Free-will

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PaladinDave

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Jun 22, 2004, 9:30:43 AM6/22/04
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Long have I thought that a view of the universe where all things
operate rationally must exclude the possibility of there being
"free-will". How can a human being or animal act truly on their own
accord? Ultimately, our decisions are the product of our genetics and
our environment, so in what sense are any of our decisions free? If
cause and effect is to be assumed as fundamental to logic (would you
disagree with this?), then is there any true explanation for how
"free-will" could possibly operate?

Any logically constructed replies are appreciated.

Thanks.
PaladinDave

Adam

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Jun 27, 2004, 9:23:51 PM6/27/04
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> Long have I thought that a view of the universe where all things
> operate rationally must exclude the possibility of there being
> "free-will".

I don't understand how reason contradicts free will. And what do you
mean by "all things" operating rationally? I'm pretty sure that a
rock, for example, isn't rational. (Heck, I even say humans aren't
rational).

> How can a human being or animal act truly on their own
> accord? Ultimately, our decisions are the product of our genetics and
> our environment, so in what sense are any of our decisions free?

I believe there's a third source of our decisions and what makes us
who we are: our soul. Given that I believe in God, it seems obvious
that there must be more to me than simply genetics and environment.
If only matter exists, then I agree - there can't be free will.

> If
> cause and effect is to be assumed as fundamental to logic (would you
> disagree with this?

Definitely not.

> ), then is there any true explanation for how
> "free-will" could possibly operate?

I believe there is. It seems like the concern is that with free will,
there seems to be an event that's happening with no cause. But that
assumes that all causes are physical causes. I don't see a problem
with an event being caused by something non-physical. I believe I am
my soul possessing a physical body. My body, including my brain, is
nothing but an object to be manipulated in order to accomplish my
will, much as I'm manipulating this keyboard to cause these words to
appear. Me, which is spiritual, causing physical events.

Someone could say, "how is it that these spiritual things could cause
matter to move, not being able to touch matter?" But still, I don't
think that's any more of a problem from any physical force. Take
gravity, for instance. You could ask, "how is it that objects cause
other objects to move towards them?" As far as I know, no one knows
the reason; only that it happens. Even if gravity were to be
generalized into a more general scientific law, I doubt it would be
one for which I couldn't ask a similar question.

Indeed, given that God exists, I don't have a reason why he would
create the universe if free will doesn't exist. If everything has no
choice, but is just caused by physical events coming before it in
time, then what's the point of creating it? But if He created for the
sake of finding out what beings with free will would do in certain
situations, then I can at least partly see a reason for creating.

So ultimately, it seems to come down to: if God exists, then free will
must exist; if He doesn't, then it can't. The question of whether
free will exists then becomes a question of whether God exists.

> Any logically constructed replies are appreciated.

Yeah, there is far too much flaming happening on this Usenet thing. I
hope my response is satisfactory.

By the way, if you reply and I don't reply soon, it's not necessarily
because I don't think replying is worthwhile; I'll probably just be
busy.

> Thanks.
> PaladinDave

Dan.B.

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Jul 1, 2004, 10:26:48 PM7/1/04
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I'll start by saying that this is my first time posting on a forum and
so I'll attempt to get my argument across clearly but if I don't, feel
free to tell me.

I don't think the argument really does boil down to being a
theological debate. Personally I take the side of a hard-determinist
and believe that everything does have a cause which eliminates the
possibility of free will. Here's how the existance of a soul doesn't
void our point.

Every one of our actions has a cause. We all agree on that. Whether it
be from our environment or from our soul it makes no difference. But I
will also explain how even if there were actions that had no cause it
would still not be free will.

What needs to be realized is that a soul (or any other metaphysical
existance)would still follow a cause and effect chain. So even if we
were to bring in the existance of something outside of ourselves, that
thing would still be determined (following causes).

If actions DO have causes then those causes have causes and those
causes have causes and so on into infinity. Eg: We do charity because
we're concious of the poor's suffering because our soul is caring
because A) we were born that way or B) something happened (like
upbringing) to make the soul caring.

A would mean that we were born that way and so God (or luck or the
environment) would be in control and B would mean that the conditions
made us a certain way not something outside of ourselves.

Now a refutation to this would be "Ok so what if there were things
that we did that had no cause? Wouldn't this be our free will?"
Well the truth of the matter for this point is kind of the clincher.
If we do something without cause then its not a will. Its more like
randomness. I guess that could be considered a will but we call people
who do things without purpose lunatics and lock them up. So I doubt
that that is the will that we would like to be refering to.

Take this example: You hear a loud noise outside of your door. You
assume that it has a cause because thats the way we're brought up: We
learn that every event has a cause. If it didn't have a cause then it
just happened. And it could happen a billion times randomly but that
wouldn't give it coherence.

I do not think, however, that hard determinism rules out the
possibility of God in any way. It just says that the literal
translation of the Bible is incorrect; which we've known ever since we
learned the earth revolved around the sun and that the apocalypse
didn't come when the book of Mark said it would.


I think hard determinism is such a hard concept for most to accept
because it rids each person of all resonsibility. How can I be held
responsible for something outside of my control? The answer is that I
can't. And if you can't be blamed then you can't be praised for doing
good. So no longer can we call a person charitable or nice or
merciful. Most hate this idea because they'd like to consider
themselves all those things.

Its true. The implications of hard determinism are huge. However there
is good that comes with the bad.

I hope that I was able to make my point. I look forward to a response.

Bob Crowley

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Jul 4, 2004, 8:05:26 AM7/4/04
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dan.b...@gmail.com (Dan.B.) wrote in message news:<2efbd560.0407...@posting.google.com>...


Like Dan B. I believe in God (and in particular the Christian God),
which means that the factors involved include

1. our genetic code / makeup
2. our upbringing / training / circumstances
3. our soul
4. our intelligence
5. the circumstances which make a decision necessary
6. the reality of other spiritual beings, other than God eg. the
devil, angels, demons.

Dealing with the last first, I believe there are spiritual beings,
which I suppose could be called pure intelligence. They have no
genetic code, and their upbringing was, I suppose, one could say,
heavenly. Yet some of them rebelled against their creator. They have
very high intelligence.

The church's claim about these beings is that their "fall" is
irrevocable, and cannot be undone.

This does not preclude the issue of predestination or "hardline"
determinism altogether, since we don't know what God planned. In a
sense even the devil has a job to do. But it is a job he wants to do.

In the case of the genetic code / makeup, and upbringing, and
intelligence, I know of two brothers who went through tragic
circumstances. Born to alcoholic parents, both had elements of a
disorder which could be likened to Downs Syndrome, yet isn't. They
were put into a Boy's Home, which was cruelly run and they were
treated badly. At the age of fifteen they were discharged, without
real training, of less than "average" IQ. They were only a year or so
apart in age.

Yet one of them always had a "sense of God". The other didn't.

The one who did, while having a hard life with a menial job, did very
well, and owns his own home, with some money on the side. The other
brother was washed up on a fence after flooding, having been overtaken
while sheltering under a bridge from rain. He'd have only been in his
twenties at the time.

