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Christianity: Free Will, or Pre-Determination?

OlNate

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Putting this out to Christians in the crowd...atheists, feel free to jump in as well, just know that we know you don't believe in God, so you can skip all the usual trolling, and just apply your logic to this as a hypothetical / philosophical discussion. Just trying to keep things respectful, I think the discussion will be more interesting that way, vs. the usual rinse and repeat us vs. them that always happens in this sub forum.

Been wrestling with this one for years. Christians like to talk about free will, that God always gives a choice, but I struggle with that because of the following assumptions:

1) God is infallible, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent
2) God has a plan or purpose for his creation
3) The Holy Spirit determines who receives the gifts of the spirit, one of which is Faith
4) We are saved through Faith alone.

(Can provide biblical references, but would assume most people jumping into this conversation would be aware of these precepts).

If the above is true, then Choice would allow you to thwart God's plan. If Choice is not possible, then it is impossible for us to save ourselves, as faith is given by the Holy Spirit. So, is the Christian claim of "free will" actually a claim that we are mightier than God? If so, is that what we really believe, and if not, must we conclude that every aspect of our life, which would be knowable before it happens by an omniscient God, and shapeable by an omnipresent, omnipotent God, must conform to an undefeatable Plan? Is everything in life pre-determined by an all powerful, all knowing, all seeing God, and choice is actually an illusion?

Looking for a logical discussion based on the above, or, if you wish to present scriptural references, I'd be interested in how you think they trump the above logic.

No axe to grind here, just something I'm interested in, it in no way shapes my own faith, I'm just posting a chat, and would be interested in your thoughts. :)
 

Tanngrisnir

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Putting this out to Christians in the crowd...atheists, feel free to jump in as well, just know that we know you don't believe in God, so you can skip all the usual trolling, and just apply your logic to this as a hypothetical / philosophical discussion. Just trying to keep things respectful, I think the discussion will be more interesting that way, vs. the usual rinse and repeat us vs. them that always happens in this sub forum.

Been wrestling with this one for years. Christians like to talk about free will, that God always gives a choice, but I struggle with that because of the following assumptions:

1) God is infallible, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent
2) God has a plan or purpose for his creation
3) The Holy Spirit determines who receives the gifts of the spirit, one of which is Faith
4) We are saved through Faith alone.

(Can provide biblical references, but would assume most people jumping into this conversation would be aware of these precepts).

If the above is true, then Choice would allow you to thwart God's plan. If Choice is not possible, then it is impossible for us to save ourselves, as faith is given by the Holy Spirit. So, is the Christian claim of "free will" actually a claim that we are mightier than God? If so, is that what we really believe, and if not, must we conclude that every aspect of our life, which would be knowable before it happens by an omniscient God, and shapeable by an omnipresent, omnipotent God, must conform to an undefeatable Plan? Is everything in life pre-determined by an all powerful, all knowing, all seeing God, and choice is actually an illusion?

Looking for a logical discussion based on the above, or, if you wish to present scriptural references, I'd be interested in how you think they trump the above logic.

No axe to grind here, just something I'm interested in, it in no way shapes my own faith, I'm just posting a chat, and would be interested in your thoughts. :)
Here's the problem with free will in this case:

This god created the universe, everything in it and the rules by which souls are judged. That includes Hell.

If there is nothing that doesn't go according to this god's plan, that means this god is ultimately responsible for literally everything and that include people it sends to Hell.
 

OlNate

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Here's the problem with free will in this case:

This god created the universe, everything in it and the rules by which souls are judged. That includes Hell.

If there is nothing that doesn't go according to this god's plan, that means this god is ultimately responsible for literally everything and that include people it sends to Hell.
But, if you believe that God's plan is infallible, and that you cannot circumvent the plan of an all powerful, all knowing God, then everything, including what we perceive as "bad" or "uncomfortable" would be part of his plan. It's not a comfortable thought, but there it is. Also, the Bible states that God works in "mysterious ways"...that leaves a lot of room for accepting that we don't understand everything, especially exactly what happens after death. Could we hypothesize that even the notion of Hell is a part of that plan? God is said to be just, and from our human understanding, it is hard to understand that someone who doesn't have faith in God goes to hell, when faith itself is given solely by God (via the Holy Spirit). Could the concept of Hell be a tool to further the plan? Is God required to tell the truth, if the truth doesn't support his plan? It's a tough one to wrestle with, since the idea that a human mind could grasp a timeless plan of an immortal, all knowing, all powerful being is highly problematic.

