PDA

View Full Version : A theological debate for the centuries: why does God allow free will?


xayoz306
01-09-2004, 01:44 AM
This question may have been asked before, and I apologize if it has been previously posted, but:

If God has given us the gift of Free Will, why doesn he allow us to use it to deny His own exsistence?


I won't post my own opinion just yet, but I am curious as to how others may posit there theories on this question.

tomndebb
01-09-2004, 01:51 AM
why doesn he allow us to use it to deny His own exsistence? Have you been prohibited or restrained from denying God's existence?

xayoz306
01-09-2004, 01:58 AM
I haven't been, but it is an interesting question that takes into account the ability to prove or disprove thatt there is a God, as well as the "gift of free will" is a major sticking point between Protestantism and Catholicism.

My self, I feel that the fact God has allowed us to deny his exsistence is a window into the gift of free will, because of forcing the belief he exsists onto us, he is giving us the opportunities to have independent thought. However, then, this would make God appear non-omnipotent to some, as he isn't making it impossible to deny his exsistence.

It can be a convoluted argument, since for every point you make on one side, it raises an even bigger counterpoint on the other side.

If you were God, an all knowing, omnipotent being, would you want to allow your followers deny your exsistence, thus making you not as omnipotent as you truly are?

UDS
01-09-2004, 02:15 AM
Originally posted by xayoz306
I haven't been, but it is an interesting question that takes into account the ability to prove or disprove thatt there is a God, as well as the "gift of free will" is a major sticking point between Protestantism and Catholicism.
It is? Do tell us more!

Originally posted by xayoz306
My self, I feel that the fact God has allowed us to deny his exsistence is a window into the gift of free will, because of forcing the belief he exsists onto us, he is giving us the opportunities to have independent thought. However, then, this would make God appear non-omnipotent to some, as he isn't making it impossible to deny his exsistence.

It can be a convoluted argument, since for every point you make on one side, it raises an even bigger counterpoint on the other side.

If you were God, an all knowing, omnipotent being, would you want to allow your followers deny your exsistence, thus making you not as omnipotent as you truly are?
I'm not following you here. To say that God is omnipotent is to say that he can do anything, not that he actually does everthing. So I don't see how pointing out that God hasn't done any specific thing in any way diminishes his omnipotence.

xayoz306
01-09-2004, 02:22 AM
Originally posted by UDS
I'm not following you here. To say that God is omnipotent is to say that he can do anything, not that he actually does everthing. So I don't see how pointing out that God hasn't done any specific thing in any way diminishes his omnipotence.

It's not that God hasn't done anything specific, but rather, he hasn't limited free will. the fact he hasn't, he allows his followers to deny his exsistence, thus making his following smaller. I guess it would relate in a world where all the various "Heavens" of the world's religions are competing for the most followers. (At times it seems this way).


Regarding the issue of free will between the Catholics and the Protestants, during the Reformation, and to an extent today, Protestants believed that everyone was born and their fate was already determined (predestinarianism), whereas the Catholics, spcifically the jesuits, taught that free will was a gift from God, and exercising this free will through good works was what determined if you would go to heaven. Though I am a protestant, I am still not up to date on the currently accepted Dogma regarding Free Will. If anyone has anything to help here, it would be greatly appreciated.

UDS
01-09-2004, 02:29 AM
Originally posted by xayoz306
It's not that God hasn't done anything specific, but rather, he hasn't limited free will. the fact he hasn't, he allows his followers to deny his exsistence, thus making his following smaller. I guess it would relate in a world where all the various "Heavens" of the world's religions are competing for the most followers. (At times it seems this way).
But how does God having a smaller following than he might otherwise have limit his omnipotence? Are you in fact thinking of some quality or characteristic other than omnipotence?

Originally posted by xayoz306
Regarding the issue of free will between the Catholics and the Protestants, during the Reformation, and to an extent today, Protestants believed that everyone was born and their fate was already determined (predestinarianism), whereas the Catholics, spcifically the jesuits, taught that free will was a gift from God, and exercising this free will through good works was what determined if you would go to heaven. Though I am a protestant, I am still not up to date on the currently accepted Dogma regarding Free Will. If anyone has anything to help here, it would be greatly appreciated.
OK, predestination; now I see where you're coming from. I don't think your statement of the Catholic position is entirely accurate, but that's something of a sideshow so far as the main question you raise is concerned.

xayoz306
01-09-2004, 02:50 AM
Originally posted by UDS
But how does God having a smaller following than he might otherwise have limit his omnipotence? Are you in fact thinking of some quality or characteristic other than omnipotence?



Perhaps I am. Of course, the other question posed has yet to be answered. If you were God, would you allow your followers to deny your exsistence?

UDS
01-09-2004, 03:01 AM
Actually, the question posed is based on a false premise. The question is "why doesn't God allow us to deny his own existence?" and, as tomndebb has pointed out and I think you have conceded, in fact he does.

You raise a new question in your most recent post - if I were God, would I allow my followers to deny my own existence? Two superficial responses spring to mind; first, my followers, by definition, would be those who accepted my existence, not those who denied it and, secondly, I'm not God, and what I would or would not do is not useful or relevant in relation to what God has or has not done. But I think those responses don't really address the issue you want to explore.

It seems to me the question you actually want to raise might be "why does God allow us to deny His existence?" or, more generally, "why does God allow us free will?"

But I'm not really sure that it's useful (or even polite) for me to speculate about the question you want to discuss, and then discuss it. No offence intended, but would you like to restate carefully the question you want to discuss?

xayoz306
01-09-2004, 03:10 AM
I was asking "why does god allow us free will, when we use that same gift to deny his exsistance?" It was an overlooked typo in the OP.

Mangetout
01-09-2004, 03:26 AM
Because if he did, it would be something other than free will.

