Foreknowledge = Determinism? And God's Character.

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Paidion
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Re: Foreknowledge = Determinism? And God's Character.

Post by Paidion » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:22 pm

Carmine wrote:We may never be able to surprise God with our actions.
The LORD said to me in the days of King Josiah: "Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. (Jeremiah 3:6-7 ESV)


Wasn't the LORD surprised in this case? He THOUGHT that Israel would return to Him after doing these evil things, but she DIDN'T return as He had thought.
Or even if the word is "said" instead of "thought" it wouldn't make much difference. For if God SAID that she would return, and she didn't, then either He didn't know, or He lied.

Now some translators render the statement as follows: "And I said, 'Return to me,' but she did not return." I haven't studied Hebrew, but the word in the Greek Septuagint translation from the Hebrew is NOT in the imperative.
Paidion

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Singalphile
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Re: Foreknowledge = Determinism? And God's Character.

Post by Singalphile » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:25 am

TK wrote:Hey singlephile-

If God has perfect foreknowledge today that I will have a turkey sandwich tomorrow for lunch, guess what I'm having for lunch tomorrow? I may feel "free" eating it, but in actuality I am just doing what God foreordained I would do.
I have heard that sort of assertion before, but I don't understand why it's necessarily true. I don't see how God's (or anyone's) foreknowledge of your actions necessarily causes your actions. As long as you freely choose to eat the turkey sandwich (having the option not to), then it doesn't necessarily matter whether or not God (or anyone) knows what you will freely choose, as I see it. In other words, just because He (or anyone) knows what you will choose doesn't mean He (or anyone) causes what you will choose, imo. Those are different questions.
TK wrote:By the way, I have often thought if God has already seen everything that happens before it happens, then he also saw himself seeing everything before it happens, ad infinitum.
Yes, I agree about that (God's foreknowledge of His own thoughts, actions, knowledge). I also think it would be incredibly boring to know what everyone (including yourself) will say and do forever. And ... yeah, it doesn't make sense to me, but I'm not surprised about that.
Si wrote: Singalphile,
...
When you say, "I don't claim that God chose (or chooses) to know everything that will ever occur, for the record," that sounds like a little bit of open theism. I like how I have heard Greg Boyd describe open theism, simply that God allows for possibilities. I'd like to share a short little video that was kind of an eye opener for me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gApXDGjyksw
I am completely open to open theism. I suspect it's at least partially correct, but I'm not sure, and I have no major problem with the more traditional view either. I have seen that video. Greg B. is good on that topic (among others), I think.
... that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. John 5:23

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mattrose
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Re: Foreknowledge = Determinism? And God's Character.

Post by mattrose » Fri Apr 20, 2018 1:57 am

Singalphile wrote: I have heard that sort of assertion before, but I don't understand why it's necessarily true. I don't see how God's (or anyone's) foreknowledge of your actions necessarily causes your actions. As long as you freely choose to eat the turkey sandwich (having the option not to), then it doesn't necessarily matter whether or not God (or anyone) knows what you will freely choose, as I see it. In other words, just because He (or anyone) knows what you will choose doesn't mean He (or anyone) causes what you will choose, imo. Those are different questions.
It is not the case that God's foreknowledge necessarily causes one's actions. That's not the claim being made. It is, however, the case, that God's foreknowledge (perfect as it would theoretically be) eliminates the possibility that one will do otherwise. Libertarian Freedom becomes illusory.

Both Calvinists and Arminians tend to believe that God exists outside of time. Calvinists don't pretend to believe in libertarian freedom. But classical Arminians do claim to believe in libertarian freedom. They believe that God simply observes the timeline and, therefore, knows how free agents act at all points within the timeline. God does not cause the actions of the free will agents in this scenario. But libertarian freedom is still destroyed because the agents are no longer free to do otherwise. They cannot veer from what God knows they will do.

It is as if God were directing a film. He allows the actors some freedom to perform their roles as they see fit. But God has voiced the final cut. The DVD has been burned. The actors were free during the filming, but their characters in the film are now set in stone. The best a classical arminian can do is claim they once, in some sense, had libertarian freedom. Now it only feels like they do.

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Paidion
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Re: Foreknowledge = Determinism? And God's Character.

Post by Paidion » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:04 pm

I agree, Matt. I don't know why some think that open theists claim that God's foreknowledge "causes" one's actions.