Now I am not going to say I believe the unbelieving brother was
necessarily condemned, for the simple fact God was so very unfair to
him. He never really had a chance. I think he will wind up in heaven
eventually, which would of course be anathema to hardline Calvinism
for example. I think Calvin is wrong, to put it bluntly.

But why was it that one of the two brothers, in almost identical
circumstances, and with very similar genetic makeup, always have a
"sense of God", while the other did not.

Their choices followed this trend. ONe sought refuge in the church,
and found community and acceptance there. The other was unable to find
refuge in the world and perished.

I don't know the answer frankly. The Bible does hint at
predestination quite strongly at times, yet at others tells us to make
a choice (eg. "I have set before you Life and Death. Therefore,
choose Life".)

The night my father died (and I don't know who sent the visit or
vision) he appeared in my room. He had treated me badly.

However during the exchange, he said at one stage "I always was
doomed! I didn't really have any choice!"

I argued back, saying "that can't be right!"

His reply "Oh, it's right, all right. You can see that from here!".

A minute or two later he disappeared with a terrifying scream.

Yet I believe we have free will. During his life he made many
choices. Some of them had no moral implication at all (eg. what bait
will I use for my fishing?).

But others did ("I'm going to drink rum tonight, even though I know I
always lose control when I do").

Add to this the presence of unseen spiritual agents, trying to
persuade us one way or the other, and the issue gets complicated.

I don't know the answer - but I suspect we are subject both to our
free will and God's predestination (in your terms "hardline
determinism). One thing I do know is that we cannot ignore God, for
the simple reason we are all going to face Him one day.

As I said before, the church's claim on spiritual beings is that they
are irrevocably doomed if they rebel against God. Since they have no
genetic makeup, and their circumstances were extremely good before
they rebelled, then the spiritual choice is somehow unchangeable. Yet
it has happened.

Perhaps the reason we are offered salvation, despite our "fallen"
estate (which is not even of our own choosing, in a sense, being
predestined), is that we cannot see what is going on, and our genetic
makeup and circumstances leave a lot to be desired. In addition we
are subject to the contest between God and the devil, and in that
respect, perhaps we do have free will. But I don't know the full
answer, and I don't think I will until the day I stand before the
Judgement Seat myself.

Bob Crowley.

Adam

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Jul 4, 2004, 12:45:21 PM7/4/04
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> I'll start by saying that this is my first time posting on a forum and
> so I'll attempt to get my argument across clearly but if I don't, feel
> free to tell me.

I'd say you've done a better job than many people who post regularly.
:)

> I don't think the argument really does boil down to being a
> theological debate. Personally I take the side of a hard-determinist
> and believe that everything does have a cause which eliminates the
> possibility of free will. Here's how the existance of a soul doesn't
> void our point.
>
> Every one of our actions has a cause. We all agree on that. Whether it
> be from our environment or from our soul it makes no difference. But I
> will also explain how even if there were actions that had no cause it
> would still not be free will.
>
> What needs to be realized is that a soul (or any other metaphysical
> existance)would still follow a cause and effect chain. So even if we
> were to bring in the existance of something outside of ourselves, that
> thing would still be determined (following causes).
>
> If actions DO have causes then those causes have causes and those
> causes have causes and so on into infinity. Eg: We do charity because
> we're concious of the poor's suffering because our soul is caring
> because A) we were born that way or B) something happened (like
> upbringing) to make the soul caring.

The reason I disagree with you here is that you say causes go on to
infinity. Let me explain. I believe that the causal relation is a
logical, rather than an observed, relationship. We say that objects
have a gravitational attractive force toward each other because we've
observed it many, many times; if it were to suddenly stop happening,
it would be unexpected, but it would not defy the laws of logic. The
statement "A causes B", if true, I believe would require going against
the laws of logic in order for it to be false. So I see statements
like "A causes B" to be closer to the category of mathematical
statements rather than scientific theories.

Taking that into account, it seems illogical for causes to go
backwards to infinity, unless there is another cause of the whole
system. Likewise, it seems illogical to have a circle of causes, as
in A causes B which causes C which causes A, unless there is another
cause of the whole system. The only logical setup, I believe, is for
there to be one or more originating causes, which themselves have no
cause, which starts a chain of causes and effects.

My view of a free action is one of those originating actions. It's
true, I see free actions as actions without a cause; but like I've
said, I believe that to stay logically consistent there must be at
least one action without a cause anyway. If you think about it, it
seems like we always trace physical events back to a chain of causes,
but stop when the chain reaches a person. While the question of why a
physical event occurred always has another cause, the question of why
a person acted a certain way can be sufficiently answered by saying
"(s)he chose to".

> A would mean that we were born that way and so God (or luck or the
> environment) would be in control and B would mean that the conditions
> made us a certain way not something outside of ourselves.
>
> Now a refutation to this would be "Ok so what if there were things
> that we did that had no cause? Wouldn't this be our free will?"
> Well the truth of the matter for this point is kind of the clincher.
> If we do something without cause then its not a will. Its more like
> randomness. I guess that could be considered a will but we call people
> who do things without purpose lunatics and lock them up. So I doubt
> that that is the will that we would like to be refering to.

I do not believe free actions are random. There may be random and
uncaused events, (though I have no reason to believe there are), but
free actions are ones that are not random and not caused. It's the
choice of the person with free will that determines the action, rather
than randomness.

> Take this example: You hear a loud noise outside of your door. You
> assume that it has a cause because thats the way we're brought up: We
> learn that every event has a cause. If it didn't have a cause then it
> just happened. And it could happen a billion times randomly but that
> wouldn't give it coherence.
>
> I do not think, however, that hard determinism rules out the
> possibility of God in any way.

But, as I said in my previous post, I can't understand why God would
bother to create the universe if there is no free will. Why make us
experience things from our point of view if we can't make any
(genuine) choices?

> It just says that the literal
> translation of the Bible is incorrect;

What part of the Bible are you referring to that may suggest hard
determinism is false?

> which we've known ever since we
> learned the earth revolved around the sun

Does the Bible really say this is false? Where?

> and that the apocalypse
> didn't come when the book of Mark said it would.

I think you're referring to a passage where Jesus says something like
"This generation will not pass away until all these things have taken
place". It's true, that passage seems to present problems to a
literal interpretation of the Bible, but I can't be sure. For one
thing, it may be that there are still people that God has kept alive
from that time. Also, the passage seems a bit vague; I'm not sure
whether "pass away" means physical death, or something else. It might
mean "cease to exist", for example; and I'm sure no one from Jesus's
generation has ceased to exist. I'd have to know the original Greek
words to be more sure.

> I think hard determinism is such a hard concept for most to accept
> because it rids each person of all resonsibility. How can I be held
> responsible for something outside of my control? The answer is that I
> can't. And if you can't be blamed then you can't be praised for doing
> good. So no longer can we call a person charitable or nice or
> merciful. Most hate this idea because they'd like to consider
> themselves all those things.
>
> Its true. The implications of hard determinism are huge. However there
> is good that comes with the bad.

