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Thread: religion- is there free will?

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    Stranger in a strange land Moderator Hooahguy's Avatar
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    Default religion- is there free will?

    this thread really is only for the religious folks out there, but atheists are welcomed to read and comment!

    this question popped up in my mind today during my Jewish philosophy class.
    we were discussing Immanuel Kant and how his question on prayer turned many away from it.
    Kant's question was "if god knows everything, then he obviously knows what we want, so why do we have to ask through prayer?"
    my teacher then presented Rabbi Issac Kook (a Jewish philosopher) and his answer to that question.
    according to Kook, god knows what we want. but through prayer, we make ourselves worthy of receiving what we want.
    that made a lot of sense to me.

    then i began to ponder if there was free will, since if god knows all and what we are going to do, then we dont have free will. yes, its an age old debate.
    i remember i had this debate 2 years ago, but i wasn't smart enough to really think about it.
    what i came up with today is this.
    we sorta have free will. its like a fork in the road. we have options of what we can do, but god knows what the consequences are depending on which path we take. but then again, that has a big hole in that theory, since if god knows all, he knows which road we are going to take.
    im still divided on this issue and i spaced out in every class today thinking about it.


    in addition, i learned something else to day- Pascals Wager.
    this, IMO, is brilliant.
    my teacher explained it like this: you have a steak. there is a 50% chance that it is poisoned. now, do you take that chance and eat it, or do you leave it alone? the obvious thing is that you leave it alone.
    now, when you apply this to religion, you come to this:
    if you think there is no god when there is, you go to hell when you die, or something like that. now, if you do believe in god when there is none, what happens when you die? nothing. you just die.
    the safer of the 2 routes? id say the religion path is.

    gee, i guess it is true that you learn more as you get older.

    meanwhile, i think after today im going to devote my life to philosophy. it just makes so much sense....
    Last edited by Hooahguy; 02-13-2009 at 00:42.
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    Poll Smoker Senior Member CountArach's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    Allow me to paraphrase one of the two existential arguments that Sartre set up to defend the existence of free will.

    First consider an alcoholic who is attempting to break the habit. He suffers from anxiety because inside him he knows that there is absolutely nothing that stops him from drinking except his own willpower. As such he is scared about what he might do, which leads to a fork in the road type situation where he can see two futures. One where his willpower is strong enough to resist temptation and one where it is not. That is the essence of free will - making that choice and having the power to do that.

    Of course Sartre was an Atheist, so that is where that standpoint comes from.
    if you think there is no god when there is, you go to hell when you die, or something like that. now, if you do believe in god when there is none, what happens when you die? nothing. you just die.
    If the only reason you are following a religion is for your own good then are you truly a follower? Further, I am not going to constrain myself to the rules of a greater being I don't truly believe in.
    Last edited by CountArach; 02-13-2009 at 00:53.
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    This comment is witty! Senior Member LittleGrizzly's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    It is 'pascals wager' you refer too... theres a problems with it imo... theres has been far too many religions and a few of them state that worship of false idols is very bad (or the supposed followers burn or otherwise punish others as heretics)

    As the great Homer once said "What if im worshipping the wrong god and pissing the real one of even more" (ok so so that's a very rough translation of what he said...)

    The other as CA pointed out is believing just incase isn't really going to satisfy god... or the ones that have a hell place for bad people...

    And my last reason would be if there is a god willing to reject people on the basis of my non belief then that is no god i wish to serve

    Me and my friends have this joke about hell being were all the cool people, fun drugs and kick ass parties are... whereas heaven is something like the little old ladies clubs that some church congregations look like...

    Onto the free will question, if there truely is a god who made us and can see all ends, then there is absolutely no free will, he knew we would be alive today, all of us, and things had to happen almost exactly how they happened for all of us to be here, think how easy it would have been for your parents or thier parents or thier parents and so on to have never met up in the first place, he is all knowing and he designed us

    You could make the argument that god just knows what choice we will make with our own free will... but what do we use to make our decisions... our brains... our decision making is informed by nature and nurture, god essentially controls all nature, so that just leaves nurture, but if god knew what the first what was going to happen to the first living things capable of thinking, then he controlled thier nurture, and these things through the generations passed the nurture on until our parents nurtured us... so if god controls the nature and nurture of your decision making... he essentially controls your decision making...

    Which then leads into all kinds of confusing thinking about god purposfully making people disbelieve in him so he can punish people...
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    Vermonter and Seperatist Member Uesugi Kenshin's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    My answer to your comment on atheism is that the risk of being religious when in fact there is no God/gods is that you will have potentially wasted much of your short life in the pursuit of paradise or whatever.

    To be clear I say potentially because I am assuming if you are following religion for your own good you are not happy with going through the motions of religion, whereas if you are happy to do whatever your religion asks of you then that is something different.

