1. Hmmm . . .
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    17 Aug '15 20:106 edits
    Is it only me, or is the “free will” argument put forth by some Christians—i.e., that “free will” is necessary for love, that God (preeminently) values or respects our “free will” (even if that means our ultimate condemnation), etc.—just a really bad argument?

    First off, those who make that argument seem to hold to a particularly strong notion of free-will—generally, a libertarian notion—but without ever (or at least seldom) defining that explicitly. But libertarian free-will has been demonstrated on here numerous times to be either internally contradictory or reducing to randomness.

    Second, as vivify pointed out most recently, the biblical stories pretty much show that God is not such a respecter of our “free will”.

    Whodey (not to pick on him, but I thought that he was at least willing to take his arguments to their logical conclusion), after proposing that love requires free will, recently said this:

    I don't view coercion and simply appealing to ones better senses as the same thing. However, sometimes neither work. What then? If one or the other works 100% of the time, is there really free will? (My italics)

    I have severely short-cut the context here. In context, if God somehow convinces everyone, by appealing to their “better senses”, to accept God’s salvation—then did they (we) really have “free will”?

    My response (in relevant part) was this:

    Obviously, I don’t think the kind of “free will” you seem to be referring to exists at all. And, as I said before, so-called “libertarian free will” is either internally contradictory or reduces to randomness.

    All of our choices are conditional choices—conditioned by such things as our view of the circumstances, our ability to process information, our education and knowledge, our cultural condition, etc. The fact that our choices are conditional means that we can change with new information, understanding, ability, etc.


    By “change”, I mean that we can try to change course with new decisions—not that we can go back and change former decisions.

    The underlying questions, in terms of Christian soteriology, are: (1) What degree of information, ability to process that information, education and knowledge, etc., etc. is sufficient for a loving and/or just God to declare that whatever decisions we have now made are final? And: (2) Does the “free-will” argument make any sense at all?

    NOTE: I intend all of this within a Christic context, and—while welcoming the insights of all—would ask that that context not be hijacked. Of course, any logical/philosophical viewpoints on so-called “free will” are welcome—regardless of theist, atheist, whatever, views of the poster.
  2. Standard membervivify
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    17 Aug '15 20:233 edits
    People overthink the idea of free will. Any decision made without being forced to the brink of being left little to no choice, is a free will decision.
  3. Standard memberchaney3
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    17 Aug '15 20:441 edit
    Does the free will of humans override God's will? Does our God already know what we will choose to do with our free will, and let it unfold?

    If Adolph Hitler had free will....then surely God could have overridden it...but, did not. Why?

    Edit: I believe my point is that if God allowed Hitler and the Third Reich to do what it did, then it must somehow align to a plan that God has. As awful as these things appear to us, it was part of a plan. We will not know the answers to these troubling questions until the afterlife.
  4. Standard memberKellyJay
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    17 Aug '15 21:49
    Originally posted by chaney3
    Does the free will of humans override God's will? Does our God already know what we will choose to do with our free will, and let it unfold?

    If Adolph Hitler had free will....then surely God could have overridden it...but, did not. Why?

    Edit: I believe my point is that if God allowed Hitler and the Third Reich to do what it did, then it must somehow ...[text shortened]... part of a plan. We will not know the answers to these troubling questions until the afterlife.
    Matthew 23:37
    “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

    That was Jesus speaking...Yes, he lets us choose our own paths, where we are willing
    and where we are not.
  5. Territories Unknown
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    17 Aug '15 22:19
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Is it only me, or is the “free will” argument put forth by some Christians—i.e., that “free will” is necessary for love, that God (preeminently) values or respects our “free will” (even if that means our ultimate condemnation), etc.—just a really bad argument?

    First off, those who make that argument seem to hold to a particularly strong notion of f ...[text shortened]... so-called “free will” are welcome—regardless of theist, atheist, whatever, views of the poster.
    You're overlooking magic.
  6. Hmmm . . .
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    18 Aug '15 20:42
    Originally posted by FreakyKBH
    You're overlooking magic.
    Apparently I am. 🙂
  7. Standard memberSoothfast
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    18 Aug '15 21:57
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Is it only me, or is the “free will” argument put forth by some Christians—i.e., that “free will” is necessary for love, that God (preeminently) values or respects our “free will” (even if that means our ultimate condemnation), etc.—just a really bad argument?

    First off, those who make that argument seem to hold to a particularly strong notion of f ...[text shortened]... so-called “free will” are welcome—regardless of theist, atheist, whatever, views of the poster.
    The Christian god, as the story goes, created the physical universe, and then created mankind. Clearly, if the "initial conditions" of the physical universe at the time of mankind's creation determine all physical processes and events thereafter (including thoughts and decisions), then we each have no freewill since we each are beholden to the disposition of our physical environment at the time of our birth. So it is with a deterministic universe.

    But, as the story goes, the Christian god meddles with the physical universe now and again. The deism fashionable amongst many of the "founding fathers" of the US is out, and an "activist" god is in. Does that allow for freewill in an otherwise deterministic universe? Not really, since now we are each fully predetermined by natural processes intermixed with some supernatural ones -- both beyond our control.

    So what about a nondeterministic universe? This might be a universe in which everything is ultimately unpredictable according to the usual scientific reckonings, but predictable (i.e. deterministic) from the point of view of a god who knows everything (or at least knows enough). Or it might be a universe absolutely no one -- mortal or otherwise -- can predict, which subsequently leaves any self-styled gods lying about little latitude to be the omnipotent Christian god as it is usually conceived today.