(I get it, you don't believe in any of this, so this is simply a hypothetical based on given variables, I'm not trying to convince you of anything)
 

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Putting this out to Christians in the crowd...atheists, feel free to jump in as well, just know that we know you don't believe in God, so you can skip all the usual trolling, and just apply your logic to this as a hypothetical / philosophical discussion. Just trying to keep things respectful, I think the discussion will be more interesting that way, vs. the usual rinse and repeat us vs. them that always happens in this sub forum.

Been wrestling with this one for years. Christians like to talk about free will, that God always gives a choice, but I struggle with that because of the following assumptions:

1) God is infallible, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent
2) God has a plan or purpose for his creation
3) The Holy Spirit determines who receives the gifts of the spirit, one of which is Faith
4) We are saved through Faith alone.

(Can provide biblical references, but would assume most people jumping into this conversation would be aware of these precepts).

If the above is true, then Choice would allow you to thwart God's plan. If Choice is not possible, then it is impossible for us to save ourselves, as faith is given by the Holy Spirit. So, is the Christian claim of "free will" actually a claim that we are mightier than God? If so, is that what we really believe, and if not, must we conclude that every aspect of our life, which would be knowable before it happens by an omniscient God, and shapeable by an omnipresent, omnipotent God, must conform to an undefeatable Plan? Is everything in life pre-determined by an all powerful, all knowing, all seeing God, and choice is actually an illusion?

Looking for a logical discussion based on the above, or, if you wish to present scriptural references, I'd be interested in how you think they trump the above logic.

No axe to grind here, just something I'm interested in, it in no way shapes my own faith, I'm just posting a chat, and would be interested in your thoughts. :)
Ok! Playing by your rules.
Look at it as you would evolution. ( meaning science of evolution and not christian propaganda of evolution) In evolution the role of a species is determined in as much as it will evolve. But within the species any one particular animal in that species may or may not evolve and even devolve or just do as it chooses. So perhaps you could consider gods omni's as a thing effecting only the species of man and not any one particular member of that species.
 

joG

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Putting this out to Christians in the crowd...atheists, feel free to jump in as well, just know that we know you don't believe in God, so you can skip all the usual trolling, and just apply your logic to this as a hypothetical / philosophical discussion. Just trying to keep things respectful, I think the discussion will be more interesting that way, vs. the usual rinse and repeat us vs. them that always happens in this sub forum.

Been wrestling with this one for years. Christians like to talk about free will, that God always gives a choice, but I struggle with that because of the following assumptions:

1) God is infallible, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent
2) God has a plan or purpose for his creation
3) The Holy Spirit determines who receives the gifts of the spirit, one of which is Faith
4) We are saved through Faith alone.

(Can provide biblical references, but would assume most people jumping into this conversation would be aware of these precepts).

If the above is true, then Choice would allow you to thwart God's plan. If Choice is not possible, then it is impossible for us to save ourselves, as faith is given by the Holy Spirit. So, is the Christian claim of "free will" actually a claim that we are mightier than God? If so, is that what we really believe, and if not, must we conclude that every aspect of our life, which would be knowable before it happens by an omniscient God, and shapeable by an omnipresent, omnipotent God, must conform to an undefeatable Plan? Is everything in life pre-determined by an all powerful, all knowing, all seeing God, and choice is actually an illusion?

Looking for a logical discussion based on the above, or, if you wish to present scriptural references, I'd be interested in how you think they trump the above logic.

No axe to grind here, just something I'm interested in, it in no way shapes my own faith, I'm just posting a chat, and would be interested in your thoughts. :)
We all like to speak of free will, whether Catholic or Atheist. But, while the religious can put it down to the mystery of the faith, atheists cannot but suppose it is probably a fable.
 

Northern Light

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Let's look beyond the oversimplified responses to this.

The premise is that God created humans in His image. This is telling us that we all have a seed of God within us. God is our true nature. Hence we are born as love, unity, feeling at home, feeling all-knowing. These aren't just body feelings that come and go but they are spiritual feelings ingrained deeply within us. They are permanent, they are the bedrock. So much so that they are the first, primary, feelings. One could even call them primary reality. It is beyond mind and beyond memory.

