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Author Topic:   Free Will and Biblical Prophecy: Are They Mutually Exclusive?
Stile
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 4295
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004


Message 3 of 227 (494336)
01-15-2009 11:53 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
01-14-2009 6:48 PM


Definitions
You say that free will is “the ability to choose between alternate future outcomes.” And if we use that definition I agree with your conclusions. I do have another definition though, and I don't see why the following definition cannot equally be considered "Free Will".
What if free will is “the ability to get what you want from the available alternate future outcomes?”
That is.. let’s say there was no prediction yet the entire set of events occurred otherwise exactly as they did with the prediction. If there simply was no prediction, and Jesus still wanted to choose to die on the cross for whatever personal reasons . regardless of all other alternate future paths available to him . would that be free will?
If that is free will . how is free will removed if the exact same situation occurs simply with the addition of an immutable prediction? Who cares if the immutable prediction is there? If Jesus is going to choose the same thing in any case . how is his free will or anything else removed?
Of course . I understand that there’s no way to know if Jesus would have wanted to choose the same thing or not given some tasty alternatives. But the point is that Jesus quite possibly could have wanted the same thing. In which case I don’t see how the immutable prediction removes free will.
No immutable prediction - Jesus dies on the cross as a sacrifice.
With immutable prediction - Jesus dies on the cross as a sacrifice.
If they’re both exactly the same, then I don’t see how you can say that free will was removed.
I understand that you can say “if Jesus wanted to choose any other path at all, then an immutable prediction removes his free will”. But since there is a chance that Jesus did want to choose the exact same path . I do not think you can say “Immutable predictions remove free will in all possible cases”.
Unless you have a problem with defining Free Will as “the ability to get what you want from the available alternate future outcomes?”

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Straggler, posted 01-14-2009 6:48 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by Straggler, posted 01-15-2009 12:32 PM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 4295
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004


Message 5 of 227 (494358)
01-15-2009 1:17 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Straggler
01-15-2009 12:32 PM


Re: Definitions
Straggler writes:
The point of immutable prophecy is that there is no choice.
Agreed.
Whether you believe that your actions are of your own choosing, whether you have the illusion of free-will, is not the point. In the absence of genuine choice at the point of making a decision how can free-will be claimed?
Free Will can be claimed if we define Free Will to be "the ability to get what you want from the available alternate future outcomes" and the one making the choice gets what they want.
I think I need to add some clarification here. I do not mean "available alternate future outcomes" in the sense that the immutable prophecy leaves just one choice so that this situation is therefore still Free Will. I mean it in the same sense as it would be applied if an immutable prophecy did not exist. That is, if the subject would choose the same path without an immutable prophecy, then adding an immutable prophecy does not remove Free Will (since nothing has changed). However, if the subject would choose an alternate path if the immutable prophecy was not in place, then I agree that Free Will is removed. I only add the world "available" so as to disallow the ability of choosing alternatives that are simply impossible for the situation. Like having a choice between chocolate or vanilla ice-cream... not being able to choose mint doesn't remove Free Will, it's just that mint is not available.
The problem arises that we are unable to know what someone would "really want" without the presence of an immutable prophecy. However, this problem does not remove the possibility that the two may be in agreement. In which case, we cannot say that immutable prophecy automatically removes Free Will.
I agree with you that if you define Free Will to be simply "the ability to choose between alternatives", then you cannot claim Free Will.
But that's my whole point. What about "the ability to get what you want from the available alternate future outcomes" is not also Free Will?
If ones actions are immutably known before the "decision" to take them then even if the actions taken are those that the deciding agent "wants" then it just means that the wants and desires of the "deciding" agent are as predetermined as the actions themselves.
Why? Why can't it simply mean that the wants and desires of the "deciding" agent happen to coincide with the predetermined action?
You are effectively saying that everybody can know what someone wants before he even knows the choice that needs to be taken.
Only if the wants and desires are as predetermined as the action itself. But what if they aren't? Why can't they simply match because of coincidence? Or some other reason that is not as you say?
I agree with what you say. But you have not shown that what you say is the only way things must be.
How can that be free-will by any definition?
I agree with you that the precise situations you are describing are absolutely not Free Will, by your definition, and cannot be called such. That's why I'm offerring alternate definitions and alternate situations.
Why is my definition not Free Will?

