or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Talk Amongst Ourselves › Spirituality › Religious Studies › Free Will and then Obeying God?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Free Will and then Obeying God? - Page 3

post #41 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post

Can I have some Biblical support for this, please?
I don't think it's really as simple as pulling some verses out of context (and I have the feeling you don't, either). http://www.thecatholicfaith.com/Teac...estination.htm

(This is an interesting discussion btw! I'll have to re-read it this weekend when I can actually comprehend some of it.)
post #42 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by AprilDaisy View Post
My whole basis when this started was "free will" in relation to then having all these rules laid out. Meaning, how can God give us free will, then say, "oh, but...to be right...you have to follow my rules". So, what's the point of allowing us our freedom if there's forever hell lingering over your head. I just don't see that as right at all.
Thanks for clarifying. I actually completely agree with you on this. I mean, if a parent told a child, you have the choice to hang out with me today or go play with your friend, but if you choose the latter I will throw you into a fire -- we wouldn't really consider the kid to have had much of a choice. We would say the kid is being coerced. I don't see how it is any different for God to say, you can freely choose me but if you don't you will be burn in Hell for eternity. It is coercive.

The whole idea that Hell is simply a natural consequence of our actions like any other natural consequence falls down IMO because, in the Christian worldview, God created the entire world which means He created the consequence of Hell. It's not "natural", it was chosen by God.

For example, if you touch a hot stove you get burned. That is a natural consequence. No one condemns a parent whose kid touches a hot stove and accidently gets burned because we all understand that we have no control over the fact that hot stoves burn people. However, if a parent says to a kid, don't touch that stove or I will beat you black and blue, we would all condemn the parent. Because the consequence of being beaten black and blue is one chosen by the parent, it is under the parent's control. The parent could have chosen another more humane consequence to the harmful behavior, such as not allowing the child near the stove any more or sending them to their room. But when the parent chooses an abhorrent punishment, it is not a natural consequence. It reflects on the character of the parent.

Many Christians consider Hell simply to be a metaphor for the agony of separation from God, in which case you could argue that it is more of a natural consequence I suppose; but in that case I wonder why God wouldn't let people repent after death? Why did He choose to set things up so we have to make a choice during life, where the choice is not obvious at all (I do not believe, based on my personal experience, that all people know deep in their hearts that the Christian God is the real one) and then once we die and presumably the choice is rather more clear, He says sorry you had your chance and muffed it? Again, if a parent did that to a child, we would be horrified.
post #43 of 98
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thao View Post
Thanks for clarifying. I actually completely agree with you on this...
I like how you put it in depth too. Thank you for understanding where I'm coming from.
post #44 of 98
CherryBomb: Thanks for the article; it was very interesting. The only Catholic I've spoken to in depth on this issue doesn't agree with the article--can I assume he is going against the teachings of the Church, in that case? Is that article an official document?

Unfortunately the article doesn't actually address the issue of free will. It presupposes it, but it doesn't provide any Scriptural proof of it; it's talking more about predestination, which is related but not exactly the same issue. I realise it's meant to be a summary rather than a defense of the Church's teachings, but as such it's not particularly compelling from an argumentative point of view. There's not much one can say to 'The Catholic Church believes this' except for 'Oh' and 'Why?', which the article in question doesn't answer. I'm still waiting for a response to these questions (not necessarily from you, just from someone who believes the Bible teaches free will):

--Where, specifically, does Scripture teach that man has free will (ie. the ability to make choices outside of God's control, and unhindered by internal or external factors outside his (man's) control)?
--How do you logically reconcile God's sovereignty (ie. absolute control over all aspects of creation) with free will (man's autonomy in making decisions)?
post #45 of 98
Thread Starter 
This thread has gotten really interesting beyond even what I expected. I did a search for "free will" and "bible". I came across these two links that give bible verses in reference to there not being any free will: http://carla_b.tripod.com/realfacts/free_will.html
http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/chri..._freewill.html

If that's the case, then no one can "go over to Jesus' camp" and be saved because their fate is already predetermined and therefore, it doesn't matter what they think they're choosing because they aren't really choosing?

