If God values free will...


#1

If God values free will, why does he limit our choices? We don’t get to choose our parents, where we are born, whether we have food or shelter. These things are basically a lottery.

If God values free will, why does he take it away when we die? If God doesn’t force us to worship him and we die without doing so, why does he force us into Hell? I mean, why does he value my choice here on earth, then take away that choice after I die? Why can’t I choose him after I die and see him?

If God values free will, why is he said to have intervened with certain past events? For example, the road to Damascus. Where was free will involved there?

Why would God intervene to convert Paul, but fail to protect a girl who is tortured and raped? It can’t be free will, as he already violated the will of Paul… Why not violate the will of the evil men/women who prey on children?

I don’t think the answers to these questions exist, except by way of one form, but I am curious what answers are reasonable to you fine philosophers.


#2

Gabe - we all know that the Problem of Evil is the biggie of theological questions.

The big one for philosophers is: why is there something rather than nothing?

Neither question can be answered satisfactorily; we are at our limits of understanding. We can choose to gather knowledge that might lead us to faith; or we can choose to believe and have that belief guide our quest for knowledge.

People have been asking those exact questions for thousands of years. I think Job got the only answer we will ever have.


#3

(1) It’s debatable if such a thing as libertarian free will (LFW) even exists. Assuming it does, what Scripture reveals is that it is the moral choices & decisions with respect to God that matter, not where one is born, if they chose eggs instead of pancakes for breakfast, etc.

(2) God will give the believer immortality, incorruption & to always be with the Lord. So it seems there will be no choice to sin & ruin one’s eternity. That’s a good thing. Though there’s nothing saying LFW won’t exist. Nothing saying you won’t be able to choose to time travel on Tuesday, explore your choice of any one of a trillion universes on Wednesday, or have sex with a thousand angels on Thursday.

As for hell, it’s the very best place for those who are there to be. It will make them ready to join the saved. If LFW is true, they will certainly have it to choose for, or continue to choose against, God. Until they’ll eventually choose Him.

(3) Saul, who was like a serial killer, made the choice to believe the voice from heaven was the Lord & not a demon. OTOH some of the Jews made the choice to say Jesus had a demon & did His miraculous works via the devil, blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Saul received mercy since His persecutions of Christians were done ignorantly, in unbelief.

(4) The movie “The Shack” is a good answer to this. The little girl who was murdered was seen to be in heaven forever after her relatively momentary sufferings of a short lifespan. Neither did God deliver the early Christians from the lions, crucifixion or being burned alive. He didn’t even deliver His perfect Son. But i suppose we don’t see much of that in cushy modern scientifically advanced Western civilization, which is heavenly relative to what the ancients endured.

theopedia.com/libertarian-free-will


#4

If God values free will, why is he said to have intervened with certain past events? For example, the road to Damascus. Where was free will involved there?

Why would God intervene to convert Paul, but fail to protect a girl who is tortured and raped? It can’t be free will, as he already violated the will of Paul… Why not violate the will of the evil men/women who prey on children?

God’s purposes “trump” free will IMHO so to the extent possible God allows us to make choices but if the ship needs to change direction God may intervene. So God may value free will but He values His purposes more.
Re the allowance of evil, this is only my own speculation which is that God allows evil because there is much to be learned from it because we learn by contrasting everything and actually experiencing it. Also if God intervenes in one act of evil then shouldn’t God intervene in all acts of evil and so we would be a lot safer and comfortable but would we learn, would we grow? These are just my thoughts, i have no evidence or proof for this view.


#5

Here’s my take on the topic.

I have taken theology and philosophy courses - in an academic setting. And I can give you answers - from the most renown, contemporary and current, philosophers and theologians.

And I can give you my opinion - on which ones work best - for me.

And I can tell you this…to experience suffering and pain…while God puts us through a Matrix Trilogy environment, of no free will - raises more questions than answers.

As a pragmatist, I will wait - until the end of time. And let God answer these questions.

In the meantime, I follow the Christian faith - along Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox, lines of theology. And practice contemplation, like the Buddhists (Zen and Mindfulness) and New Thought pioneers (i.e. Fox Golden Key) - envision it.

This works well for me :exclamation: :smiley:


#6

Precisely my point. If this logic is correct, then I must not believe any person who claims God saved them from “X” person wishing to do them harm. Because, if God did save them, why does he neglect most everyone else? Therefore, based on this evidence, I must reject every believer who claims some miraculous salvation from the hands of evil men.