UDS
01-09-2004, 03:39 AM
Originally posted by xayoz306
I was asking "why does god allow us free will, when we use that same gift to deny his exsistance?". . .
You may as well ask "why does God allow us free will, when we use that gift to torture one another/pollute the planet/pull the wings off flies/revile the classics/divert watercourses/[insert evil of choice here]. I don't see that denying the existence of God is different from any other choice which (we assume) are not the choices God would prefer. The whole point about free will is that we can make choices which are not the choices God wants us to make.

xayoz306
01-09-2004, 03:53 AM
Originally posted by UDS
You may as well ask "why does God allow us free will, when we use that gift to torture one another/pollute the planet/pull the wings off flies/revile the classics/divert watercourses/[insert evil of choice here]. I don't see that denying the existence of God is different from any other choice which (we assume) are not the choices God would prefer. The whole point about free will is that we can make choices which are not the choices God wants us to make.

But if the choices we make are not the ones God would want us to make, what is the point of free will as a gift for us to use? What is God trying to prove by giving us free will?

Alessan
01-09-2004, 04:03 AM
Originally posted by xayoz306
But if the choices we make are not the ones God would want us to make, what is the point of free will as a gift for us to use? What is God trying to prove by giving us free will?

Why did God create the universe in the first place? Until we know that, I don't think we can answer your question.

Icerigger
01-09-2004, 06:03 AM
If the consequence of using free will is eternal torture in hell do we really have this great "gift" from God?

Diogenes the Cynic
01-09-2004, 12:09 PM
If you were God, an all knowing, omnipotent being, would you want to allow your followers deny your exsistence, thus making you not as omnipotent as you truly are?
How can someone who doesn't believe in God be a "follower?" How can a follower of God not believe in him?

Never mind. I understand what your asking and I think it's flawed in its premise. First of all, the omnipotence of God would not be dependant on human belief in his existence. God cannot be made less powerful by non-belief.

Secondly, I think your phrase "deny his existence" implies that non-belief is a sort of defiant, conscious act of will. I would argue that non-belief is not an act of will at all but simply represents a sort of clean slate. One cannot choose to believe in something, one is convinced of something by some kind of experience, evidence or argument.

Can you choose to believe in fairies or hobbits? Can you will yourself to believe you can fly?

Non-belief is not an act of will.
Non-belief cannot affect God's omnipotence.

Liberal
01-09-2004, 04:18 PM
I agree with Diogenes. Faith also is not a matter of will. Faith is a gift that is given to an open heart. The will is in opening the heart.

Liberal
01-09-2004, 04:36 PM
Originally posted by xayoz306
But if the choices we make are not the ones God would want us to make, what is the point of free will as a gift for us to use? What is God trying to prove by giving us free will? Let us define goodness as that aesthetic which is morally edifying. And let us define love as that which facilitates goodness. Let us define God as the agency for love. Let us postulate that goodness is the aesthetic most valued by God. The justification for that premise follows from the fact that He has chosen to be the facilitator of goodness. Finally, let us postulate that goodness may be facilitated only voluntarily. That premise is justified by the fact that goodness is an aesthetic, and is therefore of subjective value.

From these, we may infer that God created man as a free moral agent just like Himself so that the facilitation of goodness might have the potential to multiply.

IWLN
01-09-2004, 04:54 PM
Originally posted by Diogenes the Cynic
I would argue that non-belief is not an act of will at all but simply represents a sort of clean slate. One cannot choose to believe in something, one is convinced of something by some kind of experience, evidence or argument.I agree completely with this. It's probably the most important fact that "believer's" miss. Definitely at odds with the whole Christian doctrine, though.

As for the OP. He gave us free will so we would do exactly what we're doing. Thinking, arguing, seeking, inventing, curing, helping, etc. If we knew for sure, if it was proved that G-d existed, I'm not sure we would have the same motivation and drive we do now. There's no reason to think we're in some sort of rebellion as opposed to proceding as planned. A non-belief or even doubt about G-d's existence is probably a more important componet of our existence than belief is. It makes us try harder with what we have now, rather than counting on later to be better.

John Mace
01-09-2004, 05:25 PM
Originally posted by Diogenes the Cynic
Non-belief is not an act of will.
Non-belief cannot affect God's omnipotence.
But, isn't God supposed to be omniscient as well as omnipotent?
Free will may not undermine the latter, but it does undermine the former.

IWLN
01-09-2004, 05:52 PM
Originally posted by John Mace
But, isn't God supposed to be omniscient as well as omnipotent?
Free will may not undermine the latter, but it does undermine the former. I don't see why. Just because he knows what we're going to do doesn't mean he's controlling it.

TonyJ
01-09-2004, 06:17 PM
Originally posted by IWLN
I don't see why. Just because he knows what we're going to do doesn't mean he's controlling it.
Actually, I think John Mace is right; if God is omniscient, then free will is illusory - because the actions we take are known and set in God's mind.

In other words, if free will does indeed exist, then even God can't be omniscient - because he can't know with 100% certainty what a person will do next.

John Mace
01-09-2004, 06:38 PM
Originally posted by IWLN
I don't see why. Just because he knows what we're going to do doesn't mean he's controlling it.
True. But if he knows in advance what we are going to do, then something is controlling it.

Diogenes the Cynic
01-09-2004, 07:49 PM
I would say that the omniscience/free will paradox (while a valid topic of debate) is unrelated to non-belief because I still maintain that belief or the lack of it is not an act of will.

CarnalK
01-09-2004, 08:32 PM
Maybe God mimics freewill by choosing not to see what we'll do next?