Here's another link that says God's plan is a guideline and we have the free will to choose to follow it and "pass" or do whatever we want and "fail".
http://www.bibleanswer.com/predesti.htm

I can agree with this one more than the first two links. I do believe the choices we make determine the shape of our life. It's simply how I see it.
post #46 of 98
Smokering, just wanted to offer you a and thank you for expressing your POV genuinely and articulately. You are obviously intelligent and thoughtful and I for one appreciate all that you are bringing to this topic. It's given me much food for thought.
post #47 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thao View Post
Thanks for clarifying. I actually completely agree with you on this. I mean, if a parent told a child, you have the choice to hang out with me today or go play with your friend, but if you choose the latter I will throw you into a fire -- we wouldn't really consider the kid to have had much of a choice. We would say the kid is being coerced. I don't see how it is any different for God to say, you can freely choose me but if you don't you will be burn in Hell for eternity. It is coercive.

The whole idea that Hell is simply a natural consequence of our actions like any other natural consequence falls down IMO because, in the Christian worldview, God created the entire world which means He created the consequence of Hell. It's not "natural", it was chosen by God.

For example, if you touch a hot stove you get burned. That is a natural consequence. No one condemns a parent whose kid touches a hot stove and accidently gets burned because we all understand that we have no control over the fact that hot stoves burn people. However, if a parent says to a kid, don't touch that stove or I will beat you black and blue, we would all condemn the parent. Because the consequence of being beaten black and blue is one chosen by the parent, it is under the parent's control. The parent could have chosen another more humane consequence to the harmful behavior, such as not allowing the child near the stove any more or sending them to their room. But when the parent chooses an abhorrent punishment, it is not a natural consequence. It reflects on the character of the parent.

Many Christians consider Hell simply to be a metaphor for the agony of separation from God, in which case you could argue that it is more of a natural consequence I suppose; but in that case I wonder why God wouldn't let people repent after death? Why did He choose to set things up so we have to make a choice during life, where the choice is not obvious at all (I do not believe, based on my personal experience, that all people know deep in their hearts that the Christian God is the real one) and then once we die and presumably the choice is rather more clear, He says sorry you had your chance and muffed it? Again, if a parent did that to a child, we would be horrified.
I have problems with this too. I've yet to reconcile it in a way that I feel at peace with.
post #48 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by AprilDaisy

My whole basis when this started was "free will" in relation to then having all these rules laid out. Meaning, how can God give us free will, then say, "oh, but...to be right...you have to follow my rules". So, what's the point of allowing us our freedom if there's forever hell lingering over your head. I just don't see that as right at all.
1. The most common perception of God in the West holds that God would have a different conception of time than we have. There is no sense of the passage of time with God, who is said to exist in and encapsulate all time. So in a sense, God exists imminently in the future as well. For such a being, all things have already happened and God can see what happened.

It is not so much that in this case free will is an illusion. It is more like what Smokering seems to have hit on. In retrospect it may appear that we don't have free will because we can perhaps see that in a way we were driven in the past to make the choices we made by things that we didn't see or understand that were operating at the time. I suppose one definition of wisdom might be to grow to see more of how these things operate (that is, "know thyself"). But I will appeal to Hemingway here and say that one of the tenets of maturity is to be able to look at one's life and say that everything that happened was one's own damn fault.

2. The rules are not "laid out" despite the claims of (for example) Catholics who appeal to something they like to call "The Magisterium". The so-called rules are most usefully looked at in the context of what is called the best life. The best life does not consist of a book called "God for Idiots" that has a set of specific practices that one has to follow. The best life is defined as the kind of life that one would live if one realized one's fullest possible potential as a human being. "One's fullest potential" is defined by the religion and the "rules" can be looked at as a theory about how to get there. I say "theory" not because it is something that is arbitrary, but because these so-called rules actually fit within the logic of the system as a whole. One can't take them out of this context, either to accept them or reject them. One has to look at them in context and accept or reject the context as a whole.

