is also imporant to note that humans also seem to produce collateral damage all by themselves, but presumably Satan would entice more of this to happen, so it is significantly different.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Matt R

    Polly,

    I may have misunderstood your first example. When you say “fastforward” to look ahead and “rewind” back. It sounds like god can look at the universe like a video tape, watch the ending, and then go back to the beginning knowing what’s going to happen. Is my understanding of what you’re saying correct? I highlighted the relevant parts of your response below.

    Sort of… except that the video does not have a script and it writes itsself as it goes.

    Another possibility which would afford and Omnimax God foreknowledge even in the case of free will is that such a God would know exactly what it would be like to be each individual and would therefore know what each individual would freely do as it progresses through life. In this manner, God could produce a “video” of how things will play out in his mind and simply look ahead. In this case, God would not need to alter time to see the future.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • OMGF

    Matt R,

    Overcoming moral temptation seems to produce many positive character traits. To name two, I think it produces moral resolve and moral self-control.

    Do the victims in a bombing brought on by Satan have increased moral resolve and self-control? god seems rather callous.

    To the contrary, in my little scenario, I *did* predict that, with 100% accuracy.

    What Windy was saying is that god would have to predict that this man would take the North route the very first time, not after being able to observe the man for years taking the North route. I don’t think you’ve answered the objection. Your answer to Polly touches on this more closely, although there is a debate as to whether we freely choose things when Satan tempts us with lies.

  • windy

    Matt wrote:

    Keep in mind that I am not investigating the reconciliation of “God’s predetermined plan” and free will, but “God’s foreknowledge” and free will.

    and

    You covered quite a few things in your paragraph there. You even managed to put in a plug for the POE. Although I am comfortable discussing a wide variety of theological paradoxes, and indeed enjoy it, I find that it is more orderly and coherent to do so one at a time.

    I think these issues are intertwined. If the only possible effect of “free will” would be introducing a little variety in our daily lives, it would hardly be a problem of such philosophical and theological interest.

    Please be careful to note the specificity of this specific argument. It was designed to counter Polly’s claim that something cannot be 100% predictable and without being deterministic.

    I noticed that, but I think that you were only able to predict the man’s movements due to being lucky in your choice of person to observe. For every man that does things exactly the same way every day for 25 years, there are hundreds who don’t.

    If you throw a thousand dice at the same time and rethrow only the ones that come up sixes, you will eventually end up with a die that has produced a very impressive number of sixes in a row. You could say that you had “predicted” this die would come up all sixes, without it being pre-determined, but you can only do this by conveniently forgetting all those other dice.

    Thanks for continuing the discussion anyway!

  • Mrnaglfar

    I’m back from the weekend

    Matt,

    I think that knowing the future is different than manipulating the future

    If one knows the future, one is incapable of manipulating it; the two ideas cannot work hand in hand. If you know the future, and it gets changed, then you don’t really know the future. It’s something along the lines of the “can god create a rock so large he cannot lift it idea?”. If God is all powerful, is he all powerful enough to change his mind (provided he knows the future, along with his own future)? If he could change his mind, he doesn’t know all, if he cannot change his mind, he is not all powerful.

    It is possible that there are other aspects of free will which reccomend it to God and the ability to choose “evil” is simply an unfortunate but unavoidable consequence.

    I suppose there are circumstances under which this, or anything else, could be possible, but there’s a danger in that people can start inventing any possible scenerio they feel like in order to make their point seem more true. It’s why I added that bit at the end that seemed like a jab to you; without needing evidence to support a belief, there’s no end to what one can make up in order to justify that belief. Evil could be a byproduct of some other aim a possible god could have, but the possibility also exists that god would just want to torture people because he’s a sadist, or we’re worshiping the wrong god or the right god in the wrong way. Homosexuality could be the cause or not enough homosexuality could be the cause. Do you see what I’m getting at?

    Are you trying to propose a third option in which humans are marginally responsible for who they are but mostly are destined, due to their makeup, to mostly be a certain way?

    Mhmm.

    If the latter is the case, then I think that the *amount* of change or decision that God “requires” also must be considered.

    But what amount does god require? What areas does that amount lie in? Why would god create those bad things if they would displease him? The only way a religious mind could begin to answer those questions is to consult their holy book. But this leads to another problem, which book is to be consulted and which parts of it? If the bible was consulted as the actual authority on all matters like this, anyone working on Sunday should be killed. If you don’t believe that’s right, either a) You’re morally flawed according to the religion or b) You cannot take the book literally at all. I say that last part because once you stop accepting the bible, or whatever, as the literal word of god then it comes down to the arbitrary questions of which parts can we take literally? Which parts are figurative, and what are they supposed to mean? etc etc.

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    OMGF,

    Do the victims in a bombing brought on by Satan have increased moral resolve and self-control? god seems rather callous.

    The victims of a bombing, being dead, would not reap any benefit in this life that I can think of, and you are correct in your observation that God seems rather callous. Based on my experience in life, things do seem rather callous. There is the idea in some circles that God has in mind when each person’s “time” is to come, so one may argue that if someone is a victim of a bombing, then it was part of God’s plan. This may be the case, but I do not think that I can defend this idea effectively. Certainly not now since I am not sure that I can accept the idea that God has everything already planned to occur how God wants it.

    What Windy was saying is that god would have to predict that this man would take the North route the very first time, not after being able to observe the man for years taking the North route. I don’t think you’ve answered the objection. Your answer to Polly touches on this more closely, although there is a debate as to whether we freely choose things when Satan tempts us with lies.

    I am completely tracking on what Windy said and I recognize the qualitative difference between the “prediction” in the little story and “foreknowledge”. The story was designed to show that something can be predictable without being deterministic. This point became important as a result of Polly’s statement:

    If our actions are 100% predictable by god (or anyone) then we are not free, we are very complex systems, but not free.

    Polly seems to be saying that if actions are 100% predictable, then they are not free. I was showing a hypothetical and logically possible scenario in which actions were 100% predictable and free. I will allow that maybe Polly was making a different point than the one I countered. It is possible.

    Does that make my argument make more sense?

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Hi Windy,

    You are absolutely correct that those other issues are very interesting and important. They are very interesting and some of my favorite to discuss. Perhaps I overstepped the bounds of civility with my little “lecture”. It is just hard for me to know what to do with a POE argument in the middle of a free will discussion. I suppose just not addressing it would be fine. Apologies if my post was offensive.

    I noticed that, but I think that you were only able to predict the man’s movements due to being lucky in your choice of person to observe. For every man that does things exactly the same way every day for 25 years, there are hundreds who don’t.

    You are right that as a person, lacking “foreknowledge” the type of predicting I do is different than the type of predicting that a foreknowing God would do. I feel like I addressed the sort of foreknowledge that God has in later responses to Polly. My little example was more of a rhetorical “appetizer” to show how something can be predictable and still involve free will.

    I am not sure that it matters “how” someone predicts something in this argument. What do you think?

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Hi Windy,

    You are absolutely correct that those other issues are very interesting and important. They are very interesting and some of my favorite to discuss. Perhaps I overstepped the bounds of civility with my little “lecture”. It is just hard for me to know what to do with a POE argument in the middle of a free will discussion. I suppose just not addressing it would be fine. Apologies if my post was offensive.

    I noticed that, but I think that you were only able to predict the man’s movements due to being lucky in your choice of person to observe. For every man that does things exactly the same way every day for 25 years, there are hundreds who don’t.

    You are right that as a person, lacking “foreknowledge” the type of predicting I do is different than the type of predicting that a foreknowing God would do. I feel like I addressed the sort of foreknowledge that God has in later responses to Polly. My little example was more of a rhetorical “appetizer” to show how something can be predictable and still involve free will.

    I am not sure that it matters “how” someone predicts something in this argument. What do you think?

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Mrnaglfar,

    If one knows the future, one is incapable of manipulating it; the two ideas cannot work hand in hand. If you know the future, and it gets changed, then you don’t really know the future.

    I think that this hinges on how one characterizes the act of “knowing”. If one characterizes it in the sense that God knows only one possible outcome of reality and if that does not happen, then he did not konw, then I think your argument works. However if one understands “knowing” to have more of a connotation in which God knows what will ensure from the result of any number of different outcomes in the present reality, then God would know not the future to come in light of contingencies.

    For example a deterministic God would have to make X happen at juncture A in order for the only outcome He knows (a) to be real.

    But maybe God sees it such that at Juncture A, if X happens then outcome (a) would be real, or if Y happens (b) would be real, and so forth.

    The latter is a much richer form of foreknowledge and, I think, avoids determinism.

    I suppose there are circumstances under which this, or anything else, could be possible, but there’s a danger in that people can start inventing any possible scenerio they feel like in order to make their point seem more true. It’s why I added that bit at the end that seemed like a jab to you; without needing evidence to support a belief, there’s no end to what one can make up in order to justify that belief. Evil could be a byproduct of some other aim a possible god could have, but the possibility also exists that god would just want to torture people because he’s a sadist, or we’re worshiping the wrong god or the right god in the wrong way. Homosexuality could be the cause or not enough homosexuality could be the cause. Do you see what I’m getting at?

    I got it. Sometimes I do not catch on to the more subtle things. I agree that in a search for actual facts, simply defining what is possible will not get us all the way there. Many topic, though, carry the “it isn’t possible that x could happen…”. I feel like this is one of those types of arguments in which Polly has said that free will is not possible if God has foreknowledge. To counter this argument, I do not feel that I have to show that free will or foreknowledge or even God actually exist, but only to show that they are logically compatible. That is why I am dealing with what is possible more than what actually is.

    I recognize the difficulties there are in knowing whien it comes to the divine.

    But what amount does god require? What areas does that amount lie in? Why would god create those bad things if they would displease him? The only way a religious mind could begin to answer those questions is to consult their holy book. But this leads to another problem, which book is to be consulted and which parts of it? If the bible was consulted as the actual authority on all matters like this, anyone working on Sunday should be killed. If you don’t believe that’s right, either a) You’re morally flawed according to the religion or b) You cannot take the book literally at all. I say that last part because once you stop accepting the bible, or whatever, as the literal word of god then it comes down to the arbitrary questions of which parts can we take literally? Which parts are figurative, and what are they supposed to mean? etc etc.

    Marvelous! Absolutely marvelous! Yes! This is exactly the case. As soon as one can no longer understand Scripture in a meaningful way, then they are adrift in a sea of metaphysical speculation. The question you have posed is exactly the one I am working through currently. I have a very hard time taking some parts of the Bible literally and I really am not sure how to handle the Bible right now.

    So I do not have an answer for you except that the dilemma you have articulated is the same one which I encountered when I started having difficulty with the Bible.

    One possible answer to the problem is that the fundamentalist literal reading of scripture has been forced on the Bible and is not correct. This solution focuses on understanding the intent of the author when writing. This works out for some of Genesis which may have originally been intended as myth, but runs into problems, IMO, in some of the history accounts where people certainly seem to be trying to convey objective truth.

    So…. I don’t have a good answer for you and I certainly am not inclined to act like it is not a dilemma.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Mrnaglfar,

    If one knows the future, one is incapable of manipulating it; the two ideas cannot work hand in hand. If you know the future, and it gets changed, then you don’t really know the future.

    I think that this hinges on how one characterizes the act of “knowing”. If one characterizes it in the sense that God knows only one possible outcome of reality and if that does not happen, then he did not konw, then I think your argument works. However if one understands “knowing” to have more of a connotation in which God knows what will ensure from the result of any number of different outcomes in the present reality, then God would know not the future to come in light of contingencies.

    For example a deterministic God would have to make X happen at juncture A in order for the only outcome He knows (a) to be real.

    But maybe God sees it such that at Juncture A, if X happens then outcome (a) would be real, or if Y happens (b) would be real, and so forth.

    The latter is a much richer form of foreknowledge and, I think, avoids determinism.

    I suppose there are circumstances under which this, or anything else, could be possible, but there’s a danger in that people can start inventing any possible scenerio they feel like in order to make their point seem more true. It’s why I added that bit at the end that seemed like a jab to you; without needing evidence to support a belief, there’s no end to what one can make up in order to justify that belief. Evil could be a byproduct of some other aim a possible god could have, but the possibility also exists that god would just want to torture people because he’s a sadist, or we’re worshiping the wrong god or the right god in the wrong way. Homosexuality could be the cause or not enough homosexuality could be the cause. Do you see what I’m getting at?

    I got it. Sometimes I do not catch on to the more subtle things. I agree that in a search for actual facts, simply defining what is possible will not get us all the way there. Many topic, though, carry the “it isn’t possible that x could happen…”. I feel like this is one of those types of arguments in which Polly has said that free will is not possible if God has foreknowledge. To counter this argument, I do not feel that I have to show that free will or foreknowledge or even God actually exist, but only to show that they are logically compatible. That is why I am dealing with what is possible more than what actually is.

    I recognize the difficulties there are in knowing whien it comes to the divine.

    But what amount does god require? What areas does that amount lie in? Why would god create those bad things if they would displease him? The only way a religious mind could begin to answer those questions is to consult their holy book. But this leads to another problem, which book is to be consulted and which parts of it? If the bible was consulted as the actual authority on all matters like this, anyone working on Sunday should be killed. If you don’t believe that’s right, either a) You’re morally flawed according to the religion or b) You cannot take the book literally at all. I say that last part because once you stop accepting the bible, or whatever, as the literal word of god then it comes down to the arbitrary questions of which parts can we take literally? Which parts are figurative, and what are they supposed to mean? etc etc.

    Marvelous! Absolutely marvelous! Yes! This is exactly the case. As soon as one can no longer understand Scripture in a meaningful way, then they are adrift in a sea of metaphysical speculation. The question you have posed is exactly the one I am working through currently. I have a very hard time taking some parts of the Bible literally and I really am not sure how to handle the Bible right now.

    So I do not have an answer for you except that the dilemma you have articulated is the same one which I encountered when I started having difficulty with the Bible.

    One possible answer to the problem is that the fundamentalist literal reading of scripture has been forced on the Bible and is not correct. This solution focuses on understanding the intent of the author when writing. This works out for some of Genesis which may have originally been intended as myth, but runs into problems, IMO, in some of the history accounts where people certainly seem to be trying to convey objective truth.

    So…. I don’t have a good answer for you and I certainly am not inclined to act like it is not a dilemma.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Polly

    Hello Matt,

    I will allow that maybe Polly was making a different point than the one I countered. It is possible.

    You got it right, that’s the point I was making. But, I’m not convinced by the counterexample for the reason I mentioned above, i.e. that it’s not truly 100% predictable by a human, but just a really safe guess.
    Anyway, I think we’re at an impasse. (And, I fear I may have added a layer of confusion to the discussion.) But, if you have anything else, I’ll read it and think about it as I’ve been following everything (off and on)up til now.

    N-joy,
    Polly

  • OMGF

    Matt R,

    Polly seems to be saying that if actions are 100% predictable, then they are not free. I was showing a hypothetical and logically possible scenario in which actions were 100% predictable and free.

    I would counter that simply because you got it right doesn’t mean that the man’s actions were 100% predictable. Maybe he didn’t come home from work any way on one day because he had to stay late, or he was sick so that he didn’t go in. Did you take that into account? Not being able to predict when he got sick and didn’t go in at all, would mean that you don’t have 100% predictability. What if something had barred him from using the North route and forced him to use the South route against his will? Well, then your prediction would fail. That it didn’t fail in this hypothetical doesn’t mean that the man’s actions are 100% predictable. IOW, I think you should be leary of making claims to 100% of anything.

  • OMGF

    Matt R,

    Polly seems to be saying that if actions are 100% predictable, then they are not free. I was showing a hypothetical and logically possible scenario in which actions were 100% predictable and free.

    I would counter that simply because you got it right doesn’t mean that the man’s actions were 100% predictable. Maybe he didn’t come home from work any way on one day because he had to stay late, or he was sick so that he didn’t go in. Did you take that into account? Not being able to predict when he got sick and didn’t go in at all, would mean that you don’t have 100% predictability. What if something had barred him from using the North route and forced him to use the South route against his will? Well, then your prediction would fail. That it didn’t fail in this hypothetical doesn’t mean that the man’s actions are 100% predictable. IOW, I think you should be leary of making claims to 100% of anything.