But he only does that for people who believe in him. ;)

IWLN
01-09-2004, 08:41 PM
Originally posted by John Mace
True. But if he knows in advance what we are going to do, then something is controlling it. We are. I can grant that there is a "something" controlling us to a certain extent. That is, our environment, experiences, our physical and mental limitations, the influence of evolution, etc. Events here are random, which I guess you could say G-d directed them to be random, so he did have some input. I still can't see how G-d knowing the outcome of something affects our free will. If we knew the outcome, it would, because we would know any variation would be futile. G-d just knows all the variations. I have to admit, it's never seemed that important to me if he was omniscient or not. That almost seems to stem from a need to be G-d's focus at all times. Sounds more like a human label we gave him for our supposed benefit than a necessary requirement for G-d. Or a Santa Claus, naughty or nice thing. I'm kind of hoping we made it up, otherwise I'm on the hook for a lot more sin.:)

CarnalK
01-09-2004, 09:08 PM
IWLN said:
I still can't see how G-d knowing the outcome of something affects our free will.
It would kind of show it to be an illusion. If regardless of the amount of tortured thought we put into an action we always yield a "I knew you were going to do that" you really should question how much control you have.
more...
G-d just knows all the variations.

I thought of that too but if God is just a master of probabilities that's not really omniscience (though it would be pretty cool, imho).

John Mace
01-09-2004, 09:09 PM
Originally posted by Diogenes the Cynic
I would say that the omniscience/free will paradox (while a valid topic of debate) is unrelated to non-belief because I still maintain that belief or the lack of it is not an act of will.
Agreed.

CarnalK
01-09-2004, 09:14 PM
I'm not sure I can agree that belief is not an act of will. It requires often complex mental constructs. It often takes specific maintenance (pray,church,text reading,etc). Seems like a lot of effort to think it it's just "there".

Diogenes the Cynic
01-09-2004, 09:30 PM
Prayer and church would presuppose belief, would they not.

I would say that it's (obviously) an act of will to explore possibilities, to examine evidence, etc. and that such exploration can lead to a change in belief, but belief itself is a dependent variable. It can be affected by acts of will by it cannot be changed as an act of will.

IWLN
01-09-2004, 10:20 PM
Originally posted by CarnalK
It would kind of show it to be an illusion. If regardless of the amount of tortured thought we put into an action we always yield a "I knew you were going to do that" you really should question how much control you have.Okay, I'll try one more time. I can see what's happening, but you have no knowledge of me, of my observation. Let's say I'm a true psychic (no, I don't believe in psychics, just pretend) and I know you're going to break you leg today. How is my knowing, affecting your actions, your free-will?


I thought of that too but if God is just a master of probabilities that's not really omniscience (though it would be pretty cool, imho).Demoted from omniscient to just a really good guesser. Okay, that sounds good to me. Does he use math to get his answers or just "wing" it. :)

Liberal
01-10-2004, 08:40 AM
I agree completely with this. It's probably the most important fact that "believer's" miss. Definitely at odds with the whole Christian doctrine, though.I'm a believer, and I didn't miss it. In fact, I was the first poster to express my support of it. Also, I am a Christian, and it is not at odds with my doctrine.

In other words, if free will does indeed exist, then even God can't be omniscient - because he can't know with 100% certainty what a person will do next.He can't make square circles either. If you are a free moral agent (which is how God created you) then your moral decisions are not rationally predictable.

Diogenes the Cynic
01-10-2004, 11:36 AM
Originally posted by Libertarian
I'm a believer, and I didn't miss it. In fact, I was the first poster to express my support of it. Also, I am a Christian, and it is not at odds with my doctrine.
To be honest, though, Lib, you have some fairly non-traditional views of Christianity. You don't hold with some of the more dogmatic notions of Christian salvation, i.e. you don't believe that Christian belief is a requirement for salvation, and that's a doctrine which does conflict with free will. It also conflicts with the conception of a just and omnibenevolent God.

Diogenes the Cynic
01-10-2004, 11:39 AM
BTW, it's nice to see you posting in GD again. I've missed you in the religion threads.

olanv
01-10-2004, 02:01 PM
Originally posted by xayoz306
This question may have been asked before, and I apologize if it has been previously posted, but:

If God has given us the gift of Free Will, why doesn he allow us to use it to deny His own exsistence?


I won't post my own opinion just yet, but I am curious as to how others may posit there theories on this question.

How are you defining free will? The ability to have a thought? It's generally considered that people have thoughts. The ability to choose what we want to think? How do we know what we want to think, if we don't know everything there is to think? How do we even know that we want to think? Are we to assume that we know every thought and thus are making an informed decision about whether or not we even want to think?

What about God? It has been raised here that God knows what other people will do. What about God knowing what God is going to do, or what God is going to think? Does God even decide whether or not God even wants to think? Does God have the freedom to simply stop thinking? If God does have this freedom, but never exersizes it, then what does God have to compare His 'decision' to think against? What about action, God knowing everything that God is going to do? If God does decide to stop thinking and doing, in order to make an informed decision about whether or not God actually wants to think or do, then how can God be said to exist? Does God have the freedom to think and not exist? Can God will his existence away and actually not exist? If not, then from what does God have to compare the supposed choice of deciding to exist from? If God decides not to exist, then how can we say that God exists, or even, has ever existed? An unexisting is also an erasure from time.

So, you're wondering whether God actualy gave us free will. A more pertinent question is whether God even has free will to give. Is free-will something that even exists? If so, define it. Is it something that one being can give to another?

IWLN
01-10-2004, 04:15 PM
Originally posted by Libertarian
I'm a believer, and I didn't miss it. In fact, I was the first poster to express my support of it. Also, I am a Christian, and it is not at odds with my doctrine.At the heart of the Christian doctrine is the command, warning, stipulation, whatever, that the only way to G-d is to accept Jesus Christ as your personal saviour. This will not happen for most of the world. Some because they don't hear it, some because they think it's a crock and some because it is so foreign to their cultural teachings. According to Christian doctrine, at least what I was involved in and a member of for 40 years, these people are lost. According to the NT, it appears they are lost. My first question years ago was "so G-d must have a back up plan?" I was told "no". I did a lot of religious gymnastics to say, "well Christianity got this right, but are wrong about this". It finally occurred to me that what I felt Christianity was wrong about was their main principle. Christianity felt wrong. I realized I wasn't really a Christian. How can it not be at odds with your doctrine and most of all the Bible?

pothead
01-10-2004, 05:20 PM
Originally God gave us free will but not the knowledge necessary to screw ourselves up with such a gift. He didn't want us eating the apples, but once we did, there was no going back. So technically, this whole life thing was a failed experiment from the start and but I guess God knew that.

