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Author Topic: How "free" is our freewill?  (Read 877 times) Average Rating: 0
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LizaSymonenko
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« on: November 14, 2012, 11:21:42 AM »


The topic came up last week in a conversation, and I thought I knew the answer, but, as the days go by and I ruminate on it, I'm not so sure that what I had thought was correct.

I was always of the notion that we had complete free will and could decide to either do this or that.  We've been shown, and taught, and instructed on what we should do, but, the act itself is up to us.  We either choose to do good, to do bad, or to do nothing at all.

The statement was made that God knows beforehand what we will do...to which I adamantly protested, stating that we have complete free will. 

To me, that train of thought always smacked of predestination...and I don't believe anyone has been destined to be a sinner, a murder, a betrayer, an adulterer, etc...but, we "choose" to be these things.

However, the more I think on it....  Christ told Judas to go and do what he must...so, He must have already known that Judas would betray Him.  Christ told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed....so, He must have already known this, even though Peter was convinced he would never do such a thing.

So, did God know that Eve would eat the forbidden fruit?   Did He know that Lucifer would rebel?

If He "knew" all this ahead, it sounds like there really is no real choice....because if He knows it, than it will happen....

I'm struggling with this at the moment and can't quite get my head around it.  I know there's a simple explanation, but, it's eluding me....

If someone could simplify this for me, I would appreciate it.

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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2012, 11:38:21 AM »

We have complete free will, yes. But I have always been told that God knows what we will do, from our own free will, and he does not change or alter what we choose to do. Considering God is outside of our understanding of time (Past/Present/Future) it makes sense to me.

Just because he knows does not mean it is not our choice, he did not predestine anything, he just knows what we will do is all.
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« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2012, 11:43:30 AM »


The topic came up last week in a conversation, and I thought I knew the answer, but, as the days go by and I ruminate on it, I'm not so sure that what I had thought was correct.

I was always of the notion that we had complete free will and could decide to either do this or that.  We've been shown, and taught, and instructed on what we should do, but, the act itself is up to us.  We either choose to do good, to do bad, or to do nothing at all.

The statement was made that God knows beforehand what we will do...to which I adamantly protested, stating that we have complete free will.  

To me, that train of thought always smacked of predestination...and I don't believe anyone has been destined to be a sinner, a murder, a betrayer, an adulterer, etc...but, we "choose" to be these things.

However, the more I think on it....  Christ told Judas to go and do what he must...so, He must have already known that Judas would betray Him.  Christ told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed....so, He must have already known this, even though Peter was convinced he would never do such a thing.

So, did God know that Eve would eat the forbidden fruit?   Did He know that Lucifer would rebel?

If He "knew" all this ahead, it sounds like there really is no real choice....because if He knows it, than it will happen....

I'm struggling with this at the moment and can't quite get my head around it.  I know there's a simple explanation, but, it's eluding me....

If someone could simplify this for me, I would appreciate it.



I've always understood it this way. To God there is no before or after. God is outside time. When we say God knows something before we do it, it doesn't mean He causes it, simply that He knows all. Past, present and future are things that mean something only from the perspective of one bound by time. God knows our future just as I know there's a person sitting in front of me. I didn't put him there and God doesn't cause us to do what we will do in the future, He just sees our actions as we see the present.

No idea if that helps you but it's always worked for me.

James
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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2012, 03:53:49 PM »

This explanation helped me a bit with this topic. I think it came from C.S. Lewis' book Mere Chrisitianity. He said that our lives are a timeline drawn on a sheet of paper. As we live our lives we can only look at our past actions and the present and make decisions for the future. But what God sees is the sheet of paper. For Him there is no past, present, or future, there just is. He sees the decisions we made, make and will make, however, in His love for us, He does not influence or manipulate those decisions.
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2012, 04:39:59 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!


The topic came up last week in a conversation, and I thought I knew the answer, but, as the days go by and I ruminate on it, I'm not so sure that what I had thought was correct.

I was always of the notion that we had complete free will and could decide to either do this or that.  We've been shown, and taught, and instructed on what we should do, but, the act itself is up to us.  We either choose to do good, to do bad, or to do nothing at all.