  • OMGF

    I feel like this is one of those types of arguments in which Polly has said that free will is not possible if God has foreknowledge. To counter this argument, I do not feel that I have to show that free will or foreknowledge or even God actually exist, but only to show that they are logically compatible. That is why I am dealing with what is possible more than what actually is.

    If god is omnipotent and omniscient, then free will is indeed impossible. The reason is because god knows all that will happen and knew it when he created the universe. If he did not like what would happen, he would have created it differently and we would be living in a different deterministic universe. He created this one, however, and our actions were set in stone.

    The god that you describe as knowing eventualities is sort of bound by the dimension of time. god can predict what will happen if X happens and keep the string going until infinity I presume, but god can not know which one will actually happen? This doesn’t seem to make sense to me, however, because if god can’t know whether X or Y will happen at junction A, then god similary can’t know that X1, X2, X3 will follow X. IOW, god has no predictive power, only the power to conjure up all the possible scenarios; he is unable to choose the correct scenario in your scheme.

  • OMGF

    I feel like this is one of those types of arguments in which Polly has said that free will is not possible if God has foreknowledge. To counter this argument, I do not feel that I have to show that free will or foreknowledge or even God actually exist, but only to show that they are logically compatible. That is why I am dealing with what is possible more than what actually is.

    If god is omnipotent and omniscient, then free will is indeed impossible. The reason is because god knows all that will happen and knew it when he created the universe. If he did not like what would happen, he would have created it differently and we would be living in a different deterministic universe. He created this one, however, and our actions were set in stone.

    The god that you describe as knowing eventualities is sort of bound by the dimension of time. god can predict what will happen if X happens and keep the string going until infinity I presume, but god can not know which one will actually happen? This doesn’t seem to make sense to me, however, because if god can’t know whether X or Y will happen at junction A, then god similary can’t know that X1, X2, X3 will follow X. IOW, god has no predictive power, only the power to conjure up all the possible scenarios; he is unable to choose the correct scenario in your scheme.

  • Matt R

    Hi Polly,

    I thought I posted another idea last night but it must not have made it from my computer to the website. I have two other possible processes by wish God could know for certain what everyone could do while preserving free will.

    It is possible that God knows each individual as well as the individual knows him/herself. If that were the case, God would know exactly how the individual would behave in any given circumstance, thus allowing God to know what the person would do. Add this to the possibility that God knows all the other movements in the universe and God could presumably develop an understanding of what the future will hold.

    I think that would preserve free will and foreknowledge.

    Also, did you have any more comments of my analogy of the videotape? It also works if one imagines it as a computer program (analogy borrowed from Taner Edis in Ghost in the Universe). I do not think that the future has to be scripted for God to “fast forward” time then return it to the “start point” and let it continue.

    Also, another way of looking at foreknowledge is through contingencies. Perhaps God sees the future as a myriad of possibilities which stem from our current choices. For example, God might know that if I do X then Y will result. This is different from the sort of “foreknowledge” which I think people usually think about, but I think it certainly can be called foreknowledge. I think that this view would also preserve free will.

    You got it right, that’s the point I was making. But, I’m not convinced by the counterexample for the reason I mentioned above, i.e. that it’s not truly 100% predictable by a human, but just a really safe guess.

    So if, in my example where I was never wrong, the action was still not trully 100% predictable, then how are you defining 100% predictable. If by *truly* predictable you actually mean “can only have one possible outcome” then by definition you have presented a logical impossibility.

    I have some more ideas, but want to hear what you have to say about these first.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Polly

    Hi Matt:

    I can only respond to your last comment right now. I’ll have to re-read and think about some of the other points, especially the “video tape” analogy.

    So if, in my example where I was never wrong, the action was still not trully 100% predictable, then how are you defining 100% predictable. If by *truly* predictable you actually mean “can only have one possible outcome” then by definition you have presented a logical impossibility.

    I think we do have differing ideas about predictability. An example:
    When talking to a stock broker, every time you’re shown a graph of the historic performance of a stock, there’s a little blurb, “Past performance does not guarantee future results.” This sums up nicely why I don’t think the man is “truly” predictabe. It may be reasonable to infer, and you may have been right 100% in the past, but with respect to the future there is room for error. There has to be, or that indicates that something is lacking in this situation. I think that there is more than one choice, probably an infinite number of choices. So, prediction of the future cannot be 100% foolproof, because something different can always happen.
    OTOH, if you’re saying that god has already looked through the future to the end of time and has watched this poor sap do the same thing every day, so he has not only access to past data, but to the future data as well, then we can move the conversation onto your other points and consider how that information is obtained – through mechanistically predetermined futures, or some other means that allows for choice.

  • Polly

    Hi Matt,

    Also, did you have any more comments of my analogy of the videotape? It also works if one imagines it as a computer program (analogy borrowed from Taner Edis in Ghost in the Universe). I do not think that the future has to be scripted for God to “fast forward” time then return it to the “start point” and let it continue.

    Each choice has to be a unique and unreproducible event, if it’s to be free. Like identical twins, everything can be the same, but the individuality of the choice must be unique. That’s not to say that the choice made must be different, only that it must have that possibility of being different. Without that possibility of a different outcome, then the choice, in my simplistic view, cannot be free. If a god can predict it with 100% certainty then, by (my) definition, it’s not free. So, perhaps we should debate the merits of that criterion.

    Re the program analogy: How would god fast forward without giving people the choice? How could he guarantee that those choices in his program are going to be the same as the “real” people. It’s funny that you use a computer program as an analogy, because I think that’s exactly the kind of environment it would have to be for god to know the future. And like a program, the variables will act according to the algorithms programmed into the computer.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Matt,

    I think that this hinges on how one characterizes the act of “knowing”. If one characterizes it in the sense that God knows only one possible outcome of reality and if that does not happen, then he did not konw, then I think your argument works. However if one understands “knowing” to have more of a connotation in which God knows what will ensure from the result of any number of different outcomes in the present reality, then God would know not the future to come in light of contingencies.

    For example a deterministic God would have to make X happen at juncture A in order for the only outcome He knows (a) to be real.

    But maybe God sees it such that at Juncture A, if X happens then outcome (a) would be real, or if Y happens (b) would be real, and so forth.

    The latter is a much richer form of foreknowledge and, I think, avoids determinism.

    Everyone else is kind of touching on this, but I will too. Either a god would be able to know the future or he wouldn’t; there’s no inbetween. Sure, the option exists that all possible outcomes could be known. Each choice of everything would effect the outcomes of all others, even slight alterations require an entire rewrite of what is now possible. So in that sense, a god could have a mental list of all the above options, but being that the list is so vast in size it could hardly be considered an all-knowing. A good example would be like me knowing all the clothing you have in your closet, and all conceivable ways new clothing could reach you, or be made and reach you, or any way at all you could have the option of wearing anything possible. That list would be able to tell me what combination of things you could possible wear the next day, but it would do me little good in predicting what you would actually wear. That’s just being well informed, not all knowing.

    Though here’s another little thing for you to consider; does free will truly exist? More importantly, how could one tell the difference between free will and no free will? Maybe determinism just feels like free will; that free will is a helpful delusion. I’ve given the matter much thought, and as far as I’ve come up with, I see no reason free will need exist, much less how I could detect the difference between determinism or free will. I remember a paraphrase from a Richard Dawkins lecture, regarding a philosopher asking a common man why people used to assume the sun rotated around the earth and not the other way around. The answer was of course “because it just looks like the sun is moving”, to which the reply was “how do you suppose it would have looked if the earth was rotating and the sun was not?”. In the same way I could ask “how would the world seem if there was/wasn’t free will?”

    In short, I suppose what I’m trying to say is this; Even if there is a god who is not all knowing, how does that imply we have free will? Another possibility is that things are determined to happen as they are, yet even a god does not know the outcome. It’s all just speculation into a near endless list of possibilities.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Matt,

    I think that this hinges on how one characterizes the act of “knowing”. If one characterizes it in the sense that God knows only one possible outcome of reality and if that does not happen, then he did not konw, then I think your argument works. However if one understands “knowing” to have more of a connotation in which God knows what will ensure from the result of any number of different outcomes in the present reality, then God would know not the future to come in light of contingencies.

    For example a deterministic God would have to make X happen at juncture A in order for the only outcome He knows (a) to be real.

    But maybe God sees it such that at Juncture A, if X happens then outcome (a) would be real, or if Y happens (b) would be real, and so forth.

    The latter is a much richer form of foreknowledge and, I think, avoids determinism.

    Everyone else is kind of touching on this, but I will too. Either a god would be able to know the future or he wouldn’t; there’s no inbetween. Sure, the option exists that all possible outcomes could be known. Each choice of everything would effect the outcomes of all others, even slight alterations require an entire rewrite of what is now possible. So in that sense, a god could have a mental list of all the above options, but being that the list is so vast in size it could hardly be considered an all-knowing. A good example would be like me knowing all the clothing you have in your closet, and all conceivable ways new clothing could reach you, or be made and reach you, or any way at all you could have the option of wearing anything possible. That list would be able to tell me what combination of things you could possible wear the next day, but it would do me little good in predicting what you would actually wear. That’s just being well informed, not all knowing.

    Though here’s another little thing for you to consider; does free will truly exist? More importantly, how could one tell the difference between free will and no free will? Maybe determinism just feels like free will; that free will is a helpful delusion. I’ve given the matter much thought, and as far as I’ve come up with, I see no reason free will need exist, much less how I could detect the difference between determinism or free will. I remember a paraphrase from a Richard Dawkins lecture, regarding a philosopher asking a common man why people used to assume the sun rotated around the earth and not the other way around. The answer was of course “because it just looks like the sun is moving”, to which the reply was “how do you suppose it would have looked if the earth was rotating and the sun was not?”. In the same way I could ask “how would the world seem if there was/wasn’t free will?”

    In short, I suppose what I’m trying to say is this; Even if there is a god who is not all knowing, how does that imply we have free will? Another possibility is that things are determined to happen as they are, yet even a god does not know the outcome. It’s all just speculation into a near endless list of possibilities.

  • OMGF

    I was thinking some more about this, and it seems we all agree that if god has 100% predictability, then the universe is determined. All of us save Matt R of course. Perhaps a scientific example would work? Have you studied quantum mechanics? It’s like a particle in a box. The particle could be in many various states, and god could figure out the possible states and the probabilities of each, but he won’t know which state the particle is in until he opens the box. At that point, the probability function collapses into a single state. In order to have 100% predictability, god has to have already collapsed the possibilities into one, which implies determinism.

    Back to the OP, the real reason god allows Satan to roam free is because every superhero needs a supervillian or else it just gets boring. Did anyone else here watch Frisky Dingo? It’s like Xander Crews in the second episode needing a supervillian to fight in order to justify spending his money on being Awesome X.

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Hi Polly,

    I think we do have differing ideas about predictability. An example:
    When talking to a stock broker, every time you’re shown a graph of the historic performance of a stock, there’s a little blurb, “Past performance does not guarantee future results.” This sums up nicely why I don’t think the man is “truly” predictabe. It may be reasonable to infer, and you may have been right 100% in the past, but with respect to the future there is room for error. There has to be, or that indicates that something is lacking in this situation. I think that there is more than one choice, probably an infinite number of choices. So, prediction of the future cannot be 100% foolproof, because something different can always happen.

    No, we are on the same page here. I understand that fact that in my little scenario the method through which I gain the “ability” to “predict” is not foolproof. However, let us suppose that for all eternity I continued to predict the right behavior, even though there is a possibility that the man could behave contrary to my “prediction”.

    Also, let us consider another scenario. When I make up my mind to do something in the future, then go do it. I could tell my friend what I am going to do and be right about it. This does not make the system determinate, as I have other choices, however. It is possible for a person to be 100% correct concerning predictions about their own behavior without sacrificing free will (assuming it exists in the first place).

    The best way for me to sum up my point in these examples is that it is not the fact that something has been predicted that has the potential to make it deterministic, but the *way* it has been “predicted”. In my original example, I was 100% correct in my prediction, but no one said that it was deterministic because we all recognize that the man still had other options and I could be wrong. This shows that the act of prediction is not the problem.

    The only objection mounted to my example was that no one thinks that this is *how* God predicts. So this shows that it is not actually the act of prediction, but the *method* of prediction which is crucial.

    Regarding the “Video/Computer program” scenario:

    I feel like the really crucial part of this explanation is to think of time as a continuous thread made of many different fibers woven together. Each object and event in our universe is an individual fiber and the fibers are woven together in a certain pattern depending on how the objects and events interact in our universe. Now, imagine that there is a thing called “universal heat”. This universal heat is a force acting at a higher dimension, so it is not detectable to us in the universe as thermal heat, but it does act on the “time thread” in a peculiar way. If universal heat exceeds 0 degrees UHU (universal heat units) then time will proceed in the forward direction. If it drops below 0 degrees UHU, it will proceed in the backwards direction, unraveling as it goes. Time will also accelerate with increasing speed with increasing positive values of UHU. Let us also suppose that God is outside of the thread watching as events unfold. God has the ability to control UHU to suit God’s purposes.

    Now, suppose there was a pastor alone on his deathbed and he were to ask God today what would happen to his family a year from now, God could increase the UHU accordingly see the state of the thread one year “downstream”, then decrease UHU below 0, return to the spot where the question was asked, and answer the question correctly.

    God has not meddled with the thread in the year that he went “downstream” so he did not impinge on any free will. The threads comprising the string interacted freely to constitue the string. A possible objection is that maybe when God goes back to the original point on the string and then lets it wind itself, it may wind itself differently. I do not think there is any way to substantiate that claim other than by making an assumption that it must be that way for a will to be free, but that is circular. But, even if that claim were valid, the scenario still works. It is possible that once the string is woven, it cannot be unwoven. If this is the case then God could know the future and even communicate that knowledge to people, but events would then work out so that the knowledge of the future could not change the future. This would make the “second run” deterministic. This is fine, though, because the “first run” had free will.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Mrnaglfar,

    Everyone else is kind of touching on this, but I will too. Either a god would be able to know the future or he wouldn’t; there’s no inbetween. Sure, the option exists that all possible outcomes could be known. Each choice of everything would effect the outcomes of all others, even slight alterations require an entire rewrite of what is now possible. So in that sense, a god could have a mental list of all the above options, but being that the list is so vast in size it could hardly be considered an all-knowing. A good example would be like me knowing all the clothing you have in your closet, and all conceivable ways new clothing could reach you, or be made and reach you, or any way at all you could have the option of wearing anything possible. That list would be able to tell me what combination of things you could possible wear the next day, but it would do me little good in predicting what you would actually wear. That’s just being well informed, not all knowing.

    As I said, it is a different way of looking at it.

    In the same way I could ask “how would the world seem if there was/wasn’t free will?”

    The only way to know that is to know *if* we do have free will or not and then go from there, otherwise any answer is just speculation. I will say, though, that it is possible that free will and no free will would look the same to the being possessing the free or deterministic will.

    n short, I suppose what I’m trying to say is this; Even if there is a god who is not all knowing, how does that imply we have free will?

    It does not. As a matter of fact, when I started this thing I noted that this is only relevant if free will actually exists.

    It’s all just speculation into a near endless list of possibilities.

    Sort of. We can eliminate the ones that are logically impossible. Outside of the logically impossible possibilities, it is probably just speculation. Of course, I am just speculating…:)

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • OMGF

    Matt,

    No, we are on the same page here. I understand that fact that in my little scenario the method through which I gain the “ability” to “predict” is not foolproof. However, let us suppose that for all eternity I continued to predict the right behavior, even though there is a possibility that the man could behave contrary to my “prediction”.

    But, if you could be wrong, then you don’t have 100% prediction powers.