When my oldest son was three years old, I "knew" that if I said, "Jamie, come here," he would come to me. How did I "know"? Because in the past, he always came when I said those words.
Certainly my "forknowledge" didn't cause him to come. However, did I really KNOW that he would come? Would it have been possible for him to choose not to come? I'm sure it would. So I didn't actually KNOW (in the absolute sense of "know") that he would come. For to "KNOW" in the absolute sense that an event will take plaice implies by the very definition of "know", that the event WILL take place. If I claimed to KNOW that Jamie would come when I said, "Jamie come here" and he didn't come, then the fact is that I didn't KNOW that he would come.

Similarly, if God KNOWS that I will eat an apple at 3 PM tomorrow, then either I don't have the ability NOT to eat the apple at that time, or else God doesn't KNOW that I will eat it at that time. It seems to me that if I don't have the ability NOT to eat the apple at that time, then I don't have free will.
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TruthInLove
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Re: Foreknowledge = Determinism? And God's Character.

Post by TruthInLove » Fri Apr 20, 2018 4:30 pm

Paidion wrote:And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. (Jeremiah 3:6-7 ESV)

Wasn't the LORD surprised in this case?
This may very well be God speaking in such a way that enables us to relate to Him. Arguably, the mechanics of how God thinks versus how material beings think is quite different (e.g. God has no brain in the sense that we do). He may have simply been saying this in a manner consistent with how a man might comfort himself with hope that there would be an eventual end to his torment by his wife's adulteries only to be dismayed when he realizes the true extemes to which her unfaithfulness reaches. Conveying pain and invocation of shame seems to be a likely focus in this language, not necessarily the accurate and objective descriptions of God's "mental" abilities.
mattrose wrote:It is however the case that God's foreknowledge (perfect as it would theoretically be) eliminates the possibility that one will do otherwise. Libertarian Freedom becomes illusory
Isn't that like arguing that time no longer exists because God exists outside of it? Time existed once but because God exists at all points in time, including the last moment of it, then time itself can no longer exist? Is the time we experience then illusory? Is my earthly life illusory too just because God exists at a point in time where I'm no longer in my earthly body?

That may sound paradoxical but I think it highlights one important nuance in these discussions that is often overlooked - perspective.

From God's perspective, perhaps it could be reasonably said that we don't have free-will in the Libertarian sense. However, from the human plane of existence, it's still rational to conclude that we do very much have Libertarian free-will. Both perspectives are equally valid and capable of being simultaneously true. Comparing these perspectives is comparing apples to oranges in my opinion.

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Paidion
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Re: Foreknowledge = Determinism? And God's Character.

Post by Paidion » Fri Apr 20, 2018 9:03 pm

TiL wrote:e.g. God has no brain in the sense that we do
A brain is something physical. But does God have a MIND in the sense that we do?
We all agree that God does not have a body or a physical brain. But if He does not have a MIND in the sense that we so, then in what sense was man created in God's IMAGE?
Paidion

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TruthInLove
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Re: Foreknowledge = Determinism? And God's Character.

Post by TruthInLove » Sat Apr 21, 2018 12:36 am

Hi Paidion,

I agree that God has a mind just as we do. Some similarities between the thought processes of God and man seem likely to account for at least one component of the image we share. My point about the brain is simply that human thought processes need assistance from some physical component that is connected to time and space. God's thoughts do not. His thoughts are not bound to time in the same way as man's. This is just one of the reason's that anthropomorphic language must often be used by God to evoke empathy and identification between His experiences and man's.

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Re: Foreknowledge = Determinism? And God's Character.

Post by Si » Sat Apr 21, 2018 10:46 am

TruthInLove wrote:From God's perspective, perhaps it could be reasonably said that we don't have free-will in the Libertarian sense. However, from the human plane of existence, it's still rational to conclude that we do very much have Libertarian free-will. Both perspectives are equally valid and capable of being simultaneously true. Comparing these perspectives is comparing apples to oranges in my opinion.
If God knowingly created the world this way, then how do you escape the notion, that from God's perspective, billions are predestined to hell? They may be acting freely, but God has known from before creation that they would be lost. Then, how do you remove that from God's will? It just seems like a form of Calvinism, albeit where God is somewhat more passive in his role. He got the whole ball of creation rolling, and he knew exactly how it would end up according to every single detail, and that was fine with him. In a scenario where God has either meticulous providence or meticulous foreknowledge, then the universe is exactly as God intended it to be.