The statement was made that God knows beforehand what we will do...to which I adamantly protested, stating that we have complete free will. 

To me, that train of thought always smacked of predestination...and I don't believe anyone has been destined to be a sinner, a murder, a betrayer, an adulterer, etc...but, we "choose" to be these things.

However, the more I think on it....  Christ told Judas to go and do what he must...so, He must have already known that Judas would betray Him.  Christ told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed....so, He must have already known this, even though Peter was convinced he would never do such a thing.

So, did God know that Eve would eat the forbidden fruit?   Did He know that Lucifer would rebel?

If He "knew" all this ahead, it sounds like there really is no real choice....because if He knows it, than it will happen....

I'm struggling with this at the moment and can't quite get my head around it.  I know there's a simple explanation, but, it's eluding me....

If someone could simplify this for me, I would appreciate it.



I don't think God knows what we will do before we do it, He knows every possibility and every possible outcome, like a kind of algorithm or matrix, and so can know what will happen after we express our agency and free will.  However and again, I am not quite sure the fullness of predestination is Orthodox, our cosmology entirely allocates for free will.  Without Free Will how can we Love God in the truest sense?  Love can't be feigned, it has to push us from the core of our being, it has to truly be our own in existentially. God has to take the risk of allowing for our freedom of thought, of feeling, of interpretation of His Grace, that we can metabolize this Created world into Love, Gratitude, and Worship. So perhaps God knew that Adam and Eve could eat the Fruit, knew that Satan could rebel, knew that we all could make those daily sins we all struggle with, but does God know that we WILL do these? I would like to think that God has hope above all hope that we WON'T make these mistakes, and that if we do, we will come in time to a natural repentance.  Humans are naturally self-reflective beings, in in our self-reflections we often encounter guilt, responsibility, and accountability.  That is the consequence of the Fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, self-reflection, a spiritual narcissism, which requires us to always take scope of how we fit into our social hierarchies, both local, familial, and cosmological (this includes God and the bigger picture).

I have heard scientific arguments that we lack free will, that the chemical and neurological structures of our brains subconsciously determine our thoughts, our reactions, our feelings.  That what we think of as our experience with free-will is just the way our personalities interpret these chemical signals and concoctions in the brain.  However, this is a purely non-Spiritual interpretation.  In Orthodox theology, the Soul/Spirit is the source and origin of all of our being, our existence, our feelings/thoughts.  The Brain and its respective chemicals are the mechanism which the soul manifests spiritual realities into physical realities.  The signals in our brain are the reaction to the inner and underlying spiritual sources. As spiritual beings we feel happy, and our brains respond into our physical bodies releasing feel-good hormones like endorphins and Oxytocin, when our spiritual beings feel stressed our brains respond and release stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisols.  When our spiritual selves are feeling dreamy we release Serotinin which is the same neurochemistry behind LSD trips and other psychedelic drugs.  Whereas science thinks the chemicals are the all-now of our existence, we know they are merely mechanisms.  So the chemicals do not determine our  free-will, the neurological structures do no determine our free-will, the socio-cultural patterns in our brains do no determine our free-will.  In the theological sense, free-will is the agency of our being (which is at once spiritual and physical) to make decisions, to have independent feelings, and to have interpretations and reactions.  We have a very real sense of free-will, in the cosmic sense, we can make almost eternal decisions which have ontologically effected even the entirety of Creation. 

Free will is the crux of Orthodox Theology, it is why we are not into Atonement Theory or Penal Substitution, and it is why we believe in the Grace of the Mysteries and of Synergy and of Theosis.  The answer to the Mysteries of Creation is free-will, God enabled us with this agency to make our own decisions, to embrace or reject God at any given moment, and so it takes an Eternity it seems for God to allow us steadily to adjust to His will by experiential learning, hence why it seems further that He gives us the opportunity at Eternal Life to sort it all out. 

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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2012, 04:40:47 PM »

I had these same struggles, the exact same in fact.


What settled me, at least I think it did, is to think of God as a history book writer.