    Also, let us consider another scenario. When I make up my mind to do something in the future, then go do it. I could tell my friend what I am going to do and be right about it. This does not make the system determinate, as I have other choices, however. It is possible for a person to be 100% correct concerning predictions about their own behavior without sacrificing free will (assuming it exists in the first place).

    I’m sorry, but that is a determined situation. You are the one that had sway over the possibilities and you chose one and went with it. After your choice was already made, you related it to another. I don’t see how that isn’t determined.

    In my original example, I was 100% correct in my prediction, but no one said that it was deterministic because we all recognize that the man still had other options and I could be wrong. This shows that the act of prediction is not the problem.

    Being 100% correct about a prediction (or even a series of predictions) does not mean that you have the ability to be 100% correct at all times, nor does it mean that the situation was 100% predictable. If I guess the outcome of a coin flip 5 times in a row, does that mean that the situation was 100% predictable or that I was just right 100% of the time in that limited situation?

    The only objection mounted to my example was that no one thinks that this is *how* God predicts. So this shows that it is not actually the act of prediction, but the *method* of prediction which is crucial.

    That’s not true at all. We’ve all protested against not just the way god predicts, but the fact that 100% predictive powers lead to a determined system. It is not possible to be 100% certain of anything unless it has already happened or is determined to happen.

    Now, suppose there was a pastor alone on his deathbed and he were to ask God today what would happen to his family a year from now, God could increase the UHU accordingly see the state of the thread one year “downstream”, then decrease UHU below 0, return to the spot where the question was asked, and answer the question correctly.

    God has not meddled with the thread in the year that he went “downstream” so he did not impinge on any free will.

    No, he has demonstrated that the universe is deterministic by doing this. He can not answer correctly if we have free will, because someone could choose to do something different from what he has foreseen.

    If this is the case then God could know the future and even communicate that knowledge to people, but events would then work out so that the knowledge of the future could not change the future. This would make the “second run” deterministic. This is fine, though, because the “first run” had free will.

    No, because for god to have foreknowledge he would have already had to run the string out to its end. Either that, or he does not have 100% foreknowledge of what we will say/do/think, etc.

    Sort of. We can eliminate the ones that are logically impossible. Outside of the logically impossible possibilities, it is probably just speculation. Of course, I am just speculating…:)

    Good, let’s do so. It is logically impossible for god to have 100% foreknowledge without this universe being deterministic. In order for god to have 100% foreknowledge, everything had to have already happened, thus we are living out a pre-determined script. If we truly have free will, then we can deviate from the script, which would mean god does not have 100% predictive powers. There is no way out of this logical conundrum. If you assert that the “first run” happened with free will, then god does not have 100% predictive powers, because he does not predict anything, he relates what he has already seen.

  • Matt R

    OMGF,

    But, if you could be wrong, then you don’t have 100% prediction powers.

    ___________________________
    Being 100% correct about a prediction (or even a series of predictions) does not mean that you have the ability to be 100% correct at all times, nor does it mean that the situation was 100% predictable. If I guess the outcome of a coin flip 5 times in a row, does that mean that the situation was 100% predictable or that I was just right 100% of the time in that limited situation?

    Yes, that is correct. I also agree that If I was extremely lucky or intuitive and was never wrong about coin flipping in my entire life, then it would be hard to tell if I had predicted the flip or if I was just insanely “lucky”. Regardless, if a happening is predicted this does not *necessarily* connote determinism.

    I’m sorry, but that is a determined situation. You are the one that had sway over the possibilities and you chose one and went with it. After your choice was already made, you related it to another. I don’t see how that isn’t determined.

    Clarification: I did not mean to suggest that there were two choices being made in this scenario, there is only one being made. Your comment made me think that you thought I was basing one choice on another. That is not what I intended to communicate. I also do not see how predicting what I will do tomorrow makes the action deterministic since I am the one using my (hypothetical) free will to decide what that action will be. This seems closer to the definition of choice than determinism. I think it would be deterministic if I only had one course of action and could not choose.

    That’s not true at all. We’ve all protested against not just the way god predicts, but the fact that 100% predictive powers lead to a determined system. It is not possible to be 100% certain of anything unless it has already happened or is determined to happen.

    Well certainly you have protested that 100% predictability produces determinism, but that was not what was happening in the little scenario in which I predicted the actions of the man. No one thought that I had 100% predictability in that situation. This comment makes me think that I am not communicating here. If you like, we can dump the whole little analogy of me predicting the man’s movement as it is not critical to the argument since we all agree that the quality of prediction in the scenario is different than the foreknowledge which God is popularly supposed to have.

    In order for god to have 100% foreknowledge, everything had to have already happened, thus we are living out a pre-determined script.

    Two questions:
    1)Why?
    2)Determined by who? And if the answer is God, why does it have to be God?

    He can not answer correctly if we have free will, because someone could choose to do something different from what he has foreseen.

    What makes you think that with an exact repeat of the same history, people *would* do anything differently, even if they could?

    No, because for god to have foreknowledge he would have already had to run the string out to its end.

    God did run the string to it’s end.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    Perhaps — for the sake of argument — a statement that resolves the seeming contradictions here might go something like, God does know in advance what will happen but has no need to make an effort at stab-in-the-dark prediction in order to know it in advance, having witnessed the whole process of events for her/himself already, a sequence in which free will did play a substantive role after all. How could s/he witness something yet to take place — as far as we’re concerned?

    Well, a look at Heisenberg and Hawking can also be illuminating here. Heisenberg uncovers certain irregularities in the quantum world, as opposed to the cosmic sphere, that suggest a few rather startling conclusions, primarily leading to the supposition that, with space and time both being curved, time itself exists on two levels, linear time (the unfolding of past, present and future with which we’re all famiuliar) and so-called imaginary time (Hawking adopts this term) for a dimension where past, present and future exist simultaneously.

    Coupled with this supposition are Heisenberg’s discoveries in quantum physics and particle behavior (and being a layman myself, I cannot duplicate the mathematical formulae that apparently lead to these conclusions) that, in addition, another supposition’s possible that there are an additional nine or ten dimensions to the humble three-plus-time that earth’s humanity knows already, and that there may even be alternate universes in which a whole array of alternate scenarios have already been played out through a multitude of contingencies. The random images of such alternate universes and of additional dimensions that emerge from Heisenberg’s particle experiments have made a number of scientists, including Einstein, somewhat uneasy (Einstein’s “God does not play dice with the universe”, for instance). But Hawking and some others have presented persuasive arguments in Heisenberg’s favor (with some viewing even the essential physical “playing out” of cyber science that posters experience every day merely by communicating with each other as a clincher in Heisenberg’s favor).

    Theoretically, with one hitherto unknown dimension (at least) affording access to past, pesent and future simultaneously, one could posit knowledge of future events, thanks to that access, even though, in the familiar linear time dimension, the future has not even been played out yet.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    Granted, many a scientist today will remind us that some of the possible conclusions stemming from Heisenberg’s experiments remain theoretical — but hey, they’re still fun!:-)

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • Matt R

    G Riggs,

    You have articulated very well the concept of transcending time. I think my inability to adequately explain it has led the stalemate we are now currently encountering. If God exists in a higher dimension, then the concept of knowing the “future” could be analogous to a two dimensional being asking if a human could look “up”.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    My own personal take on this is (and I’m guessing that more traditional believers may not be too comfortable with this?) that God still can not guess which way a person may go in making a free choice; it’s just that s/he knows each and every choice that person will make before any of us do in our own humble three dimensions plus linear time.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • OMGF

    Matt R,

    I also agree that If I was extremely lucky or intuitive and was never wrong about coin flipping in my entire life, then it would be hard to tell if I had predicted the flip or if I was just insanely “lucky”. Regardless, if a happening is predicted this does not *necessarily* connote determinism.

    I’m not arguing that a successful prediction means determinism. I’m arguing that a situation with chance for failure does. You do see the distinction, do you not?

    That is not what I intended to communicate. I also do not see how predicting what I will do tomorrow makes the action deterministic since I am the one using my (hypothetical) free will to decide what that action will be. This seems closer to the definition of choice than determinism. I think it would be deterministic if I only had one course of action and could not choose.

    If you choose to do A tomorrow and the “predict” that you will do A. You have indeed made a deterministic system if you do in fact do A with no alternative. Otherwise, it’s the same situation as above. A correct prediction doesn’t mean determinism, but a correct prediction with no chance of being wrong does.

    No one thought that I had 100% predictability in that situation. This comment makes me think that I am not communicating here.

    Yes, I made both arguments.

    You did not have 100% predictability in that situation, and looking back and saying, “I predicted A, and A was right” doesn’t mean that A had 100% predictability to begin with.

    Two questions:
    1)Why?
    2)Determined by who? And if the answer is God, why does it have to be God?

    For the reasons already listed quite a few times. You can not have 100% predictive powers unless the event has already happened or is determined to happen.
    As to who determined it, I would say that god did in most theological discussions. The reason is because god created the universe. If the universe is deterministic, it is because it was created that way, and the creator is god.

    What makes you think that with an exact repeat of the same history, people *would* do anything differently, even if they could?

    I don’t think they would do anything different, because it is all determined. In fact, they can’t, because then god would be wrong.

  • OMGF

    My own personal take on this is (and I’m guessing that more traditional believers may not be too comfortable with this?) that God still can not guess which way a person may go in making a free choice; it’s just that s/he knows each and every choice that person will make before any of us do in our own humble three dimensions plus linear time.

    Then god does not have predictive powers. If god must sit around and watch time unfold as we make our choices, then god has the power to look through time, but not anything else. He can’t predict our choices at all. He has foreknowledge only because he has pre-observed what has happened.

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    “[P]re-observed”, precisely, OMGF — in my opinion, granted — and “[P]re-observed”‘s a useful term, BTW. I imagine that — as I’ve already said — some believers might look askance at the notion that any guess that God makes in the absence of “pre-observing” would be strictly that: a guess and no more. But it’s the only way that I can see that preserves the centrality of moral responsibility and free will. Essentially, God has no real way of knowing our future actions any more than our friends might, barring direct pre-observation, of course — IMO.

    Cheers,

    G. Riggs

  • Mrnaglfar

    Here’s an interesting suggestion as to why god would let satan roam free; Maybe god just doesn’t give a shit. It would certainly explain a lot. Perhaps god isn’t particularly concerned with people, doesn’t care about every little detail in our lives or our futures. Perhaps he has more important matters to tend too and just doesn’t give a shit.

  • Thumpalumpacus

    Interesting discussion. It seems to me that, in holding my “soul” hostage, any god, even a non-omniscient god, has obviated every possibiility of free will. After all, surrendering one’s money to a person threatening you with destruction is hardly a charitable donation.

    Furthermore, to argue that evil exists for the sake of free will is to argue that free will is a higher good than goodness itself. To test this argument, you need only think of the parent who allows their three-year-old child to attempt to cross a busy street alone. When that child is killed, do we forgive the parent by citing free will? No. We prosecute, and rightfully so.

    Not preventing an evil of which one possesses foreknowledge makes one party to — and culpable for — the evil.

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    Hi OMGF,

    If you accept G. Rigg’s explanation of the matter, then I am happy.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    G. Riggs

    Again, very good explanation.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • OMGF

    G. Riggs,

    “[P]re-observed”, precisely, OMGF — in my opinion, granted — and “[P]re-observed”‘s a useful term, BTW. I imagine that — as I’ve already said — some believers might look askance at the notion that any guess that God makes in the absence of “pre-observing” would be strictly that: a guess and no more. But it’s the only way that I can see that preserves the centrality of moral responsibility and free will. Essentially, God has no real way of knowing our future actions any more than our friends might, barring direct pre-observation, of course — IMO.

    The unfortunate stumbling block for this is something I talked about earlier though, and that involves how much power god has. If god only has enough power to start the universe on its course blindly and see what happens, then it’s possible to have “free will” (although as Thump points out it’s not really free if you are resigned to hell for not choosing as god suggests.) If god, however, had the ability to create the universe with foreknowledge and create the universe as he saw fit, then the scenarios were all played out before god did the act of creating (played out in his mind.) This would set us on an irreversible course (deterministic).

    Matt R,
    It comes down to how much power god has. If god is omniscient, then the universe is deterministic. If god is omnipotent, then the same holds. If god has no predictive powers, then it is not deterministic. If god has 100% predictive powers (can’t be wrong) then it is deterministic.

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    Every believer will respond differently on this. I’m not sure if this scandalizes Matt:-), but personally I don’t believe in a God that has total foreknowledge before creation. Nor do I believe in one who’s omnipotent. I only believe in one who’s omniscient — and who spends a lot of time biting his finger nails nervously;-).

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • OMGF

    I don’t believe in a God that has total foreknowledge before creation…. I only believe in one who’s omniscient

    Huh?

  • Polly

    I know I’m coming back late. There’ve been lots of developments.

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate (so to speak) here:
    Perhaps, such a god is merely “cocky.” He’s completely sure that whatever comes up he can handle it in such a way that it gets resolved to only one of two ways. So, no prediction, just omni-confidence.
    Perhaps there’s only a narrow band of choices that can be made and, as the functions of the choices approach eternity they only graph out to +infinity or -infinity. (Anyone care to nominate me for the “worst analogy using math” of the year award?)

    I’ve been thinking about the idea of limited foreknowledge WITH absolute assurance about the future. Perhaps, the only way to reconcile this idea is to say that people are free but their choices are limited (by circumstance, brainpower, creativity, time, etc.) and those limitations invariably limit the sum of all choices to one of two destinations.

    That’s about as far as I can go toward reconciling an omnimax god and freewill. Kind of like the way, some people know the end of a chess game way before it’s over from the average person’s reckoning. There are only a finite set of options and none of them lead to victory for one player. In life, the players are free, but the game is fixed from the beginning – Like Pharoah, or Esau in Romans 9.
    (Is it fair? HELL no.)

    If someone were to ask me how I reconcile free will with MY view, which is materialism, I’d be hard-pressed. Adam’s essay, “A Ghost in the Machine” has a pretty good argument, but I don’t know. I’m still agnostic on the existence of freewill.
    I don’t think the uncertainty of quantum mechanics, bubbles up to human choice. The behavior of atoms and molecules are predictable by the usual laws of the macro universe.

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    Huh?

    Hey, OMGF. No one ever said I was a traditional believer:-)

    As usual, I’m awful here at explaining myself. It’s just that I don’t take any canon of any belief tradition literally. For me, there are a tiny, tiny handful of accounts from a number of adepts hailing from various different millennia and cultures who have experienced deity directly, and those accounts have been “handled” to death. Ultimately, the only things in deity that seem real to me now are the notion that s/he knows in advance what will happen (for reasons already given) and that s/he can inspire altruism. That’s it. I don’t see anything in the earliest source texts on the most countercultural adepts that convinces me that s/he is directly responsible for the day-to-day details of daily life, good or bad. In this respect, I guess I subscribe to the Deism of Lord Cherbury.

    I’m afraid I can’t put it any better than that. [shrug].

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    OMGF,

    It comes down to how much power god has. If god is omniscient, then the universe is deterministic. If god is omnipotent, then the same holds. If god has no predictive powers, then it is not deterministic. If god has 100% predictive powers (can’t be wrong) then it is deterministic.

    First off, let me tell you something I probably should have told you at the beginning of our discussion. I think that God is probably not omnipotent. I am also agnostic regarding whether or not God actually does know the future. I am unconcerned regarding whether or not people *actually* have free will. I am inclined to think that there is some degree of choice humans have, but also recognize the possibility of a grand illusion. All this to say that this has been an academic and theoretical debate for me (and you since you don’t believe in God at all!).

    With that being said, I still do not see completely why omnipotence, omniscience, or foreknowledge necessarily entail determinism. This may be something that I am just not going to understand and I am okay with that, however if you feel like explaining it to me I will be interested to listen.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Polly

    Hello Matt,

    As far as why an absolute, detailed knowledge of everything that’s going to happen is incompatible with true freewill, I’m out of explanations…for now. I tried to comprehend your superstring analogy. I confess that went right over my head. So, I did the next best thing and tried to come up with what I thought you were saying. What did you think of some of those other options I presented? Are those anything like what you were saying?

