Monday, September 19, 2011

The Debate: Is God to Blame? Part 1

This post is for Glo, she asked about the debate mentioned in yesterday’s Simple Woman Daybook. It was the result of a conversation with my favourite atheist. We have been discussing free will and predestination the past few weeks. Last night I asked if he thought free will (or the perception) of free will mattered.

His response: “I think free will is only important insofar as it might impact moral blameworthiness; I'm not sure how we can be morally blameworthy if a god exists.”
I disagreed stating that we and not God are accountable for our moral actions/choices and asked how did he had reached the conclusion that God was responsible for our actions.

This was the argument he set up:

*assuming god exists
1) God is omnipotent
2) God created the initial conditions of the universe
3) God is omniscient
4) God created the initial conditions of the universe knowing what would happen (from 2 and 3)
5) The universe as it unfolds is how God intended it (from 1 and 4)
6) If the universe is how God intends, then it is God’s responsibility
7) God is responsible for how the universe unfolds (from 5 and 6)
8) People are finite
9) Finite beings cannot obstruct the will of an omnipotent being
10) People cannot obstruct the will of God (from 1, 8 and 9)

Therefore, God is responsible for the universe and people are not

And that was the start of the debate, we're still discussing it, next step my response.


matthew said...

I see a leap from 4-5 which causes the problem of 6 and creates the conclusion of 9/10.

Your friends key words are 'initial conditions' (4) and 'intended' (5). What if God's initial conditions included self-limitation (giving people freedom to make their own decision rather than be puppets?). What if God's intention was to create real relationship (which requires freedom) rather than a robotic world?

The argument is a pretty good argument against hard-core calvinism, but not a very good argument against arminianism. And, if there is any strength to the open theist position (which redefines omniscience significantly, indicating that God doesn't know the future b/c it is impossible to know what hasn't happened yet), this argument would be even weaker in the face of it.

Most forms of calvinism (exlcuding hard-core), all forms of arminianism (including open theism) reject 9 in some form for the very reason that this particular omnipotent being voluntarily limits His control.

Robin said...

Before even getting to the list I had a problem with this statement: “I think free will is only important insofar as it might impact moral blameworthiness; I'm not sure how we can be morally blameworthy if a god exists.”

Where does one get the idea of moral blame if there is no God? If there is no God, there are no moral absolutes, are there?

Glo said...

thanks Liz! I don't think his argument is quite logical but i just got home so I haven't had a chance to look at it yet. I am going to put it in logic language and see what happens.

Elizabeth said...

In fairness to my friend, the conversation happened over msn while he was focused on writing his thesis. He'll be the first to say that the ideas are loose and would need to be reworked for an actual debate.

Combs said...

I like his arguments. Rough and flawed they are but taken straight from themes that most Christians will only ever look at as words they use to describe God instead of digging to find their deeper meaning. It really does beg the question, if God knows all the answers why would he allow man to make the mistakes that he has? Why is the world on the path that it currently is? The extension then being if God is Omniscient, which is really the only one of the three we're actually discussing here, and we are so obviously not how could we then assume that he doesn't know where we are going? If a being can be conscious of the end result at the beginning as well as everything in between, then it's course of action would ultimately be good. Without knowledge of all possibilities any situation can be seen as wrong, good, or neither by any one perspective.

As far as this being an argument for moral responsibility resting solely with God, it's reaching. From the beginning man was offered choice. Ignore the tree stay in the garden live forever with a being that loves and cares for your every need in Paradise, eat the fruit gain the knowledge of what it means to disappoint the one who loves you and die with the possibility of never regaining what was lost. Again if we are dealing with an omniscient being then it already knew what choice would be made, and if that being was looking for a relationship and not a blind follower then the only way to accomplish it would be to put the follower in a situation that would result in said follower making a choice of what or who to believe in. God chose to create, we chose to disobey, God chooses to forgive.

I'm gonna go a head and stop the stream of consciousness writing job is making me conversation deprived...