This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Straggler, posted 01-15-2009 12:32 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by Straggler, posted 01-15-2009 5:43 PM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 4295
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004


Message 10 of 227 (494469)
01-16-2009 9:43 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Straggler
01-15-2009 5:43 PM


Trying Again
Straggler writes:
Alternate future outcomes? What "alternate future outcomes" are there if the future is known as an immutable truth? None. Obviously.
You're not understanding what I'm trying to say. Which is, of course, my fault. My entire previous post was supposed to explain this confusion. I will try again.
Let's say there is no immutable truth of the future known. Person A has 3 choices. They choose #2.
You agree they have Free Will, correct?
Now let's add an immutable prophecy of the future. I agree with you that if we add an immutable prophecy that Person A will choose #1, we will have removed Free Will.
But what if the immutable prophecy is that Person A will choose #2? How can you say that Person A's Free Will was removed? Without the immutable prophecy.. they certainly would have chosen #2. Nothing is changed in the scenario.
By saying that the mere presence of the immutable prophecy removes Person A's Free Will even if it results in the same choice they would have made anyway... you're saying that if Being B can tell what Person A wants then they are removing their Free Will. This is ridiculous.
Let's say Being B is simply a very good friend of Person A. Let's say Person A really likes chocolate ice-cream, and Person B knows this having eaten out with Person A on many occassions. It's another night out, and Person B "predicts" that Person A is going to choose chocolate ice-cream for dessert. Are you seriously saying that Person B has removed the Free Will of Person A? Of course not, since it just so happens that Person B's prediction coincides with what Person A is going to choose anyway.
Now, you're going to say that an all-knowing, cannot-be-wrong God makes a difference. But, does it really? What difference does it make? Why are you unable to show me this difference? If Person A wants chocolate-ice-cream anyway, what does it matter who predicts such a thing? Even an all-knowing, cannot-be-wrong God?
"But what if one day Person A wants vanilla?"
If on this day the immutable prophecy happens to say chocolate... then I agree with you, Free Will was removed.
But, if the immutable prophecy says vanilla at exactly the same point in time that Person A would have chosen to have vanilla anyway... then Free Will is still intact.
If every outcome for every choice in your life is exactly what you want, and no one forces you into any alternative you don't approve of... how can you possibly say that you do not have Free Will?
I agree with you that if you hear of an immutable prophecy, and are unable to choose an alternative that you would have liked to take... then your Free Will is removed. But what if you just happen to be the kind of person that ends up doing what the prophecy says anyway? Why do you assume that such a person or situation cannot possibly exist?
Why cannot the definition of Free Will be:
"Having the ability to get exactly what you want from every situation presented to you."
How is that not Free Will?
If this is an acceptable definition of Free Will, then it is possible to have immutable prophecies known to the world and have everyone keep their Free Will intact. I have no idea how we would know if the Free Will is still intact since this would involve knowing what the person would choose without the immutable prophecy... but it's certainly not impossible.
How can free-will exist if only one future outcome, one "decision", one "choice" is even possible?
I agree with your statement here... but this is not the scenario I am discussing. I am discussing that all choices are certainly possible, it just so happens that the immutable prophecy coincides with what the chooser decides upon anyway. I don't see what would prevent an all-knowing, a-temporal God from being able to mimic this "coincidence", for ALL choices if He so desired.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Straggler, posted 01-15-2009 5:43 PM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by Blue Jay, posted 01-16-2009 10:49 AM Stile has replied
 Message 37 by Straggler, posted 01-18-2009 9:53 AM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 4295
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004


Message 12 of 227 (494487)
01-16-2009 11:15 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Blue Jay
01-16-2009 10:49 AM


