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Does Man have free will?

Jason Menard
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DISCLAIMER: This is a non-denominational conversation that places no values on anybody's particular religious beliefs. It's purely philosophical. Please keep it friendly or I'm sure some random moderator will shut this down quicker than you can say "nine one one".
Question: Given that God exists and has divine foreknowledge of everything we will think, say, or do, does Man have free will?
If God knows, for example, that you will take a particular action at a certain point in the future, what does that say about mankind's freedom of will? Is there anything you can do to alter this outcome? Is it predetermined?
Regardless of your personal religious beliefs, for the sake of argument we must assume God exists (that is another debate). If we can accept that God exists then it is a given that He has divine foreknowledge.
NOTE: I am referring to Man as in all of mankind. I am not referring to, for example, "married man", as we all know that "married man" does in fact possess no free will as it has been drained from him along with the rest of his vital life energy.
Cindy Glass
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The question is not valid.
It presumes that God exists within time, and "sees" into the future, and he does not - at least not in the way that you are stating it. Being outside of the dimensions as WE know them is just about impossible for our brains to get a handle on, however I envision it as looking into a crystal ball and seeing all of time at a glance. What was and is and will be. Sort of like we can see the depth of a "scene" all at once. We do not have to travel the depth to perceive it, God does not have to travel through the passage of time to perceive it.
Based on that, the question of whether or not we have Free Will is unrelated to the fact that God has divine foreknowledge of everything we will think, say, or do. He has that knowledge either way.
The question of Free Will is more related to why God created us in the first place.
Personally I believe the purpose that he created us is all tied up in the concpt of "nuturing" our Free Will (not determining) towards those things that are more "God-like". I think that without Free Will there would be no purpose for our existance in the first place.
Think of our kids. Having a perfectly behaved little person that we KNOW will always do exactly what we want and exactly the right thing would not really be very fulfilling as a parent. It might be peaceful, but the whole point is to nuture your child to be something that you would be proud of EVEN IF you are not standing there influencing every little action that he takes.


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Cindy Glass
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Originally posted by Jason Menard:
NOTE: I am referring to Man as in all of mankind. I am not referring to, for example, "married man", as we all know that "married man" does in fact possess no free will as it has been drained from him along with the rest of his vital life energy.

Please notice that "married man was drained of his vital life energy in an effort to bolster the complete drudgery that "married woman" experiences. After a certain amount of mindless repetition of household chores "Free Will" ceases to be an issue - because the brain just turns off in self defence :roll: .
Jason Menard
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You're good Cindy. I thought it would have taken quite a bit longer before someone got to Boethius.
I believe you (and Boethius) are correct. Since God is eternal, He is non-temporal. He is not bound by our constraints of time. Basically He exists in the eternal present. The way you described this was very clear I thought.
So foreknowledge really doesn't apply since that would imply temporality. It seems like foreknowledge to us, but God, being eternal, views everything at once. So we still cause events through the freedom of our will, and God basically just witnesses these acts and is able to see their outcome quicker than we can.
Like you said, this really isn't able to be comprehended by Man. Man is said to have a complex thought process, where God's is simple. We cannot comprehend that which is simple.
Dave Vick
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From a scientific standpoint the question would be answered by 'Who knows'.
I say this because, if it were possible to know the location, vector, and velocity of every particle in the universe then, it should be possible to predict fairly accurately what will happen at any given point in the future. However, given that we really dont know how the human brain works (ie, what causes a particular thought to be generated), it can't be said whether or not our thoughts, and therefor our actions, our governed by any outside influence at all. If they are influenced by these outside forces then, no, we dont have self control and all of out actions and the entire course of human history was written billions of years ago when the universe was created.
On the other hand, if we are not effected by the wanderings of random sub-atomic particles then we most certainly do have free will.
Just my opinion, I think
Dave
*** Edited by Dave becasue he just went back and reread Jason' original post and it does indeed state thatt he existence of god is a given in the question. Given that information I delted the rest of my post here...
[ June 17, 2002: Message edited by: Dave Vick ]

Dave
Jason Menard
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Originally posted by Cindy Glass:

Please notice that "married man was drained of his vital life energy in an effort to bolster the complete drudgery that "married woman" experiences. After a certain amount of mindless repetition of household chores "Free Will" ceases to be an issue - because the brain just turns off in self defence :roll: .

