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God, Man and Freewill – Is it a Paradox?


Folks,
In my many discussions with the religious folk, we have ended up arriving at the point of discussing Freewill. Their argument goes something like: God gave us Freewill to decide to choose right and wrong. But he expects us to make the best use of it. If we don’t, we are guaranteed HELL (in its current form of fire).

Now, does it make sense for an all knowing God to give you Freewill, then punish you for using that same Freewill?
For example, when you decide to become an Atheist, a homosexual, gay, whatever, can it be said that using Freewill? Why then should such a God be annoyed that you are using the very Free Will that he gave you?

If you are religious, kindly break down this whole issue of free will for me. (Please be clear as you can!)

Also kindly explain whether the story of creation has anything to do with the free will that the Abrahamic God gave to Adam and Eve.

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13 comments on “God, Man and Freewill – Is it a Paradox?

  1. Steve
    August 8, 2012

    I don’t think you’ll be getting anything very satisfying in the way of a response.

    Like

    • Harry
      August 9, 2012

      I am still hopeful, though so far, it appears you are right.

      Like

  2. Steve
    August 9, 2012

    I’m not religious, so I am respecting that you are looking for how the religious handle this problem.

    Like

  3. Ghost Ship
    August 9, 2012

    I think one of the biggest problems that Christians often have, or indeed all of us, is that we have very little awareness of where the Bible and Christian thought actually comes from in the first place. Mant Christians never even read most of the Bible – which in a sense is just as well since they wouldn’t be able to understand it without some historical and textual training.

    So, in that sense it’s interesting to note that the story of Adam and Eve wasn’t even a story about the beginning of time originally, or original sin, nor was it considered the “first” book in any way before the Bible was compiled in the early middle ages, nor is satan ever mentioned as being the identity of the snake. (In fact, it seems to be a story about the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, the discrediting of the snake-worshipping cult which had hitherto been perfectly respectable, and is still represented in many medical logos to this day, and Adam is the figure of the transgressive sacral king).

    Neither is “hell” ever mentioned in the Bible. “Hell” is the underworld from the pagan Germanic tradition, used as a blanket translation for many different words including “sheol”, which was the nothingy, shadowy world of death that everyone was believed to go to by the Jews, and “gehenna”, which was actual a real physical place where the corpses of executed criminals were burned.

    As for free will, I think the obvious problem is that we are clearly not free, but born into a set of pretty comprehensive limitations, and in actual fact free will is always going to be an unachievable ideal that we may nevertheless strive to.

    Like

  4. cornell
    August 10, 2012

    Harry,

    As I have highlighted before on this blog; one of the main reasons why many of US Christians (or religious people) are not bothering to respond to you (specifically) is because your questions reveal a lot of illogical thinking for someone who is promoting the cause of rationalism. For instance, you begin by establishing that Christians claim that God gave us Free Will to decide to choose right and wrong. First, by mentioning the moral principles of right and wrong, it ought to be reasonable that the punishment and reward principle is somehow linked to wrong and right respectively (as many religions teach).

    But you go ahead and ask, “Why does God punish you for using free will?” Do you see the disconnect? Free Will refers to the ABILITY/FREEDOM to make a choice. But we are punished for making a WRONG choice. We are not punished for HAVING THE ABILITY to make a choice.

    When a child runs into the street and gets hit by a car, you don’t say that he got hit by a car because he had the ability to run! that’s just bad reasoning. You say he got hit by a car because he ran into the street! He could have ran somewhere else and his ABILITY to run would not have gotten him hit.

    In the same way, when a person is punished for making the wrong choice, you do not conclude that he got punished for having the ABILITY to make a choice. Otherwise, what will you say about the person who makes the right choice? Is he being rewarded for his ability to make a choice or is he being rewarded because of the TYPE of choice he made?

    When you insult your boss, will you be fired because of your ABILITY to speak or will you be fired because of the words you spoke? Please, let us be reasonable. When the law allows you to carry a gun and you use it to kill innocent kids, will the law punish you for USING a gun or will it punish you for HOW you used the gun? I could go on with these illustrations…

    You see, Harry, when you think like that, you end up making it look like it is the Christians who are being irrational. A question like this one: “Why does God reward some people for using their free will and then punish others for using their free will” seems to point to some irrationality in God. However, the truth of the matter is that this apparent irrationality in God is actually a product of your own irrational thinking! The question that a Christian should answer is this: “Why does God reward some people for using their free will TO CHOOSE RIGHT and then punish others for using their free will TO CHOOSE WRONG?.”