God's Smart
Manis writes:
I will interpret "free will" and "determinism" as opposites. Determinism indicates that the outcomes of all events are inevitable consequences of past events. Free will indicates that the outcomes of at least some events are independent of previous events.
Thus, determinism is a world of formulaic patterns, and free will is a world of spontaneity.
Definitions accepted. By "a world of spontaneity" I take it that you mean "at least some spontaneity" exists in decisions as opposed to "all decisions are completely 100% spontaneous". Those are, actually, the same definitions I use.
What do you call this: the "Lucky God Hypothesis?"
Heh... may as well be. I tend to think of it more in the sense of "smart enough that we cannot tell the difference" though. My arguement is not to say that such a thing exists, or is even likely. (Personally, I don't think God exists at all) My arguement is to say that such a thing is not impossible.
If Person B is making a prediction of the future based on past evidence, obviously this is different from having a perfect knowledge of the future.
Okay... can you show me where this difference is? Assuming, of course, the things I've been talking about like if the choices of Person A in a universe where Person B has perfect knowledge matches exactly the same choices of Person A in a universe where Person B does not have perfect knowledge (or perhaps doesn't even exist).
See, predictions necessarily utilize some element of determinism: the assumption is that the past wields some influence on the future; otherwise, the prediction is just a shot in the dark.
Why is that? Where can you show this to be true? I agree that any predictions we as humans make necessarily utilize some element of determinism. But this is not what we're talking about. We're talking about an all knowing, all powerful, never-wrong, a-temporal God. Why are you putting such a limit on such a being? Are you claiming all-encompasing knowledge of this universe such that you know for sure that there is absolutely no possible way for an omnipotent God to make predictions in any other manner?
This means that predictions based on the past, in a universe where even a modicum of free will exists, can never be absolute knowledge.
I agree. But I'm not talking about any predictions based on the past. I'm not sure what an all-powerful, a-temporal, all-knowing God may base His predictions on. Are you telling me you absolutely know that it's impossible for predictions to be made in any other way? Especially for a God that does not require the past since He is capable of seeing the future?
The outcome of an event remains uncertain until the event happens, and no amount of power and intelligence on the part of God can change this fact, because free will necessarily means that He is not in the driver's seat.
I completely agree. And I also must state that "He is not in the driver's seat" in all of the scenarios I have presented as well.
So, if God is not in the driver's seat, even with an immutable prediction about a certain situation... isn't that Free Will still there?
So, God's prophecies in such a universe would be nothing more than predictions that have only statistical relevance to the future (even if the margin of error is infinitesimally minute). This idea could certainly coexist with free will, but no pious Christian is going to believe that God's prophecies have even a 0.00000000001% chance of not coming to pass, so it's not really relevant to the question that Straggler posed.
I would say your calculations on calculating how God makes his prophecies are based off of incomplete information. Mostly because I do not believe you know how an omnipotent God makes His predictions.
I'll ask you too:
If every outcome for every choice in your life is exactly what you want, and no one forces you into any alternative you don't approve of... how can you possibly say that you do not have Free Will?
Why cannot the definition of Free Will be:
"Having the ability to get exactly what you want from every situation presented to you."
I have shown that the above definitions can exist along with an immutable prophecy. I certainly think it's difficult since the immutable prophecy would be required to exactly match the choice the being would make without the immutable prophecy in place. I just don't think that such a problem is that big of a deal for an all-knowing, all-powerful, a-temporal God.
Note: I am not saying that if any immutable prophecy exists, then we still automatically keep Free Will. I am saying that there is only 1 single special case where immutable prophecy can co-exist with Free Will. That 1 single case is where the immutable prophecy exactly matches the decision that would have been made if the immutable prophecy was not present. This 1 case, however, makes the statement "immutable prophecy cannot co-exist with Free Will" to be false.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Blue Jay, posted 01-16-2009 10:49 AM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by ICANT, posted 01-16-2009 6:16 PM Stile has replied
 Message 14 by PaulK, posted 01-16-2009 6:25 PM Stile has replied
 Message 17 by Blue Jay, posted 01-16-2009 11:52 PM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 4295
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004


Message 18 of 227 (494628)
01-17-2009 10:03 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by ICANT
01-16-2009 6:16 PM


Re: God's Smart
ICANT writes:
God can see the beginning of the universe and the end of the universe at the same time.
I'm not sure if this is actually how God works. I'm not even sure if God actually exists.
I'm just trying to say that it would be possible for an omnipotent, a-temporal being. Whether or not such a being is actually a part of this reality is another question entirely.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by ICANT, posted 01-16-2009 6:16 PM ICANT has not replied

  
Stile
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 4295
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004


Message 19 of 227 (494629)
01-17-2009 10:05 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by PaulK
01-16-2009 6:25 PM


Re: God's Smart
PaulK writes:
If someone is told what they are going to do, can they change it ? Under any circumstances ? If not, then how could we be said to have free will ?
I would say that if the answer to this question is "no", then Free Will would have been removed.
My arguement is that it is possible for this answer to be "yes", and in such cases Free Will is still intact. Perhaps it takes a certain kind of person... but no one has yet been able to show that such a thing is strictly impossible.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by PaulK, posted 01-16-2009 6:25 PM PaulK has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 26 by PaulK, posted 01-17-2009 3:04 PM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 4295
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004


Message 20 of 227 (494630)
01-17-2009 10:20 AM
Reply to: Message 17 by Blue Jay
01-16-2009 11:52 PM