Yes, you're right that we have to be careful not to simply believe
what we want to believe. I think there could be some of that in
believing in either hard determinism or free will - for example,
people might like the idea that they aren't responsible for their
actions. Both beliefs can be genuinely held, too, I think - we just
have to be careful.

Adam

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Jul 4, 2004, 7:41:44 PM7/4/04
to
<snip>

>
> Like Dan B. I believe in God (and in particular the Christian God),
> which means that the factors involved include
>
> 1. our genetic code / makeup
> 2. our upbringing / training / circumstances
> 3. our soul
> 4. our intelligence
> 5. the circumstances which make a decision necessary
> 6. the reality of other spiritual beings, other than God eg. the
> devil, angels, demons.
>
> Dealing with the last first, I believe there are spiritual beings,
> which I suppose could be called pure intelligence. They have no
> genetic code, and their upbringing was, I suppose, one could say,
> heavenly. Yet some of them rebelled against their creator. They have
> very high intelligence.

Can you explain what's you mean by intelligence? How does it differ
from our soul? People often use it as if it's a property of the
brain. In that case it seems like it would fall into the category of
genetic code / makeup.

<snip>

Bob Crowley

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Jul 5, 2004, 9:45:15 AM7/5/04
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adams...@yahoo.ca (Adam) wrote in message news:<6f1027e6.04070...@posting.google.com>...

In my article preceding this one, I used the word "intelligence" for
spiritual and human beings. As far as the human brain is concerned
(and that of animals), it would appear the genetic code is largely
responsible for what we might call "intelligence".

In the case of spirits, it would obviously have a different cause.

In the case of computers, which can process data, and give decisions
based on strictly defined rules (apart from fuzzy logic, which still
contains rules), the degree of intelligence is dependent on the
hardware and software - the clock, the CPU, the efficiency of the
software etc.

What are we to make of "schooling" behaviour where a whole school of
fish turn on a point, or a hive of bees act together to make a complex
hive and social organism?

In the case of God, I think I am outranked and in no position to
speculate. If I am to believe the concept of an omnipotent,
omniprescent, all knowing God, then I have to accept that He can
monitor "Everything", past, future and present.

This includes not only monitoring the words, thoughts and actions of 6
billion extant humans, and all animals, but also those of all past and
future generations.

It includes being able to monitor the electrons moving inside a super
computer, and seeing where each one goes. It means knowing what
signals are being sent down every fibre optic cable. It means
simultaneoulsy knowing what is going on inside every black hole, and
where every worm is at all times. This seems impossible, but then
with chips, nanotechnology and biotechnology, we are following in his
footsteps, as one would expect beings made in His image to do. We in
turn tend to make machines in our image, with the common concept of
the universal robot as being humanoid.

Thus intelligence is the ability to think, however crudely that is
put. Whether it is genetic, or electronic, or spiritual is, in a way,
irrelevant. What is "flying"? Is it flapping wings, or turbines
pushing metal machines through the air, or floating due to hot air, or
dandelion aerodynamics, a stone thrown through the air, or hang
gliding on air currents? It is, I suppose a form of mobility in air,
for shorter or longer periods of time. All are valid forms, some are
more successful than others, and some require much greater
intellectual input to have an effect.

Intelligence is the ability to think. The real problem is what is
"self awareness" and in the human case, "the purpose of existing".

I "happen" to believe in Christ (although I don't really think it
"happened" at all, but was the call of the Holy Spirit).

This begs the question of why is an all knowing Creator is so weak in
this world, and so subject to ridicule and contempt. In the end I am
forced to accept the Biblical answer that humanity is hostile to God,
and that there are spiritual creatures also hostile to God. Both are
intelligent.

Yet the infinitely intelligent, when He made an appearance, allowed us
to push Him out of the world on a cross. Assuming Christ is the
truth, and that He is God the Son,then the infinite intelligence must
have had a reason.

I suppose in part He might be examining you and me to judge our
reaction to His apparent weakness, to see what we'll do about it.

Many will treat Him with contempt. As was said at Christ's
presentation to the temple, by an old man who picked him up in his
arms, He was "a sign that will be rejected, so that the secret
thoughts of many will be revealed."

By intelligent beings.

Bob Crowley

Bob Crowley.

rebbecca197623

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Jul 5, 2004, 2:52:02 PM7/5/04
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Dan.B.

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Jul 6, 2004, 1:46:09 AM7/6/04
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Get ready for my post because I think you'll both like it haha. (I'm
also going to combine both responses)

I'm going to start by showing some relations between our ideas:
Lets begin by assuming that Hard-Determinism IS true. Then why are we
here, what is our purpose etc? My answer to this would be that we are
the agents of Good and Evil. We are here to demonstrate the
never-ending struggle between Good and Evil. When we're no longer
responsible for our actions then it truly becomes a struggle between
two opposing forces. Which will take the world first? Its not us doing
the Evil it is more just ACTUAL Evil. I've tried to make this point to
others before and have had a hard time. This is the best way I see it:
The world is filled with action and each action has some degree of
Goodness. When our intentions are removed it really becomes just a
struggle between two supreme forces. This could tie in with the idea
of God and the Devil and all angels and demons inbetween.

Now Adam's question about why God would create the universe: to see
who wins. Or any number of other reasons. This view is easy for me to
take because I do not believe in a omnipotent omniscient God (because
to use someone else's example could God create a weight so heavy that
even he couldn't lift it?). My view of God is a VERY powerful being
who created our universe. I even believe that the myth that he is/was
omnipotent orignated because the writers of the bible either wanted to
praise him or were deceived by his displays of power. This will be
harder to believe from a Christian's view but read the Bible. God is
made to seem very man-like. Gen. 18:1-8, Psalm 78:65, Gen. 38:9-10

To continue on Adam's response, and his view of causes. True. We can't
prove that there is a relationship between cause and event. Just a
logical relationship. However the only thing I CAN prove is that my
"mind" exists (because I know I am thinking). In a world where nothing
is provable, practically, we have to live by certain what we "know" or
what we question to doubt. The fact that each event has a cause is
something I have taken into my category of knowledge.

Even if you haven't though, how can an action not have a cause and not
be randomness? Just by taking away the cause, doesn't that mean that
it has no cause and so is random?

An have you really not ever thought "Oh I wonder why he/she did that."
We don't stop when the chain gets to a person. The whole field of
psychology is commited to determining why and how a person's thoughts
work.

To the brother example: First the one about the two brothers. A very
good example but an exception that does not disprove my point. Let me
try and use my own example to show that the majority of people are
determined by their environment and genetics - teenagers. Teenagers
are known to be rebellious and partake in damaging substances such as
drugs. And the majority of teenagers do. The very fact that we can
classify by age group shows that we know there are causes outside of
each person. We make teenagers aware of "peer pressure" so that they
know that they can make bad decisions when pressured. Those that get
this awareness commonly are not effected by the peer pressure while
those who are not informed tend to give in. I hope this demonstrates
my point.

The brother that passed could have had circumstances unlike his
brother's. Even little things when built up can make two people very
different.

The section of the Bible that goes against hard-determinism is that
God gave us free-will. A scary thought is that this argument for no
free-will works for a possible God as well. The section of the bible
refering to the Sun Revolving around the Earth is Joshua 10:12 and
Psalm 93:1.