Our true nature is pre-determined. We are this love. Free will allows us to diverge from it on an egoic level but it doesn't change the base nature. Free will also includes choices we make subconsciously or unintentionally, like when we are babies... the choice to turn away from the true nature out of pure stimulus response or suffering. Actually, suffering is the main reason why people grasp at the outside rather than look inside. We all do this. We all give in to the distortion because as children we don't have the cognitive development to recognize what we are doing. So the whole choice over whether or not to choose God is where free will comes in. Most people in life just want to be comfortable and to ease suffering. Others want to know the truth, and to do this they have to reverse engineer all their wounded acquisitions that have caused them to no longer experience their original selves.

The whole idea of heaven and hell is based on working with or turning a blind eye to this true nature. The Garden is here. Jesus said the Father and I are one. Jesus said to reject the Churches, mainly because they are externalizations of this inner truth. You are the Church, you are the Temple. You already have everything you could ever need or want.

God resides in you, as you. You are an individual and you are part of the plan. Really, the answer is both. It's a co-creation.
 

<alt>doxygen

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But, if you believe that God's plan is infallible, and that you cannot circumvent the plan of an all powerful, all knowing God, then everything, including what we perceive as "bad" or "uncomfortable" would be part of his plan. It's not a comfortable thought, but there it is. Also, the Bible states that God works in "mysterious ways"...that leaves a lot of room for accepting that we don't understand everything, especially exactly what happens after death. Could we hypothesize that even the notion of Hell is a part of that plan? God is said to be just, and from our human understanding, it is hard to understand that someone who doesn't have faith in God goes to hell, when faith itself is given solely by God (via the Holy Spirit). Could the concept of Hell be a tool to further the plan? Is God required to tell the truth, if the truth doesn't support his plan? It's a tough one to wrestle with, since the idea that a human mind could grasp a timeless plan of an immortal, all knowing, all powerful being is highly problematic.

(I get it, you don't believe in any of this, so this is simply a hypothetical based on given variables, I'm not trying to convince you of anything)
Part of my confusion with this whole idea is that "God's plan" for "his creation" that he "loves" involves a lot of suffering to be shouldered by his "beloved" "creation".

What is the point of the suffering, death, evil, etc.? I have heard the arguments saying we must suffer to be "perfected", or whatever term you want to use, but it seems to me that there would be less horrible ways to obtain the same result. Think of all the death and suffering that has occurred throughout history.

Sorry if it seems I'm hijacking your thread. Not my intent at all, you can ignore me if you like.:peace
 

Rexedgar

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Ok! Playing by your rules.
Look at it as you would evolution. ( meaning science of evolution and not christian propaganda of evolution) In evolution the role of a species is determined in as much as it will evolve. But within the species any one particular animal in that species may or may not evolve and even devolve or just do as it chooses. So perhaps you could consider gods omni's as a thing effecting only the species of man and not any one particular member of that species.

I’m from Missouri, but on the subject of evolution, if the human race evolved from some lesser entity, why have there not been recorded events of other species also in flux? (Say crawling out of the slime?) I am not religious at all, except when I curse a blue streak, but I am not entirely sold on evolution.
 

Goshin

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Putting this out to Christians in the crowd...atheists, feel free to jump in as well, just know that we know you don't believe in God, so you can skip all the usual trolling, and just apply your logic to this as a hypothetical / philosophical discussion. Just trying to keep things respectful, I think the discussion will be more interesting that way, vs. the usual rinse and repeat us vs. them that always happens in this sub forum.

Been wrestling with this one for years. Christians like to talk about free will, that God always gives a choice, but I struggle with that because of the following assumptions:

1) God is infallible, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent
2) God has a plan or purpose for his creation
3) The Holy Spirit determines who receives the gifts of the spirit, one of which is Faith
4) We are saved through Faith alone.

(Can provide biblical references, but would assume most people jumping into this conversation would be aware of these precepts).

If the above is true, then Choice would allow you to thwart God's plan. If Choice is not possible, then it is impossible for us to save ourselves, as faith is given by the Holy Spirit. So, is the Christian claim of "free will" actually a claim that we are mightier than God? If so, is that what we really believe, and if not, must we conclude that every aspect of our life, which would be knowable before it happens by an omniscient God, and shapeable by an omnipresent, omnipotent God, must conform to an undefeatable Plan? Is everything in life pre-determined by an all powerful, all knowing, all seeing God, and choice is actually an illusion?

Looking for a logical discussion based on the above, or, if you wish to present scriptural references, I'd be interested in how you think they trump the above logic.

