The Instigator
iamanatheistandthisiswhy
Con (against)
Winning
15 Points
The Contender
bballboy9876
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points

Is an omniscient god compatible with free will

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
iamanatheistandthisiswhy
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/3/2013 Category: Religion
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,030 times Debate No: 39892
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (2)
Votes (3)

 

iamanatheistandthisiswhy

Con

My position is that an omniscient god is incompatible with the idea of free will.
Extra Information.
1) This statement can hold for any god that is omniscient, so if my opponent wants to take the argument in the direction of a specific deity, I do not have a problem with that.
2) I do realize that there are philosophical arguments whether free will exists or not. However, I do not wish to debate this.

My opening argument.

Free will can be defined as the "the ability to act at one's own discretion." While omniscience can be defined as "Having total knowledge or knowing everything."

In simple terms free will means we are able to make a choice. However if an omniscient god exists then free will is unable to exist as this omniscient god already has foreknowledge of the future. This foreknowledge leads to the obvious conclusion that free will cannot exist as any choice cannot be made without altering the future. However, if free will does exist then choices alter the future and the omniscient god no longer has foreknowledge. This means then that the god is no longer omniscient and as such an omniscient god is incompatible with free will.
bballboy9876

Pro

I accept this debate!

First, we must understand the term omniscient. This term refers to something that is all-knowing. Gods of many religions are defined as omniscient. Many of these religions also believe that we all have free will, and that God judges us based on the choices that we make during our life. If God is an omniscient figure, this would clearly mean that he would know every action each and every one of us will make throughout our lives. Now, even if he knows what actions we will take, this does not necessarily imply that He forces us to do what we do. I can reasonably predict the actions of those close to me, as I KNOW them well. Does this mean that they don't have free will?

I await your rebuttal.
Debate Round No. 1
iamanatheistandthisiswhy

Con

I agree with my opponent that " If God is an omniscient figure, this would clearly mean that he would know every action each and every one of us will make throughout our lives." However this is also where our interpretations part, as I have to disagree with my opponent completely on the second part of his argument " even if he knows what actions we will take, this does not necessarily imply that He forces us to do what we do". It seems rational to me that if God does know all the actions we will take then this necessarily means that he pre-determines what our choices are.

To elaborate further, if God knows the outcome of a choice then it means that the outcome is pre determined and that there is no other outcome. This means that God who has this foreknowledge makes it impossible for us to have a choice. Essentially, a choice at point A can lead to either an outcome B or C. However,if God already knows that the outcome will be B (omniscient outcome) then the outcome C cannot exist.

The analogy that my opponent has used is that he can predict what actions those friends close to him will make. However my opponent will surely admit that he can never predict with 100% certainty every time what his friends close to him will do. This uncertainty translates into the possibility (albeit slight) of another outcome. However, in this analogy when we consider God we see he can predict the outcome every time with 100% certainty and so the other outcome never exists.

Even if we allow God to have hypothetical knowledge then we can say the two outcomes exist,however these two outcomes exist only in Gods mind as the one outcome will not take place. If this outcome does take place then God had hypothetical knowledge but not complete (omniscient) knowledge as the wrong choice was made. If we go back to the choice at point A which can lead to either outcome B (omniscient outcome) or C (hypothetical outcome). Then again C cannot be an outcome of choice as it is only hypothetical.

So essentially, in any way we look at this it seems to me that Gods omniscience leads to pre-determined choices and the loss of free will.

Over to my opponent.
bballboy9876

Pro

While I do admit that I couldn't ever predict an action another person made with 100 percent certainty, I don't agree that an omniscient God would pre-determine what our choices are.

If an omniscient, all-powerful God really wanted to pre-determine our choices, it would be logical to assume that He would turn us all into "robots" and make us treat him like a king. Instead, we have a world full of evil and people who reject the existence of God completely.

Why would God make people reject him and ruin the world he created? This very simply is illogical.

Back to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 2
iamanatheistandthisiswhy

Con

"If an omniscient, all-powerful God really wanted to pre-determine our choices, it would be logical to assume that He would turn us all into "robots" and make us treat him like a king."

I am not sure how you can say that when I have presented my case using a point A, from which two outcomes are possible those been C and B. However, if God already knows that the outcome is going to B, then the outcome C never existed. This means C was never an option. If C was never an option in the choice then it holds that there was no choice. If there was no choice then free will is unable to exist with an omniscient God.

I would like it if my opponent can address this argument above and to point out any flaws. In my opinion I believe this argument makes a very solid case against an omniscient God been compatible with free will.

So while you say we are not robots, if we do not have free will we essentially are robots. Let me elaborate. The term robot is used very loosely in the argument, as a robot could be a machine doing one task or a cleverly designed computer program able of passing the Turing test (1). In terms of a robot able to pass the Turing test to us it seems free to decide like a human. However, this robot is not free to decide as it has been programmed. This is much what a person in a omniscient God world may look like. It seems we have free will but we don't, as it is predetermined.