Most Christians should deny a completely true Bible anyways because
within your bible it states that God killed babies (Exod. 12:29),
demanded the murder of women and children (1 Sam. 15:2-3), and well..
umm (2 Sam. 12:11). This is not to mention that an infallible
interpretation of the bible is dangerous and can lead to homophobia,
racism and sexism.

But its true. This could all just be a test of faith. But when we
realize that actions are outside of our control, is it fair to punish
the criminal for something they had no control over?

Possibly some do wish to believe that they're not responsible for
their actions. But how many good people do you know that would begin
doing Evil when they learn they're no longer responsible? If they'd do
that then they weren't really good in the first place. I do good
because now that I've accepted this view I believe the purpose of our
lives is to help Good win the battle and make our and others' lives
the best they can be while we're here.
Can't wait for a response.

Adam

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Jul 25, 2004, 2:08:02 PM7/25/04
to
Interesting thoughts. Previously, you said that you supposed that
spiritual beings could be thought of as pure intelligence. Defining
intelligence the way you have, especially if computers have
intelligence, I would have to disagree. Don't spiritual beings also
have souls, at least?

Adam

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Jul 25, 2004, 4:10:27 PM7/25/04
to
I hope you get this response; it took me a while to reply because I
was on vacation.

> Get ready for my post because I think you'll both like it haha. (I'm
> also going to combine both responses)
>
> I'm going to start by showing some relations between our ideas:
> Lets begin by assuming that Hard-Determinism IS true. Then why are we
> here, what is our purpose etc? My answer to this would be that we are
> the agents of Good and Evil. We are here to demonstrate the
> never-ending struggle between Good and Evil. When we're no longer
> responsible for our actions then it truly becomes a struggle between
> two opposing forces. Which will take the world first? Its not us doing
> the Evil it is more just ACTUAL Evil. I've tried to make this point to
> others before and have had a hard time. This is the best way I see it:
> The world is filled with action and each action has some degree of
> Goodness. When our intentions are removed it really becomes just a
> struggle between two supreme forces. This could tie in with the idea
> of God and the Devil and all angels and demons inbetween.
>

Interesting. I've always thought of good and evil of only being the
result of something that can choose between good and evil. If we're
all just like a machine not in control of ourselves, how can actions
be considered good or evil?

> Now Adam's question about why God would create the universe: to see
> who wins. Or any number of other reasons. This view is easy for me to
> take because I do not believe in a omnipotent omniscient God (because
> to use someone else's example could God create a weight so heavy that
> even he couldn't lift it?).

I don't have such a problem with that weight paradox. Basically I
look at it this way: if God isn't bound by the laws of logic, then He
can both make a weight that's too heavy for him to lift and then lift
it; it's illogical, so no problem. If he is bound by the laws of
logic, then he can can't make a weight too heavy for him to lift, and
that's a demonstration of his power rather than a limitation.

> My view of God is a VERY powerful being
> who created our universe. I even believe that the myth that he is/was
> omnipotent orignated because the writers of the bible either wanted to
> praise him or were deceived by his displays of power. This will be
> harder to believe from a Christian's view but read the Bible. God is
> made to seem very man-like. Gen. 18:1-8, Psalm 78:65, Gen. 38:9-10
>

And he is made to seem VERY man-like when he came in the form of
Jesus. He can appear as a human, but I don't see how that makes his
powers limited. But I see what you mean by some Bible passages.
Still, from a philosophical perspective it makes more sense to me that
God is infinite, because for him to have a certain amount of power X
seems arbitrary. Why would he have power X rather than 2X, for
example? But for him to have infinite power is not arbitrary at all.

Anyway, you should probably be more careful of your terminology,
because most people by God mean a perfect being. Maybe you could use
a lowercase g or something.

> To continue on Adam's response, and his view of causes. True. We can't
> prove that there is a relationship between cause and event. Just a
> logical relationship. However the only thing I CAN prove is that my
> "mind" exists (because I know I am thinking). In a world where nothing
> is provable, practically, we have to live by certain what we "know" or
> what we question to doubt. The fact that each event has a cause is
> something I have taken into my category of knowledge.
>

I'm not sure if I quite agree with you that the only provable fact is
that I exist. Any scientific fact is not provable, I agree, because
you can never tell whether your senses reflect the truth; maybe the
light going in your eyes is somehow changed so you see something other
than what's there. But mathematical or logical facts are provable
because they don't depend on matter. True, you might make a mistake
in your reasoning; but that doesn't change the fact that you can know
certain of these kinds of truths. I think that's why in science they
use the term "theory" while for mathematical proofs "theorem" is used.

> Even if you haven't though, how can an action not have a cause and not
> be randomness? Just by taking away the cause, doesn't that mean that
> it has no cause and so is random?
>

No, because there must be a beginning cause for a chain of events.
God, the first cause, is certainly not random; so I see no reason why
our choices can't be non-random and uncaused.

I think I kind of see the way you're thinking, but random doesn't
quite mean uncaused. If an event is random, that implies that it's
uncaused, but uncaused does not imply random. So uncaused is
necessary for random but is not sufficient. In fact, based on these
definitions, I do not believe there are any random events in the
universe.

> An have you really not ever thought "Oh I wonder why he/she did that."
> We don't stop when the chain gets to a person. The whole field of
> psychology is commited to determining why and how a person's thoughts
> work.
>

I agree; I hope I didn't give the impression that we never ask that.
I was just saying that it is enough once we know that an action was
someone's decision; no further explanation is necessary. There may be
factors that were the person's reasons for acting as they did, but
ultimately the choice was theirs.

> To the brother example: First the one about the two brothers. A very
> good example but an exception that does not disprove my point. Let me
> try and use my own example to show that the majority of people are
> determined by their environment and genetics - teenagers. Teenagers
> are known to be rebellious and partake in damaging substances such as
> drugs. And the majority of teenagers do. The very fact that we can
> classify by age group shows that we know there are causes outside of
> each person. We make teenagers aware of "peer pressure" so that they
> know that they can make bad decisions when pressured. Those that get
> this awareness commonly are not effected by the peer pressure while
> those who are not informed tend to give in. I hope this demonstrates
> my point.
>

I think I see what you're saying. I certainly do not say that
external forces don't influence people's decisions. What I'm saying
is that those external forces, such as peer pressure or what people
"feel like" doing, make people *tend* toward certain actions. Those
forces make it difficult to choose one action and easy to choose
another. But the final decision is a person's own choice.

Because humans aren't rational, they almost always do what they feel
like doing, like what those external forces would make them do. But
it is not impossible to choose otherwise.

> The brother that passed could have had circumstances unlike his
> brother's. Even little things when built up can make two people very
> different.
>
> The section of the Bible that goes against hard-determinism is that
> God gave us free-will.

Which it says where? I'm quite sure it says it, I'm just not sure
exactly where or what passage you mean.

