Predestination and Free Will

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Saint, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. Rav Valued Senior Member

    I'm reasonably familiar with relativity. Certainly nothing you have said about it so far is new to me. But you can't just invoke relativistic mechanics to demonstrate the logical consistency of the claim that a god can be omnipresent throughout the time line, in both directions, and at every location in space at each of those temporal points, and has been since the first moment of creation, while still maintaining that the future hasn't already happened. It's just not sufficient. What you need is something resembling the theory of special relativity with those additional metaphysical assertions factored in.

    If you have something like that, I'm listening. Explain away.
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  3. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I actually like some of Syne's idea.

    While God is omnipresent and omniscient, living beings such as humans are not.
    So for God, the past, the present and the future do not exist separately; in a sense, everything is present to God.
    For a human, however, who is not omnipresent, there is a distinction between past, present and future; for a human, the future hasn't happened yet.
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  5. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    I did not claim that relativity had anything to do with demonstrating the logical consistency of omnipresence in space, although it does show that omnipresence in time is logically consistent. Omnipresence in space is an entirely different matter, completely unassociated with relativity. As I told Wynn, any creator god would necessarily use it's own essence to bring about any existence, and such does not necessarily have any significant separation from its source. Hence, anywhere there is existence there would be this god.

    That you keep harping on a god observing our past and future simultaneously requiring a preexisting future makes your familiarity with relativity very questionable. I have already tried to explain this to you, but you seem to have completely missed it. You do not seem to understand SR well enough to know it does not require any "additional metaphysical assertions". It is called time dilation, and it is a well-tested, empirical fact.
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  7. Ripley Valued Senior Member

    Not that I have a complete concept of an "omnipresent" god—an engrossing contemplative pastime—but I would think a god's essence as being law, and then law lending itself to form. Hence primary forms that are dependent entirely on an omniscient law of an omnipresent god. Thereafter I suppose there'd be semi-dependencies and independent forms—not existing apart but existing somewhat co-like-dependently. Something like that.
  8. prefiz Registered Senior Member

    As a nun once told me and the rest of the class, "We are all destined to go to hell..." case closed?
  9. Ripley Valued Senior Member

    In one of the early Star Trek films a mad scientist seeking immortality or something or other exclaims, "time is the fire that burns us all!" It's an interesting idea because essentially heaven and hell seem to be existing compliantly from one another.
  10. Rav Valued Senior Member

    If an entity isn't essentially spatially omnipresent, then the knowledge that entity has of any given moment is limited to only what is contained in the region of space in which it is present...

    ...but as should be clear from our context, as well as this comment of yours above, we are indeed talking about spatial omnipresence. So while you may not have explicitly stated certain things, they do nonetheless factor into our discussion.

    I haven't been saying that relativity "requires any additional metaphysical assertions", I've been saying that there are metaphysical assertions already in play in this discussion that should be factored in. You obviously don't quite get where I'm coming from yet, but I will try to make it more clear as we go about nailing down some of the specifics of your proposition.

    Here's a question that might help to draw out at least some of what I'm looking for:

    By what mechanism does God obtain knowledge of the future? You've been suggesting that it has something to do with relativity, so does he, for example, obtain information about what is going on at point B in space, at some future time, by travelling toward it from some distant point A at some significant fraction of c? I mean, are we actually talking about God utilizing relativistic physics, or not? If not, what are we talking about?
  11. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

    I like THIS idea. IF a god that could possibly have created our universe is truly omniscient (as in knows the future as well as the past and present of all) then that's one thing, but to see eternity and infinity all at the same time seems difficult as it requires infinite computing power. I suppose if god is everything that ever was this is possible; we could talk about an omniscience that predicts the future perfectly, well at least for a certain relevant timeframe, and therefore has the ability that you demand of this god, but would still be a living in the present power.
  12. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    So you are saying that it is the end-all of human behavior then, only qualified as still, overall, strictly determinant. You cannot, de facto, gloss over each individual event in a probability distribution as determinant just because the central tendency is so. That is what distinguishes random from determinant. As long as the random events are equally distributed on either side of the mean there is no inherent bound on their values.

