I’m always amazed when theists say that God is omniscient (all knowing) and in the same breath say that this same God gave us free will. So let’s investigate these matters a little more closely. We’ll jump over to the problem of free will further on down this post.
God is usually defined as omniscient which means that God is all knowing. God knows the past, the present and the future. So God knows what you are going to do or choose, before you know it yourself. This of course creates a big problem when at the same time it is claimed that God gave us free will. If someone already knows what you are going to do or choose before you know it yourself, your free will is just an illusion.
One of the solutions I came about regarding this problem is that God gave us free will and doesn’t know what choice we will make, but only knows the outcome of every choice that we’ll make. Now ask yourself, how the hell is this omniscient?
More Problems Concerning Free Will and God
But let’s suppose we’re feeling generous and ignore the fact that God is omniscient and agree that God gave us free will. Theists often say that God doesn’t mess with free will and that God is maximally good and maximally loving. Let’s see how that works out for God, shall we?
Let’s do the following thought experiment. A woman is walking down the street when all of a sudden a rapist/murderer jumps out of an alley to rape and then murder the woman. If God is maximally good and maximally loving, one would think he would come to rescue her. Especially when the woman is innocent. Isn’t a maximally good and loving deity supposed to protect the innocent? The answer is no. Why? God doesn’t mess with free will so he won’t interfere, even though he does this all of the time in the bible. God finds the murderer’s free will to murder more important than the protection of the free will of the woman who is about to get raped and murdered. Sadistic, isn’t it? I mean, if God doesn’t intervene, someone’s free will is about to get violated and if God does intervene, someone’s free will is violated to. So why doesn’t he just intervene? One person’s free will is violated in any case, so he might as well rescue the innocent woman.
The Problem of Free Will
There has been a lot of talk amongst philosophers whether or not we have free will. There is libertarianism, determinism and compatibilism. To help you understand what these three different views are, I will link a video that explains them.
But here’s the problem. What is free will actually? How should I recognize a free agent when I see one? This is a challenge presented by AnticitizenX in the video below. In his video AnticitzenX asks you to imagine yourself sitting at a table and in front of you there are twins. They look the same and act the same but the key difference is that one has free will while the other one has not. What tests can we perform to find out who has free will and who has not?
A common objection would be that free will is immaterial and that immaterial entities like free will can not be measured empirically. What that actually means is that the term free will is meaningless. If I can not measure it, than how can I differentiate between a being that has free will and a being that has not?
Whether or not we can know if we have free will or not, starts with creating a definition of free will that’s workable. A definition I come across a lot and is used in the video below goes something like this:
“Free will is the ability to chose between different possible courses of action without coercion”
Fair enough, but than you would also have to admit that computers have free will.
Free will is a difficult subject with a lot of different angles to it, but until we can come up with a definition for it that’s actually workable, I’m going to assume that we don’t know what the hell we are talking about when we talk about free will.