> A scary thought is that this argument for no
> free-will works for a possible God as well. The section of the bible
> refering to the Sun Revolving around the Earth is Joshua 10:12 and
> Psalm 93:1.
>

Joshua 10:12 is where God made the sun stand still. I'm not so sure
that implies that the sun revolves around the earth, because
"movement" is always movement relative to something. If I am running
along the ground, we say I'm moving and we mean moving relative to the
ground. But it is equally valid to say that the ground is moving
relative to me. So what I think the Bible meant is that the sun and
earth stopped moving relative to each other; which says nothing about
which normally revolves around which.

Think about this: if there were only 2 particles in the universe, and
they both simultaneously move 1 meter in the same direction, have they
really moved?

Also remember that the sun is, itself, normally moving relative to
other objects because of the gravitational effect they have on it.

Psalm 93:1 says "He [God] has established the world; it shall never be
moved". I'm not sure that needs be interpreted as the planet Earth
physically never moving. In fact, given my previous thoughts on the
word "move", that statement is obviously false. The passage seems a
bit confusing since the rest of the Psalm is talking about God's
majesty, but with that interpretation it seems out of place. One
interpretation I've thought of is that "moved" means moved relative to
God's will. That would fit the theme of the Psalm, at least. Also,
the word "world" doesn't always mean the planet Earth; I sometimes use
it in place of "universe", as in this world rather than the next
world, or more generally, "every accessible place". It has
traditionally been synonymous with Earth because people didn't think
they could ever go anywhere else (until they die).

> Most Christians should deny a completely true Bible anyways because
> within your bible it states that God killed babies (Exod. 12:29),

You don't have to read the Bible to know he lets babies die, assuming
he exists. Surely a baby has been killed in an earthquake sometime,
somewhere. The question is whether that's unjust to the baby; if
he/she simply goes right to heaven, I envy that baby's fate.

> demanded the murder of women and children (1 Sam. 15:2-3),

I can see why you'd say this about this passage, as well as other
passages in the Old Testament where God tells people to kill people.
I see it as a punishment rather than murder; I don't have a problem
with God killing people to punish them when they deserve punishment.
I see passages like this as God using people as an instrument to carry
out his punishment. Surely a hard determinist should have no problem
with that. :) And that's not to say we then have the right to kill
people in the name of God; it only applies when God tells us to kill
people in a very clear way - i.e. in English.

> and well..
> umm (2 Sam. 12:11).

which reads "Thus says the LORD: I will raise up trouble against you
from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your
eyes, and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives
in the sight of this very sun". Note that God doesn't say it's OK for
the neighbor to lie with David's wives; he simply doesn't stop it
(because of free will). God can and does use even evil things as a
means to accomplish his good purposes, and I see nothing wrong with
that.

> This is not to mention that an infallible
> interpretation of the bible is dangerous and can lead to homophobia,
> racism and sexism.
>

"Can" is the keyword. I agree that we shouldn't blindly accept
whatever the Bible says; but if there is sufficient evidence that the
Bible is infallible, then it isn't rational to let fear of becoming
homophobic, racist or sexist override the truth. Also, the Bible
teaches equality among people, and an honest interpretation of it does
not lead to homophobia, racism or sexism.

> But its true. This could all just be a test of faith. But when we
> realize that actions are outside of our control, is it fair to punish
> the criminal for something they had no control over?
>

For that matter, what is "fair" anymore? If we don't control our
punishment of the criminal, why not punish him/her? Why care about
any of our choices if they're outside our control?

> Possibly some do wish to believe that they're not responsible for
> their actions. But how many good people do you know that would begin
> doing Evil when they learn they're no longer responsible? If they'd do
> that then they weren't really good in the first place.

Good point. When I said that some people believe in determinism
because they want it to be true, I didn't mean that it would make them
do evil; I meant that it would give them a good feeling about not
having to worry about punishment or taking responsibility at the end
of all things.

Dan.B.

unread,
Aug 22, 2004, 9:34:59 AM8/22/04
to
Hi, Sorry this took so long. I too was on vacation. Here we go:

>Interesting. I've always thought of good and evil of only being the
>result of something that can choose between good and evil. If we're
>all just like a machine not in control of ourselves, how can actions
>be considered good or evil?

Well thats the logical conclusion. That we can't be held accountable
and there is no moral responsibility. But I agree that "good" and
"evil" weren't around on Earth before us. I think that they're
man-made creations err.. basically definitions for certain actions
that don't actually have a universal truth behind them. What we
consider evil now was good 200 years ago (slavery for example). But
maybe this god (lowercase) had a set good and evil and wished to see
which would come out on top in a world he created a certain way. Maybe
thats a possible explanation for the disapearance of god (or lets say
his obvious miracles). Maybe he saw something he didn't like and left
to try something new.

>I don't have such a problem with that weight paradox. Basically I
>look at it this way: if God isn't bound by the laws of logic, then He
>can both make a weight that's too heavy for him to lift and then lift
>it; it's illogical, so no problem. If he is bound by the laws of
>logic, then he can can't make a weight too heavy for him to lift, and
>that's a demonstration of his power rather than a limitation.

See but first of all, thats a problem in itself. Of course God would
have to follow logic. Its like math. Its non-negotionable. But
regardless of that God still has a problem. If he's omnipotent then
can he follow the laws of logic and create a weight that even he
couldn't lift? Thats the problem with omnipotence... you can keep
narrowing it down and redefining the terms no matter what.

>And he is made to seem VERY man-like when he came in the form of
>Jesus. He can appear as a human, but I don't see how that makes his
>powers limited. But I see what you mean by some Bible passages.
>Still, from a philosophical perspective it makes more sense to me
that
>God is infinite, because for him to have a certain amount of power X
>seems arbitrary. Why would he have power X rather than 2X, for
>example? But for him to have infinite power is not arbitrary at all.

Ok. Well I'm talking about the 1st testiment God (or god). I think he
was just a very powerful being who decided to make and run a world.
He'd have power X which is very powerful but not all-powerful, thus
he's not able to reach 2X. He's just X. Just like you and I have power
Y and we can't increase power Y just by willing it.

>I'm not sure if I quite agree with you that the only provable fact is
>that I exist. Any scientific fact is not provable, I agree, because
>you can never tell whether your senses reflect the truth; maybe the
>light going in your eyes is somehow changed so you see something
other
>than what's there. But mathematical or logical facts are provable
>because they don't depend on matter. True, you might make a mistake
>in your reasoning; but that doesn't change the fact that you can know
>certain of these kinds of truths. I think that's why in science they
>use the term "theory" while for mathematical proofs "theorem" is
used.

I completely agree. My bad.

>No, because there must be a beginning cause for a chain of events.
>God, the first cause, is certainly not random; so I see no reason why
>our choices can't be non-random and uncaused.

>I think I kind of see the way you're thinking, but random doesn't
>quite mean uncaused. If an event is random, that implies that it's
>uncaused, but uncaused does not imply random. So uncaused is
>necessary for random but is not sufficient. In fact, based on these
>definitions, I do not believe there are any random events in the
>universe.

True there must be a beginning cause but no one can answer that
question. Not even Christians. What was before God? When was God
created. Questions like that are unanswerable by anyone so it can't
prove or disprove one way or the other.

