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Saturday, January 17, 2015

God's Inerrant Omniscience Revisited

Someone tweeted to me this blog post from the deranged agnostic "Rubicondior."  As usual, the post is full of many fallacies and misconceptions.  I will debunk it.  My words will be in black and the original content in blue.

<<I wonder if Christians can do any better now. 
Almost three years ago I wrote a blog pointing out the logical impossibility of an omniscient, inerrant god coexisting with free will - see On The Logical Fallacy Of God's Inerrant Omniscience. Despite several comments varying in absurdity, and many comments demonstrating a lack of logical thinking, no one has yet managed to refute the logic of my argument.
>> Sacerdotus replies: I will refute it with ease on another post. <<It might be worth recapping the salient point again, to see if any believers can explain how these two central tenets of Christian dogma, which appear to be mutually contradictory, are logically consistent. Failing that, perhaps an explanation of how holding two mutually contradictory beliefs simultaneously is not indicative of intellectual dishonesty and of the self-deceiving nature of the mental process involved in religious faith.
To recap:

  • An omniscient (all-knowing) god would know every detail of your future, including the outcome of all decisions you will ever make. It will have known this for eternity. If not, then it isn't omniscient.
  • An inerrant god would never be wrong so it cannot 'know' something which turns out to be untrue.
  • Given these two conditions, it is not possible for you to make a decision which this god has not always known you will make.
  • Given these two conditions, such a god can not 'know' a decision which you do not in fact make.
>> Sacerdotus replies:
  • It is possible for an All-Knowing entity to exist while at the same time allowing free will.  I think this is what Rubicondior is trying to state but did not do so eloquently.
  • I am not sure what Rubicondior is trying to state here.  However, being inerrant does not mean one does not know what is wrong or untrue.  I can be perfect at baseball, that does not mean I am not aware of errors in it when the game is played.
  • It is possible for one to make any decision freely and at the same time God having awareness of it. 
  • This is exactly why God IS God.  Only a being of this magnitude transcends time and space in a manner that we cannot comprehend.  
<<To apply this to a trivial, every-day example: suppose this god have always known that you will have eggs for breakfast tomorrow. Can you chose not to have eggs and have cereal, or toast or waffles, or anything else instead, or even decide to skip breakfast altogether? If you do, this god cannot be omniscient. If you can't, you do not have free will.>>

                                                                                     Sacerdotus replies:
This makes no sense.  What Rubicondior fails to understand is that God is not bound by the laws of physics.  God is outside of space, time and matter.  Our perception is limited within our existence dictated by the laws of physics.  Think of it like a video game.  We all know about Super Mario bros.  It is a famous franchise about 2 Italian plumbers who are in a parallel universe called "The Mushroom Kingdom."  The 2 plumbers, Mario and Luigi are human.  As humans, we know that we can die easily.  We are subject to our regulated existence in this universe.  However, when Mario and Luigi are in this parallel universe, they have an extended amount of lives.  They also obtain special powers via particular items in the game.  Both Mario and Luigi can exist in this parallel universe because they are subject to the rules and laws of it.  Similarly, we are subject to the rules and laws of physics in this universe who has God as author.  We can live and exist to a certain extent.  God is not bound by this.  Rubicondior and others throughout the centuries make this mistake.  They apply the laws of physics to an entity that is not bound to them.  So while we may perceive time as a constant moment, God does not.

 <<Remember, this god can't, as some have argued, 'know' all your possible decisions so whichever you chose will be right. This would mean that whatever decision you make, the god would be wrong about all the others. In fact, given that there are masses of possible 'right' answers for every real right one, it would be far more often wrong than right - which is never good for the reputation of an 'omniscient' good.
But, if you believe in a god like this and also believe you have free will, how can you do something your god hasn't always known you will do? If you can't, in what sense of the word 'free' do you have free will?Simple, eh? All you have to do is to give a single example of something happening that is central to your faith, and which you have probably taken for granted.
Why is this important?
Because, if the Christian god isn't omniscient it doesn't know what's going on and is not in control of the Universe. Such a god is not worth praying to because, to change events it would have to be aware of them and in full control of them. This god would be a mere observer, having no more power than the spectators at a ball game have.>>  