    I have some other thoughts on this, but unfortunately no time to fully develop them, maybe later.
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    Old Town Road Senior Member Strike For The South's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    You have complete free will. YOU have to find God. God can not find YOU.

    I would say as a Christian that Pascals wager is not truly believing. The whole point of having a relationship with God is that you can feel him with you. Believing to be on the safe side is the ultimate cop out.

    There is always a disconnect with atheists (not saying yall aern't an ok lot) I do not believe to save my own skin. Thats is not truly believing. I can feel the Lord with me when I wake up and when I go to bed. My own skin has nothing to do with it.
    There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford

    My aim, then, was to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us. Fear is the beginning of wisdom.

    I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation.

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    This comment is witty! Senior Member LittleGrizzly's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    You have complete free will. YOU have to find God. God can not find YOU.

    This goes against my nature and nurture point, though i guess if you say that finding god is something that happens independently of your thinking then that sidesteps my point...

    But on your point, it is my brain.. my decision making that holds me back from believing... im pretty sure i would like to believe in a god... so you could say i want to find god in a way, but my brain does not allow it...
    Last edited by LittleGrizzly; 02-13-2009 at 02:58.
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    Old Town Road Senior Member Strike For The South's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    Quote Originally Posted by LittleGrizzly View Post
    This goes against my nature and nurture point, though i guess if you say that finding god is something that happens independently of your thinking, as that through nature and nurture is essecntially decided by god if he nows everything...

    But on that point it is my brain.. my decision making that holds me back from believing... im pretty sure i would like to believe in a god... so you could say i want to find god in a way, but my brain does not allow it...
    God is omnipotent but gives you the freedom to choose. I made a decision to be baptized because I felt God around me. I could've walked away at anytime.

    Your brain does not allow because you let it. Not believing is a whole lot eaiser than having blind faith. Not saying Im somehow better than you. Im just saying that "my brain doesnt allow it" reasoning could be the same logic I use for not eating walnuts.
    There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford

    My aim, then, was to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us. Fear is the beginning of wisdom.

    I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation.

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    This comment is witty! Senior Member LittleGrizzly's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    God is omnipotent but gives you the freedom to choose.

    But my point is, being omnipotent he knew however he designed (lets go with christian theory here) Adam and Eve would affect the rest of humanity, by god designing the first people (natural makeup... dna of personality so to speak) and then designing the enviroment around them, nowing when a volcano would erupt or a storm would occur, so adam and eve have thier nature created by god, and then the earth around them with all the good and bad things is created by god, so thats part of nurture, the other part would be adam and eve's influence on each other, but with all the influences around them being god's, thier decision making process is completely influenced by god, so even thier influence on each other is god's influence...

    So basically from here history is set in stone, with them and everything around them being completely designed by god he is thier nature and nurture, which is basically how you make decisions, so the next generation would be affected by the enviroment, which god completely controls, thier nature, which god completely controls, and other people*

    * and because he designed the original people and everything around them he basically designed thier decision making process, so people's influence on other people is also basically gods will...

    I could've walked away at anytime.

    You could have... but you didn't want to... you decided to be baptised... which links back into the above...
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    Vermonter and Seperatist Member Uesugi Kenshin's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Strike For The South View Post
    You have complete free will. YOU have to find God. God can not find YOU.

    I would say as a Christian that Pascals wager is not truly believing. The whole point of having a relationship with God is that you can feel him with you. Believing to be on the safe side is the ultimate cop out.

    There is always a disconnect with atheists (not saying yall aern't an ok lot) I do not believe to save my own skin. Thats is not truly believing. I can feel the Lord with me when I wake up and when I go to bed. My own skin has nothing to do with it.
    Strike I mean nothing of the sort. I was just trying to respond to the way he was responding to atheism.

    The reason I am an atheist is because I just don't believe in a divine being of any sort, not because of a cost benefit analysis. And I believe truly religious people are exactly like me, except they believe in a divine being of some sort. It was this cost-benefit analysis approach to religion that he was bringing to the table which I was responding to, and the people practicing religion because of this better off some chance at paradise than none idea I wouldn't deem truly religious.

    I hope that clears things up?

    You're right though. There is a disconnect. I can't imagine how/why you believe there is a God, just like you probably can't actually understand how I believe there isn't one. It's just one of those funny things about people and life.

    EDIT:
    To address one of your points Strike I think it is probably easiest to be somewhat religious because sticking closely to a religion's doctrine and believing very strongly is I imagine somewhat difficult, and being an atheist and telling people that can also pose its difficulties, while being just religious enough to satisfy the vast majority of the population seems to be the "easiest" option.

    Though really I haven't experienced any significant amount of prejudice, just a bit of proselytizing now and again.
    Last edited by Uesugi Kenshin; 02-13-2009 at 05:40.
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    Old Town Road Senior Member Strike For The South's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    Uesugi I wasn't speaking to you directly I was talking more about the OP. Sorry.