A random event is an event without a cause. An event without a cause
is random. Otherwise, it would have a cause. Right? What am I missing?

And yes I agree. There aren't any random events. Everything has its
causes, even actions. However I say that those causes are mostly
character which is instilled through life and you say it is something
that you are born with that deserves punishment or praise.

>I agree; I hope I didn't give the impression that we never ask that.
>I was just saying that it is enough once we know that an action was
>someone's decision; no further explanation is necessary. There may
be
>factors that were the person's reasons for acting as they did, but
>ultimately the choice was theirs.

But its only enough because of this misconception of free-will. We
often think of a roullette wheel as random but its not. Based on all
the factors, where its dropped and the laws of nature it has a
predetermined outcome. Its just too complicated to explain. Our minds
are the same way, but we're working towards remedying that.

>So what I think the Bible meant is that the sun and
>earth stopped moving relative to each other; which says nothing about
>which normally revolves around which.

This goes back to a literal interpretation or not? The quote is "Sun,
stand thou still" Joshua 10:12. In order for the sun to stay relative
to the Earth, since they are both moving either the Earth, the Sun, or
the planets would need to be thrown off course.

>I see it as a punishment rather than murder

But wasn't it God that taught us to turn the other cheek? And wasn't
God without sin, which would imply NOT breaking one of the ten
commandments (thou shalt not kill).

>God using people as an instrument to carry out his punishment.
Surely a hard >determinist should have no problem with that.

But shouldn't we blame the murderer since he had a "choice." (ha and
now we argue each other's side)

>God can and does use even evil things as a means to accomplish his
good >purposes, and I see nothing wrong with that.

God can push the man in front of the bullet but not pull the trigger?
Plus, is it fair that had the wife never moved over to the neighbor's
house, the neighbor might have lived a sinless life?

>Also, the Bible teaches equality among people, and an honest
interpretation of >it does not lead to homophobia, racism or sexism.

Thank God (chuckle, chuckle)

>For that matter, what is "fair" anymore? If we don't control our
>punishment of the criminal, why not punish him/her? Why care about
>any of our choices if they're outside our control?

Well if there really is no moral responsibility then it really ISN'T
fair to punish criminals. Or at least we could get rid of this idea
that we're punishing them because they deserve it. The real reason we
punish is to decrease a certain behavior, both in others and the
person punished. The behaviors punishable are decided on by society
and thus create "bad" people. Those who are stuck with a label made by
man, and yet have no control over who they become and thus are
punished for it.

Not to mention that when we finally get to the point where we can
accept that we're going to die, and theres nothing beyond that, we can
finally REALLY start to appreciate what we have going for us. After
that there would be meaning to life: start living it up and having
fun. We would still have laws but only to enforce good behavior, not
to lie to the people. And we could appreciate more that we're being
nice and kind so that the world is a better place and not so that we
can get into heaven. It's almost more Christian to NOT believe in
Heaven.

And if we're talking fair, how is it fair that I live my life as a
good person (by the bible's standards and society's), die a
non-believer and go to hell. Was I really that much worse off by not
believing in Him, even though I acted by Him?

A God that bases acceptance to Heaven on belief in his gospel is
cowardly and immoral.

Adam

unread,
Aug 29, 2004, 7:38:35 PM8/29/04
to
> >Interesting. I've always thought of good and evil of only being the
> >result of something that can choose between good and evil. If we're
> >all just like a machine not in control of ourselves, how can actions
> >be considered good or evil?
>
> Well thats the logical conclusion. That we can't be held accountable
> and there is no moral responsibility. But I agree that "good" and
> "evil" weren't around on Earth before us. I think that they're
> man-made creations err.. basically definitions for certain actions
> that don't actually have a universal truth behind them.

I'm going to have to quite disagree with you here. I believe good and
evil are absolute and therefore *do* have a universal truth behind
them. At any rate, if they aren't universal, it seems to me to make
it all the harder to accept your idea of the point of reality being a


struggle between Good and Evil.

I don't think I explained myself very well 2 posts ago. What I meant
is that it seems to me that an action is good exactly *because* it has
a good intention behind it, and likewise an evil action is evil
exactly *because* it has an evil intention behind it. For that reason
inanimate objects are incapable of good or evil. If a rock (by
natural forces) falls on someone and kills them, no evil has occurred;
but if a person kills another person, they have done evil because that
was their intention.

> What we
> consider evil now was good 200 years ago (slavery for example). But
> maybe this god (lowercase) had a set good and evil and wished to see
> which would come out on top in a world he created a certain way. Maybe
> thats a possible explanation for the disapearance of god (or lets say
> his obvious miracles). Maybe he saw something he didn't like and left
> to try something new.

So are you saying God/god no longer has anything to do with the
universe?

> >I don't have such a problem with that weight paradox. Basically I
> >look at it this way: if God isn't bound by the laws of logic, then He
> >can both make a weight that's too heavy for him to lift and then lift
> >it; it's illogical, so no problem. If he is bound by the laws of
> >logic, then he can can't make a weight too heavy for him to lift, and
> >that's a demonstration of his power rather than a limitation.
>
> See but first of all, thats a problem in itself. Of course God would
> have to follow logic. Its like math. Its non-negotionable. But
> regardless of that God still has a problem. If he's omnipotent then
> can he follow the laws of logic and create a weight that even he
> couldn't lift? Thats the problem with omnipotence... you can keep
> narrowing it down and redefining the terms no matter what.
>

No, I still don't see it as a problem. You say God has to follow
logic; so then omnipotence the ability to do anything logical. You're
trying to have it both ways. You're completely ruling out the
possibility of doing something illogical, but then saying it must be
taken into account when defining omnipotence.

> >And he is made to seem VERY man-like when he came in the form of
> >Jesus. He can appear as a human, but I don't see how that makes his
> >powers limited. But I see what you mean by some Bible passages.
> >Still, from a philosophical perspective it makes more sense to me
> that
> >God is infinite, because for him to have a certain amount of power X
> >seems arbitrary. Why would he have power X rather than 2X, for
> >example? But for him to have infinite power is not arbitrary at all.
>
> Ok. Well I'm talking about the 1st testiment God (or god).

What do you mean? Do you mean "Old Testament", and that there was a
different God/god in it than in the New Testament?

<snip>

> >No, because there must be a beginning cause for a chain of events.
> >God, the first cause, is certainly not random; so I see no reason why
> >our choices can't be non-random and uncaused.
>
> >I think I kind of see the way you're thinking, but random doesn't
> >quite mean uncaused. If an event is random, that implies that it's
> >uncaused, but uncaused does not imply random. So uncaused is
> >necessary for random but is not sufficient. In fact, based on these
> >definitions, I do not believe there are any random events in the
> >universe.
>
> True there must be a beginning cause but no one can answer that
> question. Not even Christians. What was before God? When was God
> created. Questions like that are unanswerable by anyone so it can't
> prove or disprove one way or the other.
>

Sure they're answerable; maybe not provable, but answerable. "Before
God" doesn't make sense because God is not restricted to time. God
wasn't created. A main point of introducing God into my beliefs is to
account for that first cause. A being defined as outside time, as
"just existing", doesn't need a cause; events in the universe do.