Heh. Touche.
Anonymous
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Why does a man need free will, eh?
Jason Menard
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Originally posted by Dave Vick:
However, given that we really dont know how the human brain works (ie, what causes a particular thought to be generated), it can't be said whether or not our thoughts, and therefor our actions, our governed by any outside influence at all. If they are influenced by these outside forces then, no, we dont have self control and all of out actions and the entire course of human history was written billions of years ago when the universe was created.

It looks like you're headed towards another question, which would be what exactly is a person (as opposed to simply another animal)? The religious answer many times is simply the soul, but as you implied it's not that simple.
I would put things like free will and sense of self on the list of characteristics that define Mankind, although these things are not unique to humans. I was watching something recently on National Geographic and they were saying that they have figured out that the "great Apes", such as chimpanzees and orangutans, have a sense of self. Remember it even takes time for sense of self to develop in human babies, they don't pop out with it. Mind boggling stuff really.
R K Singh
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In a sense I will also agree with Cindy. As HE is everywhere so foreknowledge is relative to human kind only.
We can say God is ZERO, he is there whenn nothing is there and he is there when everything is there.
Originally posted by Cindy Glass:
why God created us in the first place.

I was thinking abt this for a long time ...
God created man OR man created God.
coz if I am last person of human kind then the moment I die God dies.
R K Singh
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Originally posted by <Johnny Bravo>:
Why does a man need free will, eh?

coz he is man and has one mind, which thinks
Rob Ross
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Question: Given that God exists and has divine foreknowledge of everything we will think, say, or do, does Man have free will?
Given that proposition, it's illogical to conclude we have free will. (That's why I would reject this proposition, but that's a different matter. )
There are two obvious mechanisms to consider in having foreknowledge of future events:
1) The future events have not yet occurred, as observed by someone in the "present". If this is the case, then "God" is somehow able to look outside "time" and perceive events that have not yet occurred but will, OR being omniscient, is able to perfectly predict all future events given a perfect understanding of the laws of the Universe and the current initial conditions. Either way, if you're assuming God is infallible, then these events must occur, thus we have no choice in how we arrive at them, thus we have no free will. For example, it's as simple as calculating the initial positions of all the balls on a billiard table, and giving the cue ball an initial velocity and direction, being able to perfectly predict the outcome of all the balls after the cue ball is struck.

OR...

2) All events exist simultaneously, even though to us in the "present" we can only perceive time as a "forward" motion in one dimension, and as brief instants or snapshots of these simultaneous events. If this is the case, then our future actions are being played out by us in that future dimension, and God is able to see all of these events at the same time. This also implies we have no free will, as our future actions have already occurred; we are not able to perceive them, but God can.