Re: God's Smart
Mantis writes:
First, let me apologize for my message:
I won't have anything of the sort Your messages are always quite clear and easy-to-read. I like replying to them. I do believe you helped me elucidate my arguement to a point that I couldn't have achieved had you not posted. Thanks for your input.
Your scenario is asking me to accept, as a premise, that my argument is flawed. So, yes, if we assume that my argument is wrong, then I agree that your conclusion is logically valid.
I am asking you to accept that your arguement is flawed, yes. But I'm not asking you to assume that it is wrong, I'm showing you exactly how it is flawed. By providing an alternative definition for Free Will, and showing you how this definition of Free Will can remain intact with certain immutable prophecies in certain situations... I am showing you that the absolute statement "immutable prophecy and Free Will cannot co-exist" is false.
All you need to do is show how my definition of Free Will is incomplete or incorrect... you have yet to do so. Actually, you have yet to even attempt to do so.
Rather, I am arguing that the green premise cannot coexist with the pink premise.
That is to say, the prophecy can only be immutable if God is in total control. Otherwise, He can either watch, like the rest of us, as the tiniest modicum of spontaneity derails the entire future, or He can stick in His fingers, unlike the rest of us, and manipulate events to keep His prophecy intact. Either way, pink and green do not mix.
I understand exactly what you are attempting to say. What you have yet to do is show that what you say is actually for real. Why can they "not mix"? Especially when I've showed you a situation where they certainly do mix? Why do you say it is impossible... especially when I'm showing you that it is possible.
You cannot tear down my arguement by simply stating the opposite. The only way to tear down my arguement is to show a flaw in it... something neither you nor Straggler has yet to do. In fact, the two of you have been explicitly avoiding dealing with my definition or my examples. I think that is because you are unable to discover a flaw.
Again, if you want to show that what I say is incorrect, you need to use what I say, and then show that this is incorrect. This is what I say:
quote:
If every outcome for every choice in your life is exactly what you want, and no one forces you into any alternative you don't approve of... how can you possibly say that you do not have Free Will?
Why cannot the definition of Free Will be:
"Having the ability to get exactly what you want from every situation presented to you."
I have shown that the above definitions can exist along with an immutable prophecy. I certainly think it's difficult since the immutable prophecy would be required to exactly match the choice the being would make without the immutable prophecy in place. I just don't think that such a problem is that big of a deal for an all-knowing, all-powerful, a-temporal God.
Certainly no one has shown that such a thing is strictly impossible.
Perhaps it should be noted that I am not talking about literal Biblical Prophecy... I am simply stating that there is at least one special case where immutable prophecy (regardless of how it comes about) can co-exist with Free Will (as defined by me). I am definitely not saying that literal biblical prophecy does not remove Free Will.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 17 by Blue Jay, posted 01-16-2009 11:52 PM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 21 by Blue Jay, posted 01-17-2009 12:33 PM Stile has replied
 Message 25 by onifre, posted 01-17-2009 2:07 PM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 4295
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004


Message 29 of 227 (494687)
01-17-2009 7:55 PM
Reply to: Message 21 by Blue Jay
01-17-2009 12:33 PM


We are moving forward... I think
Mantis writes:
What is to stop God from manipulating a person’s desires such that they can only want the future that He has already immutably decreed?
I would say nothing stops God from doing this. And I would say that if God did manipulate a person's desires as you say, then Free Will does not exist.
I would also say that nothing forces God to do this, and it's possible for such a situation to occur where God does no forcing. In such a situation, even with an immutable prophecy, I would say that Free Will is still intact.
Your definition of "free will" includes such a scenario.
Fair enough. I agree that my previous definition of Free Will was inadequate. Of course, I'll now add another qualifier
Free Will: Having the ability to get exactly what you want from every situation presented to you with absolutely no interference from any outside entity.
How about that?
Such a definition could certainly exist with an immutable prophecy... if that prophecy exactly matched the true wishes of the individual.
And I leave you with the same question... what about this definition is not equivalent to Free Will?
What is the difference between controlling what somebody gets and controlling what somebody wants to get?
I certainly agree with you that if any control is involved whatsoever... then Free Will is removed.
My point is to provide a situation in which there is no control. A situation where the immutable prophecy matches the true desires of the individual anyway. If such a situation existed... I would then say that Free Will is still intact.
I do admit that such a situation would be an extreme special case, and very difficult to produce. I do not admit that this difficulty is beyond an omnipotent God.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 21 by Blue Jay, posted 01-17-2009 12:33 PM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 33 by Blue Jay, posted 01-17-2009 9:55 PM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 4295
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004


Message 30 of 227 (494688)
01-17-2009 8:05 PM
Reply to: Message 25 by onifre
01-17-2009 2:07 PM