Take the total eclipse recently. Imagine with me living 3,000 years ago. You are praying to God for a sign. Now, many people pray for signs, and they are told to just ‘wait’ and allow God to work on his time. So you pray, pray, pray and you are about to give up. Someone in your faith says to keep pressing forward and let God answer the prayer in his own time. Finally, you are at your wits end and you say “Ok, God, I am about to ready to give up… Please show me a sign” and then while working out the fields the entire earth goes dark and the son is blotted out… Wow, God spoke to me. This is the way I see it when we try and say that God “Did such and such” give enough time, coincidences will in fact happen. The perfect recipe for it to be attributed to God? Keep praying and keep waiting. Time is on God’s side, because given enough time, and given enough wonders of the world, you will see something that doesn’t happen on a regular basis and interpret that as a sign from God.

I have had such things… In fact, I was convinced, complete convinced God has spoken to me… But as I reflect back, I only believe that because of how rare the situation was… I was basically saying "Because I had a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of this happening (think of hitting the lottery twice in one day) I basically said “God had to be the reason.” when in reality, he doesn’t have to be the reason at all. People do, in fact, hit the lottery multiple times in their life time. Just because it is rare, almost never happens doesn’t mean it is God who caused it. It was ‘coincidence’… Just randomness working out in our favor. So have I ever won the lottery? No. But two events did happen which people can say were miracles, or merely coincidence.

When I was 2, I crossed an extremely busy highway with no guardian. I lived to tell about it. No idea how, but I did. I have no memories… Had to be God? Or maybe I just had some drivers that swerved to miss, drove slower like waiting for ducks to cross the street, or maybe I say some people and followed closely after them. No idea. But it happened.

When I was 35, I looked down, then looked up and someone was driving the wrong way down the highway… As I looked up I saw two headlights staring right at me and swerved just in time to avoid a head on collision. Had I looked down longer (I think I was changing the radio station) I would be dead, or worse, a battered up brain damaged person. You don’t survive 60 Mph head on collision with other cards going the same speed (think 120+) You end up dead.

So, did God save me? Maybe. But it is just as likely that I hit the lottery twice in my life. I avoided death when it was nigh or the likely outcome. Now, if God protected me, why does he not protect others? Why should I think I am special? Isn’t that an egoist position to hold? That, surely, God has plans for me. He must love me so much and has so much work for me to to do that I am worth saving, while some other poor sap around the world starves to death at a young age of… 10. Or maybe, another boy is raped every day his entire life, until he commits suicide. Yep, I must be more important than all of those people! No, the truth is, I am not more important than those less fortunate and to think God saved me from the above, is really just another form of “I am better than others”.

I am not declaring there isn’t a God, but I am suggesting that I don’t think this God is all good, all powerful and all loving. Whatever it is, it wants to hide from us, only reveals itself to certain people (according to their claims) and acts unjustly according to human reason (which ironically, he gave us)… Or, of course, that God doesn’t exist at all. I know, that isn’t a popular position to hold here, but is not not, will you grant me, at least a possibility? If you say “Then where did we come from if there is no first cause”? I say “Who caused God?” and if he always was, then why can’t the universe always have been? I mean, both arguments fail to account for a first cause… They can both say it isn’t needed, but ultimately both boil down to the same concept.


#7

I shared this on another post. But because of the last answer by Gabe, I will share it here - for reflection. :smiley:

Perhaps because of the Texas hurricane crisis, this is a good story - to reflect upon: reddit.com/r/Jokes/comments/67ouq5/two_boats_and_a_helicopter/


#8

This forum had some good thoughts when I was asking the same questions, Gabe.


#9

I am not declaring there isn’t a God, but I am suggesting that I don’t think this God is all good, all powerful and all loving. Whatever it is, it wants to hide from us, only reveals itself to certain people (according to their claims) and acts unjustly according to human reason (which ironically, he gave us)… Or, of course, that God doesn’t exist at all. I know, that isn’t a popular position to hold here, but is not not, will you grant me, at least a possibility? If you say “Then where did we come from if there is no first cause”? I say “Who caused God?” and if he always was, then why can’t the universe always have been? I mean, both arguments fail to account for a first cause… They can both say it isn’t needed, but ultimately both boil down to the same concept.

Well sure i’ll grant the possibility there is no god but to me it’s infinitely remote. For me the only issues revolve around God’s intervention or lack of such in human life. I just think of each human having 50 trillion cells that work synergistically and i ask myself if this could have happened coincidentely? To me the universe is pretty unimportant as it’s just a materially created thing like the sun but God is eternal even though we as limited human beings do not have the capability to understand what eternal really means.
In other words material things like the universe are not static, they always change and are subject to physical laws therefore IMO it can’t be eternal. I accept certain beliefs like God being eternal because there must be a First Cause IMO and i don’t believe it can be a materially created thing.


