Did God give us Free Will? Questions from an Atheist for believers!by Don Lacey on Feb. 05, 2013, under Atheism, Biblical Inerrancy, Christian Self-Righteous Arrogance, Christianity, Creationism, Critical Thinking, Ethics, Faith, Freethought, Fundamentalism, God & Bible, Logic, Nature, Question of the Day!, Reason, Religion, Science, Skepticism, Willful Ignorance
Jim Wilson has a few questions:
Did God give us Free Will? No. There is no reason to think so because there is no evidence to suggest that God ever existed but the existence of free will is still in question. For all practical purposes, it seems that we have it and we must act as though it exists. On the other hand, it could be that all of our behaviors and thought processes are the result of chemical reactions that we have no way of controlling.
The existence of free will depends on the definition of the term. After all, we may have free will in the sense that we are free to make decisions ourselves but, at the same time, we may lack it in the sense that actual decision making process is dictated by immutable physical laws.
Many religious people use free will as an explanation for why the world is messy. They argue that God wants us to voluntarily choose Him. They say our failure to do this has introduced sin into the world along with tapeworms, hurricanes, and tornadoes. Of course, this argument flies in the fact of the claim that God is all-knowing, all-benevolent, and all-powerful. All-knowing assumes prescience and all-powerful assumes total control of everything that happens. If God has a plan, no human activity can effectively alter the plan.
If, however, God is lacking in the infinite knowledge depart, or the infinite powers department, then free will maybe a little more plausible. But that makes God a little less great which may be just fine for some believers. The Judeo-Christian then must ask, “What did God know and when did he know it?” Additionally, it gives rise to countless other questions, such as:
Did God not create Satan? Could God not destroy Satan at this very moment? Did God not knowingly allow Satan to introduce evil into the world? Did God not knowingly begin the chain of events that led to evil being introduced into the world? Could God not have removed evil from the world at any time if he wanted to? If so, wouldn’t that make God ultimately responsible for the existence of evil in the world? Did God know that the world would become such brutal and inhospitable place for humans as a result of Adam eating the fruit? Was this part of this God’s plan or the result of a miscalculation on God’s part? Did God intentionally set Adam and eve up for failure? Were Adam and Eve simply tools used by God to introduce sin into the world? Could God have tweaked Adam and Eve’s personalities such that they could have avoided the whole incident, but chose not to? Was the talking snake actually an agent of God’s will, or the result of some sort of error in his judgment? Why should Adam’s descendants be punished for Adam’s actions? Was it God’s intention that humans should be a permanently ignorant?
Some believers argue that the world we live in is far from the human ideal because this allows humans to be virtuous rather than acting as something akin to robots. This leads me to ask:
Was Adam’s fall necessary for humans to be virtuous? Were Adam and Eve capable of being virtuous before their fall? Given this, is it possible to be virtuous in Heaven? Is there free will or sin in heaven?
Other Christians argue that Satan, rather than God is ultimately responsible for the evil that exist in today’s world. That is too convenient.
There are ambiguities within the Judeo-Christian world-view and areas that are potentially problematic for believers. Different believers will have different answers for these questions but the Bible says, “Prove all things: hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
These are my thoughts on free will and my latest set of questions for the faithful.