    I think you LG and me all agree to disagree. I don't think there is a point to try and convert any of us...or is there
    There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford

    My aim, then, was to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us. Fear is the beginning of wisdom.

    I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation.

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    Spirit King Senior Member seireikhaan's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Strike For The South View Post
    I think you LG and me all agree to disagree. I don't think there is a point to try and convert any of us...or is there
    *Promptly begins preaching to all 3 about the wonders of Kharma and Dharma.*
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    Old Town Road Senior Member Strike For The South's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    Quote Originally Posted by seireikhaan View Post
    *Promptly begins preaching to all 3 about the wonders of Kharma and Dharma.*
    You have been converted until you've been converted by a southern baptist. Ask Seamus or Don C. WE DO IT BIG
    There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford

    My aim, then, was to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us. Fear is the beginning of wisdom.

    I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation.

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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    religion- is there free will?
    Not if you've been brainwashed since birth, no.

    As for Pascals Wager, IIRC it only applies to Roman Catholics. So, as LG posted, if you wind up on your knees to the wrong deity you're screwed.

    Also even if he were right, you'd have a lot of explaining to do to St. Peter at the pearly gates about how you hedged your bets about the almighty.
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    Ranting madman of the .org Senior Member Fly Shoot Champion, Helicopter Champion, Pedestrian Killer Champion, Sharpshooter Champion, NFS Underground Champion Rhyfelwyr's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    I don't think free will can be reconciled with Christian doctrine, or indeed Jewish beliefs. The story of the Old Testament is about God guiding his chosen people out of iniquity. Similarly, the New Testament constantly refers to the chosen, the elect, those whom He did predestine etc.

    Does not having free will mean we are simply robots with no influence over what we do? Absolutedly not. Not having 'free will' does not mean that every single person has no 'will'. That 'will' has an impact on the course of history; just because God knows what every one of us will do does not mean that we do not 'will' to do it. Why should the fact that we have a creator make any one of us any less of an individual?

    Presumably an atheist would agree that we are not sovereign beings. We don't make decisions regardless of any factors that could influence them, we are limited by the strength of our will and our own weaknesses. The course of events, all human history is due to the way in which the wills of every person involved interact - there is no direct divine influence over this making us mere puppets.

    However, when it comes to the matter of salvation, it just so happens that our own 'will' is not sufficient to make us see the state of our sin. The Bible says that God draws near to us so that we may draw ourselves to Him. If God did'nt make the first move then we would never will to know Him. This is one matter in which God is sovereign. He transforms us, recreates us with a new will - we are born again (that does'nt necessarily refer to baptism). Just as our first creation did not mean that we were not individuals with a will, why should this one?

    So, my first point is that the fact we have a creator in no way means we could not have free will. Secondly, that will is very rarely, if ever free. But that does not mean that every individual does not have a will, it's just that the sovereignty of the individual in exercising that will is often limited by personal/wordly influences to varying degrees depending on the matter.

    EDIT: Also Pascal's wager is no good for Christianity, not sure about other religions.
    Last edited by Rhyfelwyr; 02-13-2009 at 11:10.
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    Liar and Trickster Senior Member Andres's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    If there's no free will, then [insert supreme being(s) of your choice] did a splendid job of hiding that for us, didn't he?

    Why would you even bother to ask the question "is there free will"?

    The answer is obviously "yes" and if it's "no", then it is because of reasons beyond our comprehension and it makes no sense worrying about it.
    Last edited by Andres; 02-13-2009 at 11:23.
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    Voluntary Suspension Voluntary Suspension Philippus Flavius Homovallumus's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    Quote Originally Posted by hooahguy View Post
    this thread really is only for the religious folks out there, but atheists are welcomed to read and comment!

    this question popped up in my mind today during my Jewish philosophy class.
    we were discussing Immanuel Kant and how his question on prayer turned many away from it.
    Kant's question was "if god knows everything, then he obviously knows what we want, so why do we have to ask through prayer?"
    my teacher then presented Rabbi Issac Kook (a Jewish philosopher) and his answer to that question.
    according to Kook, god knows what we want. but through prayer, we make ourselves worthy of receiving what we want.
    that made a lot of sense to me.
    There is an alternative answer to this: That we have to ask before we get anything. This is not necesarely about worth, but has to do with a willingness to engage with God, rather than taking him for granted.

    then i began to ponder if there was free will, since if god knows all and what we are going to do, then we dont have free will. yes, its an age old debate.
    i remember i had this debate 2 years ago, but i wasn't smart enough to really think about it.
    what i came up with today is this.
    we sorta have free will. its like a fork in the road. we have options of what we can do, but god knows what the consequences are depending on which path we take. but then again, that has a big hole in that theory, since if god knows all, he knows which road we are going to take.
    im still divided on this issue and i spaced out in every class today thinking about it.
    Well, God is all knowing, all present, and all powerful. The arguement is favour of free will is that, because he is all powerful, God can change the future, therefore the path is not fixed, and he can also chose not to know our futures.