> A random event is an event without a cause.

Yes.

> An event without a cause
> is random.

No.

> Otherwise, it would have a cause. Right? What am I missing?

It is difficult to put in words what I'm talking about with random vs.
uncaused events. I had hoped giving the example of God as uncaused
but not random would help. All I'm saying is, I don't know why you're
so sure that there aren't other kinds of uncaused events besides
random events. There might be another explanation for the event being
uncaused, other than that it's random.

I can do my best to define the terms as I understand them. Random
involves arbitrariness (yes, that's a word :)) - there's no reason, or
no one to decide, which alternative is to happen - one alternative
simply happens without reason or significance.

Uncaused means there was no event prior to it in the chain of causes
that was needed for the event to happen. The event happens on its
own. But *which* event happens can be either random - in other words
that event didn't *have* to happen but *happened* to - or it can be
that that event *has* to happen that way.

I probably haven't explained this very well but as I said, it is
difficult to put in words.

> And yes I agree. There aren't any random events. Everything has its
> causes, even actions. However I say that those causes are mostly
> character which is instilled through life and you say it is something
> that you are born with that deserves punishment or praise.
>
> >I agree; I hope I didn't give the impression that we never ask that.
> >I was just saying that it is enough once we know that an action was
> >someone's decision; no further explanation is necessary. There may
> be
> >factors that were the person's reasons for acting as they did, but
> >ultimately the choice was theirs.
>
> But its only enough because of this misconception of free-will. We
> often think of a roullette wheel as random but its not. Based on all
> the factors, where its dropped and the laws of nature it has a
> predetermined outcome. Its just too complicated to explain. Our minds
> are the same way, but we're working towards remedying that.
>

I don't think of a roulette wheel as random; but it is called random
because it is *practically* random - in other words it is as useful as
a roulette wheel that is *actually* random.

So what you're saying is that the complexity of our brains is the
explanation for our seeming free will. I see that that's a *possible*
explanation, but I don't see that it's the *only* explanation, nor
have you convinced me that it's the *correct* explanation.

> >So what I think the Bible meant is that the sun and
> >earth stopped moving relative to each other; which says nothing about
> >which normally revolves around which.
>
> This goes back to a literal interpretation or not? The quote is "Sun,
> stand thou still" Joshua 10:12. In order for the sun to stay relative
> to the Earth, since they are both moving either the Earth, the Sun, or
> the planets would need to be thrown off course.
>

The earth certainly would not be thrown off course of its revolution
around the sun; remember they *stopped* moving. As to the other
planets, well, remember this IS a miracle already. :)

> >I see it as a punishment rather than murder
>
> But wasn't it God that taught us to turn the other cheek?

Yep. How does that imply that he shouldn't punish people? He doesn't
punish out of revenge, but for our own good, hence he isn't violating
that moral rule.

> And wasn't
> God without sin, which would imply NOT breaking one of the ten
> commandments (thou shalt not kill).
>

The ten commandments were for people, not God. "The Lord hath given,
and the Lord hath taken away". We have to follow one set of rules to
do what's morally right; God does what's morally right without
necessarily following those rules. That doesn't make him a hypocrite
(that he would sacrifice himself for us proves to me that he isn't).
But in general, different situations require different actions in
order to do what's morally right - and being God is definitely a
different situation. :)

> >God using people as an instrument to carry out his punishment.
> Surely a hard >determinist should have no problem with that.
>
> But shouldn't we blame the murderer since he had a "choice." (ha and
> now we argue each other's side)
>

I'm not sure I completely understand you, but I definitely believe the
murderer is always at fault, whether or not (s)he is being used by
God. This gets into what the "will of God" means - it actually has 2
different meanings. One is what he would want to happen apart from
anything else, i.e. in a perfect world. The other is to say that
whatever happens is the "will of God", because it's his will to let
people make the choices they will and he works within the bounds of
those choices.

God never wants someone to murder someone (or to do anything immoral,
for that matter) - but *given* that a person has chosen to do a
certain evil deed, there is nothing wrong with God accomplishing good
as a result of it.

There is a danger involved with thinking of God as having human
qualities, for example thinking of him as scheming or trying to
influence events for his purposes at the expense of others. I'm
trying to avoid doing that but it can be difficult to explain things
without speaking in those terms, so hopefully you (and anyone reading)
will use the principle of charity.

> >God can and does use even evil things as a means to accomplish his
> good >purposes, and I see nothing wrong with that.
>
> God can push the man in front of the bullet but not pull the trigger?

Call me clueless, but I don't really understand this question.

> Plus, is it fair that had the wife never moved over to the neighbor's
> house, the neighbor might have lived a sinless life?

Well, that's not something we can really know. What I do believe is
that God is always fair. There are even more extreme cases of events
seeming to direct someone towards doing evil than this one.

But here's the thing: a person for whom it is difficult to avoid doing
evil, and does evil, is not judged as harshly as someone for whom it
is easy to avoid doing evil, but does it anyway. If a person has
grown up in hostile circumstances, and has learned that certain evil
behavior is the only alternative, then God takes that into account.
So everything is fair. And guess what - that principle is not my own
invention but is from the Bible (Luke 12:47-48).

Also, what do you mean that the wife "moved over to the neighbor's
house"? That doesn't seem to be part of the passage.

<snip>

> >For that matter, what is "fair" anymore? If we don't control our
> >punishment of the criminal, why not punish him/her? Why care about
> >any of our choices if they're outside our control?
>
> Well if there really is no moral responsibility then it really ISN'T
> fair to punish criminals. Or at least we could get rid of this idea
> that we're punishing them because they deserve it. The real reason we
> punish is to decrease a certain behavior, both in others and the
> person punished. The behaviors punishable are decided on by society
> and thus create "bad" people. Those who are stuck with a label made by
> man, and yet have no control over who they become and thus are
> punished for it.
>
> Not to mention that when we finally get to the point where we can
> accept that we're going to die, and theres nothing beyond that, we can
> finally REALLY start to appreciate what we have going for us. After
> that there would be meaning to life: start living it up and having
> fun. We would still have laws but only to enforce good behavior, not
> to lie to the people. And we could appreciate more that we're being
> nice and kind so that the world is a better place and not so that we
> can get into heaven. It's almost more Christian to NOT believe in
> Heaven.

This one made me laugh. I don't believe you can get into heaven by
being nice and kind. The Christian teaching is that you do what's
morally right out of love for God, for all he's done for you.

That said, it may be that deep down I try to be morally good to be
rewarded by God (I do believe he rewards us for doing good). But
that's a personal weakness - my own selfishness. I do NOT do good to
get to heaven.

> And if we're talking fair, how is it fair that I live my life as a
> good person (by the bible's standards and society's), die a
> non-believer and go to hell. Was I really that much worse off by not
> believing in Him, even though I acted by Him?

C.S. Lewis wrote, (in his book "The Great Divorce"), something like:
"There are only 2 kinds of people, in the end. Those who say to God,
'Thy will be done', and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will
be done'". God doesn't send anyone to hell; they choose it. I
believe heaven is complete union with God, and hell is complete
separation from God (they may also be physical places, but that
doesn't matter). People separate themselves from God; he doesn't
separate himself from anyone. That's fair. It also only makes sense
if free will exists, but I'm just explaining my beliefs.