Since we have free will, believing in God is an option and a test. If you believe, you will go to heaven. Its sort of like evolution- God's weeding out the 'bad' people in order to maintain heaven as paradise.

You can compare it to the First Amendment. Sure you're allowed to say what you want but you'll still be arrested on the spot if you start talking to your buddy FBI Director Robert Mueller about how you have plans to blow up the White House.

CarnalK
01-10-2004, 07:36 PM
Diogenes the Cynic said:
Prayer and church would presuppose belief, would they not.

Actually no I don't think they do. Wouldn't you agree that childhood prayer and church attendance generally comes chronologically before belief?

more...
I would say that it's (obviously) an act of will to explore possibilities, to examine
evidence, etc. and that such exploration can lead to a change in belief, but belief
itself is a dependent variable. It can be affected by acts of will by it cannot be
changed as an act of will.

Well, there might be some quibble room on the indoctrination process not really involving "will" but I would say any belief worth recognizing as such requires effort.

I guess it depends how generic we are going to go with "belief". Belief in a specific god figure or just warm fuzzies about the universe?

CarnalK
01-10-2004, 08:42 PM
IWLN said:
Let's say I'm a true psychic (no, I don't believe in psychics, just pretend) and I know you're going to break you leg today. How is my knowing, affecting your actions, your free-will?

If you are going to look at it that way I guess it doesn't. It's just that your definition of free will doesn't seem able to affect the future. Not very useful free will if you ask me.

TBG
01-10-2004, 10:31 PM
Originally posted by xayoz306
Protestants, during the Reformation, and to an extent today, Protestants believed that everyone was born and their fate was already determined (predestinarianism),

No, not quite. Yes, that is the belief in a few Protestant denominations, but far from being something that separates all of Protestant Christians from Catholics. In fact, I'd say that predestination is held by very few Protestants.

It's odd how so many people think Protestants are all one thing, and then take some particular aspect held by relatively few denominations, and then apply that to all Protestants. For example, in history class in High School, somehow the topic of Protestants came up, and the teacher said the main difference between Protestants and Catholics was Protestants didn't believe Mary was a virgin when giving birth to Jesus, which elicited gasps from some of the Catholics in the class. Of course being the lone Protestant in the room, I was pretty pissed at the statement myself, knowing it wasn't correct.

Back to the main question, "If God has given us the gift of Free Will, why doesn he allow us to use it to deny His own exsistence?"

He absolutely allows us to use it to deny His existance. People deny His existence all the time. I think what you are really trying to ask is "If God has given us the gift of Free Will, why doesn't he allow us to use it to deny His own exsistence and still go to Heaven?" or something like that, to which the simplest answer is because He's God and He said so. When you create a universe, you get to set the rules. He's said you can freely choose to believe in Him or not, but if you choose not, then there are repercussions for it in the long run.

IWLN
01-10-2004, 11:09 PM
Originally posted by CarnalK
If you are going to look at it that way I guess it doesn't. It's just that your definition of free will doesn't seem able to affect the future. Not very useful free will if you ask me. The example I used was to explain why some other entity knowing what you would do, wouldn't affect what you actually do. G-d being omniscient doesn't impede our choices. Free will is what allows me to choose my own future, good or bad.

Diogenes the Cynic
01-10-2004, 11:53 PM
Originally posted by CarnalK
Actually no I don't think they do. Wouldn't you agree that childhood prayer and church attendance generally comes chronologically before belief?
I think that prayer, at least, would be dependent on belief. You can't speak to an entity if you don't believe it exists.

If by "church" you mean merely attendance then no belief is necessary but if you mean worship then, once again, you have to believe something exists before you can worship it.

I also think that children do simply believe what they're told about religion. They have no reason not to at first. My child believes whatever I tell her and I'm starting to realize what a sobering responsiblity that puts on me.

Apos
01-10-2004, 11:53 PM
1) Why doesn't God make us the sort of people that would never freely choose to deny his own existence? God, for instance, presumably has free will. Yet, he is perfectly good. So it's not at all impossible to be the sort of being that never does wrong, while at the same time that being a freely willed choice. Why aren't we that way if it's possible?

2) Why should God's _existence_ be what's at dispute? If everyone did intuitively know that God existed, they could still deny him all they want. Just knowing about something doesn't force you to choose any particular choice.

CarnalK
01-11-2004, 12:55 AM
IWLN said:
The example I used was to explain why some other entity knowing what you would do, wouldn't affect what you actually do. G-d being omniscient doesn't impede our choices.

I understood what your example was demonstrating. I thought I directly answered it by saying your definition of free-will is incapable of altering consequences. What if this same psychic (correctly) said tommorrow you'll be in a bad mood, order a salad-no radishes for lunch and hit your thumb with a hammer at 6:47pm? Would that impede your free will? Err no, but what did your free will exactly do again?

Diogenes the Cynic -- To put it shortly for now (it's getting late here) my sense is that belief/faith is like driving a car. After a while it may not seem like an effort but it was there in the beginning and in the background still. Also in both, unattended skills grow rusty.