    The first of these propositions states that God's power precludes him being limited in any way, save as he should chose to limit himself. Therefore, what he knows he can change, so that the future is not fixed. Ergo, we have free will. This does not mean that God cannot ordain a particular course, such as he did for Moses, but this is an extraordinary case which, if anything, supports the arguement of free will because it demonstrates God interfering with the natural order.

    The second proposition, linked to the first, states that God (being all powerful) simply chooses not to know, and that since we exist in a termporal world this means that free will exists because the Almighty effectively decides our actions only after we take them, or put another way, he leaves us alone to make our own choices.

    in addition, i learned something else to day- Pascals Wager.
    this, IMO, is brilliant.
    my teacher explained it like this: you have a steak. there is a 50% chance that it is poisoned. now, do you take that chance and eat it, or do you leave it alone? the obvious thing is that you leave it alone.
    now, when you apply this to religion, you come to this:
    if you think there is no god when there is, you go to hell when you die, or something like that. now, if you do believe in god when there is none, what happens when you die? nothing. you just die.
    the safer of the 2 routes? id say the religion path is.

    gee, i guess it is true that you learn more as you get older.

    meanwhile, i think after today im going to devote my life to philosophy. it just makes so much sense....
    This has been fairly well demonstrated to be an elaborate piece od sophistry. It requires a single, identifiable, God and one who does not demand sincere worship or love. Clearly, this applies to neither Christianity, Jewdaism, Islam, Hinduism or Sihkism.
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhyfelwyr View Post
    I don't think free will can be reconciled with Christian doctrine, or indeed Jewish beliefs. The story of the Old Testament is about God guiding his chosen people out of iniquity. Similarly, the New Testament constantly refers to the chosen, the elect, those whom He did predestine etc.

    Does not having free will mean we are simply robots with no influence over what we do? Absolutedly not. Not having 'free will' does not mean that every single person has no 'will'. That 'will' has an impact on the course of history; just because God knows what every one of us will do does not mean that we do not 'will' to do it. Why should the fact that we have a creator make any one of us any less of an individual?

    Presumably an atheist would agree that we are not sovereign beings. We don't make decisions regardless of any factors that could influence them, we are limited by the strength of our will and our own weaknesses. The course of events, all human history is due to the way in which the wills of every person involved interact - there is no direct divine influence over this making us mere puppets.
    You seem to be hedging you bets here my friend. Either we have the free will to act and chose or we don't. Having our choices frustrated is not the same as not making them. This is particually an important point when talking about salvation.

    Are we saved against our will or do we chose? Do we have a choice?

    However, when it comes to the matter of salvation, it just so happens that our own 'will' is not sufficient to make us see the state of our sin. The Bible says that God draws near to us so that we may draw ourselves to Him. If God did'nt make the first move then we would never will to know Him. This is one matter in which God is sovereign. He transforms us, recreates us with a new will - we are born again (that does'nt necessarily refer to baptism). Just as our first creation did not mean that we were not individuals with a will, why should this one?
    Actually, in Christianity this refers to the double Baptism quite specifically:

    Now there was a Pharisse named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, 'Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.' Jesus answered him, 'Very Truely, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.' Nicodemus said to him, 'How can anyone be born again after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?' Jesus answered, 'Very Truely I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and spirit. (John 3.1-6)
    You can see this supported by anecdotes from Acts, where both forms of Babtism are necessary. Interestingly enough, this passage preceeds the "And the Lord so love the world..." one which is so popular, which itself preceeds the paasage about those who choose darkness over light (for those not so familiar with scripture, we are talking about all of John 3 here.

    Now, how does this relate to free will in a Christian context, beginning with what I said in my previous post about an unlimited God, consider that God sent Jesus to all the world. In Christianity the relationshipwith God is percieved as a two way one, God reaches down and man reaches up. I would contend that is man's choice to reach up, and the act of reaching, which is transformative, not God's reaching down.

    If it is the reaching of man that is transformative then God offers salvation to all and hummanity chooses individually whether to accept God or not. In this case we have free will. If it is the reaching of God which is transformative then God chooses the living and the dead and man has no free will. His will is subordinate to the will of God.

    So, my first point is that the fact we have a creator in no way means we could not have free will. Secondly, that will is very rarely, if ever free. But that does not mean that every individual does not have a will, it's just that the sovereignty of the individual in exercising that will is often limited by personal/wordly influences to varying degrees depending on the matter.

    EDIT: Also Pascal's wager is no good for Christianity, not sure about other religions.
    I think you are confusing free will with free action. Spinoza argued for a determinate universe where free will constituted an exceptence of events. Free will is the power to chose a course of action from a certain point, free action is the power to follow that course.