Rob
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Jason Menard
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1) The future events have not yet occurred, as observed by someone in the "present". If this is the case, then "God" is somehow able to look outside "time" and perceive events that have not yet occurred but will
But if God is not temporal, then there is no need for him to look "outside time". That is the concept of time is only relevant to us. Although events may not have yet occured according to how we live as temporal beings, God not being bound by time can see these events.
OR being omniscient, is able to perfectly predict all future events given a perfect understanding of the laws of the Universe and the current initial conditions.
I would say not "predict" so much as "see". "Predict" implies guessing to some degree, or basically opinion.
Either way, if you're assuming God is infallible, then these events must occur, thus we have no choice in how we arrive at them, thus we have no free will. For example, it's as simple as calculating the initial positions of all the balls on a billiard table, and giving the cue ball an initial velocity and direction, being able to perfectly predict the outcome of all the balls after the cue ball is struck.
I would agree that these events must necessarily occur. I don't think foreknowledge precludes freedom of will however. It comes down to causality. It is through the exertion of your free will that events unfold, God does not cause these events to take place, he only knows of them.
Even as temporal beings, in our present, we can see into the past, and theoretically at least even move into the future (doesn't the theory of relativity explain this?). When you look at a star in the night sky you are not seeing that star's "present". Because of the way light travels over distance you are seeing that star's condition in the past.
For the sake of argument, let's say that you, as an omnipresent being, can exist in more than one place simultaneously. Yourself on Earth is looking up at the night sky at a particular star that is thousands of light years away, while at the same time you are also on another planet in that same star's system. You on the other planet watches that star collapse into itself. Because you are omnipresent, you back on Earth knows that the star you are looking at just collapsed. Because this will not become evident on Earth for thousands of years, you now have "foreknowledge" of that star's collapse. You did not cause it to happen, you merely witnessed it. Maybe some action at the time could have prevented that from happening, but regardless, it is now necessarily true that in some thousands of years, Earth will witness that star's collapse.
2) All events exist simultaneously, even though to us in the "present" we can only perceive time as a "forward" motion in one dimension, and as brief instants or snapshots of these simultaneous events. If this is the case, then our future actions are being played out by us in that future dimension, and God is able to see all of these events at the same time. This also implies we have no free will, as our future actions have already occurred; we are not able to perceive them, but God can.
If this were the case, I still don't think it implies we have no free will. Given that our future actions have already occured, there still exists some underlying causality. Something must cause these actions to be taken. It is through our free will that things are played out and events are set in motion.
[ June 17, 2002: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
Randall Twede
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this will sound like a total contradiction, but i believe in free will yet i also believe in fate. without free will there is no purpose to life. without fate life makes no sense. i have to be able to hope that some day i will think everything happened for a reason.


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Shura Balaganov
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Excellent topic, Jason!
We use 2 terms here that need to be clearly defined before this question can be logically argued on. 1. What is "God" and 2. What is "Time". Now, I personally fail to define either, so I'd appreciate if someone could help me out here....
But nevertheless I'll give one interesting example. Lets assume that Time is not a straight line, but a Curve on a 2-dimentional Plane. Point A on a curve is "Present". We, as MANKIND, move along this curve in Time. We only know PAST and haven't seen FUTURE. We have infinite possibilities to occur in the FUTURE, because we "control" our Curve. However, a distant observer ("God") who can see the whole Plane can see everything that occured, or will occur, or WILL NOT occur. In this "Universe", Free Will and God do not contradict.
Shura


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Jim Yingst
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[Jason Menard]:
If we can accept that God exists then it is a given that He has divine foreknowledge.

Not necessarily. It's possible to imagine a God with "perfect" (see below) knowledge of the present, who is not able to make more than a really well-informed guess as to the future. But elsewhere you make divine foreknowledge part of your assumptions (or implicitly, part of your definition of what "God" is). Which is fine for discussion purposes, but it's important to recognize the additional assumption. For my part, I'd rather talk about the possibility that forknowledge is itself impossible, so (for this post at least) I'm diverging from that part of Jason's assumptions.
[Dave Vick:]
From a scientific standpoint the question would be answered by 'Who knows'.
I say this because, if it were possible to know the location, vector, and velocity of every particle in the universe then, it should be possible to predict fairly accurately what will happen at any given point in the future.

Not really. The predominant scientific view on this nowadays is that such predictive power is fundamentally impossible. In quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg principle tells us that beyond certain limits, it's impossible to ever know both the position and velocity of a particle with absolute certainty. This in so fundamental it goes beyond the question of knowing these characteristics - as soon as a particle has a well-established position, it loses any well-established velocity. And vice versa.
Normally, this effect only shows up at such a small, microscopic level that it doesn't seem to matter to us in our day-to-day lives. But modern chaos theory shows that there are many systems in nature which are incredibly sensitive to initial conditions. Weather is a good example. You could have a computational model showing the "exact" position and velocity of all molecules in the atmosphere, as well as all other factors afecting weather. (Solar radiation, ocean temperatures & currents, etc.) You could run this model forward, using it to prdict exactly what will happen, say, over the next week. Then, reset the model, and make an incredibly tiny alteration in the initial position &/or velocity of just one particle. Then run the model forward again, and compare with previous results. It turns out that the tiny initial discrepancy in positions grows bigger over time, and rather quickly manages to cause the whole system to diverge substantially from its previous behavior. Thus, your weather forecast might be fairly reliable over the scope of a day or two, and somewhat useful for several days after that. But you really have no chance at all of accurately forecasting weather, say, a year from now. (Other than, "it's usually monsoon season" or something like that.)
So basically, quantum mechanics says there will always be some uncertainty in our (or anyone's) knowledge of the universe. And chaos theory says that these tiny uncertainties can (and almost certainly will) magnify into much larger uncertainties in surprisingly short time. Now it may be argued that current scientific thought on this is not the final word, and there may be some deeper truth that allows for the possibility of absolute predictive powers. But I think it's fair to say that mainstream scientific thought is that absolute knowledge, and thus absolute prediction, are fundamentally impossible. As such, I'm inclined to at least consider the possibility that if some sort of God does exist, he might likewise be similarly limited in ability to see the future.
[ June 17, 2002: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]