    It would seem to me that meaningful freewill cannot coexist with the modern Christian god. Possibly the only way we can have freewill, I think, is to put ourselves in a "many-worlds" multiverse wherein every thought and action that we could possibly carry out in life is in fact carried out in a universe of its own. One might say that cheapens the significance of our decisions, however: to always choose "all of the above" rather than between right and wrong. But what other choice is there? Concepts of right and wrong themselves have a wide margin of error.
  8. Hmmm . . .
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    18 Aug '15 23:02
    Originally posted by Soothfast
    The Christian god, as the story goes, created the physical universe, and then created mankind. Clearly, if the "initial conditions" of the physical universe at the time of mankind's creation determine all physical processes and events thereafter (including thoughts and decisions), then we each have no freewill since we each are beholden to the disposition ...[text shortened]... what other choice is there? Concepts of right and wrong themselves have a wide margin of error.
    Clearly, if the "initial conditions" of the physical universe at the time of mankind's creation determine all physical processes and events thereafter (including thoughts and decisions), then we each have no freewill since we each are beholden to the disposition of our physical environment at the time of our birth. So it is with a deterministic universe.

    Agreed. But, under a “soft determinism” (if that’s the right term), wouldn’t it be the range of possibilities that is initially determined, without a wholesale determinism of all future events—and thought and actions? And, since it is thoughts and actions that are at issue here, that would mean that we are faced with a range of possibilities and a range of reasons to consider in making decisions. (All of that is conditioned—and still undermines any libertarian “free will”. )

    [Note: In economics, we learned to think in terms of “constrained choice”. Our choices are constrained by the initial conditions and subsequent range of possibilities we face, as well as endogenous factors such as our education and ability to reason.]

    The thing is, the “delusion of choice”—if that’s what it is—becomes complete (and, as it were, “hermetically sealed” ) under strict determinism, since it includes the fact that we are determined to feel that we are making choices (as part of the make-up of our consciousness). Including, for example, the choices we make to write these sentences the way we do here and now. In the end, the person who argues for libertarian free will is as determined to do so as you are to argue the counter-position. No one is “wrong-headed” or perverse in the positions they take. I haven’t thought it through, but that seems to raise some deep epistemological issues—in a sense all belief is then “justified,” in terms of being determined by initial conditions and subsequent necessary causal chains.

    Possibly the only way we can have freewill, I think, is to put ourselves in a "many-worlds" multiverse wherein every thought and action that we could possibly carry out in life is in fact carried out in a universe of its own. One might say that cheapens the significance of our decisions, however: to always choose "all of the above" rather than between right and wrong. But what other choice is there? Concepts of right and wrong themselves have a wide margin of error.

    Excellent point. I hadn’t thought of the many-worlds model—as opposed to the observer model, in which the wave function collapses only after a particular observation choice? (Which could, itself, be strictly determined.)
  9. Cape Town
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    19 Aug '15 05:58
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Is it only me,
    You are not alone.

    The underlying questions, in terms of Christian soteriology, are: (1) What degree of information, ability to process that information, education and knowledge, etc., etc. is sufficient for a loving and/or just God to declare that whatever decisions we have now made are final?
    I have often questioned the system of granting some people eternal life based on their so called 'free will decision' to believe in something based on insufficient evidence. The response is often that Christians do in fact have sufficient evidence and that God has chosen to reveal himself to them. Oddly enough this therefore implies that the selection process has nothing to do with free will but is actually decided by God.

    Ultimately either free will boils down to random decision making or free will is based on information external to us that we have no control over (reducing the supposed value of free will).

    Free will as we intuitively think we have it, does not stand up to scrutiny and we are often uncomfortable with what we see when we do scrutinize it.
  10. Cape Town
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    19 Aug '15 06:041 edit
    Originally posted by Soothfast
    It would seem to me that meaningful freewill cannot coexist with the modern Christian god.
    The real problem is that 'meaningful freewill' is an incoherent concept. It is a belief that there exists a middle ground between random and caused that is neither. Usually it plays the age old game of 'move the problem and pretend it isn't there' by suggesting an entity external to the problem that 'makes the decision' via an unknown unspecified process that in the physical universe is neither random nor caused. The problem is that should we ask how the external entity makes decisions and whether it has free will we run into the exact same problem ie that it is either random or causative. I suppose one could throw infinite regress at it?
  11. SubscriberBigDoggProblem
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    19 Aug '15 13:241 edit
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Is it only me, or is the “free will” argument put forth by some Christians—i.e., that “free will” is necessary for love, that God (preeminently) values or respects our “free will” (even if that means our ultimate condemnation), etc.—just a really bad argument?
    I agree that it's a bad argument. Some of the flaws I see:

    1) I can stop someone from doing something without contravening their free will. If I thwart a robbery, it does not mean I have taken free will away from the robbers. It just means that the mere will to do something does not guarantee success. So, if God stops one of his children from doing something that is self-harmful, that doesn't mean he's taken free will away from that child. It just means that he is better able to convert his will into practical results.

    2) Part of love is "tough love". This does not mean shrugging and leaving the person to their fate; it means taking action in ways they don't like, out of concern for them. The God who not only leaves his children to the worst conceivable fate, but even sentences them to it - is not loving at all. Quite the opposite. Imagine a parent who threw the switch and executed their own child. Would anyone think that parent loved the child? We keep hearing that "God's ways and love are higher than ours", but again, the eternal torment thing makes it seem like the opposite is the case.

    3) If Free Will leads to such a deplorable end for so many of God's children, then what good is it? Supporters of eternal torment say "or else we'd be robots!" as if it's axiomatic that people would rather be tortured for eternity than be robots. Again, for me, it seems that the direct opposite is the case. I'd much rather be a robot. To reiterate: If this is what we get with Free Will, then to hell with it!
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