He knows of everything that has happened, past, present, and, to us, future, but it was OUR choices that made the events, which gives us our free will, God just knows what will happen.

However, I then came into the problem of, if the above is true, is that not limiting Him, making him work on only a timeline? The solution that me and Wandering Sheep thought through was: God knows what can happen and did happen, but yet, through things such as prayer and so forth, can change what will happen.

(I am probably imprecise, and possibly bordering on heresy, so any corrections are welcome)
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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2012, 04:49:26 PM »


I've always understood it this way. To God there is no before or after. God is outside time. When we say God knows something before we do it, it doesn't mean He causes it, simply that He knows all. Past, present and future are things that mean something only from the perspective of one bound by time. God knows our future just as I know there's a person sitting in front of me. I didn't put him there and God doesn't cause us to do what we will do in the future, He just sees our actions as we see the present.

No idea if that helps you but it's always worked for me.

James

i agree with james; God knows which way we will choose, because he sees our hearts.
just like if someone buys nasty socks for your father / brother, you can fairly accurately predict that they will not like it.
so to God all is clear. but He gives us every chance to follow Him.

one good reference is p1523 'the basis of God's judgement', an article in the orthodox study Bible.
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« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2012, 04:59:55 PM »


The topic came up last week in a conversation, and I thought I knew the answer, but, as the days go by and I ruminate on it, I'm not so sure that what I had thought was correct.

I was always of the notion that we had complete free will and could decide to either do this or that.  We've been shown, and taught, and instructed on what we should do, but, the act itself is up to us.  We either choose to do good, to do bad, or to do nothing at all.

The statement was made that God knows beforehand what we will do...to which I adamantly protested, stating that we have complete free will. 

To me, that train of thought always smacked of predestination...and I don't believe anyone has been destined to be a sinner, a murder, a betrayer, an adulterer, etc...but, we "choose" to be these things.

However, the more I think on it....  Christ told Judas to go and do what he must...so, He must have already known that Judas would betray Him.  Christ told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed....so, He must have already known this, even though Peter was convinced he would never do such a thing.

So, did God know that Eve would eat the forbidden fruit?   Did He know that Lucifer would rebel?

If He "knew" all this ahead, it sounds like there really is no real choice....because if He knows it, than it will happen....

I'm struggling with this at the moment and can't quite get my head around it.  I know there's a simple explanation, but, it's eluding me....

If someone could simplify this for me, I would appreciate it.



Liza,

God is outside of time in himself. And because God is holy, he is able to create everything knowing what will happen, while simultaneously giving creatures authentic free will.

In other words, God can predestine you according to what you would have chosen. This seems nonsensical, but God is beyond created causality so he can do it. Anything is possible with him.

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« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2012, 05:49:40 PM »

This would be a fun topic for the Protestent forum, as the opposing views are not for the faith issues board (unless you're only interested in Orthodox perspective).  Wink
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« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2012, 07:10:20 PM »


The topic came up last week in a conversation, and I thought I knew the answer, but, as the days go by and I ruminate on it, I'm not so sure that what I had thought was correct.

I was always of the notion that we had complete free will and could decide to either do this or that.  We've been shown, and taught, and instructed on what we should do, but, the act itself is up to us.  We either choose to do good, to do bad, or to do nothing at all.

The statement was made that God knows beforehand what we will do...to which I adamantly protested, stating that we have complete free will. 

To me, that train of thought always smacked of predestination...and I don't believe anyone has been destined to be a sinner, a murder, a betrayer, an adulterer, etc...but, we "choose" to be these things.

However, the more I think on it....  Christ told Judas to go and do what he must...so, He must have already known that Judas would betray Him.  Christ told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed....so, He must have already known this, even though Peter was convinced he would never do such a thing.

So, did God know that Eve would eat the forbidden fruit?   Did He know that Lucifer would rebel?

If He "knew" all this ahead, it sounds like there really is no real choice....because if He knows it, than it will happen....

I'm struggling with this at the moment and can't quite get my head around it.  I know there's a simple explanation, but, it's eluding me....

If someone could simplify this for me, I would appreciate it.



