Free Will and an All-Knowing God

Free Will and an All-Knowing God

In discussions, I’ve often heard people claim that free will cannot exist in the same world as an omniscient God. This argument generally poses the question, “How we can truly make our own choices if it’s already a given what choice we will make, as the presence of an omniscient God indicates?” If you have other thoughts about why an all-knowing God and free will cannot coexist, please comment below!

I don’t believe these two concepts are mutually exclusive. God may know what we will chose but he doesn’t do the choosing for us. It is love to give us the choice in spite of knowing what the end result will be. I believe God created us because he is the embodiment of love and true love must be shared with others. But he couldn’t just let us revel in that love; we wouldn’t understand what love is without something to measure it against. So God decided we should have free will and choose to follow him or choose to live apart from him. To follow God is to love God, love yourself, and love your neighbor. To live apart is to sin, to act in ways that disappoint God, hurt yourself, or hurt others. To follow God is to have an abundant, overflowing life with His companionship. To sin is to choose a life outside of the presence of God. However, I also believe that we cannot completely grasp what a life apart from God is until the afterlife because this whole sphere of existence is his creation, brought to life by his breath. Hell, to me, is the absence of God’s presence.

But how can God allow us to suffer if he loves us, as living apart from him for eternity will be? A choice would not really be a choice if the results of that choice were the same. No, free will gives us the option to decide our own futures, for good or for bad not for good or a little less good. The Christian belief, though, is that God, in His love, did devise a means for us to change our minds and choose Him after we’d already rejected Him. That’s the story of Jesus Christ.

So, that’s where I presently stand on the issue of how free will and an omniscient God can exist. What do you think? Am I offbase? What haven’t I taken into account? Believe you me, I welcome the opportunity to test my faith—if it cannot stand up, how can I truly believe it?

4 comments for “Free Will and an All-Knowing God

  1. virginia
    January 6, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    i stick with the watchmaker theory on this one. and if there is an omniscient god, i don’t think he genuinely gives a flip about me as an individual. i think he’s a big picture guy.

  2. Mysti
    January 7, 2008 at 11:23 am

    This is how I’ve *always* seen God – he knows what choices we’re going to make, and let’s us make ’em anyway.

    As my mama used to tell me, a parent raises a child teaching them right and wrong. Then they let start to let them make their own decisions – always giving them just enough rope to hang themselves, but close enough to cut ’em down quickly.

    Believe me – I’ve got the “rope burns” to prove her theory!

    Great post!

  3. ben
    January 7, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    I can see your argument, but if there is a all powerful god who created us all, and he’s all knowing – then he created the initial conditions that in turn created us, and since he’s all knowing, he knew exactly how it would play out.

    It’s sort of like being a chemist. You combine a bunch of known chemicals. Those chemicals have a known reaction. Just because you say you’ve given the chemicals a choice on how to react doesn’t mean the chemicals are going to react differently during the chemical reaction.

    Of course, people are infinitely more complex, but if you have infinite wisdom, then it’s still an apt metaphor.

    Things will play out how they play out. Whatever choice we have will be chosen by a bunch of neurons firing around in our brain – and if you believe in god, then those neurons were put into motion a long time ago by an all knowing being.

    What we don’t know is why things were put into motion as they are, or what the end result will be. So, relative to ourselves and our society, we have free will. Relative to any all knowing god, I’d say we don’t have free will.

    But I’d say that if we think we have free will, then we do. If some secret thing is controlling us, then we’re only unhappy when we become aware of it and what it’s intentions are.

  4. The other Ben
    January 8, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    There’s a book by Scott Adams, I believe it’s called “God’s Debris,” that tries to answer the point you put forth. Basically the theory is that there once was a God that was infinitly wise and infinitly powerful. One day he posed the question to himself that if he was so strong and so powerful could he destroy himself and survive. Think of the ‘can God create something so big he couldn’t lift it?” question. So God decided to destroy himself and see if he would survive, and all of life and the universe and everything in it was simply God pulling himself back together. It’s an interesting read and as unique an arguement on the origins of free will and nature of God as I’ve come across.

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