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Shura Balaganov
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Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
But you really have no chance at all of accurately forecasting weather, say, a year from now. (Other than, "it's usually monsoon season" or something like that.)
So basically, quantum mechanics says there will always be some uncertainty in our (or anyone's) knowledge of the universe. And chaos theory says that these tiny uncertainties can magnify into much larger uncertainties in surprisingly short time. Now it may be argued that current scientific thought on this is not the final word, and there may be some deeper truth that allows for the possibility of absolute predictive powers. But I think it's fair to say that mainstream scientific thought is that absolute knowledge, and thus absolute prediction, are fundamentally impossible.

Jim, I agree with your last point. Let me just state, that since weather patterns have been studied for only about 100 or so years, which is a tiny period compared to life of Earth, there will be, undoubtly more general rules found in the future to help prediction models. Which will not, most likely, contradict the impossibility of absolute prediction of weather.
Said that, there's no flaw in arguing that there are unknown to humans - yet - fundamental laws that could closer model Universe, on a macro level. Just like "it's usually monsoon season", or "it's a high Sun radiation season", etc.
Now, from standpoint of "God", our macro level might be his "main" level, meaning that from Gods point of view one particular individual's future might make no difference, and therefore is useless to "observe". However, there might be situations (like nuclear war, for instance), when "God" might go "down" to our level to "interfere" with Free Will to keep the Universe rolling. Sort of like a human taking am anti-viral pill...
Too many quote symbols, it's hard to discuss philisophical subject without agreeing upon concepts.
Shura
[ June 17, 2002: Message edited by: Shura Balaganov ]
Jason Menard
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As such, I'm inclined to at least consider the possibility that if some sort of God does exist, he might likewise be similarly limited in ability to see the future.
This only works if God does not possess some of the characteristics commonly attributed to Him. "What is God?" is in itself its own quite lengthy topic for discussion.
But let's say God is only really good at making predictions. Well if this were the case, then events He predicted would not necessarily happen. This also leaves open the chance that God may be mistaken.
If God "sees into the future" then it implies that He is temporal. If He is temporal then he is not eternal.
Further, if God is "limited" in any particular area, He is not perfect.
I kind of liked, and agree with, Shura'a analogy of our present being a particular point on a plane with God able to observe all points on this plane from a distance.
Jim Yingst
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"What is God?" is in itself its own quite lengthy topic for discussion.
But of course. And we don't have to get into every aspect of that question, but I don't see how a meaningful discussion can be had without discussing at least some of his attributes, at least those related to the determinism/predestination/freewill discussion.
If God "sees into the future" then it implies that He is temporal. If He is temporal then he is not eternal.
I find it quite easy to imagine an entity which is "eternal", yet either can or can not "see into the future". I have no idea whether such a being is "temporal" according to your definition as this term is too vague for me.
Further, if God is "limited" in any particular area, He is not perfect.
With respect sir, poppycock. Can God create a rock which he cannot lift? If yes, he's limited in that he can't lift the rock; otherwise, he's limited in that he can't create the rock. Or we can agree that this notion of some absolute "perfection", devoid of any "limitation" whatsoever, is meaningless and/or nonexistent. I can imagine a being that I'd be willing to call "perfect" for all practical purposes, without requiring such a being to transcend time itself. I don't find it useful or even meaningful to reject an argument because it implies God is not "perfect", since this notion of "perfection" seems to me to be inherently flawed.
I kind of liked, and agree with, Shura'a analogy of our present being a particular point on a plane with God able to observe all points on this plane from a distance.
So, could God redraw these points if he wanted to?
Anonymous