  Sacerdotus replies: Again, here Rubicondior is thinking in a linear sense.  Let me explain using Physics: Free will exists while God knows and sees all at the same time because we are subject to space and time, not God. What does this mean? It means that God can know every outcome and every decision we make because He is outside of space and time. Being that He is God, His perception will be extremely advanced. We are in space and time, they have an affect on us. We exist in 4 dimensions and are limited to them. We cannot perceive the others. Because of this limitation, we are only aware of those 4 dimensions. String theory is interesting when comparing it with free will and an all knowing God. To sum it up, string theory is the idea that particles are strings existing within and interacting with different dimensions. For example, string theory posits that what I am doing now is just one of the many outcomes within "reality." In this dimension I am blogging, in another, I could be blogging but chewing gum, etc etc. All of this can happen at the same time or in different times. In light of this, God who is outside of space and time can observe the many variations in the "strings" of reality. Therefore, He can see all and we can be free in our respective dimension because we are part of that dimension and are subject to its laws. You can test this with something that refracts light and a flashlight. When you put the beam on it, the light will "split" into parts pointing at different points. It is the same light, but they are in different points in space and time and in different dimensions. You can observe this because you are outside of that light, but if the light were conscious it would not be aware of this and would only be aware that it can exist in its respective point.

<<If you don't have free will, then everything about the Universe is pre-determined. It makes not one iota of difference what you do or say and you cannot be held responsible for anything you do, let alone be accountable for the 'original sin'. There is no 'sin', no need for you to seek 'redemption', no need for forgiveness of sin, and so no reason for Jesus. Whatever you do or say was merely what you were predestined to do or say.

In other words, unless you can meet this simple challenge, you have no basis for your faith because your faith has no basis and the Bible has lied about one or the other, or both.>>

Sacerdotus replies:
Determinism is not taken seriously by most philosophers, more less physicists.  Here is a piece from philosopher Huemer:
A related idea is that the practice of reasoning is implicitly governed by the rule that one ought to form only justified (rational) beliefs and avoid unjustified beliefs; if one in no way accepts this norm - for example, if one regards arbitrary beliefs as no less to be preferred than rational beliefs- then one is not engaged in genuine reasoning. If this is right, then the determinist, insofar as he attempts to rationally defend his position, must accept at least some normative principles governing his assertions and thoughts. These normative principles may prove difficult to reconcile with determinism (indeed, the acceptance of any normative principles at all may be irreconcilable with determinism). The following deduction shows one way of bringing out the problem: 1. We should refrain from accepting unjustified beliefs. (Premise; presupposition of reasoning.) 2. To say that one should do something implies that one can do it. (premise) 3. So we can refrain from accepting unjustified beliefs. (From 1, 2) 4. Assume that hard determinism is true. Then what we actually do is the only thing we can do - that is, what can be done is done. (Assumption, definition of hard determinism.) 5. Therefore, we have no unjustified beliefs. (From 3,4) 6. Many people believe in free will. (Premise.) 7. So the belief in free will justified. (From 5,6) 
As for physics, sub atomic particles behave in a random manner.  There is nothing "set" in the universe in this level of existence.  As stated above, string theory proposes that there are multiple scenarios of time being played out as I write this and as you read it.

<<The other little problem for Christians (and Muslims and Jews for that matter) is that if the presence of an omniscient god means there is no free will, then that also holds true for gods. An omniscient god must also exist in a predestined Universe and so would have no free will either. 
A god with no free will is no god at all. A god with no free will cannot have decided to create anything.
Another little problem for Christians of course, is that if they can't answer these questions they are admitting, if only to themselves, that they know their 'faith' is phoney. >>

  Sacerdotus replies: Perhaps a "deist or pantheist type of God," but not the one God that has revealed Himself to us.  Rubicondior obviously does not understand "God."  Rosa's fallacious logic is only applicable to a god from folk religions in Africa such as "Nyame."  In African folk religions, God or gods are part of the universe, not outside of it. The only thing phony here is Rosa's logic and presentation of God's attributes.