March 28

thoughts on omniscience (and determinism vs free will)

Determinism vs Free Will, Calvinism vs Arminianism – the classic debate has raged between Christians for generations. Though never completely sure one way or the other, I have generally fallen into the former camp throughout the decade or so I’ve seriously contemplated this issue.

Oftentimes one of the strongest arguments we rely on in the case for “determinism” is the idea that since God is omniscient, then He knows the future, and therefore things can’t happen in any other way. That is to say, God has a specific plan for each of us, planned down to the microsecond, and therefore, if we had any free will at all, we could choose to do something against God’s will, rendering him non-omniscient, non-omnipotent.

But does omniscience really imply knowledge of the future? Certainly we have seen God’s future prophecies fulfilled, but we know that since He is omnipotent He can assert his will at any time. Does His omnipotence preclude free will? I certainly can’t know for sure, but I will make the case that it does not.

Listening to a series by renowned theologian RC Sproul recently, I have picked up a thing or two about the field of Christianity known as apologetics. As Christians, we know that God is not just the source of, but is, all truth and rationality (“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” – Proverbs 1:7). Within our measurable universe, rationality is generally regarded as that which we can consistently and empirically hold to be true, or natural laws. The crux of the issue, then, is that in our universe, rationality does not dictate time travel forward. Therefore, just as God cannot create a rock so big He can’t lift it (because this is a contradiction, and contradictions are not rational, so even God cannot perform contradictions), perhaps God also does NOT know the future (as this too would be a contradiction). Note that this does not in any way “limit” God in His omnipotence or omniscience, as these features only apply in rational terms.

We know that the Bible is full of verses which people of both Calvinist and Arminian camps use to support their position, and which in their own right can be interpreted either way. So to help find an answer, let us transcend looking at individual verses and examine this issue in the context of the Bible as a whole and some of its tenets which we know to be true.

God created Lucifer. God did not create sin. Lucifer in his pride challenged God’s authority and lost. We know this to be the point at which sin and evil came into being. Sin and evil entered our world through Adam’s fall. Lucifer (or Satan) is the author of sin. God does not create evil or sin, but permits it under His own will (His “permissible” will). God’s perfect will does not include sin, because He does not create the sin. Therefore, we must conclude that God created both Lucifer and man with, at least to some extent, free will – not just from our perspective, but from His as well – because otherwise, He would have predetermined that Lucifer and man would sin, which means He would have had to create the sin, which we know He does not do.

The existence of sin, therefore, seems to imply to us that God allows free will. Keep in mind, no doubt God can assert His will in our lives at any time in His omnipotence, so you might call this position “limited free will” OR “limited determinism”. Whether we have free will or not, God still has a perfect will that He is working towards, in which the remaining prophecies will be fulfilled. I recently read a commentary by AW Tozer which gave a good metaphor for this: God is directing a cruise ship from one port to another, and we humans are free to move about that ship as we please, but in the end, we will all end up at that final destination.

Now, we must address those verses which mention those “elect” or “pre-destined”. I would assert that these are in the context to be called, NOT to be saved. That is to say, God may choose some of us to draw nearer to Himself than others – they are the “elect” – but He may not “force” them to choose Him.

In conclusion, I posit that there could be complete determinism via His foreknowledge and assertion of every single thing He will impose, BUT, His omniscience doesn’t necessitate determinism because omniscience doesn’t have to include foreknowledge if He allows free will, since that would be illogical. Happy trails wrapping your mind around all this! Please leave any comments below.

As a side note: as a programmer, I have always been fascinated by the concept of “true random” (those in the field will understand this fascination, because we know that true random in computing is impossible). We know, though, that we can create imperative programs where we define the functionality and predetermine all of the inputs to get an expected result. How much more, then, is God glorified in the allowance of free will as opposed to complete determinism? In my professional opinion, infinitely so :)

March 10

even Stefan Molyneux believes in miracles

I’ve been meaning for some time now to address some things Stefan Molyneux has said in his videos over the course of the past few years. Over the past year or so, I’ve listened to probably the majority of his videos – and there are a lot of them – dealing with anarchism, and I am very much in favor of what he advocates, as far as the politics goes. However, on the religious side of things, I am a Christian and Stefan is an atheist, and he tends to say things that don’t truly represent Christianity. Consequentially, he tends to look at everything in a very secular light, where he takes the possibility of miracles or anything that we might consider “supernatural” or “anti-scientific” completely out of the equation.

The reason I title this writing “even Stefan Molyneux believes in miracles” is because I think that no matter what your religious persuasion – Christian, atheist, whatever – there is one circumstance that you strictly cannot deal with outside of supernaturality – and that is, existence itself. Basically, there are three different cases to explain how we are here (existence):

  • matter was created by God (whom always existed)
  • matter always existed (implying infinite history)
  • matter did not exist and then did (conservation of mass?)

Any way you slice it, mere existence is “anti-scientific”.

Also, just as a side note – Stef likes to refer to God as a “square circle”, or an impossibility by definition, stating that He cannot be omniscient and omnipotent, and I take exception to that. His reasoning is that if God were omniscient then He would be all-knowing and would know His future plans, and therefore couldn’t change his future plans, meaning He would not be omnipotent. I think this is pretty deceptive and intellectually dishonest, and definitely not sound. If God had a plan and then needed to change it, He simply would have already known He was going to change it. It’s really pretty simple… it’s just a clever twist on the age-old “can God create a rock so heavy that even he cannot lift it?” paradox… just much less confounding and silly, and a bit more cunning.

Category: Christianity, religion | Comments Off on even Stefan Molyneux believes in miracles
June 17

why I fight

there’s an episode of my favorite miniseries of all time, Band of Brothers, called “Why We Fight”. well, this is why I fight.

one question I’ve pondered and heard from others is: there’s no use – why should we try? the Bible says there will be an end time, and if this is it, why should we try to resist the inevitable? some people will even mention Romans 13, which talks of submitting to the authorities. well, this is true when the government is just. but when it is not, the Bible teaches us always to fight evil; to simplify, if a police officer ordered you to kill your own family, I hope you would not comply. I feel that, even if we are currently set on the path to the end, if we change our ways God will forgive us. “The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29).

but what effect do I have? true, my voice probably has little effect or impact on the occupiers of DC as they currently are; most of them are corrupt, power hungry, and set in their ways. but when the whole of the People are armed with knowledge, they will no longer be silent. they cannot, it’s against our human nature not to crave freedom. so I will keep ringing the bell until either everyone joins, or there is no one left to hear me. like the protagonist of the 1976 movie Network, “I want people to be mad as hell! I want you to stand up, open your windows, and yell ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

our government has openly declared war upon We the People. every day their actions confirm this, they just haven’t verbalized it. every disregard of the Constitution, the charter of the very government that ignores it, is an act of war. they are taking our liberty, and it is going further than legislation, stepping into the world of physical violence. I am personally being attacked by the very institution which is sworn to defend me; this is why I fight.

“I swear upon the altar of God, eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
– Thomas Jefferson

UPDATE 7/15: Chuck Baldwin wrote an article “Romans Chapter 13 Revisited” on the same topics discussed here. I’m sure he read my post! ;)