Are we arguing the same thing?
onifre writes:
The only problem is that even if you decided, it was still caused by an outside agent.
How, exactly, was something "caused" by an outside agent given that it was me who decided?
Your actions are still deterministic so the causes lead up to the decision. Is that really free will?
If the actions are all completely deterministic, then I agree that there is no Free Will. I am not talking about such a situation, in all the situations I am discussing, there is at least some portion of the actions that is non-deterministic.
Also, does a person who is obsessive, or an addict, or deranged have free will? How will their ability to react to situations be affected by their condition and in turn affect their sense of free will? They will NOT have the ability to get what they want from a situation so it violates your definition.
"Want" needs a lot of qualifiers... I'm talking about immediately, in that situation. In the sense that no one forced or controlled or coerced them to choose anything. A lot of people think "oh, I didn't want that..." but this is more of a hind-sight thing. What they really mean is "with what I knew then, I did want this, but with what I know now... I no longer want it".
We make decisions based off of the considerations of what matters the most.
Exactly. What matters most... at the time of the decision.
If we are not capable of this due to some neuro condition or some other outside agent free will is gone. So, free will and the capability of the persons brain to function properly go hand-and-hand; you can't have free will without a properly functioning brain.
Okay. I have no arguement with this. What part of my arguement do you think this invalidates?
I'm not saying that all immutable prophecies on any person always keep Free Will intact. I am simply saying that the absolute statement "immutable prophecy and Free Will cannot co-exist" is false. There are certain special-case scenarios. There are, however, plenty of non-special case scenarios where Free Will is removed. I certainly admit to all of those.
We feel "will" because we see a causal connection between thought and actions. So we say things like "my thoughts caused it", when really there's an underlying brain process that simultaneously causes our awareness of an intention and also the action, so we think there's a causal relationship when there isn't. This gives a false sense of "I" willed it when really it was just neuro functions causing the actions.
I agree that it is quite possible that in this reality Free Will does not exist. This does not invalidate my arguement that it is possible for immutable prophecy and Free Will to co-exist in one extreme special case. I fully admit that my special case may not exist in this reality. In fact, I really doubt it does since it would require an omnipotent God and I don't think God exists.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 25 by onifre, posted 01-17-2009 2:07 PM onifre has not replied

  
Stile
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 4295
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004


Message 31 of 227 (494690)
01-17-2009 8:18 PM
Reply to: Message 26 by PaulK
01-17-2009 3:04 PM


Re: God's Smart
PaulK writes:
If it took a particular sort of person then I'd have to say that only that sort of person could really have free will.
I agree.
I am not claiming that the Free Will I'm describing that can exist with immutable prophecy is some sort of universal generality. I'm quite explicitly stating that it's an extreme special case.
All I'm saying is that it's not strictly impossible for such a person and such a situation to exist in a universe that has Free Will.
Nevertheless the whole idea is worth thinking about, since it should provide insights into how prophecy could interact with the flow of events, For instance any "yes" answer implies that either God an be wrong or that the future can change.
Why would a "yes" answer imply that God could be wrong or the future can change?
If the immutable prophecy exactly matches that which the person truly desires to choose... without any outside interference from any entity (including the one making the immutable prophecy). How could the prophecy be wrong, or the future change?
If the future would change... then this "change" would be what the person truly desires to choose... and therefore this is what the immutable prophecy would reflect.
In the situation I'm talking about, the future has a static course of events. But not because people can't choose differently... it's because people can't choose to do two things at once. They have to choose something... and the prophecy simply reflects their choice.
Granted... I don't even like pushing my arguement into a world where everything is predicted with immutable prophecy... I prefer to think of my "special case" situation as a single prophecy about a single person in the world.
But... I'm finding it difficult to identify what would prevent an omnipotent God (especially one who knows the future...) from being able to predict exactly what everyone truly wants from all decisions ever made.
...but I don't want to start arguing that since I still haven't been able to get people to accept my single-person, single-immutable prophecy situation yet. Perhaps I am wrong... and then there's no point in considering an entire world of prophecy anyway.
If I am wrong, I am sure that someone here will be capable of showing me that I am wrong. Perhaps I am willfully ignoring something though? I hope not... I just don't think anyone's refuted what I'm attempting to present yet.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 26 by PaulK, posted 01-17-2009 3:04 PM PaulK has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 34 by PaulK, posted 01-18-2009 4:59 AM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 4295
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004


Message 35 of 227 (494748)
01-18-2009 9:35 AM
Reply to: Message 33 by Blue Jay
01-17-2009 9:55 PM


