An omnipotent god creating a consistently good person is the same kind of paradox question you find with “could an omnipotent god create a rock too heavy to lift.”
Incidentally, a rock too heavy to lift is a relic of old thinking which demonstrates my point about new gods conceived by our generation are exponentially more powerful than the gods of our ancestors, even when those old gods are claimed to be all powerful. unraveling-the-supernatural-t11308-30.html
(my first post on this thread addresses that)
But in any event, the problem lies with the word omnipotent. A thing which cannot exist because the very definition is paradoxical. If it is powerful enough to do anything at all then it can create something more powerful than itself, which means it isn’t the ultimate level of power. The problem is not in our understanding of the world, but in the word we are using: omnipotent.
There are also problems with the usual understanding of free will, especially paired with omniscience.
First, our will is not free. The state of our minds in this instant is a direct consequence of the state of our minds in the instant immediately preceding, and those states are all contingent on our environment and the ever-lasting domino effect of existence. There is a certain cone of possibilities which we are unable to escape. For us, currently, no choice could be made and acted upon which would put any one of us on Neptune. That is a limit of possibilities which restricts our free will. We are likewise already restricted from total free will in our inability to inflict our will on the external world. Total free will would be equivalent to god’s own powers of omnipotence. If an omnipotent god could grant us with any powers he chose then he could certainly let us control the world with our minds. If god did create us then he has already curtailed our will to prevent us from, say, killing people with our minds.
That is an evil which we are fundamentally denied. He could have allowed us that option and tested our goodness against our powers to kill with our minds, but he denied us that ability, and therefore is already interfering and setting the parameters of what moral choices we are even capable of entertaining. So “free will” must be put into quotations.
In the same light there are those among us now who have never seriously entertained the idea of killing somebody else. And yet that option is as open to them as it is to anybody. They are not prevented from participating in great evil any more than anyone else, yet they never would. So if god made that
the base line of our moral standing then people would still have “free will” and there would be a huge reduction of great evil in the world.
God is choosing the amount of evil we are able to inflict because he sets the parameters of our abilities and that directly impacts what is within the realm of “free will”.
What’s more, our will is dependant on our bodies. Our brains, specifically, and especially. People with brain damage are fundamentally altered, people with brain tumors, or even intoxication directly affect our mental capacity, and the expression of our will. To that extent, our will is not free because it is dependant on a physical object which can be perturbed without our consent.
Drugs can make us negligent, or amiable, so called truth serums, sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, disease are all capable of changing the function of our minds and in so doing curtail what is available in the realm of “free will”. Our “free will” in other words is pre-determined physiologically. And more deeply than that, on a quantum level. With a sufficiently powerful computer and sensory data a computer could simulate every decision you could make. Though we do not have the computing powers available to us to predict these things that doesn’t alter the fact that everything is a causal relationship, and that includes the decisions you think you are making.
Setting aside these problems, if we determined that free will were really possible, without the quotation marks, then an omniscient god makes any decision we would make inconsequential in any event. For an omniscient god would know the outcome of any decision we might make from the beginning of its own creation, long before we exist and could therefore, and WOULD therefore orchestrate events so that every decision is exactly as that omniscient god wants it to be, and our free will would therefore reacquire the quotation marks.
In other words, there is no surprising an omniscient god. Did an omniscient god need to test Abraham to see if he would murder his child? No. Because he’s omniscient. The only people who learned anything in that scenario are Abraham and his child. First, that Abraham was so deluded that he would murder his child, and second that his child needed to get the hell away from Abraham before he had a vivid dream where god tells him to peel his child like an orange and wear his face to family meetings. Abraham would do that if he thought god wanted him to do it.
And god never did want him to do it. He only wanted to force those people through that horrible ordeal. Why? To force Abraham’s decision to go exactly how god knew it would. And to force that event into the timeline so that later decisions would have that one as a backdrop. That is how an omniscient god negates free will, and how everything a free-acting agent does under the supervision of an omniscient god is nothing but playing out a script.
In the real world we are faced with a similar dilemma. Our decisions exist in a cone of possibility. That cone travels with us and things eventually pass outside of the cone of possibility based on the environment and previous events.
So it isn’t really true to say that anything is possible.
I might have been an Olympic athlete had I made different choices as a youth. But now I’m 32, I have a job, and I have a family. Being a serious Olympic athlete, though not impossible, is well outside the realm of likelyhood at this point and is on the verge of passing beyond the event horizon of my cone of choices. And in actuality, it already is past any reasonable sub-group of choices. It still exists as a choice. I could quit my job, leave my family and start training for the Olympics. But it isn’t a viable choice according to my past behavior and my current environment. So while it is a choice available to me in absolute terms, it just isn’t going to happen. Is it therefore really part of my options? How could I choose to do what I will not choose to do?
In order for me to do something that drastic something would have to fundamentally change about me that alters the variables I must weigh to make such a choice. It would change me to such an extent that the “me” who is typing this would hardly recognize the agent which made that choice to be the SAME “me”. That would be the choice of some “other”. Possibly one with brain damage, or who had suffered some dramatic episode which entirely re-routes what I value.