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Sorry to go off on a tangent but I'm surprised that no-one has pointed out that since our knowledge and understanding of 'God' (for want of a better term) is non-existent why is everyone taking the traditional view of the divine as a male entity?
It seems to me to be a conceit by the writers of the Bible<sup>®</sup> that man was made in the image of God. And you can't prove or bring into existence what you don't know by just believing in it. Trust me.
Perhaps God is a huge invisible hermaphroditic housefly for all we know.
Jim Yingst
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Well, if God were a huge invisible hermaphroditic fruitfly, that would still have no bearing whatsoever on the question of freewill / God's will / predeterminism etc. So most of us chose to ignore this profound side issue you have discovered. :roll: And "he" seemed simpler than "he/she/it/whatever" whenever I needed a pronoun.
Anonymous
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Presupposing that he were don't you think that he would be pissed by man's use of flypaper and flyswatters and those fluorescent blue tubes in restaurants that go BANG?
And if he is pissed about that I expect that he will make sure that man has no free will whatsoever and doom the race to an untimely and a painful end.
But that's pure conjecture of course.
Ashok Mash
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Let me contribute couple of my thoughts, which actually represents another viewpoint cultivated by a totally different society, yet amusingly very similar.
Ancient Vedas (10,000 Years old, I think) says there was nothing but emptiness. Absolute nothing, but God. Then God creates Universe, from nothingness, or from "within" (from himself, if you personify god). So, as per Hindu mythology, God is everything you can imagine. They teach, God is SATWA, which means the "content". God is the content of the universe. God is the universe. You, me and anything else you can see has God in it, or we all are part of God.
Then, what about the 100,000 different gods we have in Hindu mythology? Again, all of them are personifications of god, custom made to suit your brain. Mortal human beings with limited imaginative power, finds it more appealing to have a form of God that easy to imagine, remember, explain, worship and to carry on to the next generation. Some would like God as a brilliant warrior, so they have Lord Rama to pray to, some might like God to be the wisest of the wise, most beautiful of all, so they have Lord Krishna. Also Sun, Moon, Ocean, Lightning etc where powers or elements of nature, on which we were so dependent on, so they too were worshipped as Surya, Chandra, Varuna, Indra etc. (same goes to Greek mythology as well)
Personified versions of God has many levels in Hinduism. There is God as God, and then there are three supreme Gods Bhrahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
Bhrahma is the creator, centre of all knowledge. Vishnu has a role of coming in between us mortals as one of them, time to time to re-establish peace and stability in Earth. There are about 12 incarnations of Vishnu, most popular being Lord Krishna. (There is also an argument in modern Hindusim that Jesus Christ is also a incarnation of Lord Vishnu! So is Budha. Now that's Hinduism ) And Siva is a saint, but also responsible for destruction of evil powers from the Universe. These different forms of God still exists and being worshipped because they are for the good of the society. Actually in most of the cases, it is not tradition that keeps these things going, but fear.
Well, I got carried away there. Now, my point is, personification of God is quite Ok for us mortals to explain our thoughts to each other. Like Cindy's example of God gazing into a crystal ball to see the future. Actual God is more like 'Infinity' in Maths and God is bounded only by boundaries of this Universe (basically none).
So the background is set, i.e., God as everything. If you accept that, 'Does God control some ones destiny?' is a wrong question. 'Is there free will for some one?' Again wrong question. Those questions stands valid only if we have God as extra-ordinarily powerful 'person' sitting on the top floor of the tallest building gazing into a crystal ball, or something like that. That is, these questions can be answered only if God shrinks to a persona that we tailor and call God. In that case, answers are only from our normal imagination and may be far from truth.
Oops, Did I just confuse you all?
Ashok.
[ June 18, 2002: Message edited by: Ashok Manayangath ]

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Dave Vick
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Originally posted by <The Human Fly>:
Perhaps God is a huge invisible hermaphroditic housefly for all we know.