All basic assumptions included
Mantis writes:
But, I get the feeling that my definition isn't saying exactly what you intended to say with your definition, so feel free to explain to me what I might have missed.
No, I think you're starting to understand what I'm trying to say. Which makes me feel good... it's been difficult trying to describe the phenomenon I'm thinking of.
I did intend for my definition to work as you're describing, without the additional qualifier included. When I said "situation presented" to the person making a decision, I'm attempting to imply that the situation itself is beyond control of the decision-maker. That is, they can't "get what they want" in an absolute sense, only from the options available to them... options that are available while no entity at all is interfering.
For example, what if the person's wants change between the time of the prophecy and the time of the prophesied event? Wouldn't that change the dynamic of the prophecy?
The point I'm trying to make is exactly how you started this question. "What if..." And I completely agree. IF the person's true desires change from that of the prophecy... then Free Will is removed.
What I'm trying to say is the other side of this "if". That is, IF, AND ONLY IF, the prophecy exactly matches the true desires of the one making the decision... at the point of the actual decision... then Free Will is still intact.
I certainly agree that if the person is unable to change their mind (if they actually want to change their mind... given no outside interference) then Free Will is removed.
An immutable prophecy might be possible if it is pronounced precisely as the prophesied event is happening, but then it counts more as a miracle of instantaneous communication than as a miracle of foreknowledge. And, it may still have to account for the slight possibility of a balk or renege (like for chronically indecisive people at the doughnut shop).
Why do you think it would be impossible for an omnipotent God, who can see the future, to know what someone will truly want at the point of the decision? Why can't an omnipotent God say what someone truly wants 10 years before that person knows that they truly want it? Why can't an omnipotent God take into account how many times a person will truly change their mind before making their decision? Why can't an omnipotent God take into account how a person will react to the knoweldge of a prophecy and still see what they truly want on their own?
These are the questions I am unable to answer "An omnipotent God can't do that" to.
I don't see what would prevent an omnipotent God from being able to foresee a person's true desires... in all circumstances.
I do, however, fully admit that if any control by God is included, or any restrictions on choices are made by God... then Free Will is removed.
I would like to point out that even Straggler's definition of Free Will does not incorporate this.
Straggler's definition of Free Will: "The ability to choose between alternate future paths" (or something equivalent).
So let's say there are choices A, B, C and D. And God prevents the person from choosing "D". The person still has the choice between A, B, and C.
By my (new and improved) definition... since there is outside control influence by God... I say that Free Will is removed. But the person still has "the ability to choose between alternate future paths" (A, B or C). So, strictly going by Straggler's definition... Free Will is still present even though God is making restrictions on the situation and has forced control.
...just something to keep in mind. I'm not trying to put the focus of the discussion on "you're wrong" instead of proving my own case. I'm just trying to point out that it seems you're forcing a lot of explicit qualifiers on my definition that you simply "assumed" were in the basic one. All these assumptions are also in my definition.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 33 by Blue Jay, posted 01-17-2009 9:55 PM Blue Jay has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 48 by Blue Jay, posted 01-18-2009 7:43 PM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 4295
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004


Message 36 of 227 (494749)
01-18-2009 9:45 AM
Reply to: Message 34 by PaulK
01-18-2009 4:59 AM


Generals and Specifics
PaulK writes:
The issue here is that the theological and apologetic uses of free will pretty much require us all to have free will, not just a special few.
But I am providing a definition of Free Will that is for all of us. You're taking the special case that my definition accounts for and then trying to say that should be a generality. This isn't how it works.
My general definition of Free Will:
Free Will: The ability to get what you want from the situation presented with absolutely no interference from any external entity.
Where "the situation presented" includes mundane forces at work. Like you can't choose Mint ice-cream when only Chocolate and Vanilla are available. That doesn't remove Free Will, it's just the situation that's presented.
The special case this definition allows for is that an immutable prophecy may be in place and it is still possible for Free Will to be intact. The caveat is that the prophecy must exactly match the true free desires of the decision maker, at the point of the decision, given absolutely no interference from any external entity.
The special case is not required to be "for all of us to have Free Will". That's what the general definition is for. The special case is only there for certain situations... as implied by the term "special case". It's point is to say that the absolute statement "immutable prophecy cannot co-exist with Free Will" is false.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 34 by PaulK, posted 01-18-2009 4:59 AM PaulK has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 39 by Straggler, posted 01-18-2009 10:09 AM Stile has replied
 Message 40 by PaulK, posted 01-18-2009 10:11 AM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 4295
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004


Message 53 of 227 (494845)
01-19-2009 9:05 AM
Reply to: Message 37 by Straggler
01-18-2009 9:53 AM