    Example:

    I get out of bed in the morning: do I decide I want to get out of bed, or does God decide I want to?

    As opposed to: can I physically get out of bed, or does someone stop me?
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    Stranger in a strange land Moderator Hooahguy's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    wow. i learned a lot by reading all of this.
    this is probably one of the most intelligent conversations ive had all week....
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    Tuba Son Member Subotan's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    Even if we don't have free will, who cares? We have the illusion of free will, and as such we live our lives as if we have free will.

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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Subotan View Post
    Even if we don't have free will, who cares? We have the illusion of free will, and as such we live our lives as if we have free will.
    The only problem with that is if people start living their lives as though they don't have free will, even though they do.
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    Ranting madman of the .org Senior Member Fly Shoot Champion, Helicopter Champion, Pedestrian Killer Champion, Sharpshooter Champion, NFS Underground Champion Rhyfelwyr's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Philipvs Vallindervs Calicvla View Post
    You seem to be hedging you bets here my friend. Either we have the free will to act and chose or we don't. Having our choices frustrated is not the same as not making them. This is particually an important point when talking about salvation.

    Are we saved against our will or do we chose? Do we have a choice?
    As I said, when it comes to salvation God gives us His grace regardless of what we will. So with this issue God is indeed sovereign, we have no choice in the matter. He creates us with an entirely new will, we are born again in the spirit. From that point, we will 'will' to follow God without His direct interference. Although our will would not be strong enough to actually succeed if God did'nt give us a helping hand to keep us on track.

    Quote Originally Posted by Philipvs Vallindervs Calicvla View Post
    Actually, in Christianity this refers to the double Baptism quite specifically:

    Now there was a Pharisse named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, 'Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.' Jesus answered him, 'Very Truely, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.' Nicodemus said to him, 'How can anyone be born again after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?' Jesus answered, 'Very Truely I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and spirit. (John 3.1-6)
    You can see this supported by anecdotes from Acts, where both forms of Babtism are necessary. Interestingly enough, this passage preceeds the "And the Lord so love the world..." one which is so popular, which itself preceeds the paasage about those who choose darkness over light (for those not so familiar with scripture, we are talking about all of John 3 here.

    Now, how does this relate to free will in a Christian context, beginning with what I said in my previous post about an unlimited God, consider that God sent Jesus to all the world. In Christianity the relationshipwith God is percieved as a two way one, God reaches down and man reaches up. I would contend that is man's choice to reach up, and the act of reaching, which is transformative, not God's reaching down.

    If it is the reaching of man that is transformative then God offers salvation to all and hummanity chooses individually whether to accept God or not. In this case we have free will. If it is the reaching of God which is transformative then God chooses the living and the dead and man has no free will. His will is subordinate to the will of God.
    Believers are commanded to be baptised as an public display of their faith, however it is not strictly necessary to be baptised by the water, the obvious example being the criminal on the cross. Most people would be born again of the spirit before they felt the urge to be baptised with water, so you could claim to be 'born again' without being baptised. Unless you count infant baptism, which is a tricky issue.

    Whether or not it is the part where man reaches out to God that is transformative, it still depends on God acting first. Also, that theory would depend upon God's grace being resistable. In any case, it would only be possible for the elect to be granted salvation, because Jesus only suffered for the elect. God would be lying if He offered it to anyone else. And of course, Jesus did not take the suffering for those who won't be saved, because they will obviously take in themselves. God is fundamentally just - debts will be payed by the right amount, no more no less; thankfully in His mercy Jesus payed the price for the chosen people.

    Quote Originally Posted by Philipvs Vallindervs Calicvla View Post
    I think you are confusing free will with free action. Spinoza argued for a determinate universe where free will constituted an exceptence of events. Free will is the power to chose a course of action from a certain point, free action is the power to follow that course.

    Example:

    I get out of bed in the morning: do I decide I want to get out of bed, or does God decide I want to?

    As opposed to: can I physically get out of bed, or does someone stop me?
    To will something is really just an action taking place within our mind, if you consider will as being the force that determines how you interact with the outside world. Psychological objects which obstruct the freedom of our minds are every bit as real as a material object blocking our paths in the outside world. Obviously you might say that a material object is not 'part of us', whereas something that exists in our minds is. But I don't think that this is necessarily the case, our minds are constantly being pressured by so many factors that it becomes impossible to tell what our own uninfluenced opinions on something might be. These factors don't just affect our actions, but actually alter our 'will'. We will be judged on our hearts, by whether or not we do things willingly, not the actions themselves.

