Friday, January 15, 2010

Free Will in Heaven?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the bible says anything about this concept at all. Nevertheless, many Christians will tell you that there is free will in heaven. In my mind this is a self defeating belief because in the same sentence they will tell you that there is also no sin and no suffering or disease etc. in heaven. Christians typically define sin as that which goes against the wishes of god. Already, we've encountered our first paradoxical statement, if there is no sin in heaven, that means everyone will only be doing that which is in accordance to gods wishes, if you had free will on the other hand you would be free to do whatever was in accordance with your wishes. The reason they want to believe that they have free will in heaven is because of their belief that god wanted people to love him freely and not be "robots".
Let's give them the benefit of the doubt for the time being and say that it was possible to have free will and be sinless in heaven. We encounter another semi-paradox here, if heaven was the perfect world, where people had free will, never committed sins and where there was no suffering, then why didn't god create that kind of world in the first place?
One objection to my arguments could be that people have free will, but in the presence of god it is impossible to commit sins. This objection falls flat on it's face almost immediately, because according to christian lore, the devil was an angel that rebelled against god, and was cast out of heaven as a result.


  1. have you taken the Massey Uni course Critical Thinking? If you haven't, I think you'd enjoy it.

    I hope you're having an enjoyable summer KJ!

  2. Yeah I probably would enjoy it. I'll see if I can fit it in this year or maybe next year.

  3. i think heaven has free will. because god isn't testing you anymore...

    dylan strachan

  4. Sorry Dylan but your umm.. Statement? Isn't an argument. It doesn't address any of the points KJ made or offer any good reason to believe there is free will in heaven.

    My question has always been this: If god knows everything, and by everything I mean every thing that has happened, is happening and WILL happen, how can we have free will in THIS life.
    If he knows what we're going to do then he might as well have judged us on the spot. Why make millions of people suffer through painful lives just to confirm what god already knows?

    And if he doesn't know what we're going to do then how can he be an all knowing perfect god? If he isn't then he is no different to a human that traps his Sims in a room with no food or facilities to watch them crap on the floor and starve to death.

  5. >_>

    Steve is a Sims murderer but I lol'd. He made a good point and I have nothing to add it what he said.


  6. Just because I have watched a tv show before and know what is going to happen, doesn't mean I control what is happening in the tv show - the characters still make decisions on their own; I am AWARE of those decisions - I don't influence them. However, I do entirely agree that it seems very unnecessary (and inhumane) to ALLOW suffering when you are fully aware of the consequences and apparently have the power to stop this suffering.

  7. A TV show is not a very good analogy because the events in the show literally already happened. I'm glad you agree though that if god existed he would be an inhumane bastard.

  8. Actually I've only ever played Sims once and although my Sims did die it was through my incompetence not through malice.

    Anon: A TV show is not the same as the situation I presented.
    Even if it was it's actually supporting MY argument in that the characters on the show DON'T have free will. They are scripted by writers and there is no way those writers could know what the characters are going to do and still let them have free will.

  9. All I was trying to do is distinguish the difference between someone having awareness of your choices before you make them, and someone making your choices for you. Sheesh, I'm sorry it doesn't make the grade.

  10. It's a difficult concept to reconcile. I guess it goes along the lines of 'fate' or 'destiny' too. If your actions are already known before you perform them, then it isn't much of a jump to suggest that your actions are pre-determined. Whether Gawd caused them to happen or not is irrelevant. If everything is known in advance, it is as if it already happened, in the mind of the person who knows anyway.

    I guess the reason this kind of foresight is hard to understand is because it violates what we know about the world, people don't have knowledge of the future.

  11. Yeah predetermined events and free will are hard to grasp in this context.

    Easiest way to think of it is like this:

    Free will implies that you make your decisions yourself (are not manipulated in any way), and your actions are not known till AFTER they happen (unpredictable actions).

    An omniscient being knows everything. This includes everything that has happened, and everything that will happen. Most Christians agree that their god is omniscient. Most also agree that their god has a grand plan.

    An omniscient god that knows what you will do, and also has a plan for your life is unfortunately not compatible with free will.

    Lets check them off:

    Non-manipulated choices - The christian god has a plan, so you can assume that to make this plan work, he doesn't remain a passive observer. He obviously nudges things in certain directions, hence he manipulates humans. Fails on free will here.

    Actions not known till after (unpredictable) - the omniscient god knows everything, so he knew your actions before you made them. Therefore your actions were not truly unpredictable. Fails again on free will.

    Two failures.

    This is why free will and an omniscient god are not compatible in the least.

  12. Free will solely implies "that you make your decisions yourself (are not manipulated in any way)", but it does not imply "your actions are not known till AFTER they happen (unpredictable actions)".

  13. If god knows 100% what you're going to do, before he even creates the universe you exist in, how can you have free will? In creating a universe in which events play out god would be telling a story and nothing more.
    The only way god could know what I'm going to do without directly commanding in to happen is to make sure that my nature, upbringing and situation would combine in such a way that the person I am at that time would make no other choice.
    If that is the case then the big bang (feel free to replace the big bang with another sound theory of how the universe started or if you MUST use any one of the many ridiculous creation myths, there is quite a selection after all.) must have been set up in a way so that every bit of matter came together in a way to create me as someone who cannot even begin to believe in god.

    Even setting this aside and accepting your assertion that we have free will I ask this: Why did god go to the trouble of creating a universe, putting us in it to test us and THEN judging us and throwing some of us in hell and welcoming some into heaven? Why not just judge us on the spot so that some some devout 10 year old doesn't have to go through the agony of dying of cancer just to... to what? To be let into heaven just like god knew he would be before he even set the universe in motion?
    Seems like a cruel thing to do to me.

  14. He would be watching a story, not telling one. And yes, it does seem very cruel.

  15. Steven do you need a tissue?

    Creation's cruel.
    Evolution's cruel.

    Get over it and get on with life.

  16. Anon: So he's watching a story, but didn't write it? How is he god if he didn't create the universe? He certainly can't be the omnipotent, all knowing god that most religious people seem to believe in.

    Evolution isn't cruel. Cruelty implies intentionality and evolution has none.
    If it did, it would be a god.