    Yes, for me, also, this is not about whether a god exists or not. I knew already that your idea of god is not the “omnipotent” kind that most envision. So, you may be able to sidestep the POE…for now. :) But, rest assured that even now as we speak, we have people working on this situation deep in subterranean bunkers, experimenting with different arguments, developing rebuttals and refutations, with computers and philosophy books and microscopes and LASERS, mwahahahahaha…
    I was tempted to say that that’s not really god if he’s not omnipotent. But, if someone argues that, you could always just say, “Hey, he’s good enough for me(Matt R) to worship.”

    Peace,
    Polly

  • OMGF

    G Riggs,
    My “huh?” question was because I saw those two statements as being mutually exclusive. In one you seem to say that you don’t believe in a god that knows all (“I don’t believe in a God that has total foreknowledge before creation”), then you blatantly state that you believe in a god that knows all (“I only believe in one who’s omniscient”). I still don’t get it.

    Are you hinging the difference on god becoming omniscient after creation?

  • OMGF

    Matt R,

    With that being said, I still do not see completely why omnipotence, omniscience, or foreknowledge necessarily entail determinism. This may be something that I am just not going to understand and I am okay with that, however if you feel like explaining it to me I will be interested to listen.

    I’ll try again, but like Polly I’m running out of ways to explain this.

    First, I’m not sure that omnipotence by itself necessitates determinism, although coupled with omniscience it certainly does. The reason I say that omniscience does is because when god set up the universe, he knew all that would happen before he did it, so when he set the events in motion, things were going to progress as he set them in motion, or else he is not omnipotent. Completely foreknowledge (related to omnipotence) is basically the same thing. If god can not be wrong about a prediction, well the only way to be 100% unable to be wrong is if what is predicted has already played out (if god had to watch the first time, then he doesn’t have foreknowledge) or what is predicted is predestined, else god could be wrong and he doesn’t have 100% foreknowledge. HTH.

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    Are you hinging the difference on god becoming omniscient after creation?

    BINGO!! — And only because deity is merely an infallible time traveler, IMO, not because he’s an infallble guesser at the earliest creation stage at all. Hence, his inability (again, IMO) to guess the full outcome of the earthly comedy before it was actually jumpstarted.

    Do I know many others who have this take on deity? Nah.

    But hey!

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • OMGF

    Then he’s not actually omniscient. He doesn’t know all, he merely knows the actions that have taken place, because he has travelled through time and seen everything happen, then watched it again. He would not know my thoughts, however. This is not omniscience.

  • OMGF

    Then he’s not actually omniscient. He doesn’t know all, he merely knows the actions that have taken place, because he has travelled through time and seen everything happen, then watched it again. He would not know my thoughts, however. This is not omniscience.

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    S/he might know one’s thoughts but not be in a position to do anything about them, or to guess every time which way those thoughts might jump. Remember, that latter part of it is omnipotence, not omniscience. And my provisional take on deity for now is that deity is simply not omnipotent. For some, that means that I don’t really believe in the deity they do — hey, can’t help that.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    S/he might know one’s thoughts but not be in a position to do anything about them, or to guess every time which way those thoughts might jump. Remember, that latter part of it is omnipotence, not omniscience. And my provisional take on deity for now is that deity is simply not omnipotent. For some, that means that I don’t really believe in the deity they do — hey, can’t help that.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    CORRECTION: By “latter part of it”, I refer to deity’s not being able to do anything about one’s thoughts.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    CORRECTION: By “latter part of it”, I refer to deity’s not being able to do anything about one’s thoughts.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • OMGF

    But, if god can know my thoughts, etc. then god does not have to be a time traveller to know what is going to happen. If god is relying on time travel for her foreknowledge, then god is not omniscient. So, I’m still confused as to what you mean.

  • OMGF

    But, if god can know my thoughts, etc. then god does not have to be a time traveller to know what is going to happen. If god is relying on time travel for her foreknowledge, then god is not omniscient. So, I’m still confused as to what you mean.

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    No, she does not have to be a time traveler, then. So? If I gave the impression that one was connected with the other, I erred. My hunch is that she knows one’s thoughts and that she has no control over them or the outcome of any actions dependent on them. I also guess — unrelated to that — that Heisenberg/Hawking et al have stumbled on some extra dimensions where time is curved, and that deity has access to those extra dimensions that we can’t experience.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • OMGF

    My point is that if this deity is dependent on time travel to know what happens, then this deity is not omniscient. If this deity is omniscient, however, then everything is determined. If god can’t know what I will do 5 years from now because my free will gets in the way, then god is not omniscient. If god does know, then I have no choice in the matter, else god could be wrong and that would make god not omniscient.

  • OMGF

    My point is that if this deity is dependent on time travel to know what happens, then this deity is not omniscient. If this deity is omniscient, however, then everything is determined. If god can’t know what I will do 5 years from now because my free will gets in the way, then god is not omniscient. If god does know, then I have no choice in the matter, else god could be wrong and that would make god not omniscient.

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    You are correct that god (outside of pre-observance in that extra Heis./Hawk. dimension referenced above) can not guess what you will do 5 or 50 years from now — IMO, of course. S/he only knows because s/he sees it all, not because s/he necessarily intuits any of it. To this extent, s/he’s certainly not omniscient in the traditional sense as defined by most believers — again, IMO.

    At the same time, since I’m guessing that Heis./Hawk. are right that there is a dimension where time is curved (In my end is my beginning), I’m therefore guessing that deity does know both the future and all of our thoughts in two separate and unconnected operations. S/he may use those pieces of info in tandem, yes, but s/he acquires them independently of each other — again, IMO (and purely speculation, of course).

    According to your definition of omniscience — and that of most orthodox believers, BTW — I would say that, yes, god is not omniscient. But if we’re talking of mere knowledge of the future, pure and simple, regardless of whether that knowledge comes from infallible guessing [your scenario] or from pre-observance [mine], then I’d say that god infallibly has that knowledge always (unless s/he has a poor memory, of course;-).

    From my own scenario, readers can see that — given that scenario — since god is only an observer of the future and not its controller, therefore not only do we have free will, but we also live in a place where nothing is determined after all. And yes, I know this conflicts with some traditional beliefs out there which tie theism to the notion of predestination. However, that, for me, is a pernicious doctrine because it subtracts moral responsibility — and moreover, seems less logical to me than the structure that I’ve outlined.

    Finally, let me stress that with god’s knowledge of the future, you nevertheless have choice all the time because Heis./Hawk. posit a multiverse rather than a universe, and there’s no saying (possibly even god doesn’t know) which of the universes you may hop through on a given day as you go from decision to decision. Hence, god’s knowing that you will do such-and-such in some universe or other does not take away your choice as to what time-line/universe you end up in, thanks to your chosen action(s).

    BTW, even if you’re making a choice in a finite single universe — since I maintain god has no control over that choice — you’re still making a choice as a free non-pre-determined agent — in my scenario, that is. With God’s knowing what you will do but not being able to control it, that means your choice still remains entirely free and unpredictable. You still have choice and anything could still happen.

    A final point: it hardly bothers me if we posit a god who is instead entirely ignorant of the future after all, restricted purely to a capacity for inspiring altruism, and thus not omniscient at all.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • Matt R

    Hi POlly,

    I read your response to my views and I think that the following was

    I’ve been thinking about the idea of limited foreknowledge WITH absolute assurance about the future. Perhaps, the only way to reconcile this idea is to say that people are free but their choices are limited (by circumstance, brainpower, creativity, time, etc.) and those limitations invariably limit the sum of all choices to one of two destinations.

    I think that this may get close to what *really* could happen. This is because I do not think that human will is unconstrained and is determined to a certain degree.

    But, rest assured that even now as we speak, we have people working on this situation deep in subterranean bunkers, experimenting with different arguments, developing rebuttals and refutations, with computers and philosophy books and microscopes and LASERS, mwahahahahaha…

    Hmmm…. that does present a problem. I suppose I will have to step up my production of my “POE-proof earplugs”. They are really amazing. They block out all POE or atheist related arguments but still let in christian things like sermons, exhortations, Jeremy Camp CD’s, and the 700 club! Really amazing things those earplugs. They are similar to my other favorite apologetic gadget, the “Creation Specs”. When you put them on, all evidence of evolution or an “old earth” instantly disappears and the earth looks like it is only 6,000 years old. The Institute for Creation Research offered me a million dollars for the patent, but it turned out that the glasses only worked properly if you shut your eyes, so they lost interest.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Matt R

    Hi POlly,

    I read your response to my views and I think that the following was

    I’ve been thinking about the idea of limited foreknowledge WITH absolute assurance about the future. Perhaps, the only way to reconcile this idea is to say that people are free but their choices are limited (by circumstance, brainpower, creativity, time, etc.) and those limitations invariably limit the sum of all choices to one of two destinations.

    I think that this may get close to what *really* could happen. This is because I do not think that human will is unconstrained and is determined to a certain degree.

    But, rest assured that even now as we speak, we have people working on this situation deep in subterranean bunkers, experimenting with different arguments, developing rebuttals and refutations, with computers and philosophy books and microscopes and LASERS, mwahahahahaha…

    Hmmm…. that does present a problem. I suppose I will have to step up my production of my “POE-proof earplugs”. They are really amazing. They block out all POE or atheist related arguments but still let in christian things like sermons, exhortations, Jeremy Camp CD’s, and the 700 club! Really amazing things those earplugs. They are similar to my other favorite apologetic gadget, the “Creation Specs”. When you put them on, all evidence of evolution or an “old earth” instantly disappears and the earth looks like it is only 6,000 years old. The Institute for Creation Research offered me a million dollars for the patent, but it turned out that the glasses only worked properly if you shut your eyes, so they lost interest.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • OMGF

    G Riggs,

    Finally, let me stress that with god’s knowledge of the future, you nevertheless have choice all the time because Heis./Hawk. posit a multiverse rather than a universe, and there’s no saying (possibly even god doesn’t know) which of the universes you may hop through on a given day as you go from decision to decision. Hence, god’s knowing that you will do such-and-such in some universe or other does not take away your choice as to what time-line/universe you end up in, thanks to your chosen action(s).

    Which takes us back to a god that can calculate the possible outcomes but not know which one will happen – not omniscient, even by your definition.

    BTW, even if you’re making a choice in a finite single universe — since I maintain god has no control over that choice — you’re still making a choice as a free non-pre-determined agent — in my scenario, that is. With God’s knowing what you will do but not being able to control it, that means your choice still remains entirely free and unpredictable. You still have choice and anything could still happen.

    Again, that depends on how much power god has. If god had the power to make the universe as he saw fit and could foresee all this when the universe was made, then my choices were made for me at that time. If god could only start something and let it run its course, then perhaps we do have free will.

  • OMGF

    G Riggs,

    Finally, let me stress that with god’s knowledge of the future, you nevertheless have choice all the time because Heis./Hawk. posit a multiverse rather than a universe, and there’s no saying (possibly even god doesn’t know) which of the universes you may hop through on a given day as you go from decision to decision. Hence, god’s knowing that you will do such-and-such in some universe or other does not take away your choice as to what time-line/universe you end up in, thanks to your chosen action(s).

    Which takes us back to a god that can calculate the possible outcomes but not know which one will happen – not omniscient, even by your definition.

    BTW, even if you’re making a choice in a finite single universe — since I maintain god has no control over that choice — you’re still making a choice as a free non-pre-determined agent — in my scenario, that is. With God’s knowing what you will do but not being able to control it, that means your choice still remains entirely free and unpredictable. You still have choice and anything could still happen.

    Again, that depends on how much power god has. If god had the power to make the universe as he saw fit and could foresee all this when the universe was made, then my choices were made for me at that time. If god could only start something and let it run its course, then perhaps we do have free will.

  • Matt R

    G. Riggs, OMGF, or Polly, or Mrnaglfar, or anyone else…

    I think that one point that is important is that whether God “predicts” or “pre-observes” the “future”, it still looks the same to us as we travel unidirectionally through time.

    Another thought:

    People obviously do not have completely unconstrained will. That is, people do not make arbitrary decisions. Our decisions are causal, we choose based on choices presented to us by our environment goals we want to work towards. Our “personality” and emotions and previous experiences also play into the decision making process. Because of this, humans are somewhat predictable.

    For example, let us suppose that God is omniscient (through pre-observation or otherwise) and can know all our likes, dislikes, moods, desires, goals, and well…everyting about us and our situation, it seems like God would be able to predict our actions quite well because our actions are based on these factors, in my opinion.

    Now, does this mean that there is no “free will”? I think that we may still be said to have “free will” because some of our personality, emotions, goals, etc. are based on our choices from previous interactions with the environment.

    I guess the question boils down to whether causality is evquivalent to determinism. What do you think? How would one test it?

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Polly

    Hi Matt,

    ROTF LMAO!! at your 8:32pm post. :D

    I guess the question boils down to whether causality is evquivalent to determinism. What do you think? How would one test it?

    I suppose identical twins placed into an artificial and totally controlled environment from birth might provide some insight. I’m not sure that grant is going to elicit any funding, however. We’d actually need several sets of twins.
    This would answer the question: Are we prisoners of our own DNA and environment? The common sense answer is “Duh.” But, how do we make decisions that transcend these factors (and are not random)? There may be a spectrum of freewill from complete automaton to…well, crazy. And most of us fall somewhere in between. Even postulating a “spirit or soul” doesn’t sidestep this problem; unless this entity is a random decision generator like some kind of ectoplasmic 8-Ball.

    Njoy
    Polly

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    To OMGF –

    What do you mean, “not omniscient, even by your definition”? My definition of “omniscient” entails being an observer of all but not a controller. I really think that’s perfectly clear. It may not be a concept that’s readily accepted or come across that often. But it is hardly open to multiple interpretations. Is it a kind of omniscience that some would not view as necessarily omniscience at all? Absolutely. I’ve stressed that time and again here. So it’s hardly news to point that out this late in the discussion. You’re simply echoing my own point(s) as if you’ve somehow pointed out something devastatingly new here. You haven’t.

    Look, my provisional concept is of a god who views all the happenings and thoughts in all the universes and knows all the conceivable outcomes. But it’s up to each of us to decide which universe/time-line each of us personally will occupy at any given moment, through our choices. With Heisenberg’s experiments, we seem to have glimpsed a cosmos in which particles can jump erratically about in an illogical pattern. Consequently, it may not be inconceivable that each day we also jump unknowingly from version A of ourselves to version B to version C, and so on. God may be aware of what choices every version of ourselves has made and which version of ourselves we end up being by the end of each day, but once and for all, the reason why s/he probably knows that is because s/he’s viewed them all, not because s/he’s intuited any of their actions at all. S/he doesn’t need to do any intuiting/guessing anyway, precisely because she’s viewed everything already.

    Now in yet another important respect, God is also not omniscient, in that s/he probably cannot guess what will happen to one version of oneself versus another — IMO. But you’re wrong to say flat-out that God does “not know which one will happen”. God does know every fork in the road that different versions of oneself will take as a whole, and s/he knows every action that will take place/has taken place in all the universes. Where s/he is not omniscient — and I’ve always conceded this — and where I’ve never claimed that s/he’s omniscient is in the dept. of guessing which version of oneself will opt for which version of various alternate time-lines/versions of various alternate actions by day’s end. That is entirely up to each of us and each of us only.

    Finally, my own personal concept of God emphatically does entail a god who started something big but let it run its course, very possibly because, once s/he started things, s/he had no choice but to preserve a hands-off policy. It’s even possible s/he is physically unable to do otherwise. Hence, we do have free will. So what makes you say, “If god had the power to make the universe as he saw fit and could foresee all this when the universe was made”? Now I’ve certainly never suggested anything of this sort at all. Quite the contrary. I’ve stressed repeatedly that God — IMO — only makes logical sense if her/his power to make the universe is strictly decoupled from any slightest whiff of “foreseeing”. “Foreseeing” implies guessing/intuiting, which is what I’ve repeatedly stressed that God doesn’t — and probably can’t — do. Pre-observance of events already taken place (already taken place from the vantage point where time is curved) is the only type of future knowledge that God can logically have — IMO.