    I don't think a person's will is something unchanging as that must battle to preserve itself. You are what you are at a certain moment in time, if someone's attitudes change then it's not simply a corruption of their true selves - they really are a different person. The greatest change in a person's will takes place when God reaches out to them and saves them. So taking the above into consideration, I would say there's no such thing as a human being with a sovereign free will. After you acknowledge that, everything is simply measured in degrees.
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    Clan Takiyama Senior Member CBR's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    Quote Originally Posted by hooahguy View Post
    my teacher explained it like this: you have a steak. there is a 50% chance that it is poisoned. now, do you take that chance and eat it, or do you leave it alone? the obvious thing is that you leave it alone.
    And that is what makes Pascal's Wager totally flawed. Just because you have narrowed down things to just two options does not mean it is 50/50. I can win the big lottery or not but the chance of winning is not 50%. Your next steak could be poisoned but since most people manage to eat them without dying it is safe to assume it is not 50/50.

    Just narrowing it down to just two options is a problem in itself as it assumes quite a lot: There could be multiple gods out there so which one to pick. Maybe there is a god but he does not care. Maybe there is a god but no afterlife.

    Free will sounds nice but assumes that all are identical. A simple thing like genes and upbringing makes a specific choice easy for one person but very difficult if not outright impossible for another person. When it comes to believing in a god then some claim they can feel god or whatever. So what to do when you can't feel him?


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    Last edited by CBR; 02-13-2009 at 16:19.

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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhyfelwyr View Post
    As I said, when it comes to salvation God gives us His grace regardless of what we will. So with this issue God is indeed sovereign, we have no choice in the matter. He creates us with an entirely new will, we are born again in the spirit. From that point, we will 'will' to follow God without His direct interference. Although our will would not be strong enough to actually succeed if God did'nt give us a helping hand to keep us on track.
    As I said, this begs the question of to whom God extends his Grace, from the same chapter I quoted above:

    'For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 'Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John: 3.16-17)
    The only section of this which might possibly be deterministic is "condemned already" but in the context of the passage that has the force of the judgment taking place in this life, in other words you can't decide once you are dead, you decide now. Aside from that the passage is about choice and clearly states that God loves "the world", not the elect. This is one of the great passages on salvation in the Gospels and not once does it mention God's will, only his judgement.

    Believers are commanded to be baptised as an public display of their faith, however it is not strictly necessary to be baptised by the water, the obvious example being the criminal on the cross. Most people would be born again of the spirit before they felt the urge to be baptised with water, so you could claim to be 'born again' without being baptised. Unless you count infant baptism, which is a tricky issue.
    Nevertheless, the act of baptism by a baptised follower of Christ is shown to be significant in and of itself, Pater certainly believed it was:

    While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who head the word.. Then Peter said, 'Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have recieved the Holy Spirit just as we have?' So he ordered them to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts: 10.44)
    Not a major issue, but what is important is that conversion happens in the presence of one who has the Holy Spirit.

    Whether or not it is the part where man reaches out to God that is transformative, it still depends on God acting first. Also, that theory would depend upon God's grace being resistable. In any case, it would only be possible for the elect to be granted salvation, because Jesus only suffered for the elect. God would be lying if He offered it to anyone else. And of course, Jesus did not take the suffering for those who won't be saved, because they will obviously take in themselves. God is fundamentally just - debts will be payed by the right amount, no more no less; thankfully in His mercy Jesus payed the price for the chosen people.
    Where does it say that Jesus suffered for the elect in the gospel?

    He suffered that the world might be saved, but where do you find the specification of an elect who will be saved, as opposed to an elect who are the messengers of God?

    If God is fundamentally just why does he create children only to destroy them?

    Jesus says he came only to the Jews several times (the episode of the Cannanite woman in Mathew for ex.), but after the death and resurrection Acts records that God makes no distinction, Chapter 10 of Acts makes this very explicit.

    If it is God who chooses who excepts him (which is your arguement) how can he be just if he condemns those who do not except him to hell. If the Judge compels you to commit a crime is it then just for him to punish you?

    I'm not denying that Christian salvation comes from God, the question though is whether it is brought to humanity, or whether humanity chooses to grasp it.

    If God changes man so that man accepts him (rather than man being changed by choosing God) then surely God loves only the elect, those he chooses, and hates the majoriety of hummanity, whom he calls his children.

    To will something is really just an action taking place within our mind, if you consider will as being the force that determines how you interact with the outside world. Psychological objects which obstruct the freedom of our minds are every bit as real as a material object blocking our paths in the outside world. Obviously you might say that a material object is not 'part of us', whereas something that exists in our minds is. But I don't think that this is necessarily the case, our minds are constantly being pressured by so many factors that it becomes impossible to tell what our own uninfluenced opinions on something might be. These factors don't just affect our actions, but actually alter our 'will'. We will be judged on our hearts, by whether or not we do things willingly, not the actions themselves.