Re: No Alternatives, No Choice, No Free-Will
Straggler writes:
If only one predermined outcome is possible, whether you phrase it in terms of "choice", or not eliminates genuine choice and therefore free-will.
This is only true if we accept your definition that Free Will is "the ability to choose between alternate futures".
I do not accept your definition.
My definition is:
Free Will: The ability to get what you want from the situation presented when there is absolutely no control on your decision from any external being.
How is that not Free Will? How come you are unable to say what part of my definition is not Free Will?
How can we ever know what (decision) they "would have made anyway"?
I didn't say it would be easy, or that we could even tell. I said it was possible, that's all. Especially possible for an omnipotent being.
What you seem to be saying, for example, is that in "choosing" to inhabit Earth rather than Mars I am demonstrating my freewill.
No, I'm not saying that at all. And if you think I am saying this then I am not explaining myself correctly. You living on earth would simply be "the situation presented to you". There is no restriction on your choice via some external agency... but there is a restriction on your choice via "the situation presented to you". So, it's not that you're exercising your Free Will to live on Earth, it's that the situation presented to you doesn't allow for any other options. Free Will doesn't enter into the equation at all.
Now all things being equal I may well choose to live on Earth rather than Mars but given the current impossibility of me living on Mars to say that I have "chosen" to live on Earth rather than Mars is stretching the definition of the term "choice" to breaking point.
I totally agree. Which is why I didn't say anything of the sort.
If I tell you as an immutable truth that you will eat chocolate ice-cream at midday tomorrow then I have removed the possibility that anything else can even possibly happen.
No alternatives = no choice
No choice = no free-will
How can there be free-will in the absence of choice?
Again, I agree with you that there is no Free Will here if we use your definition of Free Will.
I do not agree that your definition of Free Will is acceptable.
There is Free Will here if we use my definition. As long as the alternative the decision-maker is left with is exactly the same one they would have chosen without the presence of the immutable prophecy.
Again:
Free Will: The ability to get what you want from the situation presented when there is absolutely no control on your decision from any external being.
How is that not Free Will? How come you are unable to say what part of my definition is not Free Will?
It is not a question of "force". It is a question of removing all possible alternatives. There is nothing else to do or want other than that prophecised. All other possible future outcomes have been eliminated.
This is only true... if we use your definition of Free Will.
Again:
Free Will: The ability to get what you want from the situation presented when there is absolutely no control on your decision from any external being.
How is that not Free Will? How come you are unable to say what part of my definition is not Free Will?
Your definition of Free Will is not universally accepted. That's exactly what I'm contending. Change your definition slightly... and this is all possible. What, exactly, about my definition is not Free Will... other then (of course) the fact that it is not your definition?
Because this just takes the problem one step further back.
Now rather than just being unable to exert free-will regarding your actions you are now unable to exhibit free-will regarding your wants and desires.
Thus making any notions of free-will illusory.
I would agree that if anyone was unable to exert Free Will regarding their wants and desires then Free Will is removed. This is not what I'm saying. In fact, I am explicitly stating that this must be present in my definition.
Again:
Free Will: The ability to get what you want from the situation presented when there is absolutely no control on your decision from any external being.
How is that not Free Will? How come you are unable to say what part of my definition is not Free Will?
How are you possibly confusing "getting what you want with absolutly no control from anyone else" to mean "restrictions on your wants and desires"? They are exact, plain english, opposites.
Because there are no alternatives.
No alternatives = no choice
No choice = no free-will.
How can there be free-will in the absence of choice?
There can be Free Will in the absence of choice if we discard your definition of Free Will. And use the one I'm presenting.
You are unable to show what it is about my definition that is not Free Will.
In order to show that what I'm saying is wrong, you need to show how my definition of Free Will is not adequate. You are simply repeating your own definition of Free Will and saying that my definition is not the same. Well of course it isn't... that's exactly what I'm doing... changing the definition of Free Will to something more useful. Then you're telling me that the scenarios I'm presenting are merely not aligning with YOUR definition of Free Will. Of course their not... that's exactly what I'm doing... showing the flaws in your definition of Free Will.
IMMUTABLE PROPHECY:
At noon tomorrow EvC member Stile will decide that he wants to don a pink tutu and perform an acapello version of Blue Suede Shoes in the middle of the street outside his house. He undertakes this action. (Let's assume that you have a pink tutu to hand)
This is an immutable truth. It will happen. There is no possibility of this not occurring.
Now can you explain to me the possibilities, various alterntives, choices and decisions that you think you can make at noon tomorrow such that your free-will (rather than just the illusion of free-will) can be demonstrated?
I don't think it can be done in the absence of any possible alternative futures existing.
If, given no prophecy at all, at the time of the decision... noon tomorrow... I did not want to do exactly what the prophecy said for any reason... maybe as simple as I wanted a green tutu. Maybe as large as I want to go to Africa... maybe the idea had never entered my head... anything differing at all... Then Free Will would have been removed and I agree with you.
However, what I'm saying is that IF, AND ONLY IF, without the presence of the prophecy.. if no one had ever heard of such a thing and it didn't exist... and I still actually "donned a pink tutu and performed an acapello version of Blue Suede Shoes in the middle of the street outside my house at noon" because that is what I really wanted with the situation presented to me anyway...
Then Free Will is still there, even if the prophecy is there.
Any slight variation... even a teeny tiny one... takes Free Will away. But, if the immutable prophecy exactly matches the true desires of the decision maker given the prophecy didn't exist... then Free Will remains simply because it's exactly what that person wanted anyway.
Remember that I'm not trying to say that ALL immutable prophecies automatically keep Free Will around. I'm quite explicitly stating that there is only one single special case that I can think of. Of course if we don't follow that special case then I think Free Will is removed.
What you haven't done is show that when we follow this special case, then Free Will (by my definition) is removed. You also have not shown a flaw in my definition of Free Will (other then to say it doesn't match your definition, which is really rather obvious).
If you want to say that I am wrong, you have to take what I'm saying and show that it is wrong. You are still unable to do that.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 37 by Straggler, posted 01-18-2009 9:53 AM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 71 by Straggler, posted 01-19-2009 4:25 PM Stile has replied