But then, since according to the bible we were made in gods image, wouldn't we all be huge invisible hermaphroditic houseflys, instead of pink, spindly, fleshy, human beings?
Clarence Kirby
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Here's a great paradox that relates with this topic:
One seemingly ordinary overcasted day a group of people went on a picnic together. Then, from out of the blue an alien ship came down and landed right next to the park where these people were eating. An alien came out of the spaceship and came over to the group of people. He announced to them that he had perfect foresight and he could predict anyone's personal decision with 100% accuracy. Of course everyone doubted him.
So he said he would prove it to them, "I have with me two boxes, under one will always be $1000, but under the other will be either $0 or $1000000. You have a choice, you can either pick both boxes in which case there will be no money under the second box and you will earn only $1000, or you can pick the second box in which case there will be the $1000000 under it. Sense I have perfect foresight I will know what choice you will make beforehand and will either put the money under the second box or won't (hidden from view of course). Then you may go up to the boxes, make your choice, and the appropriate money will be waiting for you."
The first person to go up thought to herself, "Sense the alien has already put the money under the boxes, no matter what choice I make the money is there and its not going anywhere. So if I choose to take what's inside both boxes I will at least end up $1000 richer."
After many people made this same choice (and they all got merely $1000) a man decided to try the other option. "I've seen all of these people go and get the money the alien promised they would get for their choice. I trust this alien does have perfect foresight and so I will choose to take only the money under the second."
The man made his decision and sure enough he got his $1000000.
I'm not making any claims to whether or not this supports/opposes the claim of free will, I just thought it might be something additional to think about during this discussion.
Shura Balaganov
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Originally posted by Ashok Manayangath:
...God as everything. If you accept that, 'Does God control some ones destiny?' is a wrong question. 'Is there free will for some one?' Again wrong question. Those questions stands valid only if we have God as extra-ordinarily powerful 'person' sitting on the top floor of the tallest building gazing into a crystal ball, or something like that. That is, these questions can be answered only if God shrinks to a persona that we tailor and call God. In that case, answers are only from our normal imagination and may be far from truth..

Ashok, Amen....ahem...great post! "God" being everything is the closest answer I ever got for myself when trying to figure out what is "God".
By a shy individual called "The Human Fly":
It seems to me to be a conceit by the writers of the Bible´┐Ż that man was made in the image of God.

Always troubled me. If man was made in the image of God, here's a paradox. Humans are not perfect. There's always someone or something wich is profoundly better in any aspect than human. For instance, there are animals out there who can hear, see run, fly or swim better than a human. Computers can now compute faster. So there's NO REASON why there can't be a hybrid of these, which in case will be a LOT MORE POWERFUL than a human being. And there's no reason why he/she/it should look like a human. Then, why "God" went through all this trouble creating a Man by his/her/it image?
Shura
[ June 18, 2002: Message edited by: Shura Balaganov ]
Jason Menard
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Saying that "God created Man in His image" doesn't necessarily mean phycial appearance. It could simply mean posessing certain attributes of God. My interpretation would be the part of us that is in God's image is what by many might be called the soul.
I'm by no means a religious scholar, but I believe that angels do not have souls, and that the soul was a specific gift to Man. Therefore I interpret Man being given a soul as being "created in His image".
[ June 18, 2002: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
Cindy Glass
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Exactly Jason - that is what I always thought also. That is what separates Man from the rest of the animal - Man has a soul "in the image of God".
Shura Balaganov
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Jason, are you saying that animals have no soul? Have you seen an elephant grieve himself to death when his fiance, female elephant, died? Did you ever observe cats or dogs (although I agree, some of them DEFINITELY don't have a soul )?
I don't believe in concept that only humans can feel. Then what is "soul", what is this unique characteristic that separate us from them (besides the fact that we like to invent gadgets because we are lasy enough not to want to do things ourselves)?
Shura
[ June 18, 2002: Message edited by: Shura Balaganov ]
Jason Menard
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Doesn't the Bible say that only Man possesses a soul? Maybe someone more informed could help me out with that one.
If we want to stay relatively biblical, and as Cindy eluded, I think one way to think about it is that Man's soul is in the image of God, but the souls of animals are not.
I really haven't thought too long and hard exactly what it means to possess a soul, particularly in relation to other creatures. I kind of always thought of a soul as the essence of our being, but really haven't taken it much beyond that.
Anonymous
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What does it matter if I know anything? You will have free will as long as I don't care to interfere.
R K Singh
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Originally posted by Cindy Glass:
That is what separates Man from the rest of the animal - Man has a soul "in the image of God".