    I don't think a person's will is something unchanging as that must battle to preserve itself. You are what you are at a certain moment in time, if someone's attitudes change then it's not simply a corruption of their true selves - they really are a different person. The greatest change in a person's will takes place when God reaches out to them and saves them. So taking the above into consideration, I would say there's no such thing as a human being with a sovereign free will. After you acknowledge that, everything is simply measured in degrees.
    Ther is no such thing as a "mental object" in the sense you mean, unless you make the human will and distinct and divisable part of the mind. Otherwise what you describe is a conflict within the will. How we respond to external pressures is just another choice we make, and does not influence the issue of free will directly. Of course, some people are less suceptable to some presures than others, but that is once again an external frustration of the will.
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    Ranting madman of the .org Senior Member Fly Shoot Champion, Helicopter Champion, Pedestrian Killer Champion, Sharpshooter Champion, NFS Underground Champion Rhyfelwyr's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Philipvs Vallindervs Calicvla View Post
    As I said, this begs the question of to whom God extends his Grace, from the same chapter I quoted above:

    'For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 'Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John: 3.16-17)
    The only section of this which might possibly be deterministic is "condemned already" but in the context of the passage that has the force of the judgment taking place in this life, in other words you can't decide once you are dead, you decide now. Aside from that the passage is about choice and clearly states that God loves "the world", not the elect. This is one of the great passages on salvation in the Gospels and not once does it mention God's will, only his judgement.
    There's nothing in that passage to indicate where our decision to believe comes from, whether its from us or from God. The answer in that lies in the countless references the Bible makes to the elect, the chosen, etc, consistently throughout both the Old and New Testaments. I'm sure you know the classic examples.

    Quote Originally Posted by Philipvs Vallindervs Calicvla View Post
    Nevertheless, the act of baptism by a baptised follower of Christ is shown to be significant in and of itself, Pater certainly believed it was:

    While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who head the word.. Then Peter said, 'Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have recieved the Holy Spirit just as we have?' So he ordered them to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts: 10.44)
    Not a major issue, but what is important is that conversion happens in the presence of one who has the Holy Spirit.
    I agree baptism is important, but its just one way in which we are 'born again'.

    Quote Originally Posted by Philipvs Vallindervs Calicvla View Post
    Where does it say that Jesus suffered for the elect in the gospel?

    He suffered that the world might be saved, but where do you find the specification of an elect who will be saved, as opposed to an elect who are the messengers of God?

    If God is fundamentally just why does he create children only to destroy them?

    Jesus says he came only to the Jews several times (the episode of the Cannanite woman in Mathew for ex.), but after the death and resurrection Acts records that God makes no distinction, Chapter 10 of Acts makes this very explicit.

    If it is God who chooses who excepts him (which is your arguement) how can he be just if he condemns those who do not except him to hell. If the Judge compels you to commit a crime is it then just for him to punish you?

    I'm not denying that Christian salvation comes from God, the question though is whether it is brought to humanity, or whether humanity chooses to grasp it.

    If God changes man so that man accepts him (rather than man being changed by choosing God) then surely God loves only the elect, those he chooses, and hates the majoriety of hummanity, whom he calls his children.
    "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." (John 10:14-16)

    Jesus says in the above passage that he died for his flock. But how do we know if this flock is the entire human population or a limited number of people?

    "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:26-28)

    So, if Jesus only died for his sheep, and the people mentioned above are not of his flock, then he could not have died for their sins. That would require God to punish their sins twice.

    God loves justice, righteousness etc. Why would He love sinners? He tells us He hates Esau, yet loves Israel. I don't expect God to have loved me the way I was before I was saved, I would be damnable in His eyes. But becase Jesus died for my sins, God does love me. God demands perfection, and we can only be made pure through Jesus' sacrifice. Heaven wouldn't be Heaven if it wasn't perfect. With all the accussations made against Calvinist doctrine, I sometimes think people forget that there's everlasting life and a perfect new heaven and earth at the end of it all. Unlike Hell which is destroyed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Philipvs Vallindervs Calicvla View Post
    Ther is no such thing as a "mental object" in the sense you mean, unless you make the human will and distinct and divisable part of the mind. Otherwise what you describe is a conflict within the will. How we respond to external pressures is just another choice we make, and does not influence the issue of free will directly. Of course, some people are less suceptable to some presures than others, but that is once again an external frustration of the will.
    I would consider a person's will to be seperate from the electric signals running through their brain which constitutes their decision making. Nonetheless, I think that will is still flexible and can be altered by a person's experiences throughout their lifetime. It's not some unchangeable thing that we are born with, immune to all the influences around us. Otherwise how would God be able to reform our hearts? Replacing a heart of stone with a heart of flesh.
    At the end of the day politics is just trash compared to the Gospel.

