Author Topic: Free will and foreknowledge  (Read 1445 times)

Offline Davis Blank - EG

  • St. Joseph's Workbench
  • Vizekorporal
  • **
  • Posts: 234
  • Thanked: 253 times
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
Re: Free will and foreknowledge
« Reply #60 on: November 10, 2018, 01:58:25 AM »
The problem of evil and the question of free will vs. determinism.  I do wonder how apostates were ever serious adult Catholics to let these one day be the rational cause for apostasy.  When I converted from atheism to theism and finally Christianity these, among others (like hiddenness), were things I pondered long and came to terms with.  How did you all one day decide this disproved anything?

“The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”


 

Offline Pon de Replay

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3465
  • Thanked: 1648 times
Re: Free will and foreknowledge
« Reply #61 on: November 10, 2018, 09:52:34 AM »
The problem of evil and the question of free will vs. determinism.  I do wonder how apostates were ever serious adult Catholics to let these one day be the rational cause for apostasy.  When I converted from atheism to theism and finally Christianity these, among others (like hiddenness), were things I pondered long and came to terms with.  How did you all one day decide this disproved anything?

“The poet only asks to get his head into the heavens. It is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head. And it is his head that splits.”

The quote you ended with is apt.  People will naturally come to traditional Catholicism from a variety of ways.  For me, the attraction was aesthetic and cultural and political.  Liturgical solemnity, hierarchical ordering, self-abnegation, and venerable ancestral traditions—there is a definite "rightness" to these things, and for someone reeling in disgust and disillusionment from the modern world, traditional Catholicism is one of the very few authentic options on the menu.  After that, faith is not something arrived at logically.  If it was, we would simply call it "fact" and not "faith."

So what happens is that one assumes grace is supplying their faith in spite of their doubts.  And I don't think anyone with a so-called "mature faith" is entirely without doubt (even St. Augustine said, "O Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief").  But what is actually going on is something else: it is deciding that something must be true because you want it to be true.  It's not unlike falling in love at the beginning of a romantic relationship.  And with religion, more so than with romance, comes an aspect of filial loyalty.  You almost must compartmentalize certain things; to do otherwise would be a betrayal.  So you content yourself with "God's ways are not our ways" and "the wisdom of men is foolishness to God"—or, "it is the logician who seeks to get the heavens into his head.  And it is his head that splits."

It's not a matter of one day waking up and questioning God's goodness.  It's more the effect of a cumulative mass of problems eventually coming to a head.  All the compartments have become completely full, and so they burst.  You realize that you had been squirreling away more doubts than you could possibly carry.  But there is no way to have known this would become the case without having first been so much of a cautious skeptic that you wouldn't make the leap in the first place.  Thus an endeavor of many years becomes another life lesson.

"Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about; but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.
"
Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit.
 

Offline james03

  • Hauptmann
  • ****
  • Posts: 7932
  • Thanked: 2463 times
  • The Brutal Clarity of a Winter Morning
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: Free will and foreknowledge
« Reply #62 on: November 10, 2018, 10:09:42 AM »
Quote
Where did you pull 99% from? On Catholicism, no matter how good you live, you could commit a mortal sin before you die, and then all that work and sacrifice were for nothing. The coin could flip tails. I might as well live as I please, since nothing I do will change God's foreknowledge.
  99% is not 100%, so falls short of an assurance.  If a religion gives you a 99% chance of getting to heaven, you'd be an idiot not to join.

As far as changing God's Sovereign Plan, no you can not change it.  However He may have incorporated into His plan an action on your part that leads to your salvation.


Quote
If such a preference causes one to choose evil, then they could not have done otherwise. If one can choose good with that preference in place, then that preference doesn't explain why they chose evil over good.

Choice A: Prefer evil and choose evil
B: Prefer evil and choose good
  A sinner would go with Choice A do to selfishness.  The core of sin is a preference for your own inordinate desire over God.  Now you can avoid evil without Grace.  And you can even do natural good on your own, like St. Thomas's example of building something.  However eventually you will fall.  We are a fallen race.
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

"All sorrow leads to the foot of the Cross.  Weep for your sins."
 

Offline james03

  • Hauptmann
  • ****
  • Posts: 7932
  • Thanked: 2463 times
  • The Brutal Clarity of a Winter Morning
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: Free will and foreknowledge
« Reply #63 on: November 10, 2018, 10:13:12 AM »
Quote
I don't understand.  God denied them the trial so that you could be born?  What makes you more special than them?
If I exist then I am special, along with billions of others.