    G Riggs

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    To OMGF –

    What do you mean, “not omniscient, even by your definition”? My definition of “omniscient” entails being an observer of all but not a controller. I really think that’s perfectly clear. It may not be a concept that’s readily accepted or come across that often. But it is hardly open to multiple interpretations. Is it a kind of omniscience that some would not view as necessarily omniscience at all? Absolutely. I’ve stressed that time and again here. So it’s hardly news to point that out this late in the discussion. You’re simply echoing my own point(s) as if you’ve somehow pointed out something devastatingly new here. You haven’t.

    Look, my provisional concept is of a god who views all the happenings and thoughts in all the universes and knows all the conceivable outcomes. But it’s up to each of us to decide which universe/time-line each of us personally will occupy at any given moment, through our choices. With Heisenberg’s experiments, we seem to have glimpsed a cosmos in which particles can jump erratically about in an illogical pattern. Consequently, it may not be inconceivable that each day we also jump unknowingly from version A of ourselves to version B to version C, and so on. God may be aware of what choices every version of ourselves has made and which version of ourselves we end up being by the end of each day, but once and for all, the reason why s/he probably knows that is because s/he’s viewed them all, not because s/he’s intuited any of their actions at all. S/he doesn’t need to do any intuiting/guessing anyway, precisely because she’s viewed everything already.

    Now in yet another important respect, God is also not omniscient, in that s/he probably cannot guess what will happen to one version of oneself versus another — IMO. But you’re wrong to say flat-out that God does “not know which one will happen”. God does know every fork in the road that different versions of oneself will take as a whole, and s/he knows every action that will take place/has taken place in all the universes. Where s/he is not omniscient — and I’ve always conceded this — and where I’ve never claimed that s/he’s omniscient is in the dept. of guessing which version of oneself will opt for which version of various alternate time-lines/versions of various alternate actions by day’s end. That is entirely up to each of us and each of us only.

    Finally, my own personal concept of God emphatically does entail a god who started something big but let it run its course, very possibly because, once s/he started things, s/he had no choice but to preserve a hands-off policy. It’s even possible s/he is physically unable to do otherwise. Hence, we do have free will. So what makes you say, “If god had the power to make the universe as he saw fit and could foresee all this when the universe was made”? Now I’ve certainly never suggested anything of this sort at all. Quite the contrary. I’ve stressed repeatedly that God — IMO — only makes logical sense if her/his power to make the universe is strictly decoupled from any slightest whiff of “foreseeing”. “Foreseeing” implies guessing/intuiting, which is what I’ve repeatedly stressed that God doesn’t — and probably can’t — do. Pre-observance of events already taken place (already taken place from the vantage point where time is curved) is the only type of future knowledge that God can logically have — IMO.

    G Riggs

  • OMGF

    What do you mean, “not omniscient, even by your definition”? My definition of “omniscient” entails being an observer of all but not a controller…

    Look, you stated that god might not know which univere you will end up in, god simply knows all the possibilities (I assume). In that case, god would not be omniscient, even by your definition, because god does not truly have knowledge of the future in that she can not predict which one universe we will be in say 5 minutes from now. If I’m misunderstanding what you are saying, it’s not intentional; this is what it sounds like you are saying.

    Now in yet another important respect, God is also not omniscient, in that s/he probably cannot guess what will happen to one version of oneself versus another — IMO. But you’re wrong to say flat-out that God does “not know which one will happen”. God does know every fork in the road that different versions of oneself will take as a whole, and s/he knows every action that will take place/has taken place in all the universes. Where s/he is not omniscient — and I’ve always conceded this — and where I’ve never claimed that s/he’s omniscient is in the dept. of guessing which version of oneself will opt for which version of various alternate time-lines/versions of various alternate actions by day’s end. That is entirely up to each of us and each of us only.

    Can we please settle on one thing? god is either omniscient or not. god either knows all or doesn’t. You can’t say god is omniscient and then point out the areas where god is not omniscient.

    So what makes you say, “If god had the power to make the universe as he saw fit and could foresee all this when the universe was made”? Now I’ve certainly never suggested anything of this sort at all.

    Never said you did. What I’m saying is that if god had foreknowledge and the power to set up the universe as he saw fit, then it is all determined. If you don’t believe god has that much power, then so be it. I’m simply setting the table.

    “Foreseeing” implies guessing/intuiting, which is what I’ve repeatedly stressed that God doesn’t — and probably can’t — do. Pre-observance of events already taken place (already taken place from the vantage point where time is curved) is the only type of future knowledge that God can logically have — IMO.

    The only type of future knowledge that preserves free will you mean?

  • Matt R

    Polly,

    What does “ROTF” mean?

    But, how do we make decisions that transcend these factors (and are not random)?

    Also, do we *need* to transcend these factors in order to have free will? It seems very unlikely that we could transcend our environment and DNA. One surrounds us and the other is who we are, how could we escape either? I think the key is whether we still have different choices available to us within our DNA/environmental framework. I think that most people would agree that it “feels” like we can choose things. We certaily appear to do so every day as we interpret and respond to our environment.

    It is also important to decide what we will call free will. If we stick to a simple definition like “Being able to choose what we want to choose” then I think that we have it. If we go deeper and look at *why* we want to choose those things, then it gets tricky, I think.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    To OMGF –

    “In that case, god would not be omniscient, even by your definition, because god does not truly have knowledge of the future in that she can not predict which one universe we will be in say 5 minutes from now.”

    O.K., probably the operative word here is — on further thought — “guess” (or “intuit”) rather than “predict”. God does have knowledge of the future and of which universe (if there’s more than one) you will be in, 5 minutes or 5 days from now, thanks to her/his having viewed it all simultaneously (in the time-curved dimension). So the only way s/he wouldn’t know is if s/he were to (figuratively) blindfold her/himself. This is where “guessing”/”intuiting” comes in. Absent time-curved viewing of a simultaneous past/present/future, her/his “guessing” might sometimes be wrong.

    So God does have knowledge of each person’s future but could never guess at it infallibly, sight unseen — all IMO.

    “Can we please settle on one thing? god is either omniscient or not. god either knows all or doesn’t. You can’t say god is omniscient and then point out the areas where god is not omniscient.”

    I suppose it’s no skin off my nose if I’m forced to make a crude either/or choice between omniscient or non-omniscient and come down on the side of non-omniscient. O.K.? But in a way that’s just as ridiculous and misleading as claiming total omniscience across the board. Imagine saying that humans cannot breathe simply because they don’t have gills. Well, gills certainly enable fish to live in water and without gills fish couldn’t survive. Yet the reason humans don’t need gills is because we breathe using lungs instead in the open air, which would be deadly to a fish. Now similarly, God cannot guess things infallibly, true. But God doesn’t need that facility, since God can exist in a time-curved dimension where witnessing everything past/present/future gives him the requisite knowledge of all our future actions with no need for sloppy and unreliable guessing in its stead — all IMO.

    “What I’m saying is that if god had foreknowledge and the power to set up the universe as he saw fit, then it is all determined. If you don’t believe god has that much power, then so be it.”

    In fact, I don’t believe that God has/had-at-pre-creation-and-creation-time that much power, even though I do believe that God has foreknowledge once s/he’s in the post-creation stage, merely because the creation of time along with space facilitates God’s suddenly viewing the whole map of cosmic actions, great and small, ancient and future — even cosmic actions that s/he never would have guessed at, absent her/his actually viewing them, suddenly, post-creation.

    (Incidentally, I’m not entirely sold on the notion that deity is pre-cosmic and the cosmos’s creator. I’ve sometimes thought that both the cosmos and deity may have been simultaneously generated instead, arising out of a context of the identical singularity, a notion that Buddha more or less subscribes to as well.)

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • Matt R

    G. Riggs,

    (Incidentally, I’m not entirely sold on the notion that deity is pre-cosmic and the cosmos’s creator. I’ve sometimes thought that both the cosmos and deity may have been simultaneously generated instead, arising out of a context of the identical singularity, a notion that Buddha more or less subscribes to as well.)

    An interesting idea to be sure. I have wondered the same thing since it is possible that there is a supreme being which is not the creator and is part of creation. I suppose that may somehow change my relationship to said being.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • Matt R

    G. Riggs,

    One other question, how do you feel that the Bible speaks to the issue of God’s foreknowledge, or do you see the Bible as relevant to this discussion?

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • OMGF

    Matt R,
    ROTF = Rolling on the floor

    G. Riggs,

    God does have knowledge of the future and of which universe (if there’s more than one) you will be in, 5 minutes or 5 days from now, thanks to her/his having viewed it all simultaneously (in the time-curved dimension).

    Then I would say that I don’t have choices. Let’s say that I have 5 choices, each would take to me to an alternate path which would all lead to different choices, etc. If god knows which one I will take for the rest of my life, then I’m confined to those choices. It may appear to me that I am making choices, but god has already determined them.

    I suppose it’s no skin off my nose if I’m forced to make a crude either/or choice between omniscient or non-omniscient and come down on the side of non-omniscient. O.K.?

    I’m just sayin’ is all. The word, “Omniscient,” has a specific definition.

    Now similarly, God cannot guess things infallibly, true.

    Actually, true omniscience means that god can not guess at things because god already knows.

    In fact, I don’t believe that God has/had-at-pre-creation-and-creation-time that much power, even though I do believe that God has foreknowledge once s/he’s in the post-creation stage, merely because the creation of time along with space facilitates God’s suddenly viewing the whole map of cosmic actions, great and small, ancient and future — even cosmic actions that s/he never would have guessed at, absent her/his actually viewing them, suddenly, post-creation.

    Why would god only acquire this ability post creation?

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    To OMGF –

    “If god knows which one I will take for the rest of my life, then I’m confined to those choices. It may appear to me that I am making choices, but god has already determined them.”

    No, you have determined them. God is merely an observer — IMO. This is why one of the few things in this whole discussion that I’ve been unambiguously categorical on is my conviction that God is not omnipotent. We ourselves are masters of our destiny, hence retaining total moral responsibility.

    “The word, “Omniscient,” has a specific definition.”

    All right, so — IMO — God wouldn’t be entirely omniscient, then (why do I have a feeling of deja vu? …………….).

    “Actually, true omniscience means that god can not guess at things because god already knows.”

    And actually, that’s exactly what I’ve been saying all along. This is why her/his foreknowledge of all things, which I take as a given, precludes the question of whether or not God is a good guesser altogether. God needn’t guess. S/he knows, having viewed everything. And yet you’ve implied earlier in this exchange that such a foreknowledge does not translate to omniscience at all.

    “Why would god only acquire this ability post creation?”

    Because, acc. Einstein, time does not exist until after the universe exists, so time-curving won’t exist either until after the universe exists. And it’s time-curving that’s essential to deity’s “looking before and after” (Hamlet).

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • http://www.auniversenamedbob.com Matt R

    OMGF,

    Thanks.

    First, I’m not sure that omnipotence by itself necessitates determinism, although coupled with omniscience it certainly does. The reason I say that omniscience does is because when god set up the universe, he knew all that would happen before he did it, so when he set the events in motion, things were going to progress as he set them in motion, or else he is not omnipotent. Completely foreknowledge (related to omnipotence) is basically the same thing. If god can not be wrong about a prediction, well the only way to be 100% unable to be wrong is if what is predicted has already played out (if god had to watch the first time, then he doesn’t have foreknowledge) or what is predicted is predestined, else god could be wrong and he doesn’t have 100% foreknowledge. HTH.

    I think I understand your position now. Thank you for explaining it yet again for me.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    Matt,

    When it comes to the Bible’s relevance to what we’ve been discussing, I candidly view the Bible as an assortment of heterogeneous texts of varied vintage and value. The main things I view as important in any religion’s canon are the extent to which the extant descriptions of certain key figures who are venerated conform to the following criteria:

    A) have surviving accounts about them that come from both “adherents” and “indifferents” alike,

    B) have surviving accounts that the most skeptical scholars would place no later than a couple of centuries, if that, from the time they actually lived,

    C) introduced brand new ethics paradigms that exerted a maximum culture-changing effect on entire cultures thousands of years later,

    D) introduced brand new ethics paradigms that seemed wholly taken up with undiluted altruism,

    E) have a number of accounts about their personal lives that, no matter the perspective, seem to uniformly suggest they really did _walk_ their elevated and pioneering altruism-in-ethics talk 24/7, from the cradle to the grave, and

    F) show in the very earliest sources on them, as dated the earliest by often non-adherent and rigorous scholars of today, some kind of direct experience of deity.

    Most of the events/figures described in the Old Testament do not match the “A)” criterion, although I do view practically all of the texts in the Old Testament as truly superb literature that I wouldn’t want to chuck, primarily because they attest to a profound imagination and human understanding that humanity would be the poorer without (the same is true of Homer and Vyasa). At the same time, the most recent scholarly dating of the Old Testament texts also seems to suggest they mostly emerge more than two centuries after each of the events they describe. So that bumps up against criterion “B)”.

    Many of the New Testament texts do conform with Criterion “B)”, however. And outside the New Testament, in Josephus, we do have an “indifferent”‘s account relating to a key figure held in veneration by the adherents of a given religious creed (in this case, Jesus), so that matches Criterion “A)”. I make a distinction, though, between the possibly tampered-with Josephan account of the events leading to Jesus’s crucifiction, versus the Josephan account of Jesus’s brother James, which seems “clean”, IMO. So it’s the latter that conforms to Criterion “A)”, in my view, not the former.

    The latest scholarly, non-denominational take on the Gospels is that the so-called Synoptic texts (Mark, Matthew, Luke) are earlier than John, the Synoptics being no later than half a century after the events described. Drilling down further, the swift transition in written Greek style during the 1st cent. C.E. from relatively colloquial earlier on to relatively formal towards its close is apparently mirrored in the various styles of various passages in the three Synoptics (warning: I don’t read Greek myself and wish I could, so I’m merely giving here a precis of where the latest Greek scholarship apparently stands today). It would appear that the most colloquial passages in the Synoptics (possibly due to an earlier 1st-cent. oral tradition?) are most of the Gospel of Mark (save for suspect passages not extant in the earliest Vaticanus/Sinaiticus mss. of Mark) and certain highly suggestive parallel sayings by Jesus himself, practically identical in Matthew and Luke, which appear to be even earlier than Mark. Of all the material in the Judeo-Christian canon, the earliest Mark ms. and the parallel Jesus sayings in Matthew and Luke constitute the material that I view as the most important in evaluating any conception of deity.

    My two cents.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • OMGF

    G Riggs,

    No, you have determined them. God is merely an observer — IMO. This is why one of the few things in this whole discussion that I’ve been unambiguously categorical on is my conviction that God is not omnipotent. We ourselves are masters of our destiny, hence retaining total moral responsibility.

    You are postulating many different paths for my future. If god has observed which path I take out of the many, then he has collapsed all the possible configurations into a single one. Therefore, I have to follow that path, hence it is determined.

    And actually, that’s exactly what I’ve been saying all along. This is why her/his foreknowledge of all things, which I take as a given, precludes the question of whether or not God is a good guesser altogether. God needn’t guess. S/he knows, having viewed everything. And yet you’ve implied earlier in this exchange that such a foreknowledge does not translate to omniscience at all.

    Note my earlier reply to Matt which he quotes in the last comment of his above.

    As to the confusion over omniscience vs. foreknowledge, I said – or at least meant to say – that simple foreknoledge based on observing events doesn’t necessarily translate into omniscience. Being able to see events before they happen is not the same as knowing all there is to know – things that aren’t apparent from simply observation of the future, like thoughts and feelings, would not be included by someone that could simply observe. I hope that clears it up.

    Because, acc. Einstein, time does not exist until after the universe exists, so time-curving won’t exist either until after the universe exists. And it’s time-curving that’s essential to deity’s “looking before and after” (Hamlet).