IWLN
01-11-2004, 01:16 AM
Originally posted by CarnalK
I understood what your example was demonstrating. I thought I directly answered it by saying your definition of free-will is incapable of altering consequences. What if this same psychic (correctly) said tommorrow you'll be in a bad mood, order a salad-no radishes for lunch and hit your thumb with a hammer at 6:47pm? Would that impede your free will? Err no, but what did your free will exactly do again?I guess I'm not getting you at all. Are you saying free will serves no purpose and has no effect or just mine. When I got my salad at lunch, I noticed the waitress looked upset. I asked her if I could help and well without going into it, I helped her when she was desperate. She wasn't planning on living another day. Now we're buddies and she's helped a customer who was choking to death. The psychic or G-d having prior knowledge of these events has no effect on me. I don't know about it and even if I think G-d has prior knowledge, who cares. I'm still going to do what I think is right for me.

Diogenes the Cynic -- To put it shortly for now (it's getting late here) my sense is that belief/faith is like driving a car. After a while it may not seem like an effort but it was there in the beginning and in the background still. Also in both, unattended skills grow rusty.Okay, this one isn't mine, but I'm curious. Why would Diogenes make any effort to find a G-d he doesn't believe exists. What would be his motivation? Should we all look for things that we don't believe exist or just G-d?

Liberal
01-11-2004, 07:15 AM
Originally posted by IWLN
At the heart of the Christian doctrine is the command, warning, stipulation, whatever, that the only way to G-d is to accept Jesus Christ as your personal saviour. This will not happen for most of the world. Some because they don't hear it, some because they think it's a crock and some because it is so foreign to their cultural teachings. According to Christian doctrine, at least what I was involved in and a member of for 40 years, these people are lost. According to the NT, it appears they are lost. My first question years ago was "so G-d must have a back up plan?" I was told "no". I did a lot of religious gymnastics to say, "well Christianity got this right, but are wrong about this". It finally occurred to me that what I felt Christianity was wrong about was their main principle. Christianity felt wrong. I realized I wasn't really a Christian. How can it not be at odds with your doctrine and most of all the Bible? The main principle of Christianity is love. So where does Christendom go wrong? Why are there people who call themselves Christians, but do not love when Jesus said, "By this will all men know you are my disciples, that you love one another."? Like you, I've thought long and hard about it, and what I came up with is this they worship an electromagnetic field. Their understanding of Christ as an entity is jejune and Neanderthal. They see Him as locked into the spacetime continuum, just like all the other atoms. Those that came together to form the molecules that formed the cells that formed the organs that formed the man that walked from Galilee to Jerusalem constitute, for them, their savior. They see Him as their team captain, and all the people who do not have their mistaken impression, they see as on the other teams. It is rah-rah for our side, and if you're on the wrong team, you lose.

They worship an idol made of flesh rather than gold. They wear their crosses like talismans, using them both to bless and to curse. They follow doctrine instead of God, invoking God's name to validate their own worthless judgments. They believe that a book is infallible, thereby elevating even it to the level of Godhood. They use Christ as a weapon to bludgeon those who they believe have sinned, not even knowing or caring what sin really is. When they witness, they present Christ as an angry gargoyle Who hides behind the bushes at the gates of hell, waiting to ensnare those who pass by and throw them in. They justify themselves by their perception of their own righteousness. Their hope is not that they be saved, but that all others be punished so that they might be vindicated.They have appointed Him as judge and themselves as His interpreter, despite that He Himself has said that neither He nor His father judges anyone at all. And Christ will call them evildoers and say that He never knew them.

Christ is not an electromagnetic field. He is Spirit. And His Spirit seeks to dwell in every man. His Spirit sought to dwell in Abraham, and in David, and in Jesus, and in Hitler, and in you, and in me. This is what is life the Spirit of God. He is eternal because His essence preceded even His existence. Flesh rots. Universes die. But He Who is Christ lives beyond time and space. He does not stand against any man who loves, whether that man is a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Wiccan, or an atheist. Intellectual belief and opinion are trivial. What He seeks are not open minds but open hearts. He does not dwell in the mind but in the very essence of men. He is not about power; He is about morality. He is not interested in the piddly shit about which religion is forever in turmoil. He does not seek to be the head knocker of a grand fraternity. He did not come down through the ages to rule an anthill for a day. His desire is to merge His own essence with ours so that we and He become one.

His commandment is simple: Love. But what is love? Love is the means by which His favored aesthetic is facilitated and shared. But what aesthetic does He favor? He favors goodness, because His concern is morality. But what is goodness? It is that which morally edifies. But what is morality? It is the fulfillment of the longing of the heart. But where is the heart? It is wherever a man keeps what he treasures. Freewill is not about making intellectual choices; it is about making moral choices. The brain merely instructs a man's body, but the Spirit instructs a man's heart. God's creation is not man the animal; that is a creation of evolution, an electromagnetic field made of what stars have discarded. God's creation is man the spirit God breathed into man His very own essence, and then gave it over to him free and clear. Christ teaches that we all are gods. Like an embryo of goodness, He both divided and multiplied Himself so that His most valued aesthetic might multiply. When one free moral agent edifies another, that is love, and goodness has increased.

God gives to every man the longing of his own heart. He judges no one, but leaves man to judge himself by His own standard. Evil men sin. But what is evil and what is sin? Evil does not exist because it has no essence. It is merely the absence of goodness, just as darkness is the absence of light. Sin is the obstruction of goodness it is that which clogs up what love would facilitate. Worshippers of the electromagnetic field say that when a man holds another man's penis, he is committing a sin. But it is no sin to hold onto a penis; it is a sin to hold onto condemnation. To condemn is to destroy goodness, but not in the object of the condemnation, but rather in the one who condemns. Forgiveness is the healing of wounded love, and it heals not the object of forgiveness, but the person who forgives. And faith is not a result of effort, but rather it is the result of surrender. When a man ceases to resist and opens his heart, that is when God pours Himself inside. He does not trump your will with His. You and He are equally free.

Gaudere
01-11-2004, 10:30 AM
[Moderator Hat ON]

Added to thread title for clarity.