opss..
Animals also have soul....
OR I am not getting meaning of soul
Ashok Mash
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Again, according to Hinduism (I am just being a pipe-line here, trying to feed you all with a different viewpoint which you may not have noticed before, thats all ), everything has soul. Not only human beings, all living beings have soul and all souls are similar, and part of God. And death is the process of a soul leaving its earthly part and returns back to God (everything else other than that soul).
Actually, even an evil soul goes back to God. Souls never die. Angels are not just pretty faces, but those souls who have done enough good deeds in their earthily life(s) before, and so achieved the all important eternal 'MOKSHA', so that they don't need to go through gruelling life in our world any more. Aim of any given soul is do enough good deeds and break away from the death and birth cycle, stay as a part of God once and for all. Isn't that what heaven is all about? Do you think heaven is White Sandy beach and all interesting people and fun?
This can cause another argument. Does that mean even bad souls are coming from God? And they keep suffering the earthly life say X number of times, and gets revived and goes back to God. So is God running a self-cleaning cycle here? [/I]
Or it may be that there are no bad souls coming to earth ? An infant?s soul is innocent, and it learns and develops by itself. And goes back again after X many years of good or bad KARMA. So again God (rest of everything, except that soul ) decides what to do with that soul... So doesn?t that means everyone has control of his own destiny ? at least from birth to death?
Well, I don?t know.
Ashok
PS: If any one reads all these posts, he/she will surely find Richard Bach's ONE very interesting.
PSS: Shura, I have found some other similarities in the concepts that you have, and that of Hinduism. Like the sound 'DA' - which is sound of the universe as per Hindu mythology. The sound 'DA' brings prosperity to all 3 worlds (Heaven, Earth, and Underground world Pathala - something like Hell). Anyway, lets not 'threadjack' here.
Shura Balaganov
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DA
Randall Twede
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    2

there is an old joke i like.

god is not dead he just moved to a better neighborhood
Clarence Kirby
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PSS:
- Ashok

I think you mean PPS:
Bwahaha. :]
Cindy Glass
"The Hood"
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Originally posted by Shura Balaganov:
I don't believe in concept that only humans can feel.

Well, I don't believe that either. I believe (some of them at least) can feel emotions as strong as we do. Emotions are not what make a soul.
I do not believe that an animal has a soul. I guess that is a basic difference between Hinduism and Christianity. That does not mean that I should not have respect for the life that it has, I just don't believe that there will be mice in heaven.
But then I don't believe in reincarnation (on earth) either.
Jason Menard
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This is beginning to remind me of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
He mentions the famous philosopher OOlon Colluphid, author of such philosophical blockbusters as "Where God went Wrong", "Some more of God's greatest Mistakes", "Who is this God Person anyway?", and "Well that about wraps it up for God."
Speaking about the Babel Fish, a fish that when put in one's ear allows for the understanding of all forms of communication:

"Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything
so mindboggingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that
some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching
proof of the non-existence of God.
"The argument goes something like this: `I refuse to prove that I
exist,' says God, `for proof denies faith, and without faith I am
nothing.'
"`But,' says Man, `The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it?
It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so
therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED.'
"`Oh dear,' says God, `I hadn't thought of that,' and promptly
vanished in a puff of logic.
"`Oh, that was easy,' says Man, and for an encore goes on to
prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next
zebra crossing.
Anthony Villanueva
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I don't know why, but I felt irresistibly drawn to this thread and I couldn't help but give my two cents too...

Question: Given that God exists and has divine foreknowledge of everything we will think, say, or do, does Man have free will?