Liza,

God is outside of time in himself. And because God is holy, he is able to create everything knowing what will happen, while simultaneously giving creatures authentic free will.

In other words, God can predestine you according to what you would have chosen. This seems nonsensical, but God is beyond created causality so he can do it. Anything is possible with him.


This is what I was taught.

Our rational minds tell us that free will and God's foreknowledge are mutually exclusive, when they aren't, because, well, He is God.
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« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2012, 07:23:50 PM »

I'm glad I came across this topic. It has been one of the biggest struggles I have been dealing with on my Christian journey. I have a Mormon friend who debates this issue with me constantly, so that just makes it that much more difficult.

If we use the C.S. Lewis analogy of time being a line God draws on a paper, then it seems we have the problem that he is the one drawing the entirety of the line, and thus he is responsible for the existence of every aspect of that line. Likewise, if God is the author of our existence isn't he is responsible for every bad thing that occurs?

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« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2012, 07:34:21 PM »

For myself I would say my will certainly isn't free it's tossed about willy nillie by a sea of passions, I think that it will take a lifetime of struggle in attempts to set it free by grace.
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« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2012, 07:49:37 PM »

Our free-will depends upon how close we are to God's love. When we obey God, receive His love and life out the life of the Church, we attain more freedom as we learn to master our passions and really reflect on life. We can really see things in a new, free perspective and do things that normally we would never have been able to do if we remained slaves to sin. On the other hand, we gradually lose our freewill when we disobey God, reject His love and live a life of evil. We become slaves to our own wickedness, having to constantly satisfy our desires, pleasures and growing carnal hunger. We become unable to master our passions, and our emotions run rampant, and we percieve everything through a lense polluted by sin. We truly become slaves. BUT, that does not mean that there is still no hope at all, and that we are despair. As my patron St. Augustine once said "It is not to be held against you that you are ignorant against your will, but that you neglect to seek out what it is that makes you ignorant; not that you cannot bring together your wounded limbs, but that you reject Him what would heal them. No man has been deprived of his ability to know that it is essential to find out what it is damaging not to be aware of, and to know that he should confess his weakness, so that He can help him who seeks hard and confesses.". In other words, no matter how bad we become--even if we entirely become enslaved--we can still turn to God--that is the ultimate freedom that NOTHING--not even death itself--could separate from us. And once you turn to God, God can heal you and help you to reattain your freedom--provided you let Him.

EDIT: Knowledge does NOT equal causation. Just because God knows everything that is going to happen, it does not necessarily follow that He made it happen. This was always my biggest objection to Protestant determinism.
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« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2012, 07:55:14 PM »

Our free-will depends upon how close we are to God's love. When we obey God, receive His love and life out the life of the Church, we attain more freedom as we learn to master our passions and really reflect on life.

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« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2012, 08:26:01 PM »

I heard a theologian once "quote" St John of Damascus saying that God does have the propensity to know all things, but a lot of times He chooses not to know.  In another part, he quotes his Coptic spiritual father saying "God now deals with you according to His love, but on Judgment day, He will deal with you accordin to His knowledge."

As to the source of the Damascene quote, I do not know.  But I'm interested in reading your thoughts.
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« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2012, 08:37:12 PM »


The topic came up last week in a conversation, and I thought I knew the answer, but, as the days go by and I ruminate on it, I'm not so sure that what I had thought was correct.

I was always of the notion that we had complete free will and could decide to either do this or that.  We've been shown, and taught, and instructed on what we should do, but, the act itself is up to us.  We either choose to do good, to do bad, or to do nothing at all.

The statement was made that God knows beforehand what we will do...to which I adamantly protested, stating that we have complete free will. 

To me, that train of thought always smacked of predestination...and I don't believe anyone has been destined to be a sinner, a murder, a betrayer, an adulterer, etc...but, we "choose" to be these things.

However, the more I think on it....  Christ told Judas to go and do what he must...so, He must have already known that Judas would betray Him.  Christ told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed....so, He must have already known this, even though Peter was convinced he would never do such a thing.

So, did God know that Eve would eat the forbidden fruit?   Did He know that Lucifer would rebel?

