Free Will vs. Omniscience June 14, 2007Posted by Joe in agnosticism, atheism, belief, freethought, god, omniscience, religion, theism.
Many theists believe in these two ideas simultaneously. That is, they believe that there is an omniscient being that knows everything, even things that have not yet occurred, and they believe that there are a bunch of non-omniscient beings running around exercising their free will.
I have heard it argued by many atheists (and others) that this is an impossible situation. They argue that free will is not possible if someone already knows every decision you will make and everything that you will do for your entire lifetime before you are even born. If your decision has already known, how can you be considered free to make it?
I side with the theists on this one. I don’t see someone else’s knowledge of my decision as anyway interfering with the process of me making it. Free will implies only that I have the ability (within the confines of reality and opportunity) to choose my own path in life., to balance the factors I believe are important and decide something for myself. Someone else’s knowing what decision I will make does effect that process in anyway.
I understand it would seem somewhat like watching a recorded sporting event. But as long as the watcher doesn’t know what the outcome will be, the even can be just as exciting recorded as it was live. The key is the watcher’s lack of knowledge, not the rest of the world’s. It is not knowing the outcome ahead of time that is the key.
The key being the ignorance of the person with free will. I think that god giving man any knowledge of his future actions would destroy his free will. Which gives an interesting perspective to the idea of biblical prophecy. If you believe that god has given man knowledge (however vague) of the future, doesn’t that impinge on the free will of man? How can he make a free decision if he knows what the future holds? Or the greater implication, what of the free will of the being that knows everything? Does god have free will?