[Moderator Hat OFF]

CarnalK
01-11-2004, 10:38 AM
The psychic or G-d having prior knowledge of these events has no effect on me.
Just as your actions failed to change God/psychic's prediction.

Well I'm going to have to give up on the free will thing. If your thoughts and actions have no effect on the future but you want to keep calling it "free will" because it "feels" like free will then that's the end of my argument road. ;)

IWLN said:
Okay, this one isn't mine, but I'm curious. Why would Diogenes make any effort to find a G-d he doesn't believe exists. What would be his motivation? Should we all look for things that we don't believe exist or just G-d?

Well for example, if Diogenes felt alone and without purpose he might "seek comfort in the lord". If he was dating some really hot buddhist he might give that a shot.

I think there is a pre-existence of a need to be fulfilled but not belief itself. Belief is cajoled into existence and nurtured to fill that need. For children it's fitting in and learning how society works. With adults it is usually a deeper emotional need.

the creosote kid
01-11-2004, 12:45 PM
Q: Why does God allow us free will?

A: Because He wants to.

end of story.

Diogenes the Cynic
01-11-2004, 01:50 PM
Well for example, if Diogenes felt alone and without purpose he might "seek comfort in the lord". If he was dating some really hot buddhist he might give that a shot.
I can't seek comfort in something unless I blieve it exists in the first place. Exploration can result in belief but belief is a necessary condition for worship.

I have explored Buddhism and I practice Zen meditation but Buddhism does not require any formal theistic beliefs.

IWLN
01-11-2004, 02:23 PM
Originally posted by Libertarian
The main principle of Christianity is love.Well I can pretty much agree with everything you said and have said a lot of it myself, except for your first statement. Christianity should be about love, but it's not. It's not what I experienced before I turned my back on it and it's not what I see from the staunch Christians that post here. It's about going through the motions of accepting Christ, then you're saved and not at all about how you live. I know that's not how it is for every Christian, but if you're completely following the doctrine, it is not about tolerance or unconditional love. It barely resembles what Jesus taught. I'm not sure why you call yourself a Christian, when your beliefs are very different from the norm, but it's why I can't anymore. Of course that is just IMHO. Thank you for sharing your beliefs.

CarnalK
01-11-2004, 02:24 PM
Diogenes the Cynic said:
I can't seek comfort in something unless I blieve it exists in the first place. Exploration can result in belief but belief is a necessary condition for worship.

Well see that's where we disagree. I contend that the need for something is there, searching finds that a belief in a particular god/universal philosophy may be helpful. The belief is then adopted.

Also, while I'm aware that modern Buddhism can take a more secular humanism slant, Gautama did speak of levels of heaven and all manner of spirit creatures(though not giving them neccesarily high status). It is perhaps not the core and much can be written off as metaphor, but Buddhism shouldn't get a free ride on the IPU scale.
I mean the legend/metaphor for his birth is a child initiated Cesarean section after which the child jumps out talking. IMHO that trumps a virgin birth. ;) (personally I had the notion it was a later addition metaphor for stream entry not actual birth, but that's another thread- plus lots more reading)

Diogenes the Cynic
01-11-2004, 02:27 PM
Originally posted by Libertarian
The main principle of Christianity is love. So where does Christendom go wrong? Why are there people who call themselves Christians, but do not love when Jesus said, "By this will all men know you are my disciples, that you love one another."? Like you, I've thought long and hard about it, and what I came up with is this they worship an electromagnetic field. Their understanding of Christ as an entity is jejune and Neanderthal. They see Him as locked into the spacetime continuum, just like all the other atoms. Those that came together to form the molecules that formed the cells that formed the organs that formed the man that walked from Galilee to Jerusalem constitute, for them, their savior. They see Him as their team captain, and all the people who do not have their mistaken impression, they see as on the other teams. It is rah-rah for our side, and if you're on the wrong team, you lose.

They worship an idol made of flesh rather than gold. They wear their crosses like talismans, using them both to bless and to curse. They follow doctrine instead of God, invoking God's name to validate their own worthless judgments. They believe that a book is infallible, thereby elevating even it to the level of Godhood. They use Christ as a weapon to bludgeon those who they believe have sinned, not even knowing or caring what sin really is. When they witness, they present Christ as an angry gargoyle Who hides behind the bushes at the gates of hell, waiting to ensnare those who pass by and throw them in. They justify themselves by their perception of their own righteousness. Their hope is not that they be saved, but that all others be punished so that they might be vindicated.They have appointed Him as judge and themselves as His interpreter, despite that He Himself has said that neither He nor His father judges anyone at all. And Christ will call them evildoers and say that He never knew them.

Christ is not an electromagnetic field. He is Spirit. And His Spirit seeks to dwell in every man. His Spirit sought to dwell in Abraham, and in David, and in Jesus, and in Hitler, and in you, and in me. This is what is life the Spirit of God. He is eternal because His essence preceded even His existence. Flesh rots. Universes die. But He Who is Christ lives beyond time and space. He does not stand against any man who loves, whether that man is a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Wiccan, or an atheist. Intellectual belief and opinion are trivial. What He seeks are not open minds but open hearts. He does not dwell in the mind but in the very essence of men. He is not about power; He is about morality. He is not interested in the piddly shit about which religion is forever in turmoil. He does not seek to be the head knocker of a grand fraternity. He did not come down through the ages to rule an anthill for a day. His desire is to merge His own essence with ours so that we and He become one.

His commandment is simple: Love. But what is love? Love is the means by which His favored aesthetic is facilitated and shared. But what aesthetic does He favor? He favors goodness, because His concern is morality. But what is goodness? It is that which morally edifies. But what is morality? It is the fulfillment of the longing of the heart. But where is the heart? It is wherever a man keeps what he treasures. Freewill is not about making intellectual choices; it is about making moral choices. The brain merely instructs a man's body, but the Spirit instructs a man's heart. God's creation is not man the animal; that is a creation of evolution, an electromagnetic field made of what stars have discarded. God's creation is man the spirit God breathed into man His very own essence, and then gave it over to him free and clear. Christ teaches that we all are gods. Like an embryo of goodness, He both divided and multiplied Himself so that His most valued aesthetic might multiply. When one free moral agent edifies another, that is love, and goodness has increased.