If He "knew" all this ahead, it sounds like there really is no real choice....because if He knows it, than it will happen....

I'm struggling with this at the moment and can't quite get my head around it.  I know there's a simple explanation, but, it's eluding me....

If someone could simplify this for me, I would appreciate it.


Just talking about your mentioning of Christ talking to Judas.  I always thought of this verse as a form of rebuke, probably a Jewish form of rebuke similar to the Arabic way. I know the way I was brought up, if let's say I am known to lose things.  When I'm entrusted to keep something, sarcastically I'm told "Go ahead, and do what you have to do, losing it." If anything Christ was giving Judas a harsh chance to repent by being sarcastic.  But Judas in his guilt leaves.
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« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2012, 10:54:35 PM »

If someone could simplify this for me, I would appreciate it.

Fr. Hopko talks about this issue here:

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/predestination
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« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2012, 10:55:30 PM »

This would be a fun topic for the Protestent forum, as the opposing views are not for the faith issues board (unless you're only interested in Orthodox perspective).  Wink

Feel free (if you can!) to start such a topic in Orthodox-Other.
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« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2012, 02:41:06 AM »

God predestines according to our hearts, to who we are, and not according to some dead mechanism that knows and sets everything up beforehand. So, if we love God and we surrender to Him, a beautiful and powerful phenomenon happens: we find ourselves more and more within God Himself because He has already predestined knowing that we would love Him. All the things from the past begin to make sense in the NOW because He knew even back then that we would turn to Him (say at some point in the future), and He was setting things up even before we were born, before the world itself. And, the more we advance, the more we realize that we are not advancing towards ourselves, but towards God because He is the One setting things up according to His All-Knowledge and All-Power. There is nothing a creature can feel, do or think that hasn't already been thought of and taken into account beforehand by God. So, then, for those who love God, they find that everything in their lives was predestined to unite them with God. In the "end", we find ourselves in God, The Holy Trinity, The Infinite that loves, knows and does everything, as we, humans, are meant to be from the beginning.

I recently read a passage by theologian Fr. Dumitru Staniloae that was referring to how God relates to those who hate Him. He loves them, too, but He just sees them as dead, as if they are a mechanisms, since there is no way He can enter their hearts and relate to them.


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« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2012, 03:07:21 AM »

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CANON 1. If anyone denies that it is the whole man, that is, both body and soul, that was "changed for the worse" through the offense of Adam's sin, but believes that the freedom of the soul remains unimpaired and that only the body is subject to corruption,he is deceived by the error of Pelagius and contradicts the scripture which says, "The soul that sins shall die" (Ezek. 18:20); and, "Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are the slaves of the one whom you obey?" (Rom. 6:126); and, "For whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved" (2 Pet. 2:19).f
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« Reply #20 on: April 12, 2013, 05:51:34 PM »

Good question. If God has foreknowledge than he can manipulate your "free-will" based on what he knows you would elect. Like Augustine said : "God can sent the proper invitation" .

Who made Adam and Eve? God. Who made the tree of knowledge of good and evil? Who placed that tree in the middle of the garden near the tree of life? Who gave the commandment ? The answer to all this is God. It seems like God wanted Adam to fail. He had foreknowledge, no? He knew how Adam and Eve would think, and Adam failed at the first temptation. Why did he place that tree in a confusing place near the tree of life and made it so appealing? He seemed to be using reversed psychology on Adam. Why did God made an imperfect being right from the start that he was susceptible to sin and failed with the first train and than he punished him for it, after using reverse psychology on him. After the first billions of years Adam would eventually eat from that fruit out of curiosity or boredom. Why did God made a harming fruit? Why did God made Adam sin curious and placed the desire to sin and the thought to sin in his heart? I think this questions should cover most of the known metaphorical interpretations of that act.