That doesn't make it meaningless whether you are morally good or
morally evil, for the following reason: I believe God rewards good to
the point that it's always worth doing, and punishes evil to the point
that it's never worth doing. Whether in this life or the next, it
doesn't matter. That's fair. But the reward isn't heaven - that
depends on whether you accept Jesus as your savior.

> A God that bases acceptance to Heaven on belief in his gospel is
> cowardly and immoral.

Then explain to me how a cowardly, immoral God would have the courage
to suffer for us, out of love.

The idea is that it's too late for us to save ourselves, so God
intervenes because of his mercy - even though we don't deserve it.

gil...@hotmail.com

unread,
Sep 8, 2004, 9:16:06 AM9/8/04
to
There is some hard-determinism in Christianity too. Christians believe
the world is a sinking ship and there is nothing anyone can do about
it, BUT they believe with the mercy of Christ, each once of us have
the opportunity TO DECIDE (USE OUR FREE WILL) if you want to be saved,
or if you want to sink with the ship.

With regards
Gilbert Gerber

Adam

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Sep 9, 2004, 6:42:54 PM9/9/04
to

Well, I don't think that's the same as determinism. Just because
there's nothing we can do about it (and I never said I agreed with
that), that doesn't mean it's determined. There's quite a difference
between being powerless to do something and to completely lack the
ability to *choose* what to do.

In other words, it's possible to choose to do something that you can't
do.

Falcon

unread,
Sep 10, 2004, 12:54:31 AM9/10/04
to
sorry if it seems like I'm butting in but this is a very good little
debate and I couldn't resist putting my two cents in.

I think I found a problem with your little wieght paradox.
The very deffinition of God (capital) is that he is all powerful.
So the answer two the question of can God create a boulder that He
can't lift? Must be "yes He can"(cause if God is all powerful he can
do anything Right?). But that negates the entire argument, making
either God not "God" or making him god (lowercase) who is not all
powerful which brings us back to the fact that God isn't allpowerful
which is why the question was asked in the first place. basically.

God is all-powerful, so we ask a question.
The question's answer negates the fact that God is all-powerful.
so,
the question's answer negates the question. (sorry if I seem a little
Obtuse)

Its something like saying "This statement is false"
if the statement were true then it would be false
and if it were false it would be true.
Its a logical dead end. The question is an illogical statement.
why use it in a logical argument?

sorry for the difficult explenation.

Falcon

gil...@hotmail.com

unread,
Sep 10, 2004, 3:37:31 AM9/10/04
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adams...@yahoo.ca (Adam) wrote in message

> Well, I don't think that's the same as determinism. Just because
> there's nothing we can do about it (and I never said I agreed with
> that), that doesn't mean it's determined. There's quite a difference
> between being powerless to do something and to completely lack the
> ability to *choose* what to do.
>
> In other words, it's possible to choose to do something that you can't
> do.

Yes, you are quite right.
Gilbert

Adam

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Sep 11, 2004, 2:10:42 PM9/11/04
to

It was a good explanation (aside from the grammar/spelling mistakes :)
). So you're saying that the question "can God make a stone too heavy
for him to lift" is self-defeating and therefore invalid in disproving
that God is all-powerful?

I'm not sure if that reasoning applies to things that we're not sure
exist. The statement "This statement is false" is a paradox but it is
purely logical and not connected to the universe. But consider for
example a married bachelor. The definitions of "married" and
"bachelor" make the phrase contradictory but not a paradox. Why?
Because we can simply say there's no such thing.

I realize I'm arguing against my own position here but I still have my
other explanation (that omnipotence probably means the ability to do
anything logical) which is good enough for me.

Falcon

unread,
Sep 12, 2004, 1:35:05 AM9/12/04
to
>> I'm not sure if that reasoning applies to things that we're
>> not sure exist. The statement "This statement is false"
>> is a paradox but it is purely logical and not connected
>> to the universe. But consider for example a married bachelor.
>> The definitions of "married" and "bachelor" make the phrase
>> contradictory but not a paradox. Why? Because we can simply
>> say there's no such thing.

good point "this Statement is false" is a logical statement. it is
also a self defeating logical statement (the point I was trying to
make). the married bachelor statement is an oxymoron. (Two words that
have opposite meanings that together mean something). like "civil
war". Who ever heard of a war that was civil? and who ever heard of a
married bachelor? its just an oxymoronical statement said to mean
something else.

My thoughts on "Free will"

take for example The universe. It exists in a specific time. frame.
deminsion. whatever you want to call it. If God exists and If He
created all of the universe (time included) then He would not
nessicarily exist "in" time (premise of argument). since he created it
he could see beginning and end of the "time" he created. In the time
He created, He put beings (us) that had the ability to make choices.
Each of these choices would affect our lives as well as any we would
come in contact with (free-will). Eventually the aloted time would end
and we would not exist in "time" anymore.

my point being. We have free will to decide what happens to us. But
since God doesn't have to exist in time He can see exactly what we
choose when we choose.

so basically we get to choose. but God already knows.

I know it doesn't sound like much but thats what I think.

Falcon

Adam

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Sep 12, 2004, 3:46:42 PM9/12/04
to
> My thoughts on "Free will"
>
> take for example The universe. It exists in a specific time. frame.
> deminsion. whatever you want to call it. If God exists and If He
> created all of the universe (time included) then He would not
> nessicarily exist "in" time (premise of argument). since he created it
> he could see beginning and end of the "time" he created. In the time
> He created, He put beings (us) that had the ability to make choices.
> Each of these choices would affect our lives as well as any we would
> come in contact with (free-will). Eventually the aloted time would end
> and we would not exist in "time" anymore.

I agree with you. Another way to look at it is that there is actually
no difference between time and a dimension in space. The universe is
actually (as far as we know) a 4 dimensional matrix (or array) of
events, which is unchanging. We happen to experience events in a
certain order, "along" one of those dimensions which we happen to call
time. But God sees the whole universe in all 4 dimensions at once.

> my point being. We have free will to decide what happens to us. But
> since God doesn't have to exist in time He can see exactly what we
> choose when we choose.
>
> so basically we get to choose. but God already knows.

I agree. In other words, God sees all events from every time, but
what he sees *depends* on what we choose. There is still
predestination, though, because God, seeing all possible universes,
decided to create this one already knowing what we would do. So there
is both free will/choice and predestination, though I have heard
others say that they can't both be true because they're contradictory,
but in my thinking they aren't contradictory.

I also noticed that some people who believe in predestination /
determinism tend to alter their choices based on that belief, i.e.
thinking it doesn't matter what they do because it's all predetermined
anyway. I have never understood that way of thinking and I can't see
how belief in either philosophy would alter your way of living.

Greig

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Sep 16, 2004, 11:10:32 AM9/16/04
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adams...@yahoo.ca (Adam) wrote in message news:<6f1027e6.04091...@posting.google.com>...

To me free will is how we make our life.

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