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    Senior Member Senior Member Reenk Roink's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    I'm with Rhyfelwyr on the fact that "free will" as it is commonly understood at least is really not compatible with the doctrine's of Abrahamic religions as a whole. For those who relegate it to a uniquely Calvinist theory, let's remember that Aquinas himself gave a great case for double predestination (predestination of the elect and the damned) in Summa theologiae I xxiii. I'm not sure on the current position of the Catholic Church, but well, Aquinas is the chief theologian by most accounts. I don't have the references at the moment, but I do recall reading works by Jewish and Islamic theologians on the same issue coming to similar conclusions as Aquinas (I'll look them up and if people want references I'll post them - many interesting things like theories of acquisition and so on).

    At least to me though, I've never seen it as a problem like some do, with respect to God's justice at all, simply because the easy response for the supporter of Divine predestination is that norms of human justice are not applicable to God. At least to me, that is quite cogent as is; it just makes sense.

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    Member Member Hax's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    I agree with Reenk Roink on this point.

    I, personally, have a great problem with being subject to an all-powerful, all-seeing person with no human emotions whatsoever. Next to that, I think that the Abrahamic religions are based mostly on negative emotions: fear and guilt. However, I also think this differs per religious person, and as such I try to treat everyone equally; no matter what their religion is. I don't think it is my responsibilty/duty to judge.

    Also: Yes, I am religious, and no, I do not pray.
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    The very model of a modern Moderator Xiahou's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    It's an interesting question, but I think most of the perceived paradox has to do with how we think of God. Unlike us, God would exist outside of time and the past, future, and present aren't the same as they are to us. He knows all of them, but it doesn't necessarily mean we don't have a choice.

    A good analogy I heard before is comparing it to a time traveler. He returns from the future and already knows you're going to do X,Y and Z, but his knowing that doesn't change the fact that it's your choice to do it. I'm sure it's all much more complicated than that- but that's good enough for me.
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    Corporate Hippie Member rasoforos's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    Quote Originally Posted by hooahguy View Post

    then i began to ponder if there was free will, since if god knows all and what we are going to do, then we dont have free will. yes, its an age old debate.
    i remember i had this debate 2 years ago, but i wasn't smart enough to really think about it.
    what i came up with today is this.
    we sorta have free will. its like a fork in the road. we have options of what we can do, but god knows what the consequences are depending on which path we take. but then again, that has a big hole in that theory, since if god knows all, he knows which road we are going to take.
    im still divided on this issue and i spaced out in every class today thinking about it.
    You have posed one of the questions that a religious person should ignore all his life...

    There is no good answer that will allow space for omnipotence and free will. You either go for lesser gods or atheism or accept you have no will.

    Of course Monotheism relies on its followers ignoring its basic logical flaws under the 'God is beyond our mere human logic'. Apart from genocides, infanticides and religious murder, this 'mantra' also covers your question.
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    Old Town Road Senior Member Strike For The South's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?


    Edit:
    I'll take it lying down. I've done it for 4 years why should anything change?
    Last edited by Strike For The South; 02-14-2009 at 08:29.
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    Master of useless knowledge Senior Member Kitten Shooting Champion, Eskiv Champion Ironside's Avatar
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    Default Re: religion- is there free will?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xiahou View Post
    It's an interesting question, but I think most of the perceived paradox has to do with how we think of God. Unlike us, God would exist outside of time and the past, future, and present aren't the same as they are to us. He knows all of them, but it doesn't necessarily mean we don't have a choice.

    A good analogy I heard before is comparing it to a time traveler. He returns from the future and already knows you're going to do X,Y and Z, but his knowing that doesn't change the fact that it's your choice to do it. I'm sure it's all much more complicated than that- but that's good enough for me.
    Your "time traveling" omnipotent god has one problem though. Even as an all knowing observer, he knows that you're going to do long before you were even born, so him doing nothing, thus condemning you to hell or heaven, is already a choise he made "for" you.

    To put it differently, if a friend is going to jump from a bridge and you don't know it, then its a tragedy. But if you do know about it, but doesn't act, then you're indirectly making a choise for your friend.

    While the above isn't touching on the free will concept, the next part does. For you to know that tragedy in advance as an observer, your friend is already following a pre-determined path, decided by his surroundings, body, mind and past. The omninpotent god already knew this and always known it.

    He might limit his knowledge so that the last time he truely touched the world (Big Bang I guess), he wouldn't forsee the consequences in an omnipotent way, but then he cannot use his omnipotence ever again for humanity to remain thier free will. Thus he is no longer omnipotent, even if he was.

    Or to put it short, if god has omnipotence, then humanity cannot have a free will. And if humanity have a free will, then no god can have omnipotence.
    We are all aware that the senses can be deceived, the eyes fooled. But how can we be sure our senses are not being deceived at any particular time, or even all the time? Might I just be a brain in a tank somewhere, tricked all my life into believing in the events of this world by some insane computer? And does my life gain or lose meaning based on my reaction to such solipsism?

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