Tough Questions Answered

A Christian Apologetics Blog

Does God Know What I Will Freely Do? Part 2

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Yesterday, I posted on the issue of free will and God’s knowledge of of human free acts in the future.  This is an area the church has grappled with for centuries.  But how do other major worldviews deal with this issue?

Most atheists think they can avoid the issue by denying that God (or divine fate) exists.  Unfortunately, once you banish an ultimate mind as the source of the universe, you are only left with impersonal physical laws operating on matter and energy.

So free will, for the atheist, is just an illusion that our highly evolved brain gives us.  Fundamentally, we are completely determined in our actions and choices by chemistry and physics, by the mechanistic movement of atomic particles .  Free will, under atheism, does not exist.  So the atheist does not really solve the problem of fate and free will.  He just rids us of both, thus denying that the problem is real.

Monistic Pantheists argue that all of earthly life is just an illusion, that we are actually part of one ultimate, impersonal being.  When we realize that we are part of this one ultimate being, the illusion of our individual lives ends as we merge with the ultimate being.

In this sense, our individual free will is also an illusion because we, ourselves, are an illusion.  The only thing that really exists is this ultimate, impersonal being.  Their solution to the problem is to affirm divine fate at the complete expense of human free will or even true human existence.

Oddly enough, even though the theistic God seems to cause problems with the existence of human free will, without a personal God, free will cannot exist!

The Christian concept of God allows for mind to precede and transcend matter, which allows human free will to exist, in opposition to atheism (who only believe matter exists).

Christians also recognize that individual people exist apart from God, in opposition to pantheism.  The concept of human free will cannot exist without individual humans truly existing.  This the Pantheists deny.

Even though we Christians struggle with this doctrine, as do other theistic religions, at the end of the day a personal God is the best ground and source for free will.  Get rid of God, and free will quickly vanishes.


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Comments

  • Wallaby07

    “The Christian concept of God allows for mind to precede and transcend matter, which allows human free will to exist, in opposition to atheism [sic] (who only believe matter exists).”

    Are you actually saying that the mind would also transcend the laws of cause and effect as well? Do thoughts and decisions come into being spontaneously, with no antecedents? If not, then the spiritual world would perforce be as deterministic as the material one. It is those characteristics (the laws of cause and effect) of “the mechanistic movement of atomic particles”, and not the mere fact of being physical that leads to determinism.

  • Alex

    Let’s be honest here – there are only a couple of reasons Christians care about free-will. One is to let God off the hook for hell. It is preferable to blame man for the fact that he is going to hell, than to blame God. I have heard apologists ask “why would God force people to be in heaven with him, if they don’t want to be there?” This is sad. It implies that people who don’t believe in God actually DO believe in hell, and have a positive desire to go there.

    The second reason is to let God off the hook for the problem of evil. It just feels better to say that God has to allow a evil in the world so that we people can be free, with the other idea being that we would be robots. This is nonsense. Freedom is the ability to chose between options, without coercion or being programmed to do one thing or the other.” A person could have free will and chose between only good options. I mean, God has free-will right?

    I say just give it up. Be real to yourself, and your religion. Become a hard Calvanist. That is the only consistent way to deal with this subject.

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