God gives to every man the longing of his own heart. He judges no one, but leaves man to judge himself by His own standard. Evil men sin. But what is evil and what is sin? Evil does not exist because it has no essence. It is merely the absence of goodness, just as darkness is the absence of light. Sin is the obstruction of goodness it is that which clogs up what love would facilitate. Worshippers of the electromagnetic field say that when a man holds another man's penis, he is committing a sin. But it is no sin to hold onto a penis; it is a sin to hold onto condemnation. To condemn is to destroy goodness, but not in the object of the condemnation, but rather in the one who condemns. Forgiveness is the healing of wounded love, and it heals not the object of forgiveness, but the person who forgives. And faith is not a result of effort, but rather it is the result of surrender. When a man ceases to resist and opens his heart, that is when God pours Himself inside. He does not trump your will with His. You and He are equally free.
Yes, if "Christ" is defined as being identical to love then a lot of the tradition problems of Christian theology and soteriology are resolved, i.e. "There is no way to the Father but through love."

This also works for Buddhism since love is the only perfectly good and non-egoistic emotion. Love is always a reliable and non-deceptive escape from the ego.

IWLN
01-11-2004, 02:33 PM
Originally posted by CarnalK
Just as your actions failed to change God/psychic's prediction.

Well I'm going to have to give up on the free will thing. If your thoughts and actions have no effect on the future but you want to keep calling it "free will" because it "feels" like free will then that's the end of my argument road. ;)The future has nothing to do with what's predicted and only has to do with my actions. I can't change what G-d knows is going to happen, because he still knows what's going to happen. But okay, I quit too.

Well for example, if Diogenes felt alone and without purpose he might "seek comfort in the lord". If he was dating some really hot buddhist he might give that a shot

I think there is a pre-existence of a need to be fulfilled but not belief itself. Belief is cajoled into existence and nurtured to fill that need. For children it's fitting in and learning how society works. With adults it is usually a deeper emotional need.So you're saying it's needy people that try to find G-d? Or children who are programmed early into acceptance? Seems like that's taking G-d's power and turning it into man's weakness.

CarnalK
01-11-2004, 02:39 PM
IWLN said:
So you're saying it's needy people that try to find G-d? Or children who are programmed early into acceptance? Seems like that's taking G-d's power and turning it into man's weakness.

Don't take it insultingly, everybody has needs. Personal inclination directs how we fulfill them. I meant nothing more than that. A (generic)child's need to fit in can't be disputed, can it?

Re: your last sentence. Please understand that I don't believe in God's power and that I don't see need as weakness.

CarnalK
01-11-2004, 02:49 PM
of course that should be
Personal inclination and social environment directs how we fulfill them.

IWLN
01-11-2004, 03:09 PM
Originally posted by CarnalK
Don't take it insultingly, everybody has needs. Personal inclination directs how we fulfill them. I meant nothing more than that. A (generic)child's need to fit in can't be disputed, can it?

Re: your last sentence. Please understand that I don't believe in God's power and that I don't see need as weakness.I'm not insulted. Obviously I do need G-d or I wouldn't have found him. I felt more oddly compelled than needy though. But I don't think everyone feels this need, which pretty much makes for no reason to try and put yourself into a position to attempt to believe. OTOH, there are probably many that don't believe, that act like they do, just to fit in. That is a weakness.

CarnalK
01-11-2004, 03:28 PM
IWLN said:
Obviously I do need G-d or I wouldn't have found him. I felt more oddly compelled than needy though.

Well those needs can be darned compelling.

further...
OTOH, there are probably many that don't believe, that act like they do, just to fit in.

Well I wasn't addressing pure shams, though they exist I'm sure. I meant people truly internalizing (to various depths)beliefs in an instinct to fulfill a need. If you have a strong need to "make sense of it all" an ongoing treatment of belief, on moderate dosage, can have many positive results. ;)

(I'm not making any guesses as to what any particular person's "needs" are)

lynn73
01-11-2004, 03:46 PM
Originally posted by xayoz306
It's not that God hasn't done anything specific, but rather, he hasn't limited free will. the fact he hasn't, he allows his followers to deny his exsistence, thus making his following smaller.

I find it somehow curious to use the term "allows his followers to deny His existence." IMHO, those who deny His very existence aren't His followers. How can they be followers of Someone they don't believe exists?

I think God allows free will because He doesn't want a bunch of robots programmed to believe in and love Him. He's taken a risk by giving us free will. He wants us to come to Him by our free choice, not as a programmed response.

CarnalK
01-11-2004, 03:57 PM
This also works for Buddhism since love is the only perfectly good and non-egoistic emotion. Love is always a reliable and non-deceptive escape from the ego.

I would say that Buddhism uses prayers of universal loving kindness as a tool to humble the ego, it is not an escape. From accesstoinsight.org (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/bps/wheels/wheel007.html):
Metta (loving-kindness) is defined as follows: "Loving-kindness has the mode of friendliness for its characteristic. Its natural function is to promote friendliness. It is manifested as the disappearance of ill-will. Its footing is seeing with kindness. When it succeeds it eliminates ill-will. When it fails it degenerates into selfish affectionate desire".

[snipped and shuffled]

Metta in the Buddha's teaching finds its place as the first of four kinds of contemplation designed to develop a sound pacific relationship to other living beings. The four are: metta, which will be rendered henceforward by "loving-kindness," karuna, which is "compassion" or "pity," mudita which is "gladness at others' success," and upekkha, which is "onlooking equanimity." These four are called Divine Abidings (brahma-vihara), perhaps because whoever can maintain any one of them in being for even a moment has lived for that moment as do the Highest Gods (the Brahma Deva).