    I advise you go brush up on your logic so that you can pose questions that are worth addressing in a manner that is both intelligent and coherent. Otherwise, you are actually doing a very good job of self-defeating a worldview that you are trying so hard to advocate and champion in Kenya.

    I have a great book on “Critical Thinking” that I can lend you if you need to brush up on this.

    Like

    • makagutu
      August 11, 2012

      Cornell, you may find the formulation of Harry’s questions logically deficient but i think the most important question here is on the definition of god. and to take the argument further on the question of free will to say god punishes us for choosing not to obey him/it/she among others or for rewarding those who obey him/it/she means he is like us or else why would he be bothered by such a choice if the choice is a rational one?

      Like

      • cornell
        September 6, 2012

        True Noel, the greater question is that of the nature of God. However, if we start tolerating bad logic, then the atheist loses any grounds for criticizing the irrationality of Christianity, ama?

        Like

    • Cornell, on the surface of it; it would appear that your argument is very logical while in fact it isn’t. There is no equivalence between a child running into the street and getting hit by a car and what Harry talked about such as a gay person deciding to live out his or her sexuality.

      A lot of studies have been carried out on human sexuality and the overwhelming evidence is that there is a psychological basis for gayism and lesbianism. These lovely but persecuted minority are ‘hardwired’ to be attracted to their own sex (I admit it, there are some who pretend to be homosexual when they are not, but that is besides the point). If we are to believe your god, he/it created these people with a ‘free will’ and an incapacity to live out his ‘good’ definition of sexuality. Some free will huh?

      Taking the argument further, there are other people who are similarly ‘hardwired’ to be psychopaths. A very small minority but nonetheless they are there. People who cannot resist committing the most heinous crimes. Were these too designed by a ‘loving creator’ so they could live their miserable lives only to burn for eternity in hell fire? Doesn’t that sound like the work of a capricious sadist? It does to me and any other rational human being am sure.

      Like

      • cornell
        September 6, 2012

        Njoroge, the child running into the street is “hardwired” to be attracted (and attached) to his toy (or foot ball). There is even a psychological basis for this 🙂

        PS: We are all hardwired to do numerous other things that God considers sins. Actually, the Bible itself admits it (Psalm 14:1). E.g. Looking at a beautiful woman lustfully (and there are studies on the hormonal surges and changes that take place during such an activity) is considered a sin. Yet, homosexuality seems to be the only one that is being strongly (and uniquely) defended. I wonder why.

        Sin, according to the Bible, is primarily and fundamentally UNBELIEF (Romans 14:23), these other “activities” are merely expressions of sin.

        Like

      • cornell
        September 6, 2012

        By the way Njoroge, it is good to SHOW the illogicality of my argument rather than simply state that it is illogical. Logic is logic, whether it is applied to a child or to God. The lack of equivalence you have pointed out is not in my logic, but rather, it is in the case studies that Harry and I have chosen to employ in our arguments. I may be hardwired to homosexual tendencies, but all homosexual “acts” (not feelings) are products of decision-making. Unless we are mindless robots being controlled by our biology. Yes, I admit that it is painstakingly difficult to resist this hard-wiring, and this is why Christianity teaches such “strange” doctrines such as “dying to self” and “killing the flesh.”

        Like

      • makagutu
        September 6, 2012

        On a different matter, I ask that Cornell visits google and type animals with homosexual tendencies. You’ll be amazed at how many animals there are that have gays, so there is nothing sinful about gays except for those who believe a god created them and gave out laws to be followed. In his 10 commandments he doesn’t condemn pedophilia, slavery and many such evils? What were his priorities and he participates in mass murder and loves BBQ! What a god?

        Like

  5. soviet
    August 10, 2012

    Cornell, well put. I do not see how someone can suggest the idea of choice yet ignore completely the concept of Rewards & Sunctions seeing that the is not a world yet conceived that appreciates choice and yet has not standards & limitations to be observed

    Like

  6. amy
    April 18, 2014

    The Kenya law allows a policeman to carry a gun but he cannot kill whoever he likes. If he does,the same law will send him to jail. A policeman cannot argue that the law cannot send him to jail because it gave him the gun.
    You go to hell as a consequence of your actions but not as a consequence of free will. Its how you use your free will that determines where you go.
    God gave Adam and Eve free will as well, they had the choice to listen to the serpent or God, they went with the serpent and had to deal with the consequences.

    Like

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This entry was posted on August 8, 2012 by in Uncategorized.
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