You mention that God would makes these robots treat him like a king, but this has to do with omnipotence and not omniscience. While this is true and a god could do that, the fact then arises why is God not making us do that if he/she is all powerful. Instead God gives us supposed choices and condemns us to an eternity in hell in the Biblical sense.

My opponent said "Instead, we have a world full of evil and people who reject the existence of God completely." and
"Why would God make people reject him and ruin the world he created? This very simply is illogical."

I think it is necessary to first ask, what is evil? Some theists will reject the idea of sex before marriage and say it is a sin hence evil. However it is a natural urge and act, so why is it evil? Or another idea of evil/sin is homosexuality and a common argument used is that it is not natural. However if you look at nature you will see homosexuality in penguins, dolphins etc. (2) Additionally, while you say the world is evil and heading towards ruin, I could easily assert that the world is a better place now than 20 years back. I just have to look at advances in clean fuel and medicine to see this.

An omniscient God is taking away choice and as such my opponent asserts that the God would essentially be forcing ruin on a world he created. Well that is exactly the problem with an omniscient God, if God knows the future then God already understands how he will ruin his created world. God already knows that not everyone will be saved from eternal torment, yet apparently God does not care as this has all been predetermined as God already knows what choices will be made.

Over to my opponent

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org...
(2) http://www.news-medical.net...
bballboy9876

Pro

bballboy9876 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
iamanatheistandthisiswhy

Con

For some reason my opponent has forfeited the previous round. For this reason I will extend my argument from the previous round as well as draw attention again to a central issue I would like my opponent to address.

As stated before I asked the question about a point A which leads to one of two outcomes B and C. However, if God already knows that the outcome is going to B, then the outcome C never existed. This means C was never an option. If C was never an option in the choice then it holds that there was no choice. If there was no choice then free will is unable to exist with an omniscient God.

I would like it if my opponent can address this argument above and to point out any flaws. In my opinion I believe this argument makes a very solid case against an omniscient God been compatible with free will.

Over to my opponent and thank you for the debate.
bballboy9876

Pro

I apologize for not being able to post in the 3rd round. My internet was down for a few days.

It is true that if I have a choice between outcome A and B and God knows that the outcome will be A, then outcome B will never have existed to him. However, this does not mean that we don't have free will. God can know the choices we will make without taking away our free will. I know for a fact that the sun will rise tomorrow. This doesn't mean that I cause the sun to come up; I just know that it will. God's foreknowledge of our choices doesn't mean that we can't choose what we want; it means that God knows what we will choose ahead of time.

I hope anyone reading this debate was able to draw their own conclusions on this topic. Thank you for your time and respect during this debate.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by iamanatheistandthisiswhy 3 years ago
iamanatheistandthisiswhy
I suppose it is a matter of semantics if you believe in the existence of an omniscient god or not. Personally, I think it is a very important question to think about if someone does believe in an omniscient god, probably the biggest question that needs to be thought about.

Okay, that is beside the question of whether the god actually exists.
Posted by Ore_Ele 3 years ago
Ore_Ele
Insert semantics debate over "Omniscient"
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 3 years ago
bladerunner060
iamanatheistandthisiswhybballboy9876Tied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: S&G seemed equal enough. Conduct to Con for Pro's forfeit, and Sources to Con for actually having some, as compared to Pro. As to arguments, Pro consistently argued against the notion that God would "cause" someone to make a decision, negating free will--but that wasn't the resolution. The resolution was over whether God's being truly omniscient negated free will by making all choices absolutely predetermined--not by God causing them, but essentially just because omniscience existing at all. Some apologists have made cases against this, but Pro did not address the concept sufficiently because Pro was arguing against the "wrong point". As such, arguments to Con.
Vote Placed by Emily77 3 years ago
Emily77
iamanatheistandthisiswhybballboy9876Tied
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Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: My decision was based solely on the fact that in Round 2, Pro made some very illogical leaps in argumentation. I would have loved to see Pro take more advantage of the 'cause-effect' relationship because it is essentially the nail in Con's coffin since Con actually got this relationship backwards, but unfortunately he executed its delivery far better and so, for this reason, I think he should take the win.
Vote Placed by Beverlee 3 years ago
Beverlee
iamanatheistandthisiswhybballboy9876Tied
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Total points awarded:33 
Reasons for voting decision: Does "the ability to act at one's own discretion" mean "the ability to be unpredictable to an all-knowing creature?" It seems logically possible to think that an observer may have the ability to predict future events, but not to alter them. Saying that people who do not think there are gods are "evil people" is a conduct issue, and so is the FF. Otherwise, Pro and Con were both respectful. Only Con supported his arguments with sources.