    Time is a meaningless quantity to a singularity, so we may as well set time = 0 at the time of the big bang, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that a being that is extra-dimensional and can traverse time at will would be under the same arbitrary restrictions.

  • OMGF

    G Riggs,

    And outside the New Testament, in Josephus, we do have an “indifferent”‘s account relating to a key figure held in veneration by the adherents of a given religious creed (in this case, Jesus), so that matches Criterion “A)”.

    Josephus actually only relates the fact that Xians exist and that they believe X.

    It would appear that the most colloquial passages in the Synoptics (possibly due to an earlier 1st-cent. oral tradition?) are most of the Gospel of Mark (save for suspect passages not extant in the earliest Vaticanus/Sinaiticus mss. of Mark) and certain highly suggestive parallel sayings by Jesus himself, practically identical in Matthew and Luke, which appear to be even earlier than Mark. Of all the material in the Judeo-Christian canon, the earliest Mark ms. and the parallel Jesus sayings in Matthew and Luke constitute the material that I view as the most important in evaluating any conception of deity.

    Because Luke and Matthew used Mark as crib notes and then simply added their own takes on Jesus. In Luke’s case, he wanted Jesus to be more godlike, so he changed the story where he felt necessary and made Jesus more superhuman. I highly recommend Bart Ehrman’s work for more on this matter. You would do well to pick up Misquoting Jesus.

  • Mrnaglfar

    Though this has strayed a bit onto the question of freewill and omniscience, the question still remains “Even if there is a God who somehow allows people free will, being all knowing or not(even though the bible says he is), why would god allow for satan to roam free?”

    The most common response I get is that “God works in mysterious ways”. Mysterious, precisely because they’re inefficient, cruel, and seemingly arbitrary, escaping all forms of human reasoning. No matter how this can debated, in the countless, evidence-less, theoretical ways, the long and short of it always seems to come down to this; There is no answer. No one seems to know anything regarding the matter, nothing reliable, testable, or even in agreement with other members of their faith.

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    “You are postulating many different paths for my future. If god has observed which path I take out of the many, then he has collapsed all the possible configurations into a single one. Therefore, I have to follow that path, hence it is determined.”

    S/He has not done the collapsing any more than any spectator at a baseball game is responsible for some fielder’s diving catch.

    “As to the confusion over omniscience vs. foreknowledge, I said – or at least meant to say – that simple foreknoledge based on observing events doesn’t necessarily translate into omniscience. Being able to see events before they happen is not the same as knowing all there is to know – things that aren’t apparent from simply observation of the future, like thoughts and feelings, would not be included by someone that could simply observe. I hope that clears it up.”

    Yes, it does. I see no problem with that. Thank you.

    “Time is a meaningless quantity to a singularity, so we may as well set time = 0 at the time of the big bang, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that a being that is extra-dimensional and can traverse time at will would be under the same arbitrary restrictions.”

    And it doesn’t necessarily mean that it woudn’t be either. It may not be, or it may be. I’m simply showing how it would make sense for deity to lack prescience before creation re the outcome of a created cosmos that is contingent on both time and space only after creation: After all, since my supposition of deity’s foreknowledge — once creation is up and humming — is based on the logic lying behind the reasoning that it takes an extra dimension, where time is curved, for foreknowledge to be attained by deity in the first place, that means that foreknowledge by deity prior to creation — if plausible at all — has to be contingent on something _other_ than observance inside a dimension that is only available _following_ creation.

    Sure, some here are free to argue the ludicrousness of my supposition, in the first place, that deity has foreknowledge of any sort — or even exists. But at least, my supposition of such foreknowledge is tied to a logical concomitant: namely, the extra-dimensional mechanisms of that foreknowledge preclude deitic prescience prior to creation. Your supposition of prescience prior to creation has no logical concomitant that I can see, particularly since a time-curved dimension is theoretically tied inextricably to an already created cosmos.

    “Josephus actually only relates the fact that Xians exist and that they believe X.”

    He says a bit more than that when describing James the “outlaw” as Jesus’s brother. That affirms that such a person as the Jesus seen in the Gospels did once exist. Maybe every event given in the Gospels did not necessarily occur as described. But the individual Jesus himself seems confirmed in Josephus’s usefully offhand reference.

    “Because Luke and Matthew used Mark as crib notes and then simply added their own takes on Jesus. In Luke’s case, he wanted Jesus to be more godlike, so he changed the story where he felt necessary and made Jesus more superhuman. I highly recommend Bart Ehrman’s work for more on this matter. You would do well to pick up Misquoting Jesus.”

    – which raises the question — that maybe Ehrman addresses — how come Matthew/Luke’s new material not found in Mark is so often identical in Matthew/Luke when it comes to highly colloquial remarks by Jesus. I don’t doubt that both Matthew and Luke “dressed up” what they saw in Mark in various — shall we say “highly imaginative”? ………… — ways. That still does not account for the uncanny resemblances in these atypically colloquial sayings.

    Of all the four Gospels, Matthew and Luke are usually viewed as the two that were written most closely together in time. So although it’s not impossible that one copied these sayings from the other, it’s not too likely.

    Two related problems are pertinent here:

    Nondenominational scholars generally agree that if either Matthew or Luke are the earlier of the two, it’s more likely to be Matthew because of the less careful Greek style found in most of that text and other more esoteric topical considerations related to both style and content. That being generally accepted, we have a second problem: how come there is very occasionally an apparent slight tweak given to a parallel passage in Matthew purely (it seems) to make it flow better with the context where it appears, whereas Luke in such rare cases always appears to give the slightly sparer version, a version that seems more isolated and shows more directly the original “skeleton” of the saying? Moreover, Matthew very occasionally seems to blur one or two words being used in a saying where Luke will offer a seemingly more unusual and individual word — while rendering the saying more unrelated to surrounding material or context! And Luke often gives the impression of a whole string of remarks loosely tied together from various sources where Matthew appears to “edit” the sayings with a busier hand.

    The impression given is of sources that are, if anything, more faithfully transcribed in Luke. Yet that makes no sense if Luke is the slightly later text copying from Matthew — unless there is a common source behind both Matthew and Luke that Luke simply treats with greater fidelity. This is the conclusion that the scholars of the Jesus seminar, an enterprise that has aroused enough wrath in the fundamentalist community to have earned my respect;-), have come to.

    Consequently, although both Matthew and Luke do add their own take in various respects, not all the non-Markan material appears to be simple additions. The parallel passages make more sense if they, like Mark, were also prior texts used as crib notes, with neither Matthew nor Luke adding much beyond an occasional “He said” etc. to them. Of course, much more than just these parallel sayings are absent in Mark and present in either Matthew or Luke or both. And passages beyond the parallel sayings are very likely due to spin by one or the other. But the parallel sayings are striking enough to constitute a strong exception to Ehrman’s general argument (as you describe it).

    Ehrman would either have to argue that Luke is the earlier Gospel and Matthew copied and edited what he saw in Luke, or he would have to argue that Luke deliberately scattered the sayings in Matthew into smaller fragments occasionally improving their sharpness of wording in the process while making their pertinence to surrounding material looser than before……….. Both arguments would be rather hard to make, given what others have analysed in these texts for almost a century or so of close philological scrutiny — in defiance of many a church everywhere, BTW:-)

    Finally, what you say about Luke making Jesus more godlike may make some sense. At the same time, it’s startling how often Luke will involve the “left out” and “lowly born” in his telling of the story. In Luke, we have three shepherds visiting the babe Jesus, where Matthew has three kings (Mark starts the story in Jesus’s adulthood, so he ignores the birth stories altogether); Luke puts various women in the story in much higher relief than Matthew ever does; the complimentary story of the despised Samaritan is in Luke, and so on. Also, for Jesus himself, Luke presents his great sermon with the beatitudes and “Love your enemies” etc. as taking place on a simple plain whereas Matthew has him atop a mountain (possibly recalling Moses). So the extra dollop of “godlike-ness” may not go all one way in comparing these texts.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • windy

    You are postulating many different paths for my future. If god has observed which path I take out of the many, then he has collapsed all the possible configurations into a single one. Therefore, I have to follow that path, hence it is determined.

    I agree. Proposed extra dimensions where God “moves” or “sees” through time do not help free will and divine omniscience coexist.

    Imagine 2-dimensional beings whose “universe” at any moment consists of a single sheet of paper. They will only observe a single sheet at a time, we can observe and imagine the entire history of their universe as a “book” where each page is accessible to us. But simply having more dimensions does not make us omniscient from the POW of the creatures, unless the “plot” of the “book” is already set. If those little beings have free will, we should either see a different “future” every time we look, or an endless array of possibilities at one time.

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    “If those little beings have free will, we should either see a different “future” every time we look, or an endless array of possibilities at one time.”

    And that, Windy, is precisely what I’ve been saying all along, and if I didn’t make that clear already, I want to make that very clear right now. And thank you for clarifying it so well. And since Heis./Hawk. posit more than one universe, it seems to make better logical sense to me that deity will see an endless array of possibilities at one time than that deity will see a different “future” every time. — But yes, those two possibilities are obviously the only two that make any sense here at all. And it’s just because of my being fairly impressed with the Heis./Hawk. construct that I opt for the endless array option. Essentially, though, the different future option could make just as much sense, theoretically, particularly if we discard the many-universes notion.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    “If those little beings have free will, we should either see a different “future” every time we look, or an endless array of possibilities at one time.”

    And that, Windy, is precisely what I’ve been saying all along, and if I didn’t make that clear already, I want to make that very clear right now. And thank you for clarifying it so well. And since Heis./Hawk. posit more than one universe, it seems to make better logical sense to me that deity will see an endless array of possibilities at one time than that deity will see a different “future” every time. — But yes, those two possibilities are obviously the only two that make any sense here at all. And it’s just because of my being fairly impressed with the Heis./Hawk. construct that I opt for the endless array option. Essentially, though, the different future option could make just as much sense, theoretically, particularly if we discard the many-universes notion.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • OMGF

    G Riggs,

    S/He has not done the collapsing any more than any spectator at a baseball game is responsible for some fielder’s diving catch.

    Then there are many possible paths that I could choose and god can’t know which one I will choose.

    And it doesn’t necessarily mean that it woudn’t be either. It may not be, or it may be.

    I would think that an extra-dimensional being would exist in the dimension of time before time became a dimension to us. It seems rather contradictory to posit a being that can traverse time itself in ways beyond our ken, yet could not do so until he created it or until our linear time was set in motion.

    Your supposition of prescience prior to creation has no logical concomitant that I can see, particularly since a time-curved dimension is theoretically tied inextricably to an already created cosmos.

    Only if you can show that time started at the big bang, something we can not show. It makes more sense to think that this extra-dimensional being has always had this ability, even before t=0 for our particular universe.

    He says a bit more than that when describing James the “outlaw” as Jesus’s brother. That affirms that such a person as the Jesus seen in the Gospels did once exist.

    Book XX, Chap. 9? I don’t see how this constitutes an affirmation of Jesus’s existence. As with the reference to Jesus, he is simply relating a story, one that is well after the fact.

    – which raises the question — that maybe Ehrman addresses — how come Matthew/Luke’s new material not found in Mark is so often identical in Matthew/Luke when it comes to highly colloquial remarks by Jesus.

    One of them (I forget which) had both Mark and the other for crib notes, and decided to change the story again to emphasize what he wanted to emphasize.

    As to your questions of word choice, how can we even be sure that the words we are reading are original? There have been more alterations in the NT than words in the NT.

    At the same time, it’s startling how often Luke will involve the “left out” and “lowly born” in his telling of the story.

    The main area where it comes out is during the passion. Jesus is in control at all points. He speaks confidently, he never gets perturbed. Mark’s Jesus, however, is very disturbed by the whole ordeal.

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    “Then there are many possible paths that I could choose and god can’t know which one I will choose.”

    Correct — even though god would probably know each and every one of the conceivable choices and has probably seen the full scenario stemming from each and every one played out in detail. And yet — as you say — he can’t know, sight unseen, which option [i]your [b]OWN[/b] version of you[/i] would choose.

    “I would think that an extra-dimensional being would exist in the dimension of time before time became a dimension to us. It seems rather contradictory to posit a being that can traverse time itself in ways beyond our ken, yet could not do so until he created it or until our linear time was set in motion.”

    That’s certainly an interesting point. It may still mean that you’re placing an umpteenth hypothetical construct on top of another one. But given the deitic properties we’ve been discussing, hardly irrelevant. At the same time, I reiterate that it still strikes me that even were that the case, it simply has no more bearing on the choices each of us make than would the presence of such-or-such a spectator on some fielder’s spectacular catch. Precognition of the human comed(y/ies) through pre-observance prior to creation would leave god just as knowledgeable about the future and just as limited in not knowing what [i]your [b]OWN[/b] version of you[/i] would do as s/he is post-creation.

    Another thought, BTW: although I’m happy to speculate along pre-observance lines pre-creation, I still don’t see it as inherently contradictory to posit a being who cannot traverse time until s/he creates time. Now you see that as contradictory. But I simply don’t. And on that, we’ll have to agree to disagree. (And anyway, I imagine the rest of the board is heartily sick of this particular bone of contention by now:-)

    “Only if you can show that time started at the big bang, something we can not show. It makes more sense to think that this extra-dimensional being has always had this ability, even before t=0 for our particular universe.”

    IMO, it makes less sense, not more, since it goes against the calculations that Einstein, Heisenberg and Hawking have affirmed concerning the beginning of time. And remember (from what I said previously), I still have not discarded the idea (courtesy of Buddha) that the cosmos and deity may have been generated simultaneously without deity playing any creator role at all. And yes, that could throw out the relevance of the entire colloquy earlier in this post on pre-observance at pre-creation. But this whole exchange is purely speculative anyway.

    “Book XX, Chap. 9? I don’t see how this constitutes an affirmation of Jesus’s existence. As with the reference to Jesus, he is simply relating a story, one that is well after the fact.”

    But he’s [i]bothering[/i] to relate it, and he’s doing it as an “indifferent”, not an “adherent”. That’s the point I’m making.

    “One of them (I forget which) had both Mark and the other for crib notes, and decided to change the story again to emphasize what he wanted to emphasize.”

    The latest scholarly consensus, a consensus coming from many who are not Christian, is that both Matthew and Luke independently use both Mark and the colloquial sayings for crib notes. That does not preclude that they each insert plenty of self-generated material of their own, but it does mean that any agreements between the two carry some weight, at least.

    “As to your questions of word choice, how can we even be sure that the words we are reading are original? There have been more alterations in the NT than words in the NT.”

    Answer: We can’t be sure. I’m just giving you a snapshot of where the general consensus as to [i]probabilities[/i] within the scholarly community stands today.

    “The main area where it comes out is during the passion. Jesus is in control at all points. He speaks confidently, he never gets perturbed. Mark’s Jesus, however, is very disturbed by the whole ordeal.”

    I’d emphatically agree. And furthermore, I’d say that I’ve always found that the Mark account rings truer to me.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    “Then there are many possible paths that I could choose and god can’t know which one I will choose.”

    Correct — even though god would probably know each and every one of the conceivable choices and has probably seen the full scenario stemming from each and every one played out in detail. And yet — as you say — he can’t know, sight unseen, which option [i]your [b]OWN[/b] version of you[/i] would choose.

    “I would think that an extra-dimensional being would exist in the dimension of time before time became a dimension to us. It seems rather contradictory to posit a being that can traverse time itself in ways beyond our ken, yet could not do so until he created it or until our linear time was set in motion.”

    That’s certainly an interesting point. It may still mean that you’re placing an umpteenth hypothetical construct on top of another one. But given the deitic properties we’ve been discussing, hardly irrelevant. At the same time, I reiterate that it still strikes me that even were that the case, it simply has no more bearing on the choices each of us make than would the presence of such-or-such a spectator on some fielder’s spectacular catch. Precognition of the human comed(y/ies) through pre-observance prior to creation would leave god just as knowledgeable about the future and just as limited in not knowing what [i]your [b]OWN[/b] version of you[/i] would do as s/he is post-creation.