The point being that I believe in hylomorphism vs. Cartesian dualism.  I'm not some ectoplasm spirit that God can insert into any body robot.  Therefore if Stalin hadn't lived and did what he did, I COULD NOT exist.  So in some small way I am thankful for Stalin as I love living.
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

"All sorrow leads to the foot of the Cross.  Weep for your sins."
 

Offline Pon de Replay

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3465
  • Thanked: 1648 times
Re: Free will and foreknowledge
« Reply #64 on: November 10, 2018, 10:31:14 AM »
Quote
I don't understand.  God denied them the trial so that you could be born?  What makes you more special than them?
If I exist then I am special, along with billions of others.

But these other souls also exist, therefore they must be special, too.  The difference between them and you is that they never get to exercise their free will to effect their salvation.  Personally, I think they're more fortunate than you.  They are assured happiness or heaven.  But you prefer to undergo the test (a test from which even the theologians say a minority of Christians emerge triumphant.  I think your 99% figure there is suspect).

So why do some undergo the test, and others receive eternal happiness gratis?  If I had any free choice in the matter, I would choose the latter.  My free will, sadly, is constrained as far as that goes.

I'm not some ectoplasm spirit that God can insert into any body robot.  Therefore if Stalin hadn't lived and did what he did, I COULD NOT exist.  So in some small way I am thankful for Stalin as I love living.

Living has its positives, I grant you (depending on your lot in life), but not to the extent that I'd be thankful to Stalin for killing millions just so I could live and take my pleasures.  I would opt for non-existence over that equation.  To prefer otherwise seems the height of selfishness.


« Last Edit: November 10, 2018, 01:47:47 PM by Pon de Replay »
Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit.
 

Offline james03

  • Hauptmann
  • ****
  • Posts: 7932
  • Thanked: 2463 times
  • The Brutal Clarity of a Winter Morning
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: Free will and foreknowledge
« Reply #65 on: November 10, 2018, 10:37:09 AM »
Quote
So why do some undergo the test, and others receive eternal happiness gratis?
Because existence is the ultimate complex system.  You have to make a baby.  That effects existence.  If a baby dies, that has an effect.  God is Truth, He can not deny Himself.  Therefore if it takes Stalin to make me exist (and billions of others), and it is His Will that we exist, then He will permit Stalin to slaughter.  Of course we don't know the eternal disposition of his victims either.
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

"All sorrow leads to the foot of the Cross.  Weep for your sins."
 

Offline james03

  • Hauptmann
  • ****
  • Posts: 7932
  • Thanked: 2463 times
  • The Brutal Clarity of a Winter Morning
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: Free will and foreknowledge
« Reply #66 on: November 10, 2018, 10:40:46 AM »
I view existence as a highly constrained optimization problem.  The optimum is some blend of maximum souls saved, with maximum souls in Limbo, with a minimum of suffering in hell.  Major constraints are physical laws and Free Will.  If human suffering leads to a better optimum, it is allowed.

I also view uncoverted heathens as slack variables.  God can off load a bunch of entropy on them.

I don't insist this is reality, but no one can say it is wrong either.
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

"All sorrow leads to the foot of the Cross.  Weep for your sins."
 

Offline Pon de Replay

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3465
  • Thanked: 1648 times
Re: Free will and foreknowledge
« Reply #67 on: November 10, 2018, 10:49:44 AM »
Quote
So why do some undergo the test, and others receive eternal happiness gratis?
Because existence is the ultimate complex system.  You have to make a baby.  That effects existence.  If a baby dies, that has an effect.  God is Truth, He can not deny Himself.  Therefore if it takes Stalin to make me exist (and billions of others), and it is His Will that we exist, then He will permit Stalin to slaughter.  Of course we don't know the eternal disposition of his victims either.

This is getting a little weird.  Yes, babies get made, and that effects existence.  Everything effects everything else.  We have no argument on this.  My point, however, is that in choosing to create this world, where half of all human lives end in eternal happiness (without using any free will of their own), and where the other half must endure a test in which they have to overcome their very nature in order to succeed (and most of these souls will emphatically not succeed), God has ensured that there is a systematic unfairness at play.

If you will acknowledge this imbalance, then we might proceed from there.
Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit.
 

Offline james03

  • Hauptmann
  • ****
  • Posts: 7932
  • Thanked: 2463 times
  • The Brutal Clarity of a Winter Morning
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: Free will and foreknowledge
« Reply #68 on: November 10, 2018, 10:56:58 AM »
Quote
If you will acknowledge this imbalance, then we might proceed from there.

I acknowledge the imbalance.  I don't call it unfair, which is synonymous with unjust.  God owes us nothing.
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

"All sorrow leads to the foot of the Cross.  Weep for your sins."
 

Offline Pon de Replay

  • Feldwebel
  • ***
  • Posts: 3465
  • Thanked: 1648 times
Re: Free will and foreknowledge
« Reply #69 on: November 10, 2018, 01:26:52 PM »
I acknowledge the imbalance.  I don't call it unfair, which is synonymous with unjust.  God owes us nothing.

How do you not consider it unfair?  "God owes us nothing" is certainly compatible with an impersonal God: one who places us in a cruel universe, makes a lottery of our birth, and gives us no revelation.  But it does not seem applicable to a God who is likened to a loving father.  At least you have conceded the imbalance.  Do you consider it fair for a father to freely give one son eternal happiness while, for another son, holding back eternal happiness and only granting it if he succeeds in a test he is likely to fail?

If you can square such a situation with fairness, then I will be that much closer to comprehending your theology.
Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit.
 

Offline Sempronius

  • Korporal
  • **
  • Posts: 338
  • Thanked: 151 times
Re: Free will and foreknowledge
« Reply #70 on: November 10, 2018, 02:50:49 PM »
From Pierre Bayle

1. The natural light and revelation teach us clearly that there is only one principle of all things, and that this principle is infinitely perfect; 2. The way of reconciling the moral and physical evil of humanity with all the attributes of this single, infinitely perfect principle of all things surpasses our philosophical lights, such that the Manichean objections leave us with difficulties that human reason cannot resolve; 3. Nevertheless, it is necessary to believe firmly that what the natural light and revelation teach us about the unity and infinite perfection of God, just as believe by faith and submission to divine authority the mysteries of the Trinity and the Incarnation.
 
The following users thanked this post: Matto

Offline Michael

  • Vizekorporal
  • **
  • Posts: 132
  • Thanked: 22 times
  • Religion: Future-theist
Re: Free will and foreknowledge
« Reply #71 on: November 10, 2018, 04:51:58 PM »
As William Lane Craig pointed out, to have an explanation for something, you don't need an explanation for the explanation. Even if the earthquake was uncaused and random, it still explains the rockslide.

But since nothing causes the agent to will A over B, then there is no explanation. It's a random thing you have no control over. You're not responsible.
 

Offline Michael Wilson

  • St. Joseph's Workbench
  • Hauptmann
  • ****
  • Posts: 5913
  • Thanked: 3339 times
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: Free will and foreknowledge
« Reply #72 on: November 10, 2018, 05:12:56 PM »
P.L.R. stated:
Quote

Point taken, Michael Wilson: the angels, indeed, are also souls who populate either Heaven or Hell.  But in human terms, there is a high rate of souls who end up in Limbo or Heaven through no will of their own, and therefore cannot really constitute an exception.  Roughly a third to a half of all fertilized eggs do not reach term—and that's just speaking naturally, not taking abortion into account.  Then, for those who make it out of the womb alive, the historically high child mortality rate adds greatly to the number.  The problem with free will is that we don't have the free will to choose being born as imbeciles, or as children who will die as children.

The angels, on the other hand, get to use their free will in the most benevolent scenario: they are created in Heaven and given the simple choice of loving God or refusing him.  That is a perfectly fair scheme for exercising free will.  They make their choice perceiving the irrefutable existence of God.  It's a choice that doesn't depend on whether their parents are Catholic, or whether they're born into a pagan tribe in the pre-colonial New World—or whether they're Catholic but come to doubt the existence of God because they begin to suspect it unlikely due to considerations such as those in this very thread!  In the earthly scheme, birth (and life) is a lottery.  I agree with you (and Christ) completely that those who end up in Hell would be better to have never lived.  I would wish for either non-existence or a death before age seven, over reaching adulthood in the Catholic scheme.  Preferring an entry into the "fewness of the saved" trial is insanity, if there are other options on offer that are guaranteed wins.
First, an aside; I was always fascinated by your "nom-de-guerre"; and I thought it was something very exotic. So when I read that all it meant was:  "hit the replay button" in Spanish, I started laughing! I didn't see it, because it wasn't what I expected. :laugh:  Now back to our regular program:
re. The trial of the Angels, the angels did not have the beatific vision, and their belief in God was analogous to that of our first parents; that is, they had evidence of God's existence, but they had to accept it on faith; the same for their trial. God gave them the choice of submitting to Him in an act of faith and Charity or suffering the penalty of being separated from Him forever. The angels fully understood the consequences of their choice, but yet it was still and act of faith.
In the case of men. God in His original plan, that is before the sin of Adam and Eve; would have had all men reach the age of adulthood, or at least the full use of reason, before being given a choice of salvation or perdition; so the existence of idiots, and infant mortality, and abortion, is not the doing of God, but the free choice of man. God on the other hand drew good out of evil, by giving those souls that never would reach the age of reason, because of the consequence of sin, the opportunity to either enjoy the gift of the beatific vision, or natural happiness in Limbo. The existence of both is an effect and proof of the love of God and His mercy.
Re. Pagans and those not born of Catholic parents etc. etc. God who tells us that He wills the salvation of all men, provides sufficient grace to every man who reaches the age of reason, to attain eternal salvation. St. Thomas in an article in the Summa explains how the first act of each and every man reaching the age of reason, is either an act of love directed towards God at least implicitly, and which obtains Sanctifying Grace for the soul, or an act of selfishness, rejecting God and therefore falling into Mortal sin. So no man falls into Hell without being truly culpable. The same goes for those who would lose their faith when adults. God sees all, even the most secret thoughts of men; if they are truly faultless, God will not hold them responsible, as God did not send His beloved Son to die on the Cross in order to condemn men, but to give men the greatest possible opportunity to attain to eternal salvation.
 Now I agree that a life in Limbo or going to Heaven by Baptism, before reaching the age of reason is preferable to Hell; but the reward of Heaven for those who use God's graces correctly, will many times over, compensate for the pains and sufferings and sacrifices that they will have to undergo to attain to their eternal reward. St. Teresa of Avila was reputed to have appeared to a nun of her order after her death and told her that she would gladly undergo all the torments of Earth, from then to the end of the world, for the exchange of the increase in happiness in Heaven given in reward for the recitation of one more Hail Mary. 
"The World Must Conform to Our Lord and not He to it." Rev. Dennis Fahey CSSP
 
The following users thanked this post: Pon de Replay, Xavier

Offline Michael Wilson

  • St. Joseph's Workbench
  • Hauptmann
  • ****
  • Posts: 5913
  • Thanked: 3339 times
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: Free will and foreknowledge
« Reply #73 on: November 10, 2018, 05:26:38 PM »
P.D.R. stated:
Quote
How do you not consider it unfair?  "God owes us nothing" is certainly compatible with an impersonal God: one who places us in a cruel universe, makes a lottery of our birth, and gives us no revelation.  But it does not seem applicable to a God who is likened to a loving father.  At least you have conceded the imbalance.  Do you consider it fair for a father to freely give one son eternal happiness while, for another son, holding back eternal happiness and only granting it if he succeeds in a test he is likely to fail?
If you can square such a situation with fairness, then I will be that much closer to comprehending your theology.
James is right in stating that "God owes us nothing"; but God does owe it to His own goodness and perfect justice, to provide all men with the sufficient means to obtain eternal salvation. Our birth is a lottery, but God is not undone or His providence frustrated by any accident of birth, place or circumstance. God provided and still provides for the most remote savages and even the most aloof skeptics, the graces they needed and need to attain to salvation. God does not lie, and He indeed tells us that He is "Our Father"; but who can imagine a good Father giving some of his children a comfortable home and sufficient love and education in order to attain success in life, and others kicking them out of the house with none of these and for no reason whatsoever. If there are any children who have left the house of their father and abandoned His love, it is because they, like the prodigal son, have left of their own accord and decided to find their happiness in things that are not in accord with God's plan. 
"The World Must Conform to Our Lord and not He to it." Rev. Dennis Fahey CSSP
 

Offline Michael Wilson

  • St. Joseph's Workbench
  • Hauptmann
  • ****
  • Posts: 5913
  • Thanked: 3339 times
  • Religion: Catholic
Re: Free will and foreknowledge
« Reply #74 on: November 10, 2018, 05:43:56 PM »
Michael stated:
Quote
I thought the whole point of free will is being able to choose to accept or reject God. On your version of free will, it's inevitable what I choose. It's in line with what I desire (so "free" in one sense), but my desires aren't up to me in an ultimate sense.
That is the correct definition of free will; man must be free to choose between one thing or another in order for his will to be truly free. That is one of the criticisms leveled at the Banezian system of Grace; in this system, man's will is not truly free to accept or reject God's grace as Trent taught.
Our choices are truly free, but God also knows by His eternal transcendent knowledge what choices we will make. He does not force us to choose, and He provides us with the graces necessary to make the right choices; but ultimately the choices are ours and therefore we will have to accept the responsibility for those choices before God.
"The World Must Conform to Our Lord and not He to it." Rev. Dennis Fahey CSSP