3. I see the problem of free will as this: most of us are generally very ignorant about what actually motivates our behavior. While we can always imagine an outcome to what we do, we learn as we get older that our perspective is almost always very flawed in this regard. So while we do exercise our "free will" we almost always do it with poor information. This is why the embracing of any particular religion or religious position is viewed as an act of faith and/or an act of grace. We generally don't have enough information or experience to embrace a particular religion as an act of logic. We generally don't know whether we made a good choice except in retrospect. Free choice, then, isn't some gift that we have where we always face fully fleshed good and bad choices. It's a gift that carries with it a responsibility to try to make good choices and to analyze the choices we have made in the past in order to make better choices in the future.

4. In Smokering's example of the apple and the orange, I still see free will operating. One can still decide to violate for some reason the obvious choice, if only for the sake of demonstrating to oneself that one has free choice.
post #49 of 98
Quote:
So if you choose the non-obvious choice, either you had a reason or you didn't. The former equals 'internal or external factors outside your control'; the latter equals chaos, a randomness which is not choice at all.
No. You have two choices. One might be for the reason to be "random", but it is nonetheless a choice. If you want to say that behind every choice no matter what it is are external or internal factors outside of one's control, that's a metaphysical statement.
post #50 of 98
Is there anything wrong with that being a metaphysical statement?
post #51 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
Is there anything wrong with that being a metaphysical statement?
Depends on one's metaphysics, I suppose.
post #52 of 98
Okay-dokey...?
post #53 of 98
:
post #54 of 98
Smokering, I think you might get what you're looking for on the catholic.com site. On the boards is an "ask an apologetic" forum where you could get a more theologically heavy answer to "why" than what I'd be able to give you.
post #55 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokering View Post
Is there anything wrong with that being a metaphysical statement?
You'd have to be able to support it better than you have.

The thing about your proposition that there are reasons for what we do which constitute the logic of our actions and therefore bind us in some way doesn't work, because no one can predict anyone's actions in advance. We can hardly predict how we will react in future situations. Even when we have 20/20 hindsight, and perhaps have more knowledge (or wisdom) about why we did what we did, we still can't predict what we are going to do in the future. This is the freedom in free will.

Some people who make a false opposition of religion to science will claim that all of our actions are somehow chemical, perhaps, or genetic or something. But there is no way to prove this and this stands as a metaphysical statement.
post #56 of 98
Quote:
I'm a little confused, can you clarify? You're saying that because we cannot predict how X will behave in the future, X has free will..? I really don't see how that follows. Prediction is irrelevant; if the reasons for what we do exist, and our outside our control, then our will is not free. The point is not to be able to document all the reasons and use them as a map for 'what X will do next'--that's impossible, because the reasons aren't always obvious or according to a clear pattern. They can be subtle, subconscious, barely-understood, sometimes not recognised until years later, sometimes never acknowledged at all. But that doesn't mean they're not there.
But why do you think they are there?

We have the ability to modify our behavior. That is why a "behavioral science" in the sense of the science of chemistry is not possible. Your argument would claim that we don't have the ability to modify our behavior, in the sense of choosing to modify our behavior. Any modification that we could choose would be pre-ordained.

And let's look at it more deeply. Since your reasons exist outside of and apriori to human behavior, since they have to exist that way to be the motivator of the behavior, then subsequent actions and experiences would have no effect on behavior. If you say that subsequent actions and experiences could affect behavior, you are still stuck. Since you argue against free will, then these subsequent experiences are only acting on this apriori thing, since it is this thing that operates the (no free will) determined person.

What you have done is given us a simple theory of Fate.
post #57 of 98
Quote:
Some people who make a false opposition of religion to science will claim that all of our actions are somehow chemical, perhaps, or genetic or something. But there is no way to prove this and this stands as a metaphysical statement.
The problem with this statement, Unagidon, is that the claim that we have free will is just as unprovable and "metaphysical" as the claim we don't have free will. Simply stepping into this conversation is stepping into the unprovable. We are all conjecturing here.