    Another thought, BTW: although I’m happy to speculate along pre-observance lines pre-creation, I still don’t see it as inherently contradictory to posit a being who cannot traverse time until s/he creates time. Now you see that as contradictory. But I simply don’t. And on that, we’ll have to agree to disagree. (And anyway, I imagine the rest of the board is heartily sick of this particular bone of contention by now:-)

    “Only if you can show that time started at the big bang, something we can not show. It makes more sense to think that this extra-dimensional being has always had this ability, even before t=0 for our particular universe.”

    IMO, it makes less sense, not more, since it goes against the calculations that Einstein, Heisenberg and Hawking have affirmed concerning the beginning of time. And remember (from what I said previously), I still have not discarded the idea (courtesy of Buddha) that the cosmos and deity may have been generated simultaneously without deity playing any creator role at all. And yes, that could throw out the relevance of the entire colloquy earlier in this post on pre-observance at pre-creation. But this whole exchange is purely speculative anyway.

    “Book XX, Chap. 9? I don’t see how this constitutes an affirmation of Jesus’s existence. As with the reference to Jesus, he is simply relating a story, one that is well after the fact.”

    But he’s [i]bothering[/i] to relate it, and he’s doing it as an “indifferent”, not an “adherent”. That’s the point I’m making.

    “One of them (I forget which) had both Mark and the other for crib notes, and decided to change the story again to emphasize what he wanted to emphasize.”

    The latest scholarly consensus, a consensus coming from many who are not Christian, is that both Matthew and Luke independently use both Mark and the colloquial sayings for crib notes. That does not preclude that they each insert plenty of self-generated material of their own, but it does mean that any agreements between the two carry some weight, at least.

    “As to your questions of word choice, how can we even be sure that the words we are reading are original? There have been more alterations in the NT than words in the NT.”

    Answer: We can’t be sure. I’m just giving you a snapshot of where the general consensus as to [i]probabilities[/i] within the scholarly community stands today.

    “The main area where it comes out is during the passion. Jesus is in control at all points. He speaks confidently, he never gets perturbed. Mark’s Jesus, however, is very disturbed by the whole ordeal.”

    I’d emphatically agree. And furthermore, I’d say that I’ve always found that the Mark account rings truer to me.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • OMGF

    Correct — even though god would probably know each and every one of the conceivable choices and has probably seen the full scenario stemming from each and every one played out in detail.

    If this is the case, then god is not omniscient and there is a chance that we do have free will.

    Another thought, BTW: although I’m happy to speculate along pre-observance lines pre-creation, I still don’t see it as inherently contradictory to posit a being who cannot traverse time until s/he creates time. Now you see that as contradictory. But I simply don’t. And on that, we’ll have to agree to disagree. (And anyway, I imagine the rest of the board is heartily sick of this particular bone of contention by now:-)

    Yes, let’s move on.

    IMO, it makes less sense, not more, since it goes against the calculations that Einstein, Heisenberg and Hawking have affirmed concerning the beginning of time.

    What they calculated was that time is a meaningless concept at the singularity, due to the properties of light travel, the constriction of the four fundamental forces, etc. To an observer of the universe, however, it might not be the start of time as far as they are concerned.

    But he’s [i]bothering[/i] to relate it, and he’s doing it as an “indifferent”, not an “adherent”. That’s the point I’m making.

    He also talks about the exodus, but there’s no evidence that it ever happened. And, as an “indifferent” he simply notes the story. It’s the same as if I say that Xians believe Jesus rose from the dead. Simply because I note the story exists doesn’t mean the story is true.

    The latest scholarly consensus, a consensus coming from many who are not Christian, is that both Matthew and Luke independently use both Mark and the colloquial sayings for crib notes. That does not preclude that they each insert plenty of self-generated material of their own, but it does mean that any agreements between the two carry some weight, at least.

    I’m not sure why that would carry any weight. The stories of Jesus were probably circulating around to the point that both authors had heard the same fantastic tales. It’s not like they were actual eye-witnesses.

    Answer: We can’t be sure. I’m just giving you a snapshot of where the general consensus as to [i]probabilities[/i] within the scholarly community stands today.

    The trouble I’ve had with the scholarly community, however, is that most who study the Bible choose to do so because they want it to be true.

    I’d emphatically agree. And furthermore, I’d say that I’ve always found that the Mark account rings truer to me.

    Yeah, there’s something weird about a guy who gets tortured and acts smug through the whole thing.

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    “If this is the case, then god is not omniscient and there is a chance that we do have free will.”

    Agreed.

    “Yes, let’s move on.”

    Agreed.

    “What they calculated was that time is a meaningless concept at the singularity, due to the properties of light travel, the constriction of the four fundamental forces, etc. To an observer of the universe, however, it might not be the start of time as far as they are concerned.”

    You’ve made your point. I still don’t see the logical coherence in extending a time-curved dimension beyond the cosmos, but since we’ve already agreed to disagree on pre-creation pre-observance …….. [shrug].

    “He also talks about the exodus, but there’s no evidence that it ever happened. And, as an “indifferent” he simply notes the story. It’s the same as if I say that Xians believe Jesus rose from the dead. Simply because I note the story exists doesn’t mean the story is true.”

    When he talks about Jesus’s brother James, though — as opposed to the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifiction — it seems to me that he’s really relating something officially confirmed to him by Roman officials. At least, that’s the general impression I get. He may “note” the story of the crucifiction, but he really appears to “report” the story of James in trouble. And no hagiographical tinge surrounds the fate of James anyway. It’s hard to imagine breathless promulgators bothering Josephus over James the way they may have over Jesus. Another thing that suggests we’re dealing with a dry report as opposed to urban myth is the slightly ironic-sounding “the so-called Christ” in describing James as Jesus’s brother.

    “I’m not sure why that would carry any weight. The stories of Jesus were probably circulating around to the point that both authors had heard the same fantastic tales. It’s not like they were actual eye-witnesses.”

    What portion of the Jesus accounts from Josephus to Mark to the parallel sayings strike you as least fabricated?

    “The trouble I’ve had with the scholarly community, however, is that most who study the Bible choose to do so because they want it to be true.”

    Actually, that’s not true. Approximately half of the Jesus Seminar scholars, for instance, are not Christians at all, I believe. There is even one (don’t recall his name) who has opined how wonderful it would be if many of the claims in the Gospel were finally discredited. He may not represent the main view there, true, and half the scholars there are still approaching things as if we have an assemblage of texts that may have many unfortunate accretions but ultimately have a miraculous historical event at their core. But half the scholars aren’t.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • Matt R

    Hey G Riggs and OMGF,

    One other thing I just ran into in a conversation with someone else is interesting. Based on the Biblical view of God, it seems most likely that God does not have foreknowledge of what humans can do (strongly supported by the text, IMO) but does have foreknowledge of his own actions and therefore can create events, such as the flood, destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, sending Jesus, and things like that. I think this works quite well with a straightforward reading of the Bible.

    Thoughts?

    Matt

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    IMO, that might work well with a single universe. I’d be much interested, though, in seeing the source texts in the Bible that support that view first. I’m ready to be persuaded.

    Of course, I would also want to see some source texts bearing on that from some other canons as well, Buddhist, Confucian, and so on.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • Polly

    Hi Matt,

    An intriguing and not so unorthodox view considering how much certain parts of the Bible speak of god not knowing. God’s repentence at the flood, his testing of Job and Abraham and Adam/Eve can be interpreted as “real” testing and not just putting on a show. It’s only the orthodox interpretation that says god MUST know all about what we’re going to do.
    OTOH, there are plenty of verses that show he DOES claim to know what people will do and choose. The favorite pro-life verse about god having marked out the days of the prophet’s life, indicates that god knows the choices that prophet will make. There’s a passage in the NT that says that all along god knew who would come to him. I wish I remembered where that was. And the concept of heaven seems to be based on knowing what “perfected” people will do forever, or what they won’t do ever again – sin.

    It’s a mixed bag – like so many concepts in the bible. Different writers definitely had different ideas about god. In fact, I’d venture to say that you could create several distinct religions out of the Bible by cutting and pasting, including one without an afterlife of any kind. Doesn’t bother me, of course. But, for someone trying to figure out where the “real” god is in all that? It’s an impossible task, IMO. (and not just because I don’t think there is one)

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    Couldn’t agree more with Polly. Essentially, there are an extremely tiny number of texts that I take as bringing one at all close to the essence of deity, both inside and outside the Bible, and plenty that I don’t so take that are also part of the Bible. I freely concede that this entails placing most old texts in a given canon on a grid pattern: some come closer to reflecting a direct experience of deity, others are farther. And the whopping majority of texts in any religious canon you could name are on the outskirts of that “grid”, not even in the inner half of it, let alone near the center (IMO).

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • OMGF

    G Riggs,

    You’ve made your point.

    I have this nagging suspicion that I haven’t really explained it well enough for you to really get what I’m saying, but we can agree to disagree.

    When he talks about Jesus’s brother James, though — as opposed to the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifiction — it seems to me that he’s really relating something officially confirmed to him by Roman officials. At least, that’s the general impression I get.

    I get a different impression. I can see why he might want to point out that Jesus had a brother, however, since he was a pagan and Jesus was an only child to some Xians. He may have latched onto that “factoid” for that reason.

    What portion of the Jesus accounts from Josephus to Mark to the parallel sayings strike you as least fabricated?

    Least fabricated? That’s a tough question. I have serious doubts about the historicity of Jesus and the apostles. I have serious doubts about the sayings attributed to Jesus as well. I think the accounts are purely fabricated in the same way that most other myths were.

    Actually, that’s not true. Approximately half of the Jesus Seminar scholars, for instance, are not Christians at all, I believe.

    Perhaps you could expand my reading list if you can remember some authors’ names?

    A big problem I have with Biblical study is that a lot of people look at the historical recordings – like the ones about such-and-such city – find that the author faithfully recorded that historical piece, then jump to the conclusion that the records of people/events must similarly be accurate. Interestingly though, there are schools of thought that place Jesus at much earlier time periods than he supposedly lived and others that extend his lifetime by 30 or 40 years. Have you come across any of those?

  • OMGF

    Matt R,

    Based on the Biblical view of God, it seems most likely that God does not have foreknowledge of what humans can do (strongly supported by the text, IMO) but does have foreknowledge of his own actions and therefore can create events, such as the flood, destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, sending Jesus, and things like that. I think this works quite well with a straightforward reading of the Bible.

    That would be a rather odd thing. He would foreknow that he would destroy the world, but not why?

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    “I have serious doubts about the sayings attributed to Jesus as well.”

    I’m away on vacation now. So I’m not sure if I can address most of your newest until next week at the earliest. But this remark especially intrigued me. The sayings of Jesus that appear (acc. to the latest [sometimes] non-Christian scholarship) to be traceable furthest back (with confirmations in the noncanonical Thomas Gospel, in the “Q” passages, and so on) include rather pathbreaking statements like the exalting of the children as being closest to God(!), the “Love your enemies” thingie, the greatest being those who serve(!), those who let go of their life having the most fulfilling life of all, etc.. These have all become cliche today, but in the 1st century C.E., they were truly radical and unprecedented. Where would you guess these sentiments really came from if not Jesus? And could they have come from more than one individual? This is not some “gotcha” question. I’m honestly curious how such radical sentiments like this could have passed muster at that time, abesent their coming from some particular individual who had a gutsiness above the common herd.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • OMGF

    I don’t think that all of them were radical at all. Some of them seem to have come from a hyper-strict reading of the Jewish laws of the OT. Either way, I think that the ones that really were forward-thinking came about more as a cultural evolution. Perhaps one man or a group of people came up with these sound bytes. Perhaps one man heard them and expanded on them. There’s no reason that one man has to be Jesus, however.

    Have a great vacation (I’m envious because I could sure use one myself.)

  • OMGF

    I don’t think that all of them were radical at all. Some of them seem to have come from a hyper-strict reading of the Jewish laws of the OT. Either way, I think that the ones that really were forward-thinking came about more as a cultural evolution. Perhaps one man or a group of people came up with these sound bytes. Perhaps one man heard them and expanded on them. There’s no reason that one man has to be Jesus, however.

    Have a great vacation (I’m envious because I could sure use one myself.)

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    I agree that the ones that were “forward-thinking” constitute a true cultural evolution. You say it might have been one man or a group. Candidly, I don’t so much care if that one man’s name was Jesus or John Doe. I’d still say that whoever that one individual was, he broke a critical logjam in humanity’s treatment of the socially despised (despised for whatever reason, national (“enemies”), ethnic (“Samaritan”), economic (“poor”)). No, he obviously did not remove the mistreatment of same(!), but he made it more socially necessary for those endeavoring to mistreat same to get tied up in knots rationalizing the mistreatment;-). And ultimately, I find that onus more good than bad.

    Which aspects of the package do you find more forward-thinking for that time?

    Cheers,

    Synthesis

  • OMGF

    I agree that the ones that were “forward-thinking” constitute a true cultural evolution. You say it might have been one man or a group. Candidly, I don’t so much care if that one man’s name was Jesus or John Doe. I’d still say that whoever that one individual was, he broke a critical logjam in humanity’s treatment of the socially despised (despised for whatever reason, national (“enemies”), ethnic (“Samaritan”), economic (“poor”)).

    I don’t think you caught my meaning. I didn’t mean that there was some sort of breakthrough. I meant that this man or group of men were merely expressing the changing cultural mores of the time as their culture evolved. Don’t think punk eek in this case, think gradualism.

    Which aspects of the package do you find more forward-thinking for that time?

    Honestly, I don’t know. I was speaking generally, without anything specific in mind.

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    O.K. [shrug]

    Cheers,

    G. Riggs

  • http://www.operacast.com G Riggs

    I’ve been reading about some of the discoveries made in the wake of the Hubble telescope findings, and it’s occurred to me that perhaps we might have to revisit our conclusions (some of them) with respect to the workings of a hypothetical dimension wherein access to time past/time present/time future would be simultaneous.

    Now, a fundamental assumption behind much of the thinking found in Hawking and elsewhere involves a Big Bang that is complemented by a Big Crunch, the idea being that both time and space partake of this expansion pattern that reaches a peak in size and history and then retracts back on itself (the Big Crunch). Hawking cites the analogy of a South Pole and a North Pole to all of space, and suggests that it might be useful to conceive of the full expanse of time in a similar way (let’s say the North Pole of time might be the Big Bang and its South Pole the Big Crunch). Most of this presupposes the inevitability of the rate of expansion of the cosmos eventually slowing down to a stop, followed by contraction. Thus, in a multidimensional time dimension, one might access both the beginning of time, its “North Pole”, and its end, its “South Pole”. Naturally, within such a construct, as the magnitude of the expansion would come closer to its peak, the actual rate of expansion would slow down. Similarly, the closer the contraction came to a singularity, the more rushed would be the rate of contraction.

    Well …………… the findings of the Hubble telescope strongly suggest — for now — that as the magnitude of the cosmos’s expansion grows ever greater, the rate of expansion is actually getting quicker instead! This contradicts all known models generated in the “lab” so far! Could the Hubble telescope findings be wrong or possibly misunderstood? Right now, it makes no sense for the cosmos to be undergoing accelerated expansion at this advanced point in its odyssey. But if that’s really what’s happenining, what might that do the Big Crunch? There are some who are now speculating that the Big Crunch might be a chimera, that it will never happen, expansion being infinite and infinitely accelerating.

    If that is the case, what happens to time’s “South Pole”? It’s one thing to posit the viewing of all time, from its infant “North Pole” to its concluding “South Pole”, as accessible in a multidimensional “outlook”. But how can one even orient a multideminensional access to all time at all, in the absense of an end, a “South Pole”? Could it be that, in the absence of a Big Crunch — i.e., a South Pole to time — a multidimensional access to all time(s) is thus as much a chimera as the Big Crunch itself. Hence, maybe any number of extra dimensions may be fully as trapped inside linear time as any humble mortal is. And if that is the case, no matter an omniscient (or almost omniscient) being’s access to extra dimensions we can’t reach, any hope at viewing all of the future in a time-curved dimension may be dashed completely — for any entity of whatever awesome powers.