No axe to grind here, just something I'm interested in, it in no way shapes my own faith, I'm just posting a chat, and would be interested in your thoughts. :)


Free will. Predestination is a misunderstanding of the nature of omniscience, which is unsuprising as omniscience is extremely hard for the mortal mind to comprehend.

In brief, that God knew beforehand which way you'd jump, doesn't mean you didn't choose by your own will.
 

RAMOSS

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Putting this out to Christians in the crowd...atheists, feel free to jump in as well, just know that we know you don't believe in God, so you can skip all the usual trolling, and just apply your logic to this as a hypothetical / philosophical discussion. Just trying to keep things respectful, I think the discussion will be more interesting that way, vs. the usual rinse and repeat us vs. them that always happens in this sub forum.

Been wrestling with this one for years. Christians like to talk about free will, that God always gives a choice, but I struggle with that because of the following assumptions:

1) God is infallible, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent
2) God has a plan or purpose for his creation
3) The Holy Spirit determines who receives the gifts of the spirit, one of which is Faith
4) We are saved through Faith alone.

(Can provide biblical references, but would assume most people jumping into this conversation would be aware of these precepts).

If the above is true, then Choice would allow you to thwart God's plan. If Choice is not possible, then it is impossible for us to save ourselves, as faith is given by the Holy Spirit. So, is the Christian claim of "free will" actually a claim that we are mightier than God? If so, is that what we really believe, and if not, must we conclude that every aspect of our life, which would be knowable before it happens by an omniscient God, and shapeable by an omnipresent, omnipotent God, must conform to an undefeatable Plan? Is everything in life pre-determined by an all powerful, all knowing, all seeing God, and choice is actually an illusion?

Looking for a logical discussion based on the above, or, if you wish to present scriptural references, I'd be interested in how you think they trump the above logic.

No axe to grind here, just something I'm interested in, it in no way shapes my own faith, I'm just posting a chat, and would be interested in your thoughts. :)
This is something that has been argued about for ages. The 'free will' verses 'foreknowledge' is basically broken up into two major camps.. with many subdivisions in each one. One is called 'compatabilism', saying that free will and foreknowledge of God is compatible. The opposite type is called "Incompatibilism". There are at least 3 or 4 different subcategories under each of the two categories.

I personally lean to incompatibilism. The basic overall belief there is 'free will is incompatible with foreknowledge.

On the other hand, it is a purely metaphysical lean. I see no way to test. I see no way to test the opposite of that. That in some respects, makes the discussion along the lines of 'how many angels can dance on the head of a pin'.
 

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I can know exactly what someone is going to do, say or decide, without in any way impeding in their free choice. Predictability does not deprive the subject of free will.

I find the "God has a plan" to be little more than a crude rationalization to compensate for unpleasant events. That said, I don't think that omniscience and having a plan is incompatible with free will in all circumstances. E.g. God can interfere with someone's life, even deliberately forcing someone to make a specific choice while thinking it was an independent choice, without permanently depriving them of free will in all subsequent decisions. Even a temporary removal of free will in a given situation does not mean that free will is permanently removed.

I will say that IMO, these theological claims do largely render human life rather pointless, as it makes us all basically rats in a cage for a deity's amusement; and the deity that claims to have a plan knows how it will turn out eons before humans came into existence. (It is also plausible that the deity actually doesn't give a **** about humanity, and its plan is to make pretty patterns out of galactic superclusters. Anyway....) This is just a small component of the larger (and IMO more serious) issue of theodicy.

On a side note, there are all sorts of problems with the concept of free will, mostly coming from a neurological and psychological perspective. For example, dopamine agonists (which are used in some cases to treat Parkinson's) can send the brain's reward system into a tailspin, and cause some patients to exhibit compulsive behaviors -- compulsive gambling, hypersexuality, overeating, compulsive shopping and so on. The patients don't subjectively experience a change, so it took time and research to determine that the drugs had an impact.

What does free will mean, if taking a drug can deprive you of it, without you even realizing it?
 

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The notion of predestination actually undermines Jehovah’s wisdom, for it implies that he cannot control his ability to look into the future....

I've heard God's omniscient powers explained like this...if you had a singing voice of unparalleled beauty, would you then have no choice but to sing all the time? Of course not...the notion is absurd...just as God has the ability to foreknow the future, he does not use it all the time...to do so might infringe upon our own free will, a precious gift that Jehovah will never revoke...Deuteronomy 30:19, 20
 

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Free will. Predestination is a misunderstanding of the nature of omniscience, which is unsuprising as omniscience is extremely hard for the mortal mind to comprehend.