If a Christian is to argue that God didn't intend for there to be sin, but that sin was the result of man's free choice of rebellion, then I don't understand how you defend placing responsibility on man if God indeed created the world knowing in every detail that man would rebel. If God has foreknowledge, either he willed it to happen, or else he was powerless to stop it, and you would then have to deny God's omnipotence. But if each individual human truly has choices, unbound by God's foreknowledge or will, then we alone are responsible.

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Re: Foreknowledge = Determinism? And God's Character.

Post by mattrose » Sat Apr 21, 2018 11:00 am

TruthInLove wrote:Isn't that like arguing that time no longer exists because God exists outside of it?


I don't believe that God exists outside of time
From God's perspective, perhaps it could be reasonably said that we don't have free-will in the Libertarian sense. However, from the human plane of existence, it's still rational to conclude that we do very much have Libertarian free-will. Both perspectives are equally valid and capable of being simultaneously true. Comparing these perspectives is comparing apples to oranges in my opinion.
There is a difference between a paradox and a blatant contradiction. It cannot be true that from God's perspective we don't have libertarian free-will and from our perspective we do. What you're actually doing is just using a faulty definition of libertarian free-will. Libertarian free-will is the ability to do otherwise. Humans wrongfully thinking they could have done otherwise is not genuine libertarian free-will. Sometimes when Christians appear to 'mystery' it is just to avoid the obvious conclusion that they are believing 2 contradictory truth claims.

Singalphile
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Re: Foreknowledge = Determinism? And God's Character.

Post by Singalphile » Sat Apr 21, 2018 10:11 pm

mattrose wrote:
It is not the case that God's foreknowledge necessarily causes one's actions. That's not the claim being made. It is, however, the case, that God's foreknowledge (perfect as it would theoretically be) eliminates the possibility that one will do otherwise. Libertarian Freedom becomes illusory.

.... But [in classical Arminianism] libertarian freedom is still destroyed because the agents are no longer free to do otherwise. They cannot veer from what God knows they will do.

It is as if God were directing a film. He allows the actors some freedom to perform their roles as they see fit. But God has voiced the final cut. The DVD has been burned. The actors were free during the filming, but their characters in the film are now set in stone. The best a classical arminian can do is claim they once, in some sense, had libertarian freedom. Now it only feels like they do.
None of that seems obviously true to me (except the first couple sentences, which I acknowledge). I still don't understand why God's foreknowledge of my free will choices makes my free will choices illusory. I see how I can only actually choose one thing (i.e., I can't go back in time and choose something else), but that doesn't negate my freedom of will, as far as I can tell.

Did God know at the time He chose to create humankind that I would type the number 79,309 just now? I can't say. If He didn't (but He knew I might), then it's because He chose not to know for some reason. If He did, then it means that He (or someone/something else) made me choose that number (in which case I didn't freely choose it), or He knew what I would freely choose to type it because He's far more intelligent and insightful that our brains can fathom and He had knowledge of how all conditions and factors would lead to this moment in time.
Si wrote:If God knowingly created the world this way, then how do you escape the notion, that from God's perspective, billions are predestined to hell? They may be acting freely, but God has known from before creation that they would be lost. Then, how do you remove that from God's will? It just seems like a form of Calvinism, albeit where God is somewhat more passive in his role. He got the whole ball of creation rolling, and he knew exactly how it would end up according to every single detail, and that was fine with him. In a scenario where God has either meticulous providence or meticulous foreknowledge, then the universe is exactly as God intended it to be.

If a Christian is to argue that God didn't intend for there to be sin, but that sin was the result of man's free choice of rebellion, then I don't understand how you defend placing responsibility on man if God indeed created the world knowing in every detail that man would rebel. If God has foreknowledge, either he willed it to happen, or else he was powerless to stop it, and you would then have to deny God's omnipotence. But if each individual human truly has choices, unbound by God's foreknowledge or will, then we alone are responsible.
It seems like He could have allowed us to sin - knowing we would - with the knowledge that the benefits would outweigh the cost. He has determined that those who choose to submit to Him will live forever with Him (despite our lack of merit), and those who choose otherwise will be rightly and justly judged and destroyed (in "hell"). None of that changes, as far as I can tell, whether or not He always knew who all of those individuals would be. Regardless, He could just directly intervene in everyone's life (e.g., appear in physical form) if He chose to. For me, I just have to trust Him when I reach the edge of my understanding. Open theism is a valid position, imo, but it doesn't remove all of the "how come?"'s.
... that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. John 5:23

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