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« Reply #21 on: April 12, 2013, 09:43:09 PM »

I've always seen it this way; empirical reasoning is all we have. We have to axiomatically assume that reasoning is valid because we can get nowhere if it isn't. It's the first principle of existence. Now, the whole notion of determinism seems to really challenge this for me, because the notion of having no freedom in regards to reasoning really challenges the validity of knowledge.
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« Reply #22 on: April 13, 2013, 07:21:49 AM »


I've always understood it this way. To God there is no before or after. God is outside time. When we say God knows something before we do it, it doesn't mean He causes it, simply that He knows all. Past, present and future are things that mean something only from the perspective of one bound by time. God knows our future just as I know there's a person sitting in front of me. I didn't put him there and God doesn't cause us to do what we will do in the future, He just sees our actions as we see the present.

No idea if that helps you but it's always worked for me.

James

i agree with james; God knows which way we will choose, because he sees our hearts.
just like if someone buys nasty socks for your father / brother, you can fairly accurately predict that they will not like it.
so to God all is clear. but He gives us every chance to follow Him.

one good reference is p1523 'the basis of God's judgement', an article in the orthodox study Bible.

sorry, mabsoota, I have to disagree.  This analogy is more akin to Satan's ability to predict the future, as opposed to God's omniscience.
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« Reply #23 on: April 13, 2013, 11:37:00 AM »

I've always seen it this way; empirical reasoning is all we have. We have to axiomatically assume that reasoning is valid because we can get nowhere if it isn't. It's the first principle of existence. Now, the whole notion of determinism seems to really challenge this for me, because the notion of having no freedom in regards to reasoning really challenges the validity of knowledge.

"Empirical reasoning" is an oxymoron.
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« Reply #24 on: April 13, 2013, 01:38:54 PM »

I've always seen it this way; empirical reasoning is all we have. We have to axiomatically assume that reasoning is valid because we can get nowhere if it isn't. It's the first principle of existence. Now, the whole notion of determinism seems to really challenge this for me, because the notion of having no freedom in regards to reasoning really challenges the validity of knowledge.

"Empirical reasoning" is an oxymoron.

It is?
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« Reply #25 on: April 13, 2013, 02:22:46 PM »


The topic came up last week in a conversation, and I thought I knew the answer, but, as the days go by and I ruminate on it, I'm not so sure that what I had thought was correct.

I was always of the notion that we had complete free will and could decide to either do this or that.  We've been shown, and taught, and instructed on what we should do, but, the act itself is up to us.  We either choose to do good, to do bad, or to do nothing at all.

The statement was made that God knows beforehand what we will do...to which I adamantly protested, stating that we have complete free will. 

To me, that train of thought always smacked of predestination...and I don't believe anyone has been destined to be a sinner, a murder, a betrayer, an adulterer, etc...but, we "choose" to be these things.

However, the more I think on it....  Christ told Judas to go and do what he must...so, He must have already known that Judas would betray Him.  Christ told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed....so, He must have already known this, even though Peter was convinced he would never do such a thing.

So, did God know that Eve would eat the forbidden fruit?   Did He know that Lucifer would rebel?

If He "knew" all this ahead, it sounds like there really is no real choice....because if He knows it, than it will happen....

I'm struggling with this at the moment and can't quite get my head around it.  I know there's a simple explanation, but, it's eluding me....

If someone could simplify this for me, I would appreciate it.


Just talking about your mentioning of Christ talking to Judas.  I always thought of this verse as a form of rebuke, probably a Jewish form of rebuke similar to the Arabic way. I know the way I was brought up, if let's say I am known to lose things.  When I'm entrusted to keep something, sarcastically I'm told "Go ahead, and do what you have to do, losing it." If anything Christ was giving Judas a harsh chance to repent by being sarcastic.  But Judas in his guilt leaves.

Just wanted to comment again on this rebuke with a funny story.  The other day, I'm coming out of the Subway and a little girl was playing with the escalator and tripped, but her mother held her hand so that she won't fall.  Her mother, in her rebuke to the little girl, "Go ahead, do that again!  Do that again!  You wanna fall and hurt yourself?  Do that again!"

Compare this with what St. John Chrysostom says here:

Quote from: Homily LXXII on the Gospel of John
Ver. 27. “Then Satan entered into him.”