In the Buddha's teaching these four Divine Abidings, the "greatest of all worldly merit," if practiced alone, without insight into the true nature of existence, can lead to rebirth in the highest heavens. But all heavenly existence is without exception impermanent, and at the end of the heavenly life-span -- no matter how long it may last -- the being dies and is reborn according to his past actions.

(my emphasis)

CarnalK
01-11-2004, 04:08 PM
Submitted too quick. That's all addressing DtC comment to Lib.

So IOW "Love" is not core in Buddhism, not mentioned in 8 precepts or 4 Noble truths. Buddha didn't go around loving people like Jesus. As an enlightened one, human concepts of "love" was not a motive to Buddha.

Just thought a distinction should be made in the philosophies.

Tabby_Cat
01-11-2004, 07:58 PM
Originally posted by CarnalK
Just as your actions failed to change God/psychic's prediction.

Well I'm going to have to give up on the free will thing. If your thoughts and actions have no effect on the future but you want to keep calling it "free will" because it "feels" like free will then that's the end of my argument road. ;)

Perhaps it would be better to think of God as not subject to time, rather than have him "predict" what you're going to in. Because in actual fact, you've already made all the decisions you're ever going to make, you just don't know it yet. ;)

Your thoughts and actions certainly have an effect on the future, but we're bound by time, and cause and effect here, and God is not. If you were outside time, you'd be able to see all of eternity, would you not? And you would be able to find out the result of a truly random function, such as quantum fluctuations (or something).

Does you knowing the result presuppose that the function was not truly random in the first place? Certainly, in time, up to that point, you have no way of finding out the result of that random function.

In that sense, we have free will, and we are making the decisions that we want to. It's just that we have to make them in time, and God isn't bound by time, so he obviously knows what's going to happen as a result of our decision, and in fact what the decision was. Notice I didn't say "before we made that decision", because that implies a time element. To God, we've already made all our decisions.

Make sense?

CarnalK
01-11-2004, 08:06 PM
Tabby_Cat said:
If you were outside time, you'd be able to see all of eternity, would you not?
How the hell should I know?

Make sense?
Not particularly. But your name and attitude reminds of a cute girl I once new, so you make me happy.

IWLN
01-12-2004, 02:14 AM
Originally posted by lynn73
I think God allows free will because He doesn't want a bunch of robots programmed to believe in and love Him. He's taken a risk by giving us free will. He wants us to come to Him by our free choice, not as a programmed response.Uh, lynn, how does an omniscient G-d take a risk?

Diogenes the Cynic
01-12-2004, 02:25 AM
Originally posted by CarnalK
Submitted too quick. That's all addressing DtC comment to Lib.

So IOW "Love" is not core in Buddhism, not mentioned in 8 precepts or 4 Noble truths. Buddha didn't go around loving people like Jesus. As an enlightened one, human concepts of "love" was not a motive to Buddha.

Just thought a distinction should be made in the philosophies.
I didn't say it was core in Buddhism, I said it worked for Buddhism and it is, in fact, taught as a meditative strategy, especially when it comes to overcoming negative emotions like anger or jealousy.

Liberal
01-12-2004, 05:40 AM
Just to clarify for anyone interested, I wasn't talking about love as an emotion, but love as a mechanism more akin to charity than to affection. I defined love as the means by which goodness is facilitated. It doesn't come from the brain; it comes from God.

With respect to the Buddha, when I made the point that Christ is not an electromagnetic field but rather Spirit, part of what I was saying was that His physical manifestations can and do take many forms. God is not individuated by flesh, but by the necessity of His existence. You cannot point to a particular man and say that he is God and there is no other because you would make Christ a liar, and Christ is truth. Truth is the lens through which goodness is seen. All who love are one with Him. If the Buddha loves, then he too is God. God is the agent of love.

lynn73
01-12-2004, 08:07 AM
Originally posted by IWLN
Uh, lynn, how does an omniscient G-d take a risk?

:confused: By creating people with the freedom to choose whether to accept and believe in Him or not. Don't know if risk is the right word, it's all I could think of. If you were God, you'd have a choice: create people automatically programmed to believe and love you or give people free will. I know...that opens a whole new can of worms and I've heard the questions concerning that. Deep subject.

IWLN
01-12-2004, 09:50 AM
Originally posted by lynn73
:confused: By creating people with the freedom to choose whether to accept and believe in Him or not. Don't know if risk is the right word, it's all I could think of. If you were God, you'd have a choice: create people automatically programmed to believe and love you or give people free will. I know...that opens a whole new can of worms and I've heard the questions concerning that. Deep subject. Well since a risk pretty much indicates an uncertain or possible bad outcome, it doesn't fit for an all knowing or all poswerful G-d. I always felt like giving us free will was a huge act of love and one that G-d knew would ultimately cause him to feel sorrow. But he did it anyway, for us.

CarnalK
01-12-2004, 10:02 AM
Diogenes the Cynic said:
I didn't say it was core in Buddhism, I said it worked for Buddhism and it is, in fact, taught as a meditative strategy, especially when it comes to overcoming negative emotions like anger or jealousy.

Like I said I just wanted to distinguish between concepts. Buddhism seems to be getting a heavy Christian wash lately and Love is nowhere near the central Buddhist doctrine that it is in Christianity.

Genghis Bob
01-12-2004, 10:09 AM
Originally posted by Tabby_Cat
Perhaps it would be better to think of God as not subject to time, rather than have him "predict" what you're going to in. Because in actual fact, you've already made all the decisions you're ever going to make, you just don't know it yet. . . .

Make sense?

Tabbycat, it makes perfect sense to me. You saved me a lot of typing with your post, and you said it more eloquently than I could have.

And, since CarnalK is having warm-fuzzies with your name, that's two people you've pleased today!