In brief, that God knew beforehand which way you'd jump, doesn't mean you didn't choose by your own will.
And yet this omnipotent and omniscient being consciously chose to create lesser beings that it knew in advance would burn in Hell forever. Real sweetheart of a deity there.
 

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The notion of predestination actually undermines Jehovah’s wisdom, for it implies that he cannot control his ability to look into the future....

I've heard God's omniscient powers explained like this...if you had a singing voice of unparalleled beauty, would you then have no choice but to sing all the time? Of course not...the notion is absurd...just as God has the ability to foreknow the future, he does not use it all the time...
That doesn't make any sense.

"Omniscience" means, by definition, that the deity in question knows all. If your deity is omniscient, then it knows everything there is to know. It is not a party trick that can be turned on or off, because the only way that can happen is if the deity's knowledge is a) limited by time, and/or b) incomplete. If God does not know the future, then God is not omniscient.

And again, omniscience does not mean that sentient beings lack free will. It just means the deity knows how things will turn out. If God knows that Tom Brady is going to fumble in the 3rd quarter before the game starts, that does not mean that God caused Brady to make the decisions that caused Brady to fumble.
 

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I’m from Missouri, but on the subject of evolution, if the human race evolved from some lesser entity, why have there not been recorded events of other species also in flux? (Say crawling out of the slime?) I am not religious at all, except when I curse a blue streak, but I am not entirely sold on evolution.
Lessser entity?? Speciest thinking?

As all life evolves then other species have also been in the flux.
Not t sure what you mean by crawling from the slime. Abiogenesis is a different arguement from evolution.
 

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I’m from Missouri, but on the subject of evolution, if the human race evolved from some lesser entity, why have there not been recorded events of other species also in flux? (Say crawling out of the slime?) I am not religious at all, except when I curse a blue streak, but I am not entirely sold on evolution.
Do fossils count as evidence?
 

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Lessser entity?? Speciest thinking?

As all life evolves then other species have also been in the flux.
Not t sure what you mean by crawling from the slime. Abiogenesis is a different arguement from evolution.
What I was trying to say is, if we (people) evolved, did we all evolve at the same rate and here we are? I get the various ages, stone, bronze, industrial, people caused those by experimentation and discovery and recording for the future. Using a food analogy, were all the cookies done at the same time or are there some in different states of evolution, individual ingredients, partially mixed batter and so on. We just seem to be, with no earlier forms of us in the pipeline. Are we stil evolving or is it more adapting?
 

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Free will. Predestination is a misunderstanding of the nature of omniscience, which is unsuprising as omniscience is extremely hard for the mortal mind to comprehend.

In brief, that God knew beforehand which way you'd jump, doesn't mean you didn't choose by your own will.
Ok, but if God knew beforehand which way I'd jump, before I was ever born, did I make that choice? More specifically, is it possible for me to jump in a *different* direction than the one God knew I would before I was born? If not, did I actually have a choice? If so, doesn't that imply either that God makes mistakes, or that our will is greater than God's?

And how do you think this plays into his plan? Will reference Isaiah 46:3-11, so as not to confuse with the whole "God has a plan for each of us" sentiment, I'm talking about God's plan in totality. If it's purely freewill, could we not defeat God's plan any time we wanted? Does that imply we are mightier than God?

Finally, if faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and we are only saved by grace, through faith, is inclusion in Heaven, and, in fact, Christianity itself, actually a decision on our part?
 

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That doesn't make any sense.

"Omniscience" means, by definition, that the deity in question knows all. If your deity is omniscient, then it knows everything there is to know. It is not a party trick that can be turned on or off, because the only way that can happen is if the deity's knowledge is a) limited by time, and/or b) incomplete. If God does not know the future, then God is not omniscient.

And again, omniscience does not mean that sentient beings lack free will. It just means the deity knows how things will turn out. If God knows that Tom Brady is going to fumble in the 3rd quarter before the game starts, that does not mean that God caused Brady to make the decisions that caused Brady to fumble.
That's nice...it makes perfect sense to me, since God is all powerful and can do anything He wants or not, if He so desires...nothing is impossible with God...
 

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Part of my confusion with this whole idea is that "God's plan" for "his creation" that he "loves" involves a lot of suffering to be shouldered by his "beloved" "creation".