  
Stile
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 4295
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004


Message 54 of 227 (494846)
01-19-2009 9:13 AM
Reply to: Message 39 by Straggler
01-18-2009 10:09 AM


Re: Generals and Specifics
Straggler writes:
But the immutable truth that has been revealed to you and/or others IS all the interference required from an external entity to eliminate free-will.
I admit that this is all that is required to possibly cause interference from an external entity to eliminate Free Will. And if it does cause interference in any way... then I agree that Free Will is removed.
What I'm talking about is the special case where it doesn't cause any interference.
Example:
I like choclate ice-cream and I always choose chocolate ice-cream over vanilla.
An omnipotent being produces an immutable prophecy on my that after dinner I will choose chocolate ice-cream over vanilla. I shrug my shoulders and say "yeah... duh...". Then, dinner comes and I'm presented with vanilla and chocolate ice-cream. I get chocolate.
It is this one simple situation that I say Free Will is still present along with an immutable prophecy.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 39 by Straggler, posted 01-18-2009 10:09 AM Straggler has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 69 by Straggler, posted 01-19-2009 3:56 PM Stile has seen this message but not replied

  
Stile
Member (Idle past 154 days)
Posts: 4295
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004


Message 56 of 227 (494849)
01-19-2009 9:29 AM
Reply to: Message 40 by PaulK
01-18-2009 10:11 AM


Re: Generals and Specifics
PaulK writes:
No, I am not. You claim that only a few people have the capability to go against prophecy - and you also agreed that the lack of this capability indicated a lack of free will.
I'm pretty sure I only claimed that it was "possible" for a few people to have the capability to go against prophecy.. and if they did, then their Free Will will be removed.
However, if the prophecy can be made in such a way that this situation does not exist then Free Will is not removed. I do not know of a way this can be done since some people like to be very contrary to what they hear. However, I do not place this seemingly impossible task above an omnipotent being.
Perhaps it is impossible. I think you'll have a hard time showing that an omnipotent being is unable to do something though.
Therefore if I am given a prediction I will do something I should in principle have the ability to do otherwise - if I have free will. If I want to invalidate the prophecy then I should be able to do it by your own definition. But you suggest that only a few special people can do it.
Not quite.
I suggest that "if anyone" does it, then Free Will is removed.
I am suggesting that the immutable prophecy is made in such a way that no one actually wants to do anything else.
I also suggest that it is possible for an omnipotent being to be able to "get it right" for certain people, in which case Free Will is intact, for everyone, as long as the omnipotent being doesn't make any immutable prophecies about anyone else.
I also suggest that I am unable to see what would prevent an omnipotent being from being able to do this for everyone, even the extremely contrarian. I challenge you to prove that this is beyond an omnipotent being. You can say "this person always wants to do something different from what they have heard"... but, well, I bet they've never heard a prophecy from an omnipotent being before
What you are ignoring is the possibility that being given the prophecy may change the "true free desires" of the subject by the time the predicted decision is made.
I am most certainly not ignoring such a thing. And I fully admit that if even the mere presence of the prophecy alters the "true free desires" of the subject.. then Free Will is removed. However, do you think such a possibility and forethought is beyond the abilities of an omnipotent being? I would love to see you show me how.
I just can't think of what could prevent an omnipotent being from being able to see such a problem and make accounts for it.
I'm disappointed that my invitation to think more deeply has lead to such a shallow defence - one that ignores the basic point that it all depends on HOW prophecy and time work.
And I am disappointed that you didn't take the time to think before you posted such a rude and untrue remark.
You have yet to show anything that I am ignoring, you simply didn't give me credit for thinking about something I hadn't explicitly typed out yet. My posts are long already... if I typed out every possible thought without hoping readers think a little bit for themselves... they'd be 10 times longer.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 40 by PaulK, posted 01-18-2009 10:11 AM PaulK has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 63 by PaulK, posted 01-19-2009 1:55 PM Stile has replied

  
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