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Response to Freedom & Foreknowledge

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phiend

Response to Freedom & Foreknowledge

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This week's eSkeptic contained an article that I felt like discussing here. The article was written by a William A. Wisdom (is that truly a real name?) which was a response to an earlier article. Mr. Wisdom tries to purport that gods ability to "know" everything that ever was, is, and will be is some how compatible with the concept of free will. The article can be found here at the bottom of the page.The first point I would like to bring up is that I completely disagree with his assertion of what free will is, from the article.Quote: By freedom we can only mean "a power of acting or not acting, according to the determinations of the will; that is, if we choose to remain at rest, we may; if we choose to move, we also may." Perhaps this expresses the same point: A person's action is free just in case he would have acted differently if he had chosen differently.Although I feel that this is close, I have one problem with it. If, even if someone is unaware of it, ones choices are limited by the choice or influence of another than there is no longer free will. If the person is unaware of the influence than they may still have the appearance of free will, but in fact do not have it. The type of choices and influences I'm talking about here aren't the types that other people can have on your life, but only the types of choices and influences a proper god can make, choices that influence the existence and properties of a universe.One thing that has to be considered in a discussion of whether a god can be omniscient and allow free will, is whether he wholly created the universe. The author of the article touches on this subject with this a lengthy discussion of "possible worlds" that in my opinion has little to do with the topic. The basic premise he makes is thisQuote: God scans the infinitely many details of each of these infinitely many possible worlds. For reasons that are irrelevant here, He decides to "actualize" or bring into reality one of these possible worlds.Basically saying that god had the ability to make any universe with any set of properties and he chose this specific one. He then goes into thisQuote: As it turns out, He chooses one of the possibilities in which some human conduct is free. And of course He knows everything that will ever happen in that world. After all, He understood every detail before He decided to bring it into existence. Now think about it. His having chosen to actualize a possible world in which action is free doesn't change that action from free to necessitated or compelled. Why? Because the actualized world is exactly the same world the concept of which was in God's mind prior to creation
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Re: Response to Freedom & Foreknowledge

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phiend: If, even if someone is unaware of it, ones choices are limited by the choice or influence of another than there is no longer free will. If the person is unaware of the influence than they may still have the appearance of free will, but in fact do not have it.Sounds like you're making a distinction between absolute free will and limited free will. I don't see any reason to insist on absolute free will. Even if some choices are impossible, so long as a person is still capable of choosing among a set of possible alternatives, they can still be said to have free will. In fact, even if a person is influenced towards one option, I don't see why we should say that their choice is constrained, unless that influence is incorrigible -- in which case, it isn't so much influence as it is constraint.One thing that has to be considered in a discussion of whether a god can be omniscient and allow free will, is whether he wholly created the universe.I'd say the question of creation is more pertinent to the question of free will than is that of knowledge. That a presumed God might know all the outcomes doesn't necessarily mean that God influenced those outcomes. Knowing does not make God an agent in events, anymore than knowing that Brutus conspired against Julius makes you a party to that conspiracy. God's knowledge of events only becomes a hindrance to free will if that knowledge is exercised in the act of creation -- that is, if God, knowing what course Creation would take, created it in order, or even in tacit approval, of that course.In the Judeo-Christian tradition, it's hard to separate God's foreknowledge from the act of divine Creation. That doesn't mean that other traditions would necessarily have the same problem, provided that the formulate differently the relationship of God to the World.As it turns out, He chooses one of the possibilities in which some human conduct is free.As I understand it from the second-hand sources in which I've encountered it, this is roughly equivalent to the ideas of Plantiga. I'd actually be interested in reading one or more of his books, as it seems he's been very influential in contemporary debates. Three of the books we've read recently as a group have mentioned Plantiga's views, and I've run across him in at least two books I've been reading outside of BookTalk.
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