There is no doubt but that our choices are heavily influenced by our experiences, conditioning, and yes chemicals and genetics too. This is reflected in law; people with certain mental conditions, or of a certain age, or even under certain stresses are determined to not have the capacity to choose and thus are not held responsible for their actions. It is recognized that certain factors can cause a person to not have free will. To me it is not a wild leap of logic to then take it one step further and propose that these myriad factors that go right down to the cellular level of our bodies could be the deciding factor in our decisions rather than something called "free will".

I don't believe in God so I'm coming at this from a totally different angle than Smokering, although I think she some good Biblical support for her point of view. I'm coming at it more from a Buddhist perspective which talks about the non-existence of self, that we are all simply a collection of “conditions” that happened to come together at a certain point in time and will disband at another point in time.
post #58 of 98
Quote:
Not true. When have I ever said we don't have the ability to choose to modify our behavior? That isn't my argument. My argument is that our choices, including our choices to modify our behavior, are based on internal and external factors outside our control. As our experiences (choices, actions etc) accumulate, they become part of the factors which influence out future decisions--and at that time, given that they are in the past, they are also outside our control.
Your whole position argues that we don't have the ability to choose. In your position, the idea of choice is an illusion.

You can't talk about "influences" either. Influences imply that there are things being weighed. In your system, nothing is weighed. Things just accumulate.

Quote:
I don't believe in God so I'm coming at this from a totally different angle than Smokering, although I think she some good Biblical support for her point of view. I'm coming at it more from a Buddhist perspective which talks about the non-existence of self, that we are all simply a collection of “conditions” that happened to come together at a certain point in time and will disband at another point in time.
I don't think that she has good biblical support for her view, and I'll say why in a moment. While I would agree with you in your characterization of the non-existence of self, I think that the idea is that one nonetheless pursues nirvana, one makes choices and one's choices informs one's present and future existence.

For both of you, the question of free will in both the East and West has always been about whether one is truly responsible for one's actions. One cannot be responsible for one's actions if one cannot choose one action over another action. The world itself may be an illusion and one may be bound by things that one does not understand, but the whole question boils down to that of responsibility.

I don't think that you will find anything in the Bible that either says or implies that one is not responsible for one's actions. In the great dispute of the 16th century between the "Jansenists" and the "Semi-Pelagians". The Jansenists held that one was bound to sin and that salvation was ordained by God and that this if God ordained salvation, it could not be resisted. In effect, it said that we don't have free will when it comes to being saved. The Jansenists held that the first step towards God had to be taken as an act of free will.

While the Jansenists were condemned by the Catholic Church as such, the Church in terms of the question has tended to come down on the side of.... neither. But the Jansenist position on free will is somewhat close to Calvinism and as we know, Calvinism in many forms continues to exist in different Protestant sects.

The point of this is that the idea that there is no free will, that one's actions are simply the product of internal and external forces, and that one is simply bound by these forces (and therefore not actively responsible for one's actions) is not something that any religion has proposed as far as I am aware,
post #59 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unagidon View Post
Your whole position argues that we don't have the ability to choose. In your position, the idea of choice is an illusion.

You can't talk about "influences" either. Influences imply that there are things being weighed. In your system, nothing is weighed. Things just accumulate.


This is what's confusing me, too. Thanks for articulating it for me!
post #60 of 98
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unagidon View Post
1. The most common perception of God in the West holds that God would have a different conception of time than we have. There is no sense of the passage of time with God, who is said to exist in and encapsulate all time. So in a sense, God exists imminently in the future as well. For such a being, all things have already happened and God can see what happened.
So how do I have free will to choose in the present if God already knows what I chose in the future? :
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Religious Studies
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Talk Amongst Ourselves › Spirituality › Religious Studies › Free Will and then Obeying God?