    And even if that were not the case, a probability distribution is necessarily spread over time. This means that, while the overall mean is determinant independent of time, even arbitrary collections of such events are indeterminant over time. Since humans do not live and behave in chunks of time that allow for completely determinant results, real-time evaluation must account for this indeterminism. Random only means that a thing cannot be feasibly predicted. It does not inherently imply that there is any stipulation or constraints on these results at any given single event.

    Then I assume you concede that my discussion of relativity had nothing to do with spatial omnipresence, since you completely avoided addressing it.

    Perhaps it would help if you explicitly stated these "metaphysical assertions" you allude to.

    You are conflating things. You ask about knowledge of the future only to then detour directly into spatial remoteness. I have told you, several times now (to no avail), that relativity is only related to omnipresence in time. Can you at least verify for me that you understand that much?

    If you cannot, then I can only assume you are arguing a straw man, whether intentionally or due to obtuseness.
  13. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

    Wynn: For a god to know all of its states in time (configurations of the universe at all points) how is this mind linked? Linked by time itself; by the physical? How is it possible for information to pass from the infinite recesses of the eternal future to the infinite recesses of the eternal past? It would have to be instantaneous, but for any given data for say the present, to access any data from say any point in time in eternity it could take an indeterminate amount of time to search through the mind's pathways/databases? How also is data exchanged between physical areas of the universe. There would have to be, again, some kind of instant access. But if the physical realm is infinite, how can algorithms not spend all their time searching. How would this neural net work/run?
  14. SciWriter Valued Senior Member


    What is the “secret” of human behavior, one that’s really so much the saving grace that we may even keep it from ourselves rather than very far into it try to delve? What is it that should be so confidential, classified, and undisclosed—its potential kept under wraps, so very contra; informally: hush-hush; formally: sub rosa?

    Well, it’s a revelation of splendor, one that’s often good to surrender, but is also very well to remember. Is the will free to will one’s actions otherwise? Can antecedent conditions be ignored? Can the self be an unmoved mover? Not really, but… and what of those tendencies of evo’s realm that have been imprinted on one’s genetic film—those of temperament, role preferences, emotions, responses, and even one’s most revered moral choices—those invoices from which one rejoices?

    Well, these are not choices at all in of any free will voices. In essence, from the basis of one and from all that one has become from life’s total behavioral reactions, there are probabilities of actions—some patterns that are very likely and some patterns highly unlikely. Is free will a necessary fiction, a kind of a religion? No and yes if it’s to provide an essential berth for one’s morality, meaning, and worth.

    So, then, with this “free will” become, one might then succumb to systematic deception about one’s causal connection to that of nature, a roadblock, a detour that’s neither possible, necessary, nor desirable. The friends to these “free will” motifs would be the mythical cultural beliefs that explain behaviors and feelings in terms of unknowable forces and beings. But, to protect one’s moral virtues should one still believe oneself’s purview to be as an ultimately responsible agent, lo—a self creation ex nihilo, a god-like, miniature first cause who chooses without it being determined by one’s own muses?

    Well, maybe, but, nay, really not, nil, for there is no contra-causal free will. What the good then of this fix we’re in? Such it is then that we can gain a measure of peace rather than the anger of resentment’s crease when someone does or says something ‘bad’, even those close relatives we once had.

    For the civil-law-breakers and all those ungiving takers we’ll no longer incarcerate for punishment, being so irate at the jail’s bait, but so that society will be protected and that they might emerge corrected from the swill of a prison mill, fulfilled with a new unfree will that points more toward goodness, or at least away from badness. Thus, the action of metaphysical justification for a total retribution then greatly softens, a relief from the stress, so often, for it’s no longer induced from the abuse produced. Really? Truly.

    Indeed, we become less self-conscious, more playful, less noxious, more gracious, less callow, and less likely to wallow in the sorrow that is so hollow and shallow in its excessive self-blame, pride, envy, or resentment; now all put aside. Aren’t we changing the will here as we go? Yes, ever to a new fixed one, yet the fixed will must ever follow what we know. So, then we are learning—the only hope for larger earnings from the will’s then wider yearnings! Yes, overturning.