It's typical of human thinking to start with the palpable and the everyday, and view the unfamiliar in these terms. And if it's very unfamilar, we extrapolate from the familiar. We can't help it, that's the way our minds are wired.
To put it a concrete example, when people started dealing with very small objects there a bit of confusion about whether it was a "particle", in the sense of a child's marble, except that it was very very small, or whether it was a "wave", like the ones you see when you stir a pool of water. Later on, the consensus was it was strictly neither, though it had the properties of both (complementarily speaking, of course). So very very small objects are localized, but somehow its probability function is self-interacting. So odd, and so absurd, if you think about it. There's quite nothing like it. Nothing up here in Newton's world anyway.
To put it in another way, we have convenient "categories" by which we sift our experience into meaningful terms. Whether or not these categories are a priori or not is of course a totally different matter.
This goes to show that our familiar, everyday concepts can only go so far and when we start applying them, extrapolating to things beyond the pale we get absurdities like "can-an-immovable- object-be-moved-by-an-irresistible force" kind of questions that amused the Sorbonne theologians of 13th century Paris.
Like, as Jim Yingst put it, can God create a rock which he cannot lift?
Assuming God exists (which, I believe, is a necessary premise to join the discussion), it is but natural then to imagine Him as basically a hyped-up person. You know, with senses, emotions, decision making abilities, a mind that can know.
Consider even the concept of "knowing". It's a timebound concept. There is a point in time when I not aware of, say, fact A, and then later on, in another point in time, I now become aware. And this constitutes (in a very rash simplification) "knowing". Can we gracefully extract this intuition of a linear progression in time from the concept of "knowing" and still have a usable concept that somehow still captures the essence of "knowing"?
I mean, we haven't even decided if we can only know purely from experience, or if there is a priori knowledge.
I think about an electron I imagine a very very small spinning marble that likes positively charged particles. When I think about God I imagine a being that "knows". I suppose both images are inapt. Now, when we start talking about conclusions and inferences based on these images, then we're treading on dangerously uncertain grounds. Do electrons around nuclei have actual orbits? Does God know what I will do tomorrow?
For physics in general and quantum mechanics in particular, the saving grace is its mathematics, which more or less relieves us of the burden of sustaining the science with comforting physical imagery which may be more imaginative than correct, like electron orbits or tiny spinning marbles. (Heck, it doesn't really even spin like an ordinary marble). But when it comes to theology, it's history is proof of how far it has fallen short of delivering its claims.
I mean, I don't see a forum thread here debating on whether or not two bound electrons can have the exact same set of quantum eigenvalues, do you?
BTW, I have forgotten Adam's sly dig at Paley's watch. Anselm's ontological proof can be beguilingly persuasive.
And hey, we were nowhere even near about talking about what we mean by "will", much less, "free will"...
Jason Menard
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With respect sir, poppycock. Can God create a rock which he cannot lift? If yes, he's limited in that he can't lift the rock; otherwise, he's limited in that he can't create the rock. Or we can agree that this notion of some absolute "perfection", devoid of any "limitation" whatsoever, is meaningless and/or nonexistent. I can imagine a being that I'd be willing to call "perfect" for all practical purposes, without requiring such a being to transcend time itself. I don't find it useful or even meaningful to reject an argument because it implies God is not "perfect", since this notion of "perfection" seems to me to be inherently flawed.

God cannot create a rock which he cannot lift for that is not possible. God can only do that which is possible and that which does not cause contradiction. Neither can God make 2+2=5, nor can he make square circles.
God cannot create a rock that he cannot lift because he is all powerful. If he cannot lift the rock, he is not all powerful. There can be nothing more powerful then God, but God. Ifhe could not lift the rock, the rock would be more powerful, so therefore it would be God. This is a contradiction and cannot be.
This does not show he is limited or finite. Anything he creates is under his domain. Anything he creates, he can likewise destroy. Therefore, if he can make it, he can lift it.
Another way to think about it is this. You cannot create something from nothing. Before the universe, there was only God and nothing else. Since you cannot create something from nothing, the universe by definition must be of God's essence. So it is automatically less than Him. Any part being less than the whole. So would it be for any rock or anything else he created. It could only be less than Him.
[ June 18, 2002: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
Shura Balaganov
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God can't, but I can!
Let's take space of all Integers. Let's define a + operator (we will call it "plus") where a+a=2a+1, for any given integer a.
Then 2+2=5. Voila.
Shura.
 
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subject: Does Man have free will?