What is the point of the suffering, death, evil, etc.? I have heard the arguments saying we must suffer to be "perfected", or whatever term you want to use, but it seems to me that there would be less horrible ways to obtain the same result. Think of all the death and suffering that has occurred throughout history.

Sorry if it seems I'm hijacking your thread. Not my intent at all, you can ignore me if you like.:peace
It's all good, man, and I think it actually pertains to the original thought flow. I will keep going back to the fact that God talks about having a plan, because this is the kicker for me.

I think that looking at anything individually can make things look random and cruel, but in the context of greater plan can be necessary and beneficial in the long run. To create a wildly over simplified example, cutting off someone's leg is a crappy thing to do in most situations, you shouldn't do it, it makes you a horrible person. But, if you're a doctor cutting off a leg to save the person, then you're a hero. Getting yelled at sucks, and people who yell all the time are generally dicks. But, if the yell is meant to be a wake up call that leads to you changing negative behaviors, and you become a better person as a result, then it was a good thing you had that crappy experience.

In the context of God's plan, which stretches through all time, and must be infinitely more complex than we can grasp, there has been a lot that appears awful, but may serve some purpose that we are unaware of. The general assumption is that this plan is in our best interest, but as God's creations, I'm not sure it needs to be. I know this seems callous, and perhaps a little aloof, but when one takes a moment to consider the notion of "through a glass darkly", we know that we won't understand in this life. So, sometimes I find it interesting to step outside of conventional wisdom and allow that what we consider to be cruel and inhumane may not apply or viewed the same at the deity level.

I don't know about the "perfected" part, since perfection is widely understood to be unattainable in this life. Educated, perhaps...tested, perhaps...though again, in the context of this discussion, "tested" seems to be a strange idea in a situation where God knows and can determine the outcome.
 

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I’m from Missouri, but on the subject of evolution, if the human race evolved from some lesser entity, why have there not been recorded events of other species also in flux? (Say crawling out of the slime?) I am not religious at all, except when I curse a blue streak, but I am not entirely sold on evolution.
lmao... "I'm from Missouri"... My favorite boss used to say that all the time, haven't heard the expression since. Funny part - we worked for AB InBev, and of course, once we bought Anheiser Busch, our head office was in Missouri... lol.. He had to change that expression...or should have. ;) Sorry, off topic.

Most things have evolved. Here's a link for you:

The History of Animal Evolution
 

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Ok! Playing by your rules.
Look at it as you would evolution. ( meaning science of evolution and not christian propaganda of evolution) In evolution the role of a species is determined in as much as it will evolve. But within the species any one particular animal in that species may or may not evolve and even devolve or just do as it chooses. So perhaps you could consider gods omni's as a thing effecting only the species of man and not any one particular member of that species.
lol...first, thanks, Soy, for not blowing it up, and staying within the boundaries of the chat. I promise, I won't try to convert you. ;)

So, I get what you're saying, but evolution is chaotic, a series of random mutations, with the most beneficial mutations leading to survival and shaping of the species, but disconnected from any kind of directed plan (speaking strictly from my understanding of the scientific definition of evolution, without doing a quick Google to make sure, but I think I'm mostly right, or at least right enough for this discussion). God, on the other hand, has stated he has a specific plan in mind, and that we are a part of it. He has also said he has a plan for each and every one of us individually.

If we say he has the means to do anything - as Elvira pointed out, "nothing is impossible for God", then the only thing we need to determine is IF God would use his power to direct us to execute his plan, or if we, as humans, have the power to thwart his plan by choosing to do what we want to do instead.
 

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This is something that has been argued about for ages. The 'free will' verses 'foreknowledge' is basically broken up into two major camps.. with many subdivisions in each one. One is called 'compatabilism', saying that free will and foreknowledge of God is compatible. The opposite type is called "Incompatibilism". There are at least 3 or 4 different subcategories under each of the two categories.

I personally lean to incompatibilism. The basic overall belief there is 'free will is incompatible with foreknowledge.

On the other hand, it is a purely metaphysical lean. I see no way to test. I see no way to test the opposite of that. That in some respects, makes the discussion along the lines of 'how many angels can dance on the head of a pin'.
Sure, of course...I think for most discussions that seek to understand or define the mind of God are hopeless, which is why I wouldn't base my faith off of this kind of thing. I think it's just interesting.