    What if to learning we are averse? What a curse! Might as well call the hearse. So, then, all in all, though a tempt, it is that we humans are not exempt from the laws of physics—a preempt although we’ve been wired to make the attempt—a seeming violation by nature of its own universal law and structure. No, it’s not a violation I would call, for science still did tell us all. It’s all part of the structure; one can never cheat Mother Nature. Hail, then, to the physic.

    Well, it’s not so bad, is it? Although we can never will the will, its motives ever our intent do fulfill; but it is that we have no free will. True, plus we can expand the will’s horizoning through our broader learning’s wisening. Yes, learn today, and by tomorrow, say, the will may have a different sway. I wouldn’t want it any other way, for then I wouldn’t be me—my screenplay. What other ways can we improve the play? Well, we have patience and delay, for we don’t have to act right away—until a more creative solution appears.
  15. Rav Valued Senior Member

    It's important to examine the logical consistency of a claim in light of every factor that might come to bear on it somehow. Surely you can understand that. So yes, while your discussion of relativity, by itself, didn't have anything to do with spatial omnipresence, our broader discussion does.

    1) there exists some sort of spatially and temporally transcendent being
    2) this being has absolute knowledge of future events

    I was simply describing a possible scenario in which God might obtain knowledge of future events by taking advantage of relativistic physics. After all, if you travel toward some distant point in space at some significant fraction of c, you're sharing a slice of spacetime with the future of that distant point. God could then utilize spatial omnipresence and some supernatural form of instantaneous communication to take stock of that future state.

    But this isn't a contention of mine. Rather it was a scenario constructed for the purpose of trying to get you to detail (perhaps by correcting me) the actual mechanism by virtue of which God has knowledge of the future.

    So I'll ask the question again: are we talking about God utilizing relativistic physics, or not? If not, what are we talking about?
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2012
  16. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member


    I thought I had already made it clear, but maybe you did not read my reply to Wynn, so I will try to spell it out.

    It would be a necessity for any genuine creation to be of such a creator god's own essence, whatever that may be, rather than any sort of preexisting material or substance, which would have a further questionable origin of its own. This is a logical necessity which directly follows from the simple premise of a creator god. Any such creator god would never suffer from the arbitrary sense of separation that we do (like from each other and even our own bodies, which we refer to as possessions instead of beingness, i.e. "my body" versus "I"), as that sense of separation is likely a result of our limited knowledge. It then follows that such a god is present in all existence, as all existence is the essence of such a god, and it experiences no limitation in knowledge of its own essence.

    This alone accounts for omnipresence and hence knowledge present with any existence. No relativity required, only simple logic.

    Now the notion of omniscience that allows for free will is only supported by relativity, not necessitated by it. Relativity is just something that allows us to understand how time can be experienced very differently by different observers in such a way that one person's lengthy timeline can be seen as another's moment. Nothing more esoteric than that really. Now we are free to cop out on omniscience by only accounting for the apparent determinism of a causal universe, but that leaves the implications of relativity and quantum indeterminacy conspicuously neglected. Not to mention any notions of personal responsibility and accountability that are anything but arbitrary or capricious.

    Omniscience is maximal knowledge, not absolute knowledge. Maximal knowledge is up for definition, while the absolute is not, but what is maximal is also available to consistent logic. From what we know of quantum indeterminacy and wave function collapse, the future is not a resolved thing with a definite truth value available to be known, by any means except maybe in broad strokes. Even the omniscient can only know those things which have a truth value. One cannot know something which does not exist in any way to be known.

    So it is just logically consistent, if we have any genuine interest in pursuing such possibilities rather than making it fit an agenda. We understand how time rates may vary significantly, why the future may not be available, and what a realistic definition of omniscience may be.

    Now does any of this make our initial premise of the existence of a creator god any more or less plausible? No, not necessarily. It may even make a better case for free will.
  17. Rav Valued Senior Member

    Before I respond to your other points, I'd like to clarify some things. Earlier in this discussion I commented that I had no issue with the logical consistency of the idea that a god could obtain knowledge of future events (without doing violence to the concept of free-will) by virtue of possessing what you've termed "maximal knowledge", which basically grows out of a form omniscience limited only by factors such as quantum indeterminacy, as you've described again here.