    Surprisingly, no one has yet asked Hawking (SFAIK) what the time implications may be for the possible debunking of the Big Crunch — and hence, time’s “South Pole” — thanks to the Hubble telescope findings.

    Cheers,

    G Riggs

  • Yoyo

    An interesting theory, along the lines that suffering refines our souls and teaches us “important” lessons. Unfortunately it really doesnt mesh with the whole omnipotent bit. oh well!

  • Victor

    Could it be that we have just been indoctrinated by some half brained nit wits who have little understanding of scripture. They go pushing the assumptions as though they facts. The secret is that God and his angels can never be seperated and the devil and his angels are really only evil human being that have been using the bible to justify their evil inclinations and for the looting of the ignorant. The devil is only the the devil’s excuse. HThe problem is that assumptions have been taught as facts.

    1 Lucifer is not Satan
    2 The king of Tyre is not Satan
    3 The sons of God of Genesis 6 are not fallen angels
    4 God’s angels cannot be separated from God
    5 The devil and his angel’s are evil human beings called kenites
    6 There are 2 different kinds of satans in the bible. One is God’s prosecuting angel and the other are accusers of Israel.
    7 The letter of Jude and the Letter of 2nd Peter do not confirm that the are fallen angels but are speaking to people who were already discussing the book of enoch which is a ignorant interpretation of Genesis 6.
    8 The Sons of God can refer to an angel or us but is never used in a negative way. Son of God means one with God.

  • Alex Weaver

    Victor:

    Evidence plz.

  • Juanita

    Let’s see now, if God created angels first and threw them that followed Satan, down to earth, then earth must be some kind of punishment for those born HERE on earth. We are indeed NOT born equal, some are born deformed mentally or physically and suffer years of un-necessary pain for what reason? If the angels had “free will” and chose to follow Satan then they must have had different personalities with which to entertain one another. So why put humans on earth to suffer atrocities in order to influence us to “want” Him? Why not put us up there with the angels and banish us ONLY if we fell to evil? The suffering on earth is simply unacceptable. God can part the sea to save certain people (he chose) then he can knock the fool in the head that is raping an innocent baby and the parent who abuses HIS innocent baby. He can stop the train that is about to run over an unsuspecting soul, which would save that persons suffering. If he can create miracles (like sea parting) then He DOES have control here on Earth as to what happens to us. Let me tease an innocent with torture until it cannot endure anymore than promise peace and comfort if it endure it to my liking. We do not GET a choice as to the parents we are assigned to, we are at a disadvantage from the beginning if we have drug-heads, drunks or abusers as parents. We have no chance to go toward the “right way” if we were born in hell to begin with. If I have to torture someone just to see if they love me when I quit and give them candy instead, I must be truly WARPED!! You want my devotion, then you prove you deserve it, not hide out and watch me suffer from the sidelines and make me watch horrible things happen to others that you can obviously stop if you wanted to.

  • Juanita

    Let’s see now, if God created angels first and threw them that followed Satan, down to earth, then earth must be some kind of punishment for those born HERE on earth. We are indeed NOT born equal, some are born deformed mentally or physically and suffer years of un-necessary pain for what reason? If the angels had “free will” and chose to follow Satan then they must have had different personalities with which to entertain one another. So why put humans on earth to suffer atrocities in order to influence us to “want” Him? Why not put us up there with the angels and banish us ONLY if we fell to evil? The suffering on earth is simply unacceptable. God can part the sea to save certain people (he chose) then he can knock the fool in the head that is raping an innocent baby and the parent who abuses HIS innocent baby. He can stop the train that is about to run over an unsuspecting soul, which would save that persons suffering. If he can create miracles (like sea parting) then He DOES have control here on Earth as to what happens to us. Let me tease an innocent with torture until it cannot endure anymore than promise peace and comfort if it endure it to my liking. We do not GET a choice as to the parents we are assigned to, we are at a disadvantage from the beginning if we have drug-heads, drunks or abusers as parents. We have no chance to go toward the “right way” if we were born in hell to begin with. If I have to torture someone just to see if they love me when I quit and give them candy instead, I must be truly WARPED!! You want my devotion, then you prove you deserve it, not hide out and watch me suffer from the sidelines and make me watch horrible things happen to others that you can obviously stop if you wanted to.

  • Mike

    God has not told us why He allows Satan to live. It appears that God allows every creature that He has created to live eternally. The real question is, “Why does God allow Satan to roam the earth and cause trouble?” God has not shared the answer to that question either. We do not need Satan to sin. He is not the cause of sin. He tempts us to sin, but God tells us that we do a great job of sinning all on our own. In the book of James, the Holy Spirit says,
    But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. (NASB) James 1:14-15

    We are responsible for our own sin. We sin after we think about it and then decide it is a good idea. Satan is never blamed for our sin. Does that mean that Adam and Eve would have sinned without Satan? We do not know.

    At the end of the age, God will defeat Satan at Armageddon. He will be thrown into the abyss which will be shut and sealed. He will be locked up. God will set up His 1,000 year kingdom and after that He will release Satan again. In fact, scripture says that God must release Satan for a short time (Rev. 16:16; 19:11-20:3),

    . . .and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. (NASB) Revelation 20:3

    Satan will be released in Revelation 20:7-10 and then defeated once more before his final and eternal sentence to the Lake of Fire. Why did God do that? We can only guess. It is possible that God wants to show the fallen angels (demons) and the human race, that even after they have experienced the holiness of God, they will choose sin and rebel when given the opportunity. God will be justified in sentencing them to eternal punishment. It will show the sinfulness of man and the holiness of God. This is the nature of man. We are evil creatures at heart without the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

    So, why did God allow Satan to live? We do not know, but we can rejoice that by trusting in Jesus for the forgiveness of or sins, we can live in holiness someday with Him – away from the evil of this world and eternal punishment.

  • Mike

    God has not told us why He allows Satan to live. It appears that God allows every creature that He has created to live eternally. The real question is, “Why does God allow Satan to roam the earth and cause trouble?” God has not shared the answer to that question either. We do not need Satan to sin. He is not the cause of sin. He tempts us to sin, but God tells us that we do a great job of sinning all on our own. In the book of James, the Holy Spirit says,
    But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. (NASB) James 1:14-15

    We are responsible for our own sin. We sin after we think about it and then decide it is a good idea. Satan is never blamed for our sin. Does that mean that Adam and Eve would have sinned without Satan? We do not know.

    At the end of the age, God will defeat Satan at Armageddon. He will be thrown into the abyss which will be shut and sealed. He will be locked up. God will set up His 1,000 year kingdom and after that He will release Satan again. In fact, scripture says that God must release Satan for a short time (Rev. 16:16; 19:11-20:3),

    . . .and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. (NASB) Revelation 20:3

    Satan will be released in Revelation 20:7-10 and then defeated once more before his final and eternal sentence to the Lake of Fire. Why did God do that? We can only guess. It is possible that God wants to show the fallen angels (demons) and the human race, that even after they have experienced the holiness of God, they will choose sin and rebel when given the opportunity. God will be justified in sentencing them to eternal punishment. It will show the sinfulness of man and the holiness of God. This is the nature of man. We are evil creatures at heart without the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

    So, why did God allow Satan to live? We do not know, but we can rejoice that by trusting in Jesus for the forgiveness of or sins, we can live in holiness someday with Him – away from the evil of this world and eternal punishment.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    It appears that God allows every creature that He has created to live eternally.

    Even snails, e-coli bacteria, mushrooms, etc? That’s a new one.

    In fact, scripture says that God must release Satan for a short time (Rev. 16:16; 19:11-20:3)

    Oh, he must? Why is that? Let me guess, you don’t know, you just know that an omni-max being must release evil upon the world for some reason.

    So, why did God allow Satan to live? We do not know…

    So, you can’t assume that it’s a good reason, can you? Perhaps god is a right bastard that wants more people to go to hell and Satan is his pawn in that game.

    We are evil creatures at heart without the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

    …but we can rejoice that by trusting in Jesus for the forgiveness of or sins, we can live in holiness someday with Him – away from the evil of this world and eternal punishment.

    Provided that god (the holy spirit) comes down and graces us, which seems to be his perogative, doesn’t it? So, he unleashes Satan to make as many people stray as possible, then only give absolution to his select few, and this is seen as good?

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    It appears that God allows every creature that He has created to live eternally.

    Even snails, e-coli bacteria, mushrooms, etc? That’s a new one.

    In fact, scripture says that God must release Satan for a short time (Rev. 16:16; 19:11-20:3)

    Oh, he must? Why is that? Let me guess, you don’t know, you just know that an omni-max being must release evil upon the world for some reason.

    So, why did God allow Satan to live? We do not know…

    So, you can’t assume that it’s a good reason, can you? Perhaps god is a right bastard that wants more people to go to hell and Satan is his pawn in that game.

    We are evil creatures at heart without the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.

    …but we can rejoice that by trusting in Jesus for the forgiveness of or sins, we can live in holiness someday with Him – away from the evil of this world and eternal punishment.

    Provided that god (the holy spirit) comes down and graces us, which seems to be his perogative, doesn’t it? So, he unleashes Satan to make as many people stray as possible, then only give absolution to his select few, and this is seen as good?

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    God has not told us why He allows Satan to live… The real question is, “Why does God allow Satan to roam the earth and cause trouble?” God has not shared the answer to that question… We do not know… Why did God do that? We can only guess… So, why did God allow Satan to live? We do not know…

    And thus the drive-by Christian proselytizer confirms every argument made in this post.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    God has not told us why He allows Satan to live… The real question is, “Why does God allow Satan to roam the earth and cause trouble?” God has not shared the answer to that question… We do not know… Why did God do that? We can only guess… So, why did God allow Satan to live? We do not know…

    And thus the drive-by Christian proselytizer confirms every argument made in this post.

  • draven336

    this subject has been bothering me from ever since i was a child, i keep wondering how god puts up with hearing men planning to rape, murder, steal, go to war and the tons of other ruthless things that men do?? and then it occurred to me maybe we are his entertainment u know his big screen tv with pure action movies all day. but seriously their is a problem with god or the king james version, the bible said that god repented that he had made men. now surely with him being omnipotent omniscient and omnipresent he knows all things, so its safe to say he knew men would become wicked. next thing after he decided to send the flood when the waters dried up and bodies started to smell he complained how he couldnt take the scent of the bones???? didnt he know this?? or his he going through a learning process with each new thing that he does?. the other thing couldnt he find something else to do with the devil? why does he feel the need to show off? he is already the most powerful entity in the entire universe, so why does he feel the need to have beef with the devil? the devil cant be gods enemy!!! no time at all!! gods enemy would have to come from another god who created another universe somewhere out there. so why is such a big deal being made over his own puny creation? people are afraid to say it but all this fiasco is gods own fault not any of us here on earth! we were not present when he couldnt control the devil and end up having to fight with him. so with everything going on on earth the devil isnt to be blamed only, as far as i can see it was poor housekeeping and bad management that led to the devil stepping out of line and causing widespread destruction and famine and pestilence for us here on earth, this problem should have been fixed without having to drag us into it. if we were create perfect in his own image and he felt good about us then he doesnt need to test us we are perfect. and how did the devil manage to get jealous of god? where did that come from? is it that he wasnt made perfect after all? lets face it he must have been defective or god didnt do a good job. so i dont get the casting him down here and then saying woe be unto us part? what did we do to deserve this? isnt that wicked man?. god made it clear that he is a no respector of persons so that in itself tells me alot, next up when jesus walked the earth he is always stressing that we shouldnt believe everything we hear and see in that if someone came and said to me jesus is there! or god is here! we should be doubtful of that info and question it and not just take it as is, so why is it that when thomas didnt believe that he rose from the dead just because his associates said so and demanded solid proof he was treated like a non believer in christ? and u want to tell me that there isnt a book of thomas just like mathew, mark, luke etc. god had to shorten the days and we can see it and some of us know why its because according to the bible “satan would decieve the very elect themselves” so in other words satan is extremely powerful so much so that god had to do something else or else no one at all would see the light of day as far as heaven is concerned. and rightly so too the only thing lucifer cant do is blow breathe so other than that he is a mathematician he is a biologist he is a scientist he is a physicist an astronomer u name it. so tell me well thinking people what chance u think we stand against such an emmensely well educated spiritual being? and i learned also my way that its only through hard work that i would ever achieve anything so guess what, anything i want i work towards it and i get it and i prefer this to praying because i have yet to receive a single thing that i ever prayed for. something is wrong the truth is being obscured and hidden from us and i believe that we are going to have real serious problems because of this, like thomas im being doubtful regardless of the consequences i dont trust the teachings i received as a child and i dont trust the book they taught me from i got baptized in a methodist church so i still like to think that im a christian im just really confused right now.

  • draven336

    this subject has been bothering me from ever since i was a child, i keep wondering how god puts up with hearing men planning to rape, murder, steal, go to war and the tons of other ruthless things that men do?? and then it occurred to me maybe we are his entertainment u know his big screen tv with pure action movies all day. but seriously their is a problem with god or the king james version, the bible said that god repented that he had made men. now surely with him being omnipotent omniscient and omnipresent he knows all things, so its safe to say he knew men would become wicked. next thing after he decided to send the flood when the waters dried up and bodies started to smell he complained how he couldnt take the scent of the bones???? didnt he know this?? or his he going through a learning process with each new thing that he does?. the other thing couldnt he find something else to do with the devil? why does he feel the need to show off? he is already the most powerful entity in the entire universe, so why does he feel the need to have beef with the devil? the devil cant be gods enemy!!! no time at all!! gods enemy would have to come from another god who created another universe somewhere out there. so why is such a big deal being made over his own puny creation? people are afraid to say it but all this fiasco is gods own fault not any of us here on earth! we were not present when he couldnt control the devil and end up having to fight with him. so with everything going on on earth the devil isnt to be blamed only, as far as i can see it was poor housekeeping and bad management that led to the devil stepping out of line and causing widespread destruction and famine and pestilence for us here on earth, this problem should have been fixed without having to drag us into it. if we were create perfect in his own image and he felt good about us then he doesnt need to test us we are perfect. and how did the devil manage to get jealous of god? where did that come from? is it that he wasnt made perfect after all? lets face it he must have been defective or god didnt do a good job. so i dont get the casting him down here and then saying woe be unto us part? what did we do to deserve this? isnt that wicked man?. god made it clear that he is a no respector of persons so that in itself tells me alot, next up when jesus walked the earth he is always stressing that we shouldnt believe everything we hear and see in that if someone came and said to me jesus is there! or god is here! we should be doubtful of that info and question it and not just take it as is, so why is it that when thomas didnt believe that he rose from the dead just because his associates said so and demanded solid proof he was treated like a non believer in christ? and u want to tell me that there isnt a book of thomas just like mathew, mark, luke etc. god had to shorten the days and we can see it and some of us know why its because according to the bible “satan would decieve the very elect themselves” so in other words satan is extremely powerful so much so that god had to do something else or else no one at all would see the light of day as far as heaven is concerned. and rightly so too the only thing lucifer cant do is blow breathe so other than that he is a mathematician he is a biologist he is a scientist he is a physicist an astronomer u name it. so tell me well thinking people what chance u think we stand against such an emmensely well educated spiritual being? and i learned also my way that its only through hard work that i would ever achieve anything so guess what, anything i want i work towards it and i get it and i prefer this to praying because i have yet to receive a single thing that i ever prayed for. something is wrong the truth is being obscured and hidden from us and i believe that we are going to have real serious problems because of this, like thomas im being doubtful regardless of the consequences i dont trust the teachings i received as a child and i dont trust the book they taught me from i got baptized in a methodist church so i still like to think that im a christian im just really confused right now.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    Hi draven,

    These are all excellent questions. You may be interested in this essay of mine:

    http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/screwup.html