I've thought long and hard about it, and I can't come to any other conclusion. I think the perception of free will is important, we are a willful species. Biblically speaking we are made in the image of a being that was so willful that they needed to create a universe in which to drive a giant master plan...hehe... But I don't see how free will is compatible with the notion that God has a plan that he is going to make happen, and has all the omni's attached to make it happen. I'm open to better logic, which is why I opened the thread, but I haven't been able to come up with it on my own. :)
 

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Sure, of course...I think for most discussions that seek to understand or define the mind of God are hopeless, which is why I wouldn't base my faith off of this kind of thing. I think it's just interesting.

I've thought long and hard about it, and I can't come to any other conclusion. I think the perception of free will is important, we are a willful species. Biblically speaking we are made in the image of a being that was so willful that they needed to create a universe in which to drive a giant master plan...hehe... But I don't see how free will is compatible with the notion that God has a plan that he is going to make happen, and has all the omni's attached to make it happen. I'm open to better logic, which is why I opened the thread, but I haven't been able to come up with it on my own. :)
I think there is a difference between a 'plan' and 'absolute foreknowledge'. From my viewpoint. I see a contradiction between having all omni's attached to one point, since I see absolute knowledge is mutually exclusive with absolute power.
 

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I can know exactly what someone is going to do, say or decide, without in any way impeding in their free choice. Predictability does not deprive the subject of free will.

I find the "God has a plan" to be little more than a crude rationalization to compensate for unpleasant events. That said, I don't think that omniscience and having a plan is incompatible with free will in all circumstances. E.g. God can interfere with someone's life, even deliberately forcing someone to make a specific choice while thinking it was an independent choice, without permanently depriving them of free will in all subsequent decisions. Even a temporary removal of free will in a given situation does not mean that free will is permanently removed.

I will say that IMO, these theological claims do largely render human life rather pointless, as it makes us all basically rats in a cage for a deity's amusement; and the deity that claims to have a plan knows how it will turn out eons before humans came into existence. (It is also plausible that the deity actually doesn't give a **** about humanity, and its plan is to make pretty patterns out of galactic superclusters. Anyway....) This is just a small component of the larger (and IMO more serious) issue of theodicy.

On a side note, there are all sorts of problems with the concept of free will, mostly coming from a neurological and psychological perspective. For example, dopamine agonists (which are used in some cases to treat Parkinson's) can send the brain's reward system into a tailspin, and cause some patients to exhibit compulsive behaviors -- compulsive gambling, hypersexuality, overeating, compulsive shopping and so on. The patients don't subjectively experience a change, so it took time and research to determine that the drugs had an impact.

What does free will mean, if taking a drug can deprive you of it, without you even realizing it?
I think you bring up a really interesting point about free will, actually... We don't seem to really be wired for it, which is very evident in the exceptions. I think the following is a great example of that:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2943-brain-tumour-causes-uncontrollable-paedophilia/

So the concept of free will is problematic even on the scientific front, when it can be "hijacked" so easily. If that's how we were created, then one must question the importance of us having free will in the mind of our creator.

The God having a plan thing isn't any attempt to rationalize anything, though...it is a direct quote from God, if you believe the Bible. And, again, if you believe the Bible, it was important enough to have it that concept committed to it, God definitely wants us to know that he's got a plan, and plans to execute it. I've posted elsewhere here that what we perceive as bad things in their own context may not be seen at the deity level as being bad, and may be necessary to fulfil the plan. All I can say about that is that we can't hope to understand everything...and we can't see all the alternative strings that would show us if the bad thing really was a bad thing, or the best possible thing, given the other possibilities. I think that's why faith plays such an enormous role in religion - it's not just believing that God exists, it allows us to follow God even though sometimes it would appear that God doesn't give a crap about us, or even seems out to get us. Faith in the wisdom of God's plan can sometimes be harder than having faith in God's existence.

I don't see being bound to a plan, without freewill, a dismal statement on life, though. We get to experience life the way we experience it, certainly it doesn't feel like we're being controlled, but the thought that all the randomness that we go through serves a higher purpose is a comforting one for me. If you have faith in and love God, but have had a life of one unexplainable mishaps or failures, it is nice to think that perhaps your bad day meant a win somewhere else. It gives purpose, but it also gives security, knowing that at least you can't screw anything up, in terms of the overall plan. In fact, what you might consider a screw up might be a critical part of the success of the plan. Only God knows...that clichéd expression carries with it a lot of pretty heavy contemplation, if and when you allow it.
 
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