#10

Gabe said:

Hmmm, My son and I had a similar bible study at one point: Providence vs. Probability.

There is no way to explain to others how God works in your individual life, all of the miracles and wonders…

I think it is in the trying to translate what God does, that we get into trouble but at the same time we boldly profess the historical account of the messiah.

And that is good News!


#11

Gabe, I agree with what you are saying. I often feel the same way, especially when people start talking about guardian angels. In the case of the person who was being raped and killed, the questions that come to mind are:

  1. Where was this person’s guardian angel?
  2. Did the angel fall asleep on the job?

That being said, I do believe there is a God, and I think that those who follow Him in spirit ARE His right hand. Matthew West has a song called “Do Something”. I think his words are true. We often ask God, “Why don’t you do something?” God’s reply is, “I did. I created you.”


#12

Well, this thought occurred to me. Perhaps the angels are union workers. And that means they are entitled to personal time off, vacations, holidays, etc. :wink:

Another thought is we will not know all the answers…until the end of time…and God reveals it to us. In the meantime, we can read what the renown philosophers and theologians - say regarding these subjects. And pick the philosophers and theologians - that resonate with us. :smiley:


#13

This book is from a Universalistic Calvinist determinist POV, opposed to LFW, but has some interesting things to say on the subject titled “The Problem of Evil & the Judgements of God”. Can be read for free, or purchased at a nominal cost as a book, at:

concordant.org/expositions/probl … -contents/


#14

Somewhere in the middle - between those 2 extremes - is something called Compatibilism. Which one can find out more at iep.utm.edu/freewill/. Let me quote a bit:

I’m just pointing this out. Since there are more perspectives, then just determinism and Libertarian Free Will.

And here’s what the Calvinist site - Got Questions and Theopedia - have to say on this topic:

gotquestions.org/compatibilism.html
theopedia.com/compatibilism

http://38.media.tumblr.com/ae40e01a29ffe1d41795326847177941/tumblr_n6rmx2b5Su1qjnryvo3_500.gif


#15

I don’t think God does limit our choices. How could we choose our parents or our place of birth at a time in which we did not yet exist? We ARE able to choose concerning food and shelter. However, food and shelter don’t magically come our way by shouting the words, “I choose food and shelter!” If we truly choose food and shelter, we will work for it. True, some people don’t have the opportunity to work for it, but many of them still choose food and shelter even if they have to beg. And some succeed in getting them on that basis.

Do you have any evidence that He does take it away when we die?

God never forces anyone in any way; He influences people. However, consignment to hell is God’s loving act in order to correct those who have resisted Him throughout their lives. He will never give up on anyone until all become righteous.

If that’s what you mean, I think you are mistaken. On what basis do you affirm that God “takes away that choice” after you die?

Intervening has no relevance to valuing free will. If you intervene with the bad choices of your children, does that mean you don’t value their free will?
I think it means you love them, and want to influence them to make good choices—choices that will help them rather than harm them.

I think I understand your reasoning, but I still don’t think it’s a violation of free will in Paul’s case. God didn’t override Paul’s free will. Rather He influenced him. Paul COULD HAVE resisted that influence if he had so chosen. But he chose to respond positively to it instead. His free will was still totally intact.

Men who torture and rape a girl have exercised their free will. God doesn’t override that free will. Many such persons have not chosen to do the loving thing. We don’t know how often God may have intervened in such cases to influence these evil doers. I have known men who have deeply repented of mistreatment of others, and have never repeated their evil acts.


#16

Well, here’s my favorite articles today, from the Patheos evangelical site. They might be relevant here:

How Would You and Job Rate God’s Customer Service in Addressing Evil?
The Best Question to Ask a Skeptic

And I also present a helpful video:

Mindfulness Animated in 3 minutes youtube.com/watch?v=mjtfyuTTQFY


#17

Compatibilism is determinism in a nutshell no matter how the Calvinists or those who support it spin it around so there is no in between. There is determinism/fatalism and there is libertarian free will. No in betweens.


#18

The in-between could be called ‘humility’.


#19

For the record, I’m not a fan of compatibilism or determinism - when it comes to theology. But I do present compatibilism as a topic. It exists, whether we like it or not. And it won’t go away - anytime soon. :laughing:


#20

I agree Randy, it ain’t going away soon. Since it’s been a question like, forever. So, I won’t give you the answer, which was communicated to me privately by the Duke of Windsor some time ago, apparently a secret that only DaVinci knew and passed on. :laughing: