Foreknowledge

It's time, once again, to address Bob Hutton's internet-ravings. Reading through his latest, it quickly becomes apparent that Bob's not a student of logic. Nor is he particularly adept at making clear, concise points. The whole post is a mess of half-expressed ideas, paradoxes and misreadings or misrepresentations of his source material; the Bible. And none of it, once you pick out the various strands is new. In fact it's not even new to this blog or to my main blog, where all of the points discussed have been dissected before.

Still an' all, let's go through it and see if some rewording n my own part might finally convince Bob that there's an objection or two he needs to address with more than a hand-waving reference to a Bible-verse. (I'd say I'd like to convince the chap he's wrong about something, but let's not set our goals too high, eh?)

Basically, he's talking about God being able to preordain things and have foreknowledge of them, yet still allowing us free will. Picking a point at almost random, let's deal with this bit first:

The Bible teaches in many places that God the Father sent Jesus to die for our sins. Isaiah chapter 53 foretold this 700 years before it happened (a clear example of the Bible being true and infallible).

In fact, if you look at Isaiah 52, 53 and 54 instead of singling out 53 as if it were context-free, Isaiah 53 is quite obviously talking about the return of the exiled Jewish people (Israel; the servant) from Babylon to their homeland. But this brings up yet another subject I've already addressed at length. The incompatibility of prophecy and free will. Indeed I know for a fact that Bob's read my post on it, but ho-hum, let's try again.

Imagine someone driving along a road which has many forks. Each fork leads to more forks, which lead to more forks, which lead to yet more forks, and so on. Here's a simplified version:

If free will is possible in the universe which you, me and even God inhabits—or even if one of us is somehow looking in from outside—then starting from the bottom, our driver could choose any available series of forks, and end up at any of the end-points shown. Therefore, if free will is allowed, foreknowledge of the finishing point, and thus prophecy, would be impossible.

If, however, it is possible to know beforehand that the driver will end up at the green circle, with no shadow of a doubt, then the only route which she may take is the black one. The red roads become unavailable; to all intents and purposes non-existent, illusory. She may think she's making choices at each fork but, in order for foreknowledge to be possible, each "choice" she makes has to be merely self-delusion. She's headed along the black route come what may, and may as well be on rails. Free will is impossible if her actions are fore-ordained and/or foreknowable to anyone, even God.

None of this puts a human-made constraint on Bob's god. He couldn't create a person who is at the same time hairy and hairless, and, for the same reason, he couldn't create a universe in which free will both does and does not exist. Foreknowledge and free will are mutually incompatible because the statement "foreknowledge is possible" says that free will is impossible.

Bob then goes on to discuss the problem of God preordaining our ultimate fates, while somehow still leaving us free will with which to make choices which might change those fates. Which is, basically, the same problem as above. If it's truly preordained, foreknown, then it cannot be changed, and thus free will is illusory. If we have free will, then it is impossible to preordain our ultimate destination.

Bob, this is not a question of authority or of a lack of knowledge of God or of the universe. It is a question of pure logic. So please do not merely quote a Bible-verse and think you've "solved" the problem. If your interpretation of a Bible-verse leads you to the belief that foreknowledge, even on God's part, is possible, while your interpretation of another verse leads you to the belief that we have free will, then either one or both of those beliefs is wrong or my logic is faulty.

If you want to show that your beliefs described above can possibly both be correct, Bob, you need to address my logic and point out where and how it's faulty.
Daz


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16 thoughts on “Foreknowledge

  1. Could Bob answer a question: if the sole purpose of Jebus’s suicide by Centurion was to forgive original sin, and therefore freeing man to enjoy honey-milk and blue skies, why didn’t anything change after he popped-off?

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  2. Daz: You state that I need to address your “logic”. I don’t need to do anything of the kind; what I need to do is clearly state the truths of God’s infallible word, to clearly warn you that the current course you are on will lead to the lake of fire. If you don’t obey God’s call to repent and accept Christ as Lord and Saviour then you WILL end up in Hell.

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  3. Bob – you don’t need to refute Daz’s logic, because you are simply unable to. But don’t worry, nobody can. Pre-ordination and free-will are mutually exclusive: If you have one, you simply can’t have the other.

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  4. You poor, poor creature, Mr Godfrey. You are only a mere men compared to God. He is sovereign as you will find out when you stand before Him.

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  5. Bob

    The statement “foreknowledge is possible” is the same as the statement “free will is impossible.”

    The statement “free will is possible” is the same as the statement “foreknowledge is impossible.”

    You cannot get around this without (a) addressing the logic or (b) ignoring it and pretending the problem doesn’t exist.

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  6. The problem only exists in your own mind because you are a mere man (poor creature) and not God. God’s thoughts and ways are not our thoughts and ways. Isaiah 55 v 8-9.

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  7. Bob

    No, the problem does not exist only in my mind. Look…

    The statement “all men are hairy” is the same as the statement “no men are hairless.”

    That’s not a matter of me not understanding God’s thoughts. It’s a matter of logic. The same goes for the statements about free will and foreknowledge. Stating that one is possible is merely a rewording of a statement that the other is impossible.

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  8. It must be so easy being Hutton – he can dismiss any problem of logic or reason he likes without ever having to put himself to the trouble of formulating an answer. With a glib retort along the lines of ‘you can’t possibly understand god’s mind, you poor creature’, the matter is closed and it’s time to worry about what’s for tea instead. No need to think. No need to be concerned with uncomfortable questions. Just let your mind go blank and leave it all up to that imaginary friend. Bliss.

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  9. Replly to AC: You are right to say “bliss”. To leave things in God’s hands, because He is in control, means that one has perfect peace and contentment.

    I have the best of both worlds – I have contentment and peace in this life, and the assurance of Heaven in eternity – top notch!

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  10. @Bob

    While you may find it bliss to leave your brain at the door, it heartens me to know that there are plenty of others in this world who are unwilling to live in the same ignorance and childish subservience. And I’m so glad you have finally found it in yourself to admit publicly that you don’t try to think. It confirms much of what I have long suspected.

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  11. I’m worried about Bob. Look at what he said back there on the 17th:

    I have the best of both worlds – I have contentment and peace in this life, and the assurance of Heaven in eternity – top notch!

    Now that, in Catholic terminology, is the Sin of Presumption – the claim that you know you have an assured place in heaven. Still, maybe Bob rejects the teachings of the Catholic Church, in which case he ought to take note of what his religion’s Founder said. It’s there in Matthew 25: 31-46, The Last Judgment. Bob should know this passage, as it’s a Fundie Favourite. It’s where Jesus separates the souls, “as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” as the AV puts it.

    The passage is clear that what separates the heaven-bound from the hell-bound is not what they believed when they lived on earth, but how they behaved towards their fellow-creatures. Feeding the hungry, taking the stranger in, all that sort of thing. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Sound familiar?

    Now, it adds that there will be people on both sides of the divide who are surprised at which group they are in: some didn’t expect to be numbered among the Righteous, and others (think about this, Bob) who didn’t expect to be in the Unrighteous. They may well have thought that “accepting Jesus as their Saviour” was enough, but it ain’t necessarily so. It’s deeds that count, not beliefs – and dishing out tracts is nowhere mentioned.

    It is said that a minister in the kirk, expounding on this passage, added “and the Unrighteous will say, ‘Lord, Lord, we didnae ken’ and the Lord will turn to them and say:
    ‘Weel, ye ken noo’.”

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