Laughing at him for his shamelessness. As long as he belonged to the band of disciples he dared not spring upon him, but attacked him from without; but when Christ made him manifest and separated him, then he sprang upon him without fear. It was not fitting to keep within one of such a character, and who so long had remained incorrigible. Wherefore He henceforth cast him out, and then that other seized him when cut off, and he leaving them went forth by night.

“Jesus saith unto him, Friend, that thou doest, do quickly.”

Ver. 28. “Now no man at the table knew with what intent He spake this unto him.”

Wonderful insensibility! How could it be that he was neither softened nor shamed; but rendered yet more shameless, “went out.” The “do quickly,” is not the expression of one commanding, nor advising, but of one reproaching, and showing him that He desired to correct him, but that since he was incorrigible, He let him go. And this, the Evangelist saith, “no man of those that sat at the table knew.” Some one may perhaps find here a considerable difficulty, if, when the disciples had asked, “Who is it?” and He had answered, “He to whom I shall give a sop when I have dipped it,” they did not even so understand; unless indeed He spake it secretly, so that no man should hear. For John on this very account, leaning by His breast, asked Him almost close to His ear, so that the traitor might not be made manifest; and Christ answered in like manner, so that not even then did He discover him. And though He spake emphatically, “Friend, that thou doest, do quickly,” even so they understood not. But he spake thus to show that the things were true which had been said by Him to the Jews concerning His death. For He had said to them, “I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it again”: and, “No man taketh it from Me.” ( c. x. 18.) As long then as He would retain it, no man was able (to take it); but when He resigned it, then the action became easy. All this He implied when He said, “That thou doest, do quickly.” Yet not even then did He expose him, for perhaps the others might have torn him in pieces, or Peter might have killed him. On this account “no man at the table knew.” Not even John? Not even he: for he could not have expected that a disciple would arrive at such a pitch of wickedness. For since they were far from such iniquity themselves, they could not suspect such things concerning others. As before He had told them, “I speak not of you all” ( ver. 18 ), yet did not reveal the person; so here, they thought that it was said concerning some other matter.
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« Reply #26 on: April 13, 2013, 02:25:25 PM »

I heard a theologian once "quote" St John of Damascus saying that God does have the propensity to know all things, but a lot of times He chooses not to know.  In another part, he quotes his Coptic spiritual father saying "God now deals with you according to His love, but on Judgment day, He will deal with you accordin to His knowledge."

As to the source of the Damascene quote, I do not know.  But I'm interested in reading your thoughts.

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« Reply #27 on: April 13, 2013, 11:09:34 PM »

We have complete free will, yes. But I have always been told that God knows what we will do, from our own free will, and he does not change or alter what we choose to do. Considering God is outside of our understanding of time (Past/Present/Future) it makes sense to me.

Just because he knows does not mean it is not our choice, he did not predestine anything, he just knows what we will do is all.

But this doesn't work.  Because if God knows what we'll do from our freewill, then he already knows... Thus the future already exists.   If the future already exists, then we have no "true" freewill.

The issue at hand is "Does God "KNOW" the future"?

Through his prophecies, I don't think anybody would deny this.

I think it is impossible to answer the OP question.  God is beyond all our human logic.  There is no way to understand this.

Now, I'm going to go use my freewill, and get some of my daughter's lenten cookies she just made.   Smiley
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« Reply #28 on: April 14, 2013, 11:37:47 PM »

I've always seen it this way; empirical reasoning is all we have. We have to axiomatically assume that reasoning is valid because we can get nowhere if it isn't. It's the first principle of existence. Now, the whole notion of determinism seems to really challenge this for me, because the notion of having no freedom in regards to reasoning really challenges the validity of knowledge.

"Empirical reasoning" is an oxymoron.

It is?

"The dispute between rationalism and empiricism concerns the extent to which we are dependent upon sense experience in our effort to gain knowledge. Rationalists claim that there are significant ways in which our concepts and knowledge are gained independently of sense experience. Empiricists claim that sense experience is the ultimate source of all our concepts and knowledge."
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rationalism-empiricism/
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Apart from moral conduct, all that man thinks himself able to do in order to become acceptable to God is mere superstition and religious folly. - Immanuel Kant

Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. - Matt. 5:24
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