Friday, February 22, 2008

The kid's probably sorry he asked . . .

I’ve been going back and forth with Christians for quite some time now about this free will thing. I say a deity who gives humans free will and then punishes them for using it makes humans mere slaves to this god (and makes this god nothing more than a big dick). Many Christians are quite imaginative when it comes to making up little stories and scenerios when they are put on the spot and don’t have answers. They just invent the answers which are anything from amusing, to ridiculous, to utterly absurd.

I was surfing the net on the topic of free will and came across this site where Christians can write in questions they want answered. A mother wrote and asked, “My son wants me to explain to him how the bible says we have free will but if God already knows the choices we will make then this is not free will. I don’t know how to answer this.”

First of all, I would sarcastically ask, “why don’t you ask your god to explain it to you?” But we all know why she doesn’t…she would hear nothing but white noise. Do these people go seek answers to these questions themselves? Do they stop to really think about the question the child is asking? No intellectual pondering, no questioning, just follow like sheeple and when they don’t know something they go to the shepherds who will show them how to brainwash their young lambs.

Here is Timothy James O’Hearn’s of Riverside Church of Christ in Albuquerque NM response to this woman:

This can be a difficult question to answer. Does the fact that God knows something will happen/has happened cause it to happen? Can we change what God knows? I can understand your difficulty.

One possible way of explaining it, if your son is of an age to know computers (and what child isn’t these days) relates to memory. A computer stores input. That input is knowledge. At any given time a computer knows a lot of things. If it is a computer used for inventory for a business one of the things is may know is that Company A has a standing order for 1,500 units of a certain item. Company A decides that they want to increase their order to 2,000 units. They make the choice (free will) to change their order. Now the computer knows that Company A has a standing order for 2,000 units. Depending on its programming it may also know that the order has changed, and what the old order was. Free will has changed the knowledge in the computer.

This is not a perfect example, of course. God’s knowledge is more complex than any computer. However, it gives some idea of how free will affects God’s knowledge. What we choose affects what God knows. He may know equally well how things would have occurred if we had made a different choice.

Interestingly, the same example can be used to show God’s forgiveness. He knows all about our sin. Nevertheless, when we are buried and begin our new life, God hits the delete button and runs a “clean sweep” program to totally and irrevocably remove that sin from his memory banks.

The boy will probably think it will be better to just keep his mouth shut and stop asking questions.

10 comments:

Spirula said...

Or, when he grows up, he'll realize just how full of shit his mom and the minister were.

It worked for me.

"Heaven...heaven is a place...a place where nothing ever really happens."
David Byrne

Joe said...

Free Will is one of the more laughable Christian scams. When God controls every part of your decision making process, from what you've expierenced to make up your history to how your though process works to come to a "free will" decision, how can there be any wiggle room for "free will?" God already knows every decision you have make, are making now and will ever make, so where's the "free" in "free will?" What a joke.

Jason H. Bowden said...

I'm not convinced there is a contradiction between God's omniscience and human free will.

Many atheists and many of the fundamentalists postulate that God exists temporally like an invisible friend. However, God is classically conceived as essentially beyond space-time-- if anything, God has been understood as the metaphysical ground of space-time and is not contained within it. To be fair, looking at the matter in terms of before-and-after is already misguided from a cosmological standpoint.

Knowing that someone else made a choice within a slice of spacetime does not mean that this knowledge determines it. For example, I know that Caesar decided to cross the Rubicon in 49BC. But my knowledge of this choice does not determine it.

I am not arguing the truth of any conclusion here. Rather, my focus is on the validity of the argument presented. It is important that conclusions follow from their premises.

Stardust said...

jhbowden, my point was that there is only one choice according to the Christian religion that we can make without being eternally punished. Therefore, to be "saved" you must make the "right" choices. If you choose what god does not want, you are condemned...and that is not free will.

Jason H. Bowden said...

"If you choose what god does not want, you are condemned...and that is not free will."

We can be punished in the United States by the state for fraud for example, like Barack Hussein Obama's Chicago slumlord friend Tony Rezko. Just because you can be punished doesn't not entail that you do not have choice. If anything, punishment entails that we do have choice, since there is no sense in punishing something that does not have agency, like a stone or a tree.

The more interesting question is concerning God's sovereignty or providence and free will. Most religions tend to be cyclical, like Hinduism or the ancient Egyptian religion. The Abrahamic religions see God not only as transcendent, but as immanent within history-- in other words, history isn't seen as circular, but linear. Even the political term "progressive" in America has its roots in Christianity, and it isn't an accident that early progressives like Woodrow Wilson and William Jennings Bryan (your friend from the Scopes trial) were also big-time Churchies.

The bottom line-- if history unfolds according to a plan, where does that leave individual agency? That is a more difficult question, and I believe even intelligent Christians would find it difficult to give a satisfactory answer.

Stardust said...

The bottom line-- if history unfolds according to a plan, where does that leave individual agency? That is a more difficult question, and I believe even intelligent Christians would find it difficult to give a satisfactory answer.

I would love to hear a Christian attempt to answer that one.

Jeffy said...

I agree partly with Joe. Christians make no sense, on one hand they say you have free will, and on the other they say things like "it was God's will" and "Satan made me do it! forgive me plz0rz"
I think it's more of a mix. We are all influenced by our past experiences and our environment, but only the strong willed can actually break through that and make real conscious decisions... only when you are aware of everything you do and know yourself can you make real genuine decisions. Most people act like robots... for they are weak!
Now, let us bow our heads in talking to ourselves so that I can win the next mega millions jackpot and be corrupted by money!

Stardust said...

I agree partly with Joe. Christians make no sense, on one hand they say you have free will, and on the other they say things like "it was God's will" and "Satan made me do it!

That's a good point that Joe made. They say we have free will, but also that god is a puppetmaster controlling everything from saving puppy dogs caught in sewers (or letting them drown there), to saving some select people from natural disaster.

About this free will and punishment thing. If we break a law in society then punishment is justified. But if we are supposed to believe in something and don't because we do not see the evidence to believe, how is that a crime? We simply cannot believe. It's not a matter of "choosing" not to believe. We cannot flick faith on and off like a light switch.

Greg said...

I said this before in another post but I think it works here too. If this gawd creature is omnipotent and knows everything - yada yada yada - then why the hell would he put that dang-gone "tree of knowledge" there in the fictional "Eden" in the first place?

IF this fictional gawd character does exist, and of course I don't believe it, then it just shows he/she/it is a bastard! Hesheit gives us free will, and makes us pay for it, just like hesheit KNEW would happen.

Amazing what people will believe in!

Tommy said...

I look at it this way, when you consider how small we are in this vast universe, the idea that some immensely powerful being takes even a remote interest in our affairs is utterly absurd.

I don't buy into the idea of free will either. We are all shaped by forces in our life beyond our control, genetic, cultural, environmental and so forth. We end up being programmed to react in certain ways.

Of course, it does not mean that we are incapable of overcoming our programming in some situations.

But when it comes to people like my brother Bobby, who Star has read about on my blog, his behavior and actions are eminently predictable. Sure, he could exercise free will and decide not to abuse alcohol, manage his finances responsibly, and not be a parasite. But it is my experience that his brain is wired in such a way that to be sober and responsible is simply alien to his nature. He does not know how. In the end, it is easier for him to try to charm a gullible woman who will let him move in with him. Bobby cannot exercise free will because he can't help being what he is, a parasite.