    But I believe that the following established our context some time ago:

    You were clearly suggesting that God might have knowledge of future events by virtue of having already experienced them. Such knowledge would indeed be absolute, and you appeared to be attempting to defend the logical consistency of this notion (as one that also doesn't do violence to the concept of free will) by invoking relativistic physics.

    So would you mind making it clear which position you are now defending? The scarily inhuman predictive accuracy of "maximal knowledge", or the absolute knowledge gained by having already seen events unfold?
  18. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    I know, we basically agree, although without a clear understanding between us as to the method of knowing the future.

    Just because a god's time rate is such that its moment corresponds to our whole timeline does not mean that our future is in the god's past, i.e. "already experienced". This is the erroneous assumption you keep making that is leading you astray. A much slower time rate means that even though our future may be a god's present that future does not need to happen prior to us experiencing. Such a god's moment is just so long that it naturally encompasses our future, but both time rates unfold simultaneously (hence my comment about nothing "yet to unfold").

    As the Bible says [paraphrased], a day to god is as a thousand years to man. This just means that a god would measure his "days" differently than we do.

    To be clear, I have not ever defended the notion that a god could have "already experienced" our future prior to us experiencing it. Hopefully my earlier posts will make more sense to you in hindsight.
  19. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

    At Rav and Syne; sorry to interrupt your debate.
    If there is a god (deistic) that is everything it therefore follows that we are part of that all and part of god. Therefore every action we take is within god. I don't have any issue with this concept running in tandem with free will. In such a scenario we are composed of matter which god makes up, and his orchestration of said matter is in such a way as the universe takes on the properties that it does. I see no distinction here between what atoms do and what humans do. All our actions would be under the umbrella of god, whilst our freewill is maintained so too is the will of god as he wants things, and designs things, and in fact orchestrates things to happen exactly as they do. He would want us to have freewill so we may be inventive and evolve, yet this is his design. I personally don't see a logical corrollary incepting from the idea god knows all of eternity already (see post 110). I would assume that god isn't omniscient entire, as in knows the eternal future, but instead is able to calculate the future as he runs everything from a base bottom up level.

    So in conclusion: To say there is a conflict between frewill and god having complete control of what makes up the universe is false if we all are (part of) god.
  20. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    I generally agree. Free will would necessarily be a co-opting of the will of such a god. There is no necessity for the will of a god the be expressed any other way than through existence.
  21. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    If you are only addressing the issue of freewill being (in)compatible (or not) with god's existence then this is perhaps okay.
    But the issue would also hinge on the nature of that control, and as ever on the definition one is using for "freewill".

    Further, while I am aware that threads move on from the title/OP, you have effectively moved the discussion from the issue of predestination to one of god's existence, while concluding that god's existence does not equate to predestination.

    So if the question is: does predestination conflict with free-will, and you conclude that god's existence does not infer predestination, then the question is no closer to being answered other than saying that "the existence of a god whose abilities do not infer predestination does not have to conflict with free-will".
    But then that's the price of eggs, I suppose.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Maybe that's where the thread is heading... but in doing so are you not losing sight of the thread's question?
  22. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    I believe he said "god having complete control". If that is not the gist of predestination then I do not know what is. Any divine predestination explicitly necessitates some form of the divine. And the OP was definitely about divine predestination, so a god not inferring predestination does answer the OP.

    It seems you want to focus on the premise of determinism versus free will, as that is what it boils down to if you neglect all notions of a god. But if determinism does not truly exist, at least for human behavior, then you have done the same thing. You have simply eliminated hard determinism, whether due to the divine or not.

    So I fail to see the distinction.
  23. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

    If there was such a complex god you can be damn sure he has a plan (predetermined goal) so I also don't see an issue. Whether this god knows all the eternal future, or only what extent of future he can compute (say 5 billion years into the future in lieu of a final goal for the universe) then I would say that is pretty well predetermined?

    If god is the organisation inside of us, the design that drives matter forward by his carefully weighted laws of physics etc. and also maintains and computes all physical interactions within the universe (namely us and our freewill) then his existence splices nicely alongside freewill. God's freewill, and